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THE RIVERBOAT PILOT
The riverboat pilot was a man considered omnipotent by all.
Mark Twain once held that high position.
He writes that he felt at the zenith of his life at that time.
Starting out as a fledgling pilot’s apprentice, he could not abjure dreams of the time he would become, “the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth.”
Kings, parliaments, and newspaper editors, Twain comments, are hampered and restricted.
The river pilot issued peremptory commands as absolute monarch. The captain was powerless to interfere.
Even though the pilot was much younger than the captain, and the steamer seemed to be in imminent danger, the older man was helpless.
The captain had to behave impeccably, for any criticism of the pilot would establish a pernicious precedent that would have undermined the pilot’s limitless authority.