“Is Gray trying to stay under? Trying to drown himself as a sign of his repentance?” whispered Wolgast in Dave’s ear. But Darrin shook his head. An instant later Gray shot up to the surface—–alone!
“Come aboard,” ordered Dave Darrin, but he did not rely entirely on coaxing. Snatching up a boat-hook he fastened it in Gray’s collar and drew that midshipman alongside, where many ready hands stretched out and hauled him aboard.
Two of the rescued young women were now sobbing almost hysterically.
“If you won’t let me stay in the water, won’t some of the rest of you do something?” demanded Midshipman Gray hoarsely.
“We’re going to,” nodded Dave. “Danby!”
“Let go the anchor.”
“Very good, sir.”
“Follow me, Dan,” directed Dave. The anchor went overboard while the two midshipmen were hustling forward.
“I’m going down first, Danny,” explained Dave. “Follow whenever you may think you need to, but don’t be in too big a hurry. Use good judgment.”
“Trust me,” nodded Dan hoarsely.
With that Dave seized the visible part of the anchor cable and went down, forcing himself toward the bottom by holding to the cable. It was a difficult undertaking, as, after he had gone part of the way, the buoyancy of the water fought against his efforts to go lower. But Midshipman Darrin still gripped hard at the cable, fighting foot by foot. His eyes open, at last he sighted the loop near the anchor. With a powerful effort he reached that loop, thrusting his left arm through it. The strain almost threatened to break that arm, but Dave held grimly, desperately on.
Now he looked about him. Fortunately there was no growth of seaweed at this point, and he could see clearly for a distance of quite a few yards around him.
“Queer what can have become of the body!” thought Darrin. “But then, the boat has drifted along slightly, and Miss Butler may have sunk straight down. She may be lying or floating here just out of my range of vision. I wish I could let go and strike out, but I’d only shoot up to the surface after a little.”
Many a shadow in the deep water caused Darrin to start and peer the harder, only to find that he had been deceived.
At that depth the weight of the water pressed dangerously upon his head and in his ears. Dave felt his senses leaving him.
“I’d sooner die than give up easily!” groaned the young midshipman, and he seemed about to have his wish.
THE SEARCH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAY
By the strongest effort of the will that he could make, Darrin steadied himself and forced his eyes once more open.
Drifting toward him, two feet above his head, was what looked like another shadow. It came closer.