"Once a pretty mean captain caught sight of Stephen in New Orleans out of work and as usual out of money. He laid steady siege to Stephen, who was in a very 'close place,' and finally persuaded him to hire with him at one hundred and twenty-five dollars per month, just half wages, the captain agreeing not to divulge the secret and so bring down the contempt of all the guild upon the poor fellow. But the boat was not more than a day out of New Orleans before Stephen discovered that the captain was boasting of his exploit and that all the officers had been told. Stephen winced, but said nothing. About the middle of the afternoon the captain stepped out on the hurricane deck, cast his eye around, and looked a good deal surprised. He glanced inquiringly aloft at Stephen, but Stephen was whistling placidly , and attending to business.
The captain stood around awhile in evident discomfort, and once or twice seemed about to make a suggestion; but the etiquette of the river taught him to avoid that sort of rashness, and so he managed to hold his peace. He chafed and puzzled a few minutes longer, then retired to his apartments. But soon he was out again, and apparently more perplexed than ever. Presently he ventured to remark, with deference,--
" 'Pretty good stage of the river now, ain't it, sir?'
" 'Well, I should say so! Bank-full is a pretty liberal stage.'
" 'Seems to be a good deal of current here.'
" 'Good deal don't describe it! It's worse than a millrace.'
" 'Is n't it easier in toward shore than it is out here in the middle?'
" 'Yes, I reckon it is; but body can't be too careful with a...