“An’ with that he turned i’ the saddle; an’ ‘twas the face o’ her own wedded husband, as ghastly white as if ‘t burned a’ready i’ the underground fires.
“Seem’ it, her joints were loosed, an’ she sat back white as he; an’ down over the hill they swung at a breakneck gallop, shay lurchin’ and stones flyin’.
“About thirty yards from where we’m sittin’, sir, Ould Wounds caught the near rein twice round his wrist an lean’t back, slowly pullin’ it, till his face was slewed round over his left shoulder an’ grinnin’ in my lady’s face.
“An’ that was the last look that passed atween ’em. For now feeling the wheels on grass and the end near, he loosed the rein and fetched the horse he rode a cut atween the ears—an’ that’s how ’twas,” concluded Seth, lamely.
Like most inferior narrators, he shied at the big fence, flinched before the climax. But as he ended, I flung a short glance downward at the birches and black water, and took up my rod again with a shiver.
I.—A HAPPY VOYAGE.
The cottage that I have inhabited these six years looks down on the one quiet creek in a harbour full of business. The vessels that enter beneath Battery Point move up past the grey walls and green quay-doors of the port to the jetties where their cargoes lie. All day long I can see them faring up and down past the mouth of my creek; and all the year round I listen to the sounds of them—the dropping or lifting of anchors, the wh-h-ing! of a siren-whistle cutting the air like a twanged bow, the concertina that plays at night, the rush of the clay cargo shot from the jetty into the lading ship. But all this is too far remote to vex me. Only one vessel lies beneath my terrace; and she has lain there for a dozen years. After many voyages she was purchased by the Board of Guardians in our district, dismasted, and anchored up here to serve as a hospital-ship in case the cholera visited us. She has never had a sick man on board from that day to the present. But once upon a time three people spent a very happy night on her deck, as you shall hear. She is called The Gleaner.
I think I was never so much annoyed in my life as on the day when Annie, my only servant, gave me a month’s “warning.” That was four years ago; and she gave up cooking for me to marry a young watchmaker down at the town—a youth of no mark save for a curious distortion of the left eyebrow (due to much gazing through a circular glass into the bowels of watches), a frantic assortment of religious convictions, a habit of playing the fiddle in hours of ease, and an absurd name—Tubal Cain Bonaday. I noticed that Annie softened it to “Tubey.”
Of course I tried to dissuade her, but my arguments were those of a wifeless man, and very weak. She listened to them with much patience, and went off to buy her wedding-frock. She was a plain girl, without a scintilla of humour; and had just that sense of an omelet that is vouchsafed to one woman in a generation.