There was a crash and a sharp point cut my nose, but I was out upon the grass. Then there were twenty other crashes, and all the hounds were out too, for Tom had cheered them on. I ran to the edge of the lawn and saw a steep slope leading to the sands and the sea. Now I knew what the sea was, for after Tom had shot me in the back I lived by it for a long while, and once swam across a little creek to get to my form, from which it cut me off.
While I ran down that slope fast as my aching legs would carry me, I made up my mind that I would swim out into the sea and drown there, since it is better to drown than to be torn to pieces. “But why are you laughing, friend Mahatma.”
“I am not laughing,” I said. “In this state, without a body, I have nothing to laugh with. Still you are right, for you see that I should be laughing if I could. Your story of the stout lady and the dogs and the china is very amusing.”
“Perhaps, friend, but it did not amuse me. Nothing is amusing when one is going to be eaten alive.”
“Of course it isn’t,” I answered. “Please forgive me and go on.”
“Well, I tumbled down that cliff, followed by some of the dogs and Tom and the girl Ella and the huntsman Jerry on foot, and dragged myself across the sands till I came to the lip of the sea.”
Just here there was a boat and by it stood Giles the keeper. He had come there to get out of the way of the hunting, which he hated as much as he did the coursing. The sight of him settled me—into the sea I went. The dogs wanted to follow me, but Jerry called and whipped them off.
“I won’t have them caught in the current and drowned,” he said. “Let the flea-bitten old devil go, she’s brought trouble enough already.”
“Help me shove off the boat, Giles,” shouted Tom. “She shan’t beat us; we must have her for the hounds. Come on, Ella.”
“Best leave her alone, Master Tom,” said Giles. “I think she’s an unlucky one, that I do.”
Still the end of it was that he helped to float the little boat and got into it with Tom and Ella.
Just after they had pushed off I saw a man running down the steps on the cliff waving his arms while he called out something. But of him they took no heed. I do not think they noticed him. As for me, I swam on.
I could not go very fast because I was so dreadfully tired; also I did not like swimming, and the cold waves broke over my head, making the cut in my nose smart and filling my eyes with something that stung them. I could not see far either, nor did I know where I was going. I knew nothing except I was about to die, and that soon everything would be at an end; men, dogs—everything, yes, even Tom. I wanted things to come to an end. I had suffered so dreadfully, life was so horrible, I was so very tired. I felt that it was better to die and have done.
So I swam on a long way and began to forget things; indeed I thought that I was playing in the big turnip field with my mother and sister. But just as I was sinking exhausted a hand shot down into the water and caught me by the ears, although from below the fingers looked as though they were bending away from me. I saw it coming and tried to sink more quickly, but could not.