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   Chapter 30 AGROUND.

The End of the World: A Love Story By Edward Eggleston Characters: 4065

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Not the boat. The boat ran on safely enough to Louisville, and tied up at the levee, and discharged her sugar und molasses, and took on a new cargo of baled hay and corn and flour, and went back again, and made I know not how many trips, and ender her existence I can not tell how or when. What does become of the old steamboats? The Iatan ran for years after she tied up at Louisville that summer morning, and then perhaps she was blown up or burned up; perchance some cruel sawyer transfixed her; perchance she was sunk by ice, or maybe she was robbed of her engines and did duty as barge, or, what is more probable, she wore out like the one-hoss shay, and just tumbled to pieces simultaneously.

It was not the gambler who got aground that morning. He had yet other nice little games, with three cards or more or none, to play.

It was not the mud-clerk who ran aground--good, non-committal soul, who never look sides where it would do him any harm, and who never worried himself about anything. Dear, drawling, optimist philosopher, who could see how other people's mishaps were best for them, and who took good care not to have any himself! It was not he that ran aground.

It was not Norman Anderson who ran aground. He walked into the store with the proud and manly consciousness of having done his duty, he made his returns of every cent of money that had come into his hands, and, like all other faithful stewards, received the cordial commendation of his master.

But August Wehle the striker, just when he was to be made an engineer, when he thought he had smooth sailing, suddenly and provokingly found himself fast aground, with no spar or capstan by which he might help himself off, with no friendly craft alongside to throw him a hawser and pull him off.

It seems that when the captain promised him promotion, he did not know anything of August's interference with the gamblers. But when Parkins filed his complaint, it touched the captain. It was generally believed among the employés of the boat that a

percentage of gamblers' gains was one of the "old man's" perquisites, and he was not the only steamboat captain who profited by the nice little games in the cabin upon which he closed both eyes. And this retrieved nine hundred and fifty dollars was a dead loss of--well, it does not matter how much, to the virtuous and highly honorable captain. His proportion would have been large enough at least to pay his wife's pew-rent in St. James's Church, with a little something over for charitable purposes. For the captain did not mind giving a disinterested twenty-five dollars occasionally to those charities that were willing to show their gratitude by posting his name as director, or his wife's as "Lady Manageress." In this case his right hand never knew what his left hand did--how it got the money, for instance.

So when August drew his pay he was informed that he was discharged. No reason was given. He tried to see the captain. But the captain was in the bosom of his family, kissing his own well-dressed little boys, and enjoying the respect which only exemplary and provident fathers enjoy. And never asking down in his heart if these boys might become gamblers' victims, or gamblers, indeed. The captain could not see August the striker, for he was at home, and must not be interfered with by any of his subordinates. Besides, it was Sunday, and he could not be intruded upon--the rector of St. James's was dining with him on his wife's invitation, and it behooved him to walk circumspectly, not with eye-service as a man-pleaser, but serving the Lord.

So he refuted to see the anxious striker, and turned to compliment the rector on his admirable sermon on the sin of Judas, who sold his master for thirty pieces of silver.

And August Wehle had nothing left to do. The river was falling fast, the large boats above the Falls were, in steamboat-man's phrase, "laying up" in the mouths of the tributaries and other convenient harbors, there were plenty of engineers unemployed, and there were no vacancies.

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