Riverboat Cruise, Part One: Merrily Down the Stream

river one

Sadie Lynn, the black Scottish terrier, was taking a lovely paddlewheel ferry cruise with her friends, a pair of rats named Miss Blatz and Sam. Miss Blatz was a lovely plump albino lady-rat, while the tomboyish black-and-white young Sam was her adopted ward. The air was warm with a light breeze that carried the lightly salty, pleasant scent of the Savannah River delicately past their sensitive noses. It mixed with the smell of the lovely brunch that was to be served onboard soon, creating an aroma both relaxing and appetizing. Miss Blatz and Sadie Lynn lounged on deck together watching the sights of coastal Georgia go slowly by, while Sam entertained herself by exploring the ship, climbing all over it inside and out. She was doing quite a lot of things and going lots of places that she wasn’t allowed, but nobody noticed due to her small size and nimble movements. Miss Blatz didn’t normally like having Sam out of her sight (well, not “sight” literally, as Miss Blatz was blind) but Sadie Lynn had convinced her to take it easy for once. What else is a cruise for?

“Well, fancy seeing you here, toots. Still hanging around with the hound, eh?”

Miss Blatz, who had dozed off, opened her eyes behind her protective sunglasses (light was hard on albinos like her) to see Jenner, the pugilistic grey rat she had met at a garden party recently, along with his portly brown brother Justin, who was nibbling on a sausage biscuit.

“Hello, Jenner, Justin,” said Sadie Lynn, and Miss Blatz likewise greeted them politely. They’d tried to work with Jenner on his rudeness before, but it looked like their good influence on him might have worn off.

“I didn’t know brunch had started already,” Miss Blatz said, getting a whiff of the sausage biscuit. “Did we miss it?”

“Swiped it from the kitchen,” said Justin proudly around a mouthful of crumbs, many of which caught in his whiskers.

“When it does start, I’ll be happy to escort ya, Miss Blatz,” Jenner said. It sounded more like a statement than an offer.

“Thank you,” said Miss Blatz delicately, “but I have my ward to look after.”

“What, the runt rat? You brought her too?” Jenner looked around, but he did not see Sam.

At that moment, the ferry lurched to a stop, sloshing water up on the deck and tumbling all the pets to their sides. Sadie Lynn grabbed Miss Blatz gently in her mouth so the little rat wouldn’t get splashed, knowing how Miss Blatz prided herself on cleanliness and how much it would upset her if the Migrubbie and Tabby she was wearing got wet. This prompted Jenner to try and hurl himself on Sadie Lynn in attack, but he was held back by Justin, whose hands were now free since he’d accidentally dropped his biscuit.

“You guys!” A familiar voice exclaimed. Sam had just scurried on to the deck. “You guys, there’s trouble! Something’s stuck in the paddle-wheel! The ferry can’t move!”

(End of Part 1)

Story and illustration by Mary Grace Mauney