“I hope you both slept well,” he said gaily. “I’ve done my best in the provisioning line. I know we’ve got plenty of salt, for one generally forgets it and so I always put in two packets.”
“You’ve done splendidly,” said Miss Penny, tying up tea in a piece of muslin and dropping it into the kettle.
“I’d have tried for a rabbit, but I wasn’t sure if either of you could skin it—”
“Ugh! Don’t mention it!”
“And I knew I couldn’t, so we’ll have to put up with roasted potatoes and imagine the rabbit. I’ve been told they do that in some parts of Ireland,—hang up a bit of bacon in a corner and point at it with the potato and so imagine the flavour.”
“Potatoes are excellent faring—when there’s nothing better to be had,” said Miss Penny, rooting in the basket. “However, here are three of yesterday’s sandwiches, slightly faded, and some biscuits—in good condition, thanks to the tin. Come, we shan’t absolutely starve!”
And they enjoyed that meal—two of them, at all events, and perhaps three—as they had never enjoyed a meal before.
“And the weather?” asked Margaret.
“The blessed weather is just as it was; perhaps even a bit more so,—the most glorious weather that ever was on land or sea!”
“But——” said Margaret, smiling at his effervescence.
“No, I’m afraid it can’t last very much longer, and potatoes and salt I know would begin to pall in time. After breakfast you shall see the grandest sight of your lives,—and for the rest, we will live in hope.”
And, after all, they saw what they had specially come to see—a sunset from Beleme cliff.
For the day remained gray and boisterous until late in the afternoon. They had lunched—with less exuberance than they had breakfasted—on potatoes and salt and a thin medicinal-tasting decoction made from breakfast’s tea-leaves; they were looking forward with no undue eagerness to potato dinner without even the palliative of medicinal tea; and even Miss Penny acknowledged that, choice being offered her, she would give the preference to some other vegetable for a week to come;—when, of a sudden, the gray veil of the west opened slowly, like the lifting of an iron curtain, and let the light behind shine through.
And the light was as they could imagine the light of heaven—a pure lucent yellow as of the early primrose, but diaphanous and almost transparent, as though this, which seemed to them light, was itself in reality but an outer veil hiding the still greater glory behind. The curtain lifted but a span, and the lower rim of it curved in a gentle arch from the middle of Guernsey to the filmy line of Alderney. All below the sharp-cut rim was the sea of heavenly primrose, with here and there a floating purple island edged with gold. All above was sombre plum-colour flushed with rose, the edges fraying in the wind, and floating in thin rosy streamers up the dark sky above.