He tried to induce her to go back home with him, but she would not move. For the moment all her hope in life was in peril on the rock, and she must see all that went on; and finally he had to leave her there, and she hardly knew that he had gone. She wanted only to be left alone, to nurse her new-born hope and watch in fear and trembling for any symptom of its overthrow.
But she was not to be left in peace, for Madame Julie had heard the firing also, and had come round the headland by the miners’ cottages, exulting in the fact that her enemy was run to earth at last and was meeting righteous punishment.
And as she prowled about there, chafing at the delay in the return of the boats, she came suddenly on Nance gazing out at L’Etat with a face—not, as Julie would have expected, downcast and woe-begone, but full of eager expectancy. And the sight of her, and in such case, stirred Julie to venom.
“Ah then—there you are, mademoiselle, listening to the end of your fancy gentleman! And the right end, too, ma foi! A man that goes knocking his neighbours on the head—it’s right he should be shot like a rabbit—”
Nance’s face quivered, but she did not even look round.
“You’ll see them coming back presently, and they’ll bring his body back with them in the boat, all full of holes. And then I’ll feel that my Tom’s paid for—”
“Do you hear?” she cried, planting herself in front of Nance, and jerking her hands up and down in her excitement and the exaspeiation of receiving no response. “Do you hear me—you? Or are you gone crazy for love of your murderer?”—and she made as though to lay wild hands on the girl.
“You are wicked! You are evil! You are a devil!” said Nance through her little white teeth, and looked so as though she might fly at her that Julie drew off.
“Aha—spitfire!—wildcat!—you would bite?”
Nance, all ashake with disgust, stooped suddenly and picked up a lump of rock.
“Go!” she said, in a voice of such concentrated fury that it was little more than a whisper. “Go!—before I do you ill;” and she looked so like it that Julie turned and fled, expecting the rock between her shoulders at every step.
But the rock was on the ground, and Nance was intent again on L’Etat.
She stood there watching, until she saw the boats put off, and then she turned and sped like a rabbit—across the waste lands—across the Coupee—over Clos Bourel fields into Dixcart—over Hog’s Back to the Creux.
She ran through the tunnel just as the boats came up, and her eyes were wide with expectant fear, as they swept them hungrily.
“What have you done then, out there, Philip Vaudin?” she cried, as his boat’s nose grated on the shingle.
“Pardi, ma garche, we have done nothing.”
“But the shooting?”
“Some one shot at the shelter to see if he was inside, and the rest shot because they thought there must be something to shoot at.”