Presently she added, “My dear love, we shall be just as happy as that. We shall live in great light together. God will be pleased to see plainly how we love each other.”
Her only complaints were a patient “Isn’t it hard?” when a new billow had covered her from head to foot, crushed her pitilessly against the shrouds, and nearly smothered her.
The next words would perhaps be, “I am so sorry for you, my darling. I wish for your sake that you had not come. But oh, how you help me!”
“I am glad to be here,” firmly and honestly and passionately responded the young man, raising her wet hand and covering it with kisses. “But you shall not die.”
He was bearing like a man and she like a woman. He was resolved to fight his battle to the last; she was weak, resigned, gentle, and ready for heaven.
The land, even to its minor features, was now distinctly visible, not more than a mile to leeward. As they rose on the billows they could distinguish the long beach, the grassy slopes, and wooded knolls beyond it, the green lawn on which stood the village of Monterey, the whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs of the houses, and the groups of people who were watching the oncoming tragedy.
“Are you not going to launch the boats?” shouted Thurstane after a glance at the awful line of frothing breakers which careered back and forth athwart the beach.
“They are both stove,” returned the captain calmly. “We must go ashore as we are.”
When Thurstane heard, or rather guessed from the captain’s gestures, that the boats were stove, he called, “Are we to do nothing?”
The captain shouted something in reply, but although he put his hands to his mouth for a speaking trumpet, his words were inaudible, and he would not have been understood had he not pointed aloft.
Thurstane looked upward, and saw for the first time that the main topmast had broken off and been cut clear, probably hours ago when he was in the cabin searching for Clara. The top still remained, however, and twisted through its openings was one end of a hawser, the other end floating off to leeward two hundred yards in advance of the wreck. Fastened to the hawser by a large loop was a sling of cordage, from which a long halyard trailed shoreward, while another connected it with the top. All this had been done behind his back and without his knowledge, so deafening and absorbing was the tempest. He saw at once what was meant and what he would have to do. When the brig struck he must carry Clara into the top, secure her in the sling, and send her ashore. Doubtless the crowd on the beach would know enough to make the hawser fast and pull on the halyard.
The captain shouted again, and this time he could be understood: “When she strikes hold hard.”
“Did you hear him?” Thurstane asked, turning to Clara.