As you guessed correctly , Sid decided to use the power of the quick and smooth flowing river to bring fruit to the town. Fresh oranges and apples grew beyond the brown hills to the east in orchards near the big city.
He imagined he would load the fruit onto a boat or a barge and steer it to the little unused wharf north of his town. Moving apples from the wharf to the market in town would take only an hour by carts.
Sid’s friend Aron bought an old boat that was just right for the job and got it repaired. Sid made a deal for a ton of fruit and arranged to get it loaded onto the boat and soon they should head downriver with their precious cargo.
By the time they finished with their business in the eastern big city, loaded the boat with the fruit and started back, it had gotten dark. A gentle breeze blew from the hills, Sid and Aron were tired but happy as they allowed the boat to go downstream with the flow. Each had a long paddle to help them steer as well as to keep away from any obstacles; not that there appeared to be many. They sang as they watched the water take the boat along almost effortlessly.
“What time do you suppose we’ll reach town?”, Aron asked.
“Three more hours I guess, maximum four.” This was the first time they were going by boat, but Sid knew it had to be shorter than the winding land route, which used to take nearly nine hours. Water would take the best path down.
They would never know whether they had drifted off to sleep, both of them, when there was a sharp lurch and the boat turned around slightly so that the part of the port side was facing the water running down while the front or the bow rested on a grassy bar. It was quite dark and they hadn’t seen the ground ahead before running into it.
Quickly both friends dragged the boxes of fruit away from the grounded side of the boat. They checked to make sure they were not taking water. Then Sid leaped over the gunwale into the shallows to attempt to push the boat off the sand bar. The boat didn’t budge.
Aron pushed a paddle into the ground as Sid pushed the boat with his hands into deeper water. It moved ever so slightly.
Upriver, something was waiting quietly. At least Sid could feel something even as he used all his strength to push the boat away, as Aron used the paddle, both shouting as they worked. Then the boat shifted. It was quickly moving into the fast flowing river.
Sid tried to hold onto the side and as his left arm slipped off the fast moving boat, he felt Aron grab him. As Sid pulled himself into the boat, Aron pointed down in the water where Sid had been a moment ago. There was a crocodile in the water.
Just the top part of the crocodile was visible. It was a big one too, not that they had seen any before. Sid had only heard people talk of crocodiles and other wild beasts when they wanted to prevent their children going near the river. He hadn’t believed any of it before now.
They couldn’t afford to relax their vigil now before they reached the town. Each with a paddle, they stood near the bow to keep away from ground.
To be continued…