“Confound that fellow Kinsley!” he muttered, as he threw off his overcoat. “All his silly suggestions and melodramatic ideas have given me a fit of nerves. I am going to bed, and I am going to sleep. That couldn’t have been a light I saw at all. I couldn’t have heard anything. I am going to sleep.”
Hamel awoke to find his room filled with sunshine and a soft wind blowing in through the open window. There was a pleasant odour of coffee floating up from the kitchen. He looked at his watch—it was past eight o’clock. The sea was glittering and bespangled with sunlight. He found among his scanty belongings a bathing suit, and, wrapped in his overcoat, hurried down-stairs.
“Breakfast in half an hour, Mrs. Cox,” he called out.
She stood at the door, watching him as he stepped across the pebbles and plunged in. For a few moments he swam. Then he turned over on his back. The sunlight was gleaming from every window of St. David’s Hall. He even fancied that upon the terrace he could see a white-clad figure looking towards him. He turned over and swam once more. From her place in the doorway Mrs. Cox called out to him.
“Mind the Dagger Rocks, sir!”
He waved his hand. The splendid exhilaration of the salt water seemed to give him unlimited courage. He dived, but the woman’s cry of fear soon recalled him. Presently he swam to shore and hurried up the beach. Mrs. Cox, with a sigh of relief, disappeared into the kitchen.
“Those rocks on your nerves again, Mrs. Cox?” he asked, good-humouredly, as he took his place at the breakfast table a quarter of an hour later.
“It’s only us who live here, sir,” she answered, “who know how terrible they are. There’s one—it comes up like my hand—a long spike. A boat once struck upon that, and it’s as though it’d been sawn through the middle.”
“I must have a look at them some day,” he declared. “I am going to work this morning, Mrs. Cox. Lunch at one o’clock.”
He took rugs and established himself with a pile of books at the back of a grassy knoll, sheltered from the wind, with the sea almost at his feet. He sharpened his pencil and numbered the page of his notebook. Then he looked up towards the Hall garden and found himself dreaming. The sunshine was delicious, and a gentle optimism seemed to steal over him.
“I am a fool!” he murmured to himself. “I am catching some part of these people’s folly. Mr. Fentolin is only an ordinary, crotchety invalid with queer tastes. On the big things he is probably like other men. I shall go to him this morning.”
A sea-gull screamed over his head. Little, brown sailed fishing-boats came gliding down the harbourway. A pleasant, sensuous joyfulness seemed part of the spirit of the day. Hamel stretched himself out upon the dry sand.