If there was one thing he could have imagined without actual experience, it was how a man may feel when he loses. What he could not at present by any possibility conceive was—how it might feel to be the accepted lover of such a girl as Margaret Brandt.
Confound her money! If it were not for that, Pixley would probably never have wanted to marry her. Money was answerable for half the ills of life, and the contrariness of woman for the other half. Confound money! Confound—Well, truly, his state of mind was not a happy one.
But there was something in the crisp Sark air that, by degrees and all unconsciously, braced both mind and body;—something broadening and uplifting in the wide free outlook from every headland; something restorative of the grip of life in the rush and roar of the mighty waves and the silent endurance of the rocks; something so large and aloof and restful in the wide sweep of sea and sky; something so hopeful and regenerative in the glorious exuberance of the spring—the flaming gorse, the mystic stretches of bluebells, the sunny sweeps of primroses, the soft uncurlings of the bracken, the bursting life of the hedgerows, the joyous songs of the larks—that presently, and in due season, earthly worries began to fall back into their proper places below the horizon, and a new Graeme—a Graeme born of Sark and Trouble—looked out of the old Graeme eyes and began to contemplate life from new points of view.
It took time, however. Love is a plant of most capricious and surprising growth. It may take years to root and blossom. It may spring up in a day, yet strike its roots right through the heart and hold it as firmly as the growth of the years. And, once the heart is enmeshed in the golden filaments, it is a most dolorous work to disentangle it.
For the first two weeks his mind ran constantly on his loss. Momentarily it might be diverted by outward things, but always it came back with a sharp shock, and a bitter sense of deprivation, to the fact that Margaret Brandt had passed out of his life and left behind her an aching void.
Did he sit precariously among the ragged scarps and pinnacles of Little Sark, while the western seas raged furiously at his feet and the Souffleur shot its rockets of snowy spray high into the gray sky—through the passing film of the spray, and the marbled coils of the tumbling waves, the face of Margaret Brandt looked out at him.
Did he stride among the dew-drenched, gold-spangled gorse bushes on the Eperquerie, while the sun came up with ever fresh glories behind the distant hills of France—Margaret’s face was there in the sunrise.
Did he stand above Havre Gosselin in the gloaming, while the sun sank behind Herm and Guernsey in splendours such as he had never dreamed of—just so, he said to himself, Margaret had gone out of his life and left it gray and cheerless as the night side of Brecqhou.