Marooned – 10

Marooned in Crater Lake by Alfred Powers

 While rummaging in his pockets, he idly took out the book of one-cent stamps and turned through the green rectangles of the pictured Ben Franklin. He wet his finger and tested the gummed lower surfaces. This time he had no impulse to throw them into the lake. He wouldn’t have traded the little stamp-book for ten thousand matches. He put it carefully back into his pocket as though it were a great treasure.

He had hit upon a possible way of giving a signal. He meant to work out his plan with great care, taking all the time necessary. The man undoubtedly was still at the Lodge. He could scarcely have finished his work so soon. If this man’s attention could be attracted, Jim felt there was a good chance that he would be rescued. But the only way was to get a signal above that thousand-foot wall that hemmed him in. It wasn’t likely that the caretaker of the Lodge, who was an old-timer in the region, would give any particular scrutiny to Crater Lake scenery. He might not find it convenient to walk down to the edge of the rim to look out over the magic blue waters of the lake. At best, he would be a passive observer. An occasional and indifferent glance across the lake, as he straightened up from his labors, was as much as could be expected from him. To catch and hold the man’s eyes during one of their casual and roving inspections of the landscape that was what Jim meant to do.

Gradually, he was figuring it all out. He was certain he could do it if the wind would blow blow only hard enough to ruffle the smooth water shut in by those protecting walls. The afternoon before, he had seen it shake the firs on the rim, like prune-trees under the hands of the harvesters, and had felt it descend a thousand feet to where he stood, not wholly becalmed. A breeze, a breeze that, above all else, he wanted. That necessity alone was now absent from his inventory, which he took once more, this time with definite purpose.

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