Wildfire

Wildfire
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第55章

The roar of the river rose weird and mournful and incessant, with few breaks, and these were marked by strange ripping and splashing sounds made as the bulges of water broke on the surface.Twenty feet out the boat floated, turning a little as it drifted.It seemed loath to leave.It held on the shore eddy.Hungrily, spitefully the little, heavy waves lapped it.Bostil watched it with dilating eyes.There! the current caught one end and the water rose in a hollow splash over the corner.An invisible hand, like a mighty giant's, seemed to swing the boat out.It had been dark; now it was opaque, now shadowy, now dim.How swift this cursed river! Was there any way in which Bostil could recover his boat? The river answered him with hollow, deep mockery.Despair seized upon him.And the vague shape of the boat, spectral and instinct with meaning, passed from Bostil's strained gaze.

"So help me God, I've done it!" he groaned, hoarsely.And he staggered back and sat down.Mind and heart and soul were suddenly and exquisitely acute to the shame of his act.Remorse seized upon his vitals.He suffered physical agony, as if a wolf gnawed him internally.

"To hell with Creech an' his hosses, but where do I come in as a man?" he whispered.And he sat there, arms tight around his knees, locked both mentally and physically into inaction.

The rising water broke the spell and drove him back.The river was creeping no longer.It swelled.And the roar likewise swelled.Bostil hurried across the flat to get to the rocky trail before he was cut off, and the last few rods he waded in water up to his knees.

"I'll leave no trail there," he muttered, with a hard laugh.It sounded ghastly to him, like the laugh of the river.

And there at the foot of the rocky trail he halted to watch and listen.The old memorable boom came to his ears.The flood was coming.For twenty-three years he had heard the vanguard boom of the Colorado in flood.But never like this, for in the sound he heard the strife and passion of his blood, and realized himself a human counterpart of that remorseless river.The moments passed and each one saw a swelling of the volume of sound.The sullen roar just below him was gradually lost in a distant roar.A steady wind now blew through the canyon.The great walls seemed to gape wider to prepare for the torrent.Bostil backed slowly up the trail as foot by foot the water rose.The floor of the amphitheater was now a lake of choppy, angry waves.The willows bent and seethed in the edge of the current.Beyond ran an uneven, bulging mass that resembled some gray, heavy moving monster.In the gloom Bostil could see how the river turned a corner of wall and slanted away from it toward the center, where it rose higher.Black objects that must have been driftwood appeared on this crest.They showed an instant, then flashed out of sight.The boom grew steadier, closer, louder, and the reverberations, like low detonations of thunder, were less noticeable because all sounds were being swallowed up.

A harder breeze puffed into Bostil's face.It brought a tremendous thunder, as if all the colossal walls were falling in avalanche.Bostil knew the crest of the flood had turned the corner above and would soon reach him.He watched.He listened, but sound had ceased.His cars seemed ringing and they hurt.All his body felt cold, and he backed up and up, with dead feet.

The shadows of the canyon lightened.A river-wide froth, like a curtain, moved down, spreading mushroom-wise before it, a rolling, heaving maelstrom.Bostil ran to escape the great wave that surged into the amphitheater, up and up the rocky trail.When he turned again he seemed to look down into hell.Murky depths, streaked by pale gleams, and black, sinister, changing forms yawned beneath them.He watched with fixed eyes until once more the feeling of filled ears left him and an awful thundering boom assured him of actualities.It was only the Colorado in flood.

Sarah Micklem

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