Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #122

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #122

…The very same mix of people that freed the Campbells that heroically came to the aid of hurricane victims, plus spouses is streaking down the iron rails in luxury berths….

The two incoming trains containing the greater Tallahassee reunion are maintaining their Related imageschedule to arrive at Buffalo’s Union Station on Tuesday 4 September about the noontime; on a perpendicular intercept course.

There is a passive urgency for some on the Florida train, fore mostly John and Martha Ferrell. They have endured a season of an empty Thanksgiving, a spiritless Christmas, a hollow Easter, uncelebrated birthdays and anniversaries, all lost in the physical separation between Tallahassee and Cambridge.

It will not be long now.

The very same mix of people that freed the Campbells that heroically came to the aid of hurricane victims, plus spouses and minus the Flying Bleaker Brothers is streaking down the iron rails in luxury berths.

The passenger list is as follows:

We know what the top two names are looking forward to. As for Secretary of Agriculture and personal friend of the President, Herbert Love, he will feel most at home at the Exposition. The remainder of fine folks will be wide eyed and ready for a good time; guests of the President, again, how about that.

“Do I look alright, John?” Martha Ferrell fidgets with the mound of hair atop her head, he being the mirror in the absence of one. She is afraid that if she goes to the washroom, she will miss their entrance to the station. She pictures James and Abigail waiting and waving.

“Yes you do Ma’am,” answers John–rather the conductor. And he is not lying. She wears her 48 years very well, perhaps because her 19 Century vogue hour-glass figure intrigues the male eye. “We will make the Buffalo station within the hour,” he offers as a more relative addendum.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Buffalo Terminal NY

Episode #122


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 117

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #117

…John Philip Sousa thrills young and old with robust marches, including his popular composition, Stars and Stripes Forever

A billowing plume of smoke and steam can be seen on the western horizon. It is not stationary, as if from a barn fire or bonfire, rather this cloud slowly dissipates, reforming ever nearer to an absolute throng of people gathered at the Quincy train station. Someone has painted the town red… and white and blue for a special patriotic occasion.

And this is not a bashful bunch, to be sure. It is not often that the President of the United States of America comes to your town, let alone a bandmaster of some renown like John Philip Sousa. He thrills young and old with robust marches, including his popular composition, Stars and Stripes Forever.

Appropriately, this is the tune that Sousa and his big brass band are playing when the trail of smoke and steam comes to a squeaky stop.

 The Presidential train, with fewer cars than it started with, but more people than it started with (mostly the Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club, who will be sticking to local projects until they get married and have children), is greeted by riotous enthusiasm. The small town is packed to overflow with: 1. anyone who remotely knows any of the returning heroes,  2. is a supporter of the fashionable President, 3. is or pretends to be a member of the working press, governors, senators, congressmen, mayors dogcatchers, or 4. just about everybody who was born and breathing.

Gadsden Goslings

Distinct and above the rest is the McKinley reviewing stand, doubling for its usual use as home team bleachers of the local ball club, the Gadsden Goslings of the Northern Florida Baseball League. Martha Ferrell has parceled out the seating on the stand in a fair manner, making sure the majority of well-wishers are not offended, even though it is a thankless, impossible task. But it is quite difficult to be mad at someone as sweet as she. If you are, chances you would be considered a stiff-necked scalawag or some other enemy of God and country.McKinley Train

The passenger cars are at the rear, with the last wooden carrier already positioned in campaigning configuration; an enlarged deck of sorts overhanging the rear wheels, with a bright brass railing guarding the semicircle; designed for the President to wave from while the train steams through towns along the countryside. One person getting a look at a Presidential candidate may garner him ten votes.


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

…This has been a day for the ages…

Day for the Ages-001

The crew of the River Queen lowers a rope ladder.

“Hurry now,” urges Captain Longfellow to his remaining passengers.

“Aren’t you coming?” they ask their newfound friend, forged by strife. You learn a lot about people in times like this.

“My job is the safety of my passengers.” Phileas Longfellow lives up to his name, as does Catfish Albert Wright: “And everybody knows a captain must stay with his ship!”

Freighter

The Conquistador

So, as in the style of Noah, two by two the remaining couple dozen passengers of the River Queen are ferried to the foreign vessel. Speaking in a combination of three or four tongues, Catfish Al convinces the Conquistador, a colorful, aromatic freighter, loaded with coffee beans and rum, to drop its anchor and ride out the pending storm, pointing out the hail of lightning and accompanying roar of thunder.

Funnel clouds Fierce winds and torrential rains pummel the Delta once again. Barely a week has passed since the hurricane, now a squall of a different breed attacks from the northwest. Though sparing the immediate vicinity, a pair of funnel clouds can be seen, traveling in tandem to the east. For the privilege of escaping the worst, pecan sized hail rains down on them, accumulating by the inch before they begin to melt.

    Upon seeing welcome sunlight to the west, Catfish Albert Wright doffs a new Sombrero Catite, a spanish hat obtained in a fair game of chance during the storm. He bids adieu.

“If you ever come Tallahassee way, please grace us with a visit,” insists John Ferrell.

“You know, I might just do that. I have been around Old Man River for too many years now.” Al reflects on his life. “Do you have any lakes or rivers for my boat?”

“More than you can count, though I must say that you would raise a few eyebrows and spook all the livestock with that contraption.”

“Wait ‘til they see my motorized bicycle.”

riverboat    About the time the hugs and handshakes have been exchanged, a peek of the setting sun shines on the shifting silhouette of the River Queen. Considerable rainfall, collect by all the tributaries upstream, has swelled the great river above the silt line.

“Look! She’s moving!” James noticed. Cheers and applause overspread the freighter. Phileas Longfellow waves out the window of his bridge, having built up enough steam to set the huge paddle-wheeler to motion.

“What a triumphant moment!” John Ferrell embraces his children.

This has been a day for the ages.


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Legends-001

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #111

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #111

…I have family in Dayton, Ohio and a couple of cousins  messing around down in North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur…

The Wright's-001

They make their way over, not around endless fingers of lowland, occasionally gaining open water, finally expansive open water, with grassy land a hundred or more yards to the starboard.

For no apparent reason, they suddenly knife inland, down a narrow path of water and a gauntlet of tall marsh grasses. Just as suddenly, up pops the Mighty, Mighty Mississippi.

“Pilot Town!” Catfish Al points and yells to a pile of twisted wood that used to be a village.River Queen-001

“The River Queen!” John Ferrell blurts.

They also spy the listing boat, longing to be freed from the soggy silt, washed into the river from farmland upstream. Shipping has resumed on the river, but they can only get so close, without risking going aground themselves.

Without a word, Catfish Al circles around to the higher port side of the vessel, then navigating to the starboard. They are greeted by the crew.

”Who are you? What is that craft? Where did you come from?” Each has their own query.

“Me, Albert Wright – and he, the father of the newly marrieds.”

“My name is John Ferrell and I am here for James and Abigail. There may be another bad storm coming in from the north.”

“At least it won’t be a typhoon.” Captain Longfellow is thankful for that. “We were wondering why the balloons stopped coming.”

“We can ferry you to one those ships sailing upstream.” He points to an example, a ship flying the flag of Brazil or Argentina or some South American country.

Freighter

”We’ve been helplessly watching those boats for hours, didn’t imagine a nifty skiff like this to come along.” He looks sideways at Al’s invention.

John is anxious to see the kids, but cannot help quizzing the inventor of the clever craft, “Albert Wright… Wright… Your name sounds familiar.”

  “I have family in Dayton, Ohio and a couple of cousins messing around down in North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur.

“No, I was thinking of the Wrights over there in Mobile.”

 “Nope, no relatives in Alabama that I know of.”

  “How did you get the nickname, Catfish?”

  “I guess I don’t look like an Albert…?”

“Father!” James and Abbey look down the side of the River Queen.

The crew lowers a rope ladder.


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #110

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #110

…”I told those balloon guys I would help, but I think they think I am peculiar, so they put me off, the fools…

While everyone else fearfully looks for possible shelter, John Ferrell asks anyone who will listen, “Do you know anyone who will go into the Delta?” Not many even seem to listen. Those who do, shake their head no.

He is reduced to entreating a person who looks like a bum/hobo looking sluggard, feeding pigeons on a bench along Bayou St. John. He asks him the same desperate question.

“Catfish Al,” he spits out.

John is taken aback by a response that is a possible answer.

The ragged man simply points to a rickety pier, with a strange craft lashed to its warped gray wood. An interesting chap tends to what looks like a flatboat… with what looks like a motorcar engine and fan blade mounted at the rear.

John Ferrell approaches with caution, not knowing what to make of it. He musters the courage to ask, “Mr. Catfish?”

pilot town“Close enough,” Al responds. “What do you want and why aren’t you runnin’ for the hills like the others?”

“I need to find a way to, I think they said, Pilot Town?”

“Yes, Pilot Town, a delta settlement, down the Great River Road. Hear tell the hurricane wiped it out.”

River Queen-001   More news than John really wanted to know. “I guess… I don’t know… but I do know my son and his wife are stranded on the River Queen.”

“Yea, I heard she’s mucked up.” Catfish Al is nonchalant in his account of what he knows. “I told those balloon guys I would help, but I think they think I am peculiar, so they put me off, the fools.”

“The balloons are grounded and I need to find a way to get to Pilot Town. Can you get me there?” he asks, now cautiously optimistic.

“Let’s go……….” he extends his hand begging for a name.

 “John. John Ferrell.”

  “Come on stranger John, sit yourself at my feet and grab those handles on either side.” Al pulls goggles over his eyes. “I wanted to outrace that northwester anyway.”

Al spins a blade, attached by an axis to a now noisy motor. After casting off tethers, he leaps to a high seat, increases power and away they go, skipping across the water like a skillfully tossed flat stone. They whiz up the bayou, meeting the waters of Lake Pontchartrain at a speed rarely achieved on land or sea.

“Keep your mouth shut!” Al shouts over the roar of the exposed engine and the whir of the blade.

No sooner than John turns to ask, “Why?” a swamp bug splats against his cheek. “Oh.” He scrapes the remains away.


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High Sea Hijinks – WIF Haunted Travel

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Ghost Ships

That Still

Haunt the Seas

Ghost ships, or phantom ships, make up a big part of the seafaring lore that has been passed down by sailors and fisherman throughout the years. The ships are said to be spectral apparitions that materialize on the horizon before quickly disappearing, and they are believed to be a sign of bad things to come. The term is also used to describe abandoned vessels that are found adrift with no crew or passengers, often under frightening and mysterious circumstances. Whether real stories of these derelict ships or legends about phantom craft trawling the seas, the following are the ten most famous ghost ships that continue to provoke speculation and mystery in the nautical world.

10. The Caleuche

Image result for The Caleuche

One of the most well known legends of the Chilota mythology of southern Chile describes the Caleuche, a ghost ship that appears every night near the island of Chiloe. According to local legend, the ship is a kind of conscious being that sails the waters around the area, carrying with it the spirits of all the people who have drowned at sea. When spotted, the Caleuche is said to be strikingly beautiful and bright, and is always accompanied by the sounds of party music and people laughing.  After appearing for a few moments, the ship is then said to disappear or submerge itself under the water. According to Chilota mythology, the spirits of the drowned are summoned to the ship by the Sirena Chilota, the Pincoya, and the Picoy, three Chilota “water spirits” who resemble mermaids. Once aboard the phantom ship, the drowned are said to be able to resume their life as it was before they died.

9. The SS Valencia

SS Valencia in 1904.

SS Valencia in 1904.

The SS Valencia was steamer ship that sank off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia in 1906. The ship had encountered bad weather near Cape Mendocino, and after drifting off course, struck a reef and began taking on water. The crew quickly began lowering lifeboats holding the ship’s 108 passengers into the water, but several of these capsized, and one simply disappeared. The Valencia eventually sank, and only 37 of the roughly 180 people on board survived. Five months later, a fisherman claimed he had found a life raft with 8 skeletons in it in a nearby cave. A search was launched, but it found nothing. Thanks to its dramatic end, the Valencia eventually became the source of numerous ghost ship stories. Sailors would often claim they could see the specter of the steamer drifting near the reef in Pachena Point, and to this day the ship is the source of frequent wild theories and ghost ship sightings. In a bizarre twist, 27 years after the sinking of the Valencia, one of its life rafts was found floating peacefully in nearby Barkley Sound. The “ghost raft” was said to be in remarkable condition, and even still had most of its original coat of paint.

8. The Ourang Medan

Image result for Ourang Medan

The story of the Ourang Medan begins in 1947, when two American ships received a distress call while navigating the Strait of Malacca, off the coast of Malaysia. The caller identified himself as a member of the crew of the Ourang Medan, a Dutch vessel, and supposedly claimed that the ship’s captain and crew were all dead or dying. The messages became jumbled and bizarre before trailing off and ending with the words: “I die.” The ships quickly raced to the scene to help. When they arrived, they found that the Ourang Medan was undamaged, but that the entire crew—even the ship’s dog— was dead, their bodies and faces locked in terrified poses and expressions, and many pointing at something that was not there.  Before the rescuers could investigate further, the ship mysteriously caught on fire, and they had to evacuate. Soon after, the Ourang Medan is said to have exploded and then sank. While the details and the overall veracity of the Ourang Medan story are still widely debated, there have been a number of theories proposed about what might have caused the death of the crew. The most popular of these is that the ship was illegally transporting nitroglycerin or some kind of illegal nerve agent, which was not properly secured and seeped out into the air. Others, meanwhile, have claimed the ship was a victim of a UFO attack or some other kind of paranormal event.

7. The Carroll A. Deering

Carroll A. Deering as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 28, 1921. (US Coast Guard) This image is a work of a United States Coast Guard employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Carroll A. Deering as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 28, 1921. (US Coast Guard) This image is a work of a United States Coast Guard employee, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Perhaps the most famous ghost ship of the Eastern Seaboard is the Carroll A. Deering, a schooner that ran aground near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1921. The ship had just returned from a commercial voyage to deliver coal in South America, and had last been spotted just south of Hatteras by a lightship near Cape Lookout. It ran aground in the notorious Diamond Shoals, an area famous for causing shipwrecks, and sat there for several days before any help was able to reach it. When they did arrive, the Coast Guard found that the ship was completely abandoned. The navigation equipment and logbook were missing, as were the two lifeboats, but otherwise there were no signs of any kind of foul play.

A massive investigation by the U.S. government followed, which discovered that several other ships had disappeared under mysterious circumstances around the same time. Several theories were eventually put forth, the most popular being that the ship fell victim to pirates or rum-runners. Others suggested that mutiny might have been the cause, as the Deering’s first mate was known to bear some animosity toward its Captain, but no definitive proof has even been discovered. The mystery surrounding the ghost ship has encouraged wild speculation, and many have argued that paranormal activity might have been responsible, citing the ship’s passage through the infamous Bermuda triangle as proof that some kind of otherworldly phenomena might be to blame.

6. The Baychimo

Cargoship Baychimo somewhere in Canada.

Cargo ship Baychimo somewhere in Canada.

One of the most amazing cases of a real-life ghost ship concerns the Baychimo, a cargo steamer that was abandoned and left to drift the seas near Alaska for nearly forty years. The ship was owned by the Hudson Bay Company, and was launched in the early 1920s and used to trade pelts and furs with the Inuit in northern Canada. But in 1931, the Baychimo became trapped in pack ice near Alaska, and after many attempts to break it free, its crew were eventually airlifted out of the area to safety. After a heavy blizzard, the ship managed to break free of the ice, but it was badly damaged and was abandoned by the Hudson Bay Company, who assumed it would not last the winter.

Amazingly, the Baychimo managed to stay afloat, and for the next 38 years, it remained adrift in the waters off Alaska. The ship became something of a local legend, and was frequently sighted aimlessly floating near the frozen ice packs by Eskimos and other vessels. It was boarded several times, but weather conditions always made salvaging it nearly impossible. The Baychimo was last sighted in 1969, again frozen in the ice off of Alaska, but it has since disappeared. The ship is believed to have sunk in the intervening years, but recently a number of expeditions have been launched in search of now nearly 80-year-old ghost ship.

5. The Octavius

Although it is now considered more legend than anything, the story of the Octavius remains one of the most famous of all ghost ship stories. The tale dates back to 1775, when it is said that a whaling ship called the Herald stumbled across the Octavius floating aimlessly off the coast of Greenland. Crewmembers from the Herald boarded the Octavius, where they discovered the bodies of the crew and passengers all frozen solid by the arctic cold. Most notably, the crew found the ship’s captain still sitting at his desk, midway through finishing a log entry from 1762, which meant the Octavius had been adrift for 13 years. According to the legend, it was eventually discovered that the captain had gambled on making a quick return to England from the Orient via the Northwest Passage, but that the ship had become trapped in the ice. If true, this would mean the Octavius had completed its passage to the Atlantic as a ghost ship, its crew and captain long dead from exposure to the elements.

4. The Joyita

The Joyita was a fishing and charter boat that was found abandoned in the South Pacific in 1955. The ship, along with its 25 passengers and crew, were en route to the Tokelau Islands when something happened, and it was not until hours later that the Joyita was reported overdue and a rescue attempt launched. A massive air search was undertaken, but it failed to find the missing ship, and it was not until five weeks later that a merchant ship stumbled upon the Joyita drifting some 600 miles off its original course. There was no sign of any of the passengers, crew, cargo, or life rafts, and the ship was damaged and listing quite badly to one side. Further inspection by authorities found that the ship’s radio was tuned to the universal distress signal, and a search of the deck uncovered a doctor’s bag and several bloody bandages. None of the crew or passengers was ever seen again, and the mystery of what happened has never been revealed. The most popular theory is that pirates killed the passengers and threw their bodies overboard, but other claims have included everything from mutiny and kidnapping to insurance fraud.

3. The Lady Lovibond

The UK has a long tradition of legends about ghost ships, and of these the Lady Lovibond is perhaps the most famous. As the story goes, the Lady Lovibond’s captain, Simon Peel, had just gotten married, and decided to take his ship out on a cruise to celebrate. He brought his new bride along—going against a longstanding seafaring belief that bringing a woman on board a boat is bad luck—and set sail on Feb. 13, 1748. Unfortunately for Peel, his first mate was also in love with his new wife, and after watching the celebrations, the man became overwhelmed with rage and jealousy and intentionally steered the boat into the deadly Goodwind Sands, a sand bar notorious for causing ship wrecks.

The Lady Lovibond sank, killing all those aboard. As the legend goes, ever since the wreck the Lady Lovibond can be seen sailing the waters around Kent every 50 years.  It was sighted in 1798 by a few different ship captains, as well as in 1848 and 1898, when it supposedly appeared to be so real that some boats, thinking it a vessel in distress, actually sent out life rafts to help it. The Lady Lovibond was again seen in 1948, and while there were no confirmed sightings on its most recent anniversary in 1998, it continues to be one of the most well-known ghost ship legends in Europe.

2. The Mary Celeste

Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime "ghost ship" legends.

Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime “ghost ship” legends.

Undoubtedly the most famous of all the real-life ghost ships, the Mary Celeste was a merchant ship that was found derelict and adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872. The ship was in a seaworthy condition, with all its sails still up and a full store of food in its cargo hold, but its life boat, captain’s log book and, more importantly, the entire crew, had mysteriously vanished. There was no sign of a struggle, and the personal belongings of the crew and cargo of over 1500 barrels of alcohol were untouched, seemingly ruling out piracy as a possible explanation. In the years since its bizarre discovery, a number of theories have been proposed regarding the possible fate of the Mary Celeste’s crew. These include that those aboard were killed by a waterspout, that the crew mutinied, or even that eating flour contaminated with fungus led all the passengers to hallucinate and go mad. The most probable theory remains that a storm or some kind of technical issue led the crew to prematurely abandon the ship in the lifeboat, and that they later died at sea. Still, the mystery surrounding the Mary Celeste has led to much wild speculation, and others have proposed everything from ghosts to sea monsters and alien abduction as possible explanations.

1. The Flying Dutchman

In maritime folklore, no ghost ship is more famous than the Flying Dutchman, which has inspired numerous paintings, horror stories, films, and even an opera. The ship was first mentioned in the late 1700s in George Barrington’s seafaring book Voyage to Botany Bay, and since then its legend has continued to grow, thanks to numerous sightings of it by fisherman and sailors. As the story goes, the Flying Dutchman was a vessel out of Amsterdam that was captained by a man named Van der Decken. The ship was making its way toward the East Indies when it encountered dangerous weather near the Cape of Good Hope. Determined to make the crossing, Van der Decken supposedly went mad, murdered his first mate, and vowed that he would cross the Cape, “even if God would let me sail to Judgment Day!”

Despite his best efforts, the ship sank in the storm, and as the legend goes, Van der Decken and his ghost ship are now cursed to sail the oceans for all eternity. To this day, the Flying Dutchman continues to be one of the most-sighted of all ghost ships, and people from deep-sea fishermen to the Prince of Wales have all claimed to have spotted it making its never-ending voyage across the oceans.


High Sea Hijinks-

WIF Haunted Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

…John Ferrell is most relieved, having thought he would be on his own in his search for the newlyweds, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease…

Aftermath-001

“The animals knew what was comin’,” suggests Willy Campbell, with affirming nods throughout the swaying railroad car he was seated (the 1st-not the last). They too had noticed the strange lack of wildlife as far back as the Ferrell wedding, one week ago. Not to mention domestic creature behavior in the final days.

 “Perhaps that is the answer, yes I declare it is; local weather observers, reporting directly to the Weather Bureau on a daily basis. From Maine to Montana, the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; temperatures, cloud cover, rainfall… by God even “Bossie’s” milk production or the sudden disappearance of songbirds.

 “Willy Campbell, this is the very reason that you are my right-hand man. You inspire some great ideas.” Love then goes over to Alfrey Campbell, picks him up from his seat next to Doc Ziggy, telling him, “Your daddy is quite a guy, isn’t he?”

The pre-teen merely nods his head. Love can see that the boy’s interest is not in the affairs Related imageof his father. It is the elderly doctor who has captured his imagination. Ziggy plugs the gap in respect by stating, “Let’s hear it for, Willy Campbell, za finest a man can be!”

Applause accompanies the exhortation, embarrassing the former neo-slave. John Ferrell rescues him by asking of Love, “What will be our route?” eager for a stop near the Mississippi Delta.

     Herb Love had anticipated the needs of the Florida group, suggesting, “I think it would be a good idea for your entire contingent to get off at New Orleans. The rest of the train is stocked with aid for Galveston: doctors, food, tents and the like. So if it is all right, I would like to drop you off at New Orleans Union Station and pick you up on the way back through.”

“New Orleans is my town, Herb,” states Jacques Fransoise, as a point of information.

“You have been in Quincy so long; I forgot you hail from Louisiana. Well that is perfect, you all have an experienced guide and with a bag full of medicine thrown in.”

  John Ferrell is most relieved. He had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.


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