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Two spectators were now added to the scene, Mrs. Gatty and Lord Ipsden. Mrs. Gatty inquired what was the matter.
“It's a mon drooning," was the reply.
The poor fellow, whom Sandy, by aid of his glass, now discovered to be in a worn-out condition, was about half a mile east of Newhaven pier-head, and unfortunately the wind was nearly due east. Christie was standing north-northeast, her boat-hook jammed against the sail, which stood as flat as a knife.
The natives of the Old Town were now seen pouring down to the pier and the beach, and strangers were collecting like bees.
“After wit is everybody's wit!” - Old Proverb.
“That boat is not going to the poor man,” said Mrs. Gatty, “it is turning its back upon him."
“She canna lie in the wind's eye, for as clever as she is,” answered a fishwife.
“I ken wha it is,” suddenly squeaked a little fishwife; “it's Christie Johnstone's lad; it's yon daft painter fr' England. Hech!” cried she, suddenly, observing Mrs. Gatty, “it's your son, woman."
The unfortunate woman gave a fearful scream, and, flying like a tiger on Liston, commanded him "to go straight out to sea and save her son.”
Jean Carnie seized her arm. “Div ye see yon boat ? ” cried she; "and div ye mind Christie, the lass wha's hairt ye hae broken? aweel, woman, — it's just a race between deeth and Cirsty Johnstone for your son.”
The poor old woman swooned dead away; they carried her into Christie Johnstone's house, and laid her down, then hurried back, — the greater terror absorbed the less.
Lady Barbara Sinclair was there from Leith; and, seeing Lord Ipsden standing in the boat with a fisherman, she asked him to tell her what it was; neither he nor any one answered her.
“Why does n't she come about, Liston ?” cried Lord Ipsden, stamping with anxiety and impatience.
“She'll no be lang,” said Sandy; “but they'll mak a mess o''t wi’ ne'er a man i' the boat.”
“Ye're sure o' thaat?" put in a woman. “Ay, about she comes,” said Liston, as the sail came down
on the first tack. He was mistaken; they dipped the lug as cleverly as any man in the town could.
“Hech! look at her hauling on the rope like a mon,” cried a woman. The sail flew up on the other tack.
“She's an awfu' lassie,” whined another.
“No! he's up again,” cried Lord Ipsden; “but I fear he can't live till the boat comes to him.”
The fisherman and the Viscount held on by each other.
“I'd give ten thousand pounds if only he could see her. My God, the man will be drowned under our cyes. If he but saw her!”
The words had hardly left Lord Ipsden's lips, when the sound of a woman's voice came like an Æolian note across the water.
“Hurraih !” roared Liston, and every creature joined the cheer.
“She'll no let him dee. Ah! she's in the bows, hailing him an’ waving the lad's bonnet ower her head to gie him coorage. Gude bless ye, lass; Gude bless ye!”
Christie knew it was no use hailing him against the wind, but the moment she got the wind she darted into the bows, and pitched in its highest key her full and brilliant voice; after a moment of suspense she received proof that she must be heard by him, for on the pier now hung men and women, clustered like bees, breathless with anxiety, and the moment after she hailed the drowning man, she saw and heard a wild yell of applause burst from the pier, and the pier was more distant than the man. She snatched Flucker's cap, planted her foot on the gunwale, held on by a rope, hailed the poor fellow again, and waved the cap round and round her head, to give him courage; and in a moment, at the sight of this, thousands of voices thundered back their cheers to her across the water. Blow, wind, — spring, boat, - and you, Christie, still ring life towards those despairing ears, and wave hope to those sinking eyes; cheer the boat on, you thousands that look upon this action; hurrah! from the pier; hurrah! from the town; hurrah! from the shore; hurrah! now, from the very ships in the roads, whose crews are swarming on the yards to look; five minutes ago they laughed at you; three thousand eyes and hearts hang upon you now; ay, these are the moments we live for!
And now dead silence. The boat is within fifty yards, they are all three consulting together round the mast; an error now is death; his forehead only seems above water.
“If they miss him on that tack?” said Lord Ipsden, significantly, to Liston.
“He'll never see London Brigg again,” was the whispered reply.
They carried on till all on shore thought they would run over him, or past him; but no, at ten yards distant they were all at the sail, and had it down like lightning; and then Flucker sprang to the bows, the other boy to the helm.
Unfortunately, there were but two Johnstones in the boat; and this boy, in his hurry, actually put the helm to port, instead of to starboard. Christie, who stood amidships, saw the error; she sprang aft, flung the boy from the helm, and jammed it hard-a-starboard with her foot. The boat answered the helm, but too late for Flucker; the man was four yards from him as the boat drifted by.
“He's a deed mon !” cried Liston, on shore.
The boat's length gave one more little chance; the afterpart must drift nearer him, - thanks to Christie. Flucker flew aft; flung himself on his back, and seized his sister's petticoats.
“Fling yourself ower the gunwale,” screamed he. “Ye'll no hurt; I ’se haud ye.”
She flung herself boldly over the gunwale; the man was sinking, her nails touched his hair, her fingers entangled themselves in it, she gave him a powerful wrench and brought him alongside; the boys pinned him like wild-cats.
Christie darted away forward to the mast, passed a rope round it, threw it the boys, in a moment it was under his shoulders. Christie hauled on it from the fore thwart, the boys lifted him, and they tumbled him, gasping and gurgling like a dying salmon, into the bottom of the boat, and flung net and jackets and sail over him, to keep the life in him.
Ah! draw your breath, all hands at sea and ashore, and don't try it again, young gentleman, for there was nothing to spare; when you were missed at the bow two stout hearts quivered for you; Lord Ipsden hid his face in his two hands, Sandy Liston gave a groan, and, when you were grabbed astern, jumped out of his boat, and cried:
“A gill o' whiskey for ony favor, for it's turned me as seeck as a doeg.” He added: “He may bless yon lassie's fowr banes, for she's taen him oot o'Death's maw, as sure as Gude 's in heaven!”
Lady Barbara, who had all her life been longing to see perilous adventures, prayed, and trembled, and cried most piteously; and Lord Ipsden's back was to her, and he paid no attention to her voice; but when the battle was won, and Lord Ipsden turned and saw her, she clung to his arm and dried her tears; and then the Old Town cheered the boat, and the New Town cheered the boat, and the towns cheered each other; and the Johnstones, lad and lass, set their sail, and swept back in triumph to the pier; so then Lady Barbara's blood mounted and tingled in her veins like fire. “0, how noble!” cried she.
“Yes, dearest,” said Ipsden. “You have seen something great done at last; and by a woman, too!”
“Yes,” said Barbara, “how beautiful! oh! how beautiful it all is; only the next one I see I should like the danger to be over first, that is all.”
The boys and Christie, the moment they had saved Gatty, up sail again for Newhaven; they landed in about three minutes at the pier.
AMONG THE GOLD-DIGGERS.
(From "It is Never too Late to Mend.”) GEORGE was very homesick. “Have n't we got a thousand pounds apiece, yet ?” “ Hush! no! not quite; but too much to bawl about.”
“And we never shall till you take my advice, and trace the gold to its home in the high rocks. Here we are plodding for dust, and one good nugget would make us."
“Well! well!” said Robinson, “the moment the dry weather goes you shall show me the home of the gold." Poor George and his nuggets !
“That is a bargain,” said George, “and now I have something more to say. Why keep so much gold in our tent? It makes me fret. I am for selling some of it to Mr. Levi.”
“What, at three pounds the ounce? not if I know it.”
“Because it is safer in its little hole in our tent. What do the diggers care for Mr. Levi? You and I respect him, but I am the man they swear by. No, George, Tom Weasel is n't caught napping twice in the same year. Don't you see I've been working this four months past to make my tent safe ? and I've done it. It is watched for me night and day, and if our swag was in the Bank of England it would n't be safer than it is. Put that in your pipe. Well, Carlo, what is the news in your part?”
Carlo came running up to George, and licked his face, which just rose above the hole.
“What is it, Carlo ?” asked George, in some astonishment.
“Ha! ha!” laughed the other. “Here is the very dog come out to encourage his faint-hearted master.”
“No!” said George, “it can't be that, — he means something, — be quiet, Carlo, licking me all to pieces, — but what it is, Heaven only knows; don't you encourage him; he has no business out of the tent, — go back, Carlo, — go into kennel, sir;” and off slunk Carlo back into the tent, of which he was the day sentinel.
“Tom,” remarked George, thoughtfully, “I believe Carlo wanted to show me something; he is a wonderful wise dog."
“Nonsense,” cried Robinson, sharply, “he heard you at the old lay, grumbling, and came to say, "cheer up, old fellow.'”
While Robinson was thus quizzing George, a tremendous noise was suddenly heard in their tent. A scuffle, — a fierce, muffled snarl, — and a human yell; with a cry, almost as loud, the men bounded out of their hole, and, the blood running like melting ice down their backs with apprehension, burst into the tent; then they came upon a sight that almost drew the eyes out of their heads.
In the centre of the tent, not six inches from their buried treasure, was the head of a man emerging from the bowels of the earth, and cursing and yelling, for Carlo had seized his head by the nape of the neck, and bitten it so deep, that the blood literally squirted, and was stamping and going back snarling and pulling and hauling in fierce jerks to extract it from the earth, while the burly-headed ruffian it belonged to, cramped by his situation, and pounced on unawares by the fiery teeth, was striving and battling to get down into the earth again. Spite of his disadvantage, such were his strength and despair, that he now swung the dog backwards and forwards. But the men burst in. George seized him by the hair of his head, Tom by the shoulder, and, with Carlo's help, wrenched him on to the floor of the tent, where he was flung on his back