A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 92: Rollin’ on the River
Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran
A cup of coffee and organized mayhem. This was starting to become almost a routine around here. This morning wasn’t nearly as organized; the children and the geese, alone, saw to that.
Our livestock would leave later in the day. This morning, we were just trying to get the boat launched, so, shortly after breakfast, two rented wagons filled with children, geese, and goods, left for the docks. The tipis were all down and converted back into travois as the land party was starting to get organized. The long days of summer were to our advantage now; we had the entire camp site broken down and cleaned up by 8 a.m.
Petalesharo accompanied Brin and me to the fort, so I could pick up my purchase, Pete would take my horse back after we got to the docks. We covered our travel plan one last time, as we rode. He was leading the men and the livestock down on the overland route. It would take them five or six days to get there, driving the cattle and pigs. While pigs might be fast sprinters, distance travel was not really their thing, particularly in the hot summer sun.
I had procured extra rifles from the gunsmith yesterday. The Army had eliminated an entire regiment of riflemen stationed at the fort this spring. That let me I acquire most of the men and equipment we had purchased on this trip. All of our future trips would be to St. Louis and other points south. The installation in Omaha would get smaller and smaller over the next few years, and then basically disappear in 1827.
I made the appropriate social graces with Henry Leavenworth and took a moment to share a cup of coffee with him. He admired Brin and greatly enjoyed the story of Brin’s victory in battle against the Lakota ban. Brin minded his manners with Henry. With Lt. Douglas, Brin was not so polite. He steadfastly ignored Douglas until the fool tried to pet him. That was met by a sharp growl that had Douglas cowering against the wall. Only an idiot tries to touch a war dog.
I thanked Henry again for all the assistance, picked up my purchase from the gunsmith, and we left for the docks. Pete would bring a wagon by, on his return from the docks, to pick up the munitions the men would carry on the journey. He had even managed to wrangle a deal for some old muskets from the Colonel. The Army didn’t mind selling out-of-date weapons to their allies. I had been required to pledge that none of the rifles would fall into Pawnee hands. I decided that I had no ethical issues with lying to a liar.
The boat was waiting for me and ready to go. Most of the women and children were inside the cargo house and the boatmen were just waiting for me so they could push off. I bade good luck to Pete, climbed aboard, took a seat on the cargo house roof, and away we went.
Patrick was working the rudder from the cargo house roof as the polemen pushed us away and into the current. As soon as the current picked us up, the sail was unfurled and the stiff easterly breeze pushed us along even faster downriver.
Just as soon as the docks and fort were out of sight, Captain Timmons emerged from hiding and took over the rudder. Patrick assumed his spot on the prow, to call out hazards and direct the polemen. They fell into a practiced rhythm and began to sing various songs as we moved along at a brisk pace. By my estimate, we were making almost 20 m.p.h. at times, as they worked the wind and the currents. Timmons had told me that, coming back upstream, they’d be lucky to manage better than a walking speed, but downstream wasn’t a problem. We’d make Rulo Landing in less than a day.