Not realizing all the danger, and full of faith in Ruth's power to do anything, after the feats of diving and floating she had seen her perform, Milly scrambled up as often before, and clung spluttering and gasping to Ruth's strong shoulders. So burdened, and conscious of fast-failing strength, Ruth turned toward the shore, and bent every power of mind and body to her task. How far away it seemed! how still the women were,—not one even venturing out a little way to help her, and no man in sight! Her heart seemed to stop beating, her temples throbbed, her breath was checked by the clinging arms, and the child seemed to grow heavier every moment.
"I'll do what I can, but, oh, why don't some one come?"
That was the last thought Ruth was conscious of, as she panted and ploughed slowly back, with such a set white face and wide eyes fixed on the flag that fluttered from the nearest cottage, that it was no wonder the women grew still as they watched her. One good Catholic nurse fell on her knees to pray; the maids cried, the governess murmured, "Mein Gott, I am lost if the child go drowned!" and clear and sweet came the sound of Captain John's whistle as he stood on his piazza waiting to row Ruth home.
They were nearly in, a few more strokes and she could touch the bottom, when suddenly all grew black before her eyes, and whispering, "I'll float. Call, Milly, and don't mind me," Ruth turned over, still holding the child fast, and with nothing but her face out of water, feebly struggled on.