A man, however, had just leaped ashore from the brig, and was now standing looking somewhat anxiously after the landing of his baggage, which consisted of a wooden chest and an old carpet-bag.
When at last it stood safely on the platform, he cast a comprehensive look at his surroundings and then turned to the group of men who had come down to watch the boat come in, and four pairs of eyes on the opposite side of the gulf watched him curiously, with little thought of the tremendous part he was to play in all their lives.
“Where’s he stop?” asked Peter.
“Ouaie, I tell you. He’s to stop at our house.”
“Why doesn’t he go to Barracks?”
“Old Captain’s there and they might not agree. Oh ouaie, he’ll have his hands full, I’m thinking. And if he’s not careful it’s a crack on the head and a drop over the Coupee he’ll be getting.”
“Ah!” said Peter Mauger.
“Come you along and see what kind of chap he is.”
“Aw well, I don’t mind,” and they strolled away to inspect the new Mine Captain, who was to brace up the slackened ropes and bring the enterprise to a successful issue.
“Did you know he was going to stop with us, Nance?” asked Bernel, as they groped their way out after due interval.
“I heard father tell mother this morning.”
“Where’s he to sleep?”
“He’s to have my room and I’m coming up into the loft. I shall take the dark end, and I’ve put up a curtain across.”
“Shoo! We’ll hear enough about the mines now,” and they crept out behind a gorse bush, and went off across the common towards the clump of wind-whipped trees inside which the houses of Little Sark clustered for companionship and shelter from the south-west gales.
HOW GARD MADE NEW ACQUAINTANCES
Old Tom Hamon gave the new arrival warm greeting, and pointed out such matters as might interest him as they climbed the steep road which led up to the plateau and the houses.
“Assay Office, Mr. Gard.... Captain’s Office.... Forge.... Sark’s Hope shaft.... Le Pelley shaft—ninety fathoms below sea-level.... Pump shaft ... and yon to east’ard is Prince’s shaft.... We go round here behind engine-house.... Yon’s my house ’mong the trees.”
“That’s a fine animal,” said Gard, stopping suddenly to look at a great white horse, which stood nibbling the gorse on the edge of the cliff right in the eye of the sun, as it drooped towards Guernsey in a holocaust of purple and amber and crimson clouds. The glow of the threatening sky threw the great white figure into unusual prominence.
“Yours, Mr. Hamon?” asked Gard—and the white horse flung up its head and pealed out a trumpet-like neigh as though resenting the imputation.
“No,” said old Tom, staring at the white horse under his shading hand. “Seigneur’s. What’s he doing down here? He’s generally kept up at Eperquerie, and that’s the best place for him. He’s an awkward beast at times. I must send and tell Mr. Le Pelley where he is.”