|Sometimes we’d have that whole river all to ourselves for the longest time. Yonder was the banks and the islands, across the water; and maybe a spark—which was a candle in a cabin window; and sometimes on the water you could see a spark or two—on a raft or a scow, you know; and maybe you could hear a fiddle or a song coming over from one of them crafts. It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to MAKE so many. Jim said the moon could a LAID them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn’t say nothing against it, because I’ve seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they’d got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.||Sometimes we’d have the whole river to ourselves for a long time. The riverbanks and the islands would all be far off in the distance. Sometimes you’d see a spark of light, which would be a candle in a cabin window. Or sometimes you’d see a spark or two on the water as a raft or scow or something passed by. Every now and then you’d hear the sounds of a fiddle or a song drifting out across the water from another boat. Then there was the sky, all speckled with stars. We used to lie on our backs and look up at them and discuss whether they were created or just came into being on their own. Jim thought they’d been made, but I thought they’d just happened. I figured it would have taken too long to MAKE so many. Jim said the moon could have laid them like a chicken lays eggs. That sounded reasonable, so I didn’t argue with him. I’ve seen a frog lay a lot of eggs, so I knew it could be done. We used to watch the falling stars, too, as they streaked down. Jim thought they were falling because they’d spoiled and were being thrown out of the nest. It sure was nice to live on a raft.|
|Once or twice of a night we would see a steamboat slipping along in the dark, and now and then she would belch a whole world of sparks up out of her chimbleys, and they would rain down in the river and look awful pretty; then she would turn a corner and her lights would wink out and her powwow shut off and leave the river still again; and by and by her waves would get to us, a long time after she was gone, and joggle the raft a bit, and after that you wouldn’t hear nothing for you couldn’t tell how long, except maybe frogs or something.||Once or twice a night we’d see a steamboat gliding along in the dark. Every now and then one would belch a whole lot of sparks out its chimneys, and the sparks would rain down on the river and look really pretty. Then it would turn a corner and the lights and sounds of the paddlewheel would disappear and leave the river quiet again. A long time after it had passed, the waves from its wake would reach us and toss the raft around a little bit. For a long while after that, you wouldn’t hear anything except maybe frogs or something.|
|After midnight the people on shore went to bed, and then for two or three hours the shores was black—no more sparks in the cabin windows. These sparks was our clock—the first one that showed again meant morning was coming, so we hunted a place to hide and tie up right away.||The people on shore would go to bed after midnight. The shores would be black for two or three hours since the sparks in the cabin windows had been put out. These sparks were our clock—the first one we saw meant that morning was coming, and we’d hunt for a place on the shore to hide and tie up right away.|
|One morning about daybreak I found a canoe and crossed over a chute to the main shore—it was only two hundred yards—and paddled about a mile up a crick amongst the cypress woods, to see if I couldn’t get some berries. Just as I was passing a place where a kind of a cowpath crossed the crick, here comes a couple of men tearing up the path as tight as they could foot it. I thought I was a goner, for whenever anybody was after anybody I judged it was ME—or maybe Jim. I was about to dig out from there in a hurry, but they was pretty close to me then, and sung out and begged me to save their lives—said they hadn’t been doing nothing, and was being chased for it—said there was men and dogs a-coming. They wanted to jump right in, but I says:||One morning around dawn I found a canoe. I crossed over a little chute in the river to the shore, which was only two hundred yards or so away. I paddled about a mile up a creek among the cypress forest to see if I could pick some berries. Just as I was crossing the spot where a little game trail crossed the creek, I saw a couple of men running up the path as fast as they could. I immediately thought I was dead, because I automatically assumed that anyone who was running around was after ME or maybe Jim. I was about to start rowing furiously to get out there, but they were already close to me. Then they called out and begged me to save their lives. They said they hadn’t done anything but were being chased all the same by men and dogs. They wanted to jump into my canoe, but I said:|
|“Don’t you do it. I don’t hear the dogs and horses yet; you’ve got time to crowd through the brush and get up the crick a little ways; then you take to the water and wade down to me and get in—that’ll throw the dogs off the scent.”||“No, you don’t! I don’t hear any dogs or horses. You’ve got time to get through the bushes and up the creek a little ways. Then you can get in the water and wade down to me and climb in—that’ll throw the dogs off your scent.”|
|They done it, and soon as they was aboard I lit out for our towhead, and in about five or ten minutes we heard the dogs and the men away off, shouting. We heard them come along towards the crick, but couldn’t see them; they seemed to stop and fool around a while; then, as we got further and further away all the time, we couldn’t hardly hear them at all; by the time we had left a mile of woods behind us and struck the river, everything was quiet, and we paddled over to the towhead and hid in the cottonwoods and was safe.||They did as I’d suggested and soon they were aboard. I started rowing like crazy for our towhead. After about five or ten minutes, we heard the dogs and men shouting way off in the distance coming toward the creek. You couldn’t see them, and they seemed to stop and mess around for a bit. As we got further away, we couldn’t hear them at all. By the time we reached the river about a mile away, everything was quiet. We paddled out to our towhead and hid safely in the cottonwoods.|
|One of these fellows was about seventy or upwards, and had a bald head and very gray whiskers. He had an old battered-up slouch hat on, and a greasy blue woollen shirt, and ragged old blue jeans britches stuffed into his boot-tops, and home-knit galluses—no, he only had one. He had an old long-tailed blue jeans coat with slick brass buttons flung over his arm, and both of them had big, fat, ratty-looking carpet-bags.||
One of these fellows was around seventy years old, maybe older. He had a
bald head and very gray whiskers. He wore a beat up old slouching hat, a
greasy blue woolen shirt, raggedy old blue jeans that were stuffed into the
tops of his boots, and home made pair of suspenders—actually, he only had
one. He had a coat with long tails made out of blue, with slick brass
buttons slung over his arm. Both he and his companion had big, fat, ratty
large traveling bags, often made out the same material as carpetscarpetbags.
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