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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/20

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9
A HERO—ALWAYS

ing-suit, and with breath struggling in his throat tried to force a way up through the weeds. Once off the bottom, he thought he had won the fight; but the mass clung and tripped his legs, and the muscles in them ached as he struggled to mount upward. If a cramp should seize him now! But his head and shoulders were free at last; he tightened his grip on Stewart's shirt, for his breath was going and his brain was reeling; he swam frantically up and up and up, with the light growing and bursting before his face, yet with water always covering him; his breath was gone, and he opened his mouth on what had been a groan if the water had not rushed in to strangle it. And then, coughing, gulping, he was on the surface, within reach of Lydia's oar; he caught it and dragged Stewart's face to the air, and there he hung, gasping, and seeing only the blurred outlines of the faces in the boat. Folsom and Blair jumped overboard and took Stewart from him; the other rowboat darted up, and the boys lifted in the lifeless body and then made for shore.

Floyd crawled into the boat with Bob Dunbar and Lydia, and curled himself up in the stern, dripping and silent; his chest heaved painfully and his arms and legs were trembling.

"Let go the mooring. Bob," Lydia said; "I'll row;" and she bent to the oars. Floyd struggled up to a sitting posture and gazed over her shoulder; they were carrying Stewart up the beach.

"Oh, if you could only have got him the moment he went down!"

The girl's passionate exclamation echoed Floyd's own passionate wish. But he answered,—

"Perhaps—sometimes—they bring drowned people to life."

He glanced at her face, but it admitted no comfort or hope; tragic, desolate, cold with grief, it seemed denied even the relief of tears. Floyd dropped his eyes and watched her slender brown wrists as she pulled resolutely