Hush Now, Don't You Cry (Molly Murphy, #11)
October 8, 1903
“We should not have come here!” I shouted over the howl of the wind. Rain swept in great squalls off the ocean, snatching the words from my mouth. It was not a night to be standing on a clifftop in complete darkness. Our umbrella had given up the unequal struggle with the storm on the way from the station and now lay in a rubbish bin, its ribs sticking out like a large dead spider. Daniel had deposited it there despite my protests, stating that it was past all hope of repair.
It was a long walk from the station and not one that should have been attempted on a stormy night. But we had little choice. The directions we had been given were for a delightful afternoon stroll along a cliff path, with blue ocean below us. We had not anticipated that Daniel would be delayed with a last minute problem at headquarters and that what the locals called a nor’easter would arrive at the same time as ourselves.
After changing trains in Providence, then again to a branch line in Kingston, we finally pulled into Newport station, at almost ten o’clock. There was not a hansom cab or any kind of conveyance to be found. The town appeared to be battened down in anticipation of the coming storm. We’d set off bravely enough under Daniel’s big umbrella but once out of the town center, heading toward the clifftop footpath the full force of the wind had turned the umbrella inside out and ripped it to shreds in minutes.
“Damn and blast it,” Daniel had muttered, no longer apologizing if he swore in my presence now that I was married to him. “We should have waited for the morning. I should not have listened to you.”
“What, and missed a whole day of our honeymoon?” I demanded as I struggled to take off my new hat. It was a jaunty little concoction piled high with ribbons and lace and I certainly didn’t want to lose it over the cliff. I stuffed it into my carpetbag, probably not doing it much good in the process but at least preventing it from sailing off into the ocean. “Cheer up. I’m sure it can’t be far. Newport is only a small seaside town, isn’t it? Just a few cottages, I was told.”
Daniel had to chuckle at this and put an arm around my shoulders. “You wait until daylight and then you’ll see the extent of the cottages.”
In my mind’s eye I pictured a long road like the one leading into Westport in Ireland, with simple whitewashed cottages stretching along the side of the road facing the sea. It would be nice to be spending my honeymoon in a place that reminded me of home, I had thought when Daniel told me of this opportunity.
The walk turned from an annoyance into a frightening experience. We tried to follow a dark little street called Cliff Avenue, but it ended in a pair of high, locked gates, forcing us back to our original route along the cliff—not what we would have chosen on a dark night. No lights shone out through the storm and we could hear the pounding waves crashing onto rocks below us. That cliff path seemed to go on forever and even I began to doubt the sense of wanting to reach our cottage tonight. Luckily the wind was blowing in from the ocean or I should have worried about being swept over that unseen cliff edge to our deaths.
“Are you sure this is the right way?” I shouted, grabbing on to Daniel’s arm. “Are there no roads in this place? Is this cottage not on a proper street?”
“Obviously,” Daniel said tersely. “But it never occurred to me to ask for foul weather directions. I assumed there would be a cab if we needed one.”
I peered into the blackness. “There are no lights. We can’t be near any cottages. Surely the whole population of Newport doesn’t go to bed by nine o’clock?”
“It’s October. None of the cottages are likely to be inhabited at this time of year,” Daniel shouted back. “They are only used in the summer.”
The thought of being the only people in a remote seaside village had seemed desirable when Daniel had presented it to me, our original honeymoon plans having fallen through when Daniel was summoned back to work two days after our wedding. I had borne this with remarkable patience for once, understanding that this was to be the lot of a policeman’s wife. I think Daniel had been impressed by my stoicism and had promised me that we would escape from the city as soon as his work permitted. So when the offer of a seaside cottage had come up, he’d jumped at it. Of course October was a little late in the year for beaches and bathing, but we had other activities in mind anyway. And this part of the country often experienced what they called an Indian summer, with glorious sunny days and glowing fall colors. Just not this year, it appeared.