This eddy carried me about a league on my way back again, directly towards the island, but about two leagues more to the northward than the current which carried me away at first; so that when I came near the island, I found myself open to the northern shore of it, that is to say, the other end of the island, opposite to that which I went out from.
About four o'clock in the evening, being then within a league of the island, I found the point of the rocks which occasioned this disaster stretching out, as is described before, to the southward, and casting off the current more southerly, had, of course, made another eddy to the north; and this I found very strong, but not directly setting the way my course lay, which was due west, but almost full north.
As to the east side of the island, which I had gone round, I knew well enough there was no venturing that way; my very heart would shrink, and my very blood run chill, but to think of it; and as to the other side of the island, I did not know how it might be there; but supposing the current ran with the same force against the shore at the east as it passed by it on the other, I might run the same risk of being driven down the stream, and carried by the island, as I had been before of being carried away from it: so with these thoughts, I contented myself to be without any boat, though it had been the product of so many months' labour to make it, and of so many more to get it into the sea.
This cursed current plays the devil with a navigator.
This very current was partly responsible for that name.
Once more the trick river reversed its current, but this time the Scarecrow was on guard and used the pole to push the raft toward a big rock which lay in the water.
After passing the wall of water the current did not change or flow backward any more but continued to sweep them steadily forward.
I could not imagine what might cause this strong lateral flow, for the main channel of the river was plainly visible to me from where I sat, and I could see the rippling junction of it and the mysterious current
which had aroused my curiosity.
This is one of the characteristics of the middle and lower part of the Missouri; but still more so of the Mississippi, whose rapid current
traverses a succession of latitudes so as in a few days to float the voyager almost from the frozen regions to the tropics.
The current continued to be strong; but it was steady, and though they met with frequent rapids, none of them were bad.
Crooks and one of his companions were thrown amidst roaring breakers and a whirling current, but succeeded, by strong swimming, to reach the shore.
My first attempt satisfied me that there was no reasonable hope, burdened as I now was, of breasting the strong current
running toward the mid-river from either bank.