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‘There is my sister,’ whispered Laura.

I instantly spied the tall figure of Lady Monson standing on the top step of the companion ladder taking in the deep refreshment of 佛山桑拿按摩网论坛 the wind. She stepped on to the deck, approached, saw us, and crossed to the other side. She called to Captain Finn.

‘Yes, my lady.’

‘A chair, if you please. I will sit here.’

A seat was procured from the cabin and placed for her abreast of the wheel close against the bulwarks. This time Laura was not to be driven below by the presence of her sister. The heat in the cabin outweighed her sensitiveness, and then again there was the darkness of the night which sundered the sides of the deck as effectually as if each had been as far off as the horizon. Yet for all that, the sort of fear in which she held Lady Monson subdued her now through the mere sense of the woman being near, scarce visible as she was, just a shadow against the bulwarks. I had to bend my ear to catch her voice through the hissing of

the wind aloft and the singing and the seething of the foam alongside, so low was her utterance. We sat together right aft against the grating on the port side. The helmsman stood near with his eyes on the illuminated compass bowl, the reflection of which touched him as with a lining of phosphor and exposed a kind of gilded outline of his figure against the blackness as he stood swinging upon the wheel with a twirl of it now and again to left or to right as the vessel’s course on the compass card floated to port or starboard of the lubber’s mark. Though it was Finn’s watch below he kept the deck with Crimp, rendered uneasy by the thunder-black look of the night, along with the freshening wind and the lift of seas leaping with a foul-weather snappishness off the ebony slopes of the swell that had grown somewhat heavy and hollow. I could just distinguish the dark forms of the two

men pacing the deck abreast of the gangway. The main sheet was well eased off, the great[284] boom swung fairly over the quarter, and there was a note of howling in the pouring of the wind, as it swept with increasing power into the glimmering ashen hollow of the reefed canvas and rushed away out from under the foot of it. There was no more lightning; the sea with its glancings of foam went black as ink to the ink of the heavens. There was no star, no break of faintness on high. The yacht flashed through the mighty shadow, whitening a long narrow furrow behind her, and helped by every dusky fold that drove roaring to her counter.

On a sudden there arose a loud and fearful cry forward.

‘Breakers ahead!’

The hoarse voice rang aft sheer through the shrill volume of the wind strong as a trumpet-note with the astonishment and fear in it.

Finn went to the side to look over, whilst I heard him roar out to Crimp, ‘Breakers in his eye. The nearest land’s a thousand miles off.’

I jumped up and thrust my head over the rail and saw, sure enough, startlingly close ahead a throbbing white line that, let it be what else it might, bore an amazing resemblance to the boiling of surf at the base of a cliff. There was nothing else to be seen; the pallid streak stretched some distance to right and left. ‘It’ll be a tide rip, sir!’ shouted Finn to me, and his figure melted into the obscurity as he went forward to view the appearance from the forecastle.

I continued peering. ‘No, it is breakers by heaven!’ I cried, with a wild leap of my heart into my very throat to the dull thunderous warring note I had caught during an instant’s lull in the sweep of the wind past my ear.

Laura came to my side; we strained our eyes together.

‘Breakers, my God!’ I cried again, ‘we shall be into them in a minute.’

Then out of the blackness of the forecastle there came from Finn, though ’twas hard to recognise his voice, a fierce, half-shrieking cry: ‘Hard a starboard! Hard a starboard!’

I rushed to the wheel to assist the man in putting it hard over. At that instant the yacht struck! In a breath the scene became a hellish commotion of white waters leaping and bursting fiercely alongside, of yells and cries from the men, of screams from Lady Monson, of the grinding and splintering of wood, the cracking of spars, the furious beating of canvas. I felt the hull lifted under my feet with a brief sensation of hurling, then crash! she struck again. The shock threw me on my back; though I was half-stunned I can distinctly recollect hearing the ear-splitting, soul-subduing noise of the fall of the mainmast, that broke midway its height and fell with all its gear and weight of canvas like a thunderbolt from the heavens on the port side of the vessel, shattering whole fathoms of bulwark. I sprang to my feet; Laura had me by the arm when I fell and she still clung to me. There was a life-buoy close beside[285] us; it hung by a laniard to a peg. I whipped it off and got it over Laura’s head and under her arms, and the next thing I remember is dragging her towards the forecastle, where I conceived our best chance would lie.

What had we struck? There was no land hereabouts. If we had not run foul of the hulk of some huge derelict buried from the sight in the blackness and revealing nothing but the foam of the seas beating against it, then we must have been caught by a second volcanic upheaval into whose fury we had rushed whilst the devilish agitation was in full play. So I thought, and so I remember thinking; but that even a rational reflection could have entered my mind at such a time, that my brain should have retained the power of keeping its wits in the least degree collected, I cannot but regard as a miracle, when I look back out of this calm mood into the distraction and horror and death of that hideous night. The seas were breaking in thunder shocks over the vessel; the wind was hoary with flying clouds of froth. In a few instants the ‘Bride’ had become a complete wreck aloft. Upon whatever it was that she had struck she was rapidly pounding herself into staves, and the horrible work was being expedited outside her by the blows of the wreckage of spars which the seas poised and hurled at her with the weight and rage of battering-rams. The decks were yawning and splitting under foot; every white curl of sea flung inboard black fragments of the hull. There is nothing in language to express the uproar, the cries and groans and screams of men maimed and mutilated by the fall of the spars or drowning alongside. I thought of Wilfrid; but the life of the girl who was clinging to me was dearer to my heart than his or my own. I could hear Lady Monson screaming somewhere forward as I dragged Laura towards the forecastle. Sailors rushed against me, and I was twice felled in measuring twenty paces. The agony of the time gave me the strength of half-a-dozen men; the girl was paralysed, and I snatched her up in my arms and drove forward staggering and reeling, blinded with the flying wet, half-drowned by the incessant play of seas over the side, feeling the fabric crumbling under my feet as you feel sand yielding under you as the tide crawls upon it. I knew not what I was about nor what I aimed at doing. I believe I was influenced by the notion that, since the yacht had struck bow on, her forecastle would form the safest part of her, as lying closest to whatever it was that she had run foul of. I recollect that as I approached the fore rigging, stumbling blindly with the girl in my arms, a huge black sea swept over the forward part of the wreck and swept the galley away with it as though it had been a house of cards. The rush of water floated me off my legs; I fell and let go of Laura. Half-suffocated I was yet in the act of rising to grope afresh for her when another sea rolled over the rail and I felt myself sweeping overboard with the velocity that a man falling from the edge of a cliff might be sensible of!

What followed is too dream-like for me to determine. Some[286] small piece of floating spar I know I caught hold of, and that is what I best and perhaps only remember of that passage of mortal anguish.

CHAPTER XXIX. A VOLCANIC ISLAND.
I lost my senses after I had been in the water a few minutes: whether through being nearly strangled by the foam which broke incessantly over me, or through being struck by some fragment of the wreck I cannot say. Yet I must have retained my grip of the piece of spar I had grabbed hold of on being swept overboard with the proverbial tenacity of the drowning, for I found myself grasping it when I recovered consciousness. I lay on my back with my face to the sky, and my first notion was that I had dropped to sleep on the yacht’s deck, and that I had been awakened by rain falling in torrents. But my senses were not long in coming to me, and I then discovered that what I believed to be rain was salt spray flying in clouds upon and over me from a thunderous surf that was roaring and raging within a few strides. It was very dark, there was nothing to be seen but the white boiling of the near waters with the 佛山桑拿论坛网 intermittent glancing of the heads of melting seas beyond. I felt with my hands and made out that I was lying on something as hard as rock, honeycombed like a sponge. This I detected by passing my hand over the surface as far as I could reach without rising. After a little I caught sight of a black shadow to the right thrown into relief by the broad yeasty throbbing amid which it stood. It was apparently motionless, and I guessed it to be a portion of the ‘Bride.’ The wind howled strongly, and the noise of the breaking seas was distracting. Yet the moment I had my mind, as I may say, fully, I was sensible of a heat in the air very nearly as oppressive as had been the atmosphere in the cabin of the yacht that evening; and this in spite of the wind which blew a stiff breeze and which was full of wet besides. Then it was that 佛山桑拿论坛的qq群 there entered my mind the idea that the yacht had struck and gone to pieces upon a volcanic island newly hove up in that sudden great flame which had leapt upon our sight over the ‘Bride’s’ bows some two or three hours before at a distance, as we had computed, of fifteen miles, and which had seemed to set the whole of the northern heavens on fire.

I felt round about me with my hands again; the soil was unquestionably lava, and the heat in it was a final convincing proof that my conjecture was right. I rose with difficulty, and standing erect looked about, but I could distinguish nothing more than a mere surface of blackness blending with and vanishing in the yelling and hissing night flying overhead. I fell upon my knees to grope in that posture some little distance from the surf to[287] diminish by my withdrawal something of 佛山夜生活无忧 the pelting of the pitiless storm of spray; and well it was that I had sense enough to crawl in this manner, for I had not moved a yard when my hand plunged into a hole to the length of my arm. The cavity was full of water, deep enough to have drowned me for all I knew, whilst the orifice was big enough to receive three or four bodies of the size of mine lashed together. There was no promise of any sort of shelter. The island, as well as I could determine its configuration by the surf which circled it, went rounding out of the sea in a small slope after the pattern of a turtle-shell. However, I succeeded in creeping to a distance where the spray struck me without its former sting, and then I stood up and putting my hands to the sides of my mouth shouted as loud as my weak condition would suffer me.

A voice deep and hoarse came 佛山桑拿按摩全套图 back like an echo of my own from a distance, as my ear might conjecture, of some twenty paces or so.

‘Hallo! Who calls?’

‘I, Mr. Monson. Who are you.’

‘Cutbill,’ he roared back.

I brought my hands together, grateful to God to hear him, for how was I to know till then but that I might be the only survivor of the yacht’s company?

‘Can you come to me, Cutbill?’ I cried.

‘I don’t like to let go of the lady, sir,’ he answered.

‘Which lady?’ I shouted.

‘Miss Jennings.’

‘Is she alive, Cutbill?’

‘Ay, sir.’

By this time my sight was growing used to the profound blackness. The clouds of pallid foam along the margin of the island flung a sort of shadow of ghastly illumination into the atmosphere, and I fancied I could see the blotch the figure of Cutbill made to the right of me on the level on which I stood. I forthwith dropped 佛山桑拿交流区 on my knees again and cautiously advanced, then more plainly distinguished him, and in a few minutes was at his side. It was the shadowy group, the outlines barely determinable by my sight, even when I was close to, of the big figure of the sailor seated with the girl supported on his arm. I put my lips close to the faint glimmer of her face, and cried ‘Laura, dearest, how is it with you? Would God it had been my hand that had had the saving of you!’

She answered faintly, ‘Take me; let me rest on you?’

I put my arm round her and brought her head to my breast and so held her to me. Soaked as we were to the skin like drowned rats, the heat floating up out of the body of volcanic stuff on which we lay prevented us from feeling the least chill from the pouring of the wind through our streaming clothes.

‘Oh, my God, Laura!’ 佛山桑拿小姐服务视频 I cried, ‘I feared you were gone for ever when I lost my hold of you.’

[288]

‘The life-buoy you put on saved me,’ she exclaimed, so faintly, that I should not have heard her had not my ear been close to her lips.

‘The lady had a life-buoy on, sir,’ said the deep voice of Cutbill, ‘she was stranded alongside of me, and I dragged her clear of the surf and have been holding of her since, for this here soil is a cuss’d hard pillow for the heads of the likes of her.’

‘Are you hurt, Cutbill?’

‘No, sir, not a scratch that I’m aware of. I fell overboard and a swell run me ashore as easy as jumping. But I fear most of ’em are drownded.’

‘Lady Monson!’ I cried.