Mudcat Café message #213165 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20395   Message #213165
Posted By: Amos
17-Apr-00 - 01:06 PM
Thread Name: TAVERN STEAMBOAT Albert Hansell - Part 4
Subject: RE: TAVERN STEAMBOAT Albert Hansell - Part 4
"Dang, Jim, she done give in to them vapors again!", Jeremey commented, taking over Miss Montesquieu's oar. "Wal, it's the humidity I reckon. Plus that was kinda odd, that catfish jumpin' like that. Never seen 'em come up like thet before! See whtcha kin do to revive her, wontcha?"

He shifted uncomfortably in his thwart-planked seat, concentrating on pushing the crude lifeboat from the misnamed riverboat harder. It was plain they would never catch the Albert Hansell this way. The late morning sun was already taking its toll on their energies. But at the same time he felt a bond to his new friends, and especially grateful to Huck and Jim who had sacrificed their raft -- their home -- to help destroy the Heron's boat. He laughed, remembering the sight of all thos epoorly disguised time-mongers in their citified dress leaping into the shallows of the Cold Creek delta, wading to land.

As they rounded a narrow bend, he saw a lovely pasture which came sloping gently down to the river on the western bank, and in it, a herd of beautiful horses -- two-year olds, fillies, a few spring colts staggering, and several full-grown handsome chestnut stallions trotting around the outside of the herd, watching over their families. He gazed at them thoughtfully.

"Hey boys," he said. "I got me an idee how we kin catch that steamboat after all!"

Late that afternoon, the Mate stood watch as the Hansell crossed into the borderlands of Kentucky and approached a narrow series of switchback-like bends. His eyes peeled sharply for bars and snags, he thought briefly of the Captain's strange and apparently fatal dance on the smolkestack and wished he was back on the bridge, watching the river with him. Ahead, the narrowing river passed a wide mud bank with a crude wooden landing platform built into it, and his eyes widened as he detected, emerging from the trees on the western bank, a series of galloping horses with strange characters -- one, then three, then five -- driving them at a desperate breakneck run toward the landing platform. His jaw dropped...that was his lost Deckhand on the chestnut stallion, the mount's sides white with sweat and the deckhand lashing him for every ounce of speed he had in him--and there was that young gambler passenger and that pretty Miss Montesquieu riding hell-for-leather behind him!! And who were those raggle taggle young folks coming up behind on the yearlings?

Dave TAM rang down for Slow Astern, and steered the giant riverboat into the landing stage, hollering for hands to man the breastlines and make her fast. The strange cavalcade of youth came panting and heaving to a stop at the top of the bank, and one by one the bizarre collection of characters freed their mounts, sending them homeward with affectionate slaps to the withers, and scrambled down the muddy bank to the landing stage, and finally back on board the Albert Hansell.

The Mate just shook his head.

"Wal, Jeremy, I'm right glad you survived. Right glad! Now, git up here on the bridge - we still have time to make -- and start explaining yoreself!".