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Author's Chapter Notes:
Oops! I forgot to apologize for the long delay in updating. Let's just say it took longer than I anticipated to erode this latest writer's block. I also apologetically remind the politically correct that certain now-pejorative terms are used only to provide historical context (i.e., the narrator is supposed to be speaking, in hindsight, from 1904).
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"Back when Texas was still the Lone Star Republic, a bunch of Houston-based slave traders had themselves a specialty. Whereby they'd smuggle in West African Negroes from Cuba...and then re-sell 'em, in New Orleans, as 'recaptured American run-aways.' Thereby gettin' around the post-1808 Federal ban on the 'importation' of West African Negroes!"

"Them slave traders became the founders of the Mississippi Delta Import/Export Company (with the 'Mississippi' part dropped soon afterwards)."

"One of the sea captains employed by this company was a Dutchman, out of Sint Maarten, named Boojum Vandersnatch. Boojum's father had once been a merchant mariner for the Dutch East India Company. That is; till the company's dissolution in 1798. Then, he became a free-lance smuggler of opium from India to China. With Boojum initially takin' after him. Only to make a bigger name for himself, as a blockade-runner, durin' the American Civil War!"

"It was in the latter capacity that he first met the man who was to become his closest 'business associate:' Richard Thibideaux Lebaron from Beauregard Parish, Louisiana."

"Lebaron had founded the Veracruz branch, of the Delta Import/Export Company, durin' the French occupation of Mexico. And Juarista prisoners of war soon proved a plentiful alternate source of slave labor for American cotton plantations along the Gulf Coast. Especially those who were losin' more and more Negro slaves, every day, followin' the Emancipation Proclamation!"

"Yet, when the Union's victory, in 1865, officially put an end to slavery in America, once and for all, Lebaron was left with only one other customer who could keep him in business. The sugar cane planters of Cuba. And, with the French expulsion from Mexico, two years later, that left him only one other way he could satisfy their incessant demands for 'volunteer contract labor.' "

"Hence, his diabolical deal, with the Jaguar Knights, to 'recruit' such laborers from among the Injun tribes of Mexico's Pacific Coast!"

"It was Vandersnatch and Lebaron whom Becky found conferrin' with each other (over Cuban cigars in Lebaron's dimly lit back office) when she tore the roof off that buildin'. And her giant-sized ears had had no trouble discernin' what they'd been talkin' about! Namely; the impendin' arrival of Aguilar's latest 'acquisitions.' "

"I can only imagine how stunned they must've been; seein' a buck-naked, redheaded giantess. And, then, bein' picked up by her, one in each hand, as if they were no more'n rag dolls! What I do know for a fact, however, is that the next thing Becky did was head further southeastward. With Dooley followin' close behind, atop Gunmetal, while leadin' Crazy Quilt at the same time."

"They headed towards San Juan Bautista de Villahermosa; the capital city of Estado de Tabasco. I can't bring myself to tell you why, specifically. Let's just say that Dooley told me, later, that he used money from Lebaron's wallet to buy himself a milkin' goat. So's he could put out the fire, in Becky's throat, caused by her swallowin' of hot sauce made with genuine tabasco peppers!"

"After that, they high-tailed it back to the village of El Peyotero's people, in Estado de Nayarit. Stayin there a whole year, as man and wife, after gettin' hitched by El Peyotero! The only reason they didn't stay, permanent-like, is because of a vision the old mestizo shaman had, one night."

"A vision in which he saw Yvette Reardon gettin' kidnapped by Comanches on account of the Red River War of 1875!"

Chapter End Notes:
Next chapter: full circle!
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