He had scarcely completed these preparations, when the first wave, which he faced with bent head, broke right over him and the rock. The interval before the second came he employed in making another knot in the land-rope.
Again came a wave, and again Jens stood firm, and he now made the final knot in the rope that saved the yacht.
He had now made trial of what the force of a wave could be. He threw the line from his back up round his great broad shoulders, turned his strong pale face towards our house for a moment, as if it were quite possible that he was now bidding it farewell, and bent his head towards the third and last wave, which was advancing with a foaming crest, as usual, larger than its two predecessors.
When the wave had broken in foam, and gone by, no Jens stood on the rock.
I ran down in horror to the others. When I got there, they had recovered, besides the boat, which had been torn from the rock, the apparently lifeless body of Jens, and were now carrying it to the house.
The wave had dragged him along, the line that he had round his shoulders having slipped up to his neck, and taken clothes and skin with it. He now lay unconscious from the pressure of the water, and with one arm, torn and bleeding from the line, in a twisted position: it was laid bare, at one place even to the bone.
Father walked with a pale face and supported him while they carried him up and put him to bed.
When he recovered consciousness, he began spitting blood, and had a difficulty in speaking; but father, who examined his chest, said joyfully that there was no danger.
By this exploit of saving the yacht Jens became famed as a hero far and wide; from that day forward, he was one of my father’s trusted men, and in the following summer he and French Martina were married.
I can now calmly write down the little, for me so much, that remains to be told—for many years it would have been impossible.
The storm lasted from Saturday midday until Sunday night, when towards morning the wind gradually subsided into complete stillness, although the sea continued restless.
The same day, Monday, at midday, there landed at the parsonage landing-place, not the minister’s white house-boat, that was expected home, but an ordinary tarred, ten-oared boat, with a number of people in it.
From it four of the men slowly bore a burden between them up to the house, while a big man and a little woman went, bowed down, hand in hand, after them. It was the minister and his wife.
I understood at once what had happened, and my heart cried with despair.
The dreadful message, which came to us directly after, told me nothing new—it only confirmed my belief that it was the minister’s daughter Susanna they had borne up.