Page:The Mystery of the Sea.djvu/307

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


CHAPTER XXXVI

THE RISING TIDE


I think there must be some provision of nature which in times of real danger keeps men's minds away from personal fears. I can honestly say that not a thought of danger for myself crossed my mind; though I was harrowed up and appalled by fears for Marjory. My mental excitement, however, took a practical shape, and thought after thought flashed through my brain as to how I could best serve my wife. The situation with its woeful possibilities came first; and afterwards, in quick succession, the efforts which might be made. But first I must see how we really stood. I did not know this cave and the lengths and levels of it well enough to be sure whether the tide could block us completely in. If there were but head-room the actual distance was not far to swim. This I could soon settle; taking Marjory's lamp which stood on the ledge of rock I ran down the cave calling out as I went:

"Stay here a minute, dear, I want to see how far the tide is in." The double winding of the cave made it hard for me to judge at a glance; it was only when I came to the piece of straight passage leading up from the sea that I could judge. From the time I left the treasure chamber of the cave the water got deeper and deeper as I went, but the difficulty was not in this way; I knew that so long as there was headway I could swim for it and take Marjory with me. But when I came down the straight, my

293