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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Chapter 7

image courtesy photobucket.com

Lee found the story of Morgan's immigrating to America fascinating and continued to ask questions to fill in the blanks that were left out.

Now it was Sam's turn to be questioned.  Sam's story wasn't quite as interesting as Morgan's for he was born of French parents and raised among the Cajuns.  He started out as a cabin boy and spent his off hours learning about navigating the river.  After some time he was taught how to successfully pilot the vessel safely up and down the river.

Lee got acquainted with Mac the operating boss of the gambling hall on the boat.  It was his job to keep everybody honest. He could spot a crooked card player from across the room.  Lee was amazed at his dexterity handling a deck of cards and over time he taught Lee much of what he knew.  

Lee learned to shuffle a deck of cards even though his hands were still small and how to stack the deck while he was being watched.  He wasn't able to fool someone with Mac's experience but could fool most of the people.

This took him about three years but you would see him with a deck of cards in his hand quite often. 
Cheater at Cards
courtesy free clip art
Mac taught him to spot someone cheating, and sometimes there would be more than one cheater in a game taking turns fleecing the other players.  This would take Lee a moment or two longer to catch them, but when he was sure he would tell Mac, and then things would get interesting.

Usually Mac would get two or three of the black men who were big and strong to stand around the table along with one of the shotgun guards and then he would tell the cheaters that he wished to speak to them outside. Just leave your money on the table.

As they would stand up he would remove their hidden Derringers, and take them outside. After a short conversation about how well they could swim he would have the pilot swing in closer to the shore and throw them overboard.  

Everyone would have been warned about cheating before they were allowed to play. The money left on the table was divided among the players and their game continued.
 
The first time Lee caught some cheaters and the events that happened next, it made him feel very important for he was now controlling a certain aspect of the gaming.

Lee wanted to see the Caribbean but on this trip they were only going to Baton Rouge and off load there.  

Again it took about three days to unload and get loaded for the trip back to St. Louis so Captain Jack took him around the town and bought him a cap like the pilots wore.

This made Lee feel like he was an important part of the wheel house. The pilots had some time off and were warned not to get into any trouble and be back on board on time and sober.

Morgan and Sam had heard that speech many times and limited their time off to visiting their friends and a little celebrating. Even though they had been with Captain Jack for a long time they knew he wouldn't tolerate any drunkenness when getting ready to sail.

After Jack and Lee arrived back on ship, Lee ventured down to the lower deck and got acquainted with some of the deck hands.  He felt safe while they were around for they knew he meant something special to Captain Jack.

To be Continued

 

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