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Bay Crossing - Michener


From: Chesapeake by James A. Michener written in 1978. "Voyage One 1583."


It was a stormy ride, with rocks visible on either side and white water piling into the log.  His paddle, even when he used it with unaccustomed strength, accomplished little except to keep him preoccupied.  At several points he felt sure that he must lose his canoe, and perhaps his life, too, but in the end the sturdy log bounced and chafed its way through the perilous rocks and the roaring water.


When the passage was concluded he was exhausted, and that day slept soundly under the trees.  Cool water came down a rivulet, and when he rose he drank copiously.  Also, he found a field of strawberries on which he gorged, and with the gear he had saved he caught two more small fish.  Reassured in mind and replenished in sinew, he resumed his night paddling down the great river, and next morning decided not to sleep through the day, for ahead lay the vast body of water which he had heard of as a child and which was now his target.


"It lies to the south," the old seer of his village had said, "the river of rivers in which the fish of fish abound. To paddle down it would take, even the god of rivers many days, and its shores are cut with a hundred places to hide.  On this river of rivers a storm lasts for nine days, and fish are so big, one can feed a village.  But it is beautiful. It is so beautiful that if you are good and make your arrows straight and tend the yams, you may one day see it.  I have never seen it, but it's down there and maybe you will be the fortunate one."


The Chesapeake! The name was familiar to all children, for on this great water strange things occurred.  This was the magical place where the waters became even wider than those of the Susquehanna, where storms of enormous magnitude churned up waves of frightening power.  This was the river of rivers, where the fish wore precious shells.

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