The Octopus - Frank Norris - Страница 1 из 742


THE OCTOPUS
A Story of California
by Frank Norris
BOOK 1
CHAPTER I
Just after passing Caraher's saloon, on the County Road that ran south
from Bonneville, and that divided the Broderson ranch from that of Los
Muertos, Presley was suddenly aware of the faint and prolonged blowing
of a steam whistle that he knew must come from the railroad shops near
the depot at Bonneville. In starting out from the ranch house that
morning, he had forgotten his watch, and was now perplexed to know
whether the whistle was blowing for twelve or for one o'clock. He hoped
the former. Early that morning he had decided to make a long excursion
through the neighbouring country, partly on foot and partly on his
bicycle, and now noon was come already, and as yet he had hardly
started. As he was leaving the house after breakfast, Mrs. Derrick had
asked him to go for the mail at Bonneville, and he had not been able to
refuse.
He took a firmer hold of the cork grips of his handlebars--the road
being in a wretched condition after the recent hauling of the crop--and
quickened his pace. He told himself that, no matter what the time was,
he would not stop for luncheon at the ranch house, but would push on
to Guadalajara and have a Spanish dinner at Solotari's, as he had
originally planned.
There had not been much of a crop to haul that year. Half of the wheat
on the Broderson ranch had failed entirely, and Derrick himself had
hardly raised more than enough to supply seed for the winter's sowing.
But such little hauling as there had been had reduced the roads


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