“I must save him,” she thought over and over again. “It does not so much matter about me; I haven’t any mother. But Tom——”
Her bodily strength was fast giving out, but her spirit remained indomitable. It was that spirit that was keeping them afloat in the midst of an angry sea.
But as for gaining on the sailboat, she was right. No matter how great her effort, she was not coming any nearer to it. The last time she looked up from the waves she could catch only a glimpse of the boat far ahead.
It seemed incredible. It was too awful to believe. The stranger she had left on board the sailboat was not coming to their aid. He was deliberately taking their boat to shore, leaving them to the mercy of the sea.
Even with this realization Madge did not give up the battle. The arm that held Tom Curtis felt like a log, it was so stiff and cold. She could swim no longer, but she could still float. There were other craft that were putting in toward the shore. If she could only keep up for a few moments, surely some one would save them!
But at last her splendid courage waned. She was sinking. The rescuer would come too late! She thought of the circle of cheerful faces she had left two hours before. Then—a cold, wet muzzle touched her face, a pair of strong teeth seized hold of her blouse. Tom’s setter dog, Brownie, had managed to swim to his master. The animal’s gallant effort to save Tom inspired Madge to fresh effort, and once more she took up the battle for her life and that of her friend.
Life or death?
“Is there no hope?” a voice asked despairingly.
“There is hope for a long time,” answered Phyllis Alden quietly. “I have heard my father say that people may sometimes be revived after being in the water for many hours.”
“She must live, or I can not bear it,” declared Tom Curtis brokenly. “Oh, won’t some one go for a doctor? Can’t you do something else for her?”
“The man has gone for a doctor, Tom,” soothed Mrs. Curtis. “Does your arm pain you much?”
“Never mind my arm,” groaned Tom. “She saved my life, mother, and now she’s dead.” His voice broke.
“You mustn’t say that,” cried Phyllis sharply. “She can’t be dead.”
“Phil,” entreated Miss Jones, “let me take your place. I am sure I can do what you are doing.”
Phyllis shook her head. “I can’t leave her.”