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Sunday, January 27, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Chapter 12


Man Overboard
courtesy photobucket.com
 
Days came and went and Lee was becoming better acquainted with the river.

He began to know what was around the next bend and where the channel was.

His time was divided among being down in the engine room, playing or practicing the piano, watching for card sharks and acting as pilot on the ship.

He only slept about six hours a night but on occasion he would grab a cat nap.

There was a card player who was known to be questionable about how he handled the cards.  He had boarded at Vicksburg, and had taken a cabin first class.  In the evening hours was when most of the card activity took place.

Lee was appointed to watch this player and see if he played the game honestly and as the evening began as far as Lee could tell he played the game straight.

As the evening wore on the card player began to win the bigger pots and Lee began to suspect the player was executing some dishonest moves but he couldn't spot exactly what was going on.  Lee went and talked to Mac the gaming room boss and told him of his suspicions. Mac began to watch the man who when he realized he was under the gaze of Mac began to play on the square and started to lose.

Mac had seen enough to know what the man was doing, and told Lee to watch him and let him know when he went back to cheating. It didn't take long after Mac had returned to his office for him to start winning again.

Once again the man began to win and this time Lee spotted him cheating. He went and told Mac that the man was cheating again.  Mac eased around the back of the cheater and verified what Lee had told him.

Mac knew the man carried at least two derringers so in order to protect the other players he had a security team to come up behind the cheater and press a shot gun to his back and at the same time two huge black men flanked him.

Mac told the card shark to slowly place his guns on the table, all of them and then to gradually stand up. When the man stood the black guards striped him down to the waist and removed his shoes.

They took all of his money, and then the two guards took him out to the rail and told him to jump.  He hesitated, so they picked him up, and while he was screaming, they tossed him overboard.  When they returned to the gaming room they divided the man's money between the other players.

As they looked back the man was almost made it to the shore though he might be cold for awhile.
 
Mac gave the derringers to Lee and said, “Here is something to remember that swindler by.

That bit of action convinced everyone to be honest, and to rely on their skills instead of cheating.

After that excitement the rest of the trip was mostly routine except a couple of tap dancers had talked the Captain into letting them travel the rest of the way to St. Louis for free. They were to perform tap dances to entertain the passengers but were restricted to the passenger deck except when performing and to eat with the crew.

A feeling of uncertainty was beginning to spread over the country as the War Between the States escalated and no one knew what the future held for the river folks.

To be Continued   

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