BOOK THE THIRD - GARNERING
6. Chapter Vi - the Starlight (continued)
The sun was high when they sat down to rest. They had seen no one,
near or distant, for a long time; and the solitude remained
unbroken. 'It is so still here, Rachael, and the way is so
untrodden, that I think we must be the first who have been here all
As Sissy said it, her eyes were attracted by another of those
rotten fragments of fence upon the ground. She got up to look at
it. 'And yet I don't know. This has not been broken very long.
The wood is quite fresh where it gave way. Here are footsteps too.
- O Rachael!'
She ran back, and caught her round the neck. Rachael had already
'What is the matter?'
'I don't know. There is a hat lying in the grass.' They went
forward together. Rachael took it up, shaking from head to foot.
She broke into a passion of tears and lamentations: Stephen
Blackpool was written in his own hand on the inside.
'O the poor lad, the poor lad! He has been made away with. He is
lying murdered here!'
'Is there - has the hat any blood upon it?' Sissy faltered.
They were afraid to look; but they did examine it, and found no
mark of violence, inside or out. It had been lying there some
days, for rain and dew had stained it, and the mark of its shape
was on the grass where it had fallen. They looked fearfully about
them, without moving, but could see nothing more. 'Rachael,' Sissy
whispered, 'I will go on a little by myself.'
She had unclasped her hand, and was in the act of stepping forward,
when Rachael caught her in both arms with a scream that resounded
over the wide landscape. Before them, at their very feet, was the
brink of a black ragged chasm hidden by the thick grass. They
sprang back, and fell upon their knees, each hiding her face upon
the other's neck.