At first, Louis stared at Emma from outside through the shop window. How beautiful she was, he thought to himself; how lucky he was to have her as his wife. But Louis had little time so he hurried into the shop. He explained to Emma that the Yankees would attempt to cross the river very soon and if they succeeded they would no doubt destroy the town. He was very concerned about her and his son’s safety. He had arranged for Emma and Nathaniel to leave with their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. McGraw, and their daughter, Elizabeth. They would load themselves, along with the few valuables they could quickly gather, into the McGraw’s dray and leave for Culpeper immediately. Since the Union troops seemed intent on taking Fredericksburg and then continuing on to Richmond, it was unlikely Culpeper would face any danger for the time being. Once in Culpeper, the two families would find safekeeping at the home of a good friend of Louis’s father.
“One other thing,” Louis said to Emma. “You must not forget to take the stone. Protect it and don’t let anyone see it.”
“What is it with this stone of yours?” Emma responded. “Why is that rock so special?”
“Emma, please do as I ask. The stone belonged to my father. He brought it back from Washington where he was working at the construction site of a monument project. I don’t have time to explain the whole story right now, but I ask that you simply trust me when I say it is important. Just keep the stone safe and I will tell you everything I know about it when we are together again. Please just promise me you’ll do that.”
“Well, all right, I guess I promise,” Emma said, “but don’t be expecting me to lug that rock all over the State of Virginia forever. I don’t understand how it is so valuable seeing how the edges are all broken off. If anything, I guess I can use it to crack open walnuts.”