The three friends came ashore along the banks of the mighty Mississippi as is snaked its way past The Quarter on its way to the gulf. Street performers plied their crafts along the sidewalks. The atmosphere was festive, perhaps even raucous.
Uriah was somewhat familiar with The Quarter. He had accompanied his father and grandfather there several times over the years. He was having a little trouble with the exact location so he stopped in a small shop that he remembered from a previous trip.
Lasch was fascinated by the curiosities throughout the business, Medicinal remedies, lucky charms, all sorts of magical trinkets. Banning was troubled by the housekeeping methods of the proprietor Uriah spoke to the old lady behind the counter. she nodded and turned to a much younger lady and began to speak in that thick and heavy dialect that was so common in the region. The younger girl, her granddaughter, responded to the older lady in English. The two spoke back and forth for a minute before Uriah realized that both women understood each other;s languages, but neither woman spoke the other's language. And so the elder spoke in her creole tongue and the younger responded in English.
Uriah waited patiently for the two women to finish their discussion and then the younger woman turned to Uriah with a smile that bordered on flirtatious. The grandmother struck her can against the rough wooden floor and the young woman toned the smile down. Then she gave Uriah was he had asked for. The directions to the rendezvous.
As the men walked through the dusky streets, the muggy air closed in around them, The sweat beaded on the backs of their necks and saturated their shirt collars. But the humidity didn't seem to be the only thing on them. Uriah had that unease, perhaps paranoia that this was not a simple walk down the street. He had that feeling that they were being watched or followed.
They made it to their rendezvous where they met up with a driver with a horse drawn carriage. The driver never spoke, He motioned them into the carriage and then drove them to a small dock along the riverside, just upstream from the city. The rural setting eased the fears from earlier. Perhaps it had been unwarranted. Regardless, they were welcomed, with their luggage into a small graft by a jovial black man who introduced himself as Ezekiel and promised to take them to their final destination.
They crossed the river and started up a bayou over on the other side. The night continued to close in around them but the lantern hooked to a post at the stern of the vessel kept the men from utter darkness. Ezekiel sang well-known blues songs as he steered the vessel along with his quant. The frogs and crickets seemed to be providing the harmony from his tunes. The cypress trees hoisted their moss laden branches just out of reach of the vessel while Banning swatted mosquitoes.
Halfway through a bend Ezekiel stopped singing and pointed upstream, "Gentlemen, if you'll take a look up yonder, you'll see the lights of Arcadia. Marse Charles will be expecting us.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire