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Synopsis

The lazy warmth of a May afternoon, the spring following Orn Skinner's release from Auburn Prison, was reflected in the attitudes of three men lounging on the shore in front of "Satisfied" Longman's shack. At their feet, the waters of Cayuga Lake dimpled under the rays of the western sun. Like a strip of burnished silver, the inlet wound its way through the swamp from the elevators and railroad stations near the foot of south hill. Across the lake rose the precipitous slopes of East Hill, tapestried in green, etched here and there by stretches of winding white road, and crowned by the buildings on the campus of Cornell University. Stretched from the foot of State Street on either side of the Lehigh Valley track lay the Silent City, its northern end spreading several miles up the west shore of the Lake. Its inhabitants were canalers, fishermen and hunters, uneducated, rough and superstitious. They built their little huts in the simplest manner out of packing boxes and rough lumber and roofed them with pieces of tin and sheet iron. Squatters they were appropriately named, because they paid no attention to land titles, but stuck their shacks wherever fancy indicated or convenience dictated.

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