Madame Midas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Madame Midas.
and ever drawing nearer and nearer to the gloomy cliffs and sandy beach.  When within a quarter of a mile of the shore, the speck resolved itself into a boat, a mere shallop, painted a dingy white, and much battered by the waves as it tossed lightly on the crimson waters.  It had one mast and a small sail all torn and patched, which by some miracle held together, and swelling out to the wind drew the boat nearer to the land.  In this frail craft were two men, one of whom was kneeling in the prow of the boat shading his eyes from the sunlight with his hands and gazing eagerly at the cliffs, while the other sat in the centre with bowed head, in an attitude of sullen resignation, holding the straining sail by a stout rope twisted round his arm.  Neither of them spoke a word till within a short distance of the beach, when the man at the look-out arose, tall and gaunt, and stretched out his hands to the inhospitable-looking coast with a harsh, exulting laugh.

‘At last,’ he cried, in a hoarse, strained voice, and in a foreign tongue; ‘freedom at last.’

The other man made no comment on this outburst of his companion, but kept his eyes steadfastly on the bottom of the boat, where lay a small barrel and a bag of mouldy biscuits, the remnants of their provisions on the voyage.

The man who had spoken evidently did not expect an answer from his companion, for he did not even turn his head to look at him, but stood with folded arms gazing eagerly ahead, until, with a sudden rush, the boat drove up high and dry on the shore, sending him head-over-heels into the wet sand.  He struggled to his feet quickly, and, running up the beach a little way, turned to see how his companion had fared.  The other had fallen into the sea, but had picked himself up, and was busily engaged in wringing the water from his coarse clothing.  There was a smooth water-worn boulder on the beach, and, seeing this, the man who had spoken went up to it and sat down thereon, while his companion, evidently of a more practical turn of mind, collected the stale biscuits which had fallen out of the bag, then, taking the barrel carefully on his shoulder, walked up to where the other was sitting, and threw both biscuits and barrel at his feet.

He then flung himself wearily on the sand, and picking up a biscuit began to munch it steadily.  The other drew a tin pannikin from the bosom of his shirt, and nodded his head towards the barrel, upon which the eater laid down his biscuit, and, taking up the barrel, drew the bung, and let a few drops of water trickle into the tin dish.  The man on the boulder drank every drop, then threw the pannikin down on the sand, while his companion, who had exhausted the contents of the barrel, looked wolfishly at him.  The other, however, did not take the slightest notice of his friend’s lowering looks, but began to eat a biscuit and look around him.  There was a strong contrast between these two waifs of the sea which the ocean had just thrown up on the desolate

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Madame Midas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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