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مجموعه: مجموعه خانه ی کوچک / کتاب: کناره های نهر آلو / فصل 14

مجموعه خانه ی کوچک

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SPRING FRESHET

In the middle of the night Laura sat straight up in bed. She had never heard anything like the roaring at the door.

“Pa! Pa, what’s that?” she screamed.

“Sounds like the creek,” he said, jumping out of bed. He opened the door, and the roaring came into the black darkness of the dugout. It scared Laura.

She heard Pa shouting, “Jiminy crickets! It’s raining fish-hooks and hammer handles!”

Ma said something that Laura could not hear.

“Can’t see a thing!” Pa shouted. “It’s dark as a stack of black cats! Don’t worry, the creek can’t get this high! It will go over the low bank on the other side!”

He shut the door and the roaring was not so loud.

“Go to sleep, Laura,” he said. But Laura lay awake, listening to that roaring thundering by the door.

Then she opened her eyes. The window was gray. Pa was gone, Ma was getting breakfast, but the creek was still roaring.

In a flash Laura was out of bed and opening the door. Whoosh! Icy cold rain went all over her and took her breath away. She jumped out, into cold water pouring down her whole skin. Right at her feet the creek was rushing and roaring.

The path ended where she was. Angry water was leaping and rolling over the steps that used to go down to the footbridge. The willow clumps were drowned and tree tops swirled in yellow foam. The noise crowded into Laura’s ears. She could not hear the rain. She felt it beating on her sopping-wet nightgown, she felt it striking her head as if she had no hair, but she heard only the creek’s wild roaring.

The fast, strong water was fearful and fasci-

nating. It snarled foaming through the willow tops and swirled far out on the prairie. It came dashing high and white around the bend upstream. It was always changing and always the same, strong and terrible.

Suddenly Ma jerked Laura into the dugout, asking her, “Didn’t you hear me call you?” “No, Ma,” Laura said.

“Well, no,” said Ma, “I suppose you didn’t.”

Water was streaming down Laura and making a puddle around her bare feet. Ma pulled off her sticking-wet nightgown and rubbed her hard all over with a towel.

“Now dress quickly,” Ma said, “or you’ll catch your death of cold.”

But Laura was glowing warm. She had never felt so fine and frisky. Mary said, “I’m surprised at you, Laura. I wouldn’t go out in the rain and get all wet like that.”

“Oh, Mary, you just ought to see the creek!” Laura cried, and she asked, “Ma, may I go out and see it again after breakfast?”

“You may not,” said Ma. “Not while it is raining.”

But while they were eating breakfast the rain stopped. The sun was shining, and Pa

said that Laura and Mary might go with him to look at the creek.

The air was fresh and clean and damp. It smelled like spring. The sky was blue, with large clouds sailing in it. All the snow was gone from the soaking-wet earth. Up on the high bank, Laura could still hear the creek roaring.

“This weather beats me,” said Pa. “I never saw anything like it.”

“Is it still grasshopper weather?” Laura asked him, but Pa did not know.

They went along the high bank, looking at the strange sights. The roaring, foaming creek changed everything. The plum thickets were only foamy brushwood in the water. The tableland was a round island. All around it the water flowed smoothly, coming out of a wide, humping river and running back into it. Where the swimming-pool had been, the tall willows were short willows standing in a lake.

Beyond them, the land that Pa had plowed lay black and wet. Pa looked at it and said, “It won’t be long now till I can get the wheat planted.”

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