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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesTogether - Part Four - Chapter 41
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Together - Part Four - Chapter 41 Post by :Jay_White Category :Long Stories Author :Robert Herrick Date :May 2012 Read :2442

Click below to download : Together - Part Four - Chapter 41 (Format : PDF)

Together - Part Four - Chapter 41

PART FOUR CHAPTER XLI

At breakfast Joe Viney said:--

"I was lobsterin' this morning."

"It must have been the thud of your oars that we heard when we woke."

"Mos' likely,--I was down there at the end of the island, hauling in the pots. It's goin' to be a greasy day. But there's wind comin'."

They could hear the long call of a steamer's whistle and the wail of the fog-horn beyond the next island. The little white house was swathed in the sea mist.

"Better take the steamer at the Neck, if you're going to the city," Mrs. Viney suggested. "It'll be cold and damp sailing this morning."

"Never!" Margaret protested.

Mrs. Viney looked at Margaret pityingly. That a woman from the city should care to come to this forlorn, lonesome spot, "when the summer folks had gone," and sleep out of doors on fir boughs, and go off in a messy sail-boat in a fog, when there was a clean, fast steamer that would take her in an hour to the city--it was a mystery. As she packed some pieces of soggy bread, a little meat, and still soggier cake into a box for their luncheon she shook her head, protesting:--

"You'll spoil that hat o' yourn. It wasn't meant for sailin'."

"No, it wasn't; that's true!" She took off the flower-bedecked hat with its filmy veiling. "Would you like it? I shall find a cap in the boat."

'Clearly,' thought Mrs. Viney, 'the woman is crazy;' but she accepted the hat. Afterwards she said to her husband:--

"I can't make them two out. She ain't young, and she ain't exactly old, and she ain't pretty,--well, she's got the best of the bargain, a little wisp like her." For, womanlike, she admired Falkner in his sweater and flannels, strong and male, with a dark coat of tan on his face.

Viney accompanied them to the boat, waddling across the field, his hands in the armholes of his vest. He said little, but as he shoved them off in their tender, he observed:--

"It's the sort of day you could get lost in mighty easy."

"Oh," Falkner called back cheerily, "I guess I know my way."

"Well, I guess you _do_!"

* * * * *

As Viney had said, the wind came through the fog, driving the boat in unseen fashion, while the sail hung almost limp. There was a little eddy of oily water at the stern; they were slipping, sliding through the fog-bank, back to the earth.

"Back to life," Falkner hummed, "back; back, to the land, to the world!"

The fog clung in Margaret's hair, and dimmed her eyes. She bared her arms to feel the cool touch of it on her skin. Clean things, like the sun yesterday, the resinous firs, the salty fog,--clean elemental things,--how she loved them!

"And suppose," Falkner suggested, "I should lose my way in this nest of reefs and islands and we got shipwrecked or carried out to sea?"

"I should hear Ned calling through the fog." A simple answer, but withal enough. Their hour, which they had set themselves, was past. And lying here in the impalpable mist, slipping towards the hidden port, she was filled with ineffable content....

"You are still radiant!" Falkner said wonderingly.

"It can't fade--never wholly! I cherish it." She drew her arms close about her. "Sacred things never utterly die!"

They had found it, they had lived it, they knew--what the unspiritual and carnal millions that clutter God's earth may never know--ecstasy, the secret behind the stars, beyond the verge of the sea, in the great lunar spaces of spirit.

* * * * *

On they glided through the thoroughfares, around island points, across reaches of the sea, sweeping onward now with an audible gurgle in their wake, the sails bellying forward; veering this way, falling off there, as the impassive man touched the tiller, obeying an instinct, seeing into the dark beyond. Now a bit of cliff loomed in the fog, again a shingled roof or a cluster of firs, and the whistling buoy at the harbor's mouth began to bellow sadly,--reminders all of the shell of that world towards which they sailed. And at last the harbor, with its echoing bells and fog-whistles, the protesting shrieks of its man-machines; suddenly the colossal hull of a schooner at anchor. Then the ghostly outlines of the huddled shipping, the city roofs, the steeples, the shriek of engines in the freight yards--they touched the earth! It had ended. The noise of living reverberated in their ears.

Margaret rose with a sigh, and looked back through the closing curtain of fog to an island headland misty and vague.

"My heaven--oh, my heaven! our haven, my master!"

Like two newly wakened beings, stunned by the light and sound around them, they stumbled over the wharf. A large sailing vessel was loading there for its voyage,--a Portuguese ship bound for Demerara, so the black sailor said whom Falkner questioned. With a last look at its tall masts they took their way into the city and so to the station.

Here was the same crowd coming from the trains,--the little human motes pushing hither and thither, hurrying from train to train, dashing, dawdling, loitering. Were they the same motes as two days before? Were they always the same,--marionettes wound to perform the clamorous motions of life? Or were they men and women like themselves, with their own great secrets in their hearts? Above all, the secret that transforms! Had these others, too, gone into the great high places?

They walked to the bridge while they waited for the Bedmouth train. Far down the harbor rose the tall masts of the Portuguese ship.

"Bound for Demerara," murmured Falkner, with a smile; "we might be sailing for the Windward Islands?"

"No," Margaret smiled back; "we love too much for that,--you and I."

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PART FOUR CHAPTER XLIIWithin the old parlor of the Bedmouth house Mrs. Pole was waiting for a step. It came at last. "The children?" Margaret demanded, kissing the old lady. "Perfectly well." "I must go up to them," and she started for the door. "Wait!" Mrs. Pole said, looking up sadly into the younger woman's pale face, which still held the glow. "Yes, mother?" The voice rang with a note of vitality, of life, as if to chant, 'I have come back to you from a long way off!' Mrs. Pole said slowly:-- "Lawrence is upstairs. He came on from New
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PART FOUR CHAPTER XLAfter supper Margaret sat and talked with Mrs. Viney. The fisherman's wife was a woman of fifty, with a dragging voice, a faint curiosity in her manner. Her iron-gray hair smoothed flat was tied in a little knot behind. Her husband, a good ten years older, had the vitality of a young man compared with his wife. He was grizzled and squat, with thick red face and powerful shoulders. His eyes twinkled sharply under their fleshy lids; but he exhibited no outward curiosity over the two strangers who had dropped down on his island. "That woman!" Margaret exclaimed
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