Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Tragic Expedition of Commodore Ulysses L. Gruffudd


July Eighth
We find Beauchamp on the shore, having spent much of the last week looking for him. The man is naked and covered in scratches and sores, looking very much like he has been beaten by some foreign party and left for some time to the elements. Inexplicably, there is hair all around him, great black matted clumps, as well as a smell that permeates the air like a most foul perfume. His fellows, the French Canadians, do make much noise and protest our retrieval of his person, insisting that the man is a rougarou and liable to dismember our entire party. Colonel Whittaker has Beauchamp bound to the mast for desertion, and, to placate his companions, allows them to take the lash to his flesh. They perform this duty with great relish; a fire lights in their porcine eyes and a most mischievous grin forms at the corners of their mouths, the combined effect of these transformations rendering their visages terrible to behold. Beauchamp, for his part, shows no emotion whatsoever, even after his flesh is cut by the lash. After a short while, I stop the French Canadians from their ceaseless motions, my delicate heart unable to take the savage scene any longer. "Cease with this devilishness!" I cry, seizing the lash from a bear-like fellow filled with mirth. "Can you not see that Beauchamp is nearly dead? Do you want to murder a man of your race?" The bestial creature turns to me and spits on my boot before pointing his finger at Beauchamp, a hideous expression forming on his face. "It would be best, mon ami, to do so," he says, before pulling out a large knife and rushing at Beauchamp. The Colonel, however, is prepared, despite his incessant drinking, and he takes his pistol and fires several shots into the man before he reaches Beauchamp, striking him dead. "The only good Canadian is a dead Canadian," he says, waving his pistol at the others, "but I get to say who lives and who dies on this boat." The Colonel, of course, is overstepping his authority, yet I am grateful that he saved the life of Beauchamp, despite the difficulties he has caused the expedition. I am lost as to why, I must confess.



July Ninth
We settle on the banks, as the river current increases drastically, with cascades and sharp rocks clearly visible ahead. Leaving the Colonel in command, I venture downriver with the scouts, trudging through patches of stinging nettle, deer and rabbits scurrying in our wake. Horatio, a young Virginian desiring to improve his fortunes, shoots a doe, and we spend some time preparing it before continuing onward. We are quite unprepared for the scene that greets us; never have I seen such clear evidence of Providence's grand hand. The waters of the river tumble down into a great gulf, their tumultuous thunder a magnificent roar that deafens our ears. We feast our eyes on the beauty of the river, its dangers and promise captured by the misty white sheets of water. Taken by the moment, I place my hand on the shoulder of Horatio, who turns to me and smiles, joy clear on his face. Perhaps I have found a new bosom friend.
...
July Tenth
 After much debate regarding how to proceed in our quest, our party decides to split, with one half continuing on foot, while the other ventures upriver on the barge, looking for a tributary to carry them past the waterfall. I elect to lead the party on foot, with young Horatio as my lieutenant, Colonel Whittaker presiding over the second group. The French Canadians, to my great chagrin, decide to continue with my party, seeing how Beauchamp is confined to the barge, recovering from his injuries. After the meeting is adjourned, I retired to my quarters with Colonel Whittaker and a bottle of whiskey, and am pleasantly surprised when the Colonel offers me a glass, he being quite infamous for jealously guarding his bottle as though it contained some elixir of truth. "Ulysses," he says to me, slurring his words somewhat, though he seems to do this no matter if he is sober or drunk, "keep your eyes on them Canadians. They're not to be trusted." I tell him to watch Beauchamp as well, considering how we haven't discovered our missing mule handler. "Injuns," says the Colonel, stroking his great mustache, whiskey dripping from its hairs. I don't know if the Colonel is wrong or correct in his suspicions. I must confess, I fear the splitting of our party, and I pray to the Deity that I may continue to lead my men with wisdom and bravery.

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