Thursday, April 04, 2013

River Justice

One other problem with finding a place to camp on the upper Duck is there are quite a few houses right down by the water.  Not so many that they detract from the river, but enough that it is hard to find a place to stop with enough distance between them to build a big fire and sing and carry on without making the landowners aware of us.   It can be done, but it is unlikely that the best gravel bars will also be the secluded ones.  Even if we find what looks like a remote place there is no guarantee that someone won't go all Big Swan on us.   Maybe this time we'll just let Mullowney and Sands fight them like they wanted to.


There's an old moonshiner around - call him Else. He is a man of dignity and of harsh ethics, few of which fit the interstices of the law or the philosophy of patio living. A long time back he got caught at his chosen trade, though to toll him out of the brush they had to break the law themselves and hold his family hostage. He was tried and given a year or so in jail but, somehow, was allowed a little time out on bond before he had to turn himself in. On the night before his freedom expired, his friends gathered to give him a party. Everybody felt bad. There was whisky, some of it even wood-aged for a month or so. . . . They gloomed.

"Hod damn it," one said. "This ain't it. We don't want old Else to recollect us this-a-way, all that time. Like a funeral."

Another said "What you gonna do, sang songs?"

He said: "Le's have a jury trial."

"Who you want to try?"

"Else, that's who," he said. "I'm the judge. . . ."

They held it, drinking hard. At the end, they had Else, swaying with whisky, stand up before the bench and the judge said: "They done found you guilty of bein' damn fool enough to git caught. What you got to say?"

"Sommidgin' thang," Else answered. "G'lty."

"All right," the judge said. "I hereby by God sentence you to git beat up."

And they all piled on him, swinging and kicking. After a while they lost track of who it was they were after and just fought, a flailing mound of them, until nobody had any fight left in him. Old Else, who lost four teeth and a had thumb broken, still says it was the nicest party he ever went to.

Goodbye to a River, pp. 285-86.


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