The grey light grew. In the garden ghostly shapes arose, phantoms of the dawn that gradually resolved into familiar forms of tree and shrub. From the rookery there swelled a din of many raucous voices. The dog in the distance began to bark again with feverish zest, and from the stables came Caesar’s cheery answering yell.
The mist drifted away from the face of the sky. A brightness was growing there. Stiffly, painfully, Sir Beverley struggled up from his chair, stood steadying himself—a figure tragic and forlorn—with his hands against the wood of the window-frame, then with a groaning effort thrust up the sash.
Violets! Violets! The haunting scent of them rose to greet him. The air was full of their magic fragrance. For a second he was aware of it; he almost winced. And then in a moment he had forgotten. He stood there motionless—a desolate old man, bowed and shrunken and grey—staring blindly out before him, unconscious of all things save the despair that had settled in his heart.
The night had passed and his boy had not returned.
Stanbury Cliffs was no more than a little fishing-town at the foot of the sandy cliff—a sheltered nest of a place in which the sound of the waves was heard all day long, but which no bitter wind could reach. The peace of it was balm to Avery’s spirit. She revelled in its quiet.
Jeanie loved it too. She delighted in the freedom and the warmth, and almost from the day of their arrival her health began to improve.
They had their quarters in what was little more than a two-storey cottage belonging to one of the fishermen, and there was only a tiny garden bright with marigolds between them and the shore. Day after day they went through the little wicket gate down a slope of loose sand to the golden beach where they spent the sunny hours in perfect happiness. The waves that came into the bay were never very rough, though they sometimes heard them raging outside with a fury that filled the whole world with its roaring. Jeanie called it “the desired haven,” and confided to Avery that she was happier than she had ever been in her life before.
Avery was happy too, but with a difference; for she knew in her secret heart that the days of her tranquillity were numbered. She knew with a woman’s sure instinct that the interval of peace would be but brief, that with or without her will she must soon be drawn back again into the storm and stress of life. And knowing it, she waited, strengthening her defences day by day, counting each day as a respite while she devoted herself to the child and rejoiced to see the change so quickly wrought in her. Tudor’s simile of the building of a sea-wall often recurred to her. She told herself that the foundation thereof should be as secure as human care could make it, so that when the tide came back it should stand the strain.