TIMELINE: Monday, April 14 – Tuesday, April 15, 1879
Monday, April 14, 1879: Bart arrives in New Orleans and the brothers attempt to book passage on the maiden voyage of the River Princess. They discover the voyage is by invitation only by the ship's owner, Henri Devereaux. Later that night, Devereaux's daughter, Yvette, is kidnapped by Jody Collins and his thugs Rick and Jubal. Bret and Bart discover their hideout in an abandoned wine shop. Along with Yvette, Bret also becomes Collins' hostage and Bart is sent to Devereaux to collect the ransom. Bart is detained at the police station and is beaten to reveal the location of the hideout. Devereaux intervenes, gives Bart the ransom money and trusts Bart to bring his daughter back safely. Bart returns to the hideout with the ransom and an envelope of black powder with a short fuse. As the situation escalates and Collins' men want out, he turns on them and shoots them. As Jubal falls dead, the diversion allows Bret to escape with Yvette. Collins shoots and hits Bart in the shoulder, but Bart is able to ignite the powder, killing Collins. Bret and Bart return Yvette safely to Devereaux. relieved and grateful, Devereaux extends an invitation to Bret and Bart on the maiden voyage of the River Princess as his personal guests.
Shortly afterwards: The River Princess docks at St. Louis. The Maverick Brothers bid farewell to Devereaux and his daughter, and move on.
01. The Conjectural Maverick, Maverick Trails
02. Maverick, Hostage (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
03. Panhandle; Texas State Historical Society (retrieved April 26, 2015)
04. Maverick, The Cruise of the Cynthia B (1960), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
As clear as the story is as to its location, it is very sparse in information as to when it may have taken place. The best clue is Bret Maverick's ruse to Jody Collins that he and Brother Bart put the money they ransomed in a kidnapping into raising cattle in the Texas Panhandle a year earlier.
It was not until 1876, after the Panhandle had been cleared by the Army of hostile Indians, that Charles Goodnight established the first cattle ranch there. Other ranchers quickly followed into the lush grasslands. The Panhandle only became known for its booming ranching by 1877.
Bret's story then, must place the events of "Hostage" no earlier than 1878. But Bret and Bart's travels that year could not have placed them in the vicinity of New Orleans together. By 1880, with railroads offering faster and cheaper competition to river travel, Bret and Bart were finding fewer profitable games on the Mississippi and more opportunities in the burgeoning West, so it is less likely that the episode is any later than 1879.
Although the late summer of 1879 would again see the Mavericks on the Mississippi, most of their year was spent out West. But in the spring, they were still traveling far and wide. Maverick Trails postulates that Henri Devereaux had scheduled the maiden voyage of the River Princess on April 15 in celebration of his daughter Yvette's birthday, which well fits the Maverick Chronology.
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