“There might be other kinds of spirits about,” he said quietly. “And when men drink as some of my fellows do, they are no respecters of persons. But this is surely very sudden. Your grandmother seemed all right at dinner-time.”
“She had bad pains in the afternoon, and they have been getting worse. She did not want to have the doctor, but the things she took did her no good, and mother said I had better go and ask him for something more.”
“And where is Bernel?”
“He went to the fishing with Billy Mollet, and he was not back.”
“And suppose the doctor is not in?”
“They will know where he is, and I will go after him.”
“Did you see those wonderful waves of fire as you came across the Coupee?”
“I have seen them often. When there is more sea on, and it breaks on the rocks, it is finer still. It is something in the water, Mr. Cachemaille told me.”
“I heard your footsteps down there on the Coupee, but I couldn’t see a sign of you till you were almost against me.”
“I saw from the other side that some one was there, but I could not see who.”
“You have most wonderful eyes in Sark.”
“It is never quite dark to me on the darkest night. I suppose it is with being used to it.”
“You’ll have to help me across the Coupee.”
“And how will you get back?”
“The moon will be up, and then I can see all right. I don’t need much light, but I’ve not been brought up to see through solid black.”
The doctor was fortunately in, and knew by ample experience what would ease Grannie’s pains. So presently they were hurrying back along the dark road.
As they turned the corner by Vauroque an open doer cast a great shaft of light across the darkness, and there, just as on a previous occasion, on the wall lounged half-a-dozen men, and among them was Tom Hamon, who had come up to have a drink with his friend Peter.
At sight of him, Nance bent her head and tried to shrink into herself as she hurried past.
But Tom had seen her, and the sight of her alone with Gard at that time of night roused the virtuous indignation, and other more potent spirits, within him.
He sprang down into the road, shouting what sounded like a spate of curses in the patois.
Gard stopped and turned, with a keen recollection of the same thing having happened before. He remembered too how that occasion ended.
But Nance laid an entreating hand on his arm.
Her voice sounded a little strange to him. If he had been able to see her face now he would have found it pallid, in spite of its usual healthy brown bloom.
She stood entreatingly till he turned and went on with her.
“He is evidently aching for another thrashing,” he said grimly, as he stalked beside her.
And presently they were in the cutting, and the unnerving vastness of the gulfs opened out on either side. Gard felt like a blindfolded man stumbling along a plank.