Saturday, October 16, 1875
Rudy has taken Mirta and the little ones on an errand for Father St Beuve. They are investigating a rumor of a cattle herd in the high country -if they can bring a food supply back to Denver, it will alleviate a great deal of the tension in the city.
Finding myself at a loose end, I decided to resume my investigation of the strange goings-on St Beuve originally tasked me with on our arrival here. Additionally, I want to learn what I can about demonic posession, given the situation Danika, Nitza and myself are currently in.
Unfortunately, higher learning in Denver leaves much to be desired. Especially on such an unusual subject. After asking my colleagues at St Mary’s, Father Swinburn suggested I visit the new Explorer’s Society chapter-house on the bluffs above town.
Having nothing more pressing to occupy my day, I set out to visit the Society. Since Miss Veila took my horse when they set out on their errand, I enjoyed a rather pleasant – if brisk – walk up to their compound. Having no prior appointment, I introduced myself to the doorman and explained the reason for my visit. I was shown to a study and was joined in a few short minutes by the Curator General, a Russian by the name of Stanislav Krylova.
A great bear of a man, Mr Krylova greeted me warmly with a rib-cracking hug and a brandy. After explaining why I was there, Mr Krylova informed me that their library was open only to Society members. However, he did extend me an invitation to join the Society. Unfortunately, the annual membership fee is one thousand Union dollars. I reluctantly had to decline, as the fee is far beyond my resources as a priest. Even taking into account the money I received from our foray into crime – of which I have around $500 remaining – I am unable to cover the fee.
By this time, the evening had worn on and it was far too late to return to town. Mr Krylova offered me not only the hospitality of the Society for the night, but he also loaned me some of his personal journals – which he thought may be helpful in my investigations. However, I found most of the entries were in Russian – and of little use to me. Disappointed, I turned in for the night.
Sunday, October 17, 1875
The next morning, I woke to find my clothes laundered and pressed, ready for the new day. Emerging from my room, I was taken to breakfast – though the fare was more refined than I was used to at St Mary’s, the Society was obviously suffering from the same shortage as Denver itself. After eating, a servant showed me to the chapel. After some time in prayer, I was joined by a tall blonde-haired gentleman I recalled seeing at breakfast.
Once he was sure he wasn’t interrupting me, the gentleman introduced himself as Nicholas Trevelyan, the North American Chapter Master for the Explorer’s Society – not only Krylova’s superior, but the overall head of the Society on this side of the Atlantic.
At his request, I took Mr Trevelyan’s confession – in addition to general, run-of-the-mill sins, there was one thing he was concerned about. In regards to a “project” he is working on, he has deceived many people – friends and family, government officials, even other Society members.
Clearly there is something more going on with Nicholas Trevelyan, though he was reluctant to go into details to someone outside the Society. However, he reiterated Mr Krylova’s desire to see me join the Society. Regarding my financial situation, he has offered me a position as Chaplain to the Denver branch. He has offered to reduce the annual fee to $250, assuming I make a three year commitment to the Society. Though was unable to immediately accept, I told him I would consider the offer.
After lunch, I again met with both Krylova and Trevelyan, to further discuss what I would have learned from Stanislav’s journals had I been able to read Russian. Over a multitude of toasts – wherein it became obvious that Krylova considered my appointment to chaplain a foregone conclusion – he regaled Trevelyan and myself with the tales of his improbable exploits.
I was eventually able to steer the conversation towards some of the more “weird” aspects of Krylova’s travels. In particular, he recounted the story of the chinook in the New England woods. It was a monstrous cross between a wolverine and a kodiak bear, which was slaughtering entire villages in the area. Ultimately, it was discovered that a nearby town worshipped the creature as a blasphemous god, and offered up other towns as “sacrifices” – conveniently claiming the resources those towns no longer used. Krylova and his expedition were able to bring the animal down, but unfortunately it’s head was confiscated by the Pinkerton Detective Agency for “illegally transporting animal skins across state lines”.
At the mention of the Pinkertons, Mr Trevelyan twitched very slightly. Obviously he has some history with the detectives – perhaps this is related to his earlier confession?
Eventually, the storytelling wound down, and Mr Trevelyan – who had to return to Denver to catch an early-morning train – offered me a coach ride back to St Mary’s. On the way, we discussed a final few inconsequential things, and he reiterated both his offer of membership and his support. He also asked if I knew anyone in town who would like to join the Society. I have avoided mentioning Miss Veila by name in front of Mr Krylova, but did mention I knew a lady archaeologist who may be interested. And of course, the Society seems like it could be an educational experience for Danika and Nitza.
I would like to discuss matters with Father St Beuve first, but it seems quite probable I will be joining the Explorer’s Society in the near future.