“Now it’s our turn,” laughed Maurice, prepared to drop down to the landing, where a fire burned and threw a glare around.
Thad gets A shock.
The arrival of the little Tramp did not create anything like the commotion which marked the landing of the big stern-wheel river steam-boat.
A few darkies idling on the shore drew near, filled with curiosity when they discovered that only two boys comprised the crew of the floating craft; and Dixie barked strenuously at them, as if to let the community know that while the shanty-boat failed to possess a whistle, it was not without some means of announcing its arrival.
Thad threw a rope ashore to one of these blacks, who whipped it about a post, and the boat presently lay alongside the landing.
“You go ashore and ask questions.”
It was Thad who said this, because he knew his chum was so much better able to probe things than himself.
“All right,” replied Maurice, readily, “and you can look after the boat; though likely enough none of these fellows will try to run away with it.”
“Well, I don’t mean to give them half a chance. Just think what would become of us if such a thing happened. We’d have to go to work on a cotton plantation, sure, to make money enough to get further along. I’ve got the good old Marlin handy, Maurice, and just let any thief try to come aboard, that’s all. I’ll pepper his hide for him, and salt it in the bargain,” declared Thad, resolutely.
“I believe you would, boy,” laughed his comrade, as he stepped from the deck to the shore.
He had already noted that Morehead did not appear to be much of a place. Indeed, beyond the piles of cordwood, and a few scattered cabins, there did not seem to be anything of a settlement.
“Only excuse it has for being on the map is that some steamers find it convenient to stop and wood up here. That woodyard is the whole thing,” thought Maurice. He turned upon the negro who had whipped the cable around the post in an obliging way.
“Where can I find the man who runs the woodyard?” he asked.
“’Deed, I reckon he am in hees store dar, boss,” came the reply.
“A store, eh? Where is it situated?” continued Maurice, bent on following up the clue.
“See dat flare up yander—dat am de light in de windy. Mars Kim he keep gen’ral ’sortment ob goods. On’y place to buy grits in ten mile,” observed the other, pointing.
“What is his name?” asked the boy, deeming it only right that he should be fully armed with this much information before starting in to interview the other.
“Mars Kim, fuh sho’! Dat’s wat we allers calls him, boss. Reckons, as how yuh haint gut sech a ting as some terbaccy ’bout yuh, now? I’se done clean out.”
Maurice shook his head in the negative.