The Land of the Changing Sun
Johnston clung tenaciously to the rock. He tried to look down to see if the barge had
passed beneath him, but the intense strain on his arm now drew his head back, so that he
could not do so. Once more he made an effort to regain his position on the rock, but he
was not able to raise himself an inch.
He felt certain that the fall would kill him, and he groaned in agony. His fingers were
benumbed and beginning to slip. Then he fell. The air whizzed in his ears. He tried to
keep his feet downward, but it was no use. He was whirled heels over head many times,
and his senses were leaving him when he was restored by a plunge into the cold water.
Down he sank. It seemed to him that he never would lose his momentum and that he
would strangle before he could rise to the surface. Finally, however, he came up more
dead than alive. He had narrowly missed the flat-boat, for he saw it receding from him
only a few yards away. On the shore stood Branasko motioning to him; and, slowly, for
his strength was almost gone, Johnston swam toward him.
The latter waded out into the shallow water and drew him ashore.
"You had a narrow escape," he said, with a dry laugh. "I saw the boat come from under
the cliff just as you hung down from the ledge. At first I hoped that you would get back
on the rock, but when I saw you try and do it and fail I thought that you were lost."
The American could not speak for exhaustion; but, as he looked at the departing craft
with concern, Branasko laughed again: "Oh, you thought it had a crew; so did I at first,
but it has no one aboard. It is drawn by a cable, and seems to be laden with coal."
"Did they notice our fall up there?" panted Johnston, nodding toward the lights in the
"No, they are farther away than I thought."
"Well, what ought we to do?" "Hide here among the rocks till our clothing dries and then
look about us. We have nearly twenty-four hours to wait for the sun to return through the
"Where is the tunnel?"
"Over on the other side of that black hill. There, you can see the mouth of the tunnel
through which the sun comes."
"We need sleep," said the Alphian, when their clothing was dry, "and it may be a long
time before we get a chance to get it. Let us lie down in the shadow of that rock and rest."