The Trespasser (Chapter 7, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 7

Siegmund woke to the muffled firing of guns on the sea. He looked across
at the shaggy grey water in wonder. Then he turned to Helena.

'I suppose,' he said, 'they are saluting the Czar. Poor beggar!' 'I was afraid they would wake you,' she smiled.

They listened again to the hollow, dull sound of salutes from across the
water and the downs.

The day had gone grey. They decided to walk, down below, to the next
bay.

'The tide is coming in,' said Helena.

'But this broad strip of sand hasn't been wet for months. It's as soft
as pepper,' he replied.

They laboured along the shore, beside the black, sinuous line of
shrivelled fucus. The base of the cliff was piled with chalk debris. On
the other side was the level plain of the sea. Hand in hand, alone and
overshadowed by huge cliffs, they toiled on. The waves staggered in, and
fell, overcome at the end of the race.

Siegmund and Helena neared a headland, sheer as the side of a house, its
base weighted with a tremendous white mass of boulders, that the green
sea broke amongst with a hollow sound, followed by a sharp hiss of
withdrawal. The lovers had to cross this desert of white boulders, that
glistened in smooth skins uncannily. But Siegmund saw the waves were
almost at the wall of the headland. Glancing back, he saw the other
headland white-dashed at the base with foam. He and Helena must hurry,
or they would be prisoned on the thin crescent of strand still remaining
between the great wall and the water.

The cliffs overhead oppressed him--made him feel trapped and helpless.
He was caught by them in a net of great boulders, while the sea fumbled
for him. But he and Helena. She laboured strenuously beside him, blinded
by the skin-like glisten of the white rock.

'I think I will rest awhile,' she said.

'No, come along,' he begged.

'My dear,' she laughed, 'there is tons of this shingle to buttress us
from the sea.' He looked at the waves curving and driving maliciously at the boulders.
It would be ridiculous to be trapped.

'Look at this black wood,' she said. 'Does the sea really char it?' 'Let us get round the corner,' he begged.

'Really, Siegmund, the sea is not so anxious to take us,' she said
ironically.

When they rounded the first point, they found themselves in a small bay
jutted out to sea; the front of the headland was, as usual, grooved.
This bay was pure white at the base, from its great heaped mass of
shingle. With the huge concave of the cliff behind, the foothold of
massed white boulders, and the immense arc of the sea in front, Helena
was delighted.

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