“How on earth did even someone that skinny manage to stowaway on your ship? I thought it was packed plumb full to bustin’” asked Lurleen.
“His name is Ole Toby and he isn’t exactly a stowaway. More like a bit of extra cargo. And he’s makin’ the captain cranky.”
“Well, now, we can’t have that now!” smiled Lurleen. “But what am I goin’ to do with him?”
“Find some chores for him to do. He can run errands or something. He’s real good at sneakin’ about.”
“Humph!” Guess I just can’t resist that now can I? You take care, love, and take care of that captain of yours and your other crew mates. Don’t be a stranger now!”
Lurleen hugged Kennia tightly. “Jus’ send that Toby fella back for more supplies after he takes these to the ship. I’ll set him straight for ya!”
When she returned to the airship Kennia put away the supplies, humming to herself all the while. She thought to herself how glad she was to have even a small bit of additional space in the crowded storage bay. The interior of the Sandflea contained just enough space but no extra. Indeed every item that could do double duty did so and the space was used to its maximum capacity. “Nice to create a bit of order,” she reflected as she shifted about the dry goods. “What a shame that Josie wasn’t about. That lad was already a good hunter at fourteen years of age and would no doubt be even better by the time he became an adult.”
“I hear someone singin’ now.” chuckled Captain Willie. “Got our supplies and such stashed away yet?”
“Everything but one,” Kennia grinned.
“Our extra passenger. You know, the man who ate up more than his own weight in food. I sent him back to Lurleen and she’s gonna put him to work.”
“He’s gone?” Captain Willie brightened considerably. “Well, that just makes my day! Any juicy gossip in town?”
“Lots,” laughed Kennia, “but not the sort you would be interested in. Been pretty quiet ‘round here from what I hear. Miss Lurleen’s man sits on the local tribal council so he would know if something was in the works.”
“Or the Catawbas are just keeping a lid on it?” asked the captain.
“No, sir, Lurleen and I go back a long ways and she couldn’t hide something from me even if she was to try.”
“If you say so then.”
“Well I do. And while I was shopping, I made sure to buy some of those salt pickles we all like so much!”
Meanwhile, back at the Catawba Trading Post: “Whadda I do now? And I don’t know no one who lives ‘round here,” groused Toby.
Miss Lurleen smiled. “Oh, I got a whole big ole load of wood just waitin’ to be chopped. And with my man and boy out hunting, there’s been a shortage of hands here to do chores.” Her smile widened to a grin.