In Chapter Nine of Show Boat, the down-on-his-luck river gambler Gaylord Ravenal boards a boat called the *Lady Lee *in St. Louis, planning to disembark at Memphis or Natchez. After becoming wrapped up in an unprofitable game of poker that lasts for days, he fails to get off at either port. To make things worse, the boat lands in New Orleans. The New Orleans chief of police, Vallon, has been cracking down on professional gamblers and requiring them to leave the city within twenty-four hours of arrival or face legal consequences. Ravenal is being monitored even more closely there because of his earlier involvement in a deadly gambling dispute. As ordered, he goes to see Vallon before doing anything else:
I’m not very quickwitted, either, because I just can’t find the punchline here. I had thought it might be some kind of reference to Freud, but although the book was published in 1926, this scene is set in the 1880s.