“Go to bed, dear,” his mother pleaded. “You must be worn out.”
“I must see how the works have stood it.”
On the whole, they had stood it well. The gale, indeed, had torn away the wire table and cage, and thus cut off for the time all access to the outer rock; for while the sea ran at its present height the scramble out along the ridge could not be attempted even at low water. But from the cliff he could see the worst. The waves had washed over the building, tearing off the temporary covers, and churning all within. Planks, scaffolding—everything floatable-had gone, and strewed the rock with matchwood; and—a marvel to see-one of his two heaviest winches had been lifted from inside, hurled clean over the wall, and lay collapsed in the wreckage of its cast-iron frame. But, so far as he could see, the dovetailed masonry stood intact. A voice hailed him.
“What a night! What a night!”
It was old Pezzack, aloft on the gallery of the light-house in his yellow oilers, already polishing the lantern panes.
Taffy’s workmen came straggling and gathered about him. They discussed the damage together but without addressing Taffy; until a little pock-marked fellow, the wag of the gang, nudged a mate slily and said aloud—
“By God, Bill, we can build a bit—you and me and the boss!”
All the men laughed; and Taffy laughed too, blushing. Yes; this had been in his mind. He had measured his work against the sea in its fury, and the sea had not beaten him.
A cry broke in upon their laughter. It came from the base of the cliff to the right: a cry so insistent that they ran toward it in a body.
Far below them, on the edge of a great boulder which rose from the broken water and seemed to overhang it, stood the rescued sailor. He was pointing.
Taffy was the first to reach him!
“It’s my brother! It’s my brother Sam!”
Taffy flung himself full length on the rock and peered over. A tangle of ore-weed awash rose and fell about its base; and from under this, as the frothy waves drew back, he saw a man’s ankle protruding, and a foot still wearing a shoe.
“It’s my brother!” wailed the sailor again. “I can swear to the shoe of en!”
One of the masons lowered himself into the pool, and thrusting an arm beneath the ore-weed, began to grope.
“He’s pinned here. The rock’s right on top of him.”
Taffy examined the rock. It weighed fifteen tons if an ounce; but there were fresh and deep scratches upon it. He pointed these out to the men, who looked and felt them with their hands and stared at the subsiding waves, trying to bring their minds to the measure of the spent gale.
“Here, I must get out of this!” said the man in the pool, as a small wave dashed in and sent its spray over his bowed shoulders.