Pearl Of Pearl Island - novelonlinefull.com
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This high perch had a peculiar fascination for Margaret. She could have sat there day after day with perfect enjoyment. She never tired of it all--the crisp green waters below, with their dazzling fringe of foam round every gray rock and headland; the gold-tipped pinnacles of the Autelets, with their fluttering halos of gulls and sea-pies and cormorants, and their ridi-fringe of tawny seaweed and foamy lace; the rounded slopes of the Eperquerie; the bold cliffs behind, with their sprawling gray feet in the emerald sea, and their green and gold shoulders humping up into the blue sky; beyond them the black Gouliot rocks and foaming Race, and the long soft bulk of Brecqhou with its seamy sides and black-mouthed caves.
And here one day they had a novel experience, and Margaret learned something--got fullest proof, at all events, of something her heart had already told her.
They were sitting in the sea-ward cleft of this great rock behind Tintageu, one afternoon, and Graeme had just succeeded in getting the kettle to boil by means of an armful of old gorse bushes, when, straightening up for a rest, he said suddenly,--"h.e.l.lo! Look at that now!" and pointed out towards Guernsey.
And there they saw a low white cloud, lying on the sea as though it had just dropped solidly out of the sky. Sea and sky were vivid vital blue, the sun shone brilliantly, Guernsey, Jethou, and Herm gleamed like jewels, and the white cloud lay between the upper and the nether blue like the white ghost of a new-born island not yet invested with the attributes of earth.
And, as they watched, it crept quickly along the blue-enamelled plain.
It swallowed up the southern cliffs of Guernsey. Its creeping nose was level with the tall Doyle column. It crept on and on, till Castle Cornet disappeared and Peter Port was lost to sight. On and on--Jethou was gone, and bit by bit the long green and gold slopes of Herm were conquered, and its long white spear of sand ran out of the low white cloud. And still on, till all the outlying rocks and islands vanished, and where had been the glow and colour of life was nothing now but that strange pall-like cloud.
The blue of the sea in front had whitened, and suddenly the sentinel rocks at the tail of Brecqhou disappeared, and the white cloud came sweeping towards the watchers on the rock by Tintageu.
"We're in for it too," said Graeme, hastily emptying his kettle and packing up the tea-things. "Seems to me we'd better get ash.o.r.e."
But the cloud was on them, soft films of gauzy mist with the sun still bright overhead. Then quickly-rolling folds of dense white cloud blotted out everything but the path on which they stood. The gorse and blue-bells and sea-pinks at their feet drooped suddenly wan and colourless, as though stricken with mortal sickness, and wept sad tears. They stood bewildered, while the pallid folds grew thicker and thicker, lit from above with a strange spectral glare, and coiling about them like the trailing garments of an army of ghosts. From the unseen abysses all round came the growl and wash of wave on rock and shingle, from the cliff above Pegane came the frightened bleat of a lamb, and an invisible gull went squawking over their heads on his way inland.
With an instinct for safer quarters, Miss Penny had started off towards the path which led precariously across the narrow neck to the mainland. The neck itself, with white clouds of mist billowing on either side, and streaming raggedly across the path, looked fearsome enough. She gave a startled cry and stood still.
"Stay here!" said Graeme to Margaret. "Don't move an inch!" and he felt his way, foot by foot, towards the causeway.
And Margaret, who had been regarding it all simply as a curious experience, felt suddenly very lonely and not very safe.
She heard him speak to Miss Penny, but she could not see two feet in front of her.
Then, after what seemed a long time, she heard above her--
"Miss Brandt? Margaret? Oh, good G.o.d!"--and there was in his voice a note that was new to her. Sharp and strident with keenest anxiety, it set a sudden fire in her heart, for it was for her.
"I am here, Mr. Graeme," she cried, and he came plunging down to her through the dripping gorse and bracken.
"Thank G.o.d!" he said fervently. "Why ever did you move?"
"I have not stirred."
"I must have got wrong. It is blinding. It will be safest to wait here, I think. Will you hold on to my arm?"
And as she slipped her hand through it she felt it trembling--the arm that had always been so strong and steadfast in her service--and she knew that this too was for her.
"Where is Hennie?" she asked.
"She's all right. I made her sit down among the bushes and told her she'd surely get smashed if she moved."
It was a good half-hour before the cloud drew off and they saw Guernsey, Herm, and Jethou sparkling in the sun once more.
Then they crossed the narrow path over the neck, and Margaret was glad they had not attempted it in the fog.
They picked up Miss Penny, damp but cheerful, and went home. For everything was dripping, and the pleasures of camping out were over for that day, but there were fires about that all the fogs that ever had been could not begin to extinguish.
As the girls sat basking in the window-seat for a few minutes after breakfast one morning, they surprised a private conversation between their cavalier and Master Johnnie Vautrin. Graeme, with his back to them, sat smoking on the low stone wall. Johnnie was, as usual, bunched up in the hedge opposite.
"Well, Johnnie?" they heard. "Seen any crows this morning?"
"How many then, you wretched little croaker?"
"J'anneveu deu et j'anneveu troy."
"Ah now, it's not polite--as I've told you before--to talk to an uneducated foreigner, in a language he does not understand. How many, in such English as you have attained to, and what did they mean according to your wizardry?"
"Pergui, you, too, are not polite! Your words are like this"--measuring off an expanding half yard in the air,--"they are all wind."
"Smart boy! How many crows did you see this morning?"
"First I saw two and then I saw three."
"Two and three make five. Croaker! Five crows mean someone's going to be sick. And which way did they go this time?"
"Noh, noh! First it wa.s.s two, and when they had gone then it wa.s.s three more."
"I see. And two black crows--what might they mean now?"
"Two crows they mean good luck."
"Clever boy! Continue! Three black crows mean----?"
"Three crows--they mean a marrying,--ouaie, Dame!"
"Ah, a marrying! That's better! That is very much better. It strikes me, Johnnie, that two lucky crows are worth twopence, and three marrying crows are worth threepence. And as luck would have it I've got exactly five pennies in my pocket. Catch, bearer of good tidings!
Here you are--one, two, three, four, five! Well caught! Is it going to keep fine?" and Marielihou stopped licking herself to look at Graeme, and then went on again with an air of,--"I could tell you things if I would, but it's not worth while,"--in her ugly green eyes.
"I don' think," said Johnnie, jumping at the chance of ill news.
"You don't, you little rascal? Here, give me back my hard-earned pence! You're a little humbug."
"What's Johnnie been up to now?" asked Miss Penny, as she came out into the open.
"He's giving me lessons in necromancy and the black art of crows. He declines to pledge his honour on the continued brightness of the day."
"Oh, Johnnie! And we're going to Brecqhou!"
"I cann'd help."
"But you might send us on our way rejoicing."