“Wait here!” she said at last, when they had attained a somewhat level place, and before he had breath for a word she was away down again.
She was back presently with another bundle, and he started when she thrust into his hands a long gun, and bade him pick up the first bundle and follow her. The feel of the gun brought home to him, as nothing else could have done, her and Bernel’s views of possible contingencies.
He followed her stumblingly along the rough crown of the ridge, till she dipped down a rather smoother slope and came to a stand before what seemed to him a heap of huge stones.
“There is shelter in here,” she said. “And these things are for your comfort. We will bring you more to eat in a day or two—”
“Nance, dear,” he said, dropping the gun and the bundle, and laying his hand on her slim shoulder. “I have become a sore burden to you—”
“Oh no, no!” she said hastily. “You would have done as much for me, and it is because—”
“For you, dear? I would give my life for you, Nance, and here it is you who are doing everything, and running all these risks for me.”
“It is because I know they are in the wrong. It may be only a day or two, and they will thank me when they find out their mistake.”
“Well, I thank you and Bernel with my whole heart. Please God I may some time be able to repay you!”
“If you are safe, that is all we want. Now I must go. We must get back before they miss us.”
“God keep you, dear!” and he bent and kissed her, and as before she kissed him back with the frankness of a child.
He was about to follow her when she turned to go, but she said imperatively, “Stop here, or you may lose yourself in the dark. And in the day-time do not walk on the ridge or they may see you—”
“And the gun? What is that for?”
“If they should come here after you, you will keep them off with it,” she said, with a spurt of the true Island spirit. “It is your life they seek, and they are in the wrong. But no one ever comes here, and you will not need it. Now, good-bye! And God have you in His keeping!”
“And you, dearest—and all yours!”—and she was gone like a flitting shadow.
And while he still stood peering into the darkness into which she had merged, she suddenly materialized again and was by his side.
“I forgot. Bernel told me to tell you it throws a little high. But I hope you won’t need it. And there is fresh water among the rocks at the south end there.”
He caught her to him again, and kissed her ardently, and then she was gone.
He strained his ears, fearful of hearing her slip or fall in the darkness, but she went without displacing a stone, and he was alone with the sickly moon, and the sombre sky, and the voices of the rising tide along the grim black ledges of his sanctuary.