“She will be up at the house,” he said, and turned and went off up the garden behind, while the dogs raced on in front to show the way.
Through a cleft in the high green bank topped by a thick hedge of hawthorn, they came out into a garden of less utilitarian aspect. Here were shrubs and flowers, palms and conifers and pale eucalyptus trees, clumps of purple iris and clove pinks, roses just coming to the bud, and beyond, a very charming bungalow, built solidly of gray granite and red tiles, with a wide verandah all round. A pleasant-faced woman in a large black sunbonnet came out of the open front door as they went up the path.
“My wife,” murmured Carre, and proceeded quietly to explain matters in an undertone of patois.
“I hope you speak English also, Mrs. Carre,” said Graeme.
“Oh yess,” with a quick smile. “We are all English here.”
“Surely you are Welsh,” he said, for he had met just that same cheerful type of face in Wales.
“Noh, I am Sark,” she smiled again. “I can gif you a sitting-room and a bet-room”—and they proceeded to business, and then the dogs escorted them back to the cottage, to see the stranger fairly inducted to his new abode, and to let him understand that they rejoiced at his coming and would visit him often.
He thought he would be very comfortable there, but why the sitting-room was not the bedroom he never could understand. For it was only a quarter the size of the other, and its single window looked into a field, and a rough granite wall clothed with tiny rock-weeds hid all view of the road and its infrequent traffic. While the bedroom was a room of size, and its two windows gave on to the covered well and the cobbled forecourt, and offered passers-by, if so inclined, oblique views of its occupant in the act of dressing if he forgot to pull down the blind.
The windows of both rooms were set low in the massive granite walls, and being always wide open, they offered, and indeed invited, easy access to—say, a grave-faced gentlemanly brown dog and a spasmodic rough-coated terrier without a tail, whenever the spirit moved them to incursion, which it invariably did at meal-times and frequently in between.
These two new friends of his—for they were never mere acquaintances, but adopted him into fullest brotherhood at sight—proved no small factors in Graeme’s extrication from the depths.
Human companionship, even of the loftiest, most philosophic, most gracious, would, for the time being, have jarred and ruffled his naturally equable spirit. Two only exceptions might have been conceivably possible—some humble, large-souled friend, anxious only to anticipate his slightest wish, desirous only of his company, and—dumb, and so unable to fret him with inane talk; or—Margaret Brandt.
The first he could have endured. The latter—ah, God! How he would have rejoiced in her! The spirit groaned within him at times in agonised longing for her; and the glories of the sweet spring days, in a land where spring is joyous and radiant beyond most, turned gray and cheerless in the shadow of his loss. What Might Have Been stabbed What Was to the heart and let its life-blood run.