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The Octopus [A California Story] - Frank Norris

Download: The Octopus [A California Story] - Frank Norris


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gripped, toiling in a sea that could not be stayed.

Guided by the sound of the falling wheat, S. Behrman crawled on
hands and knees toward the hatchway.  Once more he raised his
voice in a shout for help.  His bleeding throat and raw, parched
lips refused to utter but a wheezing moan.  Once more he tried to
look toward the one patch of faint light above him.  His eye-
lids, clogged with chaff, could no longer open.  The Wheat poured
about his waist as he raised himself upon his knees.

Reason fled.  Deafened with the roar of the grain, blinded and
made dumb with its chaff, he threw himself forward with clutching
fingers, rolling upon his back, and lay there, moving feebly, the
head rolling from side to side.  The Wheat, leaping continuously
from the chute, poured around him.  It filled the pockets of the
coat, it crept up the sleeves and trouser legs, it covered the
great, protuberant stomach, it ran at last in rivulets into the
distended, gasping mouth.  It covered the face.
Upon the surface of the Wheat, under the chute, nothing moved but
the Wheat itself.  There was no sign of life.  Then, for an
instant, the surface stirred.  A hand, fat, with short fingers
and swollen veins, reached up, clutching, then fell limp and
prone.  In another instant it was covered.  In the hold of the
"Swanhilda" there was no movement but the widening ripples that
spread flowing from the ever-breaking, ever-reforming cone; no
sound, but the rushing of the Wheat that continued to plunge
incessantly from the iron chute in a prolonged roar, persistent,
steady, inevitable.
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