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Saturday, January 19, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Chapter 3


Sea Captain Jack
courtesy photobucket.com
 
Life for the child Lee consisted of music, playing cards, reading and listening to stories.  He never went to school but was taught the three R s, by the ladies working for Louise.

Lee's mother wasn't doing very well, and Louise told her just to rest, and had the doctor come to look at her.  His news wasn't good, and shortly she passed away.

Lee was extremely upset at the loss of his mother, but he had many friends he could depend on.

Captain Jack was a river boat captain, who kept a residence at the club, who became somewhat of a Dutch uncle in the sense he spoke to Lee as an adult.  

This was a different experience for Lee because most of his associations were with females.  

With his time being filled with those who were his friends Lee began to get over his loss of his mother, except sometimes at night when alone.

There were some good intentioned people who found out about Lee living in what they considered to be an unhealthy atmosphere, and they wanted to put him in a home.

Louise didn't know what to do for they had the law on their side, and she couldn't have her business shut down. This could easily happen based on some pretence.

Captain Jack was in town for a couple of days while his boat was being unloaded and reloaded with his products for the South.  

He was quite fond of Lee having watched him grow up these last five years.   Lee was only two when he first saw him and now he was seven going on eight.

Madam Louise explained to Captain Jack what she was facing, and asked if he would take the boy for she didn't want him to end up in a pace where kids were just dumped with attendants who had more than they could do to care for him.

Captain Jack was caught off guard for the moment and said, “At this moment I must say no, but let me think about it for a while.”  Then he went and got Lee and took him down to his boat.  

This was the first time Lee had ever been on the water, and he was enthralled.  He wanted to see everything from top to bottom.  
 
Captain Jack asked him how he would like to live with him on the water most of the time. Lee said, “I’m not sure, but I think I would like it very much.”

The Captain's feelings were like Louise's.  He didn't want this child who had a lot of potential to be locked away with other unfortunate children.  However he shuddered at the responsibility he would be taking on, but after much thought he finally decided to accept the boy.

The ladies started to pack all his clothes when Captain Jack stopped them.

He told the ladies, “Just a couple of nice things to wear, because we are going down town, and buy him some clothes fit for sailing.  It will save him a lot of embarrassment if we do that now, for he is now going to associate with some pretty crude characters and fancy clothes just won't do.

The ladies saw the wisdom in that, and the way Lee was growing his clothes wouldn't fit for long anyway.

After Lee was properly outfitted, they went down to the steamer and Jack said, “You are going to live up here in the chart room. There is enough room for a cot and a place to store your things.”

The passenger cabins were filled most of the time, and he didn't want to have Lee stay with the crew.  It seemed that almost everyone on the crew looked down on Lee for they considered him to be out of place.  

The Captain realized this, and while he could come down hard on them for their attitude, in the final analyses it would be up to Lee to win them over.

To be Continued      

 

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