A-Rafting on the Mississip'

By Charles Edward Russell | Go to book overview

Chapter XIII
OTHER PHASES OF RAFTSMAN JIM

IF in the face of the fairly eloquent testimony of the foregoing examples I continue to maintain that my rascals of the raft had sometimes a redeeming substratum of sentiment and poetry under their rowdyism, I may be judged merely eccentric. Yet I have reasons. I knew the floating raftsmen. Not many men now alive had first-hand knowledge of them. Besides, there were raftsmen and raftsmen. As to which, perpend.

To impressionable minds, of all the singular, mysterious spells that pertained to the Mississippi River the strongest came about the windless and cloudless sunset of a summer day. I do not believe there are such sunsets elsewhere in northern latitudes, not even on the Bay of Naples. Their only peers within my knowledge have been in the South Seas. The mirror of the river held the sky’s burning and gorgeous colors, the unutterable bronzes and imperious reds, along with the Courbet green of the bluffs or of the willows on the tow heads; and there was an almost unearthly quiet abroad, a kind of competent and pervading self-sense of exaltation in so much beauty. The air was like glass; I could see a man in his shirt-sleeves leaning out of a window of Johnny Woods’s house, across the

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