Page:In the Roar of the Sea.djvu/407

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399
IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA

At length she laid hold of the jamb with one hand, and with the other she caught the lappel of the boy's coat, and assisted by the support she had gained, was able to drag him over the door-step.

At that moment passed her rushed a man. She looked, saw and knew Coppinger. As he rushed passed, the blood squirting from his maimed right hand fell on the girl lying prostrate at the jamb to which she had clung.

And now within a red light appeared, glowing through the mist as a fiery eye; not only so, but every now and then a fiery rain descended. The burning tobacco had consumed the boards and was falling through in red masses.

Judith had but just brought her brother into safety, or comparative safety, and now another, Coppinger, had plunged into the burning cottage, rushed to almost certain death. She cried to him as well as she could with her short breath. She could not leave him within. Why had he run there? She saw on her dress the blood that had fallen from him. She went outside the hut and dragged Jamie forth and laid him on the grass. Then, without hesitation, inhaling all the pure air she could, she darted once more into the burning cottage. Her eyes were stung with the smoke, but she pushed on, and found Coppinger under the open window, fallen on the floor, his back and head against the wall, his arms at his side, and the blood streaming over the slate pavement from his right gashed wrist. Accident or instinct—it could not have been judgment—had carried him to the only spot in the room where pure air was to be found, and there it descended like a rushing waterfall, blowing about the prostrate man's wild long hair.

"Judith!" said he, looking at her, and he raised his left hand. "Judith, this is the end."

"Oh, Captain Coppinger, do come out. The house is burning. Quick, or it will be too late."

"It is too late for me," he said. "I am wounded." He held up his half-severed hand. "I gave this to you and you rejected it."

"Come—oh, do come—or you and I will be burnt." In the inrushing sweep of air both were clear of the smoke and could breathe.

He shook his head. "I am followed. I will not be