The boys spent a good deal of their leisure with the other pilot, George Ealer, who "was as kindhearted as Brown wasn't," and quoted Shakespeare and Goldsmith, and played the flute to his fascinated and inspiring audience. These were things worth while. The young steersman could not guess that the shadow of a long sorrow was even then stretching across the path ahead.
Yet in due time he received a warning, a remarkable and impressive warning, though of a kind seldom heeded. One night, when the Pennsylvania lay in St. Louis, he slept at his sister's house and had this vivid dream:
He saw Henry, a corpse, lying in a metallic burial case in the sitting- room, supported on two chairs. On his breast lay a bouquet of flowers, white, with a single crimson bloom in the center.
When he awoke, it was morning, but the dream was so vivid that he believed it real. Perhaps something of the old hypnotic condition was upon him, for he rose and dressed, thinking he would go in and look at his dead brother. Instead, he went out on the street in the early morning and had walked to the middle of the block before it suddenly flashed upon him that it was only a dream. He bounded back, rushed to the sitting-room, and felt a great trembling revulsion of joy when he found it really empty. He told Pamela the dream, then put it out of his mind as quickly as he could. The Pennsylvania sailed from St. Louis as usual, and made a safe trip to New Orleans.
A safe trip, but an eventful one; on it occurred that last interview with Brown, already mentioned. It is recorded in the Mississippi book, but cannot be omitted here. Somewhere down the river (it was in Eagle Bend) Henry appeared on the hurricane deck to bring an order from the captain for a landing to be made a little lower down. Brown was somewhat deaf, but would never confess it. He may not have understood the order; at all events he gave no sign of having heard it, and went straight ahead. He disliked Henry as he disliked everybody of finer grain than himself, and in any case was too arrogant to ask for a repetition. They were passing the landing when Captain Klinefelter appeared on deck and called to him to let the boat come around, adding:
"Didn't Henry tell you to land here?"
Captain. Klinefelter turned to Sam:
"Didn't you hear him?"
Brown said: "Shut your mouth! You never heard anything of the kind."
By and by Henry came into the pilot-house, unaware of any trouble. Brown set upon him in his ugliest manner.
"Here, why didn't you tell me we had got to land at that plantation?" he demanded.
Henry was always polite, always gentle.
"I did tell you, Mr. Brown."
"It's a lie."
Sam Clemens could stand Brown's abuse of himself, but not of Henry. He said: "You lie yourself. He did tell you."
Brown was dazed for a moment and then he shouted:
"I'll attend to your case in half a minute!" and ordered Henry out of the pilot-house.
The boy had started, when Brown suddenly seized him by the collar and struck him in the face.--[In the Mississippi book the writer states that Brown started to strike Henry with a large piece of coal; but, in a letter written soon after the occurrence to Mrs. Orion Clemens, he says: "Henry started out of the pilot-house-Brown jumped up and collared him-- turned him half-way around and struck him in the face!-and him nearly six feet high-struck my little brother. I was wild from that moment. I left the boat to steer herself, and avenged the insult--and the captain said I was right."]--Instantly Sam was upon Brown, with a heavy stool, and stretched him on the floor. Then all the bitterness and indignation that had been smoldering for months flamed up, and, leaping upon Brown and holding him with his knees, he pounded him with his fists until strength and fury gave out. Brown struggled free, then, and with pilot instinct sprang to the wheel, for the vessel had been drifting and might have got into trouble. Seeing there was no further danger, he seized a spy-glass as a weapon.