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A Tragedy Of The Sea
by [?]

“High tide to-day–3.30.”

William’s heart leapt. He looked at his watch; it was 2.30. In one hour the waves would be dashing remorselessly into the cave, would be leaping up the cliff, what time he and Miss Spratt—-

Suppose they were caught by the tide….

Meanwhile the lady, despairing of entertainment, had removed her hat.

“Really,” she said, “I’m that sleepy—- I suppose the tide’s safe, Mr. Bales?”

It was William’s chance.

“Quite, quite safe,” he said earnestly. “It’s going down hard.”

“Well then, I almost think—-” She closed her eyes. “Wake me up when you’ve thought of something really funny, Mr. Bales.”

William was left alone with Romance.

He went out of the cave and looked round. The sea was still some way out, but it came up quickly on this coast. In an hour … in an hour….

He scanned the cliffs, and saw the ledge whither he would drag her. She would cling to him crying, calling him her rescuer….

What should he do then? Should he leave her and swim for help? Or should he scale the mighty cliff?

He returned to the cave and, gazing romantically at the sleeping Miss Spratt, conjured up the scene. It would go like this, he thought.

Miss Spratt (wakened by the spray dashing over her face). Oh, Mr. Bales! We’re cut off by the tide! Save me!

W. Bales (lightly). Tut-tut, there’s no danger. It’s nothing. (Aside) Great Heavens! Death stares us in the face!

Miss Spratt (throwing her arms around his neck). William, save me; I cannot swim!

W. Bales (with Waller face). Trust me, Angelina. I will fight my way round yon point and obtain help. (Aside) An Englishman can only die once.

Miss Spratt. Don’t leave me!

W. Bales. Fear not, sweetheart. See, there is a ledge where you will be beyond the reach of the hungry tide. I will carry you thither in my arms and will then—-

At this point in his day-dream William took another look at the sleeping Miss Spratt, felt his biceps doubtfully, and went on—-

W. Bales. I will help you to climb thither, and will then swim for help.

Miss Spratt. My hero!

Again and again William reviewed the scene to himself. It was perfect. His photograph would be in the papers; Miss Spratt would worship him; he would be a hero in his City office. The actual danger was slight, for at the worst she could shelter in the far end of the cave; but he would not let her know this. He would do the thing heroically–drag her to the ledge on the cliff, and then swim round the point to obtain help.

The thought struck him that he could conduct the scene better in his shirt-sleeves. He removed his coat, and then went out of the cave to reconnoitre the ledge.

. . . . .

Miss Spratt awoke with a start and looked at her watch. It was 4.15. The cave was empty save for a crumpled page of newspaper. She glanced at this idly and saw that it was the local Herald… eight days old.

Far away on the horizon William Bales was throwing stones bitterly at the still retreating sea.