Sunday, November 23, 2014

Adventurous George (3)



Lakes oft have streams running into them and as George and Mottles trudged south they came to a big, big stream, actually an inlet with a swath of water to the west as far they could see. George had not heard any trucks at all for the last stretch and knew the road must be a long way off now, or even headed away from the lake. They followed an animal trail along the north shore of the inlet. It wasn't easy going as Mottles would have a little snooze while George figured out his way over the often jumbled entanglement. Mottles found it first, the little row boat, and was smugly seated on the prow when George came into view. It seemed to have been washed ashore, in a bit of a storm perhaps, as it sat askew on the edge of a thicket. It looked reasonably worthy with it's two ores tucked neatly in their locks and it looked even better once they had it floating in the water moored by the rope George had been carrying with him for two days now. Mottles took to the prow like an old sea hand, never once getting his feet wet as he leaped from the shore. George's skills needed a little honing as they went around in circles drifting into the lazy current.

As they settled into their new home, the current carried them out into the lake and the breeze took over as the main influence on their trajectory as they unerringly headed southeast into the quiet expanse with the waves lap lapping at the gunwales. The boat held a few items which might be of use. Stuffed into the tiny bow they found a tarp and Mottles made short work of the mice which scampered out as they hesitated to dive into the depths. Under the rear seat, which was hinged on the the back edge and they managed to pry open, Mottles being the first one in, they found an assortment of camp gear including a set of tin plates and a pot and pan and even a big tin cup. There was a very tangled fishing reel on a short homemade pole, and a little plastic tackle box with some lures and pliers and a really sharp filleting knife in a nifty leather case. The bright yellow rain coat with the big hood was a real find as George tried it on and it came down to his knees. And in the bottom was a little hatchet with a wooden handle.

As the shore became a thin line between the water and the sky, George practised his rowing. If he kept the blades just under the water, not too deep, and pulled evenly, he could keep the little boat heading back towards shore. But no matter how hard he rowed, the shore line became more distant. George finally gave up and after finishing his pail of berries for a snack, he stretched out with the raincoat for a pillow and was soon fast asleep under the warm sun. He dreamed. A life clouded in his forgotten past, of a farm yard near a river with a garden and field of potatoes and chickens and cows and a warm barn with hay in the loft and cats, lots of cats. And thud. George just about jumped into the reeds. Mottles was already perched on top of the muskrat house waiting instructions. Wherever they were, this was not a good place to moor a boat of any sort. The mud looked bottomless and the tangle of reeds was too thick to push through, so George coaxed Mottles back from his perch and eased away with his ores. He was getting better. He held a course just beyond the lily pads and around the rocks protecting the little marsh they had landed in and came to a nicely tree lined beach with just enough sand to pull their boat up onto.

The next few days were spent untangling the fishing reel so it could be used, and picking berries which seemed to be everywhere, and cooking rabbits and mud hens which Mottles magically appeared with and always set at George's feet for his approval, he was really beginning to enjoy a few scritches for his gifts. George's compass told him they had landed on the west side of what turned out to be a long island. He found a trail, with evidence of deer and a least one bear, which headed in through the birch and poplars and pines and through a meadow and on up towards a grassy hill strewn with boulders, the highest point anywhere around him. He could see the lake on the other side, maybe half a mile away. The horizon in every direction was sky and water. This life was growing on George, he didn't even miss his throne.

(To be continued)
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