Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So Long as the Invasion Ain't Planned for Nap Time

A rangy young man in buckskins and a shapeless felt hat, apparently unarmed, came up the side of the Liahona and clasped arms with Captain Jones.  His lean face bore the long, wispy beard of a young man who had never shaved but had no natural gift for the growing of facial hair.
“Come back around to the Cottonwood Fourth Ward Elders Quorum again, has it, boyo?”
The newcomer chuckled.  “Yeah, Brother Cannon sent an inspector in disguise and he caught the High Priests napping.  No more gate duty for the old boys, I’m afraid.”
“Shame, that.  Some of the old boys, you know, Swenson, can shoot the whiskers off a squirrel.”
“Absolutely,” Swenson agreed.  “And I feel greatly reassured that the Kingdom is safe from an incursion of squirrels, be it ever so large or be-whiskered.  Just so long as the invasion ain’t planned for nap time.  You got a manifest for me?” 
Jones handed over a big logbook together with a single sheet of paper.  “Original and a copy.”
The newcomer reviewed them quickly together.  “Looks fine.  Anything we need to go talk about in the wheelhouse?”  He shot a quick sidelong glance at Burton, and Burton felt shrewdly appraised.
“We were waylaid,” Jones growled, “but that’s a matter for Brother Brigham’s ears.  Did you stop a fellow by the name of Clemens by any chance?”
Burton took that as his cue and stepped closer.
Swenson shook his head.  “He passed through.  I didn’t know to stop him.”
Burton cleared his throat.  “He would have had diplomatic papers, anyway,” he said, injecting himself into the conversation. 
            “Never yet saw diplomatic papers that’d stop the bullet out of a Henry,” Swenson shrugged.  “Hell, I don’t care that he was driving that fancy new steam-truck, even.  If I’d known the Captain here wanted the man stopped, he’d have been stopped.”  He leveled frank blue eyes at Burton.  “Who are you that I oughtta wind the crank on my give-a-damn machine?”
            “He’s alright,” Jones muttered.
            Burton extended a hand and smiled a rugged, manly grin.  “Richard Burton,” he introduced himself.  “That is to say, ahem, Captain Richard Burton, special envoy of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria.”
            Swenson shook it confidently.  “Jerry Swenson, second counselor, Elders Quorum, Cottonwood Fourth Ward.  President Williams is back up there with the artillery—he’s an old Battalion man, and knows his big guns.  First counselor’s fishing.”
            “Fishing!?” Jones spat, dismissive.  “And war coming and all?”
            Swenson shrugged.  “He’s taken to shaving every day, too.  He might be bucking for a release.”

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