Seward's Folly — episode #22
Leslie Gregg had
commissioned Jas & Rufus Pitkin to survey Alaska. They
had their results; they boarded a ship and were on their
way to Seattle. That is where they were supposed to meet
William Seward and give
them the results of their
survey. They were sure he would be pleased with their
When he got to Seattle Jas started for the Hotel Sherief,
but Rufus wanted to go to the Long Haul Saloon and have
a drink first. It was a mighty long & dry trip. Jas
wanted to see Mr. Seward and give him the good news.
Although it was against Rufus' judgment to go to the
hotel first, Jas did win out.
Jas told the hotel clerk that he wanted to see a Mr.
Leslie Gregg and a Mr. William Seward. He asked him what
room they were staying in. The clerk was snooty and
didn't like the looks of Jas & Rufus. As the clerk
looked over the top of his glasses he told Jas
sarcastically....."They have reserved a suite, but they
haven't arrived yet!" Then he looked at Jas and the way
he was dressed. Jas was aware of this. "They're expected
on the afternoon stage," said the clerk. He then turned
his back on Jas. "Well.....uh.....I'll be back. Will you
tell them that Jason McCord called?" That got the clerks
attention....."Jason McCord!" Said the clerk, boldly.
"Just tell them I'll be back, huh?" As Jas started to
walk away, the clerk got Jas' attention.
"Ah.....Ah.....Mr. McCord.....of course and Seward.
Would that be the same man that talked Washington into
buying that worthless iceberg?" Jas turned to him and
sharply said....."If you mean Alaska.....Yes!" "Well I
hear we paid seven million dollars for it!" Stated the
clerk. "You've got good hearing.....I hope you heard my
message!" Said Jas and then turned and walked out of the
Rufus came running after Jas calling him.
"Jas.....Jas.....ain't we gonna get a room?" "That place
is too rich for my blood and my bank roll," said Jas.
"Hey, maybe we'll get a room over the saloon." "It would
be mighty handy," said Rufus. Jas had to laugh; he knew
what Rufus was getting at. So off to the saloon they
went, gear & all.
When they go inside there was a girl singing. Rufus
pulled Jas aside to see her....."Look at that would ya',
we ain't seen no pretty bird like that perching in
Alaska's country." They walked up to the bar and got a
bottle & two glasses and then went to a table. "I'd
trade all the furs
& nuggets in Alaska for a smile from
that little lady," said Rufus. They were unaware that
Grimes & Sobel were watching them and taking in every
word that was being said. They were about to find out
what Rufus was talking about.
Rufus proposed a toast....."To Mr. Seward and his
iceberg!" "And to good news!" Said Jas. "Seward's
Folly.....You know he's going to make folks eat those
words when he gets back to Washington. "He'll tell them
how you & me found the gold prospects and furs in
Alaska," said Rufus. This made Jas uneasy. He was afraid
someone might overhear what Rufus was saying. "Ruf.....I
wouldn't advertise our trip too much," warned Jas. He
assured Jas he wouldn't say anything and he would keep
his mouth shut as tight as a clam.
Jas knocked on the door of the suite. A lady answered
the door. He told her he was there to see Mr. William
Seward and then told her who he was. She was thrilled to
see Jas and told him so. She then told him she was
Leslie Gregg. Jas was Surprised, he thought Leslie was a
man, he even thought she wrote like one. Leslie told him
that was her intention. She felt that if he knew she was
a women, he might not have accepted her offer so
readily. "My father & Mr. Seward were closely associated
for many years. In fact before my father died he helped
Mr. Seward handle the details of the Alaskan Purchase.
Since then I have tried to carry on for him." "In my
opinion Miss Gregg.....this is the best investment this
country has ever made!" Said Jas. She was relieved.
"Thank goodness," said Leslie. "I only wished my father
could have known." "He was determined to see Mr. Seward
vindicated. Jas reassured her that Seward would be
vindicated. "Now Miss Gregg, I'd like to tell him about
it if he's....." "Oh certainly,!" Said Miss Gregg as she
started to take Jas into meet Seward. "Oh.....there is
something I forgot to mention," said Leslie. "Mr. Seward
does not have a great deal of money and he would never
had allowed me to commission you, so if you wouldn't
mention it....." Jas was surprised....."You.....you paid
me!" "I know it wasn't much.....but I'd be very grateful
if you didn't mention it." "It's the least I could do
for a man who has been like a father to me," said
Leslie. "I won't say a word Miss Gregg.....your a good
friend." She thanked Jas and told him that he has a good
friend also, General Macklin recommended him to her. She
told Jas that Seward was a very sick man and shouldn't
have been traveling, but she couldn't keep him from
coming here from Auburn New York to meet Jas in person.
Grimes & Sobel waited until Jas left and then they
approached Rufus. They introduced themselves and bought
Rufus a drink and then another and another. They charmed
their way around Rufus. They told him how smart and
talented he was and that he was no average prospector.
They told him a man like him would try a new
place.....say Alaska! "That's why they picked me and
McCord for the job," said Rufus. Grimes asked him what
job he was talking about. "Yes sir.....we found things
in Alaska that will bug the eyes right out of your
head!" Sobel was surprised and tried to stay cool. "I
just sent my partner over to tell Mr. William Henry
Seward what we found!" Said Rufus.
"Well Mr. McCord.....I'm happy to see that you weren't
frozen solid or eaten by savage Eskimos up in Seward's
Folly!" "It gets just as cold in Montana and Wyoming too
and I've seen more savages in the streets of Washington
D.C.," said Jas. Seward laughed....."So have I
sir.....so have I." "Alright now, tell me all about
Alaska! And don't spare my feelings.....I want to know
the truth!" "I'd say it's one of the best investments
this country has ever made!" Said Jas. "But the
pessimist say all the wealth is in Canada!" Stated
Seward. Jas assured him they were wrong. "I surveyed
Alaska. It's rich in gold and in other minerals
according to the samples I brought back. Unlimited
natural resources, and Mr. Seward you could build a
fishing industry that would completely out rank the
east!" Seward laughed....."That will put a burr under
their saddles.....huh?" "The land itself is thick with
wildlife, the soil richer then any I've ever seen," said
Jas with spirit in his voice. "That means that people
can go there to live, to stay and build!" Leslie saw how
excited Seward was getting and tried to calm him down.
"Now I've got the ammunition to cut through Washington's
red tape. They can't ignore something bigger then Texas!
And they'll snap to it when I toss your report onto
their desk Mr. McCord!"
"Committees.....sub-committees.....it's time they got
around to recognizing Alaska and started developing it!"
Jas told him that it would take a least a week to work
out a rough draft and work out legible typographical
maps. "I've waited seven years.....I can wait another
seven days," said Seward.
Leslie walked along with Jas to the lobby. "You have
made him very happy Mr. McCord," said Leslie. "I only
held true what he was smart enough to already know,"
said Jas. "Mr. Seward has had so much violence and
misfortune in his life." "Did you know that when Lincoln
was assassinated they tried to kill him too?" Jas told
Leslie he heard that Seward was cut up pretty badly with
a knife. "He still suffers from it.....but he'd never
let you know!" said Leslie. Leslie then offered to help
Jas work on his report hoping to speed things up for
Seward. Jas told Leslie that he would appreciate her
help. "I can't thank you enough for what you have done,"
said Leslie. "You can try by having supper with me
tonight," said Jas. She laughed and said that she would
be even more in his debt. He assured her that would not
be the case, that he would be spending her money. They
agreed on supper at six and then they would work on the
Leslie was impressed with all the work Jason had done
for the little bit of money she paid him. Jas told
Leslie to take a few hours off; she had been working
hard for days. But she wouldn't hear of it. Just then a
knock on the door. It was Mr. Seward; he thought maybe
he could help in some way. "Mr. Seward.....you shouldn't
have walked over here by yourself," said Leslie. "Well
it's my folly. Haven't I got a right to see how it's
doing?" Asked Seward. Mr. Seward told them both to sit
down and not to let him interrupt them. Seward asked Jas
how the reports were coming along. "Well.....we're
almost through Mr. Seward.....may wind it up tonight,"
said Jas with a big smile.
"Wonderful.....wonderful.....we'll take the stage east
tomorrow," said Seward. He paused for a moment and then
put his hand on Jas' shoulder. "You know.....we're
kindred souls.....you and I. They Branded you a coward
and me a fool." Jas stopped what he was doing and looked
up at Seward. "We can both live it down." "I've
weathered accidents, thieves, assassins knifes, a
ranting presences screaming public." "Faith must have a
better end in store for me. But before I leave this veil
of tears.....I want just one moment of triumph! One
taste of vindication." Seward turned to Jas and
said....."I think you can understand that Jason." Jas
smile at him and said....."You'll get it Mr. Seward."
Seward nodded to Jas. This was very touching and
rewarding for Jas to hear this from this fine man.
"Alright now.....you delayed us long enough now. I'm
going to take you back to your room," said Leslie.
"Nothing worst then being so old you have to have a
keep," said Seward. They said their good nights and
Leslie took Mr. Seward back to his room.
Jas was unaware what was going on with Rufus. Tight as a
clam.....I think not. Sobel and Grimes got Rufus so
drunk that he told them everything and I do mean
Leslie came back to Jas' room and they finished up the
report. "Leslie.....Everything I know about Alaska is in
this report," said Jas. "Jason.....you've made this the
most exciting week of my life. You write more like a
poet then an engineer.....the way you describe the land
and the people.....you make me want to take the next
boat north." "It's beautiful land Leslie; it's not an
easy place. Not a place for the weak.....it'll be a hard
life for a long time," said Jas. "Do I look weak.....do
I look strong enough?" Asked Leslie. They kissed, but
not for long, Sobel & Grimes bolted into the room with
their faces covered and guns in hand. They had come for
"Pardon the intrusion Mr. McCord, but we want that stuff
you've been working on," demanded Sobel. "What are you
talking about? What stuff?" Asked Jas. "The stuff on
Alaska McCord!" "The maps of the fur areas and the gold
field you made for Seward." "Oh no you don't.....those
things belong to Mr. Seward," claimed Leslie. Grimes
approached Leslie and said....."We're interested in
getting rich to lady. Just like those politicians."
"That's right. Oh we know now why Mr. Seward talked the
government into buying Alaska.....so he could get his
first and the people later, only this time we're
getting....." Jas started for his gun which was lying on
the bed, but was stopped by Sobel. "I think the young
lady has something for us," said Sobel. Grimes and Sobel
both started for the pouch with the reports that Leslie
was holding. "No!" Yelled Leslie as she moved away. Just
then Jas shoved the table over onto Sobel and hit
Grimes, knocking him to the floor. Jas then hit Sobel.
By this time Grimes was on his feet and started for Jas'
gun. Jas knocked it out of his hand. Grimes then started
at Jas with a hook. Jas then picked up his sabre and the
two of them started attacking back and forth at each
other. Leslie was struggling with Sobel, trying to keep
him from getting the reports. Jas then knocked Grimes
into the wall and Sobel shoved Leslie into a chair,
smashing the chair as she fell on it, releasing the
pouch with the reports in them. Grimes then started at
Jas with the hook again and Jas hit Grimes knocking him
to the floor. As Sobel started to leave the room with
the pouch Jas threw his Sabre at Sobel, missing him and
hitting the door. This made Sobel back off. Sobel then
dropped the pouch and grabbed a pole that was part of
Jas' surveys equipment and started towards Jas with it.
Sobel ended up ramming into the wall where Jas punched
him in the gut and then hitting him across the jaw
sending him across the room and part way out the window.
With all the commotion going on just about everyone in
the saloon entered the room. First in line was Rufus. He
pointed to the two men and said....."Grimes.....Sobel.....my
good friends." Jas was angry as he looked at Rufus and
said....."Tight as a clam.....huh?" Rufus realized what
he had done and felt bad.
The next day Jas went to see Seward & Leslie off. They
were on their way to Auburn. "I'm going to arrange a
meeting with President Grant the minute I get home to
Auburn. "Would you like to be there Jason?" Ask Seward.
"Yes I would Mr. Seward, but I just signed a contract to
survey the dock area here, it will take a few months,"
said Jas. "Well it's a fine job.....everything I always
hoped for.....I could die right now a happy man." "My
eternal gratitude sir," said Seward as he shook Jas's
hand. Jas helped him onto the coach. Jas turned to
Leslie and said....."I'll be waiting to hear what
happens in Washington," said Jas. "And after that?"
Asked Leslie. "Who knows, there will be lots of boats
going north," said Jas. "They'll need people who are
strong....." said Leslie. "And people who are
beautiful," said Jas. They kissed goodbye. "I'll write
you Jason," said Leslie. He then helped Leslie onto the
stagecoach and handed her the pouch with the reports in
it. Jas watched as the stagecoach rolled out of Seattle.
Several weeks later while surveying the docks, Rufus
came running up with a telegram for Jas. It was Auburn,
New York from Leslie. "Is she coming back?" Asked Rufus.
"Not right away," said Jas. But it wasn't good news.
"Mr. Seward died in his home. He didn't get to
Washington to see President Grant after all." "But
anyway.....he did find out about Alaska," said Rufus.
"But he never did have his one moment of triumph, at
least not in public," said Jas. "All that hard
work.....it didn't do any good," said Rufus. "Oh Ruf.....your
wrong. I think it did William Henry Seward a lot of
good. Maybe it did this country some good too." "We'll
find out when they get around to writing the history
book on Alaska."
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