Flood! How? It hadn't rained, he was sure of it. The fig tree wouldn't shelter him from that! Perhaps a cloudburst further up.
...but the sky had been clear blue.. He pushed away the branches and stepped out.
Something screamed. Was it a magpie, laughing at him? Magpies could fly, could laugh at floods and tearing water - magpies could laugh at humans lost in the grinding fury of the gorge
A boulder crashed into the cliff on the other side, then was torn away again by the water. The flood was getting stronger, faster, higher all the time. He had to escape... He had to.
ROPE! GRAB THE ROPE!
The noise came again. A high-pitched scream, a distant pleading yell. It came from somewhere up the cliff, from safety, up above. Martin tried to pinpoint the source of the sound. There was something white- not a magpie. It was much to big. Then suddenly he saw it- a face, and flying hair, dark red in two flat plaits, an open mouth yelling something.
...Suddenly he saw a foothold, a small tree in a crevice. He tried to grab it and swayed again, but got it on the inward turn. He wedged his foot into the ledge, then paused, looking up. It was still steep here, but not so sheer. With a little help from the vine, he could climb.
Something was coming, twisting down. It was a rope. That's what the girl was trying to say- a rope... But it wasn't a rope - it was a vine, thick and brownish green. He had to grab the vine...
The girl was looking at him. Her hair was tangled like a heap of string on top, falling heavily in dark-red plaits below . Her feet were bare, and dark brown. She was looking at him in fury.
One more stretch. He hauled himself upwards, both hands pulling on the vine, his feet pushing at the stony soil. Nearer... nearer... then suddenly the world was flat again, and he could stand. His knees shook, and he collapsed onto the ground
'You blue-nosed fool! you pile of lizard dung! what in the name of heaven do you think you were doing?'
What was her accent? Irish, with something else as well?