“They do not,” said Gard feelingly.
“I’d like to get into that inner cave,” said the Doctor longingly.
“You couldn’t,” said Gard, looking at his size and girth. “It’s a mighty tight squeeze under the slab, and that tunnel would beat you. Unless you’ve been brought up to that kind of thing, you couldn’t stand it. It would give you nightmares for the rest of your life.”
“That’s a rare lass, that little Nance,” said the Senechal. “There’s some good in Sark after all, Mr. Gard.”
“She was an angel to me,” said Gard with feeling. “If it had not been for her, I could never have held out. Not for what she brought me, but the fact that she came. But it was terrible to me to think of her coming through that Race. I begged her not to, but she would have her way. Three times she risked her life for me—”
“Three times!” said the Senechal. “Ma fe, but she’s a garche to be proud of!”
“Ay, and to be more than proud of,” said Gard. “She has given me my life, and I will give it all to making her happy.”
“I wouldn’t swim across to L’Etat for any woman in the world,” said the Doctor. “Because, in the first place, I couldn’t. She must have nerves of steel, to say nothing of muscles. In the dark, too! And you wouldn’t think it to look at her.”
“It needed more than nerves or muscles,” said Gard quietly.
Not a man among the Islanders—much less a woman—would go anywhere near the Coupee after dark. Even Nance confessed to a preference for daylight passages. And Gard, when he went down into Little Sark for a walk, as part of his cure, could not repress a cold shiver whenever he passed the fatal spot where two men had gone over to their deaths.
All the old wives’ tales were dug up and passed along, growing as they went. Little eyes and mouths grew permanently rounded with horrors, and the ground was thoroughly well spaded and planted with sturdy shoots warranted to yield a noisome harvest of superstition for generations to come.
The occupants of Clos Bourel and Plaisance carefully locked their doors of a night now.
Old Mrs. Carre at Plaisance vowed she had heard the White Horses go past, on the nights before Tom Hamon and Peter were found. And every one knew that when the ghostly horses were heard, some one was going to die. But as she had said nothing about it before, her contribution to the general uneasiness was received with respect before her face but with open doubt behind her back.
Old Nikki Never-mind-his-name—lest his descendants, if he had any, take umbrage at the matter—swore that he had not only seen the ghostly steed pass Vauroque in the dead of night, but that it bore a rider whose head was carried carefully in his right hand. Unfortunately, the headless one passed so quickly that Nikki said he could not distinguish his features—having looked for them first in the wrong place—and so he could not say for certain who the next to die would be; but from the knowing wag of his head the neighbours were of opinion that he knew more than he chose to tell, and he gained quite a reputation thereby.