It was years before I set foot on Brecqhou again.
These brief glimpses of those bright early days I have set down that you might know us as we were. For myself I delight to recall them, but if I were to tell you one quarter of all our doings and sayings when we were boy and girl together, with but one will—and that Carette’s—it would make a volume passing bounds.
And it is possible that my recollection of these things is coloured somewhat with the knowledge and feeling of the later times, for a man may no more fully enter again into the thoughts of his childhood than he may enter full grown into his childhood’s clothes. I have told them, however, just as they are present in my own mind, and they are at all events true.
HOW WE BEGAN TO SPREAD OUR WINGS
Ten years make little change in the aspect of Sercq, nor ten times ten for that matter, though the learned men tell us that the sea and wind and weather take daily toll of the little land and are slowly and surely wearing it away. It has not changed much in my time, however, and I have no doubt it will still stand firm for those who are to follow.
But ten years in the life of a boy and girl—ten years, which about double in number those that have gone, and increase experiences tenfold—these indeed bring mighty changes.
In those ten years I grew from boy to man, and Carette Le Marchant grew into a gracious and beautiful woman, and—we grew a little apart.
That was inevitable, I suppose, and in the natural course of things, for even two saplings planted side by side will, as they grow into trees, be wider apart at the top than they are down below. And perhaps it is right, for if they grew too close together both would suffer. Growth needs space for full expansion if it is not to be lop-sided. And boy and girl days cannot last for ever.
Those ten years taught me much—almost all that I ever learned, until the bitterer experiences of life brought it all to the test, and sifted out the chaff, and left me knowledge of the grain.
And once again I would say that to my mother, Rachel Carre, and to my grandfather and Krok, and to William Shakespeare and John Bunyan and to my grandfather’s great Bible, I owe in the first place all that I know. All those books he made me read very thoroughly, and parts of them over and over again, till I knew them almost by heart. And at the time I cannot say that this was much to my liking, but later, when I came to understand better what I read, no urging was needed, for they were our only books, except Foxe’s Martyrs, in which I never found any very great enjoyment, though Krok revelled in it. And I suppose that a man might pass through life, and bear himself well in it, and never feel lonely, with those books for his companions.