PART THREE: PERIL!
Marilyn turned and looked once more towards the horizon behind them, noticing with alarm that the growing darkness had drawn even closer to them since she had first noticed it.
She glanced towards her daughter sitting so unconcerned, evidently as yet unaware of the rapidly approaching danger. Marilyn tried hard to school her voice and face to reflect a calm far from what she was feeling, for she did not want to alarm Marilla.
But as she again glanced back at that fast approaching darkness, she felt that her time had just about run out as far as making her daughter aware of what they might possibly be facing. The water around the boat had already begun to get a little choppy, not enough for her daughter to notice yet, but it soon would.
So with a deep breath, and trying to speak as calmly as she could, Marilyn turned in her seat and addressed her daughter, “Marilla, I want you to listen to me very closely. It looks like we are about to get caught in a bit of a storm…that is why I wanted you to double check your life vest. Now I don’t want you to get frightened or start to panic, but I do want you to get ready to grab hold of the bracing bars in case the waters get a little rough and we get tossed about a bit, alright? You know that the latch on that seat belt sometimes comes loose, and I want you to hold onto the bracing bars just in case…I do not want to lose you.”
The bracing bars were a very special addition that the family had had added to the boat once Marilla was old enough to hang onto things on her own.
They were two metal rails, one on either side of her seat, that were bolted to a platform which in turn was bolted to the floor of the boat.
Marilla looked at her mom a moment and then turned around a little to look behind them…
And immediately turned back to gaze at Miriam, her eyes wide with shock and sudden fear…fear that came through all too clearly in her voice, “Mom, that storm is huge and it is moving so fast! If it keeps moving that fast, it will catch us before we get home!”
Marilla reached out and grabbed hold of the bracing bars, then looked at her mom again, her face white and tense, “Mom, I’m scared! That storm looks like the worst one we have ever been caught in! Please, oh please tell me we will be able to outrun it!”
Marilyn gave her daughter what she truly hoped was a reassuring smile, glancing to make sure she had a good grip on the bracing bars, then turned back to focus on the water ahead of the boat, noticing that it was beginning to crest almost level with the boat’s sides as she began to open up the motor a little bit at a time.
She had to be very careful, though, how she did this, for if she demanded too much of the old motor all at once, it would stop and then they would be in very definite danger.
The little boat began to pick up speed and to lift a little out of the water as the speed increased. When the engine began making a the warning high pitched whine that Marilyn had learned in the past meant that it was about to shut down, she pulled back and the engine quieted.
As they went bouncing and bobbing over the surface of the water, some of the larger fiercer waves occasionally crested over the back and sides of the little boat as it raced desperately for the lighthouse jetty and safety.
Marilyn, thinking to give herself more leverage in the now wildly pitching boat…for it had become harder and harder to hold onto the steering wheel and maintain course…broke a cardinal rule her much loved husband had tried to instill in his entire family…
She removed her seat belt and stood up
They were just in sight of the jetty when disaster struck.
Mother and daughter were so intently focused on that slender sign of safety that they were completely oblivious to the huge wave which had been gradually building behind them…and which appeared to be following them.
They were within but a short distance of the jetty when that wave struck…and several things happened in a heartbeat…
The fastener holding Marilla’s seat belt…loosened by the movement of her body as she tried to both maintain her balance and her grip on the bracing bars…came undone…
And the wave struck with enough force to lift the boat clear out of the water…throwing Marilyn and Marilla out of the boat where they landed, some distance apart, several feet away in the furiously lashing waves.
Both mother and daughter surfaced just in time to see that wave smash the boat back down into the water with enough force to shatter it.
Marilyn at once began to turn around and around in circles, searching and calling frantically for her daughter. Time after time she shouted, pausing in between shouts to listen for any sound of her daughter’s voice.
Then, after what seemed an eternity, she heard Marilla’s weak cries in response.
Shouting and trying to be heard above the sound of the crashing sea and furious wind, she screamed for Marilla to keep calling to her, that she was coming. Finally she reached her daughter and told her to wrap her arms and legs around her. Once Marilla had complied, Marilyn began to swim as hard as she could, trying to reach the jetty, that precious symbol of safety.
They were within mere yards of the jetty when the second huge wave struck, forcing them apart, and when Marilyn surfaced again, choking and gasping for breath, Marilla was nowhere to be seen.
Once more Marilyn began to frantically call for her daughter…and received only silence in reply.
Her frantic tears now mixing with the rain, Marilyn continued to turn in circles in the now once again heavy downpour, treading water, calling out to Marilla…
But to no avail.
TO BE CONTINUED…