A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 115: Morning on the River

Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran

Sitting on the roof of the cargo house with a fresh cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It was a cool, early June morning and the air was still. Amos and Jeb walked around the roof, watching as the boatmen poled us away from the shore. Brin followed them with curiosity of his own.

We had all assembled at the stern while four of the boatmen pushed us off the shore. Men were on the poles as well, adding to force. We were able to unbeach easily and the pushers climbed back on board. The water we were in was fairly still because of the break they were building. That meant they were able to reorient the boat before moving out into the current without trouble. As soon as the boat was reoriented, they gave a few mighty shoves and we were gliding out into the Missouri. They switched over to oars and rowed us into the current. We were off and on our way as soon as the current got hold of us.

Patrick was on snag watch at the bow and Timmons manned the rudder while the boatmen kept rowing. We picked up speed and were cutting a wake when the Timmons called out a command and half the crew shipped their oars. The other half kept on rowing. If we got any help from the wind at all, we should be able to make this trip in four days’ time. The return trip would take them at least a month. I’d be glad to miss that. Our overland return trip could take as much as two weeks, but should be done quicker if we find good trails.

Jeb joined me on my perch after a short while. He had grown bored with watching people row. We were both armed with rifles and, technically, we were on guard duty for human trouble coming from the shore. Realistically, we were simply drinking in the view and enjoying the morning sun. With the rowing we seemed to be going maybe 10 m.p.h. on the optimistic side. It was still spring and the runoff hadn’t subsided quite yet. With the light this time of year, we probably had a good fourteen hours of usable sailing time left today. At the current pace, we should theoretically make 140 miles before stopping for the night.

Amos decided he wanted to do some fishing and advised me that he was headed down to the stern to get his hook wet. Well, that had Jeb and me snickering like teenagers; Amos just couldn’t understand why. By the time we got our decorum back, Amos had left and the only sound was Brin gnawing on his bone and the unending song of the water.

Jeb and I did get around to talking after an hour or so. It was sporadic conversation, mostly focused around things related to the wood shop and his eventual house. Both of us were comfortable with silence and usually that was what we did, sit in silence. Lunchtime came and I fed Jeb and Amos some runzas I had from Matilda. It wasn’t anything special and it wasn’t much, but they were still fresh and stuffed full of a rich mixture of meat, cabbage, and onion. Each runza was equivalent to a sandwich, it was just baked into a roll. Good food, regardless, and like any food Matilda touched, it was absolutely bursting with flavor.

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