Justin: In the Feast of Being Able to. Amen.

Epoch – Excerpt at the Ferry

Julia helped situate the young lush onto the bench seat of the wagon, then moved up to sit on the back rest. She drew a deep breath as she observed the flaming ship enter the channel and begin to turn about. For a moment everything on the south side of the river was quiet. The women looked on from the wagon, while dozens of soldiers stood along the bank to watch the spectacle. The cold breeze moved the leaves of the small trees along the bank, and the leather on the horses creaked. From the center of the river, the crackles and pops of burning wood came distant but sharp across the flowing waters. Everyone waited to see if the flaming ship passed safely over the lowered rope. As long as none of the crumbling or splintering wood dragged down below the normal draft of the ship, it would pass safely over. It wasn’t the worst disaster of the war if it did not, but they all knew snapping the ferry rope would significantly change the convenience of crossing between Fort Smith and Van Buren until it was repaired and restrung.

As the Rose Douglass began to pass directly between the near posts and the counter posts on the far side of the river, everyone watched intently. The steamer was surely atop the rope now. It was beginning to move faster in the current. Sparks were popping from the flames. A small burst of fire shot up from the top. A piece fell from the prow and was immediately extinguished in the water. And just as the rear of the Rose was about to pass out from between the two landings of the ferry, a loud creaking sound broke the silence as the post furthest into the water, just beyond the shivering Confederate prisoners, jerked free.

“Jimmies!” Randolph shouted, but didn’t move. One of the Confederate soldiers grabbed a hold of him as he passed by in a high-stepping run out of the shallow water.

The second post jerked free a second after the first one, there was a small pause, then the third post snapped at the top. The fourth and fifth posts seem to snap from the ground at the same time. But then strangely, the last post did not break.

“Get away from there!” one of the women yelled from the wagon, though only a few Confederates had been in danger, and they were now beyond the anchor post.

The heavy rope began to rise up out of the water, pulling taut, stretching to its full capacity. The Rose Douglass was suddenly adjusted in the current so that she faced downstream. Julie looked across to the far landing and saw people scattering. It appeared that the anchor posts were just now busting loose. And then the creaking stopped, the Rose stopped, the yelling stopped, and all was quiet.

The flaming ship held her place in the swift current of the Arkansas.

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