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There was no confusion now in Freda's words. Rightly comprehending the great danger of delay, she anticipated pretty nearly the course which Egide de Walcourt had planned; and Walmot fully agreed in all she said. Only, no one could think of any suitable hiding-place for the fugitive. Should a storm break out, as appearances threatened, it would be impossible to spend perhaps several days and nights in a boat at sea, and the neighbouring islands would be just as unsafe as theirs.
Freda was the first to hit upon a satisfactory solution of the difficulty. Hitherto feeling had appeared to be her chief characteristic, but this evening her judgment was quicker than that of her companions in devising the most helpful expedients. Well supplied with wraps and food, Uwen must, she said, row across to the sea-gulls' isle, and remain there until he received notice that it was safe for him to return. This resource had never once occurred to Walmot, who gazed at Freda in silent wonder that in this hour of urgent need she should have been the first to hit upon such a clever scheme.
She took Freda with her into the kitchen to help in making up a basket of provisions, while Roeluf went out to prepare his boat. Uwen and Teda were left behind in the parlour by themselves—the former speechless; he felt as if in a dream that did not permit him to act, only to wait for what might be coming. Teda, on the other hand, had jumped at the thought of rowing with him to the island, and staying with him until his return. She expressed her intention to him; but at this he started out of his silent reverie, and hastily replied that such a thing was out of the question; he could face hardships unfitted for her more tender frame.
With a half-laugh, she answered :
No; then there were still--no, it was quite another thing. Suppose a storm came on?'
She interrupted him :
Well, we should have a covering, and at your side I fear neither cold nor storm.'
But this time he persisted in his refusal with unwonted firmness.
'Indeed, it is not proper for you, and I must not allow it. The villagers, your father, would hear of it, and it might cause you to be talked about.'
Teda's sparkling eyes were fixed on his with an expression
that intimated her indifference as to people's opinion, but her words were : ‘They will
say I had as much cause to fear and hide myself
Have you no fear for me if I stay here?' But now, for the first time, her look failed to overcome his opposition. He replied:
* Freda is quite right, you run no risk; all would unite to protect you.'
Meanwhile, Walmot had, under some pretext, drawn her child out of the kitchen into a more distant chamber; here she suddenly placed her hand on Freda's shoulder, and said, as she looked her full in the face :
'Datya, I am sure, does not want to hide anything from me. Why did she go and seek the French officer this morning ?'
The girl started at this unexpected question and remained for a few moments speechless. But she read in her mother's eyes that the latter guessed by what special motive she had been influenced, and in a low voice she confessed the truththat she had already, since the winter, designed the money for Uwen's use, that he might not be forced to study for the Church against his will. So the money already belonged to him. Walmot interrupted her :
That is just like Datya-to go and throw her money away upon one who has quite forgotten his early friendship for her.' Walmot's
eyes rested for awhile on the maiden's face, not feature of which betrayed the slightest doubt as to the truth of this last assertion.
Her words also admitted it as she said :
' And am I, therefore, to stand by and let him be separated from Teda, and perhaps forced to fight against our country?'
Walmot said no more, and they both returned to the kitchen to fill the basket. Roeluf soon came in and announced that his boat was quite ready.
All accompanied Uwen to the beach. The wind was blowing hard, but the mist over the moon being less dense, it was not quite so dark, and they were able to discern each other's features. Walmot said :
• It will make it easier for you to find the island.'
She took Uwen by the arm, and detained him behind for a moment while she gave him a few other directions. In a tone of indifference she added that if, in spite of all their arrangements, any unlucky chance should lead to his detection, he
must then claim exemption on the ground that the recruiting officer had received a sum of money in purchase of his release.
'My release? But who could have ?
The waves were roaring in front of them. Roeluf had drawn his boat close to the shore, so that Uwen could step in. But he now stood motionless and undecided ; on his face, though faintly seen, might be read an expression as if he had suddenly changed his mind and was unwilling to leave the island. Freda now reminded him that it was time to go.
He recovered his self-command and shook hands with Walmot and Roeluf as he bade them good-bye. Then he turned to Teda. Her face had expressed much ill-humour since his refusal to let her accompany him ; she had walked on in advance, without waiting for the others, and now, in a half-ironical tone, she expressed a hope that he would not get frozen. One foot was already over the side of the boat, when he drew back once more, and, turning to Freda, said:
'I was forgetting to shake hands with you, who have done more than anyone for me. You rescued Teda—for me—and you have tried also to rescue me. Thanks>thanks for all !'
His hand was about to clasp Freda's, but all at once he threw his arms round her neck instead and pressed a hasty kiss upon her brow. Then he rushed to the boat, seized the oars, and in a few moments had vanished from sight.
Those who were left behind were still gazing after him. Teda and Freda stood silent side by side; the latter scarcely knew whether the last few moments had been real, and, if so, what they meant. Then Walmot said softly :
* You well deserved his thanks, Datya dear.'
Turning to Roeluf, she explained aloud to him how Freda had tried to ransom Uwen from military service. They then returned to the cottage, and Walmot begged Roeluf to go again to the parsonage and inform the inınates that Teda was spending the night with them. The girl herself was walking by their side without joining in the talk; but her fingers were clasped convulsively together, the nails pressing into the flesh, while every now and then a shiver passed through her frame, as the grains of sand upon the downs shrank with a little grating sound from underneath her tread.
The other side of the island was also enveloped in the stillness of night, broken only by the roaring of the wind. From the windows of the parsonage the same lights still shone that Freda saw when she came across. The officer had not yet come in.
Deena was still sitting in the parlour, and Pastor Remmert at his writing-desk in his study, both without the slightest presentiment of what had taken place, and, as usual, quite unconcerned as to what had become of the other inmates of the house. The pastor had neither noticed the fulsome attentions of his French guest towards his daughter, nor the restless excitement of the latter, nor her absence during the night; his eyes perceived nothing of what was passing around, and material human considerations, unconnected with the duties of his pastoral office, were never now suffered to enter into his thoughts.
On the other hand, Deena had been told by her daughter of the disgraceful behaviour of the Walloon, and her fear as to his further designs. Deena reflected on the subject more than was her wont. The matter offered a slight diversion to her prevailing ennui. But her sluggish thoughts took a course most unnatural to a mother.
For nearly twenty years Deena had been as indifferent to all that concerned the human beings on the island as though they were stones or blocks of wood; she no longer thought of father and mother, brothers and sisters, or cared whether they were alive or dead. One human creature alone still stirred her heart with a kind of dull, morbid sensation ; it was her daughter, whom she hated—not because that daughter had disappointed the mother's early hopes ; Deena had long forgotten that she had ever cherished any. But she hated Teda for being loved by Uwen. This was the last miserable remnant of human feeling that she possessed. stung by the thought that a woman could, and would, enjoy on earth all that she herself had anticipated on her wedding-day. Deena's mind had become as blunted as her body was inert, and imagination had wholly fled. But this
evening something or other had unlocked one of her braincells, rummaged about in it, and dragged to light a memory of a far-off time, over which the dust had thickly gathered. A summer evening rose before her mind, when she had seen two butterflies playing round each other on the downs, and at last ascending together into the air ; and the lips of Deena curled with a hateful expression that imprinted on the mouth a fant scornful smile. She wished the wind would take and blow them into the waters. Why should the two light-winged creatures enjoy their life? Then the two assumed the faces of Teda and Uwen, who exchanged with each other silent, longing looks, until Deena's bosom craved to see the French officer rush like a whirlwind between them, tear them apart, and separate them for ever. So might this last bitter thirst for revenge be appeased, the hatred for her daughter sink, like everything else, into the slumber of indifference. Fancy was still powerful enough to represent to her that this might now be taking place. This very moment might be shattering Teda's life into fragments as worthless as those into which her own past and future had been broken. And what a treat to see Remmert's face when the news should reach him, and he would have to settle the question whether the mortal body of his daughter alone had suffered, or whether her immortal soul was also lost! And again the scornful expression curled the prematurely-withered lips of Deena.
All at once she mechanically turned her head ; someone had entered the room. A broad-shouldered man, apparently about forty, stood before her. She did not know him. He wore a coarse seaman's dress, but was not one of the islanders. He was a perfect stranger to her. She asked, in a tone of indifference, what he wanted. Eyeing her with a look of uncertainty, he surprised her with the response :
‘Be ya Deena Swidder? A shudn't a' reckoned ya'd a' looked sa owd.'
She heard herself called by her former name without a sign of surprise, and gazed at him without the slightest interest. He now asked where her husband was. She said she supposed he was in his study, and the stranger went, with a rolling gait, hastily back along the passage.
This visitor was the boatman who had approached the island from the north-west, and had been waiting for nightfall before he landed. He was evidently unacquainted with the