Ambry Silverstrings and Walkin’ Pete
by Dana Beehr
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3 4, 5, 6
’Twere nigh on a week afore she came upon Walkin’ Pete, still hustling through the bushes and thickets on the river-bank, covered with brambles, and downright miserable. She drew her canoe up on the bank, and jumped out like her feet were afire and her hinder were catching, so eager were she to tell him what she had learned.
Walkin’ Pete was glad to see her too, as his shoes were all getting into holes by now and his feet were mighty sore. But when she spilled all the Witch had told her, she were right consternated at Pete’s reaction.
“Well, I thank you surely from the bottom o’ my heart for goin’ to see the Witch just on my account,” Pete sighed, hustling along with Ambry, who was trying her best to keep up. “But I don’t believe it.”
“What!?” Ambry cried, comically affronted. She did her best to draw herself up to her full height, though it were none too impressive. “Are you callin’ me a liar?” And here she glowered at him as ornery as a thunderhead, for to call someone a liar was a dear affront on the River, always had been and most like always would be.
“I say, are you challengin’ the veracity and truthiness o’ my statements, Mister Pete?” and even as she said that she were all making ready to fight him. And as Ambry always said, she could whip her weight in wildcats, as well as anyone else who said she couldn’t.
But Walkin’ Pete gloomily shook his head. “Oh, no, Miss Ambry, I do believe you’re tellin’ me true as far as what the Witch said, but I just don’t believe the Witch told you the truth. No,” he sighed, “she done put this curse on me, an’ I guess I’m just doomed to walk till I dies.” An’ he continued hustling right along, crashing an’ smashing his way through the bushes and brambles, all with a gloomy, hang-dog look on his face.
Well, Ambry tried and tried to talk Walkin’ Pete out o’ his belief that this curse had been laid on him, but ’twere all to no avail. The more she talked, the more he insisted that there truly was a curse on him, until finally Ambry got so exasperated that she threw up her hands and said, “Well, then, if you’re so all-durned determined to be cursed, then I guess you just downright are cursed!”
“Well, that’s what I’ve been a-tryin’ to tell you, don’t you see?” Walkin’ Pete said back, panting as he scrambled through some cane bracken. “If’n I weren’t cursed, why would I be walkin’ like this?”
“Well, then, be miserable, if you’ve a mind to!” Ambry hollered “It’s all one to me whether ya think yer cursed and go crashin’ along this bank f’rever or don’t!”
And so saying, she stomped off, having learned herself a sorry lesson: that not even a kicking mule is as stubborn as a man or woman who’s dead set on believing somethin’.
* * *
As for Walkin’ Pete, well, he never did stop walking, so they say; he went a-tearin’ and a-swearin’ his way up and down the banks o’ the Great Serpent for years and years and years until he died.
Some have said that if you’re out on a moonlit night on the banks of the river, and you hear a rattling sound, well, you better look sharp, because it’s Walkin’ Pete’s bones, still walking up and down the river to this very day.
Others have reported seeing a glowing light and, when they draw near, turns out it’s a man in raggedy clothes, holding a lantern and tearing hell-for-leather up and down the banks of the river. But that last sounds like nonsense to me, for I have never heard that Walkin’ Pete had a lantern in all my days. It’s plumb ridiculous what some folks will believe.
As for the Witch of the Blue Bayou, that wasn’t the last time Ambry and she had a run-in. Ambry got in the habit of visiting her from time to time, lookin for spells and potions and charms; and, once or twice, the Witch helped Ambry with problems against her brother the Gator King, for they never did get along; you know how siblings are, I’m sure.
In fact, the two of them almost got to be right friendly-like, and the Witch wouldn’t threaten to eat Ambry any more’n once a fortnight or so, which were real good for one of her ilk; if you’d known a gator, you’d know they aren’t lizards so much as giant eating machines.
’Twas the Witch came to Ambry’s rescue, in fact, that once when the Gator King started rearing up from down in the River Mouth, raising an army of gators to take over the entire River Valley, so’s that Ambry decided to put a stop to it...
But that is another story.
Copyright © 2017 by Dana Beehr