Marooned – 14

Marooned in Crater Lake by Alfred Powers

 In the meantime, the wind increased. The firs on the rim no longer stood still, but bowed and courtesied. Out from shore the surface of the water had lost some of its glassy smoothness. The reflection of the wall in front of him trembled slightly. The sweat that came out on his face from his anxiety and his labors, was evaporated quickly.

He kept trying, and at last began to have periodical promises of success. Finally, a breath of wind bellied the kite and tautened the paper against the sticks back of it. He threw it out several feet. A timely breeze that he felt against his cheek caught it. It shot out straight, and even rose a little. He dropped the tail and gradually let out line. The kite darted from side to side, and once it made a quick dart downward like an airplane on a tail-dive it was a dangerous moment. But it rallied like an airplane, though the tail dripped a few drops of water as it rose. Steadied by that tail, it climbed diagonally upward above the blue of the lake slowly toward the blue of the sky. It began to pull so strongly that Jim had a new alarm. But he let out string two hundred feet, five hundred, a thousand, and at last two thousand.

It hung in the air at a great altitude, its tail, the crudities of which were softened by the distance, waving beneath it. It soared high enough above the sunken waters of the lake and far enough away from the encircling cliffs so that it could surely be seen from the Lodge, if there was anybody at the Lodge to see.

He took what remained of the newspaper, tore it into round pieces the size of saucers, punched a hole in the center of each, and strung them on the kite-string in his hand. From time to time he would let one of these loose and watch it scud up the string to the kite. He hoped these might help to guide the caretaker of the Lodge to the base of the string and to himself.

But it began to be dusk, and still no sign that anybody had seen the kite. After all, had the man fastened up the doors, prepared the building against the winter storms, and left? Had no stray and late-season tourist paused for a moment on the edge of the crater? He was beginning to debate whether to pull the kite in or risk leaving it up all night. He might have trouble or find it altogether impossible to get it to fly again in the morning, if he drew it in. But if he left it out, there might be snow or rain, the wind might grow too strong or die down, the all-night pull might weaken the string, and any of these contingencies would be hazardous to the kite.

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