“Ah yes! Of course. C’est ca!”
“We have never had a case of the kind, as far as I know. Certainly not in my time,” said the Seigneur, smiling quizzically across the tea-table at Graeme. “But you gentlemen of the pen are allowed a certain amount of license in such matters, are you not?”
“We sometimes take it, anyhow. But one likes to stick as close to fact as possible.”
They were sitting in the shady corner in front of the Seigneurie, with four dogs basking in the sun beyond, and beyond them the shaven lawns and motionless trees, the leafy green tunnel that led to the lane, and a lovely glimpse into the enclosed gardens through the ancient gateway whose stones had known the saints of old.
Graeme had put a certain proposition to the Lord of the Island, nominally in connection with the story he was busy upon, but in reality of vital concern to the larger story in which Margaret and he were writing the history of their lives.
“Sark, you know, is a portion of the British Empire, or perhaps I should say the British Empire belongs to Sark, but we are not under British law. We are a law unto ourselves here,” said the Seigneur.
“And the authority of a British Court would carry no weight with you? In the case I have put to you, if the Court of Chancery ordered you to surrender the young lady, you would refuse to do so?”
“I could refuse to do so. What I actually would do might depend on circumstances.”
“I see,” said Graeme musingly, and decided that the Seigneur’s goodwill was worthy of every possible cultivation both by himself and Margaret. For he did not look like one who would help a friend into trouble.
“I’ve been thinking a good deal about it, and I really don’t see any reason why we should wait,”—said Graeme, looking at Margaret.
And Miss Penny said “Hear! Hear!” so energetically that Margaret laughed merrily.
“We are both of one mind in the matter, an life is all too short at its longest, and most especially when it offers you all its very best with both hands—”
“Hear! Hear!” said Miss Penny.
“And time is fleeting,” concluded the orator.
“And that kettle is boiling over again,” and Miss Penny jumped up and ran to the rescue.
They were spending a long day in Grande Greve—the spot that had special claims upon their liking since their landing there after that memorable trip to Brecqhou. They had brought a full day’s rations, prepared with solicitous discrimination by Graeme himself, and a kettle, and a great round tin can of fresh water from the well at Dixcart, and a smaller one of milk.
So high were their spirits that they had even scoffed at Johnnie Vautrin’s intimation that he had seen a magpie that morning, and it had flown over their house. But magpie or no magpie they were bent on enjoyment, and they left Johnnie and Marielihou muttering black spells into the hawthorn hedge, and went off with the dogs down the scented lanes, through the valley where the blue-bells draped the hillsides in such masses that they walked as it were between a blue heaven and a blue earth, and so by the meadow-paths to the Coupee.