“Look sharp, now; the current sets in the closest here, and maybe he’s
washed ashore and got tangled amongst the brush at the water’s edge. I hope
“Look sharp now. The current comes closest to land here, and maybe he has
washed ashore and gotten tangled among the brush at the water’s edge. I hope
I didn’t hope so. They all crowded up and leaned over the rails, nearly in
my face, and kept still, watching with all their might. I could see them
first-rate, but they couldn’t see me. Then the captain sung out:
I didn’t hope so. They all crowded around and leaned over the railing
until it seemed like they were right up in my face. They kept still, looking
with all their might. I could see them perfectly clearly, but they couldn’t
see me. Then the captain called out:
“Stand away!” and the cannon let off such a blast right before me that it
made me deef with the noise and pretty near blind with the smoke, and I
judged I was gone. If they’d a had some bullets in, I reckon they’d a got
the corpse they was after. Well, I see I warn’t hurt, thanks to goodness.
The boat floated on and went out of sight around the shoulder of the island.
I could hear the booming now and then, further and further off, and by and
by, after an hour, I didn’t hear it no more. The island was three mile long.
I judged they had got to the foot, and was giving it up. But they didn’t yet
a while. They turned around the foot of the island and started up the
channel on the Missouri side, under steam, and booming once in a while as
they went. I crossed over to that side and watched them. When they got
abreast the head of the island they quit shooting and dropped over to the
Missouri shore and went home to the town.
“Fire!” The cannon let off such a loud blast right in front of me that it
made me deaf and almost blind with noise and smoke. I thought I was a dead
man. If they’d actually put a cannon ball in there, I imagine they would’ve
found the corpse they were looking for. Well, I saw I wasn’t hurt, thank
goodness. The boat floated on down the river and disappeared around the
shoulder of the island. I could hear the booming now and then but it got
farther and farther away. After an hour or so I couldn’t hear it any more.
The island was three miles long, and I’d figured they’d reached the foot of
it and had given up the search. But, no, they continued for awhile longer.
They turned around the foot of the island and used steam power to move up
the channel on the Missouri side of the river. They boomed once in a while
as they went. I crossed over to that side and watched them. When they
reached the head of the isand, they stopped shooting and went over to the
Missouri shore to head back to town.
I knowed I was all right now. Nobody else would come a-hunting after me. I
got my traps out of the canoe and made me a nice camp in the thick woods. I
made a kind of a tent out of my blankets to put my things under so the rain
couldn’t get at them. I catched a catfish and haggled him open with my saw,
and towards sundown I started my camp fire and had supper. Then I set out a
line to catch some fish for breakfast.
I knew I was all right now—no one would be coming looking for me any more.
I got my traps out of the canoe and made a nice little camp in the thick
woods. I used my blankets to fashion a makeshift tent to put my things under
so that the rain wouldn’t get them wet. I caught a catfish and cut it open
with my saw. Toward sundown, I lit my campfire and had supper. Then I set up
a fishing line to catch some fish for breakfast.
When it was dark I set by my camp fire smoking, and feeling pretty well
satisfied; but by and by it got sort of lonesome, and so I went and set on
the bank and listened to the current swashing along, and counted the stars
and drift logs and rafts that come down, and then went to bed; there ain’t
no better way to put in time when you are lonesome; you can’t stay so, you
soon get over it.
When it got dark, I sat by my campfire smoking and feeling pretty good
about things. But pretty soon I got kind of lonely, so I went and sat on the
bank and listened to the sound of the current. I counted the stars and the
driftwood and rafts that floated down the river. Then I went to bed. There’s
no better way of passing time when you’re lonely than going to bed. You
can’t stay lonely when you’re sleeping, so the feeling soon passes.
And so for three days and nights. No difference—just the same thing. But
the next day I went exploring around down through the island. I was boss of
it; it all belonged to me, so to say, and I wanted to know all about it; but
mainly I wanted to put in the time. I found plenty strawberries, ripe and
prime; and green summer grapes, and green razberries; and the green
blackberries was just beginning to show. They would all come handy by and
by, I judged.
Three days and nights passed this way. Nothing changed—everything stayed
the same. On the fourth day I explored the island. I was boss of the
island—it all belonged to me, so to speak, and I wanted to know all about
it. Mainly, I just wanted to kill some time. I found plenty of ripe
strawberries. I also found green summer grapes. The green raspberries and
blackberries were just beginning to show, and I figured they’d ripened soon
so I could eat them.
Well, I went fooling along in the deep woods till I judged I warn’t far
from the foot of the island. I had my gun along, but I hadn’t shot nothing;
it was for protection; thought I would kill some game nigh home. About this
time I mighty near stepped on a good-sized snake, and it went sliding off
through the grass and flowers, and I after it, trying to get a shot at it. I
clipped along, and all of a sudden I bounded right on to the ashes of a camp
fire that was still smoking.
I wandered around in the deep woods until I figured I wasn’t too far from
the foot of the island. I had my gun with me, but I hadn’t shot anything—I
kept it for protection. Maybe I’d kill some game on the way home. Around
this time I almost stepped on a good-sized snake. It went sliding off
through the grass and flowers, and I chased after it, trying to get a shot
at it. I ran along until all of a sudden I came to the ashes of a campfire
that were still smoking.
My heart jumped up amongst my lungs. I never waited for to look further,
but uncocked my gun and went sneaking back on my tiptoes as fast as ever I
could. Every now and then I stopped a second amongst the thick leaves and
listened, but my breath come so hard I couldn’t hear nothing else. I slunk
along another piece further, then listened again; and so on, and so on. If I
see a stump, I took it for a man; if I trod on a stick and broke it, it made
me feel like a person had cut one of my breaths in two and I only got half,
and the short half, too.
My heart jump up into my lungs. I didn’t hesitate a moment, but uncocked
my gun and backtracked on my tiptoes as fast as I could. Every now and then
I stopped briefly among the thick leaves and listened, but I was breathing
so hard that I couldn’t hear anything else. I slunk a little ways further,
then listened again. I did this again and again. If I saw a stump, I thought
it was a man. If I stepped on a stick and broke it, I lost my breath. I felt
like someone had chopped my breath into two uneven pieces and given me the
When I got to camp I warn’t feeling very brash, there warn’t much sand in
my craw; but I says, this ain’t no time to be fooling around. So I got all
my traps into my canoe again so as to have them out of sight, and I put out
the fire and scattered the ashes around to look like an old last year’s
camp, and then clumb a tree.
I wasn’t feeling too good about the situation when I got back to my camp.
I wasn’t panicking, but I figured this wasn’t the time to take any chances.
So I got all my traps into my canoe and made sure they were hidden. I put
out the fire and scattered the ashes around to make it look like the remains
of an old camp. Then I climbed a tree.