There Was No True Wind,
But A Push, As It Were, Of The Whole Crystal Atmosphere.
'Now for the brickfield!' they cried.
It was many miles off. The road
fed by a never-to-be-forgotten drop, to a river broad as the Orange at
Norval's Pont, rustling between mud hills. An old Scotchman, in the very
likeness of Charon, with big hip boots, controlled a pontoon, which
sagged back and forth by current on a wire rope. The reckless motors
bumped on to this ferry through a foot of water, and Charon, who never
relaxed, bore us statelily across the dark, broad river to the further
bank, where we all turned to look at the lucky little town, and discuss
'I think you can see it best from here,' said one.
'No, from here,' said another, and their voices softened on the very
name of it.
Then for an hour we raced over true prairie, great yellow-green plains
crossed by old buffalo trails, which do not improve motor springs, till
a single chimney broke the horizon like a mast at sea; and thereby were
more light-hearted men and women, a shed and a tent or two for workmen,
the ribs and frames of the brick-making mechanism, a fifteen foot square
shaft sunk, sixty foot down to the clay, and, stark and black, the pipe
of a natural-gas well. The rest was Prairie - the mere curve of the
earth - with little grey birds calling.
I thought it could not have been simpler, more audacious or more
impressive, till I saw some women in pretty frocks go up and peer at the
'We fancied that it might amuse you,' said all those merry people, and
between laughter and digressions they talked over projects for building,
first their own, and next other cities, in brick of all sorts; giving
figures of output and expenses of plant that made one gasp. To the eye
the affair was no more than a novel or delicious picnic. What it
actually meant was a committee to change the material of civilisation
for a hundred miles around. I felt as though I were assisting at the
planning of Nineveh; and whatever of good comes to the little town that
was born lucky I shall always claim a share.
But there is no space to tell how we fed, with a prairie appetite, in
the men's quarters, on a meal prepared by an artist; how we raced home
at speeds no child could ever hear of, and no grown-up should attempt;
how the motors squattered at the ford, and took pot-shots at the pontoon
till even Charon smiled; how great horses hauled the motors up the
gravelly bank into the town; how there we met people in their Sunday
best, walking and driving, and pulled ourselves together, and looked
virtuous; and how the merry company suddenly and quietly evanished
because they thought that their guests might be tired.
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