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Author's Chapter Notes:
A scheme is hatched.
* * * * *

Lewis went over to the table where Lancer had been sitting, and helped himself to a glass of whiskey. Reverend Shepard, sitting to Lewis' left, patted the ex-Confederate partisan on the shoulder.

"Don't be too hard on yourself, my son. It was the right thing to do. The only merciful thing you could have done!"

"Somehow, I don't think Lauren will see it that way. Assuming we can even rescue her!"

"We must, senor capitan."

Everyone looked up to see Padre Cypriano coming from the saloon's back store room.

"How'd you get here?"

"I felt the vibrations from Heraclitoris' giant footsteps, and followed her from the church, as best as I could, riding my burro bareback. When I saw where she had stopped, I circled around to the rear of this building, so I could eavesdrop on her conversation with you."

"Sound tactical thinking. Your knowledge of her is our main advantage over her. Like this 'lunar zenith' business. What's that in reference to?"

Padre Cypriano frowned as he explained that there were three times of year when (according to the pagan folklore of Europe) evil magic could be practiced most effectively: All Hallows' Eve, in the autumn; Walpurgis Night, in the spring; and the summer solstice.

"That is today, senores. And, it is my suspicion that Senorita Findlay is to be a virgin sacrifice to Selene! The Lunar Titaness of Greek mythology, whom some scholars regard as being an alias of Hecate...goddess of witchcraft."

"Good Lord in Heaven!" exclaimed the reverend, closing his eyes and clutching his Bible to his heart.

"If we are to prevent this," continued the priest: "...we must formulate a plan of rescue, now."

"Easier said than done," replied Marshal Dalton: "That fort was constructed of the hardest wood timbers from East Texas. It would take a howitzer to blow open those gates, alone!"

Lewis looked at Lancer: "I don't suppose one of those other two troops is horse artillery."

The brevet major shook his head.

Just then, Fleischer remembered the Ketchum grenades they had brought with them.*

"If the gut vater has an extra crossbow, Tom und I could sneak up to the gates and shoot them at the hinges, as well as their intersection. Leaving Herr Major Lancer free to charge in, und retake the fort! Mit you accompanying them to rescue the fraulein."

"It'd be suicide, Dutch," replied Tom: "That fort's got a mighty clear view in all directions."

"Not if they were concentrating on something else," declared Lewis: "Like me, pretending to give myself up, in exchange for Lauren and the other hostages' release."

"There's no guarantee that would distract _all_ her sentries," observed Dalton: "You'll need a much bigger diversion. Like an artillery barrage from the rear of the fort."

Lewis reminded his stepfather that they lacked anything bigger than the Ketchum grenades. To which, the older man smiled.

"Before my retirement from the Corps of Engineers, I remember reading some accounts of Commodore Parry's visit to Japan. There was one anecdote concerning Japanese military history. Specifically, an attempted invasion of Korea that was thwarted primarily by a weapon called a 'hwacha.' It essentially launched a hundred skyrocket-propelled fire arrows, at once! And, the drawing that was included in this anecdote bore a strong resemblance to the rear end of the padre's donkey cart."

Lewis and Dalton smirked at each other.

"Are you thinking what I think you're thinking?" asked the former. The latter nodded.

"I will materially contribute whatever I can to your cause, senores," remarked the priest: "But, how do you plan to make these grenados airborne?"

Lewis smirked again: "Ever hear of the 4th of July?"

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