How to take life.—Take it just as though it was—as it is—an earnest, vital, and important affair. Take it as though you were born to the task of performing a merry part in it—as though the world had awaited for your coming. Take it as though it was a grand opportunity to do and achieve, to carry forward great and good schemes to help and cheer a suffering, weary, it may be heartbroken, brother. Now and then a man stands aside from the crowd, labors earnestly, steadfastly, confidently, and straightway becomes famous for wisdom, intellect, skill, greatness of some sort. The world wonders, admires, idolizes, and it only illustrates what others may do if they take hold of life with a purpose. The miracle, or the power that elevates the few, is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the promptings of a brave, determined spirit.
Bixby and Clemens were together that winter on the “Child,” and were the closest friends. Once the young pilot invited his mother to make the trip to New Orleans, and the river journey and a long drive about the beautiful Southern city filled Jane Clemens with wonder and delight. She no longer shad any doubts of Sam. He had long since become the head of the family. She felt called upon to lecture him, now and then, but down in her heart she believed that he could really do no wrong. They joked each other unmercifully, and her wit, never at a loss, was quite as keen as his.
THE END OF PILOTING
When one remembers how much Samuel Clemens loved the river, and how perfectly he seemed suited to the ease and romance of the pilot-life, one is almost tempted to regret that it should so soon have come to an end.
Those trips of early ’61, which the old note-book records, were the last he would ever make. The golden days of Mississippi steam-boating were growing few.
Nobody, however, seemed to suspect it. Even a celebrated fortune-teller in New Orleans, whom the young pilot one day consulted as to his future, did not mention the great upheaval then close at hand. She told him quite remarkable things, and gave him some excellent advice, but though this was February, 1861, she failed to make any mention of the Civil War! Yet, a month later, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated and trouble was in the air. Then in April Fort Sumter was fired upon and the war had come.
It was a feverish time among the pilots. Some were for the Union—others would go with the Confederacy. Horace Bixby stood for the North, and in time was chief of the Union river-service. A pilot named Montgomery (Clemens had once steered for him) went with the South and by and by commanded the Confederate Mississippi fleet. In the beginning a good many were not clear as to their opinions. Living both North and South, as they did, they divided their sympathies. Samuel Clemens was thoughtful, and far from bloodthirsty. A pilothouse, so fine and showy in times of peace, seemed a poor place to be in when fighting was going on. He would consider the matter.