BRANDED
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 results.

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 hotel.

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 reports.

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 everything.
 
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 the reports.

"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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