Booth’s Revenge Chapter Seventy-Five

Previously: Booth shoots Lincoln and breaks leg in escape. Baker saves Booth’s life at Garrett’s farm. Johnson grants a reprieve for Mrs. Surratt, but it arrives too late. Lamon and Baker join forces to bring down Stanton. The Senate fails to remove Johnson from office. Gabby regains his sanity.
His mission for God was finished, Boston Corbett thought as he made his way to the Washington, D.C, train station. Praise the Lord. Because nosey newspaper reporters spotted him at the impeachment trial, Corbett delayed his departure several days. He never considered he could have turned down all their interview requests. They harassed him with questions about the trial. He tried to explain he was a mere servant of God and the reporters should interview Secret Service founder Lafayette Baker and former District Marshal and good friend of President Lincoln, Ward Hill Lamon. The newsmen had none of his demure declarations. He was the man who killed the assassin. He attended the trial to remove Lincoln’s successor. They wanted to know why.Only Baker stayed by his side as he underwent interview after interview.
“No,” he told newspaper reporters, “I didn’t know Andrew Johnson personally.”
Did you know anyone connected with the political investigation, they asked.
“No,” he repeated, “except for Mr. Baker.”
“How did you come to know Mr. Baker? When did he become such a good friend to stay by your side as you talk to us?” a reporter asked.
“It is God’s will,” Corbett replied without hesitation. “God intervened to ensure we sat next to each other. We have very much in common.” He looked over at Baker who smiled.
“And what do you two have in common?” another reporter asked.
“We both love our country and our God,” he continued. At this point Corbett began to tell the journalists his journey through life, his tragedies and his triumphs. When he described how he castrated himself with a pair of scissors, the reporters lost interest and moved away.
Even the magazine writers lost interest when Corbett mentioned the castration, and he couldn’t fathom why they didn’t find that experience fascinating. Realizing no one else wished to interview him, Corbett thought about what to do next. His evangelical mission was going nowhere, so he decided to return to his adopted hometown, Boston. Once back in town, Corbett went from hatter’s shop to hatter’s shop looking for employment.
He didn’t have to look for long because all the hat makers smiled in recognition when he told them his name. They viewed him as a national hero. His long experience in their chosen trade impressed them. Samuel Mason, the man who eventually hired him, took great pleasure in introducing him to all his customers as the man who shot President Lincoln’s assassin.
Corbett smiled and accepted their congratulations, but, deep in his soul, he knew he didn’t deserve the credit. The man they thought he killed still lived and that fact made him uncomfortable. A nagging doubt lingered in the back of his mind. He felt he clung to his sanity as though grasping a tree root extending through the side of a high cliff. Corbett didn’t want to abandon all reason and tumble down into eternal madness; but, he asked himself, what was he to do?
One day he must forsake all other missions the Lord may lay out in front of him, Corbett decided. He knew he must search for John Wilkes Booth, the man he should have killed in that burning tobacco barn in Virginia. While Corbett believed Lafayette Baker was sincere in his efforts to end the killing and spare Booth, he also knew that the man was wrong. God wanted Booth to die. God wanted the truth told, because the truth will set Boston Corbett free.
***
Ward Hill Lamon sat in his favorite chair in the parlor of his Danville, Illinois, home and felt older than he had ever felt before. He hadn’t even taken his large carpetbag up to his room after arriving from the train station. All of his life he chased one thing after another. This last quest had left him drained, devoid of any emotions, which stoked his engine to keep him moving. For the past decade he had devoted his life to Abraham Lincoln, first to serve and protect him and then to avenge his murder. And in the end he had to face the consequence of not fulfilling any of his duties. Why did he allowed Stanton to convince him the President had been secreted away for his own protection? Why had he conceded that the justice system couldn’t punish Stanton? At this very moment, Stanton could be laughing at him. He could be lifting a glass of sherry, toasting himself for getting away with the most horrible crimes in American history.
Merry whispering roused him from his dark thoughts. He looked up to see his daughter Dorothy carrying a tray of cookies and his wife Sally with tray of cups and a pitcher of lemonade. At that moment, he forgot his failures and appreciated the love that surrounded him.

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