Friday, June 6, 2014

The Tragic Expedition of Commodore Ulysses L. Gruffudd


June Fifth, 1800
We move down the briskly flowing Ohio, the humid air and sun's light on our backs, producing much perspiration and discomfort. Colonel Whittaker spends most of the day hiding underneath a wool blanket, for his blood is favored by the hordes of biting insects that have seen fit to accompany us on our journey, and they do plague him most terribly. Beneath the wool, he sweats and loses so much water that I think he is becoming delirious, especially considering the strange subjects he chooses to discuss with himself. It seems the Colonel is in need of female companionship, and he calls out to a presumably unsavory wench named "Bertha," who must've kept him company some time in his past. The men are taking many liberties with his illness, and some of them call out to the Colonel as Bertha, telling him lies and making promises that I know they will not keep. I end this practice when I encounter it, yet I cannot keep the Colonel safe from humiliation at all times of the day.

June Sixth, 1800
We pass a small Indian village, and though the men make much noise and banter about with their arms visible, the natives are friendly, at least for savages. We stop and trade goods with them, and find that they speak English quite well, better, in fact, than most of my crew. Beauchamp, that most evil French-Canadian, did saunter around the ladies, begging them to touch his beard, which they did not do, his facial hair being inhabited by all sorts of squirming beasties. Still, Beauchamp propositions the savage women most crudely, and I had to intervene between him and an Indian brave, who, I gather, was not pleased with the French-Canadian's idea of romance and courtship. After that incident, we took our leave hurriedly, our welcome worn out, and back in the safety of our boat, I took the opportunity to lecture Beauchamp, explaining how his licentiousness and irrepressible libido have endangered the lives of everyone on this expedition. He stood there while I berated him, chewing a bit of bear fat and looking at me most unnaturally with his piggish French-Canadian eyes. "Cap'n," he says (here I try to approximate his crude speech with my eccentric spelling), "when yas been in the wilderness as long as I's have, ya have to get yur romance when yas can. Sometimes that means wemen, an' other times, that means bears." I ask if the barbarian truly means he copulates with animals, and he gives me such a terrible grin that I banish him from the cabin. I fear his propensity for making mischief will cost us dearly some day.

June Seventh, 1800
A terrible incident occurred today. Coming around a bend in the river, our pilot, a Mr. Greeves, stops the boat and begins pointing into the water, making much commotion and tearing the men away from their duties. "Leviathan!" he screams, and we all look into the waters to see a catfish of most unnatural size swimming beside the our craft. I take out this journal, and begin to make a sketch of the monster, when LePiere, one of Beauchamp's companions, leaning too far over the side, slips and falls into the water. The men extend oars and yell for LePiere, yet the enormous fish, noticing the thrashings of our man, swims over and takes LePiere in its jaws, pulling him under and out of sight. We wait for some time, praying for LePiere's escape, but the man never surfaces, and eventually we mark him down as another unfortunate causality. The morale of the crew suffers, and I capitulate to their demands for whiskey. I take a glass myself, and it helps me fall into a deep slumber.

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