Another three days, and no news. This suspense
is getting dreadful. If I only knew where to write to or where to go to, I should
feel easier. But no one has heard a word of Jonathan since that last letter. I
must only pray to God for patience.
Lucy is more excitable than ever, but
is otherwise well. Last night was very threatening, and the fishermen say that
we are in for a storm. I must try to watch it and learn the weather signs.
is a gray day, and the sun as I write is hidden in thick clouds, high over Kettleness.
Everything is gray except the green grass, which seems like emerald amongst it,
gray earthy rock, gray clouds, tinged with the sunburst at the far edge, hang
over the gray sea, into which the sandpoints stretch like gray figures. The sea
is tumbling in over the shallows and the sandy flats with a roar, muffled in the
sea-mists drifting inland. The horizon is lost in a gray mist. All vastness, the
clouds are piled up like giant rocks, and there is a 'brool' over the sea that
sounds like some passage of doom. Dark figures are on the beach here and there,
sometimes half shrouded in the mist, and seem 'men like trees walking'. The fishing
boats are racing for home, and rise and dip in the ground swell as they sweep
into the harbour, bending to the scuppers. Here comes old Mr. Swales. He is making
straight for me, and I can see, by the way he lifts his hat, that he wants to
I have been quite touched by the change in the poor old man. When
he sat down beside me, he said in a very gentle way, "I want to say something
to you, miss."
I could see he was not at ease, so I took his poor old
wrinkled hand in mine and asked him to speak fully.
So he said, leaving
his hand in mine, "I'm afraid, my deary, that I must have shocked you by
all the wicked things I've been sayin' about the dead, and such like, for weeks
past, but I didn't mean them, and I want ye to remember that when I'm gone. We
aud folks that be daffled, and with one foot abaft the krok-hooal, don't altogether
like to think of it, and we don't want to feel scart of it, and that's why I've
took to makin' light of it, so that I'd cheer up my own heart a bit. But, Lord
love ye, miss, I ain't afraid of dyin', not a bit, only I don't want to die if
I can help it. My time must be nigh at hand now, for I be aud, and a hundred years
is too much for any man to expect. And I'm so nigh it that the Aud Man is already
whettin' his scythe. Ye see, I can't get out o' the habit of caffin' about it
all at once. The chafts will wag as they be used to. Some day soon the Angel of
Death will sound his trumpet for me. But don't ye dooal an' greet, my deary!"--for
he saw that I was crying--"if he should come this very night I'd not refuse
to answer his call. For life be, after all, only a waitin' for somethin' else
than what we're doin', and death be all that we can rightly depend on. But I'm
content, for it's comin' to me, my deary, and comin' quick. It may be comin' while
we be lookin' and wonderin'. Maybe it's in that wind out over the sea that's bringin'
with it loss and wreck, and sore distress, and sad hearts. Look! Look!" he
cried suddenly. "There's something in that wind and in the hoast beyont that
sounds, and looks, and tastes, and smells like death. It's in the air. I feel
it comin'. Lord, make me answer cheerful, when my call comes!" He held up
his arms devoutly, and raised his hat. His mouth moved as though he were praying.
After a few minutes' silence, he got up, shook hands with me, and blessed me,
and said goodbye, and hobbled off. It all touched me, and upset me very much.
was glad when the coastguard came along, with his spyglass under his arm. He stopped
to talk with me, as he always does, but all the time kept looking at a strange
"I can't make her out," he said. "She's a Russian,
by the look of her. But she's knocking about in the queerest way. She doesn't
know her mind a bit. She seems to see the storm coming, but can't decide whether
to run up north in the open, or to put in here. Look there again! She is steered
mighty strangely, for she doesn't mind the hand on the wheel, changes about with
every puff of wind. We'll hear more of her before this time tomorrow."