Marooned – 08

Marooned in Crater Lake by Alfred Powers

 He recalled the Indian legends of the lake and of its sinister toll of savage life. He had read them idly in a folder. They now assumed an oppressive meaning. For an hour or more he was entirely miserable.

Then his thoughts began to take a more practical turn. If he could get over to Wizard Island diagonally in front of him, he might signal successfully from its top. But three quarters of a mile or so of deep water intervened between him and it. He couldn’t swim it clothed; he doubted whether he could swim it at all. If he stripped and succeeded in getting across, there was no telling how long he would have to remain, exposed to the October chill of mountain nights, before attracting help. He would surely freeze.

Around the edge of the lake from where he stood, it was more than two miles to the boat landing and the beginning of the trail. There would be a few short stretches of beach along which he could walk, or shallow water which he could wade ; but, for the most part, there would be deep water bordered by perpendicular walls offering no supporting hold for a cold and exhausted swimmer. Again, he would have to leave his clothes behind. The frigid October night that kept him walking his little beach for warmth, reminded him that such a course would be suicide.

It would be better, he decided, to wait till his uncle began a search, rather than try to gain Wizard Island or the trail, with almost certain failure ahead in either attempt.

His mind worked round to the idea of a signal. He took an inventory of his possessions in the dark. He had two raw fish, as has been said, and two jelly sandwiches, wrapped thickly in newspaper. He had his watch, his jack-knife, one hundred feet of heavy three-ply trolling line, with fifteen feet of leader, fifty feet of smaller fishing line, with a short leader, and an alder pole that he had cut while coming down the trail that morning. For the purpose of getting a signal up to the rim, there seemed no value in all this. He included his clothes in the inventory. Although he had done so several times before, he felt again for matches, but found none. All he found in his pockets, in addition to his handkerchief, knife, purse, and watch, was what he remembered was a little book of one-cent stamps, which seemed worthless enough at that place and time. In his impatience at finding this stamp-book instead of matches, he had an impulse to send it sailing out into the lake. But he put it back in his pocket.

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