The Daughter of a Magnate (Chapter 1, page 2 of 12)


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Chapter 1

Beyond the curve they were taking lay a long tangent stretching like a
steel wand across a sea of yellow, and as their engine felt its way
very gingerly out upon it there rose from the slow-moving trucks of
their car the softened resonance that tells of a sounding-board of
waters.

Soon they were drawn among wooded knolls between which hurried little
rivers tossed out of the Spider flood into dry waterways and brawling
with surprised stones and foaming noisily at stubborn root and
impassive culvert. Through the trees the travellers caught passing
glimpses of shaded eddies and a wilderness of placid pools. "And
this," murmured Gertrude Brock to her sister Marie, "this is the
Spider!" O'Brien, talking to the men at her elbow, overheard.
"Hardly, Miss Brock; not yet. You haven't seen the river yet. This is
only the backwater."

They were rising the grade to the bridge approach, and when they
emerged a few moments later from the woods the conductor said, "There!"

The panorama of the valley lay before them. High above their level and
a mile away, the long thread-like spans of Hailey's great bridge
stretched from pier to pier. To the right of the higher ground a fan
of sidetracks spread, with lines of flat cars and gondolas loaded with
stone, brush, piling and timbers, and in the foreground two hulking
pile-drivers, their leads, like rabbits' ears laid sleekly back,
squatted mysteriously. Switch engines puffed impatiently up and down
the ladder track shifting stuff to the distant spurs. At the river
front an army of men moved like loaded ants over the dikes. Beyond
them the eye could mark the boiling yellow of the Spider, its winding
channel marked through the waste of waters by whirling driftwood,
bobbing wreckage and plunging trees--sweepings of a thousand angry
miles. "There's the Spider," repeated the West End conductor,
pointing, "out there in the middle where you see things moving right
along. That's the Spider, on a twenty-year rampage." The train,
moving slowly, stopped. "I guess we've got as close to it as we're
going to, for a while. I'll take a look forward."

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