Triumphs on the Tow-Path
Locks of AkronProspect of a FightCapt.Letchers CallInterference of JamesHis Decision for Right TriumphsScene at Breakfast Scene at BeaverAccident to MurphyAttacks James Another Triumph for JamesHarry Brown and WhiskyJamess Hostility to Rum and TobaccoArgument with MurphyBrowns Estimate of JamesThe Steersmans Opinion of JamesJames Promoted to be BowmanA PeacemakerThe Captains Opinion of JamesNo BooksObservationFell Fourteen Times into the WaterLast Fall into the Water PerilousMiraculous Deliverance Good Impressions of itAttacked with AgueGoes Home SickMeeting his Mother
The boat was nearing the twenty-one locks of Akron.
Make the first lock ready, cried the captain to his bowman. It was ten oclock at night.
Ay! answered the bowman, promptly.
As the bowman approached the lock, a voice came through the darkness from the bowman of another boat:
Dont turn this lock; our boat is just around the bend, ready to enter.
I will turn it; we got here first, answered the bowman of the Evening Star, with an oath that seemed blacker in the absence of the sun.
You wont turn it unless you are stronger than we are, shouted bowman number one, adding sufficient profanity to match the vocabulary of the other.
A fight was imminent, as all hands on board saw, and they rallied for the fracas. Such scenes were common on the canal. The boat whose bowman reached the lock first was entitled to enter first; but when two bowmen reached the lock about the same time a dispute was about sure to arise, the result of which was a hand-to-hand fight between the two crews. The boats crew that came to the top of the pile won the lock. Captains were usually powerless to prevent these contests, however well disposed they might be.
Captain Letchers bowman commenced turning the gate just as the two boats came up so near that their head-lights shed the brightness of day on the exciting scene.
Say, bowman, called Captain Letcher, motioning with his hand for attention. His bowman looked up in response.
Was you here first? Evidently the captain questioned his right to the lock.
Its hard to tell, replied the bowman; but were goin to have the lock, anyhow; and the ring of his voice showed determination and fight.
All right; just as you say, answered the captain, supposing that no interference of his could prevent an encounter.
The men stood panting for the fray like war-horses. They seemed to be in just the right mood for a contest. It was a new scene to James, and he stood wondering, with the loud oaths bandied falling on his ear. After having restrained himself as long as he could, he tapped the captain on his shoulder, saying:
See here, captain, does that lock belong to us?
I really suppose, according to law, it does not; but well have it, anyhow, was the captains reply.
No, we will not, answered James, with a good deal of determination.
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