The baking wind tore at his hat and he held it by the brim with one hand. It relieved him to look at it, for the great river was like a long tale, of both great joy and great woe. And it seemed to be a story road that a person could take, and it would take him to some place where he could free his mind. Men had striven against one another to control the unreeling river-road, battling at New Madrid and Island Number Ten, at Baton Rouge and Vicksburg, in the heat of the summer and the humid choking air of the malarial swamps. But the river carried away men and guns and the garbage of war, covering it over, washing itself clean again as if they had never been.