‘What’s that?’ I cried, as I caught sight of a dark object, rising and falling with the waves.
‘It’s a boat, surely!’ said my grandfather ’Look, Jem!
THE BUNDLE SAVED.
It was a boat of which I had caught sight—a boat bottom upwards. A minute afterwards it swept close past us, so near that we could almost touch it.
‘They’ve lost their boat. Pull away, Jem!’
‘Oh, grandfather!’ I said,—and the wind was so high, I could only make him hear by shouting,—’grandfather, do you think the boat was full?’
‘No,’ he said. ’I think they’ve tried to put her off, and she’s been swept away. Keep up, Jem!’ For Jem Millar, who was not a strong man, seemed ready to give in.
We were now considerably more than half-way between the boat and the ship. It seemed as if those on board had caught sight of us, for another rocket went up. They had evidently kept one back, as a last hope, in case any one should pass by.
As we drew nearer, we could see that it was a large ship, and we could distinguish many forms moving about on deck.
‘Poor fellows! poor fellows!’ said my grandfather. ‘Pull away, Jem!’
Nearer and nearer we came to the ship, till at length we could see her quite distinctly. She had struck on Ainslie Crag, and her stern was under water, and the waves were beating wildly on her deck. We could see men clinging to the rigging which remained, and holding on to the broken masts of the ship.
I shall never forget that sight to my dying day! My grandfather and Jem Millar saw it, and they pulled on desperately.
And now we were so near to the vessel that had it not been for the storm which was raging, we could have spoken to those on board. Again and again we tried to come alongside the shattered ship, but were swept away by the rush of the strong, resistless waves.
Several of the sailors came to the side of the ship, and threw out a rope to us. It was long before we could catch it, but at last, as we were being carried past it, I clutched it, and my grandfather immediately made it secure.
‘Now!’ he cried. ‘Steady, Jem! we shall save some of them yet!’ and he pulled the boat as near as possible to the ship.
Oh! how my heart beat that moment, as I looked at the men and women all crowding towards the place where the rope was fastened.
‘We can’t take them all,’ said my grandfather anxiously; ’we must cut the rope when we’ve got as many as the boat will carry.’
I shuddered, as I thought of those who would be left behind.
We had now come so close to the ship that the men on board would be able to watch their opportunity, and jump into the boat whenever a great wave was past, and there was a lull for a moment in the storm.
‘Look out, Jem!’ cried my grandfather. ‘Here’s the first’