“For God’s sake, be brave, darling! Cling tight and be careful when you breathe,” he managed to cry in her ear. There was no answer, but he felt that she had heard.
The night was so black that he could not see the spar to which he clung. At no time could he see more than the fitful gleam of dark water as some mysterious glimmer was produced by the weird machinery of the air. He could hear the roar of the mighty waves, could feel the uplifting power and the dash downward from seemingly improbable heights, but he could not see the cauldron in which they were dancing.
It was fortunate that he could not, for a single glimpse of that sea in all its fury would have terrified him beyond control. In sheer despair he would have given up the infinitesimal claim he had for salvation and welcomed death from the smothering tons, now so bravely battled against.
The girl to whom he clung and whose rigid clasp was still about his neck had not spoken, and scarcely breathed since the plunge into the sea. At times he felt utterly alone in the darkness, so death-like was her silence. But for an occasional spasmodic indication of fear as they and their spar shot downward from some unusual elevation, he might have believed that he was drifting with a corpse.
Rolling, tossing, dragging through the billows, clinging to the friendly spar, Hugh Ridegway sped onward, his body stiff and sensationless, his brain fogged and his heart dead with that of the girl to whom he clung so desperately. At last the monstrous waves began to show their outlines to his blinding eyes. The blackness of the dome above became tinged with a discernible shade of ever-increasing brightness. A thrill shot through his fagging soul as he realized that the long night was ending and day was dawning. The sun was coming forth to show him his grave.
Slowly the brightness grew, and with it grew the most dreadful aspect that ever fell upon the eye of man—the mighty sea in all its fury. Suddenly, as he poised on the summit of a huge wave, something ahead struck him as strange. A great mass seemed to rise from the ocean far away, dim, indistinct, but still plain to the eye. With the next upward sweep he strained his eyes in the waning darkness and again saw the vast black, threatening, uneven mass.
An uncanny terror enveloped him. What could the strange thing be that appeared to be rushing toward him? As far as the eye could see on either side stretched the misty shape. The sky grew brighter, a faint glow became apparent ahead, spreading into a splendor whose perfection was soon streaked with bars of red and yellow, racing higher and higher into the dome above. His dull brain observed with wonder that the brightness grew, not out of the sea, but beyond the great object ahead, and he was more mystified than ever. The tiny, fiery beams seemed to spring from the dark, ugly, menacing cloud, or whatever it might be. Finally he realized that it was the sun coming into the heavens from the east, and—his heart roared within him as he began to grasp the truth—the great black mass was land!