There were bones everywhere in it. Bones and skulls of droves of cattle on all the strand above the tide mark for many score yards. Their ribs stuck out from the snow everywhere, and the sightless eye sockets grinned at me as I stumbled over them. But I had no time to wonder how they came there, for I must get to the summit before Evan and his men reached it by their way along the cliff. I ate handfuls of the snow and quenched my thirst that was growing on me again, and my strength began to come back to me as I hurried upward. I was a better man when at last I reached the top of the gorge than when I came ashore.
CHAPTER VII. HOW OSWALD CROSSED THE DYFED CLIFFS, AND MET WITH FRIENDS.
Now I halted before I lifted my head above the skyline, and listened with a fear on me lest I should hear the sound of running feet, and I was the more careful because I knew that the snow which lay white and deep on all the open land might deaden any sounds thereof. But I heard nothing save the wail of the wind overhead as it rose in gusts. I wondered if Thorgils would be able to bide in this little cove, or must needs put out to seek some other haven. There seemed to be a swell setting into it.
So I crept yet farther up the path, crouching behind a point of rock, and thence I saw a dark line on the snow that seemed to promise a road, and that must surely lead to some house or village. I went forward to it with all caution, and with my head over my shoulder, as they say, but I saw no man. This track led east and west, and was well trodden by cattle, but there were few footprints of men on it, so far as I could see. So I turned into it, going ever away from the ship, and hurrying. I had a thought that I heard shouts behind me, but there was more wind here on the heights than I had felt on the sea, or it was rising, and it sung strangely round the bare points of rock that jutted up everywhere. Maybe it was but that.
Inland I could see no sign of house or hut where I might find food at least, but the cloud wrack had drifted across the moon, and I could not see far now. It was a desolate coast, all unlike our own.
Then I came to a place where the track crossed stony ground and was lost in gathered snow. When I was across that I had lost the road altogether, and had only the line of the cliffs to guide me to what shelter I could not tell. And now a few flakes of snow fluttered round me, and I held on hopelessly, thinking that surely I should come to some place that would give me a lee of rock that I could creep under.
Then the snow swooped down on me heavily, with a whirl and rush of wind from the sea, and I tried to hurry yet more from the chill. Then I was sure that I heard voices calling after me, and I ran, not rightly knowing where to go, but judging that the coastline would lead me to some fishers’ village in the end. There seemed no hope from the land I had seen.