Early Afternoon, Friday, July 18th, 1868 – the Beauregard Plantation, outside Naw’lins, Louisiana
Oh, GOD forbid that we would forget that damned tournament. With a thirteen hundred mile trek west ahead of us, my posse just had to sail east (up-river, no less) to Naw’lins for love of the game.
I decided I’d make something of my time while they all dithered away money on luxuries and cleaned themselves up more than they had for Annie’s funeral. Well… that’s not exactly how it happened, 1 but that’s how it ended up, and that’s what’s important. I bumped inta the Padre 2 in the worst part o’ town, where the (CENSORED) hang out. He was lookin’ for another “spiritual viewpoint” on our problem with the cabal we’re chasin’.
While it did my heart good to know that the Padre was still on the case, it troubled me that he piled the practices of these (CENSORED) in with the beliefs of the People. Apparently, travelling with Kyle had opened the Yankee reverend to the ideas of other faiths, and the Padre was lookin’ for help wherever he could find it. After all, if these cabalists build the things on these scrolls, it’ll be bad for everybody, (CENSORED) and messkins included.
We’d no sooner found a _bokor_s shop what looked like it might have some pull when we were joined by an unlikely figure. A will-dressed fancified city-slicker with a frog accent. Just what we needed, a tinhorn lookin’ for a thrill.
The tinhorn turned useful, though, as he mentioned that he’d worked with the Baron Sim – ee – own before, and would be delighted to accompany us. As the head of Bayou Vermillion’s In the Book, I elected ta stay outside and spark up one of the stinkin’ cigars from Prosperty. Half to remind me to buy a box of Havanas when I got the chance, and half because the taste of ‘em always reminded me what a bad place a ghost town can be. Elm Run came to mind, and I took a swig of the anise-flavored coffee that now filled both of Gunter’s old flasks. Yech.
The Padre came out first, and we headed back to the hotel together. He told me he needed to talk to Kyle, but that he had a better idea of where to go, now. I reluctantly agreed that the detour here might have therefore been worth the trouble, and parted ways with him to the General’s plantation. I needed to see a man about a hoss.
With the General still away on National business, 3 his lovely wife Caroline was kind enough to take myself and the posse in for a social call. The Lady o’ the house said she needed a firm hand with her step-children, but as the boys were polite enough (around me, leastaways), I think she was simply showin’ us fine hospitality. 4 It was a welcome invitation indeed, seein’ as how every other establishment in the Red Stick (reputable and otherwise) was full to the gills with every cardsharp, huckster, and hustler in the land.
As if, in all the recent excitement, I had somehow forgotten that Gamorra come back to the firmament was scheduled to arrive in the form o’ a $10,000 buy-in orgy o’ vice. Everyone in town, and even some of the (CENSORED) and servants were chattin’ about it. I suppose some folks have got even less sense than I do. Praise be!
While the Ladies (accompanied by the Padre) indulged the society people with a social call, I spoke with the General’s boys about findin’ a reasonable replacement for Bill 5. I was only lookin’ for a hoss sharp enough to know its own name an’ stamp ten, but instead introduced to a remarkable beast – a full-blood Clydesdale worthy of the lands of Avalon. As the beast was easily worth over a thousand dollars, I expected the Beauregard family to have to show me a different hoss. It seems a Lone Star badge is credit enough, however, for Leroy was kind enough to deeply discount the hoss to somethin’ an honest man could afford.
“Rascal”, so called for the same reason we might call a big many ‘Tiny’, is an even tempered giant whom was chosen for his intellect. I just hope he’ll take to bein’ called ‘William’ for Clara’s benefit. She’ll have to ride side-saddle, but bein’ a lady, she’ll be used ta that. For some reason, everybody expects me to hitch him up ta the carriage I bought from the Beauregards, too…
1. Actually, truth be told, I’d lost my nerve a little bit and went lookin’ for somethin’ that would kill the pain better’n the anise schnapps the brothers boom had left me in possession of. All of that’s gone, anyhow, and I’ll be dead afore I’ll drink Irish whiskey in bourbon country.
2. Which I must admit shocked the life right outta me. I mean, here I am off the wagon and lookin’ to do worse, and I walk right inta a living representation of temperance. Looks like someone’s still lookin’ after Young Jake.
3. It’s only been three days since we were last in town, after all!
4. Though come to think o’ it, she might have meant her step-daughter. As an indulgent reader might guess, I have somethin’ o’ a blind spot when it comes to disciplinin’ nubile girls. I imagine that Belle, Cher, or (perhaps best) Clara talked some sense into the girl.
5. Clara’s lost, lamented hoss. He was kilt by Powers’ henchmen during the warrant-servin’.