“Set her back, John, set her back!” says one. They backed water. “Keep away, boy—keep to looard. Confound it, I just expect the wind has blowed it to us. Your pap’s got the small-pox, and you know it precious well. Why didn’t you come out and say so? Do you want to spread it all over?”
“Poor devil, there’s something in that. We are right down sorry for you, but we—well, hang it, we don’t want the small-pox, you see. Look here, I’ll tell you what to do. Don’t you try to land by yourself, or you’ll smash everything to pieces. You float along down about twenty miles, and you’ll come to a town on the left-hand side of the river. It will be long after sun-up then, and when you ask for help you tell them your folks are all down with chills and fever. Don’t be a fool again, and let people guess what is the matter. Now we’re trying to do you a kindness; so you just put twenty miles between us, that’s a good boy. It wouldn’t do any good to land yonder where the light is—it’s only a wood-yard. Say, I reckon your father’s poor, and I’m bound to say he’s in pretty hard luck. Here, I’ll put a twenty-dollar gold piece on this board, and you get it when it floats by. I feel mighty mean to leave you; but my kingdom! it won’t do to fool with small-pox, don’t you see?”
“Back, John, row back!” one of them said. They started rowing backward. “Keep away, boy, keep to port. Darn it, the wind is blowing that raft right toward us. Your pap’s got SMALLPOXcontagious and deadly disease that was wiped out in the 20th centurysmallpox, and you know it! Why didn’t you just say so? Do you want to spread it to everyone?
“Well, you’ve got a point. Poor soul. We feel pretty sorry for you, but we… well, darn it, we don’t want to get smallpox, you see. Look here, I tell you what we’ll do. Don’t try to land the raft on the shore by yourself; you’ll just smash it to pieces. Just float along down the river about twenty miles, and you’ll come to a town. Ask for help, and tell them your folks have got the chills and a fever. Don’t be foolish again and let people guess what’s wrong with your family. Now, we’re trying to help you, so just be a good boy and take our advice. Put twenty miles between yourselves and us. It wouldn’t do any good to land the raft over where that light is. It’s only a lumber yard. I’ll bet your father’s poor, and I’m sure your family is having a tough time. Here, I’m putting a twenty dollar gold piece on this board. Grab it when it floats by. I feel pretty bad leaving you, but my God, we just can’t mess around with smallpox, you see?