Monday, June 8, 2015

Buckskin Brigades - Chapter 26 - Money and a Smile

This 'un's called "His Lordship Sees," which I think is the worst chapter title we've seen so far, even including "The Chipmunk."  At least it provides a four-page mystery as the annoyed reader asks "sees what?"

Three weeks pass at Fort William, and our hero grows restless.  He wants to have a hearing to discuss what really happened at Fort Chesterfield, but he just can't seem to get Old Simon to listen, so... yeah, nothing happens to resolve that plot point.  This gives Yellow Hair, who finds nothing of value at the fort, plenty of free time to worry about his shallow female love interest.  He spends hours on end just sitting and dreaming up the conversations they'll have in their big fancy lodge filled with meat.

And then a chill of reality would make him shiver.  He did not know if she was waiting on him or not.

She had told him she would.

He could see her face when she had said that.  Dark eyes downcast, masked by her long lashes, cheeks colored ever so little by shyness.

When had she said that?  We went from Yellow Hair stepping out of the Grand Council meeting at the end of Chapter Four right to him and White Fox's arrival at Fort Chesterfield in Chapter Five.  Or maybe we're talking about Yellow Hair's hallucinated conversation with Bright Star in Chapter Eighteen, where she didn't so much promise to wait as she did discuss how she waited before the dream scenario played out.

She had said that she would wait and watch for him, but the time had been so long.

And even though Yellow Hair has no way of knowing about Long Bow and Bright Star's arranged marriage once her mourning period is over, his Main Character powers allow him to sense that something is amiss.

Now, this chapter keeps zig-zagging through time and space, because we're told that Yellow Hair has taken to walking the riverbank while worrying about Bright Star, and then we rewind to stuff that happened before a particular day along that riverbank.  We're told that Yellow Hair visited Fort William's grand saloon only once, a drinking hall that features a gallery of portraits of the company's senior partners depicted in finery and with manly faces, works that drove their painters to drink.  On the subject of drink, Yellow Hair had to endure more offers of booze, and the sight of grown, drunken men riding barrels down sloped tables while pretending they're canoeing through some rapids.

Oh, and someone of course gave some alcohol to other Indians, resulting in the deaths of two men, three women and a child, and the grief-stricken deaths of the perpetrators.  Because...

Yellow Hair had, of course, asked why it was necessary to issue the rum in the first place, but there didn't seem to be any answer.  While it is sometimes possible to puzzle out the problems of wisdom, it is impossible to answer folly except in its own terms.

I guess Hubbard's exhaustive research into fur traders and relations between natives and white explorers revealed that on every occasion possible, white men got Indians drunk and laughed when they killed each other.  No real reason for it, you might as well ask why psychologists lobotomize folks.

Yellow Hair also has been observing some of the characters introduced two chapters ago, and had problems working out why everyone shows such deference to the bent old man Lee, who constantly complains about indigestion.  Guess the Pikuni never had a gnarled old man around who had stomach problems but could dispense valuable wisdom at times.  Our hero can only conclude that Lee's possession of something called "money" is what allows him to, for example, "bribe" his daughter to stick around and dispense the medicines that keep him alive.  Apparently the Pikuni never put up with annoying relatives because of family ties, either.

"Money" just plain mystifies our simple, honest frontiersman.  He notes that having a lot of it makes Lee more respected than the fort chaplain, and also that The Mustache seems to look forward to inheriting Lee's fortune more than he does marrying Lee's daughter.  So Yellow Hair gives up on figuring out what the big deal is, "but while his attention to the problem had brought no result to his reason it had brought a very definite result to his security, by taking it away."  Which is an unwieldy way of saying, Yellow Hair's curiosity got him into trouble.

He had watched the girl Evelyn.

She had seen him doing that.

Evelyn, being both bored and a woman, had misconstrued the meaning of the glance.

See, Yellow Hair is a handsome fellow, rugged and gloriously Aryan compared to all the be-wigged ponces that pass for the upper crust out east, and "tricked out" in... excuse me, I just need to boggle for a moment that an author writing in the 1930's used the phrase "tricked out" to describe an outfit from the 1800's.  Anyway, Yellow Hair is of course in his fancy beaded and fringed white antelope jacket and leggings.  And they're tight leggings, showing off his fine legs, mmm-hmm.  Getting hot in here.

So while Yellow Hair's standing around in his tight pants, holding up a rifle nearly as tall as he is, "very picturesque" as he poses in front of the scenery, Miss Evelyn has taken to dressing up and parading along the walls twice a day.  Now, Yellow Hair x Bright Star shippers, be relieved - our hero has no interest in this hussy, he knows what she's doing but is "greatly amused" that she's trying to be as pretty as his beloved Bright Star.

But his amused grin is seen by The Mustache, and interpreted for something else.  And that, ladies and gentleman, is what "His Lordship Sees" this chapter.  He hides his reaction to it, but it "caused a clink in his money-bag mind."

Oh, and then someone shouts "It's Alex McGlincy!" as a canoe makes a landing.

Back to Chapter 25

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