The boat’s progress, assisted by the current, was very rapid, and she soon reached the island. The experienced eye of her manager discerned through the darkness the narrow opening of the little stream. Taking in the sails and lowering the masts, the little craft glided through the rivulet, and in less time than is taken to relate it was securely moored in front of the cottage. The old negro, bewildered by the unseasonable summons, assisted in conveying the wounded stranger to the cottage.
Dr. Vaudelier, after a more thorough examination of his patient than he had been able to make before, was pleased to find that his wounds, though serious, were not of a dangerous character. He set the broken arm, and, by the exercise of the great skill for which he had been distinguished, restored him to consciousness, and made sure his future recovery.
“Where is she? Is she safe?” murmured the sufferer, as his returning consciousness afforded a partial knowledge of his condition. “Where am I?”
“You are among friends, sir,—among friends. Do not distress yourself,” replied the doctor, in a soothing tone.
“Where is she? Great God! what has become of her?” exclaimed the wounded man, with startling energy.
“You must be quiet, sir, or you will injure your arm,” said Dr. Vaudelier, mildly restraining the excited man.
“O, Emily, Emily!” groaned the sufferer. “Why did I leave you? Why did we not perish together?”
“Be calm, sir,—be calm! You have lost a friend in this terrible disaster?”
“I have. O that I could have died with her!”
“Are you sure she has perished?”
“She could scarcely have survived the explosion.”
“Was she not in the ladies’ cabin?”
“Then probably she is safe. The ladies’ cabin was thrown from its position; but it appeared to be comparatively but little shattered. The forward cabin was blown entirely in pieces.”
“Thank God for this intelligence!” ejaculated Henry Carroll,—for the reader has already discovered that it was he whom the doctor had rescued.
“Another steamer was close at hand, so that probably most of the ladies were saved, unless, as is often the case, they jumped overboard in their fright.”
“Heaven protect her!” exclaimed Henry.
“But, sir, I must insist on perfect quiet. Your condition imperatively demands it. To-morrow everything shall be done to relieve your anxiety. We shall then receive Vicksburg papers, which will contain the names of all who are lost.”
“I will try to be quiet, but I cannot but be anxious till I know the whole truth.”
Dr. Vaudelier again applied a soothing balm to the scalded portions of his body, and gave him a powerful narcotic, the effects of which were soon visible in a deep, troubled slumber.