Together they walked and ran across the plain and through the pass which led to the sea. Far behind straggled a few of the villagers, emboldened by curiosity.
“The rocks seem to be all right,” he said, as if a pet theory had been destroyed.
By this time they had passed over the rocks and were upon the sand. Simultaneously they turned their eyes toward the sea, and the sight that burst upon them fairly took the breath from their lungs, leaving them so weak that they staggered. A mile or so out at sea lay a huge ship, white hulled and formidable. There were gun turrets above deck and a swarm of men on board.
Hugh’s eyes seemed to turn round and round in his head, his legs began to tremble and his palsied lips parted helplessly, as he pointed to the colors she flew. The American flag fluttered from the mizzen-mast of the great vessel!
Almost crazed by the sight, the castaways, overcoming their stupefaction, forgetting all that had gone before, danced frantically on the sand hill, their ecstasy knowing no bounds.
“Will they see us?” she sobbed, falling at last to the ground in sheer exhaustion, digging her fingers feverishly, unconsciously into the sand.
“Yes, yes! They must see us! We are saved! Saved!” he yelled hoarsely. Then he threw himself beside her, and they were clasped in each other’s arms, crying like children. Afterward they could remember only that they saw a boat lowered from the ship. It came toward them, a white uniformed officer standing in the bow. As the boat drew near Tennys began to regain her equanimity. She withdrew hastily from Hugh’s arms and arose. With streaming eyes she waved her hands in response to the faraway salute of the officer. Hugh, not so easily restrained, jumped to his feet and shouted:
“Hurrah! Hurrah! God bless you! American sailors! Angels of heaven, every one of you! Hurrah!”
Holding their hands to their temples, the castaways finally calmed themselves enough to look rationally at each other. Their minds began to regain order, their nerves were quieted, their hearts forgot the tumult, and they could think and talk and reason again. In the fierce ecstasy of seeing the long-looked-for rescuers, they had forgotten their expressed desire to live always on the island. Human nature had overcome sentiment and they rejoiced in what they had regarded as a calamity an hour before. Now they realized that a crisis had come.
“Hugh, will they take us away?” she cried, real anguish mingling with triumphant joy.
“Shall we go or stay?” cried he, torn by two emotions.
“It may be the end of our happiness,” she whispered, pale as death. “I will stay here forever, Hugh, if you like.”
“Do you want to go?”
“I want to go and I want to stay. What shall we do?”
“Go! We shall be happy. Nothing shall part us, darling.”
“But Grace? What if she is alive?” she asked faintly.