Sunday, July 20th, 1868 – The Becky-Lou Too, Morningstar Lines Double-Sidewheeler, Mississippi River, Louisiana
After arrivin’ at the Plantation, Kyle reminded me that we needed to look in on William (That is, Rascal). Apparently, he was tired, too. When we arrove at the stables, the boy tol’ us William had been sent ahead to the hotel, along with the specifications for the wainwright. But, there was another reason to stay awake a bit longer.
As it turned out, the General done arrove whilst the tourney had been underway. As we’d introduced ourselves to his wife, the house (CENSORED) announced Kyle an’ I in aristocratic style. Fortunately for my constitution, the “Little Creole” is every bit the soldier the stories about him indicate. Once again, a Lone Star badge was credit enough, and P.G.T. din’ even blink at Kyle’s red skin and feathers. We spoke like comrades in the same battle – which, after a fashion, we were.
When I informed the General of the purpose of my visit, 1 he realized that he’d absolutely have to attend the pomp-and-circumstance circus he’d been intendin’ to avoid. As I’d figured prominently in convincin’ his wife to become involved, I was informed that I was gettin’ gussied up and goin’, too. Shucks… and other comments.
While I brought the General up to speed on recent events, 2 Kyle slipped off back to town to change. I was as gussied up as I was goin’ ta get without goin’ back to town, too, so it was resolved that we’d leave for town far in advance of the ten in the mornin’ ceremony.
I honestly must have been extraordinarily tired, for I distinctly remember that I was accompanyin’ the General and his party back to the Plantation when we heard the crack of a long rifle. It’s somethin’ wut, once you’ve heard it, you can’t un-hear it. I tried to tell myself it was anything else but a buffalo gun…but the General heard it, too – and he wasn’t in a mood to delude hisself.
The boys and the wimmenfolk were sent on toward home while the General and I wheeled around. While I pulled Ruth out of her scabbard, the General grabbed a brace of pistols. 3 Apparently, the man liked to travel prepared.
As we rode hard inta town 4 and I got flagged down, first by Kyle, and then by Belle. A lead weight landed in my stomach as I saw a frail and bloodied form in the shaman’s hands as he ducked into a saloon. Suddenly, I weren’t tired no more and it weren’t the coffee, neither. O’ course, it was also a mite dusty on that road.
The general showed good sense and got outta sight, followin’ Kyle inta the saloon. I slowed down as he stopped, and looked over just in time ta see Belle and that city-slicker from the tournament rush inta the hotel both Kyle an’ Belle had been pointin’ at. It looked like the General’s champion, du Chanticlear 5 was along for the ride, an’ he was limpin’ his way there, too. I dismounted, gave Emma the ‘stay there, hoss’ look, and then I followed them in, Lone Star ablaze an’ Ruth in hand. Emma din’ move a step.
As one might expect, the night clerk (a slip of a woman) was in hysterics about the pair of mad-persons what had rushed inta her hotel. I tol’ her that them two were chasin’ a gunman and got her somewhat calm. I checked the register while tellin’ her to lock up an’ not let anybody in or out. This she did, an’ in the course of my search, I noticed the register included a Mr. Kane an’ his two travelin’ companions in room eighteen. Figuring that a coincidence was unlikely, given the amount of money Kane had lost his boss, I turned to head up the stairs. The clerk was good enough to offer the key, for which I was much obliged.
I made my way up, an’ almost immediately found the frog in the middle of the danged hallway. I’d have guessed that he’d succumbed to his wound, save for the additional knife in his foot. As I knew Belle’s temperament well enough, an’ recognized the handle, I barely looked into the room where the Irish woman was standing. I used a bandanna to staunch the bleedin’, an’ left the man hors de combat, so as not to provoke Belle. 6 She stuck ‘im, so she has a reason for him ta be stuck. No, I did not think it was odd that she was lookin’ out the winda at the street from inside what shoulda been a locked hotel room. Why?
After I was sure the bleedin’ weren’t too severe, 7 I looked up and saw the room Belle was in was not number eighteen. I crept up the hall, and when I found the proper door, I used the key…
…an’ immediately found a fresh corpse. Mr. Kane had passed on, but he’d had a great deal of help. I judged quickly by the scene that at least one man with a great deal of luggage had until recently been living here, an’ that Kane had been stabbed to death elsewhere, then moved to his bed.
Decidin’ that Belle had not had a bad idea, I looked out the winda. I saw the back of the hotel, and Kyle prowlin’ about. I resolved to toss him a line.
Once that was done, I headed for the roof, shimmyin’ up the side of the buildin’. Once there, I found… nothin’. Which was, honestly, a surprise. I mean, if you’re gonna shoot a body with a long rifle, you need a cat-bird seat ta do it from.
Kyle joined me on the roof, agreed that the matter was strange, and then left. I presumed he’d gone to look sommat else, and set up lookin’ for suspicious movement on the street.
1. … and drank some of the least roasted coffee I’ve ever had. Tarnation, he likes it stronger than I do!
2. A social call after escortin’ his wife home, remember? Well, I tol’ him about Leroy sellin’ me Rascal, too, but he din’t seem to mind that none, either.
3. No, I won’t tell you from where.
4. Seems that the Beauregards’ hands in the stable are fair skilled, as the ol’ girl was mostly recovered. I only had her keep up rather than pushin’ her.
5. The cockerel. Funny.
6. I figured I was in hot enough water with her.
7. Beauchamps is lucky he got that much help. I’m used ta workin’ with hosses an’ beeves. I don’ work on legs, much