It was while he was in this condition that the Talisman hove in sight. Henry had frequently fallen into this species of sleep during the last few hours, but he never continued in it long; for the pains of thirst, as well as hunger, now racked his frame. Nevertheless, he was not much reduced in strength or vigor. A long, slow process of dying would have still lain before the poor youth, had it been his lot to perish on that raft.
A delightful dream came over him as he lay. A rich banquet was spread before him. With wolfish desire he grasped the food, and ate as he never ate before. Oh! it was a rare feast, that! Each morsel was delicious; each draught nectar. But he could not devour enough. There was a strange feeling in him that he could by no means eat to satisfaction.
While he was thus feasting in dreams, the Talisman drew near. Her bulwarks were crowded with faces gazing earnestly at the bit of red rag that fluttered in the breeze, and the pile of loose spars on which the man’s form lay extended and motionless.
Suddenly Henry awoke, with a start, to find that his rich banquet was a terrible delusion; that he was starving to death; and that a large ship was hove to within a few yards of him!
Starting up on his knees, he uttered a wild shriek. Then, as the truth entered his soul, he raised his hand and gave a faint cheer.
The revulsion of feeling in the crew of the Talisman was overpowering. A long, loud, tremendous cheer burst from every heart!
“Lower away!” was shouted to the men who stood at the fall-tackles of the boat.
As the familiar sounds broke on Henry’s ears, he leaped to his feet, and, waving his hand above his head, again attempted to cheer; but his voice failed him. Staggering backwards, he fell fainting into the sea.
Almost at the same instant, a man leaped from the bulwark of the frigate, and swam vigorously towards the raft. It was Richard Price, the boatswain of the frigate. He reached Henry before the boat did, and, grasping his inanimate form, supported him until it came up and rescued them both. A few minutes later Henry Stuart was restored to consciousness, and the surgeon of the frigate was administering to him such restoratives as his condition seemed to require.
THE CAPTURE AND THE FIRE.
Eight days after the rescue of Henry Stuart from a horrible death, as related in the last chapter, the Talisman found herself, late in the afternoon, within about forty hours’ sail of Sandy Cove.