On Derrible Head there might be a chance of seeing. She ran up to the highest point by the old cannon, just as the boat was coming in under La Conchee.
And—oh, mon Dieu! mon Dieu! yes—there, in the bows, lay the body of a man!—and the tears she had kept back all day broke out now in a fury of weeping. She could hardly see, but she ran on, falling at times and bruising herself, staggering to her feet again, stumbling blindly through a mist of tears.
The boat was drawn up by the time she got there, and a curious crowd surrounded it. She pushed through. She must see.
And then the weight fell off her heart, and it was all she could do to keep from screaming. For this poor thing, whatever it was, was not Stephen Gard and never had been.
She wanted to sing and dance and scream her joy aloud. They had not found him.
“What is this, John Drillot?” asked Julie, alongside her, black with anger, as she pointed to the body.
“Ma fe—a ghost, they say. John Trevna shot him, but he had been dead a long time before that, though he was alive last night, for Peter had hold of his leg as he ran.”
“And where is the other—the one you went for?”
“He’s not on L’Etat, anyway, ma fille,” and they lifted the body on to a piece of sailcloth, and carried it off through the tunnel for the Senechal to look into.
So Stephen Gard’s hiding-place had proved effective, and they had not found him. But, of a certainty, he must be starving, and so away home sped Nance, to prepare a parcel of food to take across to him. And Julie, her black brows pinched together and her face set in a frown of venomous intention, never once let her out of her sight.
It was after midnight when Nance stole across the fields, carrying her little parcel and her swimming-bladders, and made her way to Breniere point.
It was a still night, with a sky full of stars, and her heart was high for the moment, though when her thoughts ran on, in spite of her, it fell again. For things could not go on this way for ever, and she saw no way out.
She dropped her outer things by a bush, and let herself quietly down the rocks and into the water, and the black-faced woman who presently stood by that bush snarled curses after her and was filled with unholy exultation. For Nance could have only one reason for going across there, and on the morrow the men should hear of it, and she would give them no rest till Gard was made an end of.
What that thing was that they had brought home, she did not know, but they were fools to be satisfied with that when the man they had gone after was undoubtedly still on the rock.
So she sat down by Nance’s gown and cloak, and revolved schemes for her discomfiture and the undoing of Stephen Gard.
HOW HOPE CAME ONCE AGAIN