“Well, I’m afraid I must leave you to it,” said the Vicar, and did so.
HOW THEY LAID THE DEVIL BY THE HEELS
When it began to be noised abroad that Gard was going to and fro across the Coupee, even by night, as if nothing had ever happened there, the Sark men shrugged their shoulders and said, “Pardie!—sooner him than me—oui-gia!”
It was obviously necessary, however, that this should be known. Even the cormorant does not fish where fish are never found.
But when he went to and fro by night, he went mailed—according to the Doctor’s ideas—and armed—according to the Senechal’s; and each night the Doctor and the Senechal went quietly down, some time in advance, and lay hidden on the headlands with their guns, and never took their eyes off him and all his surroundings, while he was in sight.
And Gard, in nearing the Little Sark cutting, always kept carefully to the right-hand side of the path, though it was somewhat crumbly there and had fallen away down the slope towards Grande Greve. For he had gone cautiously over the ground beforehand, and decided that if there was any possibility of being knocked overboard unawares, he would prefer to go over the much gentler slope on the right, where one might even at a pinch find lodgment among the rubble and bushes, than over the sheer fall into Coupee Bay, where you could drop a stone almost to the shingle below.
Nance knew nothing whatever of the matter, or she would undoubtedly and most reasonably have had something to say about it. But knowledge of it could only upset her, and so perhaps himself, and he had carefully kept it from her. Little Sark, moreover, was more isolated than ever by reason of the Coupee mystery, and word of his goings and comings—save such as had La Closerie for their object in the day-time—never reached her.
They were in grievous sorrow down there over Bernel. Gard still preached hope, but each day’s delay in its realisation seemed to them to make it the more unlikely, and their hearts were very sore.
Julie had gone about her work for days after Gard’s return like a bereft tigress. Then one morning she locked the door of her house, put the key in her pocket, and took the cutter for Guernsey; and none regretted her going.
And, as it turned out, though that had not been her intention at the time, it was the last Sark was to see of her. Rumours reached them later of her marriage to a fellow-countryman, with whom she had gone to France. The one thing they knew for certain was that she never came back to La Closerie, and after due interval, and consequent on other matters, they broke open the door and resumed possession of the house.
Night after night Gard slowly crossed the Coupee, lingered in its shadows, went on into Little Sark, and came lingering back.
And night after night the Doctor and the Senechal lay in the heather of the headlands, guns in hand, waiting for something that never came, and then going stiffly home to one or other of their houses, to lubricate their joints and console their disappointment with hot punch and much tobacco.