My opportunity to study the contents of the carpet-bag was not entirely lost. Miss Jean's eponymous peculiarity occasioned a deal of snoring and whistling to rival a large steam-engine - after I had had but little sleep. I opened my repeater watch, blessing the memory of the late Reverend Parminter for providing me with such a faithful time-piece on the occasion of his passing. The time was a quarter of four. Having performed my ablutions, excepting a much-wished-for shave, I dressed to the accompaniment of Muskrat Jean's unusual symphony.
Upon opening the bag I found a frock coat identical to the one I was wearing. Close inspection revealed hidden pockets in sleeve linings and sundry other locations. A dozen unbroken packs of playing cards had been covered by the coat. Next to the playing cards was a box about the size of a Chinee casket. Made from walnut, it had been polished to a high sheen. It was not locked. I opened it. Miniature bottles, a round two dozen of them, nestled in especially fashioned compartments in a velvet lining. The bottles were each and every one stoppered with tiny corks and bore a numbered label. Removing a cork at random, from a bottle numbered 13 as it transpired, I sniffed and smelled an alcoholic aroma. A sip was sufficient to provoke a choking as might have a serving ladle full of mustard. In the lid of the box was a pocket. I pulled out a folded sheet of yellowed wood-pulp paper. It listed the contents of the bottles. No 13 was named as 'Kentucky Corn Whiskey'. Alongside this appellation, in a different hand was written 'Davis, Todd County: For sale West of the Brazos only.' A dreadfully wild location it must have been, at that.
A creased and grubby card had fallen out as I removed the list of contents from the pocket.
'Anson Northrup: Purveyor of fine American Whiskeys'
On the reverse side of the card, the annotating hand from the list of contents had written.
'Knights of the Golden Castle. Copperheads?'
I replaced the list and the card, although there were more respectable examples of it in the inside pocket of the frock coat.
The last remaining item in the bag was a tiny pistol, of the type I believed was known as a derringer. It was holstered in a contraption apparently designed to be strapped around the forearm and concealed by a roomy coat sleeve. I removed my frock coat and strapped the peculiar holster to my lower arm. Not surprisingly, it was well concealed and no more uncomfortable than a tight shirt sleeve.
I shook Muskrat Jean awake, gave her a silver dollar and made my way downstairs.
Mme. Terrebonne was behind the counter of the bar, a brandy glass before her. She placed another next to it on noting my arrival. The salon was otherwise deserted. She poured two generous measures of spirit into the glasses. I picked one up,
'Your health, Mme. Terrebonne!' I said.
'Your bill, sir. Five dollars.'
I had but four left in Northrup's purse. She proved herself most perspicacious for she added,
'Or you could do something for me.'
My hopes were cruelly dashed when she handed me a packet about the size of a journal or notebook.
'It needs to go to Hannibal,' she told me.
'Who is that?' It seemed a reasonable question.
'Hannibal, Missouri. A hundred miles upriver. You'll be on one of the riverboats soon enough.'
She nodded at the gaudy waistcoat, 'Where else would someone like you be headed?'
'If I do, to whom shall I deliver the packet?' I asked.
'Winona Shepherd. She will be on the shore when your riverboat docks.'
'How does she know which boat I will be on?'
'She meets them all, Mr Northrup. She will ask for news of Levi Coffin, just hand over the packet when you are asked about him.'
Since surely the Brothers Clemens had long since caught an earlier riverboat, I thought it might be safe to play the gambler aboard another. A little practice with the concealed pockets and I felt sure I could make shift to earn some money. I asked the madam to advance me the riverboat fare. She fished in a pocket in the side of her skirts, tossed a double eagle onto the polished wood of the bar and motioned me to the door with one hand, whilst removing the brandy glass from mine with the other.