Friday, October 23, 2015

Who was Johnnie Gill? Chapter 7

By Victor Sullivan  © 2015     Towing Along

During the following weeks Johnnie made several changes to Eureka. He moved the front axle further forward. He made a pocket of coarse sacking that he attached to the deck to create a convenient, rapid access pouch for holding the neatly coiled rope, Belle. Several holes had been drilled in the Deck, one for obvious personal use, some others for purposes obscure. A sloping piece of wood was added to support his chest and raise his shoulders so that he could improve the rhythmic over-arm operation of his Horses. Provided the spikes of the Horses could find a firm purchase in the ground, he could travel faster than normal walking pace; Susan had to run hard in order to win when they had an impromptu race on a level lane. Downhill, Johnnie on Eureka won almost every time.

The innovative ways the boy made use of his multipurpose rope, Belle, was a constant source of surprises. One of his stunts involved throwing Belle over a convenient branch of a tree and climbing the double rope with his powerful arms and hands until he could see the ships in the harbour from a much higher vantage point than anyone else.  
He also began to request a tow from the drivers of passing horse-carts.  Johnnie considered that, rather than be pulled by a rope fixed to a moving horse-cart at floor level, it would be wiser and safer to use Belle as a doubled tow-rope, passed around the axle of the cart. Then, by simply releasing one end of the double rope, he could stop whenever he wanted without interrupting the towing horse or its driver. The technique also meant that the owner of the cart need never know of the presence of the strange stowaway if he kept Eureka beneath the cart, close to the axle. He perfected the technique on the family horse-cart until it worked well. 
Such a traveling position behind a horse had its down-side; he would have to be constantly on the lookout for the hazard of the rising tail. To avoid any unpleasantness, he would just pay out a few yards of Belle, then pull back to near-axle position once more after the conclusion of the equine performance.

The world was beginning to open up to Eureka, Belle and Johnnie Gill.

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