Every nook and ledge of the out-cropping rock on the south side of the ridge was occupied by lady gulls in all stages of their maternal duties. From the surprise they expressed at his intrusion, and the way they stuck to their nests, they were evidently quite unused to man and his ways, and it was all he could do to avoid stepping on them and their squawking families as he picked his way along.
He clambered down the eastern slope nearest Sark, and found the ground there covered with a fairly deep soil, and green growths that were strange to him. The soil was perforated with holes which at first he ascribed to rabbits, but when he inserted his hand into one he got such a nip from an unusually strong beak that he changed his mind to puffins, and, standing quite still for a time, he presently saw the members of the colony come creeping out behind their great red bills and scurry off across the water in search of breakfast.
Then the great semi-detached pinnacle below attracted him, and he scrambled down amid the complaints of a great colony of gulls and cormorants but found the tide still too full for him to cross the intervening chasm. Those wonderful great green waves out of a smooth sea came roaring along the sides of the island and met full tilt in the chasm below him, as they leaped exultant from their conflict with the rocks. They hurled themselves against one another in wildest fury, and the foam of their meeting boiled white along the ledges, and dappled all the sea.
As he crawled through the lank wet grass and soft spongy soil, he found himself suddenly confronted with a great barrier of fallen rocks; as though, at some period of its existence, the north end of the island had tapered to a gigantic peak which, in the fulness of its time, had come down with a crash, and now lay like a titanic wall from summit to sea-board. Huge and forbidding, of all shapes and sizes, the mighty fragments barred his course like a menace, and he attacked them warily, drawing himself with infinite caution from one to another; over this one, under this, deftly between these two, lest an unwary weighting should start them on the movement that might grind him to powder.
The fog increased their forbidding aspect tenfold. He could not see a foot before him, and could only worm his way among them, testing each before he trusted it, and finding at times monsters become but mediocre when his hand was on them. More than once he had to rest his hands on cautiously-tried ledges and swing his legs forward and grope with his feet for foothold, and whether the space below was trifling, or whether it ran to incredible depth, he could not tell.
It was a mighty relief to him to come out at last on the other side of the wall, and to find himself on the great north slope which faced Sark, and so was closed to him in clear weather.
The long thin grass grew rankly here, and was beaded with moisture, but he pushed along with an eerie feeling at the wildness of it all.