Life On The Mississippi By Mark Twain




















































































































































 -  You would be fifty yards from shore all the time
when you ought to be within fifty feet of it - Page 70
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You Would Be Fifty Yards From Shore All The Time When You Ought To Be Within Fifty Feet Of It.

You can't see a snag in one of those shadows, but you know exactly where it is, and the shape of the river tells you when you are coming to it.

Then there's your pitch- dark night; the river is a very different shape on a pitch-dark night from what it is on a starlight night. All shores seem to be straight lines, then, and mighty dim ones, too; and you'd RUN them for straight lines only you know better. You boldly drive your boat right into what seems to be a solid, straight wall (you knowing very well that in reality there is a curve there), and that wall falls back and makes way for you. Then there's your gray mist. You take a night when there's one of these grisly, drizzly, gray mists, and then there isn't any particular shape to a shore. A gray mist would tangle the head of the oldest man that ever lived. Well, then, different kinds of MOONLIGHT change the shape of the river in different ways. You see - '

'Oh, don't say any more, please! Have I got to learn the shape of the river according to all these five hundred thousand different ways? If I tried to carry all that cargo in my head it would make me stoop- shouldered.'

'NO! you only learn THE shape of the river, and you learn it with such absolute certainty that you can always steer by the shape that's IN YOUR HEAD, and never mind the one that's before your eyes.'

'Very well, I'll try it; but after I have learned it can I depend on it. Will it keep the same form and not go fooling around?'

Before Mr. Bixby could answer, Mr. W - - came in to take the watch, and he said -

'Bixby, you'll have to look out for President's Island and all that country clear away up above the Old Hen and Chickens.

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