He awoke in the dark. His awakening was simple, easy, without
movement save for the eyes that opened and made him aware of
darkness. Unlike most, who must feel and grope and listen to, and
contact with, the world about them, he knew himself on the moment
of awakening, instantly identifying himself in time and place and
personality. After the lapsed hours of sleep he took up, without
effort, the interrupted tale of his days. He knew himself to be
Dick Forrest, the master of broad acres, who had fallen asleep
hours before after drowsily putting a match between the pages of
"Road Town" and pressing off the electric reading lamp. Near at
hand there was the ripple and gurgle of some sleepy fountain. From
far off, so faint and far that only a keen ear could catch, he
heard a sound that made him smile with pleasure. He knew it for the
distant, throaty bawl of King Polo--King Polo, his champion Short
Horn bull, thrice Grand Champion also of all bulls at Sacramento at
the California State Fairs. The smile was slow in easing from Dick
Forrest's face, for he dwelt a moment on the new triumphs he had
destined that year for King Polo on the Eastern livestock circuits.
He would show them that a bull, California born and finished, could
compete with the cream of bulls corn-fed in Iowa or imported
overseas from the immemorial home of Short Horns. Not until the
smile faded, which was a matter of seconds, did he reach out in the
dark and press the first of a row of buttons. There were three rows
of such buttons. The concealed lighting that spilled from the huge
bowl under the ceiling revealed a sleeping-porch, three sides of
which were fine-meshed copper screen. The fourth side was the house
wall, solid concrete, through which French windows gave access. He
pressed the second button in the row and the bright light
concentered at a particular place on the concrete wall,
illuminating, in a row, a clock, a barometer, and centigrade and
Fahrenheit thermometers. Almost in a sweep of glance he read the
messages of the dials: time 4:30; air pressure, 29:80, which was
normal at that altitude and season; and temperature, Fahrenheit, 36
. With another press, the gauges of time and heat and air were sent
back into the darkness.
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