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Running A Race

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l'iom the Xew Corenant. Rain ! rain ! rain ! It secraed ss if the very "windows of heaven" were opened for a oomruen di'k';e ; as if tle ctoud8 would nevcr eeaso to empty themselves upen the carth ; as if thelight of puii, moor and was utterly (uju'jhed by the floods. For two, thrce, four duys liad the big rain come down, peltingly, pitilessly, ceaselesfiy, duy and night - until the accumulated shows of winter, that were piled high jn tlie forest, and lay dcep on field and íaeadow, were whol [y dissolved, swelling t.iuy etreams, till thev burst their icy fetters, and submerging the lands on either side of them, gullyii'g tlie roads by the rivuletsformed ol the melling snows and the fast falling raiu, arid deepciiing, widening atidaddng volume to 'lie mill-stream, that went rum ing. rushing and foaming through the val'ey. likc a cataract. Still tlie raiu soured down as remorsclessly as ever ; no gleam of liglit in the western horizon iave tuint prouiise of fair weather ; not the 'cast break in the clouds was visible; and though it was the fourth day of the storm, one would have judged, from appearaiiccp, it had but just eoniuienecd. Rojiardless of the torrents still pouring down, William Preston rose from hls breakfdst table, and began to equip hiinself for a ride to the village, two miles distant. It was Monday morning, and William always bade adieu to his little 'amilv, on that morning, for the week, as he ibund employmeut in tha upper villaje, which could not be obtained nearer. But his gentle wife regarded his preparations with a troubled ;ye, and at lust ofl'ered a renionstrance to his departure in the woful storm still raging. " Why don't you wait a little, Wiliam ? 1 am sure the rain will slack be?ore long; it can't pour dowu ia thisway mach longer. ' " That's what you have been sayiiig, ;heso three days, Mary ! Uut I am neither sugar nor salt ; and as my work will not go on vvhile I ain here, I may as well be oif, rain or shine." " But you will be drenched to the skin, Willmuil" " Oh, I don't mind the drenohing ! I am used to it. If the rain does n't cease before long, however,we shallbe drowned out here in the valley. All the meadows are under water now." " Are you afraid of a freshet ?" " Yes - no - or, in faet there is one already. Our house is the loweit in the valley, and the only one in danger afrou a freshet ; and, Mary," he contiuued, turuing from tbc window to his wile, buttoning up his dreadnought coat to the very chin, and douning a tarpaulinof the dimensions of a small umbrella, " if'you see the water rising, and feel any fear,you bad better take the children, and go higher up, to some of the neighbors - to your sister's, perhaps. And now, good mornug; 1 am going up on horseback this morning, and shall not come in again af ter I have saddled Jack." And, teudcrly kissing his wife, he stooped to press his lips to the brow of his little Bon, still sitting at the breakfast table ; and yet lower to the velvet cheek of his iufant daughter, slumbering in her eradle, when he turned aud left the house. But aftcr he had saddled his horse, and even mounted him, an uneasy feeling, a feeling that he could not define or account for, prompted him to ride to the door, to repeat the advice he had given his wife but a moment before. " Mary," he reiterated, " if it rains in this way much longer, there will certaiuly be a great freshet ; the stream is up very high now, and you must keep a sharp look out ; and if the water comes up even to the loot of the carden, don't delay a moment longer - leave the house aud go ftoniewberè else, So, good morning again ; 1 ma) be heme before Saturd;iy niglit, tliis wiek." And, turuing hia borse 8 head to the village, he drove rapidly thither, and was soou out of sight. All that day, and during most of the uight.tho raiu oouthiued to fall ; and William Preston thought of his wife and oliildren, with iuexprcssible anxiety. - Tbeir liouse was a frail and eomewhat dilapitated structure, that stood down low in the valley, on the bank of the millstreaui, now convertod iuto a river; while on either sido the hilld awdisü up steeply, dotted hore and Üiere, aud at last crowned with dwellings. The channol of the strcam, at this particular point, was somewhat nairow ; and as the water was rapidly rising, and would r.ot subside, but ratlier coutïmie to rise, for two or three days, the appruhenhions of the anxious husbiind and ïathei1, that his faraily were in dangor from the unuaual freshct, ,ero wll founded, The day following, hc becarneacquainted with anothef faet, that revoaled to liiiii the peril ot' thcir situation raore plainly. The stream that ran through the valley, of which we have before spoken, beside which stood their dweiling, furniahed the motive power to faetories, saw and grist milis Mid machine shops, located at convenient distances aloug its courge. During the drought of surmner, when the streaiu bccame low, thosupply of walled ; and for a monta six weeks and soinetirnes longer, these citLblishments were obliged to suspend their operations; and niany poor people, who could ill aíí'ord to be idle were thu3 teuiporaHy deprived of eraployment. To obviate this difficulty, manuí'acturers, milIers and macbinists, had clubbed together, and, at an expense of some thousands of dollars, had built a reservoir at the bead of the Btreara, throwing a dam across it, and f rotting embankments on eithcr sido ; thus receiving tlic surplus water for a seasou :f drought and neud. Ordiuarily thcre as an immense and powerful body of water detained here, which extended over soine iit'ty or eeveuty five acresof surface ; but uow, wtien overflowing brooks, streams and rivulets, were pouring in tbeir tribute to the reservoir, already swelled to a luke by ttía heavy rains, it presented a most formidable appearance, extendí ng far and wide, d.iühing and rolling its biilovvs like a suu, eimmitting sad depredatïous aiiiong funces and stoue walls, roads and lieids, and pouring a volume of water ever the dam whose roar eould be heard at a great distance, and causing the earth to vi brute with the shock, u its im medíate vicinity The reservoir had boen built in the fall, and was not eompleted until winter had set in; and, uot dï peet ing the strength oí' the dam would be so severely tested, an old fiuiae had been put in. - .But it was ncw feared that the dam and embanknionts would prove inadequate to the vast pressure of water againjt thein, and a largo ooucourse of tlie villagt-rs gathered arouod, watching the roariog, surgiEg tide, aud iudulgiugthe aiost paiu firi ijiprehcnsions. .It the dam were earried away, inoafloulable daniage would en sue to all the work-sbopg and maiiufuc torisa on t!io streatn below; whila all who wero Rcquaiuted with the pouuliar Looation of W'ilhani Preston's house hes itated not to expres tbeir oonvictiou that it would bo swept away like a mero toy. But tho storm had ei sed, a brisk wind was blowing, the probabilúius of au accideut were uu more alarming than they had beeu iat f,vo days ; and as nigiit closed in upod tlia gossiping lookers-on, they oue by ene retired to thcir homes and beds, with a feeling of perfect seeurity. Not so, however, wilh Willïam Preston. Though he sought his iíüIü't, vaioly did he woo the sweat influence of sleep, he was restless and nervous, and tormented with au iodefinable dread of coming evil, that imparted such acuteness to his seuses that the least sound rang upon his cars Tike the bhist of a trampet, starting him from his piüow, and thrilling him with a vague but terrible fear. Agaiu and agaia did he reproac'n himselt for leaving his little fainily in imminent peril, and resolve tt the very earliest dawn to return aid remova them to a place of safjty ; and then, as if he had administered a sedativo !o his fears, he would seek to oompose hitasolf to sleep; but in vain - do slumber could be coaxed to bis oyes Vexed and wearied, he rose, at hst, and, half dressing himself, bogan to pace the room, occasionally pausing to listen to the continuous roar of the floods pouring over the dam; when. lifting the curtain for au instant, to look out of the wiudovv, he snw - yes he was not mistaker.- hc gaw the water lyiog in the front yard, up to the very door-stone ! There could be do delusion, for he plairly saw that the stars overhead, whicb had come out taiijdy and bvigiithy, woro uiirrorcd from its SlU'fuCi. In an instiint, ho hnd flung on the remainder of hia nppartl, and rushed down stairs to tho do:r, where he could vif.v the dam; vvhun ho porcoivod that tlie feari of the villagors wore to bo realieed - a portion of theetnbankment was uJinady car ried away, and it was evident that tho wh:le, with the dam, would Boon yield to the powerful rusli and prasuuro if the wa'er. - It was but the work oi an instant for him to iwouaethe nmiktos of hisb: aixling-houso, and of' tho dwelliogg adjacont; and despatohing a rrinn to the factory, with orders to ring the alarmbel!, he d shed into the sta We, tnddled his hore with increciible celebrity, mouuted him, and spurred down the valley by the river cours, like him mad. In a few moreents, all was bustlo, huiry and confusión, in the village; every d welling in dangerous proximity to the cause of aU this terror was dèserted, and wonnen, ch'ldren, and venables wero conveyed to places of safety ; horsemen were despatched round the upper road to wam the villagers below of tho appropch of üvi water, and one or two bold men leaped into the saddle, and followed in William Preston's step ; for they remembertjd the dangorous locatioo oí his d welling, and feared lest the mill-strearn would reach bisfamily before him. Cursing his tardiness in seeking sr.fety for bis wile and li tle oües, and groaning aloud at the dangèr that niün aced them, Preston cheered on hi good steed till he sped over theground au if winga wereadued to him. Ho had not proceeded one fourth of the way whon he heard sn incroased ror, - a dashing, rusb'mg saund, - and screams and sbouts tliat rose above the deafening cra-h of the dam, and the pluuge of the floods; and be knew that the dam and embankments wore can-ied away, and that an avalauohe of water was hu.iiec! down the streatn and upon the vaiiey. Glanciog down into tbe river, beuide whioii he wa? riding, he Baw, ly the futnt starlight, that ita eurrmt had received a ne? ímpetus, thatita voli'me was se,. ..biy incrèascd, while wiáut!s cf white fóarn were down its Burface. "God of her.vpn belp ! helpi" vas the ejaculatioo that buret rom the hoart and lipa of tèe agonizad man; and, hniitè forwat'd to urjjfe hia horae to yet greater speed, the big drop ill from his brow upan the rnsi'd maoe, v!:i!e a doadlfer fnintnesa tbaa that of sicknesa seized hi heart. Almost tying ujxTi the neok e ateed, wilh . vii),, ho spurred bira on, and enoour to yet grenter exertiona ; and the no ble beaat, as though couprèhe 'ir,e of his mnt-ter'g facodB i. , iind ympatbtzicg in his agony, glnced furtiyeiy down 'upon the wild m raahbff pagt hira, and qaiokened hia a!rua.iy Hghtniög-like speed. Thrae iaotoriea lay botwoon tho upper vülago and VVilliam Pjreaton'e house; and aoaroely had ha pamed the first, wbon the tumbling fiooda were down upon its dam, eweeping it away like stubblo, snd timbera, pïanks and v.ood carae sorging aTong on ihc top of the wavea, that strode tnettjflesely down the valley, gloating over the destructiüu they wrought. On thoy camp, like au infuriated populaoe, ieaping and tnmWioff, and clapping their hands in demoniac gleo- and tho dam o( tho seuond fwotory yielded to their fierce aesault. Ou they rushcd the victorious waters - witti liereneed force nnd volume, and like the very spirit of misohieí, eeerned hurrying to destroy the poor dwelüng of tho hu$baod nnd father, who was running this fearfol race with the wave?, not for his own lift, but for the lives of those deárer to him than his own. On he flevv, in the darkness - on, like the wind ! Now the road was low and ovenfiuwed - nnd now it wpund wp higher, and hocould look down npon tho (ir -iicït ui curront, that threateneri destruc'.lm to those so dear to him. - At last - oh, what an eternity did it seum to him since ha started ! - lio oatne wi hin sight of his d welling; all ivas still and quict; its inmates ovidently were nrtt alarmed. How eagerly William Preston strained his eyos in that direction ! A briefat thought dartud into his mind, and for an instant his beurt grew lighter. "Perhaps," he said to himself, " Mary was alarmed, and went to her sister's to pass the night. Oh, heaven, I thank thee!" But no - he looked agaio - tho faint light of the night lamp streamed from hor bedroom window; she was still thora, in daoger, and unconscious ! As thfrautiS man saw tho dim lamplight, he goaded on his already flving breast; and, rising in his snddle, he shouted, üke onu mad : " Miiry ! Mary! for Q-od'fl sake, wake! bostir yourself! yuu'i'13 lost ! you're lost ! you'ke lost! " But his shouts were drowned by the din oí the wuters that were 'preesing on his footsteps. The poor man looked back over his shoulder, and saw a mountain of white wavea leaping down into the valley ; and, like a pack of bungry ivo! ves, they seomed yawning to clevour the dear ones ha was hastenirfg1 to rescue. The dam of the last faotory was gone, and tho reraorseless element, with accumulation of force and volume, was juat upon tho little cottage and its t-lumbering inma les. Bat William Preston was also within u fow roda of his house; his horse, white with foam, blood spurting from his nostnls, was not to be distaneed even by the reinless, bridlelesï, hnngry waves. A few more mad, wild plungos, Hnd be gained the front gate; a word from his master, and tLe low f'ence was eleared, and they stood, the horse and his rider, at the door. With ono thrust of his foot, one heavy throw of his athletic form against the door, it feil in, ;.nd he flew to his wife's room. A few words, and, more than all, his wüd, frenzied looks, told the story, - " Up, Mary ! up, for tho love of "heaven ! quick ! quick ! there's no time to lose; tho dam 13 swept by the board, nnd the house is going ! " Catching the boy in his arras, while the mother fokled the babe to her bosom, they hnrried from the doomed cottage, into which the waves were beginning to enter, - partly leaping, partly lifted, Mary was seated in tho taddle, and eetzing thu horse by the bridle, while botb master and animal rallied their exliansted fetrength fur a last effort, they ciimbed up the steep bank to the first dweiling, and looked back to neo the white hV.ods pouring in at the doors and Windows of their deserted horre. "Thank God! tkank God, Mary, ynu're safe! you're si.fe! Knonk at the door, and stoom the folks ; for it is all diirk round me - I oannot see my way ! " ar.d the voice of the overtaxed niun died avvay, and he sank upon the ground, in a protracted svvoon. T3ut the men who had followed him frotn the Hlne were soon with him, and she! ter and every comfort was bestowed nimn his wife and children that their circumatanccs demanded. An t tempt was mado to save eome of the hons -hold stuft from the waterv ele mpiit; but the waves were waging so,;nt a war upon the d welling, that it was abandoned as hazardous and impracticable. When the morning dawned, i broad river rolled through the Vitlley, while nol a vestige of William Preston 's house was visible. "I have run races, in my 1 "etime, often," William Preston would say, when concluding the storv we huve related - '■ I have run races on fo t, when a boy, with my playmates, for marbles, a hoop, or an apple ; and I have raced on horseback, when a man, for a purse of money ; 'out the toughest, most oxciüng, and wildest race I ever ran in my life, was the back with the mill. .i.a.m, for iny wife and children."


Old News
Michigan Argus