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.Lil yth remained close to quarters because a seaportwas a rough place to be in these days, although she woulddearly have loved to walk along the beach in the sea air.Final y, on the fifth day, she was settled in a smal cabin withBette, and they weighed anchor.Guy had worked his people double time until the harvest wasreaped, then announced his intentions of going back toNormandy.But by the time the myriad of preparations forwinter were al attended to, it was late November before hewas free to leave.His brothers offered to go with him, but herefused them curtly and said he was traveling alone.At thesame time that Lil yth was embarking from Havant, Guy alsofound a ship that would take him to France, but his destinationwas St.Valery, the place from which the great Norman armyhad set sail the year before.One day out in the Channel they met up with an early gale, andhis ship was blown off course to the west.At one point, justafter the gigantic storm had settled down, the two ships camewithin sight of each other.Then, when the Channel took on acalmer attitude, his ship swept back eastward on course, andLil yth was taken inexorably on toward her lonely destination.She was violently and inelegantly sick from the moment herfeet touched the deck.She had been il a few times in her life,but nothing, she thought miserably, was as bad asseasickness.During the storm she was torn between fears ofdying and then fears of not dying.She prayed silently, thenaloud, then screamed blasphemously, fists raised andclenched, until al her strength had been spent.Then she layshivering in her bunk and wished with al her heart that Guywas with her to lean on.She found herself praying for death,then frantical y tried to cancel her prayers, because she wouldnever see the face of her love again, and also because shewanted more than anything in this world to hold his child in herarms.When the danger was past and her fear had abated, she wasback to hating him once more.The ship came into harbor andthe little party disembarked.Father Sebastian said, “When thetide is up, Mont St.Michel cannot be reached before morning.We wil spend the night at Barre le Heron.We wil need aguide to take us across the great sandbanks.Only a few knowwhere the quicksand lies.”Lil yth was silently appal ed at the sight of the island with thegreat tides rol ing around it.The next morning did nothing todispel her apprehension as she viewed the flat infinity of sand.Smal rocks jutted everywhere, encrusted with mussels andother shel s, and tiny crabs crawled in profusion.They led their horses across the causeway and into the castlegateway.Above them the path rose steeply to where thebuildings covered the highest point on the island.The castlewas a simple affair, but the monastery was imposing.Theirhorses were stabled in the castle courtyard and inside therewas only the dining hal , the gatehouse wal s and a singletower in which Lil yth was given rooms.Later she would seethe monastery and the first-floor alms hal where the poorreceived charity from the white-robed Benedictine monks.Thesecond floor held a graceful guests' dining hal and amagnificently lit scriptorium where the monks prepared booksfor their extensive library.The monks dined on the top floor inthe refectory and beside this were arched cloisters for thosewho sought quiet meditation.As one day blended into another Lil yth regained her healthand strength.She spent many lonely hours in the lookout at thetop of the gatehouse.The sea was sometimes gray andturbulent, and the wild cry of gul s brought a sharpness to herlonely idyl.Other times it was flat and oily and looked evenmore menacing than when it was rough.There was no freshwater on the mount, and every day horses took out emptycasks and brought them back fil ed while the tide was low.Tothe south lay Arderon and to the north, Genets.Invariably herthoughts were brought back from their wandering by thehomey noises of the hal , with its clatter of dishes and barkingof dogs.There was nothing to do here but think.It was soon brought home to Lil yth that she stil loved Guy withal her heart and soul.She was hopelessly homesick andwould have given ten years of her life for one glimpse of thatfierce, proud face with the glittering green eyes.What did itmatter that he had a wife? Fifty wives could not diminish thelove she felt for him and him alone.What a fool she had beento throw it al away!Why? she asked herself over and over, and could only thinkthat it must have been her pride.Now she felt humbled andlonely but not alone, for didn't she have his gift there, beneathher heart?The last remaining leaves had turned to magnificent red andbril iant yel ow when Guy rode up to his home in lateNovember.The dogs went wild as he came into the yard.Hecurbed their exuberance with a few stern commands andgreeted his elderly retainer with a huge grin.The old man'seyes were sad, and tears stood in them as he surveyed hislord.“What is it, Gaston?” he inquired intuitively.The old man shookhis head and said, “Come inside, my lord, and I wil tel you.”He poured wine for Guy, and two little girls came shyly forwardto inspect the stranger.“Margarita? Angelique?” he inquired.“Don't tel me you haveforgotten your father?” He held out his hand and the smal erone came forward slowly, her little dark face serious andsolemn.“Where is your mother?” He turned to Gaston.“Don't tel meshe has deserted them?” he asked angrily.“In a manner of speaking, my lord.I do not know how to telyou, my lord, but she is dead.She is buried in the little plot onthe hil.”Guy sat stunned, his arm about his daughter.Thehousekeeper came bustling in to look for the children andstopped in her tracks.“How did she die, when?” Guy asked, stil not able to ful y takeit al in.The man and woman exchanged glances and the woman saidquickly, “It was a lung fever, my lord, she caught a severe chil.Inursed her for days but I could not save her.” She did not givehim details of the wild New Year's party, the drunken revelry,and that Margarite had lain outside in the snow al night beforeshe had been found.“How long ago?” Guy asked distantly.“She became il at New Year's, she died January tenth.It hasbeen almost a year now.”For a moment he sat stil , then blinked rapidly and seemed tohold his breath.“Did you say January tenth?”They both nodded in agreement.He began to tremble [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]