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-
'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.