Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/148

This page needs to be proofread.


highway, climbed a short hill, and chugged along an overhanging road flanked by a row of little black lumps of cottages in silhouette against the white fury of the smashing surf. The third of these, so Gaston said, was madame’s. Thank God it was still square-sided and the chimneys still upright. We were in time anyhow!

More than once have I helped in a fire or lent a welcoming hand to a shipwrecked crew breasting an ugly sea in a water-logged boat; but to hold on to a cottage sliding into the sea—as one would to the heels of a would-be suicide determined to dash himself to pieces on the sidewalk below—was a new experience to me.

Not so to Herbert—that is, you would never have supposed it from the way he took hold of things. In less time than I tell it, he had swung wide the rear door of madame’s villa, stationed Brierley, Le Blanc, and myself at the side entrances to keep out poachers, formed a line of fishermen (whom Gaston knew) to pass out bric-à-brac, pictures, and rare furniture to the garage at the end of the lawn—the only safe place under cover—and, with Louis to help, was packing it with household goods.