Katy came up once, and looked at him. It was not terror at thought of death, so much as it was heart-break at being thus cast off, that looked at him out of her despairing eyes. Then she clasped her hands, and cried aloud, in broken voice: “Brother Albert!”
And then with a broken cry she sank.
Oh! Katy! Katy! It were better to sink. I can hardly shed a tear for thee, as I see thee sink to thy cold bed at the lake-bottom among the slimy water-weeds and leeches; but for women who live to trust professions, and who find themselves cast off and sinking—neglected and helpless in life—for them my heart is breaking.
Oh! little Katy. Sweet, and loving, and trustful! It were better to sink among the water-weeds and leeches than to live on. God is more merciful than man.
Yes, God is indeed more merciful than man. There are many things worse than death. There is a fold where no wolves enter; a country where a loving heart shall not find its own love turned into poison; a place where the wicked cease from troubling—yes, even in this heretical day, let us be orthodox enough to believe that there is a land where no Smith Westcotts ever come.
There are many cases in which it were better to die. It is easy enough to say it before it comes. Albert Charlton had said—how many times!—that he would rather see Katy dead than married to Westcott. But, now that Katy was indeed dead, how did he feel?
Charlton and Gray had paddled hard with crooked limbs, the boat was unmanageable, and they could with difficulty keep her in her coarse. As they neared the capsized boat, they saw that the raft had taken the people from it, and Albert heard the voice—there could be no mistake as to the voice, weak and shivering as it was—of Isa Marlay, calling to him from the raft:
“We are all safe. Go and save Katy and—him!”
“There they air!” said Gray, pointing to two heads just visible above the water. “Pull away, by thunder!” And the two half-exhausted young men swung the boat round, and rowed. How they longed for the good oars that had sent the “Pirate’s Bride” driving through the water that afternoon! How they grudged the time spent in righting her when she veered to right or left! At last they heard Katy’s voice cry out, “Brother Albert!”
“O God!” groaned Charlton, and bent himself to his oar again.