Towards the end of July, she received a letter from him, however. He told her that his health was good, that the fishing season promised to be excellent, and that he already had 1500 fish for his share. From beginning to end, it was written in the simple conventional way of all these Icelanders’ home letters. Men educated like Yann completely ignore how to write the thousand things they think, feel, or fancy. Being more cultivated than he, Gaud could understand this, and read between the lines that deep affection that was unexpressed. Several times in the four-paged letter, he called her by the title of “wife,” as if happy in repeating the word. And the address above: “A Madame Marguerite Gaos, maison Moan, en Ploubazlanec”—she was “Madame Marguerite Gaos” since so short a time.
She worked hard during these summer months. The ladies of Paimpol had, at first, hardly believed in her talent as an amateur dressmaker, saying her hands were too fine-ladyish; but they soon perceived that she excelled in making dresses that were very nice-fitting, so she had become almost a famous dressmaker.
She spent all her earnings in embellishing their home against his return. The wardrobe and old-shelved beds were all done up afresh, waxed over, and bright new fastenings put on; she had put a pane of glass into their little window towards the sea, and hung up a pair of curtains; and she had bought a new counterpane for the winter, with new chairs and table.
She had kept the money untouched that her Yann had left her, carefully put by in a small Chinese box, to show him when he returned. During the summer evenings, by the fading light, she sat out before the cottage door with Granny Moan, whose head was much better in the warm weather, and knitted a fine new blue wool jersey for her Yann; round the collar and cuffs were wonderful open-work embroideries. Granny Yvonne had been a very clever knitter in her day, and now she taught all she knew to Gaud. The work took a great deal of wool; for it had to be a large jersey to fit Yann.
But soon, especially in the evenings, the shortening of the days could be perceived. Some plants, which had put forth all their blossoms in July, began to look yellow and dying, and the violet scabious by the wayside bloomed for the second time, smaller now, and longer-stalked; the last days of August drew nigh, and the first return-ship from Iceland hove in sight one evening at the cape of Pors-Even. The feast of the returners began.
Every one pressed in a crowd on the cliff to welcome it. Which one was it?
It was the Samuel-Azenide, always the first to return.
“Surely,” said Yann’s old father, “the Leopoldine won’t be long now; I know how ’tis out yonder: when one of ’em begins to start homeward, the others can’t hang back in any peace.”