Homespun Tales HTML version

8. The Garden Of Eden
But the Saco all this time was meditating one of its surprises. The snapping cold weather
and the depth to which the water was frozen were aiding it in its preparation for the
greatest event of the season. On a certain gray Saturday in March, after a week of mild
temperature, it began to rain as if, after months of snowing, it really enjoyed a new form
of entertainment. Sunday dawned with the very flood-gates of heaven opening, so it
seemed. All day long the river was rising under its miles of unbroken ice, rising at the
threatening rate of four inches an hour.
Edgewood went to bed as usual that night, for the bridge at that point was set too high to
be carried away by freshets, but at other villages whose bridges were in less secure
position there was little sleep and much anxiety.
At midnight a cry was heard from the men watching at Milliken's Mills. The great ice jam
had parted from Rolfe's Island and was swinging out into the open, pushing everything
before it. All the able-bodied men in the village turned out of bed, and with lanterns in
hand began to clear the stores and mills, for it seemed that everything near the river-
banks must go before that avalanche of ice.
Stephen and Rufus were there helping to save the property of their friends and neighbors;
Rose and Mite Shapley had stayed the night with a friend, and all three girls were
shivering with fear and excitement as they stood near the bridge, watching the never-to-
be-forgotten sight. It is needless to say that the Crambry family was on hand, for
whatever instincts they may have lacked, the instinct for being on the spot when anything
was happening, was present in them to the most remarkable extent. The town was
supporting them in modest winter quarters somewhat nearer than Killick to the center of
civilization, and the first alarm brought them promptly to the scene, Mrs. Crambry
remarking at intervals: "If I'd known there'd be so many out I'd ought to have worn my
bunnit; but I ain't got no bunnit, an' if I had they say I ain't got no head to wear it on!"
By the time the jam neared the falls it had grown with its accumulations, until it was
made up of tier after tier of huge ice cakes, piled side by side and one upon another, with
heaps of trees and branches and drifting lumber holding them in place. Some of the
blocks stood erect and towered like icebergs, and these, glittering in the lights of the
twinkling lanterns, pushed solemnly forward, cracking, crushing, and cutting everything
in their way. When the great mass neared the planing mill on the east shore the girls
covered their eyes, expecting to hear the crash of the falling building; but, impelled by
the force of some mysterious current, it shook itself ponderously, and then, with one
magnificent movement, slid up the river-bank, tier following tier in grand confusion. This
left a water way for the main drift; the ice broke in every direction, and down, down,
down, from Bonnie Eagle and Moderation swept the harvest of the winter freezing. It
came thundering over the dam, bringing boats, farming implements, posts, supports, and