The Property of Lee Harrison Peeters – Chapter Five: A Ferry

13 01 2010

The period before the American Civil War is a fascinating era. The seeds for the blossoming of the American Empire and the death of the British Empire had been sown. The brutalization of the African and Native American were at its zenith. There was a clear line drawn between right and wrong. The main character I created for this work is an attempt to shape someone who might fall into the ethically grey area. Which is where most people fall during their lives.

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The Property of Lee Harrison Peeters

Chapter Five: A Ferry

The ferry takes people across a narrow stretch of the river to the Canadian side.  A large rope joins the two sides. A man pulls the rope that moves the ferry across the river. The ferry master is a small man with stringy hair. A larger man who is black is the main source of power for the ferry although if the river is particularly strong passengers are required to help out.

Ferry Master: “I should wait.”

Stranger: “Wait for what?”

Ferry Master: “For more customers.”

The stranger smiles, looking around. His eyes turn on the ferry master.

Stranger:  “There are more customers.”

Ferry Master: “Where?”

Stranger: “On the other side. In Canada.”

The ferry master looks across the river. A carriage waits with two elderly wealthy looking men.

Ferry Master: “You don’t go telling me what I oughta do. Jim don’t like me getting angry.”

The stranger looked over at the muscular black man who smiled.

Ferry Master: “He ain’t as sweet as he looks.”

The stranger smiles. “I’m sure he ain’t.”

A small family of Indians came around the corner and boarded the ferry.

The ferry moves away from the shore and across the river. The stranger has decided to help the black man to pull the ferry across. The  ferry master stands to one side smoking a pipe. The Indian family stand off to one side, not saying a word.

Ferry Master: “Ain’t necessary. Jim can do the job by himself.”

Stranger: “I don’t mind a little work. Keeps a body warm.”

Ferry Master takes out a flask and has a drink.

Ferry Master: “Belly warmer.”

He offers it to the stranger who takes a swallow. The stranger nods toward Jim.

Ferry Master: “Jim don’t like liquor. Weakens him.”

Stranger: “Can’t Jim speak for himself?”

Ferry Master shrugs. Stranger offers Jim a drink. Jim shakes his head.

Ferry Master: “Don’t have a tongue. Bounty hunters cut it out.”

Jim and the stranger continue to move the boat across the water.

Stranger looking at the river: “Water seems pretty low. Lot of rocks and small islands showing.”

Ferry Master: “You got a good eye. Water is low. I figure there must be a hole upriver in Lake Erie.”

Stranger: “And where is all the water going?”
Ferry Master: “Jim and I figure it must be going to China.”