Capt. William Clark,
First off, thank you for being so kind—we’re all very excited about the Westward Expansion and most grateful that you’re offering transportation. Being unable to simply disappear and rematerialize somewhere in Oregon (despite being ordained by God to expand the country), I have the honor of asking you for a ride.
A bearer of burden I must be: I noticed from the bulletin that you will be leaving on Wednesday. This presents somewhat of a logistical problem for me, as I’m having a tapeworm removed the day before and doubt I’ll be recovered sufficiently for the journey until Thursday at the earliest. Also, my psychiatrist wants to go over a few key points with me about stresses the journey may present. (I’m suicidal, but just technically.)
Capt. Meriwether Lewis
Thank you for your interest. My role is merely to act as a viaduct for God’s way. If you have anyone to thank, it is He.
I must say I have qualms about changing the departure date from Wednesday to Thursday, as it would set an undesirable precedent of erratic ad-hoc scheduling. I have carefully, over the course of a year, planned out every detail of this journey and have determined that—to ensure I (we?) don’t miss the Indigenous Peoples of America Welcome Dinner—I must leave on Wednesday.
I’m usually a more receptive person, but my destiny is at stake. I’m sorry to be so dismissive, but if you can’t meet me at the falls of the Ohio River on Wednesday, then you’ll have to either find another wagon pool or go “in spirit.”
I’m not one to throw titles around, but I can only presume you’re aware that I’m private secretary to President Jefferson, and appointed leader of the Expedition. True, I don’t have a wagon. Yes, I’m manic. Life is full of imperfection. I will meet you at the falls of the Ohio River on Thursday.
I was dismayed by your last letter. Tom Jefferson is a good friend of mine, and assured me that I am to share command of the Expedition. Your terse rhetoric is effective, but not as much as an absent wagon. You are free to show up at the falls of the Ohio River on Thursday, but I will be a full day’s journey westward.
Or is it Will? I don’t care.
Jefferson has been fully briefed on your incorrigible attitude. I’ve instructed Sergeants Gass and Ordway to barricade your wagon should you decide to leave on Wednesday. Any attempt to evade the sergeants will be considered an act of aggression.
The Ohio River, being a river and all, is rather long. (I’ll spare you a “path of least resistance” metaphor.) Perhaps I will simply depart from another spot. I doubt Gass and Ordway are omniscient; otherwise, they’d know you’re insane.
It turns out that my appointment to have my tapeworm removed is actually on Monday, so I’ll be able to meet you on Wednesday after all! I really should look at my calendar more.
Listen, I’m sorry for our recent tussle, and somewhat embarrassed. I hope that you can attribute my less-than-stable resolve to the extreme excitement I feel about the new West. No hard feelings.
No worries, I’ll see you on Wednesday. By the way, what do you mean by “technically” suicidal?