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Moran of the Lady Letty

VIII. A Run For Land
"SINKING!" exclaimed Wilbur.
Moran was already on her feet. "We'll have to beach her," she cried, "and we're six
miles out. Up y'r jib, mate!" The two set the jib, flying-jib, and staysails.
The fore and main sails were already drawing, and under all the spread of her canvas
the "Bertha" raced back toward the shore.
But by the time she was within the head of the bay her stern had settled to such an
extent that the forefoot was clear of the water, the bowsprit pointing high into the
heavens. Moran was at the wheel, her scowl thicker than ever, her eyes measuring the
stretch of water that lay between the schooner and the shore.
"She'll never make it in God's world," she muttered as she listened to the wash of the
water in the cabin under her feet. In the hold, empty barrels were afloat, knocking
hollowly against each other. "We're in a bad way, mate."
"If it comes to that," returned Wilbur, surprised to see her thus easily downcast, who
was usually so indomitable--"if it comes to that, we can swim for it--a couple of planks--"
"Swim?" she echoed; "I'm not thinking of that; of course we could swim."
"What then?"
"The sharks!"
Wilbur's teeth clicked sharply together. He could think of nothing to say.
As the water gained between decks the schooner's speed dwindled, and at the same
time as she approached the shore the wind, shut off by the land, fell away. By this time
the ocean was not four inches below the stern-rail. Two miles away was the nearest
sand- spit. Wilbur broke out a distress signal on the foremast, in the hope that Charlie
and the deserters might send off the dory to their assistance. But the deserters were
nowhere in sight.
"What became of the junk?" he demanded suddenly of Moran. She motioned to the
westward with her head. "Still lying out-side."
Twenty minutes passed. Once only Moran spoke.
"When she begins to go," she said, "she'll go with a rush. Jump pretty wide, or you'll get
caught in the suction."
 
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