THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
- ♦ —— , A BOLD STRUGGLE FOR LIFE. (i Concluded.)
He was parched, with thirst and blinded by the glare of the .sun, which had now dispelled the clouds, and shone steadily down, being reflected from the sea and from the smooth side of the cliff—it was toward the end of August—and the heat was so great that it made Jack Harrison feel that it would be a relief to slip off into the cool water and end his misery. Hour after hour dragged on, and still he maintained his position, hi sufferings from thirst growing more and more intense.
At last, what he had been looking forward to, and hoping for all this time, came to pass. A boat, with two fishermen in it, appeared round the angle of the cliff, and his heart leaped with joy. He tried to call to them, but his mouth was so dry that he couid not get out anything but a feeble, hoarse “ Hallo,” which it was impossible they could hear. But at any rate, he thought, they could not fail to see him in his ; conspicuous position, perched there on the side of the rock, the water having now fallen several feet.- They must see, though they could not hear him, and he waved his arm to try and ; attract their attention, but in vain. They were so near that he could distinguish their faces, and recognize, one of them as an old fisherman he had known as a boy ; and yet they did not turn his way. Slowly, and without looking in his direction, they rowed further out, until they disappeared behind the cliff on the other side. The disappointment was so intense that he covered his face with his hands and wept like a child. When at length he raised himself and looked around, the sun was lower in the sky, and the heat was fast growing less. The water, too, had fallen so low that the, shingle would soon be exposed again, and he began to wonder how he should get down again, for he was some ten or twelve feet above where the waves had first thrown him. He was so cramped he could hardly move, and his tongue seemed to cleave to the roof of his mouth, while he felt and now arid: then lost the consciousness of where he was. As he watched the water, waiting for it to recede a little further, he saw something white gleaming from a wave a little way out, and he wondered vaguely what it was. The waves played with it, and tossed it about on their surface, bringing it
nearer, and then taking it back again,; but for some time it did not strike him what it could be. However, the waves at last brought it almost under him, and then he turned cold with horror, and would have cried out had he been able ; for he saw it was the body of one of his mates, a sailor from the wrecked ship. A fear seized him, that'the water would leave it there beneath him, and he would have to drop almost on to it. But the fear was needless. It was carried away again, and he saw it no more.
When the sun was getting low, the strip of sand was all to be seen again, and he began to think of getting down. Ile was beginning to lower himself, so as to hang by his hands, when his cramped limbs refused to obey him, and he fell heavily to the ground, where he lay, stunned and bleeding. Meanwhile, the news of the wrecks of that night had carried grief into more than one humble home in the little fishing village. In one a widow wept, heart-broken among her unconscious children ; in another, a maiden bewailed the loss of her handsome young sailor who was to have returned to make her his wife ; and in another a mothermournedherson. Itwasthehome that had shown itself so vividly to Jack Harrison as he knelt by the block of stone, with its latticed window and poorly furnished room, and the mother had the same white hair and care-lined brow. They had told her that morning that the ship that contained her all on earth—her brave boy —had been wrecked, and that every one on board had perished; That same sea had taken away her husband long years ago, then her eldest son, and now her youngest and last was gone, and had left her alone in. the world. '
Pitying neighbors had to try and comfort her, but she had begged to be left alone and they had reluctantly left her.
The dying rays of the setting sun fell on her as she sat with her head bowed over the table. The door was a little open, but the form that darkened it did not rouse her, and it was a heavy fall that.made her start to her feet.
She came feebly and tremblingly forward, and kneeling down by the prostrate form, peered with her dim old eyes into the pale, hollow face that lay there unconscious of everything.
t “ It’s my boy—my Jack —come home ! 5; ‘sobbed the poor old mother. And, taking his head to her breast, thanked heaven for her son. And it was he ; for, coming to himself, he had managed to drag himself round the cliff, and with his last remaining strength had crawled home unperceived. But sailors can bear a great deal, especially when they are young, and the: next day he was walking slowly downi to the beach with his mother, to show her where he had been cast ashore. On the sand was collected a small crowd of fishermen and sailors round some: object of interest, and guessing what : this object might be, he left his; mother at Ja ; Uttle distance and /went to - see. There, in the midst of them, lay the old sailor whom he had last seen alive on the deck of the sinking ship, with a smile on his face —dead.
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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 196, 19 November 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 196, 19 November 1880
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