The Landloper eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Landloper.

Farr choked back the comment that occurred to him in regard to love and walked away.

VII

THE RAKE WHICH GROPED IN DARK WATERS

The afternoon was waning, but the hot bowl of the sky seemed to shut down over the city more closely.

Farr held to the shaded sides of the streets, and yearned for a patch of green and a tree and its shade.

At last he came into a section of the city where vast mills, one succeeding another in rows which vanished in the distance, clacked their everlasting staccato of hurrying looms, venting clamor from the thousands of open windows.  A canal of slow-moving, turbid water intersected the city and fed its quota of power to each mill.  The fenced bank of the canal was green; and elms, languid in the fierce heat, gave shade here and there with wilted leaves.  The masses of brick which inclosed the toilers within the mills puffed off tremulous heat-waves and suggested that humanity must be baking in those gigantic ovens.

A high fence interposed between the canal and the street; the mill lawn which extended between the canal and the shimmering brick walls was also inclosed.  Signs posted on the fence warned trespassers not to venture.

A bridge carried the street across the canal, and Farr stood there for a time and watched the swirl of the water below.  Then he sauntered on and surveyed the expanse of mill lawn with appraising and envious gaze.

The young man climbed the canal fence, exhibiting more of his cool contempt for authority by helping himself over the sharp spikes with the aid of a “No Trespassing” sign.  The sickly odor of raw cotton came floating to his nostrils from the open windows.  He strolled to the head of a transverse canal which sucked water from the main stream.  A sprawling tree shaded a foot-worn plank where an old man, with bent shoulders and a withered face, trudged to and fro, clawing down into the black waters with a huge rake.  He was the rack-tender—­it was his task to keep the ribs of the guarding rack clear of the refuse that came swirling down with the water, for flotsam, if allowed to lodge, might filch some of the jealously guarded power away from the mighty turbines which growled and grunted in the depths of the wheel-pits.  With rake in one hand and a long, barbed pole in the other the old man bent over the bubbling torrent that the rack’s teeth sucked hissingly between them.  Bits of wood, soggy paper, an old umbrella, all manner of stuff which had been tossed into the canal by lazy folks up-stream, he raked and pulled up and piled at the end of his foot-bridge.

“Hy, yi, old Pickaroon!” came a child’s shrill voice from a mill window.  “There’s a tramp under your tree.”

The old man raised his head from his work at the rack.

“You must not come on dis place,” he cried, with a strong
French-Canadian accent.

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Project Gutenberg
The Landloper from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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