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3. The Edgewood "Drive"
Just where the bridge knits together the two little villages of Pleasant River and
Edgewood, the glassy mirror of the Saco broadens suddenly, sweeping over the dam in a
luminous torrent. Gushes of pure amber mark the middle of the dam, with crystal and
silver at the sides, and from the seething vortex beneath the golden cascade the white
spray dashes up in fountains. In the crevices and hollows of the rocks the mad water
churns itself into snowy froth, while the foam-flecked torrent, deep, strong, and troubled
to its heart, sweeps majestically under the bridge, then dashes between wooded shores
piled high with steep masses of rock, or torn and riven by great gorges.
There had been much rain during the summer, and the Saco was very high, so on the third
day of the Edgewood drive there was considerable excitement at the bridge, and a goodly
audience of villagers from both sides of the river. There were some who never came,
some who had no fancy for the sight, some to whom it was an old story, some who were
too busy, but there were many to whom it was the event of events, a never-ending source
of interest.
Above the fall, covering the placid surface of the river, thousands of logs lay quietly "in
boom" until the "turning out" process, on the last day of the drive, should release them
and give them their chance of display, their brief moment of notoriety, their opportunity
of interesting, amusing, exciting, and exasperating the onlookers by their antics.
Heaps of logs had been cast up on the rocks below the dam, where they lay in hopeless
confusion, adding nothing, however, to the problem of the moment, for they too bided
their time. If they had possessed wisdom, discretion, and caution, they might have slipped
gracefully over the falls and, steering clear of the hidden ledges (about which it would
seem they must have heard whispers from the old pine trees along the river), have kept a
straight course and reached their destination without costing the Edgewood Lumber
Company a small fortune. Or, if they had inclined toward a jolly and adventurous career,
they could have joined one of the various jams or "bungs," stimulated by the thought that
any one of them might be a key-log, holding for a time the entire mass in its despotic
power. But they had been stranded early in the game, and, after lying high and dry for
weeks, would be picked off one by one and sent downstream.
In the tumultuous boil, the foaming hubbub and flurry at the foot of the falls, one
enormous peeled log wallowed up and clown like a huge rhinoceros, greatly pleasing the
children by its clumsy cavortings. Some conflict of opposing forces kept it ever in
motion, yet never set it free. Below the bridge were always the real battle-grounds, the
scenes of the first and the fiercest conflicts. A ragged ledge of rock, standing well above
the yeasty torrent, marked the middle of the river. Stephen had been stranded there once,
just at dusk, on a stormy afternoon in spring. A jam had broken under the men, and
Stephen, having taken too great risks, had been caught on the moving mass, and, leaping