“Where are you taking me?” he asked, as they crept past the miners’ cottages on the cliff above Rouge Terrier.
“To Breniere.... To L’Etat.... Bernel went on to find a boat.”
And presently they were out on the bald cliff-head, and slipping and sliding down it till they came to the ledge, below which Breniere spreads out on the water like a giant’s hand.
Between her panting breaths Nance whistled a low soft note like the pipe of a sea-bird. A like sound came softly up from below, and slipping and stumbling again, they were on the beach among mighty boulders girt with dripping sea-weed.
Another low pipe out of the darkness, and they had found the boat and tumbled into it, wet and bruised, and breathless.
“Dieu merci!” said Bernel, and pulled lustily out to sea.
The swirl of the tide caught them as they cleared Breniere Point, and Gard crawled forward to take an oar. Nance did the same, and so set Bernel free to scull and steer, the arrangement which dire experience has taught the Sark men as best adapted to their rock-strewn waters and racing currents.
Gard’s mind was in a tumult of revolt, but he sensibly drove his feelings through his muscles to the blade of his oar, and said nothing. Nance and Bernel were not likely to have gone to these lengths without what seemed to them sufficient reason.
And he remembered Nance’s trembling arm on the Coupee, and her agonies of fear on his account, and so came by degrees to a certain acceptance of their view of matters, and therewith a feeling of gratitude for their labours and risks on his behalf. For he did not doubt that, should the self-appointed administrators of justice learn who had baulked them of their prey, they would wreak upon them some of the vengeance they had intended for himself.
He saw that it was no light matter these two had undertaken, and as he thought it over, and told the black welter under his oar what he thought of these wild and hot-headed Sark men, his gratitude grew.
The thin orange sickle of a moon rose at last, high by reason of the mists banked thick along the horizon, and afforded them a welcome glimmer of light—barely a glimmer indeed, rather a mere thinning of the clinging darkness, but enough for Bernel’s tutored eye.
He took them in a cautious circuit outside the Quette d’Amont, the eastern sentinel of L’Etat, and so, with shipped oars, by means of his single scull astern, brought them deftly to the riven black ledges round the corner on the south side.
It is a precarious landing at best, and the after scramble up the crumbling slope calls for caution even in the light of day. In that misleading darkness, clinging with his hands and climbing on the sides of his feet, and starting at startled feathered things that squawked and fluttered from under his groping hands and feet, Gard found it no easy matter to follow Nance, though she carried a great bundle and waited for him every now and again. When he looked down next day upon the way they had come he marvelled that they had ever reached the top in safety.