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Short Stories, November 25, 1946
T WAS a hot day in late May, there on
the upper Columbia, and the man on
the landing pulled a red bandana
handkerchief from under the tails of
his dusty long-coat and mopped his palms
carefully. The hip-shot saddled behind him
was sweat-crusted, and it lifted its head as
the steamboat hulled up, far down the river,
its patient chunking rocking ahead between
the low but cliff-like banks.
“There’ll be shade aboard her,” the man
told the mount. “I’ll be as glad of it as you
will.”
Out in the channel, Ared Lambert had
been worrying about Canoe Encampment
ahead and the even worse stretch at Miller’s
I
SHORT STORIES 2
Drift, beyond that, when he sighted the
figures far up on Castle landing. Uneasiness
left him in a flare of interest, and he gave
her three spokes to port, watching the bulky
tow of sawed timbers snubbed ahead of the
little stern-wheel Chub veer conversely to
starboard and the Oregon shore.
It would be Parson Peel, he told himself;
in Wallula he had heard that Rex Stanton
had summoned the circuit rider to officiate
at the wedding, come Sunday, which was
the morrow. The preacher had been down in
the John Day cow country, where Stanton’s
word must have reached him, and doubtless
he was now waiting to be picked up by the
big Western Queen. The Queen, with the
flashy Rex Stanton at the wheel, was mainly
a passenger boat and, regularly leaving the
Deschutes at l0:30 in the morning on her up
trips, she could not pass here for an hour
yet, it now being half-past one. It was far
too hot over there for the preacher to have
to wait for her.
The young mate thought of these things
even as he recalled that the Cap’n was now
on the tail end of his after-dinner nap, back
in the texas. Ared lined inshore, packet and
tow working supplely, the freshet current,
tawny and clouded, piling and swirling
around the tow, pounding on the
steamboat’s beamy sides and chuckling on
toward the Pacific. He belled the engine
room softly, and as the Chub’s old beam
engine hushed down the surprised engineer,
watching from the engine room windows,
held her to the little landing with his
throttle.
The headwind was light as a feather
duster, cool through the dropped pilot house
windows. On either shore bare brown hills
rose above the sharp rock escarpments, the
sandy desert soil on above blowing visibly
and covered by thin, seared prairie grass
studded thinly with clumps of sage brush.
HE preacher had gathered reins and led
the horse to the landing’s edge, but he
was looking puzzled. Ared tilted his long,
lean frame outward and called, “Come right
aboard, sir.”
The man hesitated. “Why, I figured it
would be the Queen picking me up. Are you
Captain Stanton?”
“I’m the man as means to marry the girl,
sir,” Ared told him, which was entirely so,
though it omitted the girl’s own intentions.
“It must have been hot for you, waiting so
long in the sun.”
Juba Cox, combined cook and
deckhand, had moved out to the side rail to
investigate the ringing and sudden loss of
way. He stared up at Ared, the eyes in his
brown and seamy face blinking in the bright
sun.
“Here’s the parson, Juba,” Ared said.
“Why don’t you run out the gangplank?”
Biting his thumbnail first, the cook bent
to do it. The parson still looked puzzled, but
he came aboard, leading the horse. Juba
yanked the plank inboard, and Ared got the
Chub away, a tight feeling suddenly in his
stomach. To this point he had been intent
upon the capture, and now that he had the
circuit rider he was not overly clear on his
further intentions.
AP’N MASTERS was apt to be a mite
ruffled, even if there was a fair chance
that he would see the point. Of a hundred or
so river men on the Columbia who harbored
no affection for the show-off, lady-killing
Stanton, the Cap’n’s name stood just below
that of his young mate. Then a heavy tread
beyond the door on the texas side informed
Ared that he would have precious little time
to plan it out.
The door opened, and the Cap’n came
in, a short and immensely wide figure, bald
except for a band of frowsy red hair that
clamped to his skull like a caterpillar
clinging to a robin egg. Traces of his nap
T
C
FLASH PILOT 3
lurked in his eyes, and the galluses attached
to his patched duck trousers had slid off his
bulging, red-flanneled shoulders and now
hung well below his knees. He yawned, but
he was puzzled and in an inquiring frame of
mind.”
“What’d we stop for, Ared?”
“Picked up a passenger.”
“What for?”
“Was one standing there.”
The Cap’n sucked in a big breath. “And
us running nip-an’-tuck to make Wallula
before dark! Why—!”
A suddenly aroused sense of propriety
forced Ared to stem the flow. “Careful,
Cap’n. It was Parson Peel.”
The captain’s big mandible snapped
shut, though his eyes still bulged. He was a
devout man, and while the words he had
been using were not swearing, his tone of
voice was. Upon occasion, with his river
cronies in little Dalles City’s twenty-odd
saloons, Ared had seen the Cap’ n
stowaway a quart of forty-rod in an
evening’s sitting. “It ain’t likker but
drunkenness as is sinful, Ared,” he would
be careful to explain afterward. Since he
never walked a quarter-point off course, as a
result, once again the Cap’n’s strict sense of
propriety was kept intact. Now he stroked
his jaw, eyes on his young mate
speculatively.
“Heading for the wedding, huh?
Stanton’s gonna blow a cylinder head. He’ll
figure the preacher ain’t got there, yet.”
“I allowed something like that,” Ared
admitted.
The Cap’n’s red face didn’t show much
expression as he took the wheel and picked
up the course, but Ared figured that he was
less angry. A complex individual, the Cap’n
had received his early training on the old
Mississip’. Long since he had brought one
of the first steamboats around the Horn to
the gold-flecked waters of San Francisco
Bay. After years in the river trade there he
had come on to the Columbia, this broad
and violent stream that was the only avenue
to the rich mines on the Clearwater, the
Pend d’Oreille and down in the Boise basin,
and to the sweeping and fertile farmlands
newly opened to settlement. Here upon the
upper reaches he had acquired the little
Chub and entered the towing trade, and
shortly thereafter he had gained his young
mate and cub pilot.
It was partly over the Cap’n that Ared
had quarreled with Miss Cindy Tyndale, of
Wallula, Territory of Washington, who was
now the promised Mrs. Rex Stanton. Like
any good river man, Ared had done his
courting when water transit matters allowed,
yet Cindy Tyndale had held him personally
accountable for the fact that he was more
often at the Deschutes when the moon was
waxing over Wallula, or again underfoot in
Wallula when Miss Tyndale heartily wished
him at the Deschutes. But the spark had
come from the Cap’n’s keeping chickens
down in the little freight room, an enterprise
designed to produce fresh eggs for the table
but which also produced behind-the-hand
levity on the upper Columbia.
“I don’t know why you keep working
for that old crackpot!” Cindy had stormed,
one night when Ared was patently on the
wrong end of the haul. “On a passenger boat
you’d have some regularity and, too, you
could wear a uniform.”
“Cap’n’s a river man,” Ared had told
her. “That’s what I’m aiming to be.”
This argument was wasted upon Cindy,
to whom the river was only some water that
ran down through Wallula Gap. She failed
to picture it as Ared saw it, tumbling out of
the Canadian Rockies, whipping through
hundreds of miles of desert, drilling through
the vaulting Cascades, creeping tiredly
across the Willamette Valley’s upper end,
mountaineering again through the wide
Coast Range, tumbling and lost at last into
the sea. Any river man could tell you that,
SHORT STORIES 4
like a voluptuous shrew, the Columbia
could be cruel and mocking to the
weaklings upon her, yet conquered by
strong and daring men she was lush and
yielding, though never faithful.
Easygoing until he was crowded, Ared
had finally got his dander up, unfortunately
only a short while before the arrival of Rex
Stanton, owner and captain of the big new
Western Queen, in the plush mining trade.
And now the Tyndale parlor was festooned,
and Parson Peel was on his way to do the
honors.
S HE turned down to the main deck,
Ared grinned in mild wickedness. It
would take but little to see the Chub tied up
for the night somewhere short of her
destination and to put a sour note in Captain
Rex Stanton’s wedding eve. Even a flash
pilot could not produce a preacher at will on
this upper Columbia of ‘66. And it was
unlikely that Parson Peel could walk upon
the waters, as some claimed, or put his
ganted horse ashore and get more speed and
endurance from it than Ared understood was
resident in even the best of horseflesh.
The preacher’s black had been tied in
the freight room, just forward of the
chicken-wired space where the Cap’n’s
white layers clucked and scratched away in
the straw for wheat, the captain’s means of
exercising them being to make them rustle
so for their subsistence. Juba Cox seemed to
have put the parson in one of the dusty,
rarely occupied staterooms on the upper
deck, for he was not in evidence, though
Ared would have liked to talk with him
again. A pious and ascetic man himself, the
popular circuit rider was wont to carry the
gospel to the places where it logically
seemed needed most, never haranguing and
never condemning, and thus it was that in
fleshpot, renegade camp or virtuous parlor
there were many who would have come afoggin’ had they ever heard that he needed
help.
Her big paddle chunking softly, her
‘scape pipes alternately puffing white steam
into the dark sausage of smoke from her
single stack, the Chub and tow were now
lining on Miller’s Drift and its three
midstream islands. Out on the sepian water
the zinnia sun was a splintering downpour,
but the dark fringe of shadow tacked along
the Oregon shore was mysterious and
deeply pleasant. Ared whistled softly as he
moved along a cross-passage and turned
down into the little galley.
Juba Cox was presently free of the
exactions of both his berths. A mild and
insignificant man by his own choice, Juba
would, upon occasion, fool those who—
unlike Ared Lambert—had not seen him
hurl a kettle of hot potato soup at a
swaggering freight rouster who had
attempted to snitch a dried peach pie
cooling on a shelf just inside a galley
window. Now Juba took his solemn ease on
a three-legged stool, reading a frayed copy
of the Oregonian. Without looking up, he
jerked a thumb toward the blackened coffee
pot simmering on the galley range. Ared
filled a mug, brought it to the scrub-topped
table and lowered his lean haunches onto a
bench.
“You sure took the preacher,” Juba said,
his thin voice a shade cantankerous. “It ain’t
hard to see what you’re figuring on, but
look here. I wanta get home for the weekend. The wife’s having prime ribs and
noodles, she told me. And you don’t know
how sick I get of my cooking.”
Ared allowed that it did not take a
painful stretch of the imagination. He
sipped his coffee, thinking; not, strangely
enough, of the pert Cindy Tyndale, nor
particularly of Parson Peel, but of the
Cap’n. He drained the mug and,
refreshened, climbed to the hurricane roof
again and stepped into the wheelhouse.
They had cleared Miller’s Drift and
A
FLASH PILOT 5
were heading into the fairway again, with a
couple of hours of untroubled running
before they hit Devil’s Bend and the even
more dangerous Umatilla Rapids beyond.
The Cap’n had been in a stew since early
morning about negotiating this pair and
being safely tied up with the tow in little
Wallula by nightfall. It would be a nip-andtuck proposition, in any man’s
steamboating.
OW Ared glanced innocently at the
rolling Washington bank, sun-struck
and empty, glinting brown and broken and
forbidding as it faded into the distance.
“Fine black the preacher’s riding, Cap’n.
Blacker’ n the devil himself.”
The Cap’n swiveled his head. “Black
horse? Preacher?” Ared waited. In addition
to being a devout man, a strict Sabbatarian,
the Cap’n was replete with river
superstitions brought with him from the
Mississippi. “White preacher. Well, now.”
He changed heading, giving her a spoke.
“Damme, Ared, what does that mean? You
take a nigger preacher or a white horse—I
wouldn’t have ‘em on my boat. But this is
turned wrong side out, kinda—and bother
together. How’d you figure it, boy.”
The mate shook his yellow head, cuffing
back his battered boat cap. “Why, come to
think of it, Cap’n that sure is a funny one.
Maybe I shouldn’t ought to have picked him
up.”
The Cap’n’s piloting lectures, never
abridged, had dwelt considerably upon such
matters. He nodded thoughtfully. “Well, we
can’t put him off now.”
Ared went down to his own cabin on the
texas, momentarily satisfied. Ashore, like
sleeping, gravid women, the bare hills lay in
timeless lethargy. Aloft a stripe-winged
camp robber, strayed far offshore, flitted
down as if to alight and rest on one of the
hog-posts. Ared turned through the door,
thinking of Cindy Tyndale. Daughter of a
growing stagecoach tycoon on hinterland
lines, motherless and pampered, she ruled
Wallula’s limited society with a small,
dainty hand. Though many men had aspired
to the privilege of making her a lifelong
study, perhaps Ared Lambert alone had
glimpsed the real and tender girl behind the
arch prettiness and beneath the whalebone
and countless layers of scented ruffles. And
resenting this involuntary psychological
nudity, Cindy Tyndale had been wont to
pick at him. Dwelling upon these matters,
he began to rummage in the little chest of
drawers under the small, slatted window
through which golden sunlight spilled to run
out over the frayed carpet.
They were within spitting distance of
Devil’s Bend when Cap’n Masters let out a
whoop that could have been heard ashore,
had anyone been upon those lonely, windscoured wastes. “Ared! Juba!”
Simultaneously he dinged the engine room
to slack off, his big fist halting only an inch
short of the whistle pull, as well. Strangely
enough, Ared Lambert appeared at once on
the foredeck below, craning his head
upward.
“I seen a rat!” the Cap’n yelled. “He run
right across where you’re standing!”
Ared merely stared. The Cap’n had
already rung for headway again, and now he
swung her hard for the Oregon shore, the
tow scuttling like a chased cat. Tied up
there above a little gravel bar, they searched
the packet from stem to stern and from
keelson to the main cabin monitor roof, with
Parson Peel emerging inquiringly and
joining in.
“We’ve got to find it!” the Cap’n kept
insisting. “Dam-blamed if I’m going to run
Umatilla till he’s put ashore!”
“Why’s that?” the circuit rider inquired.
A tall, thin man, he had a weathered,
intelligent face, but now he looked a trifle
worried.
For a moment the Cap’n regarded him
N
SHORT STORIES 6
as the complete heathen. “Why, a rat
aboard, sir, is only a mite below a white
horse or a nigger preach—!” He broke off,
staring, then turned on his heel and stalked
up the companionway and into his cabin.
Ared followed him. “You sure you seen
that rat, Cap’n?”
There was a snort. “When I can see a
bird blink a mile off? It’s no good, boy. All
week I’ve been having me this same
dream—this fancy side-wheeler big as a
battleship, and me runnin’ and ownin’ her,
both. And I called her the Miranda, boy.
Know what that means?”
Ared nodded, scenting a windfall. “Sure.
The letter M’s bad in a boat’s name.”
“It’s worse than that,” the Cap’n
groaned. “It’s plain asking for it to call a
boat after a member of the owner’s family.
And I had a sister called Miranda.”
At that moment the door pushed open,
and Juba Cox walked in, holding a stuffed,
black wool sock in his hand, to which a
short string was attached. “Now, I wonder if
you could’ve mistook this for a rat, Cap’n?”
he asked. “Funny thing, but I found it
stuffed behind a case of dried prunes, just
inside the for’d freight house door.” And he
nodded and beamed at Ared. “Maybe it got
dragged across the deck.”
The Cap’n was regarding Ared, also, but
he did not speak. Presently he stomped
forward to the pilothouse, grabbed the big
wheel, and rang for full speed ahead.
WHISTLE sounded astern, and the
big Western Queen came prancing up
the fairway, whistling again to warn the
little Chub out of her way while she took
the rapids. The Chub was already swinging
out, clearly entitled to make her run first,
yet with screaming whistle the Queen came
on, steering a collision course.
Passengers lined the big packet’s rails,
red-shirted miners, other men in high hats
and long coats, and a few women in hoops
and frills. Impelled by the curious, yeasty
and unleavened impulse that never failed to
rouse a strong partisan interest in a
steamboat’s passengers, they began to laugh
and jeer at the towboat.
The Cap’n held his course stubbornly,
pointing into the channel and its swift and
surging water. The big packet closed in,
Rex Stanton at her wheel steering a close
tangent ahead of the big tow, the wash
lifting and shaking it. Then abruptly the
Cap’n was ringing her down, clawing at the
wheel and yelling into the speaking tube to
the engineer.
“Slack her off!”
At his elbow, Ared Lambert grated
angrily, “Don’t let him scare you off,
Cap’n!”
“Scare hell! Look up there!”
Ared saw then that some of the tow’s
forward lashings had snapped in the wild
churn of water caused by the Queen’s wash
combining with the rapid’s own boiling
rush. Below decks the engineer performed
miracles with Johnson bar and throttle and
got her backing down faster than the current
so that the fanning out up there ceased
before the whole tow exploded. Grinding
his teeth, the Cap’n swung her down to the
gravel bar again and anchored.
When his anger at the flash pilot’s
recklessness with his passengers had
subsided a little, Ared reflected that Cindy
Tyndale should have been aboard her.
Cindy did not understand that Stanton afloat
was a different man to Stanton in the parlor.
Presently he took grim satisfaction in the
reflection that Stanton himself had
practically guaranteed that tomorrow’s
wedding would be replete with everything
except the preacher. He stared thoughtfully
into the sky where, clabbered and cumulose,
giant white clouds domed against a
depthless atmosphere from horizon to
horizon.
It was nearly five, and the Queen’s time
A
FLASH PILOT 7
indicated that Stanton had waited at Castle
landing as long as schedule and impatient
passengers would permit. Yet for all his
taunting, he did not seem to suspect the
Chub. The sun was well behind the distant
Cascades when they had the tow rebuilt and
jury-lashed well enough to limp on, and in
view of the two bad stretches still ahead, the
Cap’n decided to poke along until they
found a good place, then tie up for the night.
The afternoon’s events at last had weighted
him to the point of uncertainty.
Parson Peel did not learn of this
decision immediately, having waited out the
delay by napping in his cabin, but Juba Cox
did. “Blast you, Ared,” he told the mate
down in the galley, where he was starting
supper and where Ared had repaired for
coffee. “If you hadn’t pulled that danged rat
trick, we’d’ve been to Cold Springs by now.
You know how the Cap’n is about
Sundays.”
“Reckon so,” Ared admitted, as casually
as if he hadn’t been thinking about it all
afternoon. Come midnight on a Saturday
and the Chub stood to, no matter where she
happened to be, and nothing could compel
the Cap’n to turn a wheel before midnight
of the following day. “Too bad you’re going
to miss them prime ribs and noodles.”
UT Juba Cox, appetite and anger
aroused simultaneously, was something
to cope with. Having passed on through the
rapids with no trouble from the weakened
tow, the Cap’n decided to keep running
until full dark, tying up somewhere short of
the climactic Umatilla stretch and the lesser
Mill Rock rapids still between them and
Wallula. Juba took action at supper time,
while Ared was at the wheel.
“Preacher, sir, that Lambert ain’t the one
getting married tomorrow, even if he would
like to. It’s Stanton, on the Queen, and
Lambert fooled you into coming aboard. I
just don’t figure that’s right to the real
lovin’ couple.” Ignoring the Cap’n’s glare,
Juba blew on his fingernails virtuously.
The circuit rider did not look surprised.
“I had a feeling that I was being taken in.
This girl—it seems to me she’s passing up a
real provider.”
“And a real river man,” the Cap’n said,
and chuckled.
“But, of course, your cook is right,
Captain,” the preacher said, but not as
though he relished it. “The boy has no right
to interfere with somebody else’s wedding
plans.”
“No—I reckon you’re right, sir. Maybe
if there’s a good moon we can get you close
enough to ride on horseback.”
Juba Cox stirred the soup and grinned.
Having received a censored report on
these developments from Juba, Ared was
not happy at the wheel when he watched a
bright moon emerge around 9: 30, that
night, with them only some twenty-five
miles below Wallula.
Coming into the darkened pilothouse,
the Cap’n said, “Damme, Ared, we ain’t got
any real excuse for not taking the preacher
in. If we pound it and don’t have no bad
luck, we got a fair chance of making it
before midnight.” He sighed. “I reckon we
gotta do it, boy, now that the preacher’s
come out with the right and wrong of it.”
Ared nodded glumly. They were still a
half mile short of the dangerous Umatilla
Rapids when a whistle screamed up-river.
Slowly out of the darkness the hulk of the
Western Queen emerged, standing downstream and fast. Watching it, Ared decided
that Stanton had got rid of his passengers
and was running all the way back to Castle
landing to try again to connect with Parson
Peel.
Three lengths ahead of the towboat, the
Queen veered hard to port, cutting so close,
before she swung off that, for an instant, it
seemed inevitable that they would collide
head on.
B
SHORT STORIES 8
Watching this from the port rail on the
lower deck, Juba Cox heaved a sigh of relief
before he caught himself and groaned.
“Damned if I ever did see a cuss so set
on postponing his own honeymoon!”
And Juba was right, for the jury-rigged
bindings were sprung again, and the little
Chub stood to for better than an hour
making repairs. By the time he stood her up
through Umatilla, the Cap’n was in a grim
frame of mind. Steamboating from ‘way
back, he gripped the wheel, a broken gallus
dangling, his skipper’s cap pulled tight over
his eyes.
Then, in the fairway above, he turned
the wheel over to Ared and stomped away.
By the watch fastened to the binnacle, Ared
saw that it was now a little after ten. He
could not slack her off, or even set a zig-zag
course to stretch the distance, without the
old water buffalo detecting it instantly. His
eyes clung to the watch, by which the Cap’n
swore and which had a big sweeping second
hand to assist the compass when resort was
made to dead reckoning. As if detached
from him, his fingers reached for it. He set
the hands ahead exactly one hour. Within a
few minutes he drew abeam the entrance to
Cold Springs and headed her in.
Footfalls sounded in several directions
as he rang down the engine. The Cap’n
burst in from the nearby texas. “What in
blazes’d you turn in here for?”
Ared pointed to the watch under the red
binnacle lamp. “Take a look. We can’t run
fifteen miles in forty-five minutes. You
want to be caught out there some place
come midnight?”
After a long moment, the Cap’n grinned.
“I figured I’d taught you some
steamboatin’, when I gave you the wheel.”
He ironed out his face quickly and was
looking stern again when Juba Cox galloped
in.
Juba had his watch in his hand, and he
was panting hard from the fast climb. “I
knew he’d pull it!” he chortled. He jabbed a
finger against the watch crystal. “Look,
Cap’n! It’s only a quarter after ten!”
The circuit rider stepped through the
door. “What’s the trouble now?”
“A—a little argument over the time,
sir,” the Cap’n told him. “You carry a
watch?”
“I’m sorry; Captain, I don’t.”
The Cap’n stepped to the speaking tube.
“Hey, Red, what time you got down there?”
Presently a hollow, tinny voice replied.
“Eight o’clock. But it don’t mean nothing.
Looks like I forgot to wind it.”
The Cap’n looked at the preacher with
satisfaction. “Well, sir, would you say my
expensive binnacle watch is right, or that
turnip of Juba’s?”
“I wouldn’t think of doubting your
navigating equipment, Captain,” the
preacher said, and grinned.
Ared was not asleep when, at 3: 30 a.m.,
the panting Queen came ploughing back up
the river, but rather had been sitting on the
after deck realizing that there would be
other days suitable to a wedding, that he had
succeeded only in postponing something
that he knew in the night’s warm quietness
was going to be painful to him privately.
Now as he saw the Queen returning from
her unsuccessful search, he climbed to his
feet, aware from her veer that she had
spotted the Chub in the moonlight and was
turning in. Somebody down around Castle
must have told Rex Stanton that the tugboat
had picked up the circuit rider.
Ared raced through the texas, pounding
on the doors of the Cap’n and Juba and the
engineer. He galloped back out on deck just
as the Queen hove up, dwarfing the Chub
into insignificance. Men of her crew were
coming overside almost before her big
paddle had stopped turning, quiet but in a
vicious mood. Then Stanton loomed before
Ared, big and solid and patently illhumored. “We’ll take the preacher, fella!
FLASH PILOT 9
And you’re gonna learn a lesson! Boys, get
to work on that raft!”
The Cap’n thundered out on deck, Juba
behind him. It was obvious that they could
do nothing to stop this forage, and Ared
admitted glumly that he had asked for it.
Then a girl’s voice sang out from the
Queen’s high upperworks. “Rex Stanton,
you promised me there’d be no rough
stuff!”
It did not stop the Queen’s crew which,
carrying fire axes, were piling over the
Chub’s prow and racing out onto the timber
raft. Then something tugged at Juba’s
sleeve, and he turned and saw the preacher.
Parson Peel said nothing, but Ared followed
his gaze and yelled, “Come on, Juba!”
He clambered onto the rail and
scrambled on to the Queen’s deck with Juba
racing behind him. Up in the pilothouse he
tromped on the newfangled whistle treadle,
then dinged the engine room bell with
barked urgency, swinging the wheel hard to
port. Below decks, the Queen’s engineer
had no slightest idea of who was at the
controls, and he responded with the proper
movements. The big packet peeled away
from the towboat, then Ared headed her
dead on down the slough. She was full
ahead when she hit the mud bank, down
there, so hard that pictures left her walls and
china flew from her cupboards. Then, with
modest aplomb, Ared rang down the
engines.
He was trying to swing a skiff outboard
when the girl came running along the deck.
“Ared—that was the cutest thing you
did there!”
Juba galloped out of an opening, a
granite pot in either hand. “Guess what they
had left over from supper? Prime ribs and
noodles!”
When the little skiff, with its three
passengers, rowed back to the Chub, it was
through a considerable spread of drifting
timbers. They found the Cap’n standing in
the prow of the Chub, his old horse pistol in
his hands and the Queen’s crew lined up
meekly before him.
Cindy Tyndale marched straight to Rex
Stanton. ‘‘I’m glad it happened! He
outsmarted you every step of the way.
You—you gold-braider!”
Yet something more practical seemed to
dawn on Rex Stanton at that moment. He
stared at the distant Queen and groaned.
“My God!” he gulped suddenly. “Even if
we can pull her off, how’re we gonna get
her through them timbers?”
“You won’t, until you’ve rafted ‘em,”
the Cap’n told him. “And you ain’t doing
that till Monday morning.”
It was a good dinner they had aboard the
little Chub, there in Cold Springs slough
that Sunday. True, there was no snowy table
linen or shining goblets, but nobody seemed
to mind.
While everybody was talking to
everybody else, Ared got a chance to
whisper to the young lady on his left. “The
parson’s sure a nice fellow. Seems a shame
he lost the business, kind of.”
Cindy looked at him with rounding
eyes. “It isn’t right, Ared. Nor to put Papa to
all the expense he’s been to for nothing.”
“Well, I reckon there’s only one thing to
do about it.”
“Now that I think of it, Ared,” said
Cindy Tyndale. “I expect you’re right.”

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