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James stood next to the wagon side. He rotated a fist-sized rock in his hand. Quickly, he tossed it into the water.
Sarah stood up in the middle of the wagon, eyes as big as saucers. "James fell in," she shrieked.
"No, he didn't," bellowed Alexander. "He's only thrown a rock." He turned to his son. "Get in the wagon, James. I've had all I can take from you today."
James wiped his hands on his pants and proceeded to climb onto the back gate.
"Stay put and keep out of mischief. I don't want to see you out here again."
James hung his head. Grasping the gate with both hands, he swung his feet.
"You scared me," said Sarah.
"Ah, be quiet and quit complaining." He lay down on the gate, placed his hat across his face, folded his arms under his head, and bent his knees.
A partially submerged log suddenly hit the ferry with a loud bam, jarring the wagons and passengers.
The boat floundered in the current as the Indians tried to gain control. Alexander steadied himself, keeping his balance.
Flowing back into them, the log hit again. The wagons lurched and slid sideways. The passengers floundered as the ferry swung about in the water.
"Pa!" screamed Sarah. She fell against a tub, cutting her forehead. Sliding across the floor, she grasped the rocker's leg. The chair tipped over, tossing her against the wagon wall. Quickly, she grabbed the sides with both hands, clinging to the boards and screaming, "Help me! Help me!"
Caroline pitched forward. Tightening her grip on the wagon seat, her knuckles whitened. She stiffened her legs against the footboard to keep from plunging over the edge of the seat into the ragingriver. Crashing over the ferry flooring, water sprayed her from head to toe. "Sarah! James! Hang on."
James rolled off the gate and grabbed the hinged edge. Losing his grip, he tumbled onto the slippery ferry floorboards and crashed onto his knees. Water gushed across his body, washing him near the ferry's edge. Another drifting log bumped against the boat, the wagon moved sideways, throwing him into the cold, turbulent water. He gripped the flooring's edge, trying to grab the wet ropes used to tie the canoes together, but missed them.
Water sloshed over his head, choking him. "Pa, help me," he screamed, dangling in the water.
Throwing himself onto the wooden floor, Alexander sprawled near the water's edge. "James! Grab my hand!" Clutching his son's small wet fingers with one hand, Alexander stretched his other hand forward for a better hold. James slipped from his grasp, splashing backwards into the current.
Posted January 18, 2011
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