The First Thing A Pilot Did When He Reached New Orleans Or St. Louis Was
To Take His Final And Elaborate Report To The Association Parlors And
Hang It Up There, - After Which He Was Free To Visit His Family.
parlors a crowd was always gathered together, discussing changes in the
channel, and the moment there was a fresh arrival, everybody stopped
talking till this witness had told the newest news and settled the
Other craftsmen can 'sink the shop,' sometimes, and
interest themselves in other matters. Not so with a pilot; he must
devote himself wholly to his profession and talk of nothing else; for it
would be small gain to be perfect one day and imperfect the next. He has
no time or words to waste if he would keep 'posted.'
But the outsiders had a hard time of it. No particular place to meet
and exchange information, no wharf-boat reports, none but chance and
unsatisfactory ways of getting news. The consequence was that a man
sometimes had to run five hundred miles of river on information that was
a week or ten days old. At a fair stage of the river that might have
answered; but when the dead low water came it was destructive.
Now came another perfectly logical result. The outsiders began to
ground steamboats, sink them, and get into all sorts of trouble, whereas
accidents seemed to keep entirely away from the association men.
Wherefore even the owners and captains of boats furnished exclusively
with outsiders, and previously considered to be wholly independent of
the association and free to comfort themselves with brag and laughter,
began to feel pretty uncomfortable.
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