I'll keep it below the fold, 'cause it's long again.
(entry continued from the previous "journal page")
We others moved, slow, from the log. Doc Brown and Mister Cain both slapped leather and drew out their guns. I started shouting at Lucien and Malachai to calm down, stop disrespecting the meal, but the words tumbled out slow as molasses. (Or the two of them were movin' quicker than Timber Rattlesnakes.)
Malachai popped to his feet and got his gun out of its holster, but Lucien was quicker and plunged his knife right into Malachai's chest. Malachai's not a big man; the strength behind the stab folded him right up. By that time, I was shouting a halt, but Lucien's eyes weren't a sane man's; he didn't halt for a moment. He dodged around me and stuck the doc with his knife-- hilt deep. The doc's eyes rolled up in his head and blood poured out of that wide cut. Lucien started after Mr. Cain, but I grabbed his knife arm and held on like death. I tried to knock his knife from his hand, but he was too strong. He pulled me toward Mr. Cain, eying our scout's aimed hogleg.
He tried to take a swipe, but my weight was enough to hinder him. The next moment there were two booms; Mr. Cain's pistol spat a bullet that took Lucien in the nethers. Lucien fell and I saw the terrible damage from a second shot: Malachai had grabbed up his gun and shot Lucien through the butt from his position on the ground.
The madman's knife lay bloody where it fell. I rushed to Doc Brown layin on the ground and started to staunch the geyser of bleeding. Mr. Cain leaped into the wagon and came back with towels for compresses. He handed one to me, another to Malachai, and raced for his horse. "I'll get the Doc from the caravan ahead," he said, and galloped off.
More than a dozen men descended on us, riffles in hand. I explained our dinner conversation, Lucien's tale telling, the corrections by Mr. Cain and Mr. Jones, and of Mr. L. Brown's attack. (Mr. Jones, Malachai, contributed a few words, but mostly let me tell it. I think he didn't trust his own mouth about then-- or maybe the stab wound just made it hard to breathe.)
One of the preachers ran off to pray, but Reverend Noah Smith knelt down beside me and looked over Doc E. Brown. He pursed his lips, sewed the Doc's big wound shut nicely, and smeared it in axle grease. (He mentioned that he was a field doc back in the war.) The bullet must have hit a big artery in Lucien's lower parts, 'cause he was white as a sheet where he wasn't all over blood and he wouldn't wake. He breathed his last before Rev Smith was done sewing Doc Brown up.
Malachai is a quick thinker, I'll give him that. He proposed, immediately, to bring Lucien's wagon over as an ambulance for the wounded Doc. It took me a moment to figure that he was taking the chance to secure the "lead bars" I had found the day before. He walked into the distance, a little weak but under his own power, while the company set to work digging a grave for Lucien and I tended to Doc Brown.
I gathered up Lucien's wallet, took his pocket watch and a stickpin off of him; at least, he could pay summat back for the evil he done, and they'd be no comfort to him where he was a goin'. His wallet was thicker with bills than any I ever seen before; I took the fistful out and dumped it in a flour sack in the wagon.
I sang Hymns for the Departed with the camp, checking on the Doc every few minutes. We listened to the preachers send Mr. Lucien Brown on the final trail, then tried to settle down-- the next day's trip would be harder on little sleep. At the funeral, I noticed young Jane Carnahan watching me from where she stood with her ma and pa. I wonder what she was thinking.
While we tended Doc Brown in the hospital wagon, the Reverend confessed that he felt guilty. They had allowed Lucien Brown to buy into the caravan late because he provided lots of extra supplies. He felt that their greed had setup this whole situation. We talked quietly, with me thinking on my own guilt but not speaking it, before I finally sent the Reverend to bed. I let him know that I'd call if the Doc took any turn for the worse, or if I started to nod, so he could spell me in nursing. He agreed, so I started some broth to rebuild the strength of the wounded, and settled in to watch over the Doc.
A bit after midnight we heard the thunder of hooves; I moved the lantern from inside of the wagon to a hook on the frame to guide them in. Soon, the Doctor from the other train was looking over Doc Brown. He praised the Reverend's stitching and told us that the Doc should recover pretty quickly; the wound looked much worse than it really was.1 He took a look at Malachai and pronounced the same. Then it came time to pay him fer his housecall; I paid the ten dollars from the madman's stash. At least he could pay for a bit of the damage he'd done.
April 4, 1875; Missouri Wilds
Steady journey today. I've been feeling sick about dinner last night; disaster is the only way to describe a murderous meal. I've been thinking on the way we invited him to dinner. I had no desire to trick him or kill him for his cash, but I do worry that Malachai may have had ulterior motives. He was sharp with his insult, leaving no easy escape-- was it greed that inspired his tongue?
The morning began with a gentle lesson for Doctor Brown, who was fit enough to guide a wagon-- our new ambulance wagon. He didn't have much experience with wagons, but caught on relatively quickly. The modest pace and smooth path helped. The journey was simple enough; the previous caravan left ruts in the damp ground, but there was still plenty of fodder.
The heavy load of thinking about greed hung over me most of the day. I was nodding throughout the long day, exhausted from the long night of nursing our injured Doc and Malachai. Gold, money tucked in my flour sack, and a man in a grave. Dark thoughts for a long day.
Mr. Cain didn't make it back in time for dinner. The other scouts said that he spotted some bandits and rode ahead to warn the caravan ahead... it sounds like he'll have to sup with them. Not that he's missing much; tonight's dinner was light-- some fresh biscuits and pork gravy, with a big handful of cooked corn apiece.
April 5, 1875; Missouri Wilds
Mr. Cain returned before breakfast-- he rode back some time during the night. The scouts didn't tell us much, but it sounds like he did ride into the other train's camp again and help them fight off the bandits. It sounds like danger is going to be a constant, even before we leave the somewhat settled state of Missouri. I wonder how wild the territories will be.
The day was a good one for solid progress. I invited the Carnahan family to join us for our evening meal. It was delicious mix; my cheesy potatoes were a big hit. Mr. Cain retired early; he was exhausted from the late nights and fighting the last two nights. We wished him well; the rest of us men talked for a while after dinner.
The Carnahans seek to outrun the prejudices of the east against the Irish. I hope that we are ready to build a society without the flaws and shallow prejudices of our parent's generation.
He is a carpenter, particularly good at rough work like barns. After dinner, we men wandered out to the edge of the campsite and had a nip of his Irish Whiskey. He passed the flask around briefly and secretly-- bringing back to mind the train's prohibitions of drink and unmarried women. It was delicious; sharper than most liquors I've tried, with several layers of complex flavor. Strong, I am sure. I passed it back with real reluctance.
I was tempted to send the money home to my father-- the money would be a huge boon to him. But I fear that it is mere greed that pushes me that direction; mailing the money to my father could be passing along the curse that spurred Lucien Brown to his death. I have resolved to turn the demon dollars over to the victims of the madman's assault.
We have a day and a half more of journeying before we reach Independence.
- We had forgotten the "buy a reroll for 10 reknown" option. When we realized that the Doc would be out of action for more than 55 days if the damage stood, the GM allowed him to spend the 10 reknown to force a reroll and the damage came out much less bad. (The first roll had exploded to 10 damage to the chest, while the damage reroll resulted in only 3 damage. ↩
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