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The Sailor's Wife
The Icelanders were all returning now. Two ships came in the second
day, four the next, and twelve during the following week. And all
through the country joy returned with them; and there was happiness for
the wives and mothers, and junkets in the taverns where the beautiful
barmaids of Paimpol served out drink to the fishers.
The _Leopoldine_ was among the belated; there were yet another ten
expected. They would not be long now; and allowing a week's delay so
as not to be disappointed, Gaud waited in happy, passionate joy for
Yann, keeping their home bright and tidy for his return. When
everything was in good order there was nothing left for her to do; and
besides, in her impatience, she could think of nothing else but her
Three more ships appeared; then another five. There were only two
"Come, come," they said to her cheerily, "this year the _Leopoldine_
and the _Marie-Jeanne_ will be the last, to pick up all the brooms
fallen overboard from the other craft."
Gaud laughed also. She was more animated and beautiful than ever, in
her great joy of expectancy.
But the days succeeded one another without result.
She still dressed up every day, and with a joyful look went down to the
harbor to gossip with the other wives. She said that this delay was
but natural: was it not the same event every year? These were such
safe boats, and had such capital sailors.
But when at home alone, at night, a nervous anxious shiver of
apprehension would run through her whole frame.
Was it right to be frightened already? Was there even a single reason
to be so? but she began to tremble at the mere idea of grounds for
The 10th of September came. How swiftly the days flew by!
One morning--a true autumn morning, with cold mist falling over the
earth in the rising sun--she sat under the porch of the chapel of the
shipwrecked mariners, where the widows go to pray; with eyes fixed and
glassy, and throbbing temples tightened as by an iron band.
These sad morning mists had begun two days before; and on this
particular day Gaud had awakened with a still more bitter uneasiness,
caused by the forecast of advancing winter. Why did this day, this
hour, this very moment, seem to her more painful than the preceding?
Often ships are delayed a fortnight; even a month, for that matter.
But surely there was something different about this particular morning;
for she had come to-day for the first time to sit in the porch of this
chapel and read the names of the dead sailors, perished in their prime.
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