“Aw, I know! Gallop away back, my boy. And—say, Phil, mon gars,—don’t let that young cub from Herm get ahead of you. He’s been making fine play while you’ve been away.” And I waved my hand and sped back to the merrymaking.
HOW WE RODE GRAY ROBIN
It was close upon the dawn before Jeanne Falla’s party broke up, and as I jogged soberly down the lane from La Vauroque on Gray Robin, I met the jovial ones all streaming homewards.
A moment before, the quiet gray lane, with its fern-covered banks and hedges of roses and honeysuckle all asleep and drenched with dew, was all in keeping with my spirits, which were gray also, partly with the weariness of such unaccustomed merriment, and still more at thought of my various stupidities.
They all gathered round me and broke out into fresh laughter.
“Ma fe, Phil, but you’re going to make a day of it! We wondered where you’d got to.”
“Bon dou donc, you’re in your pontificals, mon gars!”
“Is it a bank of roses you’re riding, then?” and Gray Robin hotched uncomfortably though still half asleep.
“The early bird gets the nicest worm. Keep ahead of the Frenchman, Phil, and good luck to you!”
“Good luck to you all!” and their laughing voices died away along the lanes, and I woke up Gray Robin and went on to Beaumanoir.
I hitched the bridle over the gatepost, and lighted my pipe, and strolled to and fro with my hands deep in the pockets of my grandfather’s best blue pilot-cloth jacket, for there was a chill in the air as though the night must die outright before the new day came.
Now, sunrise is small novelty to a sailorman. But there is a mighty difference between watching it across the welter of tumbling waves from the sloppy deck of a ship, and watching it from the top of the knoll outside Beaumanoir, with Carette fast asleep behind the white curtains of the gray stone house there.
Little matter that it might be hours before she came—since Jeanne Falla knew that rest was as necessary to a girl as food, if she was to keep her health and good looks. I could wait all day for Carette if needs be, and Gray Robin was already fast asleep on three legs, with the fourth crooked comfortably beneath him.
I can live that morning over again, though the years have passed.
... All the west was dark and dim. The sea was the colour of lead. Brecqhou was a long black shadow. Herm and Jethou were darker spots on the dimness beyond, and Guernsey was not to be seen. The sky up above me was thin and vague. But away in the east over France, behind long banks of soft dark cloud, it was thinner and rarer still, and seemed to throb with a little pulse of life. And behind the white curtains in the gray stone house, Carette lay sleeping.
... At midnight the girls had melted lead in an iron spoon, and dropped it into buckets of water, amid bubbles of laughter, to see what the occupations of their future husbands would be. They fished out the results with eager faces, and twisted them to suit their hopes. Carette’s piece came out a something which Jeanne Falla at once pronounced an anchor, but which young Torode said was a sword, and made it so by a skilful touch of the finger.