Free Air (Chapter 1, page 1 of 6)

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Chapter 1

When the windshield was closed it became so filmed with rain that Claire
fancied she was piloting a drowned car in dim spaces under the sea. When
it was open, drops jabbed into her eyes and chilled her cheeks. She was
excited and thoroughly miserable. She realized that these Minnesota
country roads had no respect for her polite experience on Long Island
parkways. She felt like a woman, not like a driver.

But the Gomez-Dep roadster had seventy horsepower, and sang songs. Since
she had left Minneapolis nothing had passed her. Back yonder a truck had
tried to crowd her, and she had dropped into a ditch, climbed a bank,
returned to the road, and after that the truck was not. Now she was
regarding a view more splendid than mountains above a garden by the
sea--a stretch of good road. To her passenger, her father, Claire
chanted: "Heavenly! There's some gravel. We can make time. We'll hustle on to the
next town and get dry."

"Yes. But don't mind me. You're doing very well," her father sighed.

Instantly, the dismay of it rushing at her, she saw the end of the patch
of gravel. The road ahead was a wet black smear, criss-crossed with
ruts. The car shot into a morass of prairie gumbo--which is mud mixed
with tar, fly-paper, fish glue, and well-chewed, chocolate-covered
caramels. When cattle get into gumbo, the farmers send for the
stump-dynamite and try blasting.

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