Triumphs on the Tow-Path

Locks of Akron—Prospect of a Fight—Capt.Letcher’s Call—Interference of James—His Decision for Right Triumphs—Scene at Breakfast— Scene at Beaver—Accident to Murphy—Attacks James— Another Triumph for James—Harry Brown and Whisky—James’s Hostility to Rum and Tobacco—Argument with Murphy—Brown’s Estimate of James—The Steersman’s Opinion of James—James Promoted to be Bowman—A Peacemaker—The Captain’s Opinion of James—No Books—Observation—Fell Fourteen Times into the Water—Last Fall into the Water Perilous—Miraculous Deliverance— Good Impressions of it—Attacked with Ague—Goes Home Sick—Meeting 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 o’clock 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:

“Don’t 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 won’t 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 boat’s 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 Letcher’s 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.

“It’s hard to tell,” replied the bowman; “but we’re 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 we’ll have it, anyhow,” was the captain’s reply.

“No, we will not,” answered James, with a good deal of determination.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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