“Oh, God! It is land—land!” he tried to shriek. “Grace! Grace! Lookup! See! The land!”
The arms about his neck tightened sharply and a low moan came to his ears. Slowly and painfully he turned his head to look at the face that had been so near in all those awful hours of the night, unseen. His heart seemed to stop beating with that moan, for it bore the announcement that the dear one was still alive.
It was still too dark to distinguish her features plainly. The face was wet and slimy with the salt water; her hair was matted over the forehead and wrapped in ugly strips about the once pretty face, now ghastly with the signs of suffering, fear and—yes, death, he thought, as he strove to see one familiar feature.
Into his eyes came a quizzical stare that slowly changed to an intense look of bewilderment. Gradually they grew wider with horror.
The death-like face was not that of the girl he loved!
While he gazed numbly, almost insanely, upon the closed eyelids, they slowly opened and a pair of wild, dark eyes gazed despairingly into his, expressive of timidity more than fear. The trembling lips parted, but the effort to speak ended in a moan. Again the eyes closed and her arms slipped from his neck.
Every vestige of strength left him with this startling discovery and, had his arm been anything but rigid with paralysis, she might have drifted off with the billows, a fate which her voluntary action invited.
A great wave rushed them violently forward and the next moment Ridgeway, faint, bewildered, and unable to grasp the full force of the remarkable ending to that night in the water, found himself, still grasping his limp burden and the broken spar, washed far upon the sands. A second wave swept them higher, and he realized, as he lay gasping on the edge of the waters, that the vast ocean was behind him and the beautiful woman he had rescued by mistake.
WAS THE SEA KIND?
He lost consciousness in the attempt to drag himself and his companion farther up the beach. His arms and legs refused to move in response to his efforts, and the last he remembered was that his body was stiff and he was absolutely powerless. When he again opened his eyes he was lying on a grassy sward with spreading green branches above him. For some minutes he lay perfectly still, dimly sensible that he was alive, but utterly unable to fix his whereabouts. Through his brain there still roared the awful waves; in his eyes there still lingered the vision of the sea as it was when dawn first developed the picture.
Fearing that he could not lift his head, he rose to his trembling elbow. His wide eyes swept the view before him. There was the sea not two hundred yards down the slope, rushing and booming upon the stretch of sand which reached within fifty feet of his grassy bed. Behind him grew a forest of queer, tropical trees, the like of which he never had seen before. His jacket had been rolled up as a pillow for his head; his shoes and stockings were off, his shirt bosom unbuttoned. Two soggy life preservers lay near by.