What she saw was Umballa, setting adrift the boats which had brought them from the mainland.
Came a second explosion, far more furious than the first. In the downward rush Kathlyn stumbled and fell, the debris falling all about her.
ON THE SLOOP
Blinded by the dust, tripped by the rolling stones, Bruce turned to where he had seen Kathlyn fall. The explosion—the last one—had opened up veins of strange gases, for the whole promontory appeared to be on fire. He bent and caught up in his arms the precious burden, staggered down to the beach, and plunged into the water. A small trickle of blood flowing down her forehead explained everything; a falling stone had struck her.
“Kit, Kit! I hope to God the treasure went up also.” He dashed the cold water into her face.
The others were unhurt, though dazed, and for the nonce incapable of coherent thought or action.
“The boats!” Bruce laid Kathlyn down on the sand and signed to Winnie. “Tend to her. I must take a chance at the boats. We could cross the neck of sand at ebb, but Umballa will be far away before that time. Kit, Kit; my poor girl!” He patted her wrists and called to her, and when finally her lips stirred he rose and waded out into the sea, followed by four hardy fishermen. The freshening breeze, being from the southwest, aided the swimmers, for the boats did not drift out to sea, but in a northeasterly direction. The sloop was squaring away for the mainland.
Did Umballa have the treasure? Bruce wondered, as at length his hand reached up and took hold of the gunwale of the boat he had picked out to bring down. Would Umballa have possessed tenacity enough to hang on to it in face of all the devastation? Bruce sighed as he drew himself up and crawled into the boat. He knew that treasure had often made a hero out of a coward; and treasure at that moment meant life and liberty to Umballa. On his return to the island he greeted the colonel somewhat roughly. But for this accursed basket they would have been well out of Asia by this time.
“Umballa has your basket, Colonel. If he hasn’t, then say good-by to it, for it can never be dug from under those tons and tons of rock. . . . Here! where are those fishermen going?” he demanded.
The men were in the act of pushing off with the boats, which they had only just brought back.
Ramabai picked up his discarded rifle.
“They are frightened,” explained the chief.
“Well, they can contain their fright till we are in safety,” Ramabai declared. “Warn them.”
“Hurry, everybody! I feel it in my bones that that black devil has the treasure. Get those men into the boats. Here, pick up those oars. Get in, Kit; you, Winnie; come, everybody!”
Kathlyn gazed sadly at her father. Treasure, treasure; that first. She was beginning to hate the very sound of the word. The colonel had been nervous, impatient and irritable ever since the document had been discovered. Till recently Kathlyn had always believed her father to be perfect, but now she saw that he was human, he had his flawed spot. Treasure! Before her or Winnie! So be it.