The Zeppelin's Passenger HTML version

Chapter 22
The confinement of the house, after the departure of her unwelcome visitor, stifled
Philippa. Attired in a mackintosh, with a scarf around her head, she made her way on to
the quay, and, clinging to the railing, dragged herself along to where the fishermen were
gathered together in a little group. The storm as yet showed no signs of abatement.
"Has anything been heard of Ben Oates' boat?" she enquired.
An old fisherman pointed seawards.
"There she comes, ma'am, up on the crest of that wave; look!"
"Will she get in?" Philippa asked eagerly.
There were varied opinions, expressed in indistinct mutterings.
"She's weathering it grand," the fisherman to whom she had first spoken, declared.
"We've a line ready yonder, and we're reckoning on getting 'em ashore all right. Lucky
for Ben that the gentleman along with him is a fine sailor. Look at that, mum!" he added
in excitement. "See the way he brought her head round to it, just in time. Boys, they'll
come in on the next one!"
One by one the sailors made their way to the very edge of the wave-splashed beach.
There were a few more minutes of breathless anxiety. Then, after the boat had
disappeared completely from sight, hidden by a huge grey wall of sea, she seemed
suddenly to climb to the top of it, to hover there, to become mixed up with the spray and
the surf and a great green mass of waters, and then finally, with a harsh crash of timbers
and a shout from the fishermen, to be flung high and dry upon the stones. Philippa,
clutching the iron railing, saw for a moment nothing but chaos. Her knees became weak.
She was unable to move. There was a queer dizziness in her ears. The sound of voices
sounded like part of an unreal nightmare. Then she was aware of a single figure climbing
the steps towards her. There was blood trickling down his face from the wound in the
forehead, and he was limping slightly.
"Mr. Lessingham!" she called out, as he reached the topmost step.
He took an eager step towards her.
"Philippa!" he exclaimed. "Why, what are you doing here?"
"I was frightened," she faltered. "Are you hurt?"
"Not in the least," he assured her. "We had a rough sail home, that's all, and that fellow
Oates drank himself half unconscious. Come along, let me help you up the steps and out
of this."