Monday, June 15, 2015

Buckskin Brigades - Chapter 29 - The Thunder Moon Rises, or Yet Another Timeskip

Good grief.  So this sad tale started in late 1806, when Lewis and Clark were returning home.  Yellow Hair wintered with the folks at Fort Chesterfield, then the following spring was framed for massacring a boatload of fur traders.  So he got taken to York Factory and spent most of 1807 there, but escaped and with Father Marc trekked across Canada in the midst of winter to arrive at Fort William the next spring.

And now the author is having another timeskip, so this chapter starts in July, or the Thunder Moon.  Close to two years have passed in this story, and most of that time has been spent with Yellow Hair hanging out with fur traders or languishing in a cell, which got brief summaries.  Even "The Dangerous Trek" across Canada in the dead of winter only warranted five pages.  Why is Hubbard killing so much time?  Is there some historical battle in late 1808 that Wikipedia doesn't know about, that he wants to tie his white Indian hero to?

Anyway.  Said white Indian hero has been met with "subterfuge and delay at every turn," and is starting to suspect that McGlincy is doing his best to make sure there will be no hearing about Fort Chesterfield.  Father Marc can't help him with this because he's "too busy to be consulted," or in other words the padre just can't find the time to do the thing that he pleaded for Yellow Hair to come with him and do.  From spring to early summer, yep, just can't get anyone to sit down and talk for an hour or so.

So Yellow Hair feels "isolated and alone in all this noise and confusion," chaos caused by the arrival of thousand-strong brigades from all corners of the frontier, all raring to fight the accursed HBC.  And since the trade war hasn't started yet, the brigadiers pass the time by getting drunk and killing each other, so Father Marc gets to do a lot of last rites and deathbed confessions.  At least they're being equal-opportunity brawlers and not just picking on the Indians.  And proving that they're not just stupid enough to kill their trade partners, they can also be stupid and kill their coworkers.

Evelyn Lee is still pursuing Yellow Hair, playing "at a highly dangerous game" because she enjoys it when men physically fight for her affections, though for his part Yellow Hair continues to think only of Bright Star.  The Mustache is keeping his arm in a sling even though it's healed, and has started to buddy up with McGlincy over their mutual hatred of the "renegade."  And Old Simon is trying to figure out how to deal with those savages threatening their control of Saskatchewan and its furs.

Since this chapter title is "A Use for the Renegade," the answer will involve Yellow Hair.

So one fine evening, Old Simon gathers all the other senior partners at Fort William around a table and assortment of booze, and asks for ideas.  The Mustache stands up and proposes that they utilize this dangerous renegade who's been hanging out for months now, and McGlincy takes his cue and spells out the plan they've come up with.  I have to say, it's probably a step down from the "kill our business rivals and blame the Indians" scheme he came up with earlier.

Their proposal is as follows: this renegade fella seems to have some influence with the Blackfoot, but he clearly has no honor (as seen in his "treacherous attack" on the Mustache), so he can probably be bought.  They'll take him to Fort Chesterfield and have him invite all the tribal chiefs into the fort, reassuring them that all those armed white men mean them no harm, and then the Nor'Westers can hold them as hostages and kill them if the natives try anything.  If for whatever reason the renegade doesn't want to follow the script and can't be bribed, they'll hold a gun to him.  Foolproof, no?

The only way things could go wrong would be if Yellow Hair absolutely hated these white traders, and was a Hubbard Action Hero capable of holding off an entire fort's worth of enemies until they bombarded him with a cannon.

But the partners all roar their approval, and sing the praises of the brilliant and majestic McGlincy, and boast that this'll finish the Hudson's Bay Company for good, and so on.  And I guess we've now set up the last sixty pages of the book.

So, here's my question: why now, why July?  Old Simon has been interested in keeping Yellow Hair around since the guy's arrival, and had some sort of plan for him - we were told that in Chapter 25, even if the plan itself was never elaborated on.  Then for three weeks nothing happened, and then McGlincy turned up ranting about being driven out of Fort Chesterfield.

Now, I can get that Old Simon is spending some months building up his brigades before launching the "counter-offensive."  But why did he wait until summer to try to figure out what to do with Yellow Hair?  He couldn't think of any way to utilize this renegade beyond giving his men an excuse to party?

See, Hubbard, just because you flip the calendar forward a few months doesn't mean that the characters were magically transported through time.  So we end up wondering just what the hell they were doing in the interim, and why they can't seem to get anything accomplished over it.

Back to Chapter 28 

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