Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/20

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CHAPTER TWO - THE CHILDREN

We pick up again a few years later with Robert Lee as a Captain, engineering in St. Louis, State of Missouri, the operations that were to regulate the course of the Mississippi.

This beautiful river, 6,000 kilometers long [1] crosses the whole territory of the Union and serves as principal commercial route between 10 states.[2] It is stupendously wide, sprinkled with islands, cut with rapids, irregular in its flow. It presents great difficulties to navigation.

Upstream from St. Louis, which was in old days, one of France's most important settlements, the Mississippi threatened to leave its bed and furrow another one. It would then have gone so far from the city that the latter would have lost all its commercial importance. Long and skillful works constrained the river to remain between its ancient banks, saved the city from ruin, and acquired for Captain Lee the reputation of a first-class engineer.

But, if work took so large a share of the young man's life, it did not absorb it entirely. Arlington received as frequent visits as the long distances permitted, and during the separations, the most tender concern never ceased to keep

a watchful eye on a distant family.


  1. Including the Missouri.
  2. Written in 1875.