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A flooding Mississippi River takes a teenage orphan boy to the edge of death. Saved by a smalltown preacher, he learns about friendship, work, responsibility, and the Bible. Given an unusual name at birth, DORKY WALKER yearns to have a father, someone to call “Dad,” and is doing his best to help and please the preacher, but is defensive and suspicious of those he believes will make fun of his name. He has become reliant upon his “Light” that helps lead and direct him. The Light shines in the darkness of his closed eyes, blinking off and on to answer Dorky’s questions. It is God within him, the Holy Spirit. He rejects it when he thinks it has let him down by giving injurious counsel, causing the preacher’s old church to crumble and slide into the swamp. In anger and frustration, he runs away from the preacher’s home. Drugged and sold to an angry and abusive riverboat captain, Dorky works hard to do his best. For three years, his life on the river and his relationship with the captain improve--so much that Dorky begins to think of him as a father. But then the captain dies, the boat is wrecked, and his life changes forever.

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