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villagers showed that he had failed in his purpose, and had indeed worked a contrary result. The heavy tramp of the quickly approaching seamen could be heard from the downs, but the islanders never raised a hand to hinder their design.
The Frenchmen had lost the game; De Walcourt perceived this, and gave the command to his men:
• Back-into the church and make fast the door.'
Their retreat was suddenly arrested by the sound of many loud voices coming from the southern side of the island. Two hours ago three boats had set out from the town of Norden, and, with a favourable wind, had steered northwards under full sail; they had already run aground at some distance from the beach on the sands left bare by the ebbing tide. Without delay some dozen or more of excise and custom-house officers, who abounded in all the harbours of East Friesland, had leaped out, and leaving their boats behind, hurried as fast as possible to the goal they sought. Here they were, then, in the very nick of time, at the critical, decisive moment before the Frenchmen had reached the church-door.
De Walcourt turned round with an air of triumph, as he said to Pastor Remmert :
'The Emperor will repay you for this.'
The moment had produced a complete change in the situation of affairs, and made the French three times more numerous than the opposite side. Tyalka's voice resounded :
Baäck! It be naw moor good noo ! The islanders, who had seemed on the point of fighting for their countrymen, now kept aloof, waiting with cool indifference; the terrified women and children ran shrieking to and fro. The scene was one of the wildest confusion.
The pastor raised his eyes to heaven, and said :
'I thank Thee, O Lord, for that Thou hast fulfilled Thy word, and sent help to Thy people in their hour of greatest need.'
Walmot, kneeling by the lifeless body of Roeluf, had stroked his cheek once or twice tenderly, as she sobbed :
'Sleep well, tha dear owd mon !
Then the officer's expression of thanks caught her ear; she rose hurriedly, fixed her staring eyes on Pastor Remmert, and said, in a voice as if she were trying to repel some dreadful thought :
“Who' sent word to the French ? You never called them, surely ; say it was not you !
The pastor turned towards the speaker, but was unable to face her look. With evident embarrassment, his eyes wandered onwards as they used to do long years ago when, visiting her by twilight in the exercise of his spiritual duties, he had avoided her searching gaze. His lips, however, responded :
, 'The Almighty used me as His instrument, and thus makes known to you His purpose. God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven !
Walmot's eyelids quivered. It was, indeed, a hard struggle for her to suppress the passionate words welling up from her heart. But it lasted only a moment; soon every trace of bitterness had vanished from her features, which now retained only a sad expression of deepest pity. Then, in a voice trembling with painful emotion and yet singularly composed, she responded in simple, solemn words:
"Your love towards your neighbour, Pastor Remmert, is fatal. It ruins all on earth—wife and child, kin and country. You can't help it, but I thank the God that gave me life that I am not like you.'
These were the last words that were spoken, and now nothing was to be seen but dark outlines. For the villagers had instinctively put out their lanthorns; only the dusky glimmer of night remained, and a first faint, scarcely perceptible streak in the east announced the approach of a new day.
The open space between the church and the parsonage was deserted; everyone had vanished. The fishermen had betaken themselves silently to their homes; in the church, praying before the altar, knelt Pastor Remmert, half hidden in the gloom ; beside him, on the ground, were still strewn the cushions and coverings which Teda had carried thither the evening before in order to make a cosy couch for the night.
On the open land, now swept by the boisterous hurricane, Deena stood alone beside the corpse of Roeluf. A dim impulse of mingled curiosity and malevolence had drawn her thither; she bent down and passed her hand across his face, which was not as yet quite cold. From her lips came forth a muttered drawl :
'He was a fool, and it serves him right. Just as if things were not bad enough before! Can't you speak, you dolt ??
' She gave the dead body a shake, as if hoping to recall life in
order to gain an answer to her question; then, as she shivered with cold
in her ragged night-gear, she re-entered the parsonage and rolled herself up once more in her down quilt.
THE deepest stillness brooded once more over the island, only beyond, where the ebb-tide and the strong south wind had left exposed the ground usually covered by the waters, a brisk and clamorous chase was going on.
The excise officers were pursuing Tyalka and his sailor comrades, who were trying to get nearer to their ship on foot and at the same time to draw away their pursuers from the sea-gulls' isle, on which they had landed their cargo. They accordingly bent their course, not to the west, but to the north ; in the faint light, and with the advantages they had gained on starting, they might soon have been quite out of sight, but they purposely drew the Frenchmen on in a wrong direction. Now and then a shot was fired, but failed to hit anyone,
and the wind soon drifted away the sound of the excisemen's rifles. Thus, the fugitives hurried northwards, and their pursuers after them; all at once the former quickened their pace and were lost to sight, as, turning a corner, they diverged to the west.
Walmot had hastened towards her house in order to take the nearest road to the sea-gulls' isle. Her heart was filled with grief for the death of Roeluf, but there was nothing further she could do for him; anxiety for the living, and above all for Freda, made her strain every nerve to rejoin her. But she had never crossed over on foot before ; passionate excitement dulled the keenness of her senses and her power to track, so she missed the path and went too far to her right.
There was still a third little dark group wending its way across the moist sand in the direction of the rocky islet. Egide de Walcourt had given a hasty report and instructions to the excisemen, who had come so opportunely to his aid, then he had followed after them with his two men. But when he had crossed the downs and reached the beach, a dark figure
came breathlessly up to him for the second time that night and seized him by the arm. It was Teda, who had never turned her eyes from him as long as the light of the lanthorns had enabled her to distinguish his form. After these were put out she had for some moments lost sight of him. She now seized his hand again, and, pointing to the excisemen, exclaimed:
"They are taking the wrong road; the sea-gulls' isle lies over yonder !
The officer, equally unacquainted with the locality, shouted to the excisemen, but the violent wind prevented his voice from reaching their ears.
Teda's burning hand feverishly pulled his.
'I will lead you ; come quick—that they may not—that your booty may not escape you.'
Cursing his men for their mistake, De Walcourt obeyed Teda's call ; the suggestion that he must be the first to take possession of the landed cargo was seconded by ambition and love of gain. He turned in the direction which Teda indicated; passion quickened every sense, and enabled the girl, with the instinct of an animal, to hit upon the shortest path to her goal.
Without the least suspicion of what was taking place on the other side of the water, Uwen and Freda had passed together the long, lonely hours of the night. They sat apart far enough to prevent them from discerning each other's features; they spoke of the enterprise going on, and how it might be expected to end. They never alluded to what had previously occurred that evening. When their subject was exhausted they sat mute, until the embarrassment of their situation rendered silence intolerable to both. Then they found a theme in their mutual love for their country, over whose woes and hopeless condition they were able to interchange their thoughts and feelings, as they had formerly done on their old playground amidst the downs. They imperceptibly went on to talk more about the world and human life in particular, so far as their knowledge of it extended, or as they had formed any notion of it in their own minds; and for the first time the avowal crossed the lips of Uwen that his innermost convictions had renounced the creed of Pastor Remmert, and that he could never undertake to preach such doctrines as his. He had often felt this even in his boyhood, but his own will had succumbed to a powerful influence which had made him resist the principles Walmot had gradually instilled year after year in his heart and mind. Now, however, he had gained knowledge of himself, and knew what course to pursue. He was resolved to quit the island and support himself by imparting to others such knowledge as he possessed, and thus obtain at some university the training necessary to fit him for a different career.
At this Freda involuntarily exclaimed: ‘Oh, if I had but still
Here she broke off, and suppressed the rest of her sentence. She had been about to express her wish that she still possessed the well-filled purse that had been placed beside her in her first cradle, rocked by the wild sea waves, instead of having uselessly handed it over to the French officer. But that fact also belonged to the themes which could not be spoken of between them, so she relapsed into an uneasy silence.
To and fro, at about an hour's interval, a boat brought a cargo of goods from the brig, and after awhile again departed. They both helped to carry the bales ashore. Then they were once more alone, and some little time elapsed before they could resume their interrupted talk. They could tell from the sound of the voice that the face of each was turned to the other, but not a feature was discernible. And so the long hours of night rolled slowly on.
Suddenly, and at the same moment, Uwen and Freda raised their heads, looked for a moment at each other, and then turned hastily away. The little streak of light on the eastern horizon had become broader, the first pale gleam of morn was beginning to spread over the island, and by it their eyes had once more met, and they had discerned each other's face.
Uwen felt as if his senses were suddenly bewildered. Could it be possible that but a single day had passed since, in this same faint light of day, awaking from his dream, he had incredulously gazed on the face of Teda sleeping at his side?
He sprang up mechanically. At about half an hour's distance the hull and masts of the English brig could be faintly seen in the pale gray light; halfway between it and the island a dark spot was drawing nearer and nearer : it was the boat returning with a fresh cargo.
Suddenly, borne on the south wind, a voice from the downs broke the deep stillness :
*The water is shallow, come on! straight through !
The voice was Teda's. Uwen, with head raised and bent backwards, also recognised her figure, as without stopping she