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CHAPTER 14: IN THE GARDEN (continued)
I had a garden wall to scale, nearly twice my own height, and without notch or cranny in the ancient, solid masonry. I stood against it on my toes, and I touched it with my finger-tips as high up as possible. Some four feet severed them from the coping that left only half a sky above my upturned eyes.
I do not know whether I have made it plain that the house was not surrounded by four walls, but merely filled a breach in one of the four, which nipped it (as it were) at either end. The back entrance was approachable enough, but barred or watched, I might be very sure. It is ever the vulnerable points which are most securely guarded, and it was my one comfort that the difficult way must also be the safe way, if only the difficulty could be overcome. How to overcome it was the problem. I followed the wall right round to the point at which it abutted on the tower that immured my love; the height never varied; nor could my hands or eyes discover a single foot-hole, ledge, or other means of mounting to the top.
Yet my hot head was full of ideas; and I wasted some minutes in trying to lift from its hinges a solid, six-barred, outlying gate, that my weak arms could hardly stir. More time went in pulling branches from the oak-trees about the beck, where the latter ran nearest to the moonlit wall. I had an insane dream of throwing a long forked branch over the coping, and so swarming up hand-over-hand. But even to me the impracticability of this plan came home at last. And there I stood in a breathless lather, much time and strength thrown away together; and the candle burning down for nothing in that little lofty window; and the running water swirling noisily over its stones at my back.
This was the only sound; the wind had died away; the moonlit valley lay as still as the dread old house in its midst but for the splash and gurgle of the beck. I fancied this grew louder as I paused and listened in my helplessness. All at once - was it the tongue of Nature telling me the way, or common gumption returning at the eleventh hour? I ran down to the water's edge, and could have shouted for joy. Great stones lay in equal profusion on bed and banks. I lifted one of the heaviest in both hands. I staggered with it to the wall. I came back for another; for some twenty minutes I was so employed; my ultimate reward a fine heap of boulders against the wall.
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