published by Random House Australia.
Laura Morrison stood against the power of the wind as it whipped
at her garments. One moment, her brown coat wrapped tightly around
her tall figure; the next it flew out, flapping her white skirts
against her ankles. Behind her, the ends of the scarf which secured
her bonnet streamed out, orange flags in the wind. She laughed
aloud, feeling the rush of salt wind in her mouth.
An autumn storm was invading the shelter of Lyme Bay. Away to
her right, Laura saw battalions of waves rushing at the dark breakwater
known as the Cobb. Like a great rocky arm, it reached into the
bay, and bore, in stony sullenness, the anger of the sea. Water
threw itself over the Cobb, firing volleys of spray above, only
to subside in defeat in the lee of its arm.
The briny smell of the ocean was strong in the air, and she touched
her lips with her tongue, tasting their saltiness. Over her shoulder
"Is this not a magnificent spectacle, Sarah?"
"I only know it be perishin' cold, Miss," said the girl,
huddling in the slender shelter provided by her lady.
"Are you afraid of such a puny adventure as this?"
"I not be one for adventurin'."
Laura turned, smiling at the piteous expression in the girl's
eyes. "Why, Sarah, your nose is turning blue."
"You'll catch your death, Miss. Then the mistress will be
angry with me."
Miss Morrison laughed, her tone wry but affectionate. "Off
you go then, Sarah. Await me at the library."
"Thank'ee, Miss." The girl scuttled off, the wind at
Laura walked a little way to her right along the sea wall, seeing
a spear of sunlight shot through a gap in the leaden sky, setting
the waves alight in a shining trail.
"Ah, such splendour!" she murmured.
Looking back, she saw that the sea glowered greyly still where
the waves angled away from the light. She heard no sound but the
wind and waves; there seemed no soul about but her. She turned
again for a last fading view of the shimmering trail on the water.
Behind her, she heard a footfall, then a voice deep and warm against
the sounds of the sea.
"What we see depends upon the angle of our vision."
Her breath was blown away for an instant, then, looking over her
shoulder, green eyes alight with humour, she replied: "This
is an illustration of that truth, indeed."
"A lesson for the philosophers," he said.
"Our interpretation is coloured by the view we take."
As she turned to him, her scarf flipped up and blew across her
face, so that she looked at him through an orange veil. Laura
felt the soft kid of his glove brush lightly on her face as he
unwound the scarf and sent it spinning out behind her again. There
was brilliancy in her usually pale complexion and her eyes were
glass green in the wind. Yet, she knew not how to look at him
while she still so vividly recalled the sensation of his touch
upon her cheek.
"From whence I stand now, I see only light." She wondered
at the intensity in his brown eyes.
The light faded from the sea and they turned away from the grey
of it. She keenly felt their close proximity. Although he stood
at over six feet, her chin almost reached his shoulder. For a
moment, neither moved; then, as one, they stepped apart, and he
"Good morning, Miss Morrison."
"Good morning, Mr. Templeton." She shouted, almost,
against the wind. "You find me alone in this wild place,
for my maid has run away from me. She is not made of the stuff
that delights in being blown about by the gale."
"Then she is not such as you and I," he said.
Laura looked at him steadily.
"As you and I," he repeated.His gaze openly expressed
his admiration. He offered her his arm and they began to walk
slowly along the stretch of paving above the sea wall.
He said, "I did so hope to
They both paused, wishing the other to go on, so that there was
a little silence.
He gestured for her to speak.
"My sister is a little better today. She announces that she
is equal to receiving callers."
"Then I am quite cast down," he said. "I regret
that I unable to make Mrs. Evans's acquaintance today."
Laura shivered, the chill of the wind penetrating at last and.
They were turning back into the narrow little street that led
steeply up through the town, when she thought of her sister's
displeasure: Mrs. Evans would take offence that a gentleman who
had befriended her unmarried sister should fail to make himself
known to her family.
Mr. Templeton looked at Laura keenly. "I have received an
odd request to attend upon a dying man some distance away, at
a place near the Axminster road. The family goes by the name of
She rallied her spirits. "You can scarcely refuse, Mr. Templeton.
Yet, is it not wild weather to travel so far? I am sure that it
will rain heavily soon."
"It is eight miles off, and the family must surely have their
own parish priest nearby."
She frowned. "It is odd that they sent for a stranger at
such a moment."
"My calling is such that I cannot refuse my attendance in
this case - indeed I do not wish to, while the patient may need
assistance to make his peace."
"How selfish I must appear!"
"If you are displeased at my going away, then I am gratified."
She hesitated at Swan's Library door, safely shut against the
Mr. Templeton looked embarrassed. "It is an awkward business
that I have still to present myself to your family."
"It is not your fault that Fate plays so with us."
"I am pleased that your sister is rallying now."
"She recovers as well as she lets herself." Their eyes
met in wry understanding.
"The interval before our next meeting will gape sadly,"
"Not while you have your race with the rain to amuse you,
He smiled into her eyes, and the deep timbre of his voice resonated
in her. "I will see you very soon - tomorrow if I possibly
can." He bowed and went away alongside the high stone wall
of the inn stable yard, blown away from her, until he disappeared
through the gate.
Society of South Australia