You Understand, It Was Turned Around.
I Had Seen It When Coming Up-Stream, But I Had Never Faced About To See
How It Looked When It Was Behind Me.
My heart broke again, for it was
plain that I had got to learn this troublesome river BOTH WAYS.
The pilot-house was full of pilots, going down to 'look at the river.'
What is called the 'upper river' (the two hundred miles between St.
Louis and Cairo, where the Ohio comes in) was low; and the Mississippi
changes its channel so constantly that the pilots used to always find it
necessary to run down to Cairo to take a fresh look, when their boats
were to lie in port a week; that is, when the water was at a low stage.
A deal of this 'looking at the river' was done by poor fellows who
seldom had a berth, and whose only hope of getting one lay in their
being always freshly posted and therefore ready to drop into the shoes
of some reputable pilot, for a single trip, on account of such pilot's
sudden illness, or some other necessity. And a good many of them
constantly ran up and down inspecting the river, not because they ever
really hoped to get a berth, but because (they being guests of the boat)
it was cheaper to 'look at the river' than stay ashore and pay board. In
time these fellows grew dainty in their tastes, and only infested boats
that had an established reputation for setting good tables.
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