She lifted her skirts a little, and laughed at the inappropriateness of her thin shoes and open-work stockings. Andrew de la Borne held out his strong hand, and she sprang lightly on to the broad seat.
“It is very nice of you,” she said, with her slight foreign accent, “to come and fetch me. Should I have been drowned?”
“No!” he answered. “As a matter of fact, the spot where you were standing is not often altogether submerged. You might have been a prisoner for a few hours. Perhaps as the tide is going to be high, your feet would have been wet. But there was no danger.”
She settled down as comfortably as possible in the awkward seat.
“After all, then,” she said, “this is not a real adventure. Where are you going to take me to?”
“I can only take you,” he answered, “to the village. I suppose you came from the Hall?”
“Yes!” she answered. “I walked straight across from the gate. I never thought about the tide coming up here.”
“You will have to walk back by the road,” he answered. “It is a good deal further round, but there is no other way.”
She hung her hand over the side, rejoicing in the touch of the cool soft water.
“That,” she answered, “does not matter at all. It is very early still, and I do not fancy that any one will be up yet for several hours.”
He made no further attempt at conversation, devoting himself entirely to the task of steering and propelling his clumsy craft along the narrow way. She found herself watching him with some curiosity. It had never occurred to her to doubt at first but that he was some fisherman from the village, for he wore a rough jersey and a pair of trousers tucked into sea-boots. His face was bronzed, and his hands were large and brown. Nevertheless she saw that his features were good, and his voice, though he spoke the dialect of the country, had about it some quality which she was not slow to recognize.
“Who are you?” she asked, a little curiously. “Do you live in the village?”
He looked down at her with a faint smile.
“I live in the village,” he answered, “and my name is Andrew.”
“Are you a fisherman?” she asked.
“Certainly,” he answered gravely. “We are all fishermen here.”
She was not altogether satisfied. He spoke to her easily, and without any sort of embarrassment. His words were civil enough, and yet he had more the air of one addressing an equal than a villager who is able to be of service to some one in an altogether different social sphere.
“It was very fortunate for me,” she said, “that you saw me. Are you up at this hour every morning?”
“Generally,” he answered. “I was thinking of fishing, higher up in the reaches there.”
“I am sorry,” she said, “that I spoiled your sport.”