"We fought the cowardly devils as long as there was any hope. Two boats are off, and two capsized; in ten minutes more every soul must take to the water. Trust to me, and I will save you or die with you!"
"What else can I do?" she answered.
With a few powerful strokes of an axe, he broke off the top of the pilot-house, bound two or three planks to it with ropes, and dragged the mass to the bulwarks.
"The minute this goes," he then said to her, "you go after it, and I follow. Keep still when you rise to the surface."
She left the shrouds, took hold of the planks at his side, and they heaved the rude raft into the sea. In an instant she was seized and whirled over the side; she instinctively held her breath, felt a shock, felt herself swallowed up in an awful, fathomless coldness, and then found herself floating below the huge towering hull which slowly drifted away.
In another moment there was one at her side. "Lay your hand on my shoulder," he said; and when she did so, swam for the raft, which they soon reached. While she supported herself by one of the planks he so arranged and bound together the pieces of timber that in a short time they could climb upon them and rest, not much washed by the waves. The ship drifted further and further, casting a faint, though awful, glare over the sea, until the light was suddenly extinguished, as the hull sank.
The dawn was in the sky by this time, and as it broadened they could see faint specks here and there, where others, like themselves, clung to drifting spars. Mrs. Lawrie shuddered with cold and the reaction from an excitement which had been far more powerful than she knew at the time.
Her preserver then took off his coat, wrapped it around her, and produced a pocket-flask, saying; "this will support us the longest; it is all I could find, or bring with me."