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Sixteen-year-old Titus Bass fears one fate more than any other: never to experience the great wilderness or the wildness inside himself. So late one night he snatches a squirrel gun and a handful of biscuits, flees into the woods, and doesnt look back. From Louisville past the Chickasaw bluffs and the Natchez Trace all the way to New Orleans, he plunges into the rough-and-tumble life along the banks of the Mississippi: a volatile, violent country of boatmen and river bandits, knife fights and Indian raids, strong liquor and stronger women. Yet beyond the great river stretches the vast, unexplored expanse of the Great Plains. And it is here that young Titus will seek his future, and risk everything to seize it.