Chapter 10: Planning And Learning.
Twelve good hours I slept that night without stirring, and woke feeling like a new man and fit for aught. The first thing I noticed was the strange calm which brooded over all things, for the wind had gone down, and the long, steady roar of the surf was far off and all unlike the ceaseless rush and countless noises of the labouring ship at sea. There came a little drone of chanting from the chapel a hundred yards away, and there was now and again the bleat of a sheep, and the homely crow of the cocks, sounding as if shut up somewhere still. For a time I stayed, enjoying the unwonted calm, and then the sunlight crept into the little window, and I rose, and went out. My two comrades still slept.
It was a wonderful morning after the storm. The coast of the mainland across the narrow strait seemed close at hand, piled with great, soft, green mountains above the black cliffs, tier after tier of them stretching inland as far as the eye could see. In the valleys between them nestled forests, dark and deep, and in one place I saw the thin lines of smoke rising, which told of houses. The hill which made the best part of this island barred my view to the westward, but it was not high enough to hide the mountain tops on the mainland altogether. There was a fire lighted on it this morning as if it might be a beacon. I minded that Phelim had said that they would call the fishers from the mainland to come over for us when they might venture, and I supposed that this was their signal.
I looked across, past the tall, black cross to where Gerda’s hut stood, and it was as I had last seen it. The folds of the curtain at the door had not been moved, and Phelim’s crook stood where he set it. The pigs were shut up somewhere even yet. Then the bell on the roof of the little chapel rang once or twice, and I went near. But this morning there was a closed door before me, the only door in all the place. I know now that it was the hour of the morning mass, but wondered at the time why the door was closed and why the bell rang.
My going out woke Bertric, and he joined me, saying, half to himself, that he should have been in time for the service. He, too, looked all the better for the rest, and I dare say that the help of the comb, which Fergus lent us in sheer compassion overnight, had worked no small change in that direction.
We wandered down to the shore and looked at the wreck. The ship had broken up in the night, and nothing but her gaunt ribs stood in a deep pool on the wet sands. On the beach at our feet lay the gilded and green dragon’s head from her stem, and all along were strewn oars and planking, and the like. It was pitiful enough. But the brothers had toiled till light failed them, for they had saved the other boat and the sledges, and also the sail, together with smaller things, among which was the cauldron of our first meals, which was a treasure to them. Inside it, on the sand hill, was the little silver cup from the penthouse, too, and the empty wine pitcher lay hard by.