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“[A] readable and attractive book that will surely appeal.” —Library Journal
“[A] readable and attractive book that will surely appeal.” —Library Journal
"I'M HAVING CHOCOLATE NUT," said Barbara Boyd.
"I'll take strawberry," said Sally Graham.
"Vanilla for me," said Sally's sister Karen.
The three girls were perched up on stools at the soda counter. They began to sip their ice cream. Sally watched the people coming in.
The little River Bend store was crowded. It was Thursday, a hot, muggy day in August. Outside it was raining hard. The children wore raincoats and rubbers. Everybody who came in was dripping. Cars stopped outside and people picked up groceries. Children came in on errands or to get ice cream.
"Look who's coming!" cried Sally.
Carol Rosansky and David Joruska came in.
"Hi, Carol!" called Sally.
"Hi, David!" said Barbara.
Carol and David got up on stools and ordered cold drinks. Then Angela Marciano, who was thirteen, came in bringing her five-year-old sister Linda. Her brothers, Tony and Al, followed, with Tommy Dillon. Ray and Ralph Marberry came too. They all lived in River Bend.
"Gee! Our whole school will soon be here," said Sally.
"When it rains like this," said David, "there's no place to go to but the store. It's dry in here."
The Marcianos and Tommy Dillon crowded up close behind the girls.
"Our back yard is full of water," said Angela Marciano. "I never saw so much water in the river before."
"Aw! That's nothing," said Tommy Dillon. "It's fine weather for ducks. Go take a swim!"
Tommy Dillon was a small, thin boy of eleven, one of a family of seven children. His house was not far from the Grahams. At school the year before, he had sat behind Sally Graham and made her life miserable.
Now he pushed and shoved behind her, reaching for his bottle of soda. He tipped it up and drank.
Sally opened her purse and took out her new compact. It was shiny like gold and had a blue enameled bird on the cover. It was just new. She had bought it the previous Saturday at the dime store in Hartford. She snapped it open, looked at herself, took out the powder puff and powdered her nose. In the mirror, she saw Tommy Dillon behind her, grinning.
"That's right! Powder your nose!" cried Tommy. "Did you bring your lipstick too?"
The next moment Tommy snatched the compact out of Sally's hand. It disappeared in his pocket. Sally turned on him angrily.
"Did you lose something?" asked Tommy innocently.
"You give my compact right back, Tommy Dillon!" cried Sally.
Tommy set his empty bottle on the counter and tossed a coin to the clerk. Then he made for the door. Sally and Barbara had to pay for their ice cream. The Marciano children took their places on the stools.
"Beat it, Tommy!" shouted the Marberry boys.
"Get going, Tommy!" yelled Tony and Al Marciano.
"Oh, Sally!" cried Angela. "Make him give it back."
The girls dashed out in the rain after Tommy Dillon and the store door banged behind them.
"You'll never catch him, Sally," said Barbara.
"I've got to," cried Sally. "He took my new compact!"
It was raining harder than ever now. Cars passed both ways on the highway, splashing water as they went. Before they knew it, Tommy had darted across. The girls had to wait for a lull in the traffic. When they reached the other side, Tommy was nowhere in sight.
"That mean old Tommy Dillon!" cried Sally. She was so angry she was ready to cry. "He's mean. I hate him."
"Can't you get another compact?" asked Karen.
"Of course not," said Sally. "I spent my whole week's allowance on that one. And it was the only one they had with a bluebird on it."
"Oh, what do you care?" said Barbara Boyd. "Who wants a compact, anyhow?"
"I do," said Sally.
Barbara Boyd was Sally Graham's best friend, but sometimes Sally found it hard to understand her. Barbara never powdered her nose at all, and she never painted her nails.
"Well, Mother told you not to buy it," said Karen.
"She just said I was too young," said Sally.
The girls left the highway and walked down a side street of River Bend toward their homes. Barbara's brothers, Dan and Ronnie, came out of the Boyd house.
"Where are you boys going?" asked Barbara.
"Down to see the river," said Dan.
"The river?" said Sally. "What for? Going for a swim?"
"The river's rising," said Dan. "There's going to be a flood. We heard it over the radio."
"We've got the river right in our back yard," said Sally. "Let's go to my house and look at it."
The boys followed the girls down several blocks toward the river, where the Graham house was located. They went around to the back yard.
"The river looks just the same as always," said Sally.
"No," said Karen, pointing. "It's up as far as the apple tree. Look! The river's coming to see us."
The children laughed.
"Where's the doghouse?" asked Sally suddenly.
The children looked around. The river was wider than they had ever seen it before.
"There goes the doghouse! It's floating," said Dan Boyd.
"That's not it," said Sally, worried. "That looks like a barrel."
"Look at all the things floating," said Barbara. "I never saw things come down the river like this before."
"There goes a tree ..."
"And cartons and a wagon wheel ..."
"And look! Somebody's chair is floating!"
The children were excited now, pointing and laughing.
"Where's Rusty's doghouse?" asked Sally again. All she could think of was the dog.
"It's gone," said Karen. "I bet the river's carried it off."
Sally looked around and saw her mother coming out of the back door.
"Mother," she called. "Is Rusty in the house?"
"Yes," said Mrs. Graham. "He's playing with Jack and Tim."
"His doghouse is gone," said Karen. "Good thing Rusty wasn't inside."
"I used the wheelbarrow and moved the doghouse up on the porch," said Mrs. Graham. "Come and help me, children. Let's bring the table and chairs in."
Dan and Ronnie and the girls helped. Soon the lawn furniture was safely under the porch roof, beside the doghouse and Bobby's and Sally's bicycles. Mrs. Graham sat down on a chair and took off her shoes and stockings.
"What are you going to do, Mother?" asked Sally.
"Pick my zinnias," said Mrs. Graham.
"The flower bed is a pond now!" said Barbara Boyd.
"Well, I'll wade in," said Mrs. Graham. "If it's never going to stop raining, I'd like to have a bouquet in the house to cheer us up."
The children laughed. They watched Mrs. Graham wade in the water and come out with a bunch of flowers. The Boyd children said goodbye and went on home.
"See you tomorrow!" Barbara called back.
"Sure!" answered Sally. Little did she realize what was to happen before she saw her best friend again.
"Rusty! Rusty!" she called as she went inside.
The little long-haired dog jumped up on her as she came in the door. She picked him up and gave him a hug.
Sally was restless all evening. She saw neighbors passing by, watching the river. They shook their heads, looking at the heavy sky. Perry Wilson, a next-door neighbor, stopped in to talk with Mother. Sally wished her father would come home.
When he came, Mr. Graham said that several small bridges were washed out, and he had had to make a detour from Hartford. After supper, Sally read a book to Karen, tried to keep the little boys from fighting and gave baby Betty her bottle. Bobby, who was nine, read comics all evening. At last it was time to go to bed. The children trooped up the stairs.
Karen fell asleep quickly. After all, she was only seven. Sally was the oldest, eleven. She kept thinking she heard voices downstairs. Each time she started to fall asleep, they woke her up. Was it the Wilsons again? Why didn't they go home and go to bed?
Once she heard Daddy say, "The cellar's full already. Why was that outside cellar door left open?"
She could not hear Mother's reply. Daddy went on, "We can take the motor upstairs. The sewing machine too. If it comes in here, we'll just carry everything upstairs."
Sally felt comforted and reassured. She knew Daddy and Mother would take care of everything. She fell asleep.
A loud knock came at the door.
Sally woke up suddenly. She was so scared, she was trembling. She knew it was the middle of the night, for she had been asleep a long time. She threw back the quilt and swung quietly out of bed, so as not to wake up Karen. As she was feeling for her slippers, she heard voices outside. She tried to listen.
The windows were open—the night was hot and close. It was still raining hard. But above the sound of the pelting rain, she could hear voices. She looked out the window. She saw people with umbrellas standing in the rain and talking. A policeman was at the door.
"You'll have to get out!" he shouted. "The river is rising."
Sally could not hear what her father answered.
"It's coming up fast," the policeman said. "Don't try to take anything. Get out while you can."
The door banged and he was gone. He was on his way to warn the other River Bend people—the Boyds, the Dillons, the Marcianos and many others.
Sally ran to the head of the stairs. She looked down and was never to forget what she saw. There, in the place where the floor had been, was water. River water. She stared. Daddy and Mother were wading in it with their feet and legs bare. They were moving things—putting things up higher.
"Mother!" called Sally. "Mother!"
"Are you up, Sally?" answered Mother. "Waken the children and help them get dressed."
"Why, Mother," said Sally, "it's the middle of the night!"
"Remember when we drove to Maine?" said Mother. "Remember how we started in the middle of the night?"
Sally woke Karen and tried to get some clothes on Bobby and the little boys. Karen took baby Betty and gave her a bottle. Before the children had their shoes on, Mother brought food upstairs—milk, butter and bread. She put it in a basket.
"What's the food for?" asked Sally.
"In case somebody needs it," said Mother. Even at a time like this, Mother was thinking of other people.
The boys saw the water downstairs and thought it a joke.
"There goes the pancake flour!" cried Jack.
"There goes the breadbox!" shouted Tim.
"And I see Daddy's slippers," said Bobby. "They're floating like boats."
Suddenly the lights went out. The electricity had gone off.
"We need cat eyes to see in the dark," said the boys.
Sally looked out the window. It was getting a little lighter outside. She saw things floating by on the great sea of water. Was everything going to be washed away? She kept her eyes on the little pine tree in the yard, the tree Daddy always put the electric lights on at Christmas time. She could only see the tip of it. As she watched, the water came up until even the tip was gone.
Loud bumps could be heard downstairs. Things were banging around. Sally wondered what time it was, but the electric clock had stopped when the lights went out. She heard a bell ringing.
"That's the phone," said Daddy downstairs. "Ringing under water. Somebody's trying to call us."
"Uncle Paul from Burlington, I expect," said Mother. "He'll be worried about us."
Then the town siren went off, long and loud. The children put their hands over their ears.
"That's the signal for everybody," called Daddy. "We must go. We'll have to wade to the car. I left it at the end of the driveway where it's higher."
"But the water!" Mother looked out the upstairs window. "It will be up to our waists, it's rising so fast."
Daddy looked up the stairs. He was standing in the water below. The downstairs rooms were already half full.
"We can make it," said Daddy. "We'll carry the children on our backs."
Suddenly a man's voice called out, "Quick! Get out of your house, Graham. There's no time to lose."
"We're coming!" shouted Daddy. He called to Mother, "Al Barker and some of the firemen are out there. They've come to help us."
"Just in time," said Mother.
"Come to the upstairs window over the porch," Barker shouted. "We've got a boat."
"Thank God," said Mother softly. "Grab your clothes, children."
Karen picked up one of Bobby's coats, tied a scarf round her head, and picked her big rag doll up out of its bed. Sally put on an old jacket of her mothers and her father's old hat. The little boys couldn't find their shoes. It happened so quickly in the dark.
The next minute Daddy was upstairs.
"Quick," he said to Mother. "I'll go first. You hand the kids out to me."
He picked up the baby and crawled out the window onto the porch roof. It was all so sudden, the children made no sound. Taking what lay nearest at hand, they climbed out the window one by one, with Mother's help. They slid across the roof into Daddy's arms. First the little boys, then Karen with her rag doll and Sally. Then a suitcase of clothes and the basket of food. Mother came last. Al Barker helped them down. The next minute they were all sitting in a boat—all but Bobby.
"Bobby, come on!" called Mother. "What are you doing?"
Bobby crawled out the window, with a piece of cardboard in his hand. He slid to the edge of the porch roof, leaned over and pinned the card to the porch post. Then he jumped into the boat.
The card had words printed on it in black crayon. In the dim light, Daddy read it aloud and laughed. "'NOBODY HOME BUT WE'LL BE BACK.' That's the right spirit, son."
"Oh, we forgot Rusty!" cried Sally. "He's asleep under my bed."
Daddy whistled and called. The dog heard, jumped on the window sill and barked. Daddy crawled up and brought him over. Rusty tumbled into Sally's lap. All the children patted him. They could not leave old Rusty behind.
Fred Joruska, another volunteer fireman, had lashed a rope around the trunk of the elm tree to anchor the boat by the porch. The wind was blowing, making rough waves, and it was still raining hard. Fred released the rope and took up the oars. Al Barker tried to start the outboard motor, but it was wet and would not spark. Mr. Graham helped Joruska with the oars. Bouncing over the rough water, the boat carried the Graham family to safety.
"I never saw such a big river before," said Jack.
"Where are we going?" asked Tim. "To Maine?"
"Hush!" said Mother. The baby began to cry and Mother held her close.
Soon the boat pulled up on a rise of dry land. Everybody got out. They looked around bewildered. It was still raining hard.
"Where are we?" asked Sally.
There was a house on a small hill. Sally knew it at once. It was the Boyds' house. It was where Barbara, her girl-friend, lived.CHAPTER 2
THE BOYDS' HOUSE WAS dark.
"They're not awake," said Mrs. Graham. "It must be very early."
"They're lucky to live on a hill," said Mr. Graham.
"Where we going, Daddy?" asked Tim. "To Maine?"
"If we had our car," said Mother, "we could go to Uncle Paul's in Burlington."
"We should have started an hour ago," said Daddy, "instead of moving that furniture. Then we could have had the car. Now it's full of water."
"Couldn't we go in the Boyds' house?" asked Sally. "They'd let us."
"There's no light," said Mother. "They must be gone. We couldn't go in anyway. We're soaking wet."
The men in the boat called to Mr. Graham and he hurried over. Mrs. Graham stood waiting, the baby in her arms and the children huddled around her. Bobby held Rusty in his arms. Daddy came back.
"They need me to help," he said. "We're going to see about the Dillons and the Marcianos and the Meyers and all those people. It's low there—they are all under water. They were warned in time, but we are not sure they're all out. Will you ..."
"We'll be all right," said Mother. "Go and help them. Don't worry about us."
"Try and get a ride to Uncle Paul's," said Daddy.
"We will," said Mother. "Somebody will take us, I'm sure."
The men had started the motor now. Mr. Graham got in the boat and they rode off. A block below the Boyd house, in a hollow, stood the Dillon house. It was surrounded by water. The motorboat passed beyond to houses lower down.
Sally held her little brother by the hand. She kept looking at Mother to see what she would do. Karen and Bobby held to Mother's arms, half asleep.
A car came up and a strange man got out. He wore a Civil Defense helmet. He went to the Boyds' door and knocked loudly.
"Get out!" he called. "The river's rising." There was no answer.
He came over to Mrs. Graham and she told him her story.
"You're lucky to get out," he said.
"Could somebody drive us to my brother's in Burlington?" asked Mrs. Graham.
"No cars available," said the man. "Too many bridges out. Better not try it. If you have friends up in the hills, go to them. Plenty of people are sleeping in their cars up in the hills."
"Our car—it was under water," said Mrs. Graham. "We left it standing in the driveway."
"It's down the river by now," said the man. "They're taking in refugees at Union School. Can't you walk? It's not too far." He knocked at the Boyds' door again.
A light flickered inside. The door opened and there stood Mrs. Boyd. She was up and dressed after all. Barbara stood beside her. The man repeated his warning. He told the Boyds to get out.
"Oh, but we're on high land," said Mrs. Boyd.
"We're warning everybody," said the man. "Stay at your own risk."
"Are the Dillons out?" asked Mrs. Boyd, pointing to their house.
"They can't get to them," said the man. "The current is too swift. Their house is going to go. They were stubborn and waited too long."
Excerpted from Flood Friday by Lois Lenski. Copyright © 1956 Lois Lenski. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted February 28, 2013
Posted February 19, 2013