Sunday, July 20th, 1868 – The Becky-Lou Too, Morningstar Lines Double-Sidewheeler, Mississippi River, Louisiana
I didn’t even get a say as ta whether or not the posse was stayin’ for the poker orgy. When Madam Beauregard agreed ta sponsor Clara in the social event o’ the season, well we just had ta attend. The general himself was sponsorin’ some French city slicker (who has eyes on belle, o’ course) and Jason wasn’t leavin’ without earnin’ his ten thousand dollars’ worth (though where a hired gun got so much money and chose not ta retire, I chose not ta ask).
In addition ta the Beauregards’ champions, a Jejune LeCroix was there representin’ the Whateley family (whom I have mentioned before) and Mr. Kane, who was playin’ on behalf o’ Dr. Hellstromme. If that name seem familiar, dear reader, that’s because you’ve been payin’ attention. Back in ’63, I took a little ride out o’ Illinois for Hellstromme Industries. While the company’s a relative unknown in these parts, the Doctor is a captain o’ industry whose meteoric rise has earned him a mention In the Book. I wish I’d known that in ’62.
Just because those four were the only ones I’d managed ta notice (largely by fallin’ over them) don’t mean that there weren’t others. I’m pretty sure that every cardsharp there what couldn’t afford his own suit was playin’ on someone else’s behalf. In all the recent excitement, I just didn’t prioritize lookin’ into the backgrounds o’ the cardsharps at this social event. 1 Besides, with General Sherman’s best overseein’ the event, I figured that the contest was in good hands.
Does Bear have a maximal amount o’ times a body can be wrong? If so, I ain’t hit it yet.
The accursed event took all day, featurin’ steely-eyed men in proud grey scrutinizin’ the every move and word o’ almost a hundred o’ the world’s slickest, underhanded, dishonest, vice poxed folk this side o’ Richmond. Most o’ it would be pretty entertaining, if it weren’t such a waste o’ time and energy. Don’t they realize that all o’ this is just a put on ta make the casino 2 more money?
When it was nearly over, in the wee hours o’ the morning’, lo and behold, two people I knew personally were in the final heat. It were Clara, Jason, the general’s entry, and Mr. Kane. Truth be told, games o’ chance tend ta bore me. Already short o’ sleep and agitated ta go and do something rather than standin’ around like a popinjay, I took ta torturin’ Wicked 3 and scrutinizin’ what papers were left ta me from the Powers affair. I confess, it was not likely the best use o’ my time.
Without any fanfare, Clara won the tourney. A million Davises wealthier, 4 the woman could now well afford ta continue her career as a cartographer without worryin’ about the fact that she was gettin’ too old ta attract a husband. 5
I o’ course wanted ta leave as soon as the tourney was over, no matter the fact that it was still dark. Unfortunately, eveyone else in the posse disagreed with me, and wanted ta stay for the ‘social event o’ the season’. Clara even asked upon my honor as a gentleman 6 as a personal favor for me ta stay. I had ta decline. 7 Apparently, for some, the Call o’ Ditty was stronger than the Call o’ Duty.
Eventually, it was pointed out ta me that I’d be riding’ a sick hoss through unknown terrain at night while short o’ sleep. 8 It’d be a good way ta get poor Emma hurt, so I was forced ta concede the point that waitin’ at least until ten in the mornin’ seemed a decent thin’ ta do. I resolved ta go back ta the Beauregard Plantation and drink myself ta sleep.
Flush with her champion’s sensational victory, Madam Beauregard wished ta return ta her home and change. As her goals coincided with mine, 9 I escorted the woman home. Kyle was kind enough ta tag along, just in case I fell off my hoss.
1. Well, truthfully, I didn’t give this avenue a proper amount o’ thought, either. I was so wrapped up in gettin’ the Hell out o’ Dodge that I didn’t expect ta actually attend the tournament.
2. Not ta mention every other business in town.
3. All in the name o’ the cause o’ course.
4. Who needs all that money, anyway? A million greybacks? How would you even spend that in a lifetime?
5. Unless she marries a banker, I suppose.
6. Haw! While my daddy’d be proud, I know some Sisters o’ the Society o’ the Sacred Heart (not ta mention some cow-punchers) who’d disagree.
7. I need ta apologize ta Clara, but it’s my hope that as her request was a personal one, when she sees the why o’ my refusal, she’ll understand.
8. Ta say nothin’ o’ the Pox Walkers. Not that any o’ them did. They’re learning, spirits be praised.
9. Not ta mention that it was the polite thin’ ta do.