Monthly Archives: January 2020

Booth’s Revenge Chapter Twenty-Nine

Previously: Booth shoots Lincoln and breaks leg in escape. Stanton’s henchman Lafayette Baker takes Christy’s body to an embalmer. Booth and Herold escape across the river into Maryland where they hide in the Zekiah Swamp. Baker enlists his cousin’s help to save Booth’s life.
The crossing did not go at all as Booth had planned. The strong current forced the rowboat back to the Maryland shore, where they had to hide until the next night when once again the boat ended up on the wrong side of the Potomac. On the third night, Booth and Herold finally arrived on the Virginia coast at Gambo Creek, one mile from sanctuary at the home of a Mrs. Elizabeth Quesenberry. Jones had highly recommended her. Because of his injury, Booth decided to stay with the boat while Herold walked to the Quesenberry home. The sun set before Herold returned with a large broad-shouldered man and two saddled horses.
As they came closer, Booth recognized the man. He was Thomas Harbin, Cox’s brother-in-law whom he had met when visiting Mudd in Bryantown in December of 1864. Booth was glad. Harbin had a kinder disposition than Cox.
“We got us some food,” Herold said with a smile, handing a bag to Booth. “You’ll like it. Mrs. Quesenberry’s a good cook.”
“She’s not taking us in?”
“Mrs. Quesenberry is a very intelligent woman who has been an effective agent for the South,” Harbin explained. “She will do what she can to send you in the right direction but also give herself the ability to tell Union soldiers that she had never met you.”
“So where do we go from here?” Booth bit into a pone of corn.
“Down the road to Dr. Stuart’s house. You ought to have a doctor look at that leg,” Harbin said. “If it gets infected, there’ll be the devil to pay.”
With that, Harbin left them with the two horses, and, with difficulty, Herold helped Booth into the saddle. They hoped to reach the doctor’s house before he retired for the night. A lamp still flickered in his window when they arrived. Herold jumped down from his horse and knocked at the door.
“Who’s there?” a voice called out.
“Two Confederate soldiers from Maryland looking for shelter.”
“Go away. I don’t take in stragglers.”
“But my brother, he’s in pain,” Herold persisted. “A broken leg.”
Stuart opened the door to peer out. “I don’t know anything about broken bones. Go to the Yankees, get your paroles and they will take care of your brother.”
“But we ain’t givin’ up,” Herold explained with a big smile. “We’re joinin’ up with Mosby and keep fightin’. No damn Yankees are goin’ to stop us.”
“Mosby?” Stuart ventured out onto the porch with his lantern, squinting toward Booth. “Mosby has surrendered. I read it in the newspaper.” He walked closer to the horse raising his lantern to appraise the rider. “Yep, I can tell you’re in pain but you sit erect on the horse, your posture’s that of a well-bred gentleman. Even though you’re in dirty clothes and need a shave, I can tell you’re not a common foot soldier.”
“Kind sir,” Booth finally spoke, “if you would indulge us a few moments and listen to the circumstances of our case—of who we actually are—you will be more than willing, as a loyal son of the South, to help us out.”
“You don’t speak like a common soldier either,” Stuart added. His eyes widened. “As I recall the news of the assassination and the description of the desperadoes, one was an actor of good breeding and the other an ignorant youth of modest background. This leaves me with the inevitable conclusion I am courting disaster by even talking to you.” He turned back to his door. “I don’t want to know anything about you.”
“Have pity upon us, sir. Can’t you at least help us find our way to Fredericksburg?” Booth asked.
Before he closed the door, he stuck his head out. “A colored man by the name of Willie Lucas lives in a cabin down the road. I rent his wagon from time to time. He might help you, might not.”
After the door slammed shut, Booth looked at Herold and shook his head. “Oh, the cold hand they extend to me.”
Herold mounted his horse, and they followed the road until they reached a small, primitive cabin. By this time, it was midnight and the lights were out.
“Lucas!” Herold called out.
“Who is it?” Lucas asked.
“We need to stay here tonight!”
Lucas cracked his door. “I’m just an old colored man. Ain’t proper for me to take in white folks. I just got the one room here, and my wife is sick.”
“We’re Confederate soldiers, and we’ve been fightin’ for three years!” Herold yelled at the old man. “We’ve been knockin’ about all night, and we ain’t goin’ one step more!”
By this time, Booth had eased off the horse and was limping toward the cabin on his crutches. Bumping past Lucas he entered the cabin and with his crutches whacked at the two beds where Lucas’s wife and son slept.
“Get out of here! We’re taking these beds tonight!”
Lucas’ grown son tumbled from the bed and stalked Booth, who pulled out his knife and waved it in the air.
“God almighty, he got a knife, Charlie! Come on, Mama, let’s sleep under the wagon tonight,” Lucas cried, ushering his family out the door.
The next morning Booth ordered Lucas to have his son take them in his wagon to Port Conway on the Rappahannock River. When Lucas hesitated, Booth pulled out a twenty-dollar bill and handed it to Mrs. Lucas. Mollified, Charlie tied the bridles of the strangers’ two horses to the back of the wagon, mounted and drove the pair to the river city where they could catch the ferryboat. They rode in silence most of the way, with Charlie clicking reassurances to his horses to break the quiet. At the dock, Charlie wordlessly untied the horses, helped Booth out of the wagon then sped off back home, creating a cloud of dust in his wake.
Waiting to board the ferry with them was a group of Confederate soldiers.
“Who did you belong to?” Herold asked with a raffish grin.
“Mosby,” one of them answered.
“Where are you goin’?” Herold asked again.
“None of your business,” another one replied. “And who are you?”
“We’re the Boyd brothers. Just like you. Confederate soldiers on our way to Mexico to regroup with others like you to launch an invasion.”
“Why would any man even have a thought like that?”
Herold leaned into the group and whispered, “Then I’ll tell you the truth.” He turned and pointed to Booth. “Yonder, the man on the crutches, he’s the assassinator. Yonder is J. Wilkes Booth, the man who killed the president.”
They gazed in his direction. Booth hobbled over to them and said, “I supposed you have been told who I am?”
The black ferry operator called out, “Boarding time!”
Booth looked up sharply. “And who are you to be yelling at a group of gentlemen?”
“James Thornton, sir. It’s the only way I know to let folks know it’s time to get on the boat.”
“Is this your boat?”
“No, sir, it belongs to my boss, Mr. Champe Thornton.”
“Then why isn’t he giving the orders?”
“Well, sir, Mr. Champe, he used to own me and he taught me how to operate this boat so he could attend to other matters. I hope that meets with your approval, sir.”
Booth ignored Thornton’s last comment to look at Herold and say he had to mount on the horse first. He could not stand on his leg for the trip across the Rappahannock. The soldiers volunteered to hoist him upon his horse. As they guided the horse across the ramp, Thornton raised his hand.
“It’s against the rules to ride a horse on the ferryboat,” he said. “Made the ferry top heavy and the boss don’t like it.”
Booth’s face turned crimson because a black man dared to tell him what to do. “I’m injured! Can’t you see that?”
The three Confederates echoed his sentiments, putting their hands on their guns. Thornton backed up.
“I guess I can let it pass this time,” he mumbled as he retreated to the pilothouse.
The entire group gathered near the bow to continue talking after the boat cast off. The Confederates introduced themselves—Willie Jett, Mortimer Ruggles and Absalom Bainbridge—and vowed safe passage to Booth and Herold. No payment. The three men said they did not take blood money. By the time the ferry landed on the other side, Booth’s florid description of the assassination had completely enthralled them. He even showed them his knife, still stained by Rathbone’s blood.
On the other side as they debarked at Port Royal, Booth smiled broadly and announced, “I’m safe in glorious old Virginia, thank God!”
“Shouldn’t we pay the ferry pilot?” Herold asked.
“After he disrespected me? Absolutely not!” Booth replied.
“And I know just where you can spend the night,” Willie Jett said as he mounted his horse. “My friend Randolph Peyton lives on the other side of town with his two sisters. He will be glad to help you.”
Booth nodded. “Very good. Please continue our ruse. We are brothers returning home from the war.”
After a short twenty-minute ride, they reached the Peyton house. The group waited on the dirt street as Jett knocked at the door. The Peyton sisters joined him on the porch. Booth watched as Jett gestured toward the men. At first, one of the sisters nodded yes but the other leaned into the first one and whispered. The second sister then grabbed Jett by the arm and shook her head. Booth did not like the looks of the situation. Jett motioned again, but Booth sensed he was pointing beyond them to the house across the street. The young Confederate returned.
“Randolph’s not home, and the ladies feel uncomfortable having strange men in the house,” he explained. “I asked them about the Catlitts across the road there. She said it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
Once more Jett knocked on a door, and once more a woman answered and shook her head. Booth clenched his jaw.
“They know exactly who I am,” he muttered. “They are too cowardly to give me shelter! This is not the reception I expected.”
“I’m sure they’re doing the best they can,” Herold countered in a soft voice. “You know, we kinda have to take what we get.”
Jett walked back with a smile. “Her husband ain’t home neither. You can’t blame her, really. But she says she knows for sure the Garretts will take you in. They’re just three miles down the road. She says they got a real nice house.”
It was three in the afternoon by the time the group arrived at Garrett’s farm. An old man stood on the porch. Jett waved at him, and he waved back and smiled.
“We got two Confederate brothers returning home here. The Boyds. The older one has a broken leg. We want you to take care of them for a day or so. Can you put them up it?”
“My boys just got home from the war,” Garrett repied, stepping forward. “Of course. I’d be honored to help you.”
With a sigh, Booth slid off his horse with difficulty. “I greatly appreciate your kindness, sir. It seems you and these three gentlemen are the only true Southerners who appreciate what we have done.”


Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado
July 8, 1895
123 Main St.
Enid, Oklahoma

My Dear Wife,
I miss you terribly and hope the company will soon recognize my talents and promote me to vice president in charge of sales so I may enjoy your company more often. With luck, I shall return to you by the middle of August. The weather in Colorado is pleasant enough but I would sacrifice my comfort to be under the torrid Oklahoma sun with you and the children. Tell the children I shall take them on a great camping adventure before school starts. How is Edward Junior recuperating from his bout of chicken pox? I must be off to my next appointment soon in a small town called Golden. It reminds me of your lovely locks.
With love,
Your Husband

Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

July 8, 1895

321 Main St.
Waxahachie, Texas

My Dear Wife,
I miss you terribly and hope the company will soon recognize my talents and promote me to vice president in charge of sales so I may enjoy your company more often. With luck, I shall return to you by the first of August. The weather in Colorado is please enough but I would sacrifice my comfort to be under the torrid Texas sun with you and the children. Tell the children I shall take them on a great camping adventure before school starts. How is Edwina recuperating from her bout of measles? I must be off to my next appointment in a nearby town called Red Bud. It reminds me of your lovely locks.
With Love,
Your Husband

321 Main St.
Waxahachie, Texas

July 18, 1895
Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

My Dear Husband,
I am quite confused. We live in Texas, not Oklahoma and we have a daughter Edwina, not a son Edward Junior. I have red hair, not blonde. Edwina is terribly afraid of the outdoors and the little creatures that inhabit it so she would not enjoy a camping trip. She had chicken pox, not measles. I reread your letter several times thinking I must have misunderstood it. As you have pointed out to me several times I do have a tendency to misunderstand the simplest of statements. I will continue my sessions with Dr. Fitzmorgan in Dallas. I’m sure he will straighten this out for me.
With Love,
Your Wife

123 Main St.
Enid, Oklahoma

Aug. 4, 1895

Black Swan Hotel
Denver, Colorado

To My Soon-To-Be Former Husband,
Don’t bother to come home, you lying, cheating scoundrel. You should have realized you were not clever enough to have two wives at one time. To refresh your memory, I am the blonde-haired woman living in Oklahoma with our son Edward Junior, who by the way had measles not chicken pox. I exchanged several telegraphs with the lady residing in Waxahachie, Texas. She has canceled all her appointments with her doctor in Dallas and has engaged a lawyer. I have also hired a lawyer. Please expect a letter from the main office of your company stating you have been dismissed from your job because of a complete lack of morals. I must be off now to visit my mother and to apologize. She was right about you.
With absolutely no love,
Your Soon-To-Be Former Wife

Author’s Note

I have been hit with an especially bad case of winter crud so I won’t be posting David, Wallis and the Mercenary for the next two weeks. We are down to the last two chapters, and I want to make sure they are just right. Monday and Wednesday postings will continue as usual. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Booth’s Revenge Chapter Twenty-Eight

Previously: Booth shoots Lincoln and breaks leg in escape. Stanton’s henchman Lafayette Baker takes Christy’s body to an embalmer. Booth and Herold escape across the river into Maryland where they hide in the Zekiah Swamp.
Lafayette Baker was desperate. No one knew Booth’s hideout. If anyone else apprehended him first, Baker could not save the assassin’s life would be lost. And the plot would be disclosed. Baker cringed with shame when he thought of his role in the abduction of Lincoln and the subsequent murders. He did not want the nation or his family to know how evil lurked in his soul. Each day he wandered the Department of War halls, listening for any snippets he might overhear about the location of Booth. If anyone seemed on the verge of breaking a lead in the investigation, Baker created an excuse to have that man arrested. He ordered two men to Montreal, Canada, to follow up on reports Booth had accomplices there.
Finally, on April 24, Baker read a telegram from General Grant’s cipher clerk Samuel Beckwith to Major Eckert on the sighting of two men crossing the Potomac to White Point, Virginia. Perhaps this was the break he wanted. Before anyone else had a chance to read it, Baker grabbed the telegram and took it back to his investigation headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue. When he walked in his office door office, he saw his cousin Luther Baker sitting back in a chair smoking a cigar.
“Put that damn thing out,” Baker huffed as he stormed in. “We’ve got work to do!”
Luther looked up, his brow furrowed, and tapped out the cigar. “What’s going on?”
Baker sat behind his heavy wooden desk and pushed the telegram across to his cousin. “We’ve got good proof Booth and his man are in Virginia.”
“Are you sure?” Luther picked up the paper to read it, moving his lips silently.
“Dammit, man, nobody’s sure about anything, but I know—I know in my gut this has to be Booth.” He paused to allow his cousin to finish taking in the contents of the telegram. “Luther, do you trust me?”
His cousin looked at him with a wicked, twisted grin. “Hell, no. I know you too well.”
“If I told you the whole damned country would go to hell if you didn’t do exactly as I said, would you do it?”
Luther sobered and looked into Baker’s eyes. “Lafe, are you going crazy again?”
Baker leaned back in his chair and steepled his hands together as though in prayer. “I may be, but I swear to you the future of the United States rests on your faith in me.”
“All right,” Luther replied after a long pause. “What is it?”
“John Wilkes Booth must escape. He must not be captured or killed. If he went to trial information will come out that will destroy the government. All that we have fought for in the last four years will be for naught. If he is killed, God’s justice will be subverted.”
“God’s justice—what the hell are you talking about?”
“This is where you have to trust me,” Baker whispered. “Too many people have died. The killing must stop.” He stood and went to the door to make sure no one was lingering in the hall. Once he was sure they were alone, he shut it firmly. Returning, he sat on the edge of the desk, looming over his seated cousin. “I want you to lead the search party into Virginia. Select your officers carefully. Choose men who will accept the fact that secrecy and fabrication are essential. The other men in the unit must be chosen for their unquestioning loyalty. Among them will be a soldier who will participate in the manufactured assassination of John Wilkes Booth. Is this possible? Remember, there is a generous reward for the assassin.”
“Of course, Lafe,” his cousin replied soberly. “Anything is possible.”
They spent the rest of the day assembling the entourage, Col. Everton Conger and lst Lt. Edward Doherty. They decided on the twenty-six men from the 16th New York Cavalry, battle-forged veterans. As for the person who would swear he shot Booth, Luther suggested a sergeant who was the topic of many drunken conversations in the barracks, a man named Boston Corbett.
“He’s older than most, thirty-four and recognized for bravery so you can be sure he won’t shirk from duty in any situation,” Luther said, “but he’s crazy as a loon. His wife died while carrying their first child and that seemed to drive him over the edge. He found religion, let his hair grow out so he’d look like Jesus and swore off ever being with a woman again. He even cut off his balls with scissors. Spent two weeks in the hospital recovering. Tough as nails. He survived Andersonville.”
“Good, very good,” Baker replied. He stared into his cousin’s face. “I have one other detail you must accept without question. I have a corpse I will bring to the scene. No one must know, but I will be shadowing your movements so that when you corner Booth, I will be there to substitute the body for him.”
“Dammit, Lafe. How the hell are you going to be able to plan this operation down to the last detail so you can even substitute a corpse that people will believe is John Wilkes Booth?”
Baker leaned back and smiled. “If you knew what I had contrived in the last two and a half years and succeeded in keeping secret, you would not ask that question.”


“Ugh.” Ralph sat up in his recliner.
“Uh?” Gertie lowered her newspaper.
“Ugh.” He waved in the direction of the television remote control.
“Oh.” She stretched her arm across the sofa to retrieve it. “Here.”
“Ah.” She returned her attention to the newspaper.
Ralph clicked the television on and turned to professional wrestling.
“Nuh uh.”
“Nuh uh!”
“Sheez.” Ralph began to channel surf. He stopped on a station showing NASCAR. “Hmm?”
“Nuh uh.”
Ralph continued to click until Home Shopping Network showed up.
“Unh! Unh!” Gertie bounced on the sofa.
“Oh shee no!”
“Bthpt!” Gertie glared at Ralph and then jerked the newspaper up to cover her face, almost ripping it.
“Hmph!” Ralph turned off the television and threw the remote control down. He looked up at the ceiling. After a moment he sighed and started tapping his fingers on the arm of the recliner. He looked over at Gertie. “Hmm?” He paused, waiting for a reply. “Hmm?”
Finally he stood and walked over to the sofa and sat next to Gertie, leaning into her. “Hmm?”
“Nuh uh!” Gertie kept her newspaper between her and Ralph.
He nudged her again. When he received no response he put his lips up to her ear.
“Boogly woogly,” he whispered.
“Nuh uh!”
“Oh, boogly woogly.” His voice took on a pitiful tone as Ralph scooted closer.
“Meh!” Gertie elbowed him in the gut.
Bending over, Ralph let out, “Ow!” He wiggled back a little. “Boogly woogly?” Again she ignored him. “Oh boo hoo, boo hoo hoo.”
“Oh sheez.” She put down her newspaper to look at him.
“Boogly woogly?”
She smiled. “Oh poopy doopy.”
Ralph put his arms around Gertie. “Boogly woogly! Boogly woogly!”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter One Hundred Two

Previously: Mercenary Leon meets MI6 spies David, the Prince of Wales, and socialite Wallis Spencer. David abdicates the throne to marry Wallis. He becomes Bahamas governor. Leon dies and his son Sidney turns mercenary. David hires him as his valet. The organization wants playboy Jimmy Donohue dead.
The commander of the organization was dying, and Count Alfred de Merigny was glad. He felt he was destined to become the next leader of the most secret crime cabal in the world. He shook with pride in how he eliminated Sir Harry Oakes in 1945. His international cache was being a playboy who participated in prestigious yachting regattas in the world’s most exotic locales. He had the opportunity to give hands-on supervision so lacking in the current commander.
Merigny’s confidence grew when the commander met with him face to face right after the Harry Oakes affair and recommended he relocate his base of operations to Central America. Few people knew the leader’s identity, and he was one of them. Merigny reasoned he could have conferences with his top lieutenants in Central America’s jungles.
In November 1971, Merigny received a telephone call requesting his presence at Eight Thirty Four Fifth Avenue in New York City. The commander was within days of death. His presence was requested.
The next morning after a long overnight flight, Merigny knocked at the hotel suite’s door. A servant opened it and led him to the bedroom of the commander. When the servant opened the door Merigny saw an emaciated Jessie Donohue who seemed lost among her satin sheets. A withered hand with a huge diamond ring on one of her boney fingers pointed to a chair next to the bed.
“Sit, Alfie.” Her voice cracked. “I can’t talk loudly.”
“I understand, Madame Commander.” He sat and leaned in.
“Not anymore.” She stared at Merigny. “My last order was the death of my son.”
“May I ask why?”
“He ruined my chances with the Duke of Windsor.”
Merigny frowned. “Huh?”
“All Jimmy had to do was keep Wallis amused and I could make David love me.”
The woman was dying. I will not argue with her.
Jessie coughed, spitting up phlegm. “Too late for love now. David and I are both dying. The new commander wants David and Wallis dead.”
“The new commander? I thought I was going to be the new commander?”
“Never. You are just a courier. Shut up and listen. The organization sold for more money than you can imagine. I didn’t care about the money, but if I sold it for a pittance, the new commander wouldn’t have respected me. I demand respect, at least for my father, Mr. Woolworth. He founded the organization to perform small but elite missions around the world. My father had stores everywhere back then. But the new commander wants more than my father could even dream of. The organization wants to rule the world—run companies, dictate to nations, tell people what to think.”
“Then why kill two old people?”
“The Allies found files missing at the end of World War II. The new commander is afraid in their last days the Windsors might implicate him.”
“Who could they tell, a doctor, a couple of nurses?”
“I have it on good sources that Queen Elizabeth and her entourage will visit the duke. The commander wants the Queen, Prince Phillip, and Prince Charles killed too.”
She paused to cough again. “The new commander even wants Sidney, our best mercenary of all, killed. He questions Sidney’s loyalty.”
Merigny’s mind raced. She didn’t order him to her deathbed to tell him all this.
“Why am I here?” The words came slowly.
“As far as the new commander knows, you are happy being the top courier. After I die he will contact you to commission six assassins.” Her old hand reached out to him. “Because I trust you, I want you to send a letter with a symbol only Sidney will understand, and he will save my precious Windsors.”
What could that be? I know. I remember when Sidney killed Harry Oakes. He used something only the natives of the Bahamas would understand. He will realize danger is coming.
“The new commander will continue to use you. When he sends you a message for a mission, do what you can to fumble it.” Jessie shook her head causing her jowls to flap. “To murder for jewels, that is one thing. To take over the world, that is intolerable.” She stared at him as though trying to find his soul. “You do agree with me, don’t you, Alfie? Please don’t tell me you agree with the new commander?”
Merigny thought about it.
Petty crime can only exist in relative freedom. And he had spent his life luxuriating in irrelevance. Perhaps immorality and world domination could co-exist, but why take the chance?
“Yes, my dear Jessie, I agree with you.”
Her head collapsed on the pillow. “Thank you, Alfie. You have made me very happy.”
Merigny could tell her breathing was becoming shallower. Her eyes stared at the ceiling.
“Please, just give me a clue about the identity of the new commander.”
“Red hair.”

Booth’s Revenge Chapter Twenty-Seven

Previously: Booth shoots Lincoln and breaks leg in escape. Stanton’s henchman Lafayette Baker takes Christy’s body to an embalmer. Booth and Herold escape across the river in Maryland where they hide in the Zekiah Swamp.
Yes, Mr. Jones, show Davey the spring. I’ll look at the newspapers.” After Herold grabbed his canteen from his saddlebags, he disappeared with Jones into the thicket. Booth rummaged through the haversack and found the bundle of newspapers. He hungrily grabbed them and began reading headlines on the front pages. What he read stunned him. His eyes wide with bewilderment and his lips trembling, Booth fumbled with each newspaper, each one with the same message.
Somehow, the loathsome tyrant had transformed into the savior of his nation, and Booth had become the cowardly murderer, cringing in the shadows of the theater box, daring only to shoot the newly anointed saint in the back of the head.
The Washington newspapers reported that the Southern press also scorned the assassination. The South held higher ideals, the stories said, than to shoot a man from behind. Booth, according to the land he so loved, sullied the honor of true heroes who sacrificed all on the battlefield.
Clinching his jaw, Booth reached into his own saddlebag to find a datebook he had purchased in 1864. Flipping through it, he found he had left several pages blank. Booth took out a pencil and began scribbling his defense. He was not a weakling. He had paced forward with manly fervor across the theater box, knowing Union officers and supporters filled the house. He even faced down a major in the President’s box, slashing his arm and leaving him crumpled on the floor whimpering. And Booth insisted he shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis” before he shot, not afterwards as the newspaper accounts claimed. Saying the Virginia motto before the shot proved he was a hero and not a coward. He rode hours in pain from his broken leg. Were these the actions of a coward? Booth put aside his datebook when he heard Herold and Jones returning from the springs. For now, he would keep his thoughts private.
“That spring water tasted mighty good,” Herold said with a smile. He extended his canteen. “Want some?”
“Yes, thank you,” Booth replied, reaching for the canteen. He tried not to slurp or dribble too much. He didn’t want Jones to think he was a barbarian.
“I better be moving on,” Jones announced as he walked back to the thicket. “Don’t want nobody to get suspicious. Be back tomorrow with more vittles and newspapers.” He turned to smile. “Now, don’t start making any commotions, you hear?”
Booth and Herold heard him chuckling as Jones disappeared among the trees.
“Anything good in the newspapers?” Herold asked as he plopped on the ground and began munching on a load of bread from the haversack.
“Anything good?” Booth answered in reproof. “All of the North is looking for us. Does that sound good to you?”
“Oh.” He stopped in mid-chew. “Well, the papers from the South must be on our side.”
“No, they are not,” Booth said slowly. He picked up another newspaper and scanned it. “I see Secretary of State Seward survived Paine’s attack. Most unfortunate.”
“Well, it wasn’t on account of lack of effort by Paine. He had blood all over him,” he interrupted.
“And Vice-President Johnson lives. I would have suspected as much from Atzerodt. Cretin! Secretary of War Stanton is still alive. The man with the cigar under the bridge said he would kill Stanton.”
Herold shrugged. “Maybe he chickened out like Atzerodt.”
“No, that man was no coward. He was no gentleman, either, but he was no coward.” Booth paused. “I wonder if he never had an intention of killing Stanton.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. All I do know is that man seemed to have a master plan that included us in the execution but excluded us from the ultimate goal.”
“What goal was that?”
Booth exhaled in exasperation. “Davey, please. I have suspicions. I have no facts, yet. Just my suspicions.”
The next day Booth filled eighteen pages with his suspicions about the shadowy short man with the cigar under the Aqueduct Bridge who had been brought into the conspiracy by Pvt. Adam Christy,military attaché assigned to the Executive Mansion. Booth defended his own actions as arising from deep-seated passions for the South and against the man who had destroyed the South’s efforts to be free. He made the decision without outside encouragement to assassinate the president. Case closed. Still lingering, however, were niggling doubts that the mysterious man was trying to guide him and his men into the same action but for different reasons.
In late afternoon, they once again heard whistling, one high and two low. Jones had returned. This time he entered the clearing boldly and tossed the haversack of food to Herold and the newspapers to Booth. Looking over at the horses, he nodded.
“You don’t expect to take those horses across the Potomac to Virginia with you? My boat ain’t that big.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Herold replied, his eyes widening. “I guess we could just turn them loose.”
“Oh, the damn Yankees would like that,” Jones said with a smirk. “That’s just the kind of present they’d really like, just like it was Christmas morning.”
Booth did not glance up from reading the headlines. “And what would you suggest, sir?”
“I’d shoot them and sink them in the swamp.”
Herold’s mouth dropped open. “Couldn’t you take them with you?”
“And when it got around town that I had two extra horses, don’t you think the damn Yankees would be on my doorstep asking questions? I’ll help you boys escape, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to die for you.”
“Thank you for your advice, Mr. Jones. We appreciate the food and newspapers, and anticipate with great joy the day we may cross the river in your boat,” Booth said.
Jones turned to leave and spoke again over his shoulder. “You better make up your mind about what to do with the horses real soon.”
Herold went over to his roan and petted it, causing the horse to whinny and jostle about.
Jones laughed. “Yeah, the damn Yankees are all around here. They’re going to hear that horse.” He disappeared in the underbrush.
Herold stumbled toward Booth who was looking through the second newspaper.
“My letter hasn’t been printed in any of the papers,” he said with exasperation.
“You don’t think he was serious about shooting the horses, was he?”
“Matthews didn’t keep his word and deliver the letter.” Booth threw the newspapers aside. “I always knew he was a coward.”
“We ain’t really going to have to shoot the horses, are we?”
“Of course, we are. Right now. Get the rifle.”
Herold backed up. “No, no. Not the roan. I don’t mind shooting the bay mare. It’s kinda mean, but the roan is so gentle. Maybe we could just let the roan go. One horse by itself won’t draw no attention.”
Booth struggled to his feet on his crutches. “I said get the rifle,” he ordered.
“All right. I’ll shoot the bay mare.” The rifle was propped up against the tree. Herold picked it up and straight away led the mare a few hundred yards to the swamp, sloshed into the middle and shot the bay, which slowly began to sink into the mire. The roan whinnied and reared. Herold hurried back to the clearing and went toward the horse and waving his hands. “Shoo. Shoo now. Get out of here.”
The horse came toward him and nuzzled his shoulder.
“You see,” Booth said as he hobbled toward him. “That horse will not wander off on its own. If you did scare it momentarily, it would return. And the federals would be following it. Shoot it now.”
Herold began sobbing, laying his head against the horse. “But it’s such a sweet horse. All the times I rode it, it never gave me any trouble at all.”
Booth now stood next to him, leaning in to yell. “Kill the damn horse! You damned coward! Just like John Matthews! He was too big a coward to take my letter to the papers and you’re too big a coward to shoot the horse!”
“No, no, it’ll be good and go away and make no trouble.” Herold pushed at the horse. “Shoo, shoo.”
“Shoot the damn horse!” Booth balanced on one crutch, using the other one to hit Herold, until he finally started to lead the roan toward the swamp where the bay was almost beneath the muddy water. Booth stopped at the edge and screamed at Herold. “Now shoot the damn horse!”
Herold’s shoulders trembled as he finally raised the rifle, took aim and pulled the trigger. He fell on top of the roan, crying and caressing its coat as it began to sink as the bay mare did.
“Get up before you get all muddy,” Booth ordered as he turned to hobble back to the tree where he collapsed, closing his eyes to shut out the sound of Herold’s simpering as he splashed out of the swamp.
Neither of the men spoke to each other except for the most essential communications for the next few days as they waited for Jones to announce it was safe for them to cross the Potomac. After five long days, the night finally arrived for their departure. Jones allowed Booth to ride his horse and he and Herold walked the three miles from their camp to the riverbank. There they saw the small boat, which was all but invisible in the heavy fog.
“That’s not big enough for three men,” Booth said as he dismounted.
“That’s because only two men are going to be in it,” Jones replied. “Here’s a compass and a candle. The oars are in the boat along with a canvas. You can hide under the canvas and read the compass by candle light. Your man can paddle.”
“I thought you were going to take us across,” Booth said.
“No, I agreed to see that you got across,” Jones corrected him brusquely. “The river is filled with gunboats and all sorts of craft filled with men out to capture you. If I was in the boat when they caught you I’d be strung up right alongside you, and that’s the God’s honest truth. Now get going.”
“What if we get lost?” Herold asked in a weak voice.
“Then that’s your problem.” Jones turned, mounted his horse and disappeared into the misty darkness.
Herold helped Booth into the boat and pushed off. From under the canvas, Booth lit the candle and peered at the compass. “Due west,” he whispered. “Straight ahead, toward Virginia. By morning we shall be safe among friends.”

The Beach

“I can’t believe I spent fifteen years on the subway looking at a picture of that damn palm tree thinking it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in the world.”
“George, did you bring the sunblock? You know I get splotchy if I don’t have my sunblock.”
“Freezing my ass on that subway going home every night, staring at that damn palm tree. Spring Hill, Florida, the poster said. Go retire to Spring Hill, Florida, and be happy, the poster said.”
“If you didn’t bring the sun block I’m going back to the car. I’m not going to get all splotchy just because you forgot the sunblock.”
“Fifteen years of thinking if I survive another New York winter and save my money, I can go live under that damn palm tree.”
“Oh. Never mind. It was at the bottom of my bag.”
“They didn’t tell me the houses were halfway across the county from the damn palm tree.”
“Do you want a Coke? I got diet and regular in the thingy here.”
“You drive an hour and when you get here, and it ain’t all that big, either.”
“Your belly’s getting too big. I’m giving you a diet.”
“Look at that beach. It’s nothing. Atlantic City has a bigger beach than that.”
“If we were in Atlantic City right now you’d be freezing your ass off. Now drink your Coke, for crying out loud.”
“Somebody ought to sue those bastards for false advertising. Making Spring Hill look like some damn South Beach or something.”
“We couldn’t afford an outhouse in South Beach. Drink your Coke.”
“I have to walk out a mile before I get my ass wet, the beach is so shallow.”
“If you want your ass wet, I’ll pour the Coke down your pants.”
“I mean, fifteen years of saving our money to move to Spring Hill, and the damn palm tree isn’t even pretty.”
“George, where the hell else do you want to go?”
“Aww, Louise, don’t start in on me.”
“You want to go back to New York, George? It’s snowing in New York, George. Do you want to spend another winter shoveling snow? You want to shovel snow until you drop dead of a heart attack?”
“Give me the damn Coke, Louise.”
“You want to live in South Beach, George? Why? You want to stare at all the young girls in bikinis? They wouldn’t give you a second look. You know why? Because you’re an old man, George.”
“Now you’re just getting nasty, Louise.”
“I know I’m just a wrinkled up old broad from New York, George, but you know what? I think you’re the best looking thing on this beach.”
“I know I’m the best looking thing on this beach. I’m the only thing on this beach except for that damn palm tree.”
“Look, George. The sun is setting. Not a cloud in the sky.”
“Well, maybe not the best looking thing on the beach. For a wrinkled up old broad from New York, you’re okay, Louise.”
“Drink your Coke, George.”

David, Wallis and the Mercenary Chapter One Hundred One

Previously: Mercenary Leon meets MI6 spies David, the Prince of Wales, and socialite Wallis Spencer. David abdicates the throne to marry Wallis. He becomes Bahamas governor. Leon dies and his son Sidney turns mercenary. David hires him as his valet. In their later years, the Windsors learn the pleasures of cuddling.
When Sidney knocked on David’s door the next morning he was disquieted when the Duke didn’t call out to him to enter. After receiving no response after a second rap, Sidney cracked the door and whispered, “Sir?”
Still no answer. He decided to make a discreet check to the loo for his highness before tapping at the connection door to the Duchess’s bedroom. She rose much later in the morning than her husband and could be found irritable if aroused too early. The loo was empty. Sidney was at a loss, until he felt a pat on his shoulder.
“Oh dear,” David said in a chipper voice, “I’m afraid I gave you a fright not being in my usual location this morning. He opened the medicine cabinet door to remove his tooth brush, paste, razor, shaving soap and brush. “Tell the cook I’ll have my usual breakfast—coffee, toast plum jam. No. Not jam. Orange marmalade. It reminds me of the Riviera.”
“Are you all right, sir?”
“Yes, Sidney. Best sleep in years. Oh. Don’t bother the Duchess. She’s still asleep.”
Within a few days, Sidney packed their luggage and accompanied them on an ocean liner back to Paris where Wallis at once started on her memoirs which she decided to call “The Heart Has Its Reasons.” She even invited Sidney to read chapters from her typewriter, after David had read them.
Sidney did not expect mention of their years with MI6, and, of course, he was right. Wallis described many of the places where missions occurred but not the missions themselves. He was rather surprised the five years they spent with Jimmy and Jessie Donohue were deleted, but as Sidney observed David lean over her shoulder as she typed and the tender caresses as they passed the pages, he began to understand.
Even at the parties they hosted, Sidney noticed the couple often glanced at each other. The look in David’s eyes belonged to a young man freshly and completely enamored. In Wallis’s eyes showed her concern David’s every need was met, and if he were in conversation she could tell the moment he became bored. She rushed in to distract him to another guest. And their behavior made him wonder why he bothered to notice.
The years passed quickly. Wallis’ memoirs were an international success, and were followed by a film documentary of David’s biography. Much of it was filmed in their garden at Bois de Boulogne in Paris. Sidney stood behind the cameraman to watch the couple continue a love affair which he had not seen between them when he came into their employ in the Bahamas. Sidney was impressed with the quality of the production. Orson Welles narrated it.
His own life settled into a pleasant routine, and Sidney sometimes forgot that he was a mercenary and not just the valet to the Duke of Windsor. Letters from the Bahamas reminded him of his other job. Inside the envelope addressed by Gertie(Jimbo had yet to catch on to how to write) was another sealed envelope which contained his payment from the organization to protect the Windsors. Sidney felt guilty about accepting the money, after all, he had not witnessed the least bit of aggression against the couple since Jimmy Donohue kicked Wallis in the shin. Gertie also enclosed a brief note saying his presence was needed to resolve some business matters.
Since the end of the war Sidney had begun an enterprise of growing the number of fishing boats. Old Jinglepockets retired, and Sidney wanted to make sure he had no worries in his final years. He figured the old man was not the type to quit, become melancholic and die in his sleep all in one fell swoop. By now Sidney had twenty boats. Jimbo recruited young men, taught them to fish and oversaw their progress. Gertie handled the books. They rarely needed Sidney’s presence so when they asked for it, he knew he must be there immediately.
He informed the Windsors he would be leaving for a few days in the Bahamas to attend to business.
“Of course,” David replied with a smile. “No problem at all.”
Wallis beamed. “I can’t believe how many boats you have acquired. We are both so proud of you. I’m so glad we were able to help get your business started.”
David jerked his head toward Sidney who smiled and gave a hint of a nod.
“Of course,” he replied. “I will always appreciate you.” Sidney knew the Windsors had done no such thing, but if the delusion made Wallis happy then he was willing to go along with it.
In two days Sidney had flown to the Bahamas, taken one of his fishing fleet boats to Eleuthera where he sat in the living room of his hacienda playing with the two sons of Jimbo and Gertie.
“Mr. Sidney, everythin’ is going fine. After supper I can go over the bank statements with you. Jimbo is good with the young fishermen. None of us will ever have to worry about fillin’ our bellies, that’s for sure.”
“Gertie, you don’t have to call me Mr. Sidney.”
“Oh yes I do,” she interrupted. “You are the boss and nobody’s goin’ to forget about it while I’m around.”
“And how are those babies there goin’ to learn the right way to talk to you if they don’t hear it first from me?”
“You better give up.” Jimbo put his beefy arms around Gertie’s waist. “Gertie knows best.”
“And there’s somethin’ else, Mr. Sidney,” Gertie continued. “There’s this strange, skinny man with a nose like a hawk came snoopin’ around here. He said he had some business matter to discuss with you. That’s why I wrote you that letter. He gave me the extra envelope too.”
“I know who it is, Gertie.” Sidney kept looking at the boys as they wrestled in the floor. “Did he say when he wanted to meet?”
“At three o’clock down on the beach behind the house.” She paused. “If he’s up to trouble, then let out a holler and Jimbo will run out and beat him up for you.”
Sidney smiled. “I know who it is. There won’t be no problems.”
Wearing a casual top and slouch pants, Sidney sat on the beach at three watching a yacht on the horizon. A small motorboat sped his way. The man ran it up on the beach, got out and walked Sidney’s way.
He recognized him immediately. It was Alfred de Merigny. The years had not been good to him. Harry Oakes’ daughter Nancy divorced him a year after her father’s death. Cuba kicked him out as an undesirable and the only country who would accept him was some hell hole in Central America. It was 1966, and the world had forgotten he once had been suspected of murder. At least Merigny still had his money.
“The commander has a new mission for you.” Merigny eased down on the sand. Sidney assumed his bones were too brittle for a plop. “You will kill Jimmy Donohue this weekend in his apartment on Fifth Avenue. Make it look like a drug overdose.”
“I have a question for you.” Sidney continued staring at the waves. “How much longer can this organization continue? Am I the only agent left? It seems like it sometimes.”
“Remember, don’t ask questions.” Merigny took out a handkerchief and wiped his face. “But you’re right. We offered to kill Kennedy three years ago, and they didn’t even reply.” He pulled out a cigarette and lit it. “The commander is very old, likely to die soon. I expect to take over, and I will go in a new direction. Petty thievery and murder are beneath us.” He glanced at Sidney. “But you and your father did it very well.”
“I have another question.”
“What is it?”
“Why am I still being paid to protect the Windsors?”
“It’s the commander’s wish.”
That night Sidney took a boat to Miami, and the next morning he boarded a plane for New York. By next evening Sidney checked into a Harlem hotel. For his disguise, he selected a black tuxedo, black ruffled shirt, black shoes; and purple nail polish, eye shadow and lipstick. A black slouch hat dipped down over one eye. Sidney approved when he saw himself in the bedroom mirror. Over the years of the friendship between the Windsors and Jimmy, Sidney had observed Jimmy’s choice of midnight escorts. This appearance would certainly lure him.
Sidney left the hotel and walked down the street until he found a gang huddled in shadows down a side street. He went straight to them. Opening his jacket, Sidney revealed a high-powered revolver in a holster and then ordered heroin and a syringe with such conviction the gang nodded and produced the goods at once. After he handed over a stack of bills, Sidney walked swiftly away.
Next he took a taxi to Manhattan. On the street he saw a young man dressed almost as well as he was. However, the man on the street looked like he was waiting to be picked up. Sidney handed him some bills and asked the name of nearby clubs where wealthy men went to meet pretty boys with nothing else to do. The boy nodded and pointed down several dark alleys. After dropping in on a couple of the clubs he found Jimmy in the darkest of them all. Jimmy talked too loudly, touched the men who surrounded in inappropriate places and ordered another round of drinks for the house.
God, he looked fat and old. How old must he be now? This was 1966 and the last time I saw him was in 1954. He must be pushing fifty. It would be mercy to put him out of his misery.
Sidney took a table for one in a far corner and ordered a Cuba libre. He took his time sipping it. As Sidney suspected, Jimmy left his friends behind and walked straight to him. Jimmy’s face was absolutely aglow.
“May I join you?” Jimmy asked.
Sidney looked straight ahead. “This table is for one.”
“I can get us a table for two.”
“I don’t want to move.”
“I’ll pull up a chair.”
“Suit yourself.”
Jimmy dragged up a chair, sat and leaned into Sidney face. “You look great in purple.”
“I look good in anything.”
“I bet you do.”
“Or nothing.”
“Even better.”
“Are your friends going to get lonely?”
“I don’t care. I just met them ten minutes ago.”
“Tell me.” Sidney sipped his drink. “Do you get a kick from heroin?”
“I thought you were going to say cocaine,” Jimmy replied, almost out of breath.
“Cocaine is for sissies. So let’s get out of here.”
“Your place or mine?”
God, his chitchat is tiresome. I’m bored. I want to kill this guy now.
“Your place. I’m sure it’s much nicer than mine.”
“Eight Thirty-Four Fifth Avenue, baby.”
“That’ll do.” Sidney stood. “Pay the barkeep and let’s get out of here.”
Jimmy’s limousine was waiting just outside the door. They were driving into the parking garage within a few minutes. Sidney noticed the driver kept his eyes straight ahead. In the darkness Sidney had become the invisible man.
Jimmy led the way to the elevator and tried to grope Sidney but he pushed him away.
“Not now, sugar.”
Jimmy explained he shared the apartment with his mother but the suite was large enough that sometimes they didn’t see each other for weeks. He unlocked a side door and led Sidney to his bedroom. Once inside, he turned on the lights. Jimmy began to take his clothes off.
This game had lasted too long. Sidney slipped the syringe, already filled with heroin, from his inside jacket pocket. He paused a moment when he observed the room. The only furniture was an ordinary bed, but on the walls were thirteen framed photographs of Wallis.
When Jimmy bent over to take off his underwear, Sidney empty the entire syringe of heroin into his left buttock. Jimmy didn’t let out a sound but collapsed on the bed.
Sidney quickly left the apartment, went down the elevator to the basement, walked onto the street and disappeared into the night.

Booth’s Revenge Chapter Twenty-Six

Previously: Booth shoots Lincoln and breaks leg in escape. Stanton’s henchman Lafayette Baker takes Christy’s body to an embalmer. Booth and Herold escape across the river in Maryland. Mudd sets his lef and sends him away.
Booth and Herold kept riding through the night, around the outskirts of Bairdstown where they heard muffled voices shouting out orders and the neighing of excited horses. They continued south until they came upon a sign for Rich Hill. Dawn was breaking as they entered the gate, carefully latching it behind them. As they had done at Surrattsville and at Doctor Mudd’s house, Booth stayed mounted on his horse as Herold went to the door and knocked.
“Who the hell is it?” a harsh male voice rang out.
“Soldiers loyal to the South,” Herold replied.
“What the hell do you want?”
“My brother fell off his horse and needs to rest.”
The door cracked, and a heavyset man with a bushy mustache peered out. “What the hell is that to me?”
“Doctor Mudd said you would be sympathetic.” Herold grinned and motioned to Booth. “Please, sir, my brother here is in an awful lot of pain. Can’t you give us shelter for a day or two?”
“Why didn’t Mudd take care of him?”
“He did. It’s just we’re hankering to get across the river back home to Virginia. Ma must be missing us something terrible.”
“So you figger you can talk about your ma and I’ll feel sorry for you and that fella you call your brother? As soon as I let you in my house you beat me up and take what you want.”
“Gosh, Mr. Cox,” Herold said as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Do I look like somebody who’d do a thing like that?”
“Hell yes. Never knew a baby-faced man who wasn’t a damned son of a bitch.”
Herold turned to look back at Booth and shook his head, his eyes pleading. Booth cursed under his breath. He did not want to swing down off his horse to keep Cox from slamming the door shut in their faces. He could feel the pain screaming up his leg already. Booth slid off the horse anyway.
“Sir,” he said, wincing as he limped toward the porch. “You must believe us. Have you no compassion for fellow sons of the south? We fought four long, hard years for your rights. Doesn’t that mean anything to you?” Booth placed his right hand across his heart as though to swear to his sincerity.
Cox ambled closer to squint at him. He pointed to the tattoos on Booth’s fingers. “JWB. Those your initials?”
“Yes sir,” Booth replied. “How perceptive of you, sir.”
“I was in town today,” Cox said slowly, a smile verging on his lips. “I heard somebody killed the damn Yankee president.”
“Aww, gawd,” Herold moaned.
Booth shushed him and batted his eyes. “We heard the same thing, sir. God’s providence, I’d say.”
“It was an actor, they said. John Wilkes Booth.” Cox turned to spit off the porch. “You ain’t no soldier. And neither is that half-wit.” He nodded toward Herold.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Booth remonstrated.
“John Wilkes Booth. JWB. For God’s sake, man. You could at least wear some damn gloves.”
Booth grasped at the possibility hidden around Cox’s words. “Then you will help us, sir?”
“If you’re expecting me to let you in my house to rest a spell, hell no. But if what you really want is a ride across the Potomac to Virginia, then maybe I can do something. I know a man with a boat, a good boat. A river ghost. Ferried men and letters across the Potomac and never lost anything. Yankees caught him once, though. Ruined him. Took his land, money. He’ll do anything to get back at the damn Yankees.”
“God bless you, Mr. Cox,” Booth gushed.
“Better be asking God to protect you instead of bless me. The damn Yankees will shoot you on sight, and if they ask me anything about it, I’ll say I never saw you.” Cox walked to the end of his porch and waved toward the thickening underbrush of Zekiah Swamp to the west. “About a mile off there is a clearing. I was going to plant some tobacco there but never got around to it. Go there and wait.”
“So your man can take us to Virginia tomorrow night?” Booth asked.
“Hell, no. This is going to be tricky. It may take a few days. If I go running to Thomas Jones’ place and he disappears with his boat like that,” Cox explained, snapping his fingers, “the damn Yankees are sure to notice. Gotta take it slow.” He sniffed. “We’ll get food to you, somehow.” He paused and then whistled three times, one high and two low notes. “You hear that and you know somebody friendly is coming up. Can’t have you shooting the man bringing your supplies.”
“Newspapers,” Booth added. “I want to see newspapers and read what they have to say about me.”
“You are a damn actor, ain’t you?” Cox smirked. “Want to see your name in the headlines. Big man.”
By the time Booth and Herold rode their horses to the clearing, the sun was over the pine treetops. They tried to rest the best they could during the day. That lumpy bed back at Dr. Mudd’s home was luxurious by comparison.
Herold began a few conversations about what kinds of birds would make the noises they heard, but Booth ignored him. Booth had more important things to think about. Like his place in history. Or the pain in his leg. Or the gnawing emptiness in his stomach.
In the late afternoon, they heard whistling—one high and two low. Someone was coming.
“Sounds like a sick bluebird,” Herold whispered.
“Go see who it is.” Booth pulled up on his elbow and reached for his revolver.
Herold grabbed his rifle and walked slowly toward the sound. A large, burly man emerged from the thicket with a canvass haversack. Herold took aim. “Who are you and what do you want?”
“Thomas Jones. Cox sent me.”
“That’s all right. Come on here, real slow like.” Herold kept his rifle aimed at him.
“You can lower your rifle, Davey,” Booth assured his nervous companion. Booth put aside his own pistol and smiled at Jones who approached him, one slow step at a time. He remembered meeting Jones outside Mudd’s church before Christmas, and how the man made no secret of his dealing in contraband. “This is a good man. Dr. Mudd introduced us once. What do you have in your bag, sir?”
“Vittles and newspapers.” Jones put the haversack down by Booth and took a step back. “Mr. Cox said you wanted to see the newspapers.”
Herold loped over to peer into the bag. “Whatcha got? I’m hungry.”
“When do we leave for Virginia?” asked Booth, more anxious to get to the South than fill his empty stomach.
“I don’t know,” Jones replied. “Can’t look suspicious. Yankees know my sympathies. They’ll be keeping an eye on me. Might take a few days. Don’t worry. I’ll keep you in vittles. I’ll show your man here where a spring is. Not far. Just a few hundred yards.”
Herold looked up. “Water? I could go for some water.”