Van Bibber and Others eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about Van Bibber and Others.
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 again.

“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?” he asked.

“Sure,” said Hefty.

“And what’ll I do with these?” said the captain, holding up the gray trousers.

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Van Bibber and Others from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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