They were suddenly in the shade, threading a narrow cutting between high gorse-topped banks of crumbly yellow rock. Then, without any warning, the rock-walls fell away. They were out into the sunshine again, and in front stretched a wavering rock path, the narrow crown of a ridge whose sides sank sharply out of sight. From somewhere far away below came the surge and rush of many waters.
“This is the Coupee,” said Graeme, as the dogs raced across. “Over there is Little Sark.”
“It is grand!” said Margaret, gazing at the huge rock buttresses whose loins came up through the white foam three hundred feet below.
“It’s awful!” said Miss Penny. “You’re never going across, Mr. Graeme?” as he strolled on along the narrow ridge.
“Surely! Why not? It’s perfectly safe. There was a wooden railing at this side, but it fell over about a fortnight ago, and at present the good folks of Little Sark and Big Sark are discussing who ought to put up a new one. I happened to be sitting over there when it fell. A party of visitors came down the cutting here, and one was just going to lean on the railing, to look down into the gulf there, when he had the sense to try it first with his foot and it went with a crash, and they got a scare and went back to the hotel to eat lobsters. It was really useless as protection, but it made one feel safer to have it there.”
“It’s horrible,” said Miss Penny emphatically.
“Safe as London Bridge, if you’ll only believe it. It’s a good four feet wide. The school children used to trot over when it was not more than two and a half.”
“And none of them fell over?”
“Never a one. Why should they?”
“Meg, my dear,” said Miss Penny, with a sudden flash of incongruity,” this is truly a very great change from Melgrave Square.”
“It is,” laughed Margaret. “Are you coming, Hennie?”
“I’ll—I’ll risk it if Mr. Graeme will personally conduct me. He’s in charge of us, you know.”
“Certainly!” and he held out his hand to her, and then looked at Margaret. “Will you please wait here till I come back for you?” And catching, as he thought, a sign of mutiny in her face,—“Although it’s perfectly safe it’s perhaps just as well to have company the first time you cross.”
“Very well,” she said, and Miss Penny clung convulsively to the strong unwavering hand while she gingerly trod the narrow way, and the dogs raced half-way to meet them.
“Go away!” she shrieked, and the dogs turned on their pivots and sped back.
“Now, you see!” he said, when she stood safe on the rounded shoulder of Little Sark. “Where was the trouble?”
“It’s perfectly easy, Meg,” cried Miss Penny, uplifted with her accomplishment.
He wondered whether she would vouchsafe him her hand or attempt the passage alone. But she put her hand into his without hesitation, and thenceforth and for ever the Coupee held for him a touch of sacred glamour. For the soft hand throbbed in his, and every throb thrilled right up into his heart and set it dancing to some such tune as that which sang in David when he danced before the Ark. But his hand was firm, and his head was steady, for that which he held in charge was the dearest thing in life to him.