“No, Nick, my boy,” he said, as he drove his pen into the ink. “She won’t lie awake for you. But she’ll cry herself to sleep for your sake, you gibbering, one-armed ape. And the new love will be the old love before the week is out, or I am no weather prophet.”
THE WATCHER OF THE CLIFF
The gale that raged along the British coasts that autumn was the wildest that had been known for years. It swelled quite suddenly out of the last breezes of a superb summer, and by the middle of September it had become a monster of destruction, devastating the shore. The crumbling cliffs of Brethaven testified to its violence. Beating rain and colossal, shattering waves united to accomplish ruin and destruction. And the little fishing-village looked on aghast.
It was on the third day of the storm that news was brought to Nick of a landslip on his own estate. He had been in town ever since his guests’ departure, and had only returned on the previous evening. He did not contemplate a long stay. The place was lonely without Olga, and he was not yet sufficiently proficient in shooting with one arm to enjoy the sport, especially in solitude. He was in fact simply waiting for an opportunity which he was convinced must occur before long, of keeping a certain promise made to a friend of his on a night of early summer in the Indian Plains.
It was a wild day of drifting squalls and transient gleams of sunshine. He grimaced to himself as he sauntered forth after luncheon to view the damage that had been wrought upon his property. The ground he trod was sodden with long rain, and the cedars beyond the lawn plunged heavily to and fro in melancholy unrest, flinging great drops upon him as he passed. The force of the gale was terrific, and he had to bend himself nearly double to meet it.
With difficulty he forced his way to the little summer-house that overlooked the shore. He marvelled somewhat to find it still standing, but it was sturdily built and would probably endure as long as the ground beneath it remained unshaken.
But beyond it a great gap yawned. The daisy-covered space on which they had sat that afternoon, now many weeks ago, had disappeared. Nothing of it remained but a crumbling desolation to which the daisies still clung here and there.
Nick stood in such shelter as the summer-house afforded, and looked forth upon the heaving waste of waters. The tide was rising. He could see the great waves swirling white around the rocks. Several land-slips were visible from this post of observation. The village was out of sight, tucked away behind a great shoulder of cliff; but an old ruined cottage that had been uninhabited for some time had entirely disappeared. Stacks of seaweed had been thrown up upon the deserted shore, and lay in great masses above the breakers. The roar of the incoming tide was like the continuous roll of thunder.