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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

78                      RANDOM MEMORIES

pathetically looking forth upon them from a climate of
his own. Except that I could move and feel, I was like
a man fallen in a catalepsy. But time was scarce given
me to realize my isolation ; the weights were hung upon
my back and breast, the signal rope was thrust into my
unresisting hand ; and setting a twenty-pound foot upon
the ladder, I began ponderously to descend.

Some twenty rounds below the platform, twilight fell.
Looking up, I saw a low green heaven mottled with
vanishing bells of white ; looking around, except for the
weedy spokes and shafts of the ladder, nothing but a green
gloaming, somewhat opaque but very restful and delicious.
Thirty rounds lower, I stepped off on the pier res perdues
of the foundation; a dumb helmeted figure took me by
the hand, and made a gesture (as I read it) of encourage-
ment ; and looking in at the creature's window, I beheld
the face of Bain. There we were, hand to hand and (when
it pleased us) eye to eye ; and either might have burst
himself with shouting, and not a whisper come to his com-
panion's hearing. Each, in his own little world of air,
stood incommunicably separate.

Bob had told me ere this a little tale, a five minutes'
drama at the bottom of the sea, which at that moment
possibly shot across my mind. He was down with another,
settling a stone of the sea-wall. They had it well adjusted,
Bob gave the signal, the scissors were slipped, the stone
set home ; and it was time to turn to something else.
But still his companion remained bowed over the block
like a mourner on a tomb, or only raised himself to make
absurd contortions and mysterious signs unknown to the
vocabulary of the diver. There, then, these two stood
for awhile, like the dead and the living ; till there flashed
a fortunate thought into Bob's mind, and he stooped,
peered through the window of that other world, and
beheld the face of its inhabitant wet with streaming tears.
Ah ! the man was in pain I And Bob, glancing down-
ward, saw what was the trouble : the block had been
lowered on the foot of that unfortunate—he was caught
alive at the bottom of the sea under fifteen tons of
rock.