Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/94

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under the cliff for him to stand; but he bore her to this only partial refuge from the fury of the storm.

The tempest increased in violence, and the huge billows rolled in with impetuous fury upon him. Grasping his fair burden in his arms, with Rosabel clinging to him in mortal terror, he paused a moment to look at the angry sea. There was a narrow shelf of rock near him, against which the waves beat with terrible violence. If he could only get beyond this shelf, which projected out from the cliffs, he could easily reach the Hole in the Wall, where Harvey Barth had saved himself in just such a storm. He had born Rosabel some distance along the beach, both drenched by the lashing spray, and his strength was nearly exhausted. The projecting shelf was before him, forbidding for the moment his further progress.

Placing his left foot on a rock, his fair but heavy burden on his knee, clasping her waist with his left hand, while his right was fastened for support in a crevice of the cliff, he paused for an instant to recover his breath and watch for a favorable chance to escape from his perilous position. Rosabel, in her terror, had thrown her arms around his neck, clinging to him with all her might. When he paused, she felt, reposing on his powerful muscles, that she was safe—she confessed it afterwards; though, in that terrible sea and near those cruel rocks, the strength of the strongest man was but weakness. Leopold waited. If the sea would only recede for an instant, it would give him the opportunity to reach the broader beach beyond the shelf, over which he could pass to the Hole in the Wall. It was a moment of hope, mingled with a mighty fear.

A huge billow, larger than any he had yet seen, was rolling in upon him, crested and reeking with foam, and might dash him and his feeble charge, mangled and torn, upon the jagged rocks. Still panting from the violence of his exertion, he braced his nerves and his stout frame to meet the terrible shock.

With every muscle strained to the utmost tension, he waited the coming wave. In this attitude, with the helpless maiden clinging to him for life, with the wreck of his fine yacht near, he was a noble subject for an inspired artist.

The coming wave buried him and the fair maiden in its cold embrace. It broke, and shattered itself in torrents of milky foam upon the hard rocks. But the larger and higher the