“You could go and see him and we could talk it over again afterwards. I’m inclined to think that he won’t accept, you know.”
“I don’t believe he will, and it’ll be a bit hard to refuse him any help, if he really is on his beam ends.”
“He wouldn’t have written to you if he could have done without, you may count upon that.”
“Is he as safe there as he seems to think?” asked Charles.
“Yes, I think so. Safer probably than in Cherbourg. It’s an out-of-the-way place, from all accounts.”
Discuss it as they would, they could not get beyond Graeme’s proposal, and so at last they went back home, decided on the visit to Alderney on the morrow, but all feeling doubtful, and some of them distinctly nervous, as to the outcome of it.
The little party that lay in wait for the Alderney steamer in old Jack Guille’s boat off the Eperquerie, next morning, was eminently lacking in the vivacity that usually distinguishes such parties when the sea is smooth and the sky is blue. In fact, when they got on board, the Captain decided in his own mind that they must all have quarrelled before starting. There was no sign of anything of the kind about them now, it is true, but that might just be their good manners. For English people are not like the Sark and Guernsey folk, who, when they do quarrel, let all the world know about it.
These four had apparently little to say to one another and less to anyone else. If they had been going to a funeral they could hardly have been more reserved.
And to something very like a funeral they were going, with the added anxiety of very grave doubts as to the result of their visit.
They had had no difficulty in persuading the elder ladies that Alderney was not for them. The steep path down to the Eperquerie landing, and the tumbling about in a small boat until the steamer came, did not greatly appeal to them. Moreover, Lady Elspeth’s clear eyes had noticed the signs of their clouding, in spite of their efforts after naturalness, for to experienced eyes there is nothing so unnatural as the attempt to be natural. If Mrs. Pixley noticed nothing it was probably because her faculties had not yet fully recovered from the shock to which they had been subjected. If she noticed she said nothing, having no desire, perhaps, to add to the weight of her already heavy burden.
“Now, my boy, what is it?” Lady Elspeth asked, when she had persuaded Graeme to take her for a stroll in the evening, under plea of cramp through overmuch sitting.
“Jeremiah Pixley is in Alderney and has written to Charles begging his help to get on his way.”
“Ah! And what are you going to do about it?”.
Graeme outlined their ideas on the matter.
“He’s an old rascal,” said Lady Elspeth softly. “I doubt very much if you’ll get anything out of him.”