Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Tragic Expedition of Commodore Ulysses L. Gruffudd


June nineteenth
The precipitation does fall most thoroughly from the sky on this day. After noon, the mule handlers refuse to travel any farther, having grown quite tired of sloughing through the thick mud while carrying several pounds of water-weighted clothing on their backs, and I surrender to their demands and make camp a little ways from shore, finding good shelter beneath a grove of oaks trees that stretchs toward the heavens. I christen this spot "Heaven's Roost," and claim that I will return to build my estate on this very earth. Colonel Whittaker snickers in an uncouth manner at this declaration, and says that any of us will be lucky to return, and even if we do, somehow, manage to survive, I, Commodore Ulysses, lack the powers of reason and sense of direction to navigate myself back to the oak grove. This, of course, perturbs me, and I ask the Colonel how he developed such a low opinion of my faculties, he who was, not long ago, a bosom friend of mine. "Bosom friends," says the Colonel, "are for dandies of the womanly sort," and I know not what he means. Bitterness and disagreeable behaviors are the norm for the Colonel now; some unknown tragedy must've torn at his soul, causing him to arrive at such a foul disposition. I fear our status as bosom friends to be no more.

June twentieth
I decide to further the progress of our journey by keeping a skeleton crew awake during the night, to continue to move our pole boats along the Ohio. Though he protests much, Beauchamp draws first watch. I do think the man has some irrational fear of the moon; during our argument, he keeps looking at it as though it were liable to plunge from the sky and do him some great harm. "The moon, Beauchamp, is just a satellite of the earth, placed there by the Deity to give us light during the night," I say. "There is nothing to fear from it." "Reckons yous, mon ami," he spouts, in his barbaric French-Canadian accent, "For l'homme like me, la lune is da beckon for le diable." After saying this, he tears open his shirt, revealing a chest covered in an extraordinary amount of hair, and bids me to look and touch his chest, as though I will find something besides lice in those tangled locks. "Keep at your position, man," I tell him, going below deck. I resolve to rid myself of Beauchamp when the opportunity presents itself; the man has been nothing but a nuisance.

June twenty-first
I awake just before twilight, a great commotion on deck disturbing my slumbers. Up top, the men are in a frenzy, firing their rifles into a dark shape which glides through the waters, heading for shore. "Rougarou, rougarou!" yell the French-Canadians, pointing at the object. "What nonsense is this?" I ask Colonel Whittaker, who has joined me on deck. "The heathens think there's a monster among us," says Whittaker, taking a swallow of whiskey from the bottle. "Beauchamp is missing." "Certainly, they cannot be serious," I state, "Such drivel is fit for only the most depraved and superstitious minds." Whittaker shugs; I can tell that he does not care, one way or the other, and it will be up to me, therefore, to settle the crew. I run among them, grabbing their rifles, admonishing them for their foolishness, and they respond by sulking, muttering curses in their language. At daybreak, we learn that one of the mules has gone missing, along with his handler. Beauchamp is nowhere to be found.

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