A STORY FROM THE SAND-DUNES 735
worked his way onward with his feet and with one hand, while with the other he tightly held the young girl. He rested upon the waves, he trod the water, he practised all the arts he knew, so as to reserve strength enough to reach the shore. He heard how Clara uttered a sigh, and felt a convulsive shudder pass through her, and he pressed her to him closer than ever. Now and then a wave rolled over them ; and he was still a few cables' length from the land, when help came in the shape of an approaching boat. But under the water—he could see it clearly—stood a white form gazing at him ; a wave lifted him up, and the form approached him : he felt a shock, and it grew dark, and everything vanished from his gaze.
On the sand-reef lay the wreck of a ship, which the sea washed over; the white figure-head leaned against an anchor, the sharp iron of which extended just to the surface. Jiirgen had come in contact with this, and the tide had driven him against it with double force. He sank down fainting with his load, but the next wave lifted him and the young girl aloft again.
The fishermen grasped them and lifted them into the boat. The blood streamed down over Jurgen's face ; he seemed dead, but he still clutched the girl so tightly that they were obliged to loosen her by force from his grasp. And Clara lay pale and lifeless in the boat, that now made for the shore.
All means were tried to restore Clara to life; but she was dead ! For some time he had been swimming onward with a corpse, and had exerted himself to exhaustion for one who was dead.
Jiirgen was still breathing. The fishermen carried him into the nearest house upon the sand-hills. A kind of surgeon who lived there, and who was at the same time a smith and a general dealer, bound up Jurgen's wounds, till a physician could be got next day from the nearest town.
The brain of the sick man was affected. In delirium he uttered wild cries ; but on the third day he lay quiet and exhausted on his couch, and his life seemed to hang by a thread, and the physician said it would be best if this string snapped.