The weather was dull, and the sea, forefeeling the approach of the equinoctial gales, was restless and heaving.
Gaud went through these inexorable preparations with agony; counting the fleeting hours of the day, and looking forward to the night, when the work was over, and she would have her Yann to herself.
Would he leave her every year in this way?
She hoped to be able to keep him back, but she did not dare to speak to him about this wish as yet. He loved her passionately, too; he never had known anything like this affection before; it was such a fresh, trusting tenderness that the same caresses and fondlings always seemed as if novel and unknown heretofore; and their intoxication of love continued to increase, and never seemed—never was satiated.
What charmed and surprised her in her mate was his tenderness and boyishness. This the Yann in love, whom she had sometimes seen at Paimpol most contemptuous towards the girls. On the contrary, to her he always maintained that kindly courtesy that seemed natural to him, and she adored that beautiful smile that came to him whenever their eyes met. Among these simple folk there exists the feeling of absolute respect for the dignity of the wife; there is an ocean between her and the sweetheart. Gaud was essentially the wife. She was sorely troubled in her happiness, however, for it seemed something too unhoped for, as unstable as a joyful dream. Besides, would this love be lasting in Yann? She remembered sometimes his former flames, his fancies and different love adventures, and then she grew fearful. Would he always cherish that infinite tenderness and sweet respect for her?
Six days of a wedded life, for such a love as theirs, was nothing; only a fevered instalment taken from the married life term, which might be so long before them yet! They had scarcely had leisure to be together at all and understand that they really belonged to one another. All their plans of life together, of peaceful joy, and settling down, was forcedly put off till the fisherman’s return.
No! at any price she would stop him from going to this dreadful Iceland another year! But how should she manage? And what could they do for a livelihood, being both so poor? Then again he so dearly loved the sea. But in spite of all, she would try and keep him home another season; she would use all her power, intelligence, and heart to do so. Was she to be the wife of an Icelander, to watch each spring-tide approach with sadness, and pass the whole summer in painful anxiety? no, now that she loved him, above everything that she could imagine, she felt seized with an immense terror at the thought of years to come thus robbed of the better part.
They had one spring day together—only one. It was the day before the sailing; all the stores had been shipped, and Yann remained the whole day with her. They strolled along, arm-in-arm, through the lanes, like sweethearts again, very close to one another, murmuring a thousand tender things. The good folk smiled, as they saw them pass, saying: