"No," Charbonneau bellowed. Pierre closed his eyes, anticipating the shuddering crunch of a canoe shearing through their hull. When there was no impact, he opened his eyes just in time to see La Londe leap over the side. Still clinging to the gunwale, the bowman planted both feet on the slippery boulder, grabbed the projecting bow in his hands, and heaved upward.
As the front of the canoe came free, the fierce backpaddling of the middlemen finally took effect. The stern swung back just as McKay's canoe brushed past, cutting so close that it knocked a paddle out of one man's hand.
In that same instant La Londe lost his footing. Before anyone could extend a hand or even cry out, he was gone.
One moment he was there, and an instant later there was only the boulder and a white horsetail of water.
Pierre turned to Charbonneau and yelled, "A rope! Get a rope!" but everyone's eyes were already turned downstream, searching for a reason to hope.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Broken Blade by William Durbin. . Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.