Of the dreadful consequences which followed my selfishness it now only remains for me to tell.
THE SEA SPIDER
I was occupied one midday, as usual, scanning the horizon from the top of the cliff near the beacon in search of a passing vessel, when I noticed Moira urging her canoe toward the shore at a rapid pace. In the wake of the canoe a disturbance of the water betokened the presence of some denizen of the deep, and Moira’s action in making for the rocks at top speed betrayed her terror of whatever it was that followed her. Hastily descending the cliff I ran to her assistance, when I saw Moira spring on to a flat rock upon which she generally landed from her canoe. At the same moment a snaky tentacle rose out of the sea and caught her, while other tentacles quickly enveloped her. The monster now dragged its shiny bulk upon the rock, and except in a nightmare surely no man had beheld such a creature before. It resembled a monstrous spider, but out of all proportion to anything in Nature. Its eyes, like white saucers with jet black centres, stared from its flat head, and the tentacles with which it seized its prey were provided with suckers to hold what they fastened upon.
Even in her extremity Moira thought more of my safety than her own. “Go back!” she cried. “You cannot help me. The sea devil has the strength of ten men.”
Not heeding her warning I continued to advance to her assistance but as I approached the sea-spider drew back into its native element, and presently sank with its prey beneath the waves.
In my first feeling of dismay for what had happened, I could not believe that Moira had been taken from me, and as I remembered my ingratitude to her and thought of how surly I had become, absorbed in my own trouble, I threw myself down upon the rocks in an agony of remorse. Alas, poor Moira! Faithful friend! True heart, and loyal to death! A thousand times I reproached myself with my neglect of her, but my regrets were unavailing, and my repentance came too late.
It now became necessary if I would live to provide myself with food, and in this enforced occupation I obtained some relief from the dejection which had formerly obsessed me. I found no difficulty in procuring fish, and I quickly became expert with Moira’s bow and arrows. Salt, also, I gathered from the rocks, and some roots which Moira had shown me served as vegetables. Of water I had an abundance from a fresh-water lagoon near by. So that I lacked nothing for my support. But although my body was nourished, my mind became so oppressed by solitude that, at times, I even thought of returning to the blacks and conforming to their ways, and had it not been that I knew them to be cannibals I might have spent the remainder of my life among them, so intense had become my longing to meet with others of my kind.