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Chapter V 


CONCERNING THE HAVEN OF YELLOWSANDS

On the morrow, at the peep of day, Rosalind was off to seek her lord. An hour or so after I started in leisurely pursuit.

Yellowsands! I had heard in a vague way of the place, as a whim of a certain young nobleman who combined brains with the pursuit of pleasure. Like most ideas, it was simple enough when once conceived. Any one possessing a mile or two of secluded seaboard, cut off on the land side by precipitous approaches, and including a sheltered river mouth ingeniously hidden by nature, in the form of a jutting wall of rock, from the sea, might have made as good use of these natural opportunities as the nobleman in question, had they only been as wise and as rich. William Blake proposed to rebuild Jerusalem in this green and pleasant land. My lord proposed to erect a miniature Babylon amid similar pleasant surroundings, a little dream-city by the sea, a home for the innocent pleasure-seeker stifled by the puritanism of the great towns, refugium peccatorum in this island of the saints.

"Once it was the Puritan Fathers who left our coasts," he is recorded to have said; "nowadays it is our Prodigal Sons."

No doubt it was in further elaboration of this aphorism that the little steamboat that sailed every other day from Yellowsands to the beckoning shores of France was called "the Mayflower."

My lord's plan had been simple. By the aid of cunning architects he had first blasted his harbour into shape, then built his hotels and pleasure-palaces, and then leased them to dependants of his who knew the right sort of people, and who knew that it was as much as their lease was worth to find accommodation for teetotal amateur photographers or wistful wandering Sunday-school treats. As, unfortunately, the Queen's highway ran down in tortuous descent to the handful of fishermen's cottages that had clung there limpet-like for ages, there was always a chance of such a stray visitation; but it was remote, and the whole place, hand and heart, was in the pocket of my lord.

So much to give the reader some idea of the secret watering-place of Yellowsands, situated at the mouth of that romantic little torrent, the river Sly. Such further description as may be needed may be kept till we come within sight of its gilded roofs and marble terraces.

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