HOW AN ANGEL CAME BRINGING THE TRUTH
Gard’s eyes, straining into the dimness of the coming dawn through what seemed to him a most terrible long time, so packed was it with anxious fears, caught at last the white flicker of Nance’s signal, and he dropped down just where he stood, among the rough stones of the ridge, with a grateful sigh.
The strain was telling on him. He felt physically weak and worn. Nance’s devoted love and courage made his heart beat high, indeed, but his fears on her account strung his laxed cords to breaking point, and then left them looser than before.
He must get away somehow, if only to prevent this constant and terrible risking of her life on his behalf.
He hardly dared to hope that his strategy with the dead man would be of any permanent benefit to him, though there was no knowing. Examination of the body would show that it had been dead for very many years, but his knowledge of the Island superstitions made him doubt if any Sark man would willingly spend a night on L’Etat for a very long time to come.
On the other hand, if the result of their discussions confirmed them in the belief that he was still there, and if, as he constantly feared, they should learn of Nance’s comings, and visit upon her the venom they harboured for him, they might so invest the rock that escape would be impossible.
Meagre living, starvation even, he would suffer rather than live more amply at risk of Nance’s life, but if the hope of ultimate escape was taken from him then he might as well give in at once and have done with it.
So he lay there, in the broken rocks of the ridge, and looked grimly on life. And the sun rose in a red ball over France, and cleft a shining track across the grey face of the waters, and drew up the mists and thinned away the clouds, till the great plain of the sea and the great dome above were all deep flawless blue, and he saw a thin white curl of smoke rise from the miners’ cottages on Sark.
He lay there listless, nerveless, careless of life almost, an Ishmael with every man’s hand against him—worse off than Ishmael, he thought, since Ishmael had a desert in which to wander, and he was tied to this bare rock.
But there was Nance! There was always Nance. And at thought of her, his bruised soul found somewhat of comfort and courage once more.
He felt her quivering in his arms again as he pressed her close. He felt again the willing surrender of her sweet wet face. And the thought of it thrilled his cold blood and set it coursing through his veins like new life. Yes, truly, while there was Nance there was hope.
Perhaps the Senechal and the Vicar would prevail upon them. Perhaps they would give it up and leave him alone, and then Nance would find him a boat and they would get across to Guernsey. Perhaps, as she kept insisting, something would happen to discover the truth.