Nightmares are dreams with a disturbing content. I like to distinguish the following categories: 1. Nightmares that are frightening during the dream. 2. Violent dreams, however without the expected level of pain or fear. 3. Dreams that ... Read more of Nightmares at My Dreams.caInformational Site Network Informational
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NATURE IN TRAVAIL.

from The Lost City





"I say, professor?"

"Very well, Waldo; proceed."

"Wonder if this isn't a portion of the glorious climate, broken
loose from its native California, and drifting up this way on a
lark?"

"If so, said lark must be roasted to a turn," declared the third
(and last) member of that little party, drawing a curved
forefinger across his forehead, then flirting aside sundry drops
of moisture. "I can't recall such another muggy afternoon, and
if we were only back in what the scientists term the cyclone
belt--"

"We would be all at sea," quickly interposed the professor, the
fingers of one hand vigorously stirring his gray pompadour, while
the other was lifted in a deprecatory manner. "At sea, literally
as well as metaphorically, my dear Bruno; for, correctly
speaking, the ocean alone can give birth to the cyclone."

"Why can't you remember anything, boy?" sternly cut in the
roguish-eyed youngster, with admonitory forefinger, coming to the
front. "How many times have I told you never to say blue when
you mean green? Why don't you say Kansas zephyr? Or
windy-auger? Or twister? Or whirly-gust on a corkscrew
wiggle-waggle? Or--well, almost any other old thing that you
can't think of at the right time? W-h-e-w! Who mentioned
sitting on a snowdrift, and sucking at an icicle? Hot? Well,
now, if this isn't a genuine old cyclone breeder, then I wouldn't
ask a cent!"

Waldo Gillespie let his feet slip from beneath him, sitting down
with greater force than grace, back supported against a gnarled
juniper, loosening the clothes at his neck while using his other
hand to ply his crumpled hat as a fan.

Bruno laughed outright at this characteristic anticlimax, while
Professor Featherwit was obliged to smile, even while compelled
to correct.

"Tornado, please, nephew; not cyclone."

"Well, uncle Phaeton, have it your own way. Under either name, I
fancy the thing-a-ma-jig would kick up a high old bobbery with a
man's political economy should it chance to go bu'st right there!

And, besides, when I was a weenty little fellow I was taught
never to call a man a fool or a liar--"

"Waldo!" sharply warned his brother, turning again.

"So long as I knew myself to be in the wrong," coolly finished
the youngster, face grave, but eyes twinkling, as they turned
towards his mistaken mentor. "What is it, my dear Bruno?"

"There is one thing neither cyclone nor tornado could ever
deprive you of, Kid, and that is--"

"My beauty, wit, and good sense,--thanks, awfully! Nor you, my
dear Bruno, although my inbred politeness forbids my explaining
just why."

There was a queer-sounding chuckle as Professor Featherwit turned
away, busying himself about that rude-built shed and shanty which
sheltered the pride of his brain and the pet of his heart, while
Bruno smiled indulgently as he took a few steps away from those
stunted trees in order to gain a fairer view of the stormy
heavens.

Far away towards the northeast, rising above the distant hill,
now showed an ugly-looking cloud-bank which almost certainly
portended a storm of no ordinary dimensions.

Had it first appeared in the opposite quarter of the horizon,
Bruno would have felt a stronger interest in the clouds, knowing
as he did that the miscalled "cyclone" almost invariably finds
birth in the southwest. Then, too, nearly all the other symptoms
were noticeable,--the close, "muggy" atmosphere; the deathlike
stillness; the lack of oxygen in the air, causing one to breathe
more rapidly, yet with far less satisfying results than usual.

Even as Bruno gazed, those heavy cloud-banks changed, both in
shape and in colour, taking on a peculiar greenish lustre which
only too accurately forebodes hail of no ordinary force.

His cry to this effect brought the professor forth from the
shed-like shanty, while Waldo roused up sufficiently to speak:

"To say nothing of yonder formation way out over the salty drink,
my worthy friends, who intimated that a cyclone was born at sea?"

Professor Featherwit frowned a bit as his keen little rat-like
eyes turned towards that quarter of the heavens; but the frown
was not for Waldo, nor for his slightly irreverent speech.

Where but a few minutes before there had been only a few light
clouds in sight, was now a heavy bank of remarkable shape, its
crest a straight line as though marked by an enormous ruler,
while the lower edge was broken into sharp points and irregular
sections, the whole seeming to float upon a low sea of grayish
copper.

"Well, well, that looks ugly, decidedly ugly, I must confess,"
the wiry little professor spoke, after that keen scrutiny.

"Really, now?" drawled Waldo, who was nothing if not contrary on
the surface. "Barring a certain little topsy-turvyness which is
something out of the ordinary, I'd call that a charming bit
of--Great guns and little cannon-balls!"

For just then there came a shrieking blast of wind from out the
northeast, bringing upon its wings a brief shower of hail,
intermingled with great drops of rain which pelted all things
with scarcely less force than did those frozen particles.

"Hurrah!" shrilly screamed Waldo, as he dashed out into the
storm, fairly revelling in the sudden change. "Who says this
isn't 'way up in G?' Who says--out of the way, Bruno! Shut that
trap-door in your face, so another fellow may get at least a
share of the good things coming straight down from--ow--wow!"

Through the now driving rain came flashing larger particles, and
one of more than ordinary size rebounded from that curly pate,
sending its owner hurriedly to shelter beneath the scrubby trees,
one hand ruefully rubbing the injured part.

Faster fell the drops, both of rain and of ice, clattering
against the shanty and its adjoining shed with an uproar audible
even above the sullenly rolling peals of heavy thunder.

The rain descended in perfect sheets for a few minutes, while the
hailstones fell thicker and faster, growing in size as the storm
raged, already beginning to lend those red sands a pearly tinge
with their dancing particles. Now and then an aerial monster
would fall, to draw a wondering cry from the brothers, and on
more than one occasion Waldo risked a cracked crown by dashing
forth from shelter to snatch up a remarkable specimen.

"Talk about your California fruit! what's the matter with good
old Washington Territory?" he cried, tightly clenching one fist
and holding a hailstone alongside by way of comparison. "Look at
that, will you? Isn't it a beauty? See the different shaded
rings of white and clear ice. See--brother, it is as large as my
fist!"

But for once Professor Phaeton Featherwit was fairly deaf to the
claims of this, in some respects his favourite nephew, having
scuttled back beneath the shed, where he was busily stowing away
sundry articles of importance into a queerly shaped machine which
those rough planks fairly shielded from the driving storm.

Having performed this duty to his own satisfaction, the professor
came back to where the brothers were standing, viewing with them
such of the storm as could be itemised. That was but little,
thanks to the driving rain, which cut one's vision short at but a
few rods, while the deafening peals of thunder prevented any
connected conversation during those first few minutes.

"Good thing we've got a shelter!" cried Waldo, involuntarily
shrinking as the plank roof was hammered by several mammoth
stones of ice. "One of those chunks of ice would crack a
fellow's skull just as easy!"

Yet the next instant he was out in the driving storm, eagerly
snatching at a brace of those frozen marvels, heedless of his own
risk or of the warning shouts sent after him by those
cooler-brained comrades.

Thunder crashed in wildest unison with almost blinding sheets of
lightning, the rain and hail falling thicker and heavier than
ever for a few moments; but then, as suddenly as it had come, the
storm passed on, leaving but a few scattered drops to fetch up
the rear.

"Isn't that pretty nearly what people call a cloudburst, uncle
Phaeton?" asked Bruno, curiously watching that receding mass of
what from their present standpoint looked like vapour.

"Those wholly ignorant of meteorological phenomena might so
pronounce, perhaps, but never one who has given the matter either
thought or study," promptly responded the professor, in no wise
loth to give a free lecture, no matter how brief it might be,
perforce. "It is merely nature seeking to restore a disturbed
equilibrium; a current of colder air, in search of a temporary
vacuum, caused by--"

"But isn't that just what produces cy--tornadoes, though?"
interrupted Waldo, with scant politeness.

"Precisely, my dear boy," blandly agreed their mentor, rubbing
his hands briskly, while peering through rain-dampened glasses,
after that departing storm. "And I have scarcely a doubt but
that a tornado of no ordinary magnitude will be the final outcome
of this remarkable display. For, as the record will amply prove,
the most destructive windstorms are invariably heralded by a fall
of hail, heavy in proportion to the--"

"Then I'd rather be excused, thank you, sir!" again interrupted
the younger of the brothers, shrugging his shoulders as he
stepped forth from shelter to win a fairer view of the space
stretching away towards the south and the west. "I always
laughed at tales of hailstones large as hen's eggs, but now I
know better. If I was a hen, and had to match such a pattern as
these, I'd petition the legislature to change my name to that of
ostrich,--I just would, now!"

Bruno proved to be a little more amenable to the law of
politeness, and to him Professor Featherwit confined his sapient
remarks for the time being, giving no slight amount of valuable
information anent these strange phenomena of nature in travail.

He spoke of the different varieties of land-storms, showing how a
tornado varied from a hurricane or a gale, then again brought to
the front the vital difference between a cyclone, as such, and
the miscalled "twister," which has wrought such dire destruction
throughout a large portion of our own land during more recent
years.

While that little lecture would make interesting reading for
those who take an interest in such matters, it need scarcely be
reproduced in this connection, more particularly as, just when
the professor was getting fairly warmed up to his work, an
interruption came in the shape of a sharp, eager shout from the
lips of Waldo Gillespie.

"Look--look yonder! What a funny looking cloud that is!"

A small clump of trees growing upon a rising bit of ground
interfered with the view of his brother and uncle, for Waldo was
pointing almost due southeast; yet his excitement was so
pronounced that both the professor and Bruno hastened in that
direction, stopping short as they caught a fair sight of the
object indicated.

A mighty mass of wildly disturbed clouds, black and green and
white and yellow all blending together and constantly shifting
positions, out of which was suddenly formed a still more ominous
shape.

A mass of lurid vapour shot downwards, taking on the general
semblance of a balloon, as it swayed madly back and forth, an
elongating trunk or tongue reaching still nearer the earth, with
fierce gyrations, as though seeking to fasten upon some support.

Not one of that trio had ever before gazed upon just such another
creation, yet one and all recognised the truth,--this was a
veritable tornado, just such as they had read in awed wonder
about, time and time again.

Neither one of the brothers Gillespie were cravens, in any sense
of the word, but now their cheeks grew paler, and they seemed to
shrink from yonder airy monster, even while watching it grow into
shape and awful power.

Professor Featherwit was no less absorbed in this wondrous
spectacle, but his was the interest of a scientist, and his pulse
beat as ordinary, his brain remaining as clear and calm as ever.

"I hardly believe we have anything to fear from this tornado, my
lads," he said, taking note of their uneasiness. "According to
both rule and precedent, yonder tornado will pass to the east of
our present position, and we will be as safe right here as though
we were a thousand miles away."

"But,--do they always move towards the northeast, uncle Phaeton?"

"As a rule, yes; but there are exceptions, of course. And unless
this should prove to be one of those rare ex--er--"

"Look!" cried Waldo, with swift gesticulation. "It's coming this
way, or I never--ISN'T it coming this way?"

"Unless this should prove to be one of those rare exceptions, my
dear boy, I can promise you that--Upon my soul!" with an abrupt
change of both tone and manner, "I really believe it IS coming
this way!"

"It is--it is coming! Get a move on, or we'll never know--hunt a
hole and pull it in after you!" fairly screamed Waldo, turning in
flight.





Next: PROFESSOR FEATHERWIT TAKING NOTES.




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