A Lancer / HGWT (Have Gun Will Travel) Crossover
Usual Disclaimers Apply - No Beta – Flying Solo
Summary: Response to Janet Brayden’s Manners Challenge
Warning: Some Cussing – But Only a Little!
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Carlton Hotel, Nob Hill
1075 Sutter Street, San Francisco
The Lancers had arrived and checked into their suite of rooms on the top floor of the ritzy Carlton Hotel in San Francisco for the California Cattle Growers Association Annual Board Meeting. The preceding year, Murdoch Lancer had taken his ward, Teresa O’Brien and Maria acting as her chaperon on the visit, leaving his sons, Scott and Johnny in charge, overseeing the Lancer ranch. The boys had instead taken the occasion to roam off to Yosemite, for what reason Murdoch had yet to discern. This year Murdoch ruling was that his sons would be involved in the meeting, much to his youngest son’s annoyance and then too, the bringing of Teresa and Maria.
Despite the fact that Johnny enjoyed traveling to San Francisco on cattle buying trips, he did not take to the actual business operations of running one of the largest cattle operations in the San Joaquin Valley. If Johnny had his choice, he would leave all that to his older and college educated brother, Scott, who did like that part of the business. Johnny at every chance, with every conceivable intention and inconceivable notion feasible avoided the monthly meetings with fervor.
Murdoch laughed to himself as he snipped a shot of Talisker single malt scotch whiskey, the distinctive spicy flavor warming his insiders from the early evening chill that had penetrated his bones during the carriage ride from the train station to the hotel. He thought about how Johnny had given permission to that sheep man, Gabe Lincoln last year, to graze his sheep on Lancer land waiting for them to lamb. Johnny’s timing in these types of matters was legendary off-base, and he proved it yet again as this occurred precisely after Murdoch was announced as the new president of the association. Talk about having a defining moment so early in his administration, Johnny inadvertently had stirred the fires of fanaticism among the neighboring cattlemen!
But giving credit where it was due, Johnny had tried twice to ‘fess up before the sheep came trotting down the proverbial garden path, right pass the hacienda’s front door. Both times Murdoch rebuffed Johnny with first a “shush” followed by a side-mouthed brusquely uttered, “Later.” Oh, yes that was a brilliant scheme of Johnny’s that created ill will and tension in Morro Coyo until Gabe moved on, leaving behind much sadness in the wake of Lucy’s accidental death. Still the boy was only trying to repay a good turn. Gabe had prevented Johnny from being gored and trampled to death by an angry bull that Johnny had no business playing games with in another one of his hare-brained notions.
Murdoch raked his hand through his grey hair; gone greyer he noted, looking at his reflection in the mirror, since his sons had come home. He reviewed his decision that the best thing for everyone was to bring Johnny along to San Francisco to learn more about the inner workings of running a successful cattle ranch. There was more than just breeding, birthing, branding and rounding-up cattle to know about the business. If Johnny were to one day take over he would need to fully realize the operations from both sides not just the demanding physical labor segment.
Regardless of Johnny’s vehement protests, Scott had taken him into Green River to have him measured for a proper gentleman’s wardrobe. This required that certain items be special ordered from Chicago as the men’s clothing line had yet to extend to evening attire, let alone the latest fashionable suits. Scott had made sure that not only was Johnny fully outfitted but Murdoch wardrobe was updated as well as his own.
When the order had arrived from Marshall Field’s in Chicago it was complete with evening clothes, tailored sack suits, ties, and even white evening gloves for a night at the Orpheum Theater for each of the Lancer men. Scott had even made sure to have a few of the latest fashionable gowns ordered for Teresa and Maria. Any additional items they might need could be purchased in San Francisco; but for the most part everyone was fully stocked to allow them to step out in style to mix and mingle with the west coast’s high society.
Somehow Scott had discovered that the prominent stage actor, Maurice Barrymore and the Augustin Daly's troupe would make their debut in “Under the Gaslight” and had arranged for tickets to the opening night performance. Murdoch tilted back his glass and finished his drink as he contemplated how Johnny could possibly turn this into his own special comedy of errors.
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Meanwhile said sons were busy in their room, one was unpacking and hanging up his clothes in the tall wardrobe. While the other had discarded his traveling clothes, wearing only his cut off long johns, tossing the contents of his luggage searching for his comfortable clothes.
“Dios, Scott, where the hell are my leather calzonera pants with the silver studs? And my blue flowered shirt? And my concho belt? I know I packed them in here.”
“You did, brother. Saw you with my own eyes,” grinned Scott as he watched Johnny turn one carpetbag upside down, shaking it to no avail then turning to the large truck. He handed Johnny a wooden hanger. “Here Johnny, hang those up before they’re all wrinkled.”
“Damn it! Where the hell are my clothes?”
“These are your clothes, brother,” Scott pointed out as he picked up the evening clothes. He carefully removed a non-existent piece of lint from the lapel, not turning his back on Johnny as he adjusted the black suit on the hanger. “Johnny, just don’t get into a colossal pucker,” he said.
Johnny stopped searching and stared at Scott, “Why? What did ya do?”
“Well, brother, Murdoch was very clear about not bringing any ranch clothes on this trip.”
“Get it said, Boston,” Johnny said gritting teeth. “I already left my rig at home, now what?”
“I removed them when you went downstairs for breakfast.”
“Thanks a lot...BROTHER...I’ll remember this,” he answered as his fingers began drumming briskly alongside both legs clearly annoyed at this news. “Hell, this means I’m stuck wearin’ those high-pitchin’ collars that make it hard ta breathe and those itchy suits or nothin’ at all!”
Scott chuckled at Johnny’s grasp of the situation, “And the ties, don’t forget about those as well. I don’t believe Murdoch or the ladies will appreciate the “nothing at all” so yes indeed you are trapped for the week.”
Johnny was sulking as he kicked at the leather truck that had previously held his now missing customary clothing, as if the luggage was somehow responsible for not carrying his things. He stubbed his toe on the corner where the metal studs outlined the box and began hopping on one foot, holding the injured digit, “Damn it, Scott, this ain’t funny!”
Scott chuckled all the more, wiping at tears forming in his eyes, “Isn’t funny, Johnny, sounds better. And I would have to disagree with you brother, I find the entire situation quite amusing.”
Johnny sat down in the plush velvet wing-backed chair, rubbing his toe as he glared at Scott.
“Boston, I’ll remind ya of this next time you’re face down in a cow pie or a mucky creek bed just how funny ya look, too, after I toss ya into one of ‘em!”
“Fair enough, but for now I would recommend that you get dressed for dinner. I heard Murdoch ask the concierge about The Cliff House where we’re to meet the other cattlemen tonight. He won’t be pleased if you’re not dressed and ready before the ladies are.”
“Madre de Dios!” he exclaimed as his fingers vociferously tapped out his frustration on the wings of the chair after he flung his arms up in defeat. His options were slim and none as he glumly pulled on the high notch-collar starch shirt and the dark-colored pants that in his opinion fit too snug as they pulled in places he didn’t think they should.
“Here let me help you with that cravat,” said Scott as he watched Johnny tried tying it several times and each time it lay cock-eyed around his neck.
“I don’t understand why Murdoch wants me ta be at these fancy fracases, you’re better at ‘em than me by a long shot,” mumbled Johnny. He stood tapping his fingers against his legs while Scott adjusted the dreaded tie.
“Johnny! Hold still and stop that infernal tapping! Or this will be too tight against your throat!” Scott admonished Johnny, who didn’t quite stop the tapping but at least slowed it down until the tie was adjusted.
“There! That’s the best I can do. Now brother, I’m cautioning you, don’t fiddle with it, keep your hands away and for the love of Pete, don’t stand around all evening drumming your fingers. It’s annoying and everyone will notice it. Either hands down by your side or hold on to anything, like a glass or a napkin. Do not tap!”
Johnny glared at him again, “Ya see, Boston, this ain’t natural for me. Why don’t ya leave me here? I’ll find something ta do on my own.”
“Oh no you won’t! Next thing I’d know you’d get yourself shanghaied off on some merchant vessel heading to China or Timbuktu! Murdoch would have my head on a platter, not yours since it wouldn’t be around. You’re going if I have to hog-tie you to that chair and drag you down the stairs. That’s the final word on the matter.”
There was a single sharp knock, immediately followed by the door flung open between theirs and Murdoch’s adjoining room, “Boys! I see you’re ready! Care to join me downstairs in the hotel lobby for a pre-dinner drink while the ladies finish? They need another ten minutes or so and we can wait downstairs. Perhaps we’ll find some of the other association members waiting on their females as well.”
“Oh joy,” Johnny mumbled under his breath to Scott, “Ten minutes my ass, more likely thirty with all the stuff Teresa will need ta do ta get ready.”
Scott gave Johnny a brotherly shove out the door to the hallway, as Murdoch decided to let his comment pass.
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The lobby of the Carlton Hotel was plush beyond anything Johnny had every seen before. There was a thick Oriental carpet that covered the staircase, where at the bottom on both sides of the steps stood large Grecian statues in white marble. High overhead was a radiant chandelier that illuminated the lobby. Off to one side were marble-topped tables and plush ornate chairs in groups of two or four. Seated in several of the chairs were over-dressed flops thought Johnny as cigar and pipe smoke billowed making circles over their heads. Some were engaged in conversation, while others snapped and popped their evening newspaper they read, making sighing noises looking up in expectation at each party descending the staircase. Occasionally a man would jump to his feet and meet his lady decked out in her finery, with glittering baubles, long white gloves, a feathery hat perched on top of hair piled high complete with rustling skirts that sounded like birds’ wings taking flight.
Scott spotted an empty table for four alongside an elegantly dressed man in dark-colored formal evening attire, complete with a ruffled shirt and bow-tie puffing on a cigar with one hand and gently swirling a brandy goblet with the other. “There’s a table,” he pointed out.
The Lancers sat down at the table and within seconds a young Asian man appeared to take their drink order. Murdoch noted the brandy goblet held by the dark-haired, blued-eyed, and mustachioed who nodded acknowledgment in his direction. “Good evening,” both exchanged.
“Hey Boy, please bring the gentlemen some of this most excellence Brandy de Jerez to enjoy, put it on my tab.”
“Okey, dokey, Mr. Paladin,” bowed the diminutive man with the long-braided queue hanging down his back, dressed in a white serving jacket, black trousers and a dark skull hat upon his head. He moved away quickly to fulfill the request.
“Mr. Paladin, thank you. It is not obligatory for you to pay for our drinks,” said Murdoch as he stood to shake the man’s hand, “Murdoch Lancer and my sons, Scott and Johnny.”
“Mr. Lancer, please, I insist. Since you are new visitors to the Carlton, I wish to extend my welcome for a long and profitable visit in whatever business brings you to our fair city,” said Paladin as he stood and shook hands with each Lancer. “Please, join me. I gather you and I both wait for fair ladies to ascend from the heavens above in their finery? We men must stick together during these trying times, must we not?”
The Lancers joined Mr. Paladin at his table, “Ya got that right, mister,” replied Johnny, fidgeting as he attempted to be comfortable in his constricting clothes. The trousers were positively binding at his crotch, the shirt collar rigid, the tie too tight and unyielding, the vest and flock coat made him look like a Fancy Dan. While waiting for their drinks, Johnny’s restless hands began their incessant drumming, first on his legs, and then on the tabletop while his legs kept harmony to whatever music was beating inside Johnny’s head.
Mr. Paladin watched the youth closely, noticing how every few minutes Scott or Murdoch would place their hands onto the top of Johnny’s legs to impede their continuous motion, then to the tabletop, where Murdoch’s and Scott’s hands would seize Johnny’s dancing fingers pressing them down resolutely. Mr. Paladin smiled at the pent-up energy Johnny was releasing while he engaged with Scott in dialogue about their war recollections, both served as officers in the Union Army during the Civil War. Paladin had attended West Point which interested Scott significantly as they talked about mutual associates.
Hey Boy returned with the finely cut and detailed Waterford crystal brandy goblets and an incredibly expensive Waterford crystal decanter containing the Brandy de Jerez. He carefully poured the liquor into each goblet. Mr. Paladin toasted his guests, “Drink is the feast of reason and the flow of soul.”
Scott raised his crystal towards their host, “Ahh, Alexander Pope,” he commented with appreciation, then added, “May the saddest day of your future be no worse than the happiest day of your past.”
“May the winds o’ adversity ne'er blow open your door!” said Murdoch raising his glass towards the others, looking more pointedly at Johnny.
Johnny thinking quickly of a toast raised his glass towards the others before animatedly adding the first one that popped into his mind, “To women and horses...and the men that ride them...Salud!" He quickly gulped down his drink paying no attention to the daggers Scott and Murdoch shot at him, as his legs danced up and down from the tension in his trousers that was driving him to try stretching the fabric as much as possible.
Mr. Paladin gracefully hid the smile threatening to erupt across his face by first sniffing the brandy then sipping it as he observed the family performance playing out before him.
Johnny oblivious that his toast had almost given Murdoch apoplexy helped himself to one more glass of the intoxicating drink. Scott shrugged his shoulders as he looked apologetically at Mr. Paladin then offered his regrets for Johnny’s toast. Mr. Paladin only waved his hand indicating he completely understood.
Johnny flashed his wide-eyed innocent expression as he finished his second drink and had the bravado to pour himself a third brandy, “What?”
Scott removed the decanter from Johnny’s reach, as he mouthed, “Stop it, brother.”
“You know very well what, stop before you push Murdoch too far,” whispered Scott behind a napkin.
Murdoch regained his self-control as the blush that had appeared on his face, slowly dissipated, rumbled low while reprimanding his youngest, “John.”
“No more,” he admonished his son. “Mr. Paladin, please accept my sincerest regrets for my errant son’s conduct.”
“Mr. Lancer, that’s not necessary. It’s evident that Johnny is attempting to adjust in a world quite unlike the one he is more familiar and relaxed in. I commend him for trying to be at ease in this eccentric fashion of civility and manners.”
The conversation continued while Johnny tried to sit still, but soon the effects of three glasses of brandy, two literally filled to the brim and two consumed in haste into an nearly empty stomach took hold. Johnny moistened his index finger and rubbed it around the glass rim, making it sound like a bow being drawn across the strings of a violin. Johnny now in his own world, legs bounced up and down, his left hand tapped as he rubbed the glass. Apparently the nonstop circling action triggered a recollection as Johnny began to hum the tune to “she’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain when she comes, when she comes, she’ll be comin’ ‘round the...
“THAT’S ENOUGH!” shouted Murdoch as he rose to his feet, crashing his great hand to the tabletop, knocking over a few glasses, staining the white tablecloth. His deafening roar shook Johnny out of his private thoughts, as horror-struck guests gasped and turned towards them to watch. Mr. Paladin had clutched the decanter of brandy before it tilted on its side, while Scott snatched the candle from the center of the table that swayed from the thunderous smack to the tabletop.
“Allow me to remind you, young man, the words of the Father of our Country that he with awareness outlined in his book, “George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” I promise you, my son, you will become personally acquainted with all the rules. By George you will, until you’ve got each and every one of them memorized.
“What rule,” Johnny asked almost inaudibly; conscious that he had done it yet again, set his father off.
“Commencing with this rule, “In the presence of others sing not to yourself with a humming noise, nor drum with your fingers or feet.”
“Oh! That rule,” he said, ducking his head down astutely aware that he would hear more about this later from Murdoch. Then from Scott, followed by Teresa and finally Maria would add their opinions as they tried their hands at domesticating Johnny with proper manners in the presence of others.
“By George,” Johnny snorted in his head, “I got ta ‘em, again.” Meanwhile his mind plotted out more ways to enact his payback for dragging him on this trip, trying to make him into some type of gentleman. He’d already told Murdoch, “that he hadn’t raised any gentlemen...” now Murdoch was trying to change their gentlemen’s agreement.
Murdoch meanwhile kept a watchful eye on Johnny, who almost sat still, until Murdoch saw his fingers tapping out a beat alongside his right leg, “By George...”
Patti – October 12, 2009
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With this challenge I decided to pair the characters of Paladin and the Lancers, with Johnny Lancer in particular. Only fitting in my mind as Richard Boone was an acting coach of James Stacy. I recently watched one episode of Have Gun Will Travel where Richard Boone utilized the finger tapping that James Stacy employed many times during Lancer. Perhaps an acting trick that Richard taught James and both maximized to their advantage in their roles? Stranger things have happened and I like the idea! Hence, my pairing of the older gunfighter teaching the younger gunfighter...I see a series coming on!
I also used known facts of Maurice Barrymore and Augustin Daly's troupe, just changed the facts to fit my story. You try finding stage actors that performed in San Francisco back in 1873! Then I remember the Barrymore family started early...the rest is not exactly history but close!
1) Paladin – Have Gun Will Travel followed the adventures of Paladin, a gentleman/gunfighter (played by Richard Boone on television, and by John Dehner on radio), who preferred to settle problems without violence, yet, when forced to fight, excelled. Paladin lived in the Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, where he dressed in formal attire, ate gourmet food, and attended the opera. In fact, many who met him initially mistook him for a dandy from the East. When working, he dressed in black, used calling cards, wore a holster that carried characteristic chess knight emblems, and carried a derringer under his belt.
2) Herbert Arthur Chamberlayne Blythe (September 21, 1849 – March 26, 1905) — stage name Maurice Barrymore — was the patriarch of the Barrymore acting family and great-grandfather of actress Drew Barrymore. On December 29, 1874, Barrymore boarded the SS America for Boston, and joined Augustin Daly's troupe making his debut in Under the Gaslight.