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- The Trespasser, Volume 3. - 14/14 -


cheerfully reckless, and growled down objection.

The boat came on with a sweet wind off the land for a time. Suddenly, when in the neighbourhood of Point du Raz, the wind drew ahead very squally, with rain in gusts out of the south-west. The skipper put the boat on the starboard tack, close-hauled and close-reefed the sails, keeping as near the wind as possible, with the hope of weathering the rocky point at the western extremity of the Bay des Trepasses. By that time there was a heavy sea running; night came on, and the weather grew very thick. They heard the breakers presently, but they could not make out the Point. Old sailor as he was, and knowing as well as any man the perilous ground, the skipper lost his drunken head this time, and presently lost his way also in the dark and murk of the storm.

At eight o'clock she struck. She was thrown on her side, a heavy sea broke over her, and they were all washed off. No one raised a cry. They were busy fighting Death.

Gaston was a strong swimmer. It did not occur to him that perhaps this was the easiest way out of the maze. He had ever been a fighter. The seas tossed him here and there. He saw faces about him for an instant-- shaggy wild Breton faces--but they dropped away, he knew not where. The current kept driving him inshore. As in a dream, he could hear the breakers--the pumas on their tread-mill of death. How long would it last? How long before he would be beaten upon that tread-mill--fondled to death by those mad paws? Presently dreams came-kind, vague, distant dreams. His brain flew like a drunken dove to far points of the world and back again. A moment it rested. Andree! He had made no provision for her, none at all. He must live, he must fight on for her, the homeless girl, his wife.

He fought on and on. No longer in the water, as it seemed to him. He had travelled very far. He heard the clash of sabres, the distant roar of cannon, the beating of horses' hoofs--the thud-thud, tread-tread of an army. How reckless and wild it was! He stretched up his arm to strike- what was it? Something hard that bruised: then his whole body was dashed against the thing. He was back again, awake. With a last effort he drew himself up on a huge rock that stands lonely in the wash of the bay. Then he cried out, "Andree!" and fell senseless--safe.

The storm went down. The cold, fast-travelling moon came out, saw the one living thing in that wild bay, and hurried on into the dark again; but came and went so till morning, playing hide-and-seek with the man and his Ararat.

Daylight saw him, wet, haggard, broken, looking out over the waste of shaken water. Upon the shore glared the stone of the vanished City of Ys in the warm sun, and the fierce pumas trod their grumbling way. Sea- gulls flew about the quiet set figure, in whose brooding eyes there were at once despair and salvation.

He was standing between two worlds. He had had his great crisis, and his wounded soul rested for a moment ere he ventured out upon the highways again. He knew not how it was, but there had passed into him the dignity of sorrow and the joy of deliverance at the same time. He saw life's responsibilities clearer, duties swam grandly before him. It was a large dream, in which, for the time, he was not conscious of those troubles which, yesterday, had clenched his hands and knotted his forehead. He had come a step higher in the way of life, and into his spirit had flowed a new and sobered power. His heart was sore, but his mind was lifted up. The fatal wrangle of the pumas there below, the sound of it, would be in his ears for ever, but he had come above it; the searching vigour of the sun entered into his bones.

He knew that he was going back to England--to ample work and strong days, but he did not know that he was going alone. He did not know that Andree was gone forever; that she had found her true place: in his undying memory.

So intent was he, that at first he did not see a boat making into the bay towards him.

ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Clever men are trying He had no instinct for vice in the name of amusement What a nice mob you press fellows are--wholesale scavengers


The Trespasser, Volume 3. - 14/14

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