A Loose End and Other Stories by S. Elizabeth Hall


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Page 3

"Given it him, I should think so, when she never would have aught to say
to him for all his wheedling ways, and his brother Jacques was her
favourite; and poor old lady if she'd a known that Pierre was goin' to
be alone with her, when she went off suddint in a fit, I guess she'd a
locked up her purse first, I do."


didn't want him no more: and you should have seen the look he gave him,
sort of squintin' out of his eyes at him, when he went away. He ain't a
man I would like to meet unawares in a dark lane, if I'd a quarrel with
him."

"Hullo, where's Marie?" cried Mrs. Nevin, coming out of the door with
the kail ready washed in her hand. "She never took offence at what we
was sayin', think you? Folks did say, to be sure, that she and Pierre
was sweet on one another some time since. Well, she's gone, any way,"
and the good woman stood for a few minutes in some dismay, shading her
eyes as she looked down the road.

Marie's slight, girlish figure vanished quickly round the turning in the
lane, and Mrs. Nevin could not see her pass swiftly by her own cottage,
and up the ridge to the old mill. When she reached the point at which
the path began to descend to the cove, she paused and looked down. The
keen glance and alert figure, poised on guard, suggested the idea of a
mother bird watching her nest from afar. The tide had gone out
sufficiently for the boats to be drawn up on the eight or ten feet of
the shelving shore, which was thus laid bare, and the glowing light of
the sunset touched in slanting rays the head and hands of an old man
seated on a rock and bending over some fishing tackle, which he seemed
to be repairing.

Round the extreme point of the headland, which in a succession of
uncouth shapes dropped its rocky outline into the shadowy purple sea,
there was visible, hastily clambering across pathless boulders, another
man, of a young and lithe figure, and with something in the eager,
forward thrust of the head, crouching gait, and swift, deft footing that
resembled an animal of the cat species when about to leap on its prey.
He was evidently making for the cove, but would have to take the rope
path in order to reach it, as there was no way of approaching it on that
side except over the sheer face of rock. Marie was further from the
rope than he was, but her path was easier. The moment her eye caught
sight of the crouching, creeping figure, she sped like a hare down the
path, till she reached a point at which she was on a level with the man,
at a distance of about a hundred feet. There she stood, uncertain a
moment, then turned to meet him. He seemed too intent on his object in
the cove to notice her advance, till she was within speaking distance,
when she suddenly called to him "Pierre!"

Her clear, defiant tone put the meaning of a whole discourse into the
word. The man turned sharply round with an expression of vindictive
malice in his fox-like face.

"Well, what do you want?"

"What are you doing here, please?"

"What's that to you, I should like to know?"

"Come nearer, then I can hear what you say."

"I sha'n't come no nearer than I choose."

"Don't be afraid. I ain't a-goin' to hurt you!"

The taunt seemed to have effect, for he leaped hurriedly along over the
rocky path, with an angry, threatening air that would have frightened
some girls. Marie stood like the rock beneath her.

"Now, Miss, I'll teach you to come interfering with business that's none
o' yourn. What, you thought you'd come after me, did yer? because you
was tired o' waitin' for me to come after you again, I suppose."

"What is that you're carryin' in your belt?" she demanded calmly. A
handle was seen sticking up under his fisherman's blouse. "You believe
its safer to climb the rocks with a butcher's knife in your pocket, do
you? You think in case of an accident it would make you fall a bit
softer, hey?"

"It don't matter to you what I've got in my pocket," he rejoined, but
his tone was uncertain. "I brought it to cut the tackle--we've got a job
of mending to do."

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 12:16