him swiftly to the shore and to the rocks of the Island.
And then he dived again and beat his way along the
bottom, clutching with his hands at the soft, thick
mud, and rising only to gasp for breath and sink again.
His eyes were smarting hotly, and his head and breast
ached with pressure that seemed to come from the inside
and threatened to burst its way out. His arms
had grown like lead and had lost their strength, and
his legs were swept and twisted away from his control
and were numb and useless. He assured himself
fiercely that he could not have been in the water
for more than five minutes at the longest, and reminded
himself that he had often before lived in it for hours,
and that this power, which was so much greater than
his own, could not outlast him. But there was
no sign of abatement in the swift, cruel uncertainty
of its movement, and it bore him on and down or up
as it pleased. The lights on the shore became
indistinct, and he finally confused the two shores,
and gave up hope of reaching the New York side, except
by accident, and hoped only to reach some solid land
alive. He did not go over all of his past life,
but the vision of Mary Casey did come to him, and
how she would not know that he had been innocent.
It was a little thing to distress himself about at
such a time, but it hurt him keenly. And then
the lights grew blurred, and he felt that he was making
heavy mechanical strokes that barely kept his lips
above the water-line. He felt the current slacken
perceptibly, but he was too much exhausted to take
advantage of it, and drifted forward with it, splashing
feebly like a dog, and holding his head back with
a desperate effort. A huge, black shadow, only
a shade blacker than the water around him, loomed
up suddenly on his right, and he saw a man’s
face appear in the light of a hatchway and disappear
“Help!” he cried, “help!”
but his voice sounded far away and barely audible.
He struck out desperately against the current, and
turned on his back and tried to keep himself afloat
where he was. “Help!” he called again,
feebly, grudging the strength it took to call even
that. “Help! Quick, for God’s
sake! help me!”
Something heavy, black, and wet struck him sharply
in the face and fell with a splash on the water beside
him. He clutched for it quickly, and clasped
it with both hands and felt it grow taut; and then
gave up thinking, and they pulled him on board.
When he came to himself, the captain of the canal-boat
stooped and took a fold of the gray trousers between
his thumb and finger. Then he raised his head
and glanced across at the big black Island, where
lights were still moving about on the shore, and whistled
softly. But Hefty looked at him so beseechingly
that he arose and came back with a pair of old boots
and a suit of blue jeans.
“Will you send these back to me to-morrow?”
“Sure,” said Hefty.
“And what’ll I do with these?” said
the captain, holding up the gray trousers.