'"Got twenty-eight tons of wheat, cap'n - be great favor if you can take
'Captain says -
'"'ll take two of them" - and don't even condescend to look at him.
'But nowadays the captain takes off his old slouch, and smiles all the
way around to the back of his ears, and gets off a bow which he hasn't
got any ramrod to interfere with, and says -
'"Glad to see you, Smith, glad to see you - you're looking well - haven't
seen you looking so well for years - what you got for us?"
'"Nuth'n", says Smith; and keeps his hat on, and just turns his back and
goes to talking with somebody else.
'Oh, yes, eight years ago, the captain was on top; but it's Smith's turn
now. Eight years ago a boat used to go up the river with every stateroom
full, and people piled five and six deep on the cabin floor; and a solid
deck-load of immigrants and harvesters down below, into the bargain. To
get a first-class stateroom, you'd got to prove sixteen quarterings of
nobility and four hundred years of descent, or be personally acquainted
with the nigger that blacked the captain's boots. But it's all changed
now; plenty staterooms above, no harvesters below - there's a patent
self-binder now, and they don't have harvesters any more; they've gone
where the woodbine twineth - and they didn't go by steamboat, either;
went by the train.'
Up in this region we met massed acres of lumber rafts coming down - but
not floating leisurely along, in the old-fashioned way, manned with
joyous and reckless crews of fiddling, song-singing, whiskey-drinking,
breakdown-dancing rapscallions; no, the whole thing was shoved swiftly
along by a powerful stern-wheeler, modern fashion, and the small crews
were quiet, orderly men, of a sedate business aspect, with not a
suggestion of romance about them anywhere.