“Horrible!” said Miss Penny, with a little shiver. “With your little blue corpses! It’s all very well to joke about it, but I assure you, for a minute or so, I thought I was done for. The bottom seemed to have sunk, and I was just going after it when my foot came on a rock and that helped me to kick ashore.”
“A narrow escape,” said Graeme, with a sympathetic wag of the head. “You’ve no right to risk your life that way. We still need you. What do you say to being bridesmaid at a Sark wedding?”
“It is the hope of my life,” said Miss Penny, sparkling like Mars in a clear evening sky.
“I really don’t see any reason why we should wait”—said Graeme, looking very earnestly at Margaret, and behind the look was the thought, born of what they had just come through together, that life spills many a full cup before the thirsty lips have tasted it. “What do you say, Margaret?”
And she, knowing well what was in him, and being of the same mind, said, “I am ready, Jock. When you will.”
“I’ll call on the Vicar to-morrow,” he said joyfully. “It would be such a pity to disappoint the hope of Miss Penny’s life,”—as that young person came back with the merry kettle.
“I am indebted to you,” said Hennie Penny. “What about dresses, Meg?”
It was that same night, as they were sauntering home from a starlight ramble, that they came on Johnnie Vautrin crouched in the hedge with Marielihou, and Marielihou had her hind leg bound up in a piece of white rag.
“Hello, Johnnie! What’s the matter with Marielihou?” asked Graeme. And Marielihou turned her malevolent yellow-green eyes on him and looked curses.
“Goderabetin! She’ve got hurt.”
“Oh! How was that?”
“I d’n know. Wisht I knowed who done it;” and just then, as luck would have it, old Tom Hamon came sauntering along in the gloaming, smoking a contemplative pipe with long slow puffs.
And at sight of him Marielihou ruffled and swelled to twice her size, and raked up most horrible and blood-curdling oaths from away down in her inside into her black throat, and spat them out at him, as he came up, in a fusillade that sounded like ripraps, and her eyes flamed baleful fires.
“Cuss away, y’ould witch!” said old Tom, with a grin through his pipe-stem. “How’s the leg?” and Marielihou with a final volley disappeared among the bushes, and Johnnie crawled after her.
“What on earth does he mean?” whispered Meg.
“Mr. Hamon has an idea that Marielihou and old Mme. Vautrin have something in common. In fact I believe he goes so far as to say that they are one and the same. Black magic, you know,—witchcraft, and all that kind of thing.”
“B’en!” chuckled old Tom again. “You find out how ‘tis with th’ old witch. We know how ’tis with Marrlyou. ’Twere the silver bullet did it. If sh’ ’adn’t jumped ‘twould ha’ gone through ’er ’ead,” and he went off chuckling through his pipe-stem.