He hurried to the bank of the river, reaching it out of breath.
John was by this time some distance out. The wind had carried him along finely, the boat scudding, as he expressed it. He was congratulating himself on the success of his trial trip, when all at once a flaw struck the boat. Not being a skillful boatman he was wholly unprepared for it, and the boat upset.
Struggling in terror and confusion, John struck out for the shore. But he was not much of a swimmer, and the suddenness of the accident had unnerved him, and deprived him of his self-possession. The current of the river was rapid, and he would inevitably have drowned but for the opportune assistance of Mr. Morton.
The young man had no sooner seen the boat capsize, than he flung off his coat and boots, and, plunging into the river, swam vigorously toward the imperiled boy.
Luckily for John, Mr. Morton was, though of slight frame, muscular, and an admirable swimmer. He reached him just as John's strokes were becoming feebler and feebler; he was about to give up his unequal struggle with the waves.
"Take hold of me," he said. "Have courage, and I will save you."
John seized him with the firm grip of a drowning person, and nearly prevented him from striking out. But Mr. Morton's strength served him in good stead; and, notwithstanding the heavy burden, he succeeded in reaching the bank in safety, though with much exhaustion.
John no sooner reached the bank than he fainted away. The great danger which he had just escaped, added to his own efforts, had proved too much for him.