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“Samphire” By Patrick O’Brian

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"SAMPHIRE" by Patrick O'Brian Sheer, sheer, the white cliff rising, straight up from the sea. Up there, unless you leaned over, you could not see the waves break, but for all the distance, the thunder of the water came loud. The wind tearing from the sea, rushing from a clear, high sky brought the salt tang of the sea to our lips. The two of us standing up there, on the very edge of the cliff. "It's a clumps of samphire, Molly" he said wit his high unmasculine voice. He then turned, "Molly, it is samphire. I said it was samphire, didn't I?" I had heard him the first time but I could not reply. My chin was trembling: there was something in the back of the throught. I could not have spoken if my life depended on it. I stepped closer, feeling for a firm foot hold. I was so close to him I could smell his tweed jacket. As he straightened so suddenly, it brushed against my skin. "hey look out, " he said "I almost trod on your foot". I could not answer, so I got on my hands and knees and crawled to the edge. Heights terrified me and could not close my eyes, which made it even worse. The noise of the sea assaulted my terrified mind as I clung insanely to the thin grass. ...read more.


We looked at the sticks in the shop but did not find one for our money and we left. At the next tobacconist, by the peer, he made the same joke to the man there. I stood near the door, not looking at anything in particular. In the end he paid a marked price for an ash walking stick with the crook. At first he proposed a shilling less, he told the man that we were not ordinary summer people because we were going to live in the villa there. Walking along past the peer towards the cliff, he put the stick on his shoulder with a commercial gesture. When we came back to the car park, there were many people going to the beach with picnics and rubber toys. Lacy began to sing "we are the boys that nothing can tire; we are the boys that gather samphire " we passed another resident a tour hotel and pointed out that we were trying to get a bunch of samphire. The man nodded. Upon our ascent he said, " I will never go out without a stick again"; it was a find honest thing and a great help. He wondered if I thought it was a great help and how he had chosen the best one in the shop, especially as it was very cheap, though we had better go without tea tomorrow to make up for it. ...read more.


He had only been half up when I thrust at him. He got up using his stick for balance, gasping for huge lung fulls of air. He was screaming at me, interrupted by gasps, searching for air and life. "You pushed me, Molly you - pushed me. You - pushed me". I stood silent looking down at the sand. His voice rushed over me. I found that I could swallow again and the hamming in my throat was less. He had stopped gasping and was sitting there normally and using a lower pitched voice, "....not well; a spasm. wasn't it, Molly?" he was saying and tying to convince himself that it was an accident. I still stood there, stone still listening to him saying ".... Possibly live together? How can we possibly look at one another? After this?" I turned and began to walk down the path. He followed at once. By my side he was and his face was turned to mine peering into my close face. His visage, his whole face, everything, had fallen to pieces: I looked at him momentarily - a very old, terrible frightened, comforting himself, like a small child. He had fallen off a cliff all right. He touched my arm, still speaking and pleading. "it was that, wasn't it Molly? You didn't push me, Molly? It was an accident...." I turned dying face to the ground and there were my feet marching on the path: one, the other; one, the other; down, down, down. ...read more.

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