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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Life of Peril - Chapter Four

I was being transferred to a Clipper Ship

The last trip I made to St. Louis wasn’t a happy one.

We had the usual hassles with the Union Army. First it had been the Confederate army now it was the Yanks.

When we got to St. Louis I was sadden to hear my friend Les had been shot and killed, while he was in his bed half drunk and asleep.  They lynched the man who shot him and while you like to hear someone paid for their evil but it didn’t take the hurt away.

Les was with a woman that some little guy claimed as his own and when she went with Les he decided to kill him. The only way he could do it was in the fashion he did. Slip up on him when he was defenseless.

It was with a heavy heart I prepared the ferry for the trip south.

I was feeling angry and when we were almost three quarters the way to New Orleans five Yankee soldiers got completely out of hand. They were beating up members of the crew and passengers. When they started trying to take advantage of the women passengers I boiled over and I knifed two of them and shot two others. The fifth jumped overboard and got away before I could get to him.

I told Josh to tell everyone I was drunk when I had done it. We were almost to New Orleans when the Captain told me to go see a Captain Lee who should be in port and ready to leave for Los Angeles and San Francisco. Give him a letter I will write explaining what happened and he will either put you on as a deck hand or a passenger.

Even if he has a full crew you will be a crew member before the voyage is over because the trip is dangerous.

I did as the Captain Buck said but the army was searching all the ships before they left port.  I managed to slip aboard just before the soldiers left by carrying some medical supplies aboard and pretending to be a doctor.

The captain told me to take a cabin for the time being and we would see how things worked out. Captain Buck had explained what happened with the army soldiers and Captain Lee said it served them right. He and Captain Buck had sailed together for years till they became Captains of their own ships.

The ship I was on was one of the newer Clipper ships and it was a fast mover.

Just before we rounded the Cape Horn one of the ship’s crew who was a mean bully started attacking a smallish man and appeared to want to kill him. I took a belaying pin and crushed his skull with it. I helped the small man to his feet and helped him to his bunk.

Returning back on deck I found that the bully had washed overboard and was nowhere to be found. Since no one knew what happened I didn’t bother to tell anyone about the encounter.

The small man didn’t know anything other than he was getting beat up and someone helped him into his bunk before he passed out. I was summoned to the Captain’s quarters and told there had been the loss of one of the crew and that I was to take his place.

He went on to say he didn’t want to lose any more men for there was no way to replace them if I understood him. I just nodded my head for we understood each other.

He said, “Captains of ships have an extra sense and understand things other people don’t. It is almost as if they can recreate events they never saw and be very accurate in doing so.”

With that he said, “See the first mate for your duties.”

I felt as if I had been stripped bare and would make it my duty not to cause any trouble for Captain Lee.

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