I went down yesterday to the River. I was walking along the park where today the barge will be landing after the ritual marriage of the King and Maid of Cotton. They had put on this festival for a hundred years at least, and indeed, the cotton cooperates most every year, and the people prosper. The quiet of the park gave little indication of the throngs that would soon fill the banks in drunken revelry. But the workers were still constructing the platform for the orchestra, and cleaning the cannon in Confederate Park for the noisy part in the 1812 Overture.

Feeling a distance from the place and time, I had been pondering the ideal eternal history, the course that the nations run, as committed to paper in the old Italian’s big book about a new science. The day was cool and comfortable for May, and portended a not unremarkable charm, something like an augury. The Old Man was relaxing on a bench with the sun to his back and the River before him. I watched as his eyes followed a sizable branch floating gracefully downstream, but then I noticed that he looked out across the River to the west, with penetrating, deep-set eyes that seemed to see past all of Arkansas and Oklahoma and the high plains, until one would almost have believed that he could, somehow, from that vantage see the Great Divide itself, or beyond. I was intrigued, but not quite emboldened enough to ask after his vision.

“May I sit?” I asked…

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