The Quinetiket River Brewe


The Quinetiket River Brewe

A drop of brandy, to keep up the spirits
A goodly glass of cider, dark
A seaman’s tot of dark Caribbean rum
A shot of Muskovi bread wine, not for the drink, just to keep yerself alive

I gazed across the barren plains of Siberia as I buried my frostbitten fists in the main of my shabby horse. I turned around in my saddle to see the Ural Mountains behind me, the setting sun illuminating the peaks like facets of a crown. Taking a shot of bread wine, Vodka as they call it now, I yearned for the camp ahead.

My thoughts began to wander, and I fell into a deep nightmarish sleep. The sea jolted me awake and the Marine Sergeant threw me out of my hammock. As I stood for watch, I grabbed my oilcloth sack. On the deck of the HMS Discovery, I looked out over the Pacific, sometimes so pristine, but now wrought with spray and ablaze with St. Elmo’s Fire. We were bound for a Northwest Passage…. Now that I think back on it, why in G-d’s name were we in the South Pacific if we were settin’ for New Found Land? Well, the Corporal brought round my tot of rum, and I was about to drink it. I then thought of my satchel, and wrested from it the measly contents: about a glass of cider from the orchard back home, still in its green glass onion. I poured my rum into it and drunk the mixture, and all grew quiet.

Soon I was back on the Quinetiket River, bound for the farm of my father’s father. In my canoe, I downed the last drops of brandy in my flask, my heart pounding with joy at the beauty that surrounded me. I looked at the glistening water, and I recalled my recent stint at Dartmouth College. Now that I have lived – I mean really lived – I think I can say that those first months at Dartmouth were the best of my life. Swimming on the banks of that Great River, the glint of liquor in my youthful eye, I really had it.

As I awoke once more on that wind-swept Siberia plain, I just had one wish: that years, maybe hundreds of years after I am gone from this Earth, drunk Dartmouth students will swim naked from docks named in my honor and then sprint across a bridge similarly named.

By John Ledyard