The canoe rode towards the breakers, sucked upon its course by a swelling sea.
“Good-bye,” called Geoffrey to Beatrice, as stretching out his wet hand he found her own and took it, for companionship makes death a little easier.
“Good-bye,” she cried, clinging to his hand. “Oh, why did I bring you into this?”
For in their last extremity this woman thought rather of her companion in peril than of herself.
One more turn, then suddenly the canoe beneath them was lifted like a straw and tossed high into the air. A mighty mass of water boiled up beneath it and around it. Then the foam rushed in, and vaguely Geoffrey knew that they were wrapped in the curve of a billow.
A swift and mighty rush of water. Crash!—and his senses left him.
THE WATCHER AT THE DOOR
This was what had happened. Just about the centre of the reef is a large flat-topped rock—it may be twenty feet in the square—known to the Bryngelly fishermen as Table Rock. In ordinary weather, even at high tide, the waters scarcely cover this rock, but when there is any sea they wash over it with great violence. On to this rock Geoffrey and Beatrice had been hurled by the breaker. Fortunately for them it was thickly overgrown with seaweed, which to some slight extent broke the violence of their fall. As it chanced, Geoffrey was knocked senseless by the shock; but Beatrice, whose hand he still held, fell on to him and, with the exception of a few bruises and a shake, escaped unhurt.
She struggled to her knees, gasping. The water had run off the rock, and her companion lay quiet at her side. She put down her face and called into his ear, but no answer came, and then she knew that he was either dead or senseless.
At this second Beatrice caught a glimpse of something white gleaming in the darkness. Instinctively she flung herself upon her face, gripping the long tough seaweed with one hand. The other she passed round the body of the helpless man beside her, straining him with all her strength against her side.
Then came a wild long rush of foam. The water lifted her from the rock, but the seaweed held, and when at length the sea had gone boiling by, Beatrice found herself and the senseless form of Geoffrey once more lying side by side. She was half choked. Desperately she struggled up and round, looking shoreward through the darkness. Heavens! there, not a hundred yards away, a light shone upon the waters. It was a boat’s light, for it moved up and down. She filled her lungs with air and sent one long cry for help ringing across the sea. A moment passed and she thought that she heard an answer, but because of the wind and the roar of the breakers she could not be sure. Then she turned and glanced seaward. Again the foaming terror was rushing down upon them; again she flung herself upon the rock and grasping the slippery seaweed twined her left arm about the helpless Geoffrey.