Bets on Ice

Everyone knew the big day had come. The excitement even awakened the Male-mutes that snooze on the boardwalk before the town's false-front stores. There was open water under the big railroad bridge half a mile upstream; that meant the Tanana River jam was breaking.

The roar could be heard for several miles, as huge cakes of ice broke apart, flapped up, stood on edge, ground into each other, crashed and thundered. Most of the 300 citizens (mostly Indians) of Nenana, Alaska, made for the river, to watch a fragile candy-striped tripod anchored in...

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