I followed the man to the pilot house of the Enterprise, whereupon he left me with a grunt and a jerk of the head towards it. This piece of superstructure resembled nothing more than a glazed sentry-box. On guard was a man of less than military bearing. His attire might indeed have consisted of uniform clothing, but from several different armies at least. Atop his head he wore a once-smart cap like the French kepi. Since it had clearly once belonged to either a child or a pinhead, this adornment perched on his balding head, as prone to shifting as a pea on a drum. His jacket resembled that of a Prussian Hussar, save that such frogging and loops as remained were ill-matched, as though he had been dressed by a drunk. For his lower limbs he had chosen to wear a pair of faded and patched riding breeches whose cuffs came woefully short of his mismatched boots. I presumed this harlequin figure to be the Pilot engaged for the navigation of the shoals of the Mississippi. The man lifted a hand to the tiny cap as if to doff it in welcome, but he merely affected its retention on his bald pate.
He spat a gelatinous gout towards a chamber-pot that had been doing double duty for some time, judging by the smell and the splash. The man had but the one eye, the other being sewn shut by a most inexpert seamstress. His solitary orb was the azure blue of tropical skies,
'Captain Jubal Kincaid,' he said extending a hand as grimy as a tanner's.
I took the hand, its grip was firm for an instant and then resembled a stranded fish,
'Northrup, at your service,' I said.
'Guess'd ye might be, since I sent for y'all.'
'Indeed you did,' I looked at the man. He was quite short, and so finding riding breeches too deficient in the leg for even his small stature must have been quite a feat. He merely returned my stare, for what seemed an unconscionable time, before nodding his head slowly, several times.
'If'n I said Mudsill, Mr Northrup, you'd know what I meant, I reckon,' he spat once again, by way of punctuation.
'I might,' I replied.
He fished in the pockets of his bizarre clothing and placed a copper penny in my hand.
'Mudsill has the Copperheads at his disposal, if you get my drift.' He winked with his one blue eye and the effect was quite macabre. He turned his attention to the steering of his vessel and I left him to it, none the wiser as to why I had been summoned.
The name sounded familiar. I searched my memory for the context in which I had come across it. On returning to my cabin, I felt disinclined to continue with my solitary entertainment. Pulling out the hideous carpetbag that comprised my only luggage from under my cramped cot, I removed the book I had acquired on becoming Anson Northrup. I opened it and the onion-skin Warrant from the Governor of South Carolina fell to the floor; John Mudsill's name was clearly visible and I remembered that he could expect all assistance on production of this instrument of law. Still, I had given no thought before as to who this person might have been and I gave it none now, merely replacing the paper within the pages of the book. I lay back on my cot and stared at cracks in the wood of the ceiling.