Bernel bent and ran on through the darkness without a thought of danger.
Gard hesitated one moment and Nance stretched a hand to him, and he took it and went steadily across.
And, oh, the thrill of that first living touch of her! The feel of the warm nervous little hand sent a tingling glow through him such as he had never in his life experienced before. Verily, a white-stone day this, in spite of winds and darkness!
The gale howled like ten thousand demons, and the noise of the waves in Grande Greve came up to them in a ceaseless savage roar. Gard confessed to himself that, alone, he would never have dared to face that perilous storm-swept bridge. But the small hand of a girl made all the difference and he stepped alongside her without a tremor.
“B’en, Monsieur Gard, was I right?” shouted Bernel in his ear, as they stepped within the shelter of the cutting on the farther side.
“You were right. It’s a terrible place in a gale.”
“You wait,” shouted Bernel. “We’re not home yet.”
“No more Coupees, any way,” and they bent again into the storm.
They had not gone more than a hundred yards when, through some freakish funnelling of the tumbled headlands, the gale gripped them like a giant playing with pigmies, caught them up, flung them bodily across the road and held Gard and Bernel pinned and panting against the green bank, while Nance disappeared over it into the shrieking darkness.
“Good heavens!” gasped Gard, fearful lest she should have been blown over the cliffs, and wriggled himself up under the ceaseless thrashing of the gale and was whirled off the top into the field beyond.
There the pressure was less, and, getting on to his hands and knees to crawl in search of Nance, he found her close beside him crouching in the lee of the grassy dyke.
He crept into shelter beside her, and presently, in the lull after a fiercer blast than usual, she set off, bent almost double, and in a moment they were in comparative quiet. Nance crawled through a gap into the road and they found Bernel waiting for them.
“Knew you’d come through there. That’s what that gap’s made for,” he shouted.
“I’ve been in many a storm but I never felt wind like that before,” said Gard, as soon as his breath came back.
“If you’d stopped with me you’d have been all right,” said Bernel. “There was no need for you to go after Nance. We’ve been through that lots of times, haven’t we, Nance?”
“I shall know next time,” said Gard, and to Nance it was a fresh experience to think of some one going out of his way to be of possible service to her.
HOW TOM WANTED TO BUT DIDN’T DARE
Before the six weeks allowed by Sark law for the retraiting of the property had expired, Grannie and Mrs. Hamon put in their claims, and it became generally known that they would become the new owners of La Closerie, in place of John Guille.