“I don’t know. Looks to me like he might be a wild dog; but perhaps he belongs to some shanty-boat crowd below here. I wouldn’t be too ready to tell about this until we’re well away. It might breed trouble for us, you see,” said Maurice, sagely.
“But he tackled you without cause, and any fellow is allowed to defend himself,” expostulated the other.
“That’s good logic, generally; but the owner of the dog never looks at things from the right side. He’d blame you for shooting, and say we ought to have chased the beast off with pea-shooters. Well, he kept me jumping right lively up to the time I lost my grip on this old ax. Then I got up in that blessed tree, though I’ll never know just how I did the trick. H’m! that old gun of mine is some shooter, ain’t she? My! how you knocked a hole in the critter. That was going some, for you. Thad, don’t you forget it, son.”
Now that he was ashore Thad assisted in getting the wood down to the edge of the water.
Here some of it was fastened to a spare rope which could be carried out to the floating boat, when the firewood might be hauled aboard.
Thad paddled out first, so as to draw the laden dinghy after him; then Maurice used the second rope to get it back ashore, loaded it with the results of his chopping, after which the other did his part.
In this fashion the entire amount of fuel was finally taken aboard.
“I think we have enough to last us for some time now,” remarked Maurice, after he had in the end allowed Thad to draw him out just as the cargoes of wood had been taken aboard.
And as Thad once more pushed a couple of shells into the chambers of the little old Marlin he shook his head, observing:
“I’d hate to think what would have happened if I’d just missed that ugly customer when I pulled those triggers. For he was coming at me like a house afire, and with blood in his eyes. But, I didn’t, all the same, and what’s the use bothering over it? Is the storm going down any, d’ye think, Maurice?”
But Maurice could not say that it was in the least.
“Not today,” Said Thad.
“I wonder how long this measly old storm is going to keep us here?” Maurice was saying, that afternoon, as he stood on the after-deck of the anchored shanty-boat, and looked at the wild scene out on the raging river.
They had seen not a sign of life thus far around them, since dawn. Even the few boats moving at this late season of the year on the Father of Waters seemed to have been bottled up in such harbors as could be found conveniently near at the time the storm broke loose.
“You called me a weather sharp because I said it was due; and now you want me to give a guess about the end—is that it, Maurice?” asked the other, smiling.
“Well, if you can hit it as good this time, and encourage a poor ship-wrecked mariner I’d be obliged.”