“Yes, surely, Sark men ought to be able to swim, and they have certainly no lack of opportunity. But it’s a dangerous coast for those who don’t know it. Look at that now,” and he nodded to the foaming race in front of them, between Breniere and a gaunt rocky peak which rose like a mountain-top out of the lonely sea. “Why, it must be running five or six miles an hour.”
From where they sat the sea seemed perfectly calm, a level plain of deepest blue, with pale green streaks under the rocks and dark purple patches further out, its surface just furrowed with tiny wind-ripples, and underneath, a long slow heave like the breathings of the spirit of the deep. But, smooth as the blue plain seemed, wave met rock with roar and turmoil, and between that outlying peak and the shore the waters tore and foamed with wild white crests—tumbling green ridges that were never two seconds the same. While all along the great black base of the peak the white waves rushed like mighty rockets, flinging long white arms up its ragged sides and crashing together at the end in dazzling bursts of foam.
“Wonderful!” said Gard. “I’ve lain here for hours watching it.”
“I’ve swum it,” said Nance quietly.
“So’ve I,” said Bernel.
“Never! You two? I wonder you came back alive!”
“On the slack it’s not so bad, and at half ebb.”
“And what is there to see when you get there?”
“Oh, just rocks, and puffins and gulls. You can hardly walk without stepping on them. Do you remember how we sat and watched the baby gulls coming out, Nance?”
“Yes,” nodded Nance. “And you nearly got your fingers bitten off by a puffin when you felt in its hole.”
“Ma de, yes! They do bite.”
“What do you call the rock?” asked Gard, nodding across at it.
“L’Etat,” said Nance. “Mr. Cachemaille once told me that it had most likely at one time been joined on to Little Sark by a Coupee, just the same as Little Sark is joined to Sark. That’s the Coupee, that shelf under water where the tide runs so fast. Some day, he said, perhaps our Coupee will go and we’ll be an island just as L’Etat is.”
“It won’t be this week,” said Bernel philosophically.
“It looks like the top of a high mountain just sticking up out of the water,” said Gard, fascinated by the ceaseless rush of those monstrous waves in an otherwise calm sea.
“I suppose that is what it is,” said Nance. “It’s far worse at the other end. You can’t see it from here. No matter how smooth the sea is it seems to tumble down over some cliff under water and then come shooting up again, and it throws itself at the rocks and sends the spray up into the sky.”
“I’d like to go and see it,” said Gard. “But I don’t think I would like to swim. Could one get a boat?”
“We have a boat with Nick Mollet in the bay below here,” said Bernel. “But he’s generally out fishing and you’re always busy.”