A-Rafting on the Mississip'

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

Chapter I
THE BAD MEN FROM BLACK RIVER

THAT hot, sun-flooded, breathless afternoon, when the Mississippi below us was all polished gold and blue and the town was mostly asleep, the women folks of our house had gone in a skiff bargain-hunting to Port Byron and my grandfather and I were left alone. Down in his den on the riverside he was silently at work, but whether concreting his next sermon or mending West Rambo’s best trousers, I was to guess. Either would have been within the lines of his habitual endeavors, for on Sundays he was the preacher of the Baptist church of Le Claire and on week-days the town tailor. The preaching he did chiefly for the love and joy of it. At times we had reason to think that the tailoring proceeded upon a like basis of economics.

I had that afternoon an engagement elsewhere and one of importance; but for a singular reason I was not keeping it. With Stump McKane, Butch Tinker, Art Dawley, Bill Hillbourne, and Happy Day I had signed up to play scrub on the bottom of the old stone quarry; instead of which here I was, close prisoner, mewed in a stuffy house on one of the best afternoons for scrub that a boy ever saw. Not that I was laid by the heels for misdeeds. The truth is, I was afraid to go abroad and equally afraid to let anybody know I was afraid.

-3-

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