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Pearl Of Pearl Island Part 25

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"I promise you I will do my very best."

And then Margaret came into the kitchen and knew what was toward.

She looked like a queen and a princess and a G.o.ddess all in one, with a flood of happy colour in her face and a glad glow in her eyes, and no more hint of maidenly shyness about her than was right and natural.

And Miss Penny's eyes were misty of a sudden, as Graeme went quickly up to her friend, and feasted his hungry eyes on her face for a moment, and then bent and gallantly kissed her hand. For in both their faces was the great glad light that is the very light of life, and Miss Penny was wondering if, in some distant future time, it might perchance be vouchsafed to her also to attain thereto.

"I hope you both slept well," he said gaily. "I've done my best in the provisioning line. I know we've got plenty of salt, for one generally forgets it and so I always put in two packets."



"You've done splendidly," said Miss Penny, tying up tea in a piece of muslin and dropping it into the kettle.

"I'd have tried for a rabbit, but I wasn't sure if either of you could skin it--"

"Ugh! Don't mention it!"

"And I knew I couldn't, so we'll have to put up with roasted potatoes and imagine the rabbit. I've been told they do that in some parts of Ireland,--hang up a bit of bacon in a corner and point at it with the potato and so imagine the flavour."

"Potatoes are excellent faring--when there's nothing better to be had," said Miss Penny, rooting in the basket. "However, here are three of yesterday's sandwiches, slightly faded, and some biscuits--in good condition, thanks to the tin. Come, we shan't absolutely starve!"

And they enjoyed that meal--two of them, at all events, and perhaps three--as they had never enjoyed a meal before.

"And the weather?" asked Margaret.

"The blessed weather is just as it was; perhaps even a bit more so,--the most glorious weather that ever was on land or sea!"

"But----" said Margaret, smiling at his effervescence.

"No, I'm afraid it can't last very much longer, and potatoes and salt I know would begin to pall in time. After breakfast you shall see the grandest sight of your lives,--and for the rest, we will live in hope."

XX

And, after all, they saw what they had specially come to see--a sunset from Beleme cliff.

For the day remained gray and boisterous until late in the afternoon.

They had lunched--with less exuberance than they had breakfasted--on potatoes and salt and a thin medicinal-tasting decoction made from breakfast's tea-leaves; they were looking forward with no undue eagerness to potato dinner without even the palliative of medicinal tea; and even Miss Penny acknowledged that, choice being offered her, she would give the preference to some other vegetable for a week to come;--when, of a sudden, the gray veil of the west opened slowly, like the lifting of an iron curtain, and let the light behind shine through.

And the light was as they could imagine the light of heaven--a pure lucent yellow as of the early primrose, but diaphanous and almost transparent, as though this, which seemed to them light, was itself in reality but an outer veil hiding the still greater glory behind. The curtain lifted but a span, and the lower rim of it curved in a gentle arch from the middle of Guernsey to the filmy line of Alderney. All below the sharp-cut rim was the sea of heavenly primrose, with here and there a floating purple island edged with gold. All above was sombre plum-colour flushed with rose, the edges fraying in the wind, and floating in thin rosy streamers up the dark sky above.

The sun, larger than they had ever seen him in their lives, dropped gently like a great bra.s.s shield from behind the dark curtain into the sea of primrose light, and the primrose flushed with crimson over Guernsey and with tender green and blue over Alderney.

They hastened away to Beleme cliff, and then they saw what they had hoped to see, and more;--the mighty granite frontlets of Sark all washed with living gold--- shining from their long conflict with the waves, and gleaming, every one, like a jewel,--from Bec-du-Nez to Moie de Bretagne. And, out in the dimness, behind which lay Jersey, there suddenly appeared the perfect circle of a rainbow such as none of them had ever dreamed of--a perfect orb of the living colours of the Promise--resting bodily on the dark sea like a gigantic iridescent soap-bubble, glowing and pulsing and throbbing under the level beams of the setting sun.

"Wonderful!" murmured Margaret.

"I never saw more than half a bow before," whispered Miss Penny.

"Nor I," said Graeme. "But then, you see, nothing ever was as it is now. Things happened last night."

At which Miss Penny smiled and murmured, "Of course! That accounts for everything. The whole world is changed."

And they watched and watched, in breathless admiration, first the cliffs, and then the bow, and then the sun, and then the cliffs and bow again, till the last tiny rim of the sun sank behind the dark line of Herm, and the bow went out with a snap, and the cliffs in front grew gray and sank back into their sleep, as the shadows crept up out of the sea.

And, presently, the primrose sea in the clouds lost its transparent softness and flushed with rose and carmine. The tender greens and blues in the north deepened, and the sky above glowed crimson right into the far east. And the sea below was like a ripe plum with a rippling bloom upon it, and then it answered to the glow "above and became like burnished copper. And over it, from the south end of Sark, came a dancing white sail, at sight of which Graeme leaped to his feet.

"The show is over," he cried, "and here comes your highnesses'

carriage."

"I wouldn't have missed it for anything," said Margaret softly, with a rapt face still.

"It was worth living on potatoes for a month for," said Miss Penny.

"All the same, I hope Mrs. Carre will have some dinner for us when we get home."

The boat was heading for the Pente-a-Fouaille where they had landed the day before, and they hurried to meet it, Graeme full of misgivings as to the embarkation, for the waves were still roaring up the rocks in bursts of foam, though the wind had fallen somewhat.

But the boatmen knew their business, and had brought an extra hand for its safe accomplishment. They dropped the sail and pulled round a corner of the black rock. Then, while two of them kept the boat from destruction, the other stood and Graeme dropped the girls one by one into his arms, and was a very thankful man when he tumbled in himself, all in a heap, and wiped the big drops of sweat from his brow.

A stroke or two with the oars and they were plunging back through the hissing white caps, but not, as he had expected, to Havre Gosselin.

"Where to?" he shouted to the blue-guernseyed stalwart nearest him.

"Grande Greve. We couldn' beach in Havre Gosselin, and mebbe the leddies wouldn' like to climb the ladders," with a grin at the leddies.

"Not much!" said Miss Penny. "Margaret, my dear, prepare yourself! I'm going to be sick if this goes on much longer."

But before she had time to be sick they had rounded the shoulder of Port-es-Saies, and their boat's nose ran up the soft sand of a low tide in Grande Greve, and the green waves came curling exultantly in over the stern. The men leaped out and hauled bravely, and in a moment the girls were ash.o.r.e.

"Couldn' get back nohow last night, sir. 'Twould a bin as much as our lives were worth. Hope ye didn' starve," said the spokesman with another genial grin.

"No, we didn't expect you. We dug potatoes and cooked them. Here you are, and thanks for coming as soon as you could," and, from their smiling faces, their reward without doubt covered not only that which they had actually done but that also which they had unwittingly helped to do.

The boat shoved off and made for its own anchorage, and Graeme led the girls up the toilsome path to the Coupee.

It was after nine when they reached the cottage, and the first thing they saw was Johnnie Vautrin sitting in the hedge opposite, with Marielihou licking her lips alongside.

"I just seen seven crows," cried Johnnie gleefully.

"Little rascal! You dream crows," said Graeme, whose desires at the moment ran to something more palatable and satisfying.

"And what do seven crows mean, Johnnie?" asked Margaret.

"Seven crows means everything's oll right!"

"Clever boy! You see just what you want to see," said Graeme, and then Mrs. Carre appeared at the door of the cottage.

"Ah then, here you are!" she said, with a large welcoming smile. "And the dinner I haf been keeping for you for an hour an' more."

"You're a good angel, Mrs. Carre," said Graeme gratefully. "We are a bit late, aren't we? I hope you've put yesterday's dinner and to-day's together. We've had nothing to eat to speak of for a month. What did you think when we never turned up last night?"

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Pearl Of Pearl Island Part 25 summary

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