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Run Me a River

Run Me a River

With a Foreword by Morris A. Grubbs
Copyright Date: 1964
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Run Me a River
    Book Description:

    The rich history of river life in Kentucky permeates Janice Holt Giles's novelRun Me a River. Set in 1861, at the beginning of Kentucky's reluctant entry into the Civil War, the novel tells the story of a five-day adventure on the Green River. Aboard theRambler, a ramshackle steamboat, Captain Bohannon Cartwright and his crew journey 184 miles and pick up two extra passengers along the way. The boatmenrescue "Sir Henry" Cole, a former Shakespearean actor, and his granddaughter Phoebe from their skiff when it overruns in a squall. As romance blossoms between Phoebe and Captain Bo, a conflict escalates between Confederate and Union forces fighting for control of the river.

    Janice Holt Giles(1905-1979), author of nineteen books, lived and wrote near Knifley, Kentucky, for thirty-four years. Her biography is told inJanice Holt Giles: A Writer's Life.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5705-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)

    Traversed by the Green River and its many tributaries, southwest central Kentucky has long been known for the splendor of its valleys, die grace and doggedness of its people. Here, in what early writers called “Green River Country,” land and water and human beings have exerted formative influences on one another. Water in rivers and creeks—and now recreation lakes—courses through die land like blood. Indeed, there was a time in the region’s history when the waterways were just as vital to human life. InRun Me a River, Janice Holt Giles writes of the marriage of a man...

    (pp. xi-xiii)
    Janice Holt Giles

    Even within the state of Kentucky it is not generally d known that there was steamboat navigation on Green River for one hundred and four years. The first small steamboat pushed its way upriver as far as Bowling Green in 1828, and the river trade did not end until 1932.

    The Green is a fascinating river, lying wholly within the boundaries of the state of Kentucky. It is a little over four hundred miles in length, with a general east to west course. It is one of the oldest rivers in the United States and its drainage is responsible for...

  4. [Map]
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER 1
    (pp. 1-24)

    The river was running full but making no boast of it. It was sliding along under the fog minding its own business as quiet and slick as if the banks had been greased. There came along now and then a patch of foam, sometimes a big patch, sometimes a little patch, looking like pieces of torn tan lace. Once in a while a tree slid down the middle of the current rolling along high and jaunty with a kind of young, wet look of surprise when it bobbled, as if it had committed a gaucherie.

    Sometimes a little piece of...

  6. CHAPTER 2
    (pp. 25-48)

    Foss caught him later as he started up the companionway. “She’s still loose, Bo, but she’s fixed as good as could be expected. Don’t put no strain on her, though.”

    Bo clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t mean to if I can help it. When did I ever? TheRamblerdon't run if the machinery don’t run.”

    Foss rubbed his hands on an oily rag, which did little to clean them. It was a habit. “What you mostly skeered of? He ain’t likely to close the wharf, is he?” “No, but he’s likely to take my boat. Stands to reason...

  7. CHAPTER 3
    (pp. 49-58)

    Four miles by land, cutting across the snaking loops, they could have reached Thomas’s Landing. It wasn’t the first time Bo had wished steamboats could run on land, too, for they had to make eight miles around Boat Island and Buckner’s Island, turning almost back upon themselves by water. He didn’t often feel impatience with this winding, looping stretch of river but this morning he was anxious to get on down, get the loops and bends behind him, get into the Green.

    They had a load of sawed poplar to put off for William Stern at Thomas’s and Mr. Stern...

  8. CHAPTER 4
    (pp. 59-70)

    When they slid out of the Barren into the Green Luke was riding in the pilothouse for company. He eyed the water with astonishment and excitement and let out a long, low whistle. “Jehosaphat, Bo, she’srealhigh! I never thought—look at that old river, Bo! Clean out of her banks! Spreading all over the bottoms.”

    “Pretty good stage,” Bo admitted.

    “Aw, you ain’t got to worry about no dam. Not onthisriver. You can steamboat any place you like.”

    Bo gave him no more time. Woodbury Lock was built in a slow bend less than half a...

  9. CHAPTER 5
    (pp. 71-86)

    An hour went by in silence. Bo was deep in his bookwork. Unless they were signaled down they didn’t have a stop until they got to Rochester. This piece of water was nice and easy and Luke could handle it fine.

    A quiver and a slight roll of the boat made him look up quickly. “Wind getting up?” “You better take her, Bo,” Luke said uneasily, “that dark cloud’s been shaping up last ten minutes. It ain’t pretty.”

    “It’s sure not pretty,” Bo admitted. “All right, she’s mine.”

    The overcast had been darker in the southwest for some time. He...

  10. CHAPTER 6
    (pp. 87-100)

    They were tied up again.

    With Foss hovering over the crippled piston, watching every stroke, yearning over it and hurting over it, as if he would empty his own body of its strength to guard it and help it, they had crept cautiously to the small creek where they were going to make their mooring. They reached it only a little before dark.

    Bo, up in the pilothouse, unable to watch the machinery himself, had been, if possible, even more agonized than Foss by every slow foot of the way. The creaks, the groans, the clanks that came up from...

  11. CHAPTER 7
    (pp. 101-118)

    The unmelodious dissonance of fifty blatting sheep, all of them hungry and petulant, wakened Bo. He groaned as he rolled over, trying to pry his eyes open. The fool beasts would waken the dead, he thought. Something had to be done about them and done right away.

    He hoisted his legs onto the floor and blinked as the new position brought him into a shaft of sunlight. Normally he wakened early, all at once, eager for the day, but he still felt sore and tired this morning and his mind was slow. For a moment or two he couldn't take...

  12. CHAPTER 8
    (pp. 119-134)

    A sleep though he was some part of his mind told him .. it wasn’t true. He was having a nightmare. TheRamblerwas not caught in another wind squall no matter how the deck tilted or the beams shook and shuddered. This clear part of his mind sensed the absurdity and explained that although the physical sensations were very real, that although he was feeling the shaking and tilting and shuddering, there was a logical explanation, for he knew they were tied up and it was not really happening. He was dreaming and he knew it but he couldn't...

  13. CHAPTER 9
    (pp. 135-152)

    The river was a love that morning, a pure love.

    She wore only her best manners and showed only her sweetest guiles. She had pushed all the heavy tan water down ahead of him and she gave Bohannon Cartwright only her prettiest face. She didn’t even bother him with a wind ripple. She dimpled at him in the sun, smiled and flirted with him, and she moved like a lady between her banks, keeping her skirts full dry.

    “You needn’t to show off so audaciously,” Bo told her chucklingly, loving this lady river to the bursting point, but not wanting...

  14. CHAPTER 10
    (pp. 153-162)

    Except for Foss, who loafed in the doorway, they sat d in the cabin to listen to what Bo had learned. Luke sat beside Bo on his bunk and Phoebe Cole and Sir Henry sat opposite. The old actor was tinkering with his fiddle, replacing some strings and trying to tighten others. He kept fussing over a broken key and muttering, “Damned spleeny E-string keeps slipping. Had a new key on that peg it’d hold.”

    Phoebe went, “Sh-sh-sh,” and the old man subsided.

    At four o’clock in the afternoon the sun had slid a long way down but it had...

  15. CHAPTER 11
    (pp. 163-180)

    She was as pretty as theLucy Wing,he thought. She had the grace, the look of fleetness, and a little of the sheer and swagger. She also had almost as much gingerbread on her superstructure. “Good Lord, Miss Phoebe,” he laughed, “I didn’t ask you to put their eyes out.”

    “It would help if I could, though, wouldn’t it?” She had come up onto the bridge to show herself off. She whirled to make her dazzle more impressive. “This is every bead and bauble I could find in the trunk. Every bracelet, sequin, necklace, pin and brooch. And the...

  16. CHAPTER 12
    (pp. 181-200)

    They were running dark.

    Bo was steering by the treeline, sliding theRamblerslowly along in the shadows as best he could, avoiding the middle of the river except when he had to bear out for snags or slides. He was glad for the good water under him, for the depths the Green had gouged out for herself along here. They said it was near seventy feet in this piece of water and he judged they were right. Save in an extremely low stage you had no worries.

    Tobe and Jonah were firing for Foss, tending fire cautiously so as...

  17. CHAPTER 13
    (pp. 201-218)

    Sir henry came aboard first, looking like a blackfaced wreck. His face was smeared with burnt cork and sweat and gunpowder, his eyebrows were singed and curled, and his hair had taken all leave of its senses. It literally stood on end, every hair having declared its independence.

    He came aboard still drunk with the wine of battle. He set foot on deck flinging his mongrel Shakespeare about, flourishing both pistols, and with his cape blowing wildly about him. He strode magnificently about as Luke and the rousters clambered up, booming so loud it set the boat to shaking. “Now,...

  18. CHAPTER 14
    (pp. 219-236)

    “What day of the week is it?” Foss asked.

    “Sunday,” Bo said, looking at him. Foss was sitting humped over on a low stool, holding his head between his hands as if he was afraid it might fly off if he turned loose of it.

    “I’ve sure got no Sunday feeling.”

    It was coming day and the engine room looked bleak and untenanted in the gray light. At best it was no beauty, except to Foss, and without its fires glowing and its machinery pulsing it was a drab and dingy place. “What you’ve got,” Bo said unfeelingly, “is a...

  19. CHAPTER 15
    (pp. 237-256)

    The morning which had promised so fair with its great JL splash of color changed its mind soon. The sky had grayed over before theRamblermade her stop at Ceralvo. No great threat of a storm yet, but a fresh breeze spanked the water smartly and tore the smoke from the stacks into boiling plumes. There wasn’t going to be anything recreational about today’s run, Bo thought. He’d earn his keep if the wind held on, for wind made every landing dangerous and every bend something to negotiate with care. He thought it would have to blow up just as...

  20. CHAPTER 16
    (pp. 257-270)

    Afew miles downriver Luke came up with his cargo slips. “We’re commencing to get a little crowded, Bo,” he said.

    Bo nodded absently. “Stack it up. We’ll take on all we can.”

    “Well,” the boy said. “I don’t know as we can take on any more livestock, though.” He laughed. “Can’t stack pigs and cows up very good.” He went on happily, shuffling through his slips, “It sure is being one hell of a good run.”

    “It sure is,” Bo said bitterly, “one hell of a good run!” The boy didn’t catch the bitterness. “Never seen the deck so full....

  21. CHAPTER 17
    (pp. 271-286)

    The ten miles between Livermore and Calhoun was as JL pretty a piece of water as there was on the river. You always had good water just above a lock and Lock 2 was located between the towns of Calhoun on the right bank and Rumsey on the left.

    There were no landings between Livermore and Calhoun and Bo pushed theRambleron down. He was glad to leave the railroad behind. The bridge could be of prime importance to either side and even if he missed being there when it was blown it would cause such a mess it would...

  22. CHAPTER 18
    (pp. 287-304)

    They made out to wait as best they could, each in his own way.

    Some of the roustabouts drifted together and started a poker game. Some of them loafed, dangling their feet over the side, kicking and splashing water. Some of them flopped to sleep. Bo broke them all up. He sent six to chop and haul wood, telling them, “Keep in sight of the boat and keep your eyes peeled for my signal.”

    He set Catfish and another to splicing rope and he kept the others with him to help caulk the leaky skiff he had bought at South...

  23. CHAPTER 19
    (pp. 305-312)

    One thing was obvious when the doctor had set and splinted Sir Henry’s leg and bandaged Bo’s rib cage. Gunboats or no gunboats, they could run no farther that night. Bo had one rib broken and two cracked.

    The doctor was not an old man, though he was always spoken of as old Doc King. He was rather a man who for some reason life had broken and appeared to lick. It had been a long time since he had practiced medicine much, he admitted. Nobody knew much about his past or where he had come from, beyond downriver. He’d...

  24. CHAPTER 20
    (pp. 313-324)

    Standing on the bank looking at theRamblerin broad daylight, Bo had to laugh. She sure looked battlescarred, all right. The stubs of her guard rails were splintered and twisted, half the cabin was gone and the tarpaulin drooped over what was left, there was still a great hole in the roof of the pilothouse, and the paddle wheel canted out of true. But she could run yet, she could run. She’d taken a lot of blows, been knocked about, but she was a tough old lady—she’d just reeled, got her breath, and gone staggering on. Bo looked...

  25. CHAPTER 21
    (pp. 325-338)

    The wharf at Evansville was always a busy place. It was a departure point and terminal for the Green River trade and it was an important port in the Ohio trade. Crowds always milled about but when Bo brought theRamblerin that afternoon the crowd was swollen beyond normal. He guessed that news of some of her troubles had preceded her and brought out the curious. He grinned, thinking they would get their money’s worth. She was a sight to see, all right, with her cabin blown off, her guard rails shattered, her paddle wheel out of true. Nevertheless...