“Oh, Lord!” he groaned. “She’s done fer now! An’ it’s high tide, too! We’ll never git her off them mud flats! How in time did Eben hist that sail in sich a storm? Why, it was all that both of us could do when it was calm.”
The storm now was at its height, and so incessant was the lightning that the captain could see nothing more of the boat so dazzling was the illumination. The rain pelted upon him, and at times he groaned with pain.
“Guess I’ll have to spend the night here,” he muttered. “This is the worst fix I ever got into. Wish to goodness I could git some word to Martha. But she’ll think I’m on board that boat by this time. I wonder what she’d say if she knew I was layin’ here, helpless as a log. But, then, it might be worse. I’m alive, me leg ain’t broke, an’ the lightnin’ hasn’t hit me. I’ve got much to be thankful fer yet, even though the ‘Eb an’ Flo’ does go on the flats. Old Parson Westmore used to say that when things got black always count yer blessin’s, an’ ye’ll be surprised to find how many ye really have left. So cheer up, Sam’l Tobin, it’ll take more’n a thunder storm an’ a sprained ankle to knock ye out, blamed if it won’t.”
Under the inspiration of this resolve, he began to hum his favourite tune. It made him feel better, and soon he was singing at the top of his voice:
“Here I’ll raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy grace I’ll come,
And I trust in Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.”
“My, them’s great words!” he ejaculated, when he had finished. “They’ve put new life into me already. Guess I’ll sing ’em over agin. There’s nuthin’ like a song in the night fer a sprained ankle.”
As he lay there the storm gradually beat itself out, and rolled away in the distance. From where he was lying he could look up at his own house. Often he had turned his eyes in that direction, hoping to see a light in the window. But not the faintest gleam appeared to cheer his loneliness, so he knew that Martha and Flo must have remained at the Hamptons. No doubt they would go home when the storm ceased. After what seemed to him hours, he was rewarded by the sight of a light flickering among the trees. It was a lantern, he was certain, and he knew that John must be showing the visitors home. He watched it longingly as it neared the house. Could he make himself heard? Rising with difficulty to his knees, he lifted up his voice in several loud calls for help. Then he watched, while his heart beat fast within him. Again he called, and the light suddenly stopped. This was encouraging, so with a great effort he gave one more mighty whoop, ere he sank back exhausted upon the ground.
THE CAPTAIN GIVES ADVICE
“I can’t really tell ye how it happened, Martha.”
The captain was lying on the sofa in the sitting-room, with his injured foot resting on a pillow. His wife had applied hot cloths to the ankle, and rubbed it well with liniment.