He awakes to find himself still with Corkey. His brain is dizzy and he relapses into lethargy. In the faint light of the dawn, totally benumbed by the night’s exposure, he is again passing into nothingness.
Corkey questions the sinking man, and Lockwin tries to tell of the money—the deposit of $75,000 to the order of a fictitious person. He cannot do it.
“Put a stone over Davy’s grave,” he says, and goes into a region which seems still more cold, more desolate, more terrible.
There is a knocking, knocking, knocking. He hears it long before he replies to it. Let them knock! Let a man sleep a little longer! It is probably the chambermaid at the hotel in Washington.
But it is a persistent chambermaid. Ah, now the bed is lifted up and down. This must be seen to. We will open our eyes.
What a world of light and shimmer! The couch is the yawl of the Africa. The persistent chambermaid is the Georgian Bay.
The gale has subsided. The sun shines. Blackbirds are singing. The yawl is dancing on the waves near the shore.
David Lockwin sits up. How warm and pleasant to be alive!
Alive! Oh, yes! Chicago! The Africa! Is it not better?
Has he any face left? His nose seems flat. He must be desperately wounded. His eyes grow dim. He must be dying again.
He sleeps and is once more gently awakened by the sea—so fond now, so terrible last night.
He sits upright in the yawl, wet, sore, and yet whole in limb. He gathers his scattered faculties. He finds a handkerchief and ties up his face. He muses.
“I am the sole survivor! I, Robert Chalmers, of New York City, am the sole survivor, and nobody shall know even that. Corkey—let me see—Corkey and a boy—they must be at the bottom of Georgian Bay!”
He muses again. His face hurts him once more. He sees a cabin at a distance. He finds he has money in plenty. To heal his wounds will be easy. He must be greatly changed if his feelings may be credited. Two of his teeth are broken, and harass his curious tongue.
What plotter, cunning in exploits, could so well plan an honorable discharge from the bitterness of life in Chicago?
“Sing on, you birds! Fly off to Cuba! I am as free!”
The man is startled by his own voice. It sounds as if some one else were talking. Yet this surprise only increases his joy.
“Free! Free! Free!” The word has a complete charm. It is like the shimmer of the waters. All this expanse of hammered silver is free!
“I am as free!” exclaims Robert Chalmers, of New York City.
And again starting at the sound of his own voice, he seeks the cabin of a hospitable trapper, where his wounds healing without surgical attention, may disguise him all the better.