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A Story of the Chalk Cliffs

211 pages
Library of Alexandria
One grey, uncertain afternoon in November, when the vapour-laden skies were without a rent, and the trailing clouds, without a fringe, were passing imperceptibly into drizzle, that thickened with coming night, when the land was colourless, and the earth oozed beneath the tread, and the sullen sea was as lead—on such a day, at such a time of day, a woman wandered through Seaton, then a disregarded hamlet by the mouth of the Axe, picking up a precarious existence by being visited in the summer by bathers. The woman drew her daughter about with her. Both were wet and bedraggled. The wind from the east soughed about the caves, whistled in the naked trees, and hissed through the coarse sea-grass and withered thrift; whilst from afar came the mutter of a peevish sea. The woman was tall, had fine features of a powerful cast, with eyes in which slumbered volcanic fire. Her cheeks were flushed, her rich, dark hair, caught by the wind and sopped by the mist, was dishevelled under her battered hat. She was not above thirty-six years old. The girl she held and drew along was about eighteen. She partook of her mother's fineness of profile and darkness of eye. If there were in her features some promise or threat of the resolution that characterised her mother's countenance, it was tempered by a lurking humour that would not suffer them to set to hardness.