The next morning he found Jeff and Henry busy at work. "What are you doing?" he asked.
"Got blueprints of the motorized torpedoes," Jeff answered. "We really have to talk."
The General nodded. "Let me get some breakfast," he answered. He looked at his watch and realized that if Jeff's prediction that he would disappear in 48 hours was true, they didn't have much time. He noticed all the children were still in the house. "Isn't this a school day?" he remarked.
"Mother called the school," his youngest son answered, "and told them because of what happened to sister we wouldn't be coming in, that we'd be taking several days off."
"Oh," his father sighed, "I really wonder if that is necessary, but where your mother has done it we will abide by her wishes. But go and get some homework assignments. I do not want you to fall behind. You can email your teacher."
"Yes, father!" the children answered, and hurried off. His wife came out in her dressing robe.
"Oh, bless our dear maid!" she moaned. "How the neighbors have talked since we took her in! Some of them think it was for more reasons than Carter being your best friend."
"I know!" the General answered. "I overhear some comments at the base, but it's something that doesn't worry us right now."
His wife hesitated a moment then continued. "I don't usually interfere in your military affairs, But I want to know the truth about Jeffrey. That young man is kin, I can feel it in my bones. You can't tell me he isn't, yet I've never seen him before, though he looks VERY familiar."
Jeff sat down his cup, stared at his wife for a moment, then simply told her everything, let it pour out. She never said a word 'til he got done, then she sat down in the nearest chair and went "Oh my God! No wonder he seemed so familiar! Now that you've said it, yes, I can see his mother and father's features in his face! My God! What are you going to do? How can you change things? Everything we know may disappear!"
"I have no choice!" Jeff answered. "I don't doubt that what Jeffrey says is true. This history, this life, this way, is a dead end. It only leads to the destruction of mankind. We have to keep it from happening! I'll HAVE to go back into the past. That, probably now, is unstoppable. But how I'm going to change things I haven't got the foggiest! I'm scared to death! But somehow I've got to get back, and make someone back there understand that they have to go back into the past and fix things, or it's too late, mankind is finished."
Jeffrey entered the kitchen. Mrs. Davis got up, kissed him on the cheek and asked "Have you had breakfast, dear?"
"No, ma'am," Jeffrey answered, blushing.
"Well, I'm going to make flap jacks. Sit down. I know what's going on. You can talk in front of me."
Jeffrey looked to the General who nodded. "These blueprints confirm what we believe," Jeffrey began. "No boilermaker made these plans, the technology is made to look like it came from the 1800s, but it came from much later."
"How much later?" the General asked.
"No telling!" Jeffrey answered. "That's a question we might never be able to answer! But it's definitely NOT from the time it was supposed to be from. Somebody gave this man these plans! He didn't make them up, no matter how much he said he did. He's the key! There's a date here...when he started work on the torpedo in the sanitarium's workshop. When you go back you've got to make somebody understand they have to go back and tell those in authority to watch him, and when someone gives him these plans, the plans have to be destroyed, that person executed! He mustn't return! He'll simply try again somewhere else, somebody else!"
"But WHO?" the General asked, "Who can I get to, and how do I make them believe me?"
Jeffrey took another piece of paper from the stack and laid it before the General. The General looked at it for a few moments and then nodded. "Of course!" he said, "Of course! He would be the only one! And I would be just able to reach him! But how old would I be when I get back there? Would I be able to make him believe me?"
"No telling!" Jeffrey answered. "Can't be predicted. But it's believed the closer you are in history to the point of diversion, the less you will age as you go back. But that's not a guarantee. It's only a theory. You need to learn as much about him as you can, find something that way few people know."
The General's wife came over, looked down at the paper and smiled. "Oh!" she said, "We don't have to worry about that! We know something about that man that isn't even in the history books!"
The General's eyes widened. "Of COURSE!" he remarked, "Of course! That date is only two months off, almost to the day before The Battle Of Hampton Roads. He had to have been given the plans only a short time before. They wouldn't have had the time to build the torpedoes. We've got what we need. Now we have to pray we can succeed. But it really bothers me, it really does, that The Confederacy has to die. There should be something, some way we can keep that from happening."
"Not without destroying everything," Jeff answered. "There is simply no way! If The Confederacy survives, the history that I come from will come to pass. There is no question of it. We can't change that, no matter how much we want to, we simply can't! This was never meant to be. We can't change that, no matter how much we want to, it CAN'T happen!"
The General sighed. "If that's how it is," he managed, "that's how it is! And we can't change it. But I feel we have accomplished so much and I hate to see it lost."