They were glad to get away in the morning without meeting any of the rough element belonging to those anchored shanty-boats.
Paducah showed up during the morning, after which they had a long stretch before them straight away into the west as it seemed, at the end of which they could expect to find the big junction city of Cairo.
Here they would make a sudden turn to the left and begin to glide down the waters of the wonderful Mississippi, heading really south at last.
But they could not hope to make it on this day, though a favorable run seemed to be the order of things; it actually did rain, as Thad predicted, and each of the boys, clad in oilskins, took turns at the rudder as the boat swung along downstream, not far away from the Kentucky shore.
Taking it in all they had experienced but little decent weather thus far; that would come, they hoped, when they managed to get further along in the direction of Dixie, where the warm breezes would thaw them out, and allow of lying on the deck taking a sun bath.
The shore was mighty uninviting along here and seemed low in most places and marshy.
Ducks were numerous and the gun was kept handy in case they had a chance to knock down a couple, for it would be an agreeable change in their fare to have game for supper.
The rain stopped about three, and Maurice, who had been looking ahead, declared that if he could only get ashore he believed it was possible to crawl through the brush and get a shot at a bunch of ducks in a cove ahead; so the boat was brought to a stop by means of the anchor, and jumping into the little dinky, gun in hand, he made for the shore.
Thad waited after he had disappeared, being anxious to see how the adventure panned out.
About ten minutes later he heard a shot, followed by a second, and then Maurice came hurrying along to the little boat into which he jumped and set out in hot chase of his game, which was floating away on the current.
Thad pulled in the anchor and floated downstream; he saw his chum drag several ducks aboard, and so of course Thad had to do the Highland fling as usual.
In the game country.
It proved that Maurice had knocked down three of the feathered prizes, and as they were fat teal, it looked like a genuine treat in store for the river travelers on the shanty-boat.
Thad was at work plucking the fowl before they had gone fifty yards down the stream, and announcing that they would have them for dinner that very night—at least a couple, for he believed one apiece ought to satisfy the demand.
“When I heard you shoot I knew we were in for a treat, and with the second shot I said it must be two; but you went me one better, Pal Maurice. That little old gun is as good as ever, I do believe, and my conscience, how she does penetrate. These bones are knocked into flinters in places. How many were there in that flock?”