Southwick was a brilliant tactician with whom I had played several exceedingly challenging games of chess by post. He revealed in one of his letters that he was also a member of the nefarious League of Miscreants, a fact which was already known to me. He was in actuality a distant relative of Eldridge Compost, the founder of the tenebrous League. I thought it unwise to disclose my own relationship with Mr. Compost, preferring simply to maintain a cordial correspondence.
Southwick said of me that I was a gentleman and quite well educated "for a Northerner." Suffice it to say the General was accommodating, if occasionally bombastic and provincial, and graciously consented to provide the mercenary youths in discreet service to me. Thankfully, they were prepared with lanterns to aid in my crepuscular caper.
I cannot say for what reason, but I attempted to converse with the two young rebels as they unloaded the wagon. I remarked that the epitaph carved into Dr. Hogalum's headstone, "One World at a Time," was in fact a Henry David Thoreau citation. A reporter had once asked Thoreau if he believed in an afterlife, and he had reputedly quipped, "Oh, one world at a time!" I opined on the irony of Thoreau's death occurring so shortly thereafter. The young men eyed me with a kind of dispassionate bewilderment and the lesson was abruptly halted.
We worked diligently assembling the components of my Precision Dig Engine, and once assembled, the Engine made noisy but quick work of the job at hand, spouting jets of the rich soil into a series of tidy mounds. I leapt into the resulting void with a small spade and a large knife to perform the final procedures of the hasty exhumation. Upon completion, I realized I was effectively imprisoned within the confines of my own excavation, but worse, my hired rapscallions were nowhere to be seen.
I scraped and scrabbled at the crumbling walls of my earthen prison to no avail, but I dared not cry out lest I be discovered. Suddenly, the perplexed and apprehensive faces of the cemetery's caretaker and night watchman appeared over my limited horizon, thus rendering my earlier reticence pointless. Upon observing my wretched predicament, the caretaker adopted a cloying bravura, tipping his hat and directing his musically accusatory drawl downward at my perspiration-drenched figure. "Well now," he began with a smirk. "What do we have hee-ah?"
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