HOW LOVE TOOK LOVE TO SANCTUARY
It all seemed monstrous strange to him, now that he had time to think of the actual fact apart from the difficulties of its accomplishment.
An hour ago he was lying in his bed at Plaisance, in low enough spirits, indeed, at the outlook before him, but his gloomiest thought had never plumbed depths such as this.
He wondered briefly if so extreme a step had been really necessary.
And then he heard again the purposeful tramp of those heavy feet on the Coupee, and fathomed again the menace of them.
And he felt Nance’s guiding hand trembling violently in his once more, and he said to himself that she and Bernel knew better than he how the land lay, and that he could not have done other than he had done.
Then he became aware that the dew was drenching him, and so he bent and groped in the dark for the shelter Nance had spoken of.
The strip of moon had paled as it rose, the huge white stones glimmered faintly in it, and a darker patch below showed him where the entrance must be. He crept into the darker patch on his hands and knees, bumping his head violently, but once inside found room to sit upright. Snaking out again, he laid hold of the two bundles and the gun, and dragged them into shelter.
What the bundles contained he could not tell in the dark, but one felt like a thick woollen cloak, and the other like a blanket, and among their contents he felt a loaf of bread, and a bottle and a powder-flask. So he rolled himself up in the blanket and the cloak, and lay wondering at the strange case in which he found himself, and so at last fell asleep.
* * * * *
He woke into a dapple of light and shade which filled his wandering wits with wonder, till, with a start, he came to himself and remembered.
The place he was in was something like a stone bee-hive, about eight feet across from side to side, with a rounded sloping roof rising at its highest some four feet from the ground, and the great blocks of which it was built fitted so ill in places that the sun shot the darkness through and through with innumerable little white arrows of light. The dark opening of the night was now a glowing invitation to the day. He shook off his wraps and crawled out into the open.
And what an open!
He drew deep breaths of delight at the magnificence of his outlook—its vastness, its spaciousness, its wholesome amplitude and loneliness. He felt like a new man born solitary into a new world.
The sky, without a cloud, was like a mighty hollowed sapphire, in which blazed the clear white sun; and the vast plain of the sea, sweeping away into infinity, was a still deeper blue, with here and there long swathes of green, and here and there swift-speeding ruffles purple-black.
A brisk easterly breeze set all the face of it a-ripple, and where the dancing wavelets caught the sun it glanced and gleamed like sheets of molten silver.