The two boys soon passed into the land of slumber, and as the hours drew on no sound arose to waken them; indeed, outside all was still save the gurgle of the great river near at hand, the swishing of running water against the sturdy bow of the shanty-boat, a hoarse cry from some bird that fluttered along the shore looking for food, possibly a night heron passing over, and once or twice the hoarse whistle of some steamboat breasting the current of the mighty Ohio.
And the first night of their eventful cruise passed away, with everything well when the peep of dawn aroused them from slumber to a new day.
The call came from Thad, who had been the first to step outdoors after getting into his clothes.
“What now?” came the muffled answer, for Maurice was pulling a sweater over his head at the moment.
“Come out here, will you. We’re in a peck of trouble, I reckon,” continued the voice from beyond the door; and accordingly Maurice made haste to leave the cabin.
He found Thad with a pole in his hand, shoving against the bank until he was as red as a turkey gobbler in the face.
“What’s doing here—why all this scrimmage?” naturally sprang from the lips of the mystified one.
“Stuck fast—river taken a sudden notion to go down while we snoozed, and has left us on the mud. I don’t seem able to budge the thing an inch; but perhaps the two of us might,” returned Thad, grinning sheepishly as he contemplated the result of their indiscretion.
Maurice grasped the significance of the situation and looked grave.
The river, as he well knew, was always a freakish thing, and apt to rise or fall at any time, according to the amount of rainfall along its feeders.
Just now it had commenced to rapidly decline, and as a result the shanty-boat had been grounded.
As it was a heavy affair, once let it fairly settle upon the ooze of the creek bed and no power they could bring to bear would be sufficient to start it on its way; and hence they must stay there, marooned, until the river took a notion to rise again, which might be in a day, a week or three months.
That was a pleasant lookout for a couple of boys bound south, and with winter close upon their heels—in a week or two they might be frozen in so securely that there would be no possibility of release until spring.
No wonder, then, that Maurice looked serious as he sprang to the side of the boat and stared over at the water of the creek.
It was running out—they should have known of the danger upon hearing the gurgle during the night; but somehow, lacking experience, they had thought nothing of it save that the sound was a musical lullaby, soothing them to slumber.