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Chancy Dundee, an Ohio farm ...
Chancy Dundee, an Ohio farm boy, is determined to locate his orphaned brother and sisters. Chancy never guessed that his quest to reunite the family would throw him together with the grandest rascal west of the Mississippi—who also happens to be his long-lost uncle Will! From the waters of the Ohio river to the dusty Kansas plains, chancy sets off on a roundabout, seat-of-the-pants adventure in this reissue of one of Sid Fleischman's early novels.
Skinny Chancy and his newly found friend, the great rascal, enjoy humorous escapades as they travel by their wits up and across the Midwest in search of Chancy's family.
PUSHING his belongings in a squealing wheelbarrow Chancy set out for the Ohio River fifty miles away. He clicked his heels once or twice and began to whistle through his teeth. His travels had begun.
Dawn was aglow behind the buckeye trees and roosters were crowing for miles around. When he was out of sight of the Starbuck farmhouse he pulled off his shoes and added them to the load in the wheelbarrow. He didn't intend to wear out a new pair of shoes by walking in them.
The squeak of the old wheelbarrow raised blackbirds along the way. Chancy watched the passing sights with speckled green eyes -- cat's eyes, folks called them. He had dark, lanky hair and a nose as thin as a hatchet. He was growing up tall and lean and limber-jointed, but strong as wire. Jody, his friend Jody Starbuck, was always saying:
"Chancy, if you was any skinnier you'd have to stand twice to throw a shadow."
That wasn't precisely true. He could see his shadow moving along the dusty wagon road, keeping him company. He was going to miss Jody, and the squire with his hearty laugh, and Mrs. Starbuck. They had tried to make him one of the family. But even among jolly, big-hearted folks like the Starbucks he had felt apart and alone. He had a powerful yearning to find his own kin. Now that he was big enough he was on his way at last. By dogs!
He stopped now and then to spit on his hands. The wheelbarrow was infernally heavy. Mrs. Starbuck was afraid he might starve along the way; it seemed to him she had loaded himup with enough eats to last until he was full grown. In addition to his bedroll he also had along his pa's four-pound axe and wedges. He prized that axe. It had a fine black cherry handle and was all he owned that once belonged to his father.
The morning was heating up, but he stepped along steady as a clock. All he had to do was head straight south and he'd run smack into the Ohio River. Bound to. Couldn't miss it, Squire Starbuck had told him. Then he'd climb aboard a big steamboat, pay his money, and ride all the way to Paducah. That's where his sister was, as far as he knew. He aimed to hunt her up. His sister Indiana.
And after Indiana there would be Mirandy to find and little Jamie, too. Chancy was the oldest of the Dundee children and he reckoned, that made him the head of the family.
It was four years ago that he had last seen his brother and sisters. After the death of their mother, the youngsters had been separated, scattered about the countryside like leaves on the wind. But all through those years Chancy told himself that, when he grew big enough held set out and round them up, Indiana and Mirandy and little Jamie. He was the oldest, wasn't he? And kin belonged together, didn't they?
The sun was glowing overhead like a red-hot coal. Suddenly stones began dropping like meteors out of the clear Ohio sky. One, two, three, they raised blossoms of dust in the road ahead.
It gave Chancy a start. He squinted at the sky and then took a backward glance over his shoulder. There, with a handful of pebbles, stood a red-headed boy. A smile sprang toward Chancy's face, but he forced it back. He set down the hot handles of the wheelbarrow and turned.
"Jody Starbuck, if I ain't mistaken."
"What in thunder are you doing way out here?"
Chancy tried to spit between his teeth, but his mouth was too dry. "You turn around and go on home, Jody. "
"You ain't coming with me."
Chancy took a deep breath. "Your pa will be out looking for you."
"We got a right smart head start."
"I declare, Jody, do you think your pa won't know where you lit out for?"
"I reckon I'd like to see the Ohio River with you, Chancy. And Paducah, and all those fine places you're a-goin'."
Chancy pushed back his straw hat and peered solemnly at the smaller boy standing in the road. He couldn't think of anyone he'd rather have along than his friend Jody. They had slept in the same feather bed for two years, and even though Chancy was older he always treated Jody Starbuck as an equal. But he couldn't let him run away.
"The Ohio River?" Chancy scoffed. "Why, that's nothing to see. I'm going to tell you the bottom truth, Jody -- that river don't amount to a thing. It's just plain old ditch water strung out and trying to look important. You talk like you never seen water in your life. And it's full of alligators. I read that in the almanac, so you know I ain't making it up. Alligators are so thick this time of year they jump about like hoptoads. You take your life in your hands to come within ten miles of that old river."
"I'd like to see an alligator."
Chancy sighed and said, "Jody, you go on back, before the squire takes the hide off you."
Chancy lifted the handles of the wheelbarrow and started forward. A few moments later stones were falling out of the sky again.
"You want me to push the barrow for you?" Jody called.
"I haven't even begun to get tired," Chancy said.
"Ma about changed her mind about letting you go."
"She wanted Pa to fetch you back. But he said you had a bad case of the yonders, and there'd be no keeping you on the farm. He said you can't, keep a squirrel on the ground."Chancy and the Grand Rascal. Copyright © by Sid Fleischman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.