Ford Foster looked out to seaward, even while he was hauling his best upon the sail halyards. All along the line of the coast, at distances varying from a hundred yards or so to nearly a mile, there was an irregular line of foaming breakers—an awful thing for a boat like “The Swallow” to run into!
Perhaps; but ten times worse for a larger craft, for the latter would be shattered on the shoals, where the bit of a yacht would find plenty of water under her; that is, if she did not, at the same time, find too much water over her.
“Can’t we go back through the inlet in the bar?” asked Ford.
“Not with this wind in our teeth, and it’s getting worse every minute. No more will it do to try to keep inside the surf.”
“What can we do, then?”
“Take the smoothest places we can find, and run ’em. The sea isn’t very rough outside. It’s our only chance.”
Poor Ford Foster’s heart sank within him, as he listened, and as he gazed ahead upon the long white line of foaming surf and tossing breakers. He saw, however, a look of heroic resolution rising in “Captain Kinzer’s” face, and it gave him courage to turn his eyes again towards the surf.
“The Swallow” was now once more moving in a way to justify her name; and, although Ford was no sailor, he could see that her only chance to penetrate that perilous barrier of broken water was to “take it nose on,” as Dick Lee expressed it.
That was clearly the thing Dab Kinzer intended to do. There were places of comparative smoothness, here and there, in the tossing and plunging line; but they were bad enough, at the best, and they would have been a good deal worse but for that stiff breeze blowing off shore.
“Now for it!” shouted Dab, as “The Swallow” bounded on.
“Dar dey come!” said Dick.
Ford thought of his mother, and sister, and father; but he had not a word to say, and hardly felt like breathing.
Bows foremost, full sail, rising like a cork on the long, strong billows, which would have rolled her over and over if she had not been handled so skilfully as she really was; once or twice pitching dangerously in short, chopping seas, and shipping water enough to wet her brave young mariners to the skin, and call for vigorous baling afterwards,—“The Swallow” battled gallantly with her danger for a few moments; and then Dab Kinzer swung his hat, and shouted,—
“Hurrah, boys! We’re out at sea!”
“Dat’s so,” said Dick.
“So it is,” remarked Ford, a little gloomily; “but how on earth will we ever get ashore again? We can’t go back through that surf.”
“Well,” replied Dab, “if it doesn’t come on to blow too hard, we’ll run right on down the coast. If the wind lulled, or whopped around a little, we’d find our way in, easy enough, long before night. We might have a tough time beating home across the bay, even if we were inside the bar, now. Anyhow, we’re safe enough out here.”