A-Rafting on the Mississip'

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

Chapter IX
THE SLUSH COOK FINDS A PICTURE

WHEN Thomas Doughty landed in Le Claire three years before the Civil War, people perked up and said, “Here comes a prize.” He was a good-looking young man, for one thing; besides, in his blue eyes shone honesty, and he had a way of talking that took everybody with a pleased surprise, because he was so plainly without guile. He talked well and with confidence, and was just out of college. College men were rare in Le Claire. I think he and old Dr. Gamble divided the eminence.

Back in Pennsylvania, where Doughty had been born, his family had been of some means and distinction. He had started out to save the Doughty fortunes when they began to go wrong, and had joined the great trek to the new empire of the West, having faith, much faith, but no more idea of what to do with it than thousands of others that trekked with him.

From a steamboat deck he saw Le Claire, and it looked good to him. It was then a bustling town, all for the river upon which it lived. When he sought employment it was the river that gave it. He began to heave wood into the fire-box of a steamboat.

With his native wit and intelligence he was not long for a fireman’s place. He studied steam-engineer-

-148-

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