“Ah! Teks some getting does silver bullets.”
“A shill’n would mek a little wan,” and Graeme gave him a shilling to try his luck, because Marielihou’s unsportsmanlike behaviour did not commend itself to him.
But it took many shillings to obtain anything definite in the way of results, and Graeme had his own humorous suspicions as to the billets some of them found, and gently chaffed old Tom on the subject whenever they met.
“You wait,” said Tom, with mysterious nods.
Graeme’s sober intention had been to put Margaret Brandt, and the agonising regrets that clung to every thought of her, strenuously out of his mind. But that he found more possible in the intention than in the accomplishment.
The first shock of loss numbs one’s mental susceptibilities, of course, much as a blow on the head affects the nervous system. The bands are off the wheels, the machinery is out of order, and the friction seems reduced. It is when the machine tries to work again that the full effects of the jar are felt.
And so he found it now. As mind and body recovered tone in the whole vitalising atmosphere of the wondrous little isle,—the air, the sea, the sense of remoteness, the placid life of the place, the abounding beauties of cliff and crag and cave,—his heart awoke also to the aching sense of its loss.
All outward things—all save Johnny Vautrin, and Marielihou, and old Tom Hamon, and several others—sang abundantly of the peace and fulness and joy of life, but his heart was still so sore from its bruising that at times these outward beauties seemed only to mock him with their brightness.
In the first shock of his downcasting, wounded pride said, “I will show no sign. I will forget her. I will salve the bruise with work. Margaret Brandt is not the only woman in the world. In time some other shall take her place;”—and he tried his hardest to believe it.
But body is one thing and mind another. The body you may compel to any mortal thing, but the mind is of a different order, and strongest will cannot whip it to heel at times. Forbid it thought of thing or person and the forbidden is just that which will persist in obtruding itself to the exclusion of all else.
And so, in spite of him, the dull ache in his heart at every thought of Margaret murmured without ceasing, “There is none like her—none!” And crush and compel it as he might, the truth would out, and out the more the more he tried to crush it.
And so at times, in spite of his surroundings, his spirits dragged in lowest deeps.
Work he could not as yet, for the work of the writer demands absolute concentration and most complete surrender, and all his faculties were centred, in spite of himself, on Margaret Brandt and his own great loss in her.
He rambled all over the island with his dog friends, risked skin and bones in precarious descents into apparently impossible depths, scrambled laboriously among the ragged bastions of the Coupee and Little Sark, explored endless caverns, loitered by day in bosky lanes, and roamed restlessly by night under the brightest stars he had ever seen.