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"Oh man, that was a good story. Ole Huck Finn really knows how to have fun." Rick said, as he put the book down. "I wish we could do some of the things he does."
Rick was talking to his little brother Mac, who was always ready for an adventure.
"Yeah." agreed Mac. "Let's go down to the river. Where's Luke?"
"He was on his bed reading, a little while ago."answered Rick.
Rick was the oldest, fourteen years old. Tall, skinny, his feet were growing too fast, and his jeans were always too short. He knew almost everything there was to know. His brothers Mac, twelve, and Luke, nine, thought so anyway. Rick said nothing to discourage them from the thought.
Luke quickly yelled out to them, "You goin' somewhere? Wait. I'm comin' too."
The boys walked down the dirt road to the bridge, kicking up dirt with their bare feet. The well-worn trail led them down beneath the bridge to the sand. They played on, around, and in the river, all summer long. They knew it well.
Expert rivermen, they considered themselves.
"Hey, let's build a good raft, not rickety like the last one that sank. We can float down to the big curve, ok?" asked Rick.
The boys had talked before about floating to the big curve, but it was a far piece away, so they had never gone. Ole Huck Finn was resurrected that day though and they felt able.
Mac and Luke were willing helpers. They gathered the old boards and dried up tree limbs that were lying everywhere. Laying the materials down on the sand to make sure they were all, more or less, the same length.
Rick opened his Swiss army pocket knife and began cutting vines to tie the boards and limbs into one conveyance. Soon, all was finished. They were ready. Rick decided Luke should get on first, since he was the littlest. No other reason was given. Luke walked through the water and climbed aboard. He wasn't sinking so Mac climbed on, carefully crawling to the front of the raft. Rick took one more look at their work, saw it was still floating, and climbed up to the rear.
"Shoot! Mac, you forgot the poles!"
"Luke, jump off and get those poles over there," demanded Mac.
Luke grinned at being picked to do something important. He entered the water with a splash and hurried to the three forgotten poles lying on the sand.
Climbing back onto the raft was a risky thing. It dipped down under the water as Luke pulled himself up. He sat down carefully, as the raft was rolling back and forth. It was a great day. The water was flowing just right.
The three were floating along having a good time, discussing literature according to Mark Twain. Hours went by. The sun was warm. All three were lying on their backs looking at the trees slowly passing, trailing their hands in the water to cool off. An occasional fish swam by so close they could have caught it, if they'd wanted to. It was a quiet, peaceful, perfect day of summer. Camaraderie abounded.
Honk! Honk! A truck. Cars. They were at the highway! They were over five miles from home. Long past the big curve in the river which had been their destination. They would have gone all the way to the coast if the highway ran the same way as the river, instead of crossing it.
"Shoot!" Rick exclaimed. "Pole to the bank! Quick!"
All three poled for their lives, to get to the bank. Mac and Luke looked to their older, smarter brother, for the answer to their predicament. Rick was a smart boy, he really was. He knew the raft was not going to just float itself back up-river, the same way it had floated down. It would take strong poling, and much work, from all three of them to get the raft to take them home. The trouble was, he had failed to mention this at the beginning of the trip. Actually he had forgotten, but he wouldnt admit it. He doubted that they had enough muscle between them to move the raft. Luke was little. Mac was strong, but still smaller than Rick. Rick wasn't as big as he thought he was.
"Its a piece of cake, easy. All we have to do is put one end of the pole on the bottom and push." Rick tried to convince them.
Mac and Luke were convinced they had no choice, and they decided they better turn around and go home. After resting a few minutes, they all climbed back onto the raft, stuck their poles into the bank and pushed off with great energy. So far, so good. Rick sat at the back of the raft and tried to pole upriver. "Mac, get on this side, Luke, you're on that side. Ready? Push! We have to all push at the same time. One, two, three, push!" When the push was finished, the raft continued to float in the opposite direction. One, two, three. Push! One, two three. Push. push. On and on. They gained nothing. Those boys were sitting out on the water, working up a sweat, trying to get that darn raft to go upriver, or at least to sit still. An impossible endeavor. They were not going anywhere. The people in the passing cars were getting a good show though, if the honking and the laughter were any indication.
It was almost dark by the time they finally stumbled into the house. They were hot, thirsty, hungry and more tired than they had been in their entire life. It had been a long walk home.
"What you boys been up to all day?" their Dad asked, with a grin, as if he already knew the answer. He probably did. Dad seemed to always know when they were doing something stupid.
Rick and Mac looked embarrassed, but little Luke piped up, "We went up the creek without a paddle Daddy! It was fun."