George Ritchie: Bixby and Ealer now, midnight's as good as daylight for them. If they ain't got a moon to steer by, they use lightnin' bugs.
Bixby: There she is, boy, the Mississippi, 1200 miles of her, and the whole way is paving stones with the bones of dead steamboats and the reputations of dunderhead pilots!
Sam: Beauty's fine, Mr. Ealer, I'm all for it. But it just seems to me there's a mighty high discount on it along the Mississippi River.
Ealer: Not a pilot going, boy, hasn't pondered all that, and doesn't sometimes wonder whether he's gained most or lost most by learning this trade.
Bixby: When I was a boy, my comrades and I had one permanent ambition - to be a steamboat man. Boy after boy managed to get on the river. By and by I ran away too. Said I could never come home until I was a pilot and come home in glory. I tell you, I love this profession. I take a measureless pride in it. The pilot on a steamboat is the only unfettered, entirely independent human being to walk the face of the earth. She cuts her own course, too, the river. There's a glory to her. She'll take a man any place a man ought to go. She'll kill you, too, if you give her half a chance. I mean to die at the wheel of a steamboat.