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6 August.--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.
Today 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 talk.
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.