Presently Wecanicut began to drop further away, and then the Sea Monster loomed up suddenly right over us, and Jerry had to fend the boat off with an oar. We had never guessed how big the thing really was,--not big at all for an island, but very large for a bare, off-shore rock. I should say that it was just about the bigness of an ordinary house, and very black and beetling, with not a spear of grass or anything on it. When Jerry said, "My stars, what
a weird place!" his voice went booming and rumbling in among the rocks, and a lot of gulls flew up suddenly, flapping and shrieking. He held the boat up against the edge of a rock while Greg and I got out. We took the kit-bag ashore, and Jerry made the boat fast by putting a big piece of stone on top of the rope. There was nothing like a beach or even a shelving rock to pull it up on, so that was the best we could do. The boat backed away as far as it could, but the rope was firmly wedged between the rock and the stone so it couldn't get away.
Of course we went first to look at the black cave-entrance. Sure enough, a great flat slab had fallen down from it and lay half in the water,--we could see scratchy marks and broken places where it had slid. The cave itself was about six feet deep, and very dank and dismal-looking. There was no sign of there ever having been treasure, for nobody could possibly have buried it, unless they'd hewn places in the living rock, like ancient Egyptians. We might have thought of that before, but of course we didn't honestly believe that there was treasure. Somehow the Sea Monster didn't seem nearly so jolly and exciting as it had from Wecanicut. It was so real and big, and whenever a wave came in, it boomed and echoed under the hanging-over rocks. We climbed around to the other side and went up on top of the highest place, which was about three times as high as I am. From there we could see the Headland, very far away and blue, and Wecanicut behind us, safe and green and friendly-looking, but a long way off; and nothing else but a smeary line of smoke from a steamer at sea.
"We named this place well," I said; "it is
"Brrrr, hear it roar!" Jerry said. "The waves must be bigger, or something. There weren't any when we came out."
We looked down and saw that the water was behaving differently. Instead of being smooth and rolling, there was a skitter of sharp ripples all over it, and the waves went slap
and frothed white when they hit the rock. The sky had changed, too. It was not so blue, and there were switchy mares' tails across it, and the wind was blowing from Wecanicut, instead of toward it.
"We'd better start back," I said. "I'm afraid we'll be late for the next ferry, as it is, and Father and Mother will be home on the six o'clock train."
"Whew!" said Jerry, "I'd forgotten that. It's latish already, judging by the sun. Come along, Greg, and loop up your sash so you won't fall off this beast."
latish. The sun was quite low, and we saw that the Sea Monster threw a long, queer shadow on the water, as if the sea had been land. We hurried along to the boat, Jerry ahead.
"She's all right," he shouted, turning around.
When he turned back he made a sort of wild spring that I didn't understand at first. Then I saw the stone we had put over the rope rolling off the rock,--joggled off by the boat's pulling harder when a wave lifted it. The stone rolled in cornery bounces, with a dull noise, and the rope slipped after it slowly. I thought Jerry would be in time. I couldn't believe that I really saw the rope floating its whole length on the water, dry at first, then darkening wetly.
"Hang on, Chris!" Jerry said. "I can get it."
I caught his hand, and he snatched after the rope. But he plunged wildly, nearly pulling me in, and scrambled up at once with one leg wet to the hip.
"There's no bottom at all," he said queerly. "I believe the thing rises straight out of the sea."
By that time the boat was ten feet away from the Monster. It circled once, very quietly, as if it were trying to decide which way to go, and then it drifted gently away toward the sea, with the rope trailing along like a snake swimming beside it.
We stood there looking at the boat until it faded to a hazy speck, and by that time the sun was really low. I don't think Greg altogether realized what had happened. We'd played at being marooned so often that I suppose he didn't quite see that this was different.
I hope that I shall never, never forget, as long as I live, what a brick Jerry was through the whole of that nightmarish thing. I know I never shall.
"Chris," he said, "you stay on this side. I'll go around to the Headland side. Greg, you climb up on top. If any of us sees a boat near enough to do any good, call the others, and we'll all yell and wave things."
I'd never heard his voice so commanding, even in plays. He still had on the cocked hat, and it looked very strange indeed. We scattered as he ordered, and when the others had gone, I remembered that Greg had on slippery-soled shoes instead of sneakers, which we usually wear. I thought of calling after him to be careful, but he never was a falling-down sort of person, even as a baby. I hoped, too, that he would have sense enough to loop up that sash or take it off entirely.
I sat on the Wecanicut side and stared at the shore and the water till my eyes ached. More and more wind was blowing all the time, straight from Wecanicut. It blew so hard in my face that my eyes watered and I couldn't be sure whether or not I did see boats. In books, people think of all their past sins when they're in perilous positions, but all I could think of was that a boat must
come before dark. I did think of how much it all was my fault, but that was not far enough in the past to count. Presently Jerry came back and said that if we moved a little toward each other we could see just as much of the bay and consult at the same time. So we did, and sat down not very far apart. I
said that I supposed we ought to change off with Greg, because it was horrid lonely up there, but Jerry said:
"Nonsense; he likes to be alone. He's probably pretending he's the King of the Cannibal Isle, or something, and not worrying a bit."
"I was looking us up in the dictionary the other day," I said, trying to forget the Sea Monster for a minute, "and Gregory
means 'watchful, vigilant'."
"Now's the first time he's ever lived up to his name, then," said Jerry. "Keep looking, Chris, and don't moon about."
We sat there for quite a long time without saying anything, and the last little golden sliver of sun disappeared behind the point, and the lighthouse on the Headland came out suddenly, though it was still quite light, and began to wink--two long flashes and two short ones.
"Isn't it queer," Jerry said, "to think that people are there and we can't possibly tell them."
"It's worse than queer," I said.
Then we were still again, till presently Jerry said:
"Do you hear that funny noise, Chris?"
I had been listening to it just then, and said "Yes" and that I supposed it was the horrid noise the water made around on the other side. For quite a time we didn't hear it, and then Jerry said:
"There it is again! The water must suck into those echoey hollows. It sounds almost like a person groaning."
"Don't!" I said.
All at once he turned toward me and said in a queer, quick voice:
"Do you suppose it could possibly be Greg?"
I can't describe the way I felt when he said it, but if you've ever felt the same you know what I mean. It was a little as though something heavy dropped from my throat down to my toes, through me, leaving me all empty, with cold, tingly things rushing up again to my head. They were still rushing as we flew around the rock, and I kept saying:
"It can't be Greg.... It can't
But it was.
He was lying doubled up, just below the high place where Jerry had told him to keep watch. We didn't dare to touch him, because we didn't know how badly he was hurt, and he couldn't seem to tell us. But when I tried to put my arm under him, he pushed me a little and said, "No, no," so I stopped. Then I saw that his right arm was twisted under him horridly and that his shoulder looked all wrong. I touched it very gently and asked him if it was that, and he said, "Yes; don't!" We had to get him out somehow from that jaggedy place in the rocks where he was lying. So Jerry got him under the arm that wasn't hurt, and I took his legs, and we hauled him to a flattish part of the rock.
I pulled off the football jersey and put it under him, and Jerry ran back to get my skirt, which I'd put in the kit-bag when we fixed our costumes. Just after Jerry had gone something dreadful happened. Quite suddenly Greg seemed to shrink smaller, and his face grew rather greenish and not at all like his, and his hand was perfectly cold when I snatched it. I suppose he'd fainted from our carrying him so stupidly, but I'd never seen anybody do it before and I didn't know that was the way it looked. I'd never heard of people dying from hurting their arms, but I thought that perhaps he was hurt somewhere else that we didn't know about. But by the time Jerry came back with the skirt Greg had opened his eyes and looked at me a little like himself. There is a book in our medicine cupboard at home called, "Hints on First Aid." Jerry and I used to like to look at it, and Father said:
"Go ahead; you may need it some day." But neither of us could remember anything that was at all useful now. I could plainly see the picture of some queerly-drawn hands doing a "Spanish Windlass," but that wouldn't have done poor Greg any good at all. Jerry did remember that you ought to cut people's clothes and not try to take them off in the ordinary way, so he took out his knife and ripped up the sleeve of Greg's jumper and the shoulder-seam of the white brocaded waistcoat. I don't see how people can stand being Red Cross nurses in France, for I'm sure I never could be one. Greg's shoulder was quite awful,--what we could see, for it was almost dark now. There was nothing at all we dared to do. We couldn't even bathe it, for there was only sea-water, so I just sat and held Greg's other hand and patted it. He didn't cry,--I think the hurting was too bad for that,--but he moaned a little, and sometimes he said, "Hurts, Chris."
I tried to tell him a story, the way I did when we all had the measles and he was so much sicker than the rest of us, but he couldn't listen. So we just sat there in the dark--it was perfectly dark now and we couldn't see one another at all--and I began to count the flashes of the Headland light--two long and two short, two long and two short--till I thought I should scream. Suddenly Jerry said:
"Are you hungry, Chris?"
I said that I wasn't, and asked him if he was. But he said:
"No, not very."
There were real waves on the Wecanicut side of the Monster now, and the wind was still blowing from that direction harder than ever. Now and then a drop of spray would flick my cheek, and I think the sound of the wind around the rock was really more horrid than the noise the water made. It seemed like midnight, but it was really quite early in the evening, when Jerry saw the lights bobbing along the shore of Wecanicut. They were lanterns, two of them, and they stopped quite often, as if the people were looking for something. For a minute I couldn't even move. Then I scrambled and slid after Jerry to the place on the Monster that most nearly faced the Wecanicut point. I don't think Greg really knew we'd left him; at least he didn't make a sound.
The lanterns swung and bobbed nearer till they almost reached the point, and we could hear faint shouts. Jerry and I braced our feet against the slimy rocks and shrieked into the dark, and the wind rushed down our throats and burned them. We could hear the people quite clearly now.
"It's Father's voice," Jerry said. "Oh, Chris, the wind is dead against us. Now
I'd always thought Jerry could shout louder than any boy I ever heard, but you can't imagine how high and thin both our voices sounded out there on the Sea Monster. We heard Father's voice quite distinctly:
"Chris-ti-ine ... Jer-r-r-y ... ti-in-e!"
We shouted till our chests felt scraped raw, the way you feel when you've run too hard, and the wind tore our voices straight out to sea, away from Wecanicut. The lanterns stood quite still for a minute more, and then they bobbed away. At first I didn't believe that they were really growing smaller and smaller. But they were, and at last they were gone entirely, far down the shore.
"Are you crying, Chris?" Jerry said suddenly, in a queer, wheezy voice. He'd been shouting even harder than I had.
"I think not," I said, and my own voice was very strange indeed.
Jerry whacked me hard on the back, and said:
"Good old Chris! Good
The shore of Wecanicut was so black that we might have dreamed the lanterns, but I still could hear the way Father's own voice had sounded, calling "Chris-ti-ine!" We almost stumbled over Greg when we crawled back to him, and he said: "Can we go home now, Chris?"
The wind gnashed around in a spiteful kind of way, and Jerry touched my hand suddenly and said: "Chris, it's raining."