“Ah, b’en!” she cried at sight of us. “Carry those baskets down to Saut de Juan, you two. I’ll be with you in a minute.”
“Give me something to fight with, Aunt Jeanne.”
“There’s my old man’s cutlass, and there are his pistols, but, mon Dieu, they haven’t been loaded this twenty years, and moreover there’s no powder.”
I strapped the cutlass round me and stuck the pistols in the belt.
“What about M. Le Marchant and Martin?” I asked.
“They are in the cellar. No one will find them. The Gouliots was too far for them.”
Women and children were running past towards Saut de Juan, the women anxious for their men, the children racing and skipping as if it were a picnic. I handed over my basket to willing hands, at the head of the path that leads down by the side of the gulf to the Gouliots, and gave Carette a hearty kiss before them all, which set some of the women smiling in spite of their forebodings.
“Ah-ha!” chuckled one old crone. “Bind the faggot if it’s only for the fire.”
“Faggot without band is not complete,” I laughed. “See you take care of my faggot, Mere Tanquerel, or I’ll want to know why;” and I ran on along the heights to fetch my mother from Belfontaine.
As I came down the slope towards Port a la Jument I met her and George Hamon hurrying along, and her face was full of anxious surprise still, while Uncle George’s had in it a rare tenderness for her which I well understood.
“I was just coming for you, mother,” I said.
“It is good to be so well looked after,” she smiled through her fears. “If only we knew that your grandfather was all right—”
“Philip will be here before long,” said Uncle George confidently. “When he sees which way they’ve taken he will guess what they’re up to and will bring on some of the Guernsey men. If we can’t keep them at arm’s length till then we’re a set of lubbers.”
“You’ll be careful of yourselves,” she said wistfully, as we stood at the top of the slope. “I—we can’t spare either of you yet.”
We promised every possible caution, and she went on to join the other women, while Uncle George and I ran across to the men standing in a dark clump on the Moie de Mouton.
HOW WE HELD OUR HOMES
There was no need to ask how the boats were heading. All eyes were fixed anxiously on them as they came straight for the north of the Island, and just as we came up Amice Le Couteur gave the word to move on to Eperquerie.
Stragglers from the more distant houses were coming up every few minutes. He left one to send them all on after us, and we straggled off past Belfontaine and Tintageu and the Autelets and Saignie Bay, and so into the road to the Common, and took our stand on the high ground above the Boutiques, and as we went Thomas Godfray loaded my pistols for me from his own flask.