by Joseph Hocking
[Frontispiece: She lifted her skinny arm above her head.]
Author of All Men are Liars The Scarlet Woman
A Flame of Fire etc. etc.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY GUNNING KING
WARD LOCK &CO LIMITED
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
MARCH OF EVENTS
CHAPTER IV. THE
WRECK ON THE
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. LINK
CHAPTER VII. THE
THE BEGINNING OF
CHAPTER X. THE
CHAPTER XI. THE
CALL TO RENOUNCE
CHAPTER XIII. A
CHAPTER XIV. “A
HOME ON THE
CHAPTER XV. THE
VOICE OF THE
AFTER LONG YEARS
“VISIT HER TOMB”
CHAPTER XXI. THE
VAULT UNDER THE
THE VOICE OF THE
THE SHADOW OF
CHAPTER XXV. THE
VOICE OF A
THE VOICE OF GOD
WITHIN THE OLD
MOTHER AND SON
CHAPTER XXX. THE
TRAIL OF THE
CHAPTER XXXI. TO
THE DAWNING OF
When visiting my native county some time since, I was struck with
the modern, up-to-date, aspect of men and things. In this respect
Cornwall has much changed even during the twenty years since I left it.
The quiet, old-world feeling which I can remember has gone, and instead
there is a spirit of eagerness, almost amounting to rush. I discovered,
too, that the old stories, dear to me, are forgotten. All the old
superstitions have passed away. I remember asking a man whether there
were any witches or ghosts in his vicinity. Look, he said, in reply,
pointing at a telegraph post, they things 'ave destroyed boath witches
and ghoasts. And yet, less than four decades ago, when I was a child,
ghosts, witches, charms, omens, and the like were firmly believed in.
Perhaps the most vivid remembrance I have of my childhood's days, are
those connected with the weird stories of the supernatural which my
mother used to tell us, as I with my brothers and sisters sat around a
roaring fire on winter evenings. I called to mind, too, the haunted
places, which I feared to pass after dark; but on inquiring of the new
generation concerning these same places, I found an utter ignorance of
their old-time reputation. Old Tommy Dain, the famous wizard, is
forgotten, while Betsey Flew, she who could blight corn, cause milk to
turn sour, and ill-wish all but the eldest son of a family, has no part
in the life of the present generation. And yet I remember wearing, for
months, a charm which old Betsey had prepared for me, with what result
I cannot tell, save that I never had the disease from which the charm
was to save me. As for curing warts, crooked legs, weak backs, and
other ailments by the means used in the good old dayswell, they are
utterly forgotten. In short, Cornwall, which even in my boyish days was
the very Mecca of Folklore and superstition, has been completely
changed. The spirit of modernity is everywhere, and thus the old West
Country has gone, and a new West Country has taken its place.
Whether this has been an unmixed blessing, or not, I have grave
doubts; anyhow, the Cornwall I love to think about is the Cornwall of
my boyhood, when apparitions from the spirit-land were common, when
omens and charms were firmly believed in, and when the village parson
had power to lay a ghost, by reading the burial service a second time
over a grave, and taking great care to turn the prayer-book
Much of the story which is here offered to the public was written
some years ago, when the memory of the old time was more vivid than it
is now; and although it has been re-written, I trust I have retained in
its pages something of the atmosphere of mystery and romance for which
my native county was once so famous. Indeed, the prologue, while not
absolutely true to fact, is true in spirit. The story is not mine at
all, but was told me long years ago by those who were old when I was
but a boy, and who had no doubt of the truth of what they related. I am
afraid I have not pieced their somewhat confused narratives together
very well, although one told me by an old dame with wild eyes, and a
strong love for a bit ov bacca, which is reproduced in the chapter
entitled The Vault under the Communion, haunts me even yet.
The New Year, 1905.
The following story came to my knowledge under somewhat curious
I had gone to Cornwall, my native county, to spend my summer
vacation, and there met with an old college chum, who asked me to
accompany him on a walking tour.
Where? I asked.
Let us do the Cornish coast, he replied, it is the finest and
most rugged coast in England. The scenery around is magnificent; there
are numberless old legends told about many of the places we shall see;
and I know that legends have always had a great attraction for you.
I must confess to a weakness for anything romantic, and was
attracted by the proposal. Accordingly, we journeyed by train and coach
to the most northern watering-place on the eastern coast of Cornwall,
viz., Bude, and commenced our journey southward.
As this personal reminiscence is only written to tell how I came by
the remarkable history which follows, I shall say nothing of our
journey that has not a direct bearing on that history.
We had been walking some days, I need not say how many, when we saw,
standing on a rough headland, and yet some little distance from the
sea, an old house. It caught my attention the moment I first glanced at
it. Grey and lonely, it looked the residence of some misanthrope or
hermit, and its tower and battlements gave it the appearance of some
That's a strange looking old place, Will, I said to my companion.
It is, indeed, he replied. It looks in good repair, too. I wonder
if it's inhabited?
The best way to know is to go and see, I replied, and accordingly
we bent our steps thither.
As we drew nearer we saw a hollow, which looked as though it had
been scooped out by some giant's spade. In it were built two or three
cottages, and by the fact of there being some tumbled-down houses near,
we came to the conclusion that at one time a little village must have
What in the world have people to do or live for here? said Will.
We are five miles from any place that can be called a town, and
there's scarcely a house near. Everything is as weird and lonely as the
wilderness of Judea.
I expect they live on the fish they catch, and the produce of their
little farms, I said; but come, there's a man yonder, we'll question
Accordingly we hailed him and he waited, evidently with some degree
of curiosity, until we came up.
What's the name of this place? asked Will.
Trewinion, was the reply.
Trewinion? Is it in the parish of Trewinion?
Is there a parish church anywhere near?
There, pointing southward.
We saw a little grey tower about half a mile away, evidently a part
of the building after which we had been inquiring.
Are there any houses there? we asked.
Whose are they?
Passon Teague's, Muster Yelland's, Bill Treloar's, Tom Williams's,
and Jack Jory's.
And what's the name of yonder place? asked Will, pointing to the
old house we had seen on the great headland.
The man looked at us curiously, and then replied:
It looks old, I said. Is it?
Ould's Mathusla, was the brief reply.
Who lives there?
Th' oull Sir Nick.
Sir Nick is the term usually applied by the Cornish people to his
Satanic Majesty. Scenting a story I eagerly inquired what he meant.
Well, he d' live there, was the reply.
And what does he do?
The man shook his head gravely. Nobody knows but hisself, was the
But does the devil live there alone? asked Will.
The man looked at us again, as though he wondered who we were.
Who be you? he said.
We are simply out for a holiday, I replied, and, as we were
walking along, we saw that old place, and wondering what it was, and to
whom it belonged, we thought we'd ask.
Then you be'ant no friend or 'lation to un up there? he said.
Nor you wa'ant say nothin' to un ef I tell 'ee?
Not a word.
Well, then, ould Squire Trewinion do live there.
The man shook his head.
Two ould servants, he said, solemnly.
Is there anything strange about him? I asked.
Shud think ther es, he replied.
What! Why he've sold hisself to tho'ull Sir Nick, who do stick to
un like a limpet to a rock.
As this mediaeval belief has scarcely died away among the Cornish
people, I attached no importance to it, but asked in a jocular way for
what he had sold himself.
Nobody knows, the man replied, but he hev sould hisself, and now
he do never come out to shaw hisself nor nothin'. He wa'ant speak to
nobody, and is as ugly as sin.
Are these Trewinions important people? asked Will.
'Portant! said the man, sh'd think they be; why oal the land
round do belong to un, and I've heerd my faather say as 'ow in th' ould
days it was the grandest plaace in oal Cornwall; but nowmmm!
Now, what? I asked.
Hunted! Haunted, I suppose you mean. By what?
Ghoasts and evil sperrits, as well as with th' oull Sir Nick.
Do you ever go up there?
No; I kip away in the daytime, and as fur goin' ther after dark, I
wouldn't for a crock of gould.
We asked the man many more questions, but could get nothing much
further from him. All I could gather was that the Trewinions had been a
great people, but had fallen on evil days as the result of their own
sinning, and that the present representative of the family was a
recluse, living alone in the old Manor House, and that many curious
stories were told about him.
Well, said Will to me, I think we've heard enough; let us get
away from this outlandish place.
Not until I've inquired at the place itself, I replied.
You are mad, said he. Evidently this old man is some strange
creature, who prefers living alone, and will no doubt think it a piece
of impudence on our part if we call. Perhaps he will set the dogs after
Nevertheless, I'm going, I replied. If you like to remain behind,
you may do so; but I want to know the truth of this. I suspect a good
Oh, well, if you will be foolish, I'll go, said Will, but
remember we have to walk twelve miles before we get to our
I did not reply, but went away in the direction of Trewinion Manor,
while Will, grumbling, came on behind.
As we ascended the hill the view became wondrously grand. At least
fifteen miles of coast were to be seen, with great rugged cliffs,
hundreds of feet high, while huge rocks stood out in the sea as if
inviting the fury of the waves as they broke upon them. In winter it
must be almost terrible to live there, but now it was beautiful beyond
compare. We found, too, that the old house was somewhat sheltered, on
the one hand by the great headland which rose higher as it neared the
sea, and on the other by a thick, lofty wall. Besides this, a hill
which rose up landward broke the force of the wind, so that it was not
so exposed as I had at first thought.
There was no way of entering the grounds save by a door that was
locked. It was thick and heavy, made of oak, and iron studded.
Evidently those within are determined to keep out intruders, I
said, as I saw the grim forbidding wall.
I should think so, replied Will. Now let's go on, for it's only
waste of time to stay here.
My love for the mysterious, however, was too strong to allow Will's
words to have due effect, and seeing a breach in the wall I climbed it.
I found that this enclosure had so far sheltered the grounds of the
house that a quantity of vegetation of various kinds had grown there,
and although the place was now in a very neglected condition, it must
in past years have provided for a great household. The house looked
extremely lonely, and no soul was to be seen. I confess I was taken a
little aback at this. To gain admittance did not seem either as
pleasant or as easy as at first sight. I did not like to shout. The
silence of the place, only broken by the sobbing of the waves, hundreds
of feet below, forbade it, while to knock at the old iron-studded door
was equally unseemly.
Yet I did not like to go away. My curiosity continued to increase,
so I came down from the wall and began to examine the door. To my
delight I saw fastened to a great gray rock, on which the door was
partly hung, a piece of iron at the end of a chain.
Evidently this was in some way a means of communication with the
house. I seized, and pulled it.
No sooner had I done so than I heard the clanging of a bell away up
in the old house.
There, I said to Will, who had kept on protesting, perhaps that
is like the bells in the old monasteries; it will frighten away all
Will grumbled about my having plenty of cheek, while I waited,
somewhat anxiously, I confess, for an answer.
Presently I heard a murmur of voices within, and then the
withdrawing of bolts. After a few seconds the door turned on its rusty
hinges and revealed two men both about fifty years of age.
What do you want? asked one sternly.
I want to see Squire Trewinion, I replied boldly. I felt it would
be of no use hesitating, and although I had no earthly business there I
determined to get admittance.
Why do you wish to see him? was the next question.
I will answer that to Mr. Trewinion himself, I said.
Your names, then?
They are unknown to you, I replied, and my telling them could
serve no purpose. Lead the way to your master.
They looked at us suspiciously; but seeing two young men, well
dressed and with plenty of assurance, they seemed inclined to let us
in. Consequently a minute after we stood within the walls that
surrounded this place of evil repute, the door being carefully locked
The two men, evidently servants, led the way up an unused road, by
which we reached the tower entrance. Neither spoke a word.
On coming close to Trewinion Manor we found that it was built of
granite, and had evidently been standing for hundreds of years. The
stones of the doorways were curiously carved, and even the exterior of
the place looked as though it contained a hundred secrets. It was
large, too, and must at some time have been the home of people of
The view was wonderful. In front of us stretched the mighty
Atlantic, whose murmuring song told of the peaceful waves that now
splashed on the shore. I had seen the Atlantic in a tempest, however,
and so could easily fancy what a sight there must be when the waters
beneath were lashed into fury by great storm clouds.
Arrived at the door, our guides stopped.
We can show you no further without permission, said the spokesman.
I will tell the master you are here, and see if he will receive you.
Accordingly he went away, while the other stood at some little
distance watching us.
I've caught your mystery fever, said Will. I'm longing to get
inside now; but what excuse are you going to make for intruding?
I've settled that, I replied. Our visit is an ordinary one, and I
shall tell no lies.
I had scarcely spoken when the man returned, telling us to follow
him, as his master would see us.
A minute later we stood within the silent walls of Trewinion Manor.
There was a cold vault-like atmosphere within the place, and as we
went along the dark corridors, every footstep sounding on the granite
floor and echoing through the great empty house, I felt like
Outside the sun was shining and the west wind blowing, making
everything bright and glad; but within all was cold and forbidding.
Still we followed the man curiously, and I must confess I felt my
heart beat loudly against my ribs as he knocked at a dark, forbidding
looking door. I do not think I am usually nervous, but on this occasion
I was getting excited.
The knock was followed by a response.
Come in, said a voice.
The old servant opened the door, and ushered us into a room that was
on every side lined with books. There were thousands of volumes on the
shelves. Some I saw were old and scarce, and exceedingly valuable.
Others again were new and well bound. I gave them but little attention
at the time, however, for my mind was drawn towards the lonely occupant
of the room, the master of the house.
He looked about sixty years of age, but was large-boned, tall, and
vigorous. His hair was iron grey, but had evidently been black. His
eyes were black, and his great rugged forehead was fringed with bushy
eyebrows, which gave him a somewhat fierce appearance. His nose was
large, his mouth was large, and his chin, too, was large, square, and
determined. He was no ordinary man. There was the stamp of unusual
power upon him. He was no trifler, and yet beneath his look of
determination and energy something was lacking. He seemed as though his
determination needed to be roused, his energy to be stimulated. Yet I
could see nothing in his appearance which justified the opinions we had
heard expressed about him, nor could I discover anything which
suggested a misanthrope.
He placed chairs for us both, and then politely asked what he could
do to serve us. He had a strong, deep, somewhat musical voice, and had
I not been otherwise informed, I should have regarded him as one who
often entertained visitors, so free from restraint did he seem.
I hope you will excuse us for calling, I said, but my story must
explain my rudeness. I follow literature as a profession, and have for
some months been engaged on a work dealing with the legends and
superstitious beliefs of Cornwall. I am, however, enjoying my vacation
now, and my friend and I are on a walking tour along the coast. Seeing
this old grey mansion, and thinking there might be some story in
connexion with its early days, I have taken the liberty of calling.
He looked at me curiously, as though he suspected me of some
sinister motive, and his black eyes glittered.
Have you heard anything which would lead you to think this house
had a story? or have you come here out of pure speculation? he said,
I suspected there must be legends about a house as old as this, I
replied, and a man we met some distance from here told us
You need not go further, he said, grimly, I know all the stories
that are afloat among the people who live within a few miles of the
place. You have heard that I have sold myself to the devil, and that
the house is haunted by evil spirits?
I did not reply.
You are bold fellows to come here, he continued, for I am
reported to have wonderful powers, being able to call to my aid the
might of the king of darkness. But I do not know your names and so
cannot talk freely with you.
I told him our names.
I know you both by reputation, he said. You, turning to Will,
are a barrister, and bidding fair to donning silk, while you, turning
to me, are making your name known as a novelist.
I have read your books, he continued; andwellhe stopped and
mused a minute, and then, pointing to the bookshelves, continuedI
get nearly everything. Science, religion, history, travel, poetry,
romance, I see them all. That's how I know your names and professions.
I send one of my servants to Plymouth every month, and thus I get all I
We soon fell to talking about books, and I found that intellectually
this Squire Trewinion was a man of more than ordinary power. We had not
conversed long however, before I saw a great change come over him. He
seemed possessed by some nervous dread, and was evidently anxious to
drop the subject of books.
Seeing this, I turned the conversation to the old house in which we
stood, and asked him the year of its erection.
It dates from the time of Charles II, he said, and is, perhaps,
the best built house in the whole county. And it had need to be so, for
the storms which sometimes beat upon us are terrific.
Are there any stories or legends about it? I said, laughingly.
He looked at me as though he would read my heart's inmost secrets,
and then burst out:
Yes, there are stories, there are legends, there are mysteries, and
they are true.
I thought at first that he was joking, but he continued:
Yes, there is truth in the wildest story afloat, not perhaps in the
exact way that the ignorant clowns think; but, sir
He stopped again for a second, as if making up his mind upon some
point. Evidently, his lonely mode of living caused him to act
differently from the conventional society man.
We Trewinions are an old race, sir, and some of my ancestors have
been very violent, he continued.
That is not to be wondered at, I replied. Life here, a century
ago, must have been far different from the life of to-day, while
earlier still, when smugglers sought the caves around, and pirates
sailed the seas, it must have been almost impossible for anyone to live
in such a neighbourhood as this without leading a strange life.
You are interested in mysterious stories and legends, are you not?
I told him that I had almost a passion for the supernatural, the
mysterious, and the occult.
He looked at me again, long and steadily.
I have read some things you have written, he said at length. You
dabbled a little in the mysterious in them; but I have in my possession
Again he stopped, and I begged him to go on, for I felt he had
something of importance to tell me.
You said you were writing a book on the superstitions and legends
of Cornwall, he said, and were anxious to collect anything that might
be of interest.
I told him that this was so.
At this he went to the window and looked out over the blue expanse
of the sea, after which he turned towards me, and looked steadily into
I have a strange impulse on me, he said.
I made no answer to his words, but frankly met his gaze.
You are an utter stranger to me in one way, he went on, but both
your personal appearance and your writings suggest that you and I have
much in common. Besides, great God! although I live the life of a
hermit, I long at times for the companionship of a kindred soul.
I was still silent, deeming that this was the best means of
obtaining his confidence.
It seems like pure madness, he said at length, but, look here,
would you care to look at a manuscript, which not only contains
suggestions of one-time superstitions and customs, but something of the
history of an old Cornish family?
I should be more than delighted to see it, was my reply.
For a moment he muttered as if to himself, then, like a man taking a
great resolution, he turned to a large safe and unlocked it. His hand
trembled as he did so, as though he were afraid.
I have only read the manuscript once, he said, and I have not
seen it for twenty years. I tremble as I look for it now. You will know
why when you have read it.
He took from the safe a large parcel, wrapped in paper, on which
were written the following words:
May the Lord have mercy upon me a miserable sinner.
Roger Trewinion was my grandfather, said he, as he saw me looking
at the name. My father was called RogerI am called Rogerthe last
of my race. Ifahifbut I daren't think of that.
And may I read these confessions? I asked eagerly, for I longed to
get away alone and commence them.
Yes, I am going to let you. How I dare trust you with them I don't
know, except that I've read one or two of your books, and, well I am a
man of strong impulses. It is characteristic of my race. Besides, I
feel like trusting you.
After you've read it, he continued, you will know why I live here
as I do; you will understand something of the web of mystery that is
woven about this place. You will see the curse that rests upon my
Curse? I said questioningly.
When you have finished with it, he went on, without heeding my
words, bring the old manuscript back, and I will lock it up again.
Much as I wish it had never been written, or rather, the deeds it
recalls had never been done, I would not like to lose it now, for it
possesses a strange fascination for me.
We stayed an hour longer at Trewinion Manor, not liking to decline
the hospitality which was proffered us. But I was anxious to be alone.
The story of the grandfather of the present owner of this strange place
was of paramount interest to me, and so, after many promises, many
questions and many requests, I hastened away with my precious burden
under my arm.
I remember nothing of the journey along the coast that day, except
that I was constantly hurrying Will along so that we might more quickly
reach the watering-place where our luggage had been sent, and where we
had engaged rooms.
Arrived there I went immediately to the apartment allotted to me,
where I left the Confessions. After a hasty meal, I ordered candles
and returned to my room to read, while Will went out to see the town.
I read on all the night, nor did I cease until I had finished the
manuscript which Roger Trewinion had placed in my hands.
It is not now my purpose to tell you my impressions concerning it.
The fact that the story therein told follows this chapter bears witness
to the interest I found in it. Whether it will prove equally
interesting to the reader is not for me to say.
I have now told how I came by these confessions of Roger Trewinion,
so I need write little more concerning them.
Let it be understood, however, that my only share in the story is
that of editor and reviser. Much of it had to be re-written and much of
the dialect transposed into ordinary English. Still, the history stands
practically as I found it, and, wherever I have re-written or revised,
I have endeavoured to retain the spirit in which Roger Trewinion
Of the belief and deeds of the writer, I may have a few words to say
by and bye; but my only duty at present is to lay before you the
history he wrote at a time when strange deeds were done in this western
county, and when its people were influenced and bound by strange and
sometimes cruel superstitions.
THE END OF PROLOGUE.
CHAPTER I. THE PROPHETIC WARNING
And the boys grew, and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the
field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved
Esau; but Rebekah loved Jacob.
What I, Roger Trewinion, am about to write is true. I tell what I
have seen, and heard, and have been.
I was born in the year of our Lord, 1750. I am now sixty years of
My family is an ancient one; not that I boast of it, for families
reckon as little when the terrible realities of life press heavily upon
us. Still, in mentioning the fact that my family is ancient and
honourable, I do not do so without a purpose. Events will show that it
matters not much what name we bear if the man within us be not strong
to resist temptation.
Our family included, besides myself, one son and two daughters. The
son, my brother, was called Wilfred, my two sisters, Katherine and
Elizabeth. I am the elder son, and am called Roger after my father.
Wilfred was born two years after me. Katherine and Elizabeth were
respectively four and six years younger than myself.
People always said I was a true son of my father. From my childhood
I was big, strong, and daring. I must add, too, that I was passionate
and revengeful. My brother was neither so tall nor so daring as I; but
he was, nevertheless, exceedingly strong and wiry, and although, being
the older, I was the stronger of the two, I often had difficulty in
proving myself the master. Especially was this seen when we used to
wrestle on the soft, spongy grass that grows on the headland. I could
lift him from the ground and throw him over my head, such was my
advantage in weight and strength. Yet so cunning was he, and so agile,
that he would cling around me, and twine his limbs around mine, so that
I had to be very careful or I should have been disgraced by being
Our dispositions, too, were different. I was noisy, boisterous,
passionate and outspoken. Wilfred was quiet and thoughtful. I often did
deeds without thinking; but not so Wilfred; he weighed and considered
both his words and actions. Consequently I was ever getting into
scrapes, but Wilfred seldom or never.
I was my father's favourite. I was a sturdy young dog, he said, just
like the rest of the Trewinion race, and would be an honour to my name.
Wilfred, on the other hand, received but little notice from my father,
but was the darling of my mother's heart. My father saw little or no
fault in me and saw plenty in Wilfred. My mother saw only perfection in
Wilfred and only imperfections in me. This, I am afraid, raised a
barrier between my mother and my father, for which I was then, and am
now, truly sorry.
In spite of these differences I loved Wilfred very much. Was he not
my brother? were we not born in the same room? did not the same mother
suckle us? and did we not both bear the name of Trewinion? Wilfred,
however, did not love me so much. I think it was because he was a
little jealous of me. The jealousy came about in this way.
Maidens love strength and daring; and as I was able to do for my
sisters many thing which Wilfred was unable to dosuch as scaling the
cliffs for rare plants, getting precious stones, and so forthI was
more beloved by them than Wilfred was. Thus, as he saw Katherine and
Elizabeth ever clinging to me, and avoiding him, he would look darkly
at me, and go with his sorrows to our mother, who, in her kindness of
heart, would give him comfort and sometimes indulgences which I do not
think were always good for him.
Still, we were fairly good friends, and sometimes after I had fought
a boy for teasing him, we would be quite happy together.
I am writing these things now because I think they have a bearing on
some of the events that happened in my after life.
We were educated at the vicarage of Trewinion by the vicar, the Rev.
Thomas Polperrow. The living of Trewinion was only worth about £100 per
annum, and so Mr. Polperrow was glad to augment his salary by taking
pupils. There were eight boys besides ourselves, who came from places
some three or four miles around; so we were able to have right merry
I was not a very good scholar. I found it difficult to apply myself
to any task; Wilfred, on the other hand, was the best pupil the vicar
had. At twelve years of age he was quite a Latin scholar and was great
at Euclid, and mathematics generally. This was exactly as it ought to
be, my father said, for Wilfred was to be a clergyman, and when Mr.
Polperrow died could be installed into the living. But although Wilfred
had the advantage as far as scholarship went, I had the advantage of
him in other ways. To save my life I could not conjugate a Latin verb;
but I knew every creek and cove on our rockbound coast; and had gone
into every cave that honeycombed the cliffs. This was considered
exceedingly daring on my part, by those who believed, as many did, that
these caves were the nocturnal homes of witches and dark spirits of the
dead. It was true that I did not go after dark, for the sobbing waters
of the sea wailed and made terrible noises as they swept into the caves
at night time, and it was then that I used to hear strange cries as I
stood on the top of the cliffs and listened.
I had no doubt then, nor do I doubt now, that spirits from the
invisible world do appear in such places, and what I have to relate
will fully bear out my belief. Mr. Polperrow, the vicar, has proved on
many occasions that the belief in spirits appearing on earth is
I had reached the age of fifteen when my father came to me as I
rambled about the great headland on which our house is built.
This is your birthday, Roger, he said.
Yes, father, I replied. Thank you for the new pony. I have just
ridden over to Rosecarrow to see Tom Tremain. He goes like the wind.
Ay, I saw you ride away. You have a firm seat, Roger. I am glad to
see you ride so well.
Well, I ought to ride well, father, for you taught me, I replied.
Let's see, you are fifteen to-day, Roger, are you not?
Yes, fifteen to-day.
What a big lad you are. What weight are you?
Nearly eight score pounds, father, I replied.
So much, eh? Well, well, the Trewinions are a big race. I weighed
as much when I was your age.
And see what a big man you are now.
My father did not reply for a minute; then he said slowly
Roger, my boy, when I was fifteen my father took me into the
library and read to me something which closely affected my welfare.
There is no knowing how long I may live, and I think that what was read
to me then should be read to you now, for it applies to all the
Trewinion heirs. Come with me.
I followed my father into the house, and we entered the library
Ours is a curious race, Roger, my father began. Our name began
strangely. God grant that it may not end with you.
I hope it may not, father.
Cherish the hope, my lad, for the last son of the Trewinions will
die a terrible death, haunted by evil spirits.
The Trewinion race sprang from the Trevanions, he went on. The
mother of our people was a Trevanion, and she, while but a child in
yearsfor she was scarcely seventeenmarried a nameless nobody, who,
fearing the wrath of her brothers, ran away like a coward as soon as
their wedding was found out. When it was known that she was going to be
a mother, Lord Trevanion built a house and sent her here with a nurse,
blessed with the gift of second sight. When the child was borna
sonthe nurse, who was held in great respect by the family, sent for
Lord Trevanion, who came, wondering at her message. Then she told him
that many things had been revealed to her on the night of the child's
birth, which she thought he ought to know.
On being asked what she meant, she replied that messengers from the
spirit land had revealed to her that the boy was to be called Roger
Trewinion, and that he was to have certain lands in that neighbourhood,
then owned by Lord Trevanion.
So much was he moved by the nurse's story that this manor house was
built, and the lands now belonging to it were handed over to this
child. And thus, Roger, your name and mine began to be, and thus we own
the lands belonging to Trewinion Manor.
And what became of the mother of this child, father? I asked
She lived many years with her son; lived with him, indeed, until
He married a lady belonging to the Penwardle family, one of the
best families in the county.
And so our race has lived here ever since?
Ever since. They dare not leave it. If, for six months at a time,
the master of the family, or the son and heir, live away from this
place, built at the command of Heaven, he brings a curse on the race of
Trewinion which shall last unto the third generation.
I felt very grave, for this was strange news to me. In my young,
careless life I had not troubled to ask the history of my family.
There are many things I have to say on another occasion, said my
father, but most of them can wait. One thing, however, I must tell
you. The nurse who was with the first Trewinion at his birth lived
until he was blessed with a son, then, according to the records of the
house of Trevanion, she uttered these words:
My father here took a piece of paper from a strong box and began to
Trewinion's land so rich and free,
Stretching out against the sea,
So Trewinion's name shall stand,
Like the rocks which on the sand
Defy the angry breakers' power,
While Trewinion's heir is pure.
And so Trewinion's heir and pride
A power shall be in the country side.
And his enemies one and all
Shall for ever droop and fall.
This refers to us, father, does it not? I said.
It refers to me and to you; and if God gives you children it refers
to your eldest son and to his eldest son. But I have not read all yet,
Roger, my son. Pay good heed to what follows next.
But let Trewinion's heir observe
Never from the right to swerve,
If from God's pure laws he stray
Trewinion's power shall die away;
His glory given to another;
And he be crushed by younger brother.
Then his son, though born the first,
By the people shall be cursed.
And for generations three
Trewinion's name shall cursed be,
Trewinion's heir must never hate,
Never from this law abate.
Trewinion's son must e'er forgive
Or 'twill be a curse to live.
If he take unlawful ways,
Dark, indeed, shall be his days.
His loved one taken by his brother,
His power given to another,
Who will surely seal his doom,
Unless he claim the powers of wrong.
The course cannot be turned aside
While evil feeling doth abide.
Let these words be ever read,
Ere Trewinion's lord be dead,
To the true and lawful heir,
And so Trewinion's blessings share.
It seems very curious, father, I said, when he had finished. It
is poor poetry, and has little or no meaning.
I will say nothing about the poetry, replied my father; no doubt
it seems to you poor, silly doggerel; but I have no doubt of this,
Roger, your interest and mine lie in abiding by what it says.
But it seems so vague, father, I urged.
Not so vague, Roger. Your grandfather took to unlawful ways. He
kept a smuggling vessel, which in some cases ought to have carried a
black flag, and the maiden he loved was given to another, who died of a
broken heart. For twenty years my father's life was a curse. His mind
was filled with the most horrible fancies. Dark dreams haunted his
pillow, and then, although he married my mother, he was until the day
of his death harassed by difficulties and crushed by oppressors.
And did he die happy, father?
My father looked very strange as I asked this question, and for a
moment did not reply. Then he said, slowly:
Roger, my boy, I was with him at the last, and never shall I forget
the scene. It was as if a terrible dread rested upon him; and he seemed
to feel an awful presence in the room.
'Can I do anything for you, father?' I asked.
'Send for the parson, Roger,' said he, 'and let him give me rest,
or the curse that rests on me will rest on you.'
It was midnight, and no one would dare to go, so I rode away alone
to the vicarage. It was an awful ride. The powers of darkness seemed to
know my object, for the elements were against me and I heard terrible
howling along the sea coast; but I feared lest the curse of the
Trewinions should fall upon me. The vicar was afraid to come when I
told him about my father; but I threatened to drag him thither by the
hair of the head if he refused. At length I got him to ride in front of
me, and we came to my father.
Ah, Roger, his cries were fearful! 'Take away Trewinion's curse!'
he screamed, and he looked as though he saw angry spirits around him.
The parson prayed, and, in the name of One above, commanded all
evil to depart; but for a long time no ease came. Then there was a
noise outsidethree raps against the window, as though a bird had
flown up against it. The moment after the light in the room changed.
'Do you forgive everyone?' said the vicar.
'No,' said my father, 'I can never forgive the man who stole from
me the woman I loved.'
'But,' said the vicar. 'Trewinion's curse cannot be removed while
unforgiveness is in your heart.'
My father looked at the blue light on the table, and then said,
'I'll try and say the Lord's Prayer.' He went steadily until he came to
the words, 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass
'I can't say the words,' he groaned.
'Say them with all your heart and the curse will be taken away,'
said the vicar.
My father tried again and succeeded, and no sooner had he done so
than the light changed and a holy calm rested upon us all.
'It's gone,' said my father. 'May God bless you, Roger, and do you
never forget the Trewinion's warning.'
By this he meant the lines we have been reading.
'I will never forget, father,' I said, and soon after he died
My father left me then, placing in my hands the old nurse's lines.
For a long time I mused over what he had said, and wondered about my
grandfather's death-bed scene. Was it as my father had said? Was it
Trewinion's curse that rested upon him? I began to think of what the
vicar, my schoolmaster, had told us only the day beforethat every sin
brought a curse, brought misery, brought remorse, and while sin or
unforgiveness was cherished in our hearts we could not realise
happiness or forgiveness. Was this the case with my grandfather, or was
my father's belief right?
The interview made a deep impression upon me, however, and a great
awe rested on me for days. I felt that as the heir of the Trewinions I
was surrounded by terrible powers, and I did not know whether they were
good or evil. So my young mind was fed, and so my imagination was
What was to be my future? What had the powers which took such an
interest in my race in store for me? Looking back over the years that
are gone I ask, Were the things told me superstitious fancies, or is
the Trewinion curse a reality? Remembering what has happened between
then and now, I dare not answer the question.
CHAPTER II. THE WITCH'S WARNING
Ban. The earth hath bubbles, as the water has, and these
of them. Whither are they vanished?
Macbeth. Into the air; and what seemed corporal, melted,
As a breath of wind. Would they had stayed!
Ban. Were there such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten up the root
That makes the reason prisoner?
Macbeth, Act. I, Scene 3.
Let it not be supposed that Wilfred and I ever had any quarrels, at
any rate before my fifteenth birthday. I do not remember even one.
This, however, was not my fault. Ofttimes when I was displeased I said
things which, if said to many brothers, would have provoked a quarrel;
but Wilfred apparently took no heed of my angry words; save to give me
a peculiar look, which sometimes almost made me shudder. But he never
lost his temper in return, or indulged in violent speech. This was
peculiarly trying to me, for I was passionate, and longed to give vent
to my feelings; but he would shrug his shoulders at my rage and, with a
strange smile, walk away.
Consequently, although my brother never spoke angrily to me, there
were no confidences between us. We never told each other our thoughts,
as most brothers do, and we were never companions in any escapades or
adventures. Thus I did not speak to him about the curse of the
Trewinions, nor of what my father had communicated to me about the
history of our house. Yet Wilfred seemed to know far more than I did
about everything appertaining to our people.
At first I wondered about this, but after a while I began to realise
how much my mother and Wilfred were to each other, and how often they
walked together. Besides, I often saw him in the library conning over
books that to me contained no interest whatever.
About three years after the interview with my father, that is to
say, when I was eighteen years of age and Wilfred sixteen, I had gone
out on the headland, and, in a dreamy way, was watching the sea birds
as they soared around and around, ever and anon making a dive into the
water. Up to this time I had remained a pupil of the Rev. Thomas
Polperrow, but had been told by my father that my school days were
over. He would, he said, have sent me either to Cambridge or Oxford but
for the fact that the Trewinion heir was forbidden by the laws of the
family to leave the house for six months together. In my case it did
not matter so much, as Mr. Polperrow had given me all the advantages of
his University education; and as I was not to be a man of letters like
my brother Wilfred, I had all the learning that was necessary for
filling the position of Squire of Trewinion Manor.
I was thinking of these things when my brother Wilfred came to me on
to the headland.
It's fine to be you, Roger, he said.
Because your cares are over. Your life will be one long holiday,
you will have everything you need, and will be the most important man
in the country side.
Yes, I said, and you, Wilfred, will be a great scholar. You will
be a clergyman and write books. Your name will live long after I am
dead and forgotten.
It is false, he said. My prospects are of the dreariest nature.
You will give me the living of Trewinion when Mr. Polperrow dies, and I
shall drone out my life on your bounty. Ah! The thought makes me mad.
No, don't say that, Wilfred, I replied, you will inherit the
vicarage as your right, while you know that everything I can give you I
shall. Besides, I cannot help being the eldest.
No, no, you can help nothing, Roger; but there, although I shall be
'Wilfred, the penniless' I shall go to Oxford, and perhaps something
will turn up there for me.
And even if nothing does turn up, Wilfred, and you have to bury
your talents down here, we shall still be brothers, and we shall still
have each other.
I said this because my heart was very tender towards him. I felt sad
that I should have so much and he so little; but he only looked
curiously at me, and a strange light played in his eyes.
He left me for a minute, and, walking to the very edge of the cliff,
stood watching the waves; then he came back to me again and I thought
his sadness was gone.
What a long time since we've wrestled, Roger, he said; let's have
a hitch now.
Wrestling was then, as it is to-day, the favourite sport of Cornish
youths; so I gladly took off my coat, and we began our fun. I soon saw,
however, that Wilfred did not regard it as fun. He strained every
muscle of his body in order to throw me, until I had to put forth my
whole strength. Although I was stronger and heavier than he I had not
much advantage. He was so supple and knew so many clever tricks that he
was constantly in fair way of obtaining the mastery.
The grass on which we stood was as soft as a sponge, so no harm
could befall either of us should we be thrown. At any rate, such was my
thought. So becoming a little exasperated at Wilfred's clever
strategems, I became somewhat rough, and taking him from a vantage
point I had gained I threw him down with great force.
I do not think that I hurt him very much, but as chance would have
it he fell on a rock that was concealed by the spongy turf, and when he
rose he was pale and trembling.
You do well, he said at length, to show your strength in such a
way. First you seek to throw me unfairly, and then you choose a rock by
which I could be hurt.
Nay, Wilfred, I said, I did not throw you unfairly; nor did I
know there was a rock there. They are so much hidden by the turf that
it would take a wizard to tell where they are. But I'm sorry you are
hurt; let me help you home.
He looked at me strangely again.
Help me home? he said; no, I can go without help; and I tell you
this, Roger, big as you are I'm as strong as you.
This pricked my pride. As strong as I, Wilfred, why I could throw
you over my head.
Yes, you say that now because my arm has been hurt on this rock;
but you wouldn't dare to wrestle again if I were well.
This put me into a passion. Not dare! I cried. If I daren't it
would be because I should be afraid of hurting your poor, thin body.
Name any day you like and I'll take you.
No, he said, I've had enough of you. Never mind, my turn will
I again challenged him, and said all the things I could to vex him;
but he would not reply, and giving me another of his strange looks he
went towards the house.
He had not been gone long before my temper began to cool down, and
loving my brother very much I began to blame myself a great deal. I
condemned myself for not letting him throw me. I was a coward and a
brute, I thought within myself, to hurt my younger brother, and acting
on the impulse of the moment I hurried towards the house in order to
ask his forgiveness.
I had gone about half the distance when I met an old woman who was
almost bent double with old age and rheumatism. We recognised each
other in a minute. The old woman was Deborah Teague, the terror and yet
the blessing of the whole neighbourhood. To her friends there could be
no greater comfort than Deborah. She was acquainted with medicine that
cured almost every disease save that of old age. She knew all the
healing qualities of every herb that grew in the neighbourhood. Deborah
was doctor and nurse to all the people round about. Fever, colds, ague,
rheumatics, scarlatina, jaundice, bile; Deborah could cure them all,
and a dozen diseases besides. But this was not all. What she could not
cure by her medicine she could by her charms, for with these she was
abundantly supplied. Ringworms, warts, gout, adder's stings, whooping
cough, measles, she could charm every one of them, and what was more,
no one who was a friend of Deborah's went away uncured, if a cure were
Consequently she was much thought of when her helpful qualities were
taken into consideration, but, as I said, she was feared as well as
loved, for Deborah made her enemies tremble. Not only did she possess
the power to heal, but also the power to curse. Her eye was like that
of the fabled serpent, called the basilisk, and in her anger she ever
struck terror. She could stop horses from drawing, and keep cows from
yielding their milk. For her to ill wish anyone was a sure sign that
ruin would befall them. Nor was this all. Everyone throughout the whole
countryside believed that Deborah had been seen walking along the beach
towards the haunted cove, and it was reported again and again that she
held intercourse with the powers of darkness. It was also believed that
other women, possessing similar power to hers, likewise met there, and
conversed about unlawful things.
She also had the power of telling fortunes and reading the future,
and thus nearly all the lads and girls in the district came to her at
one time or another for advice and help.
I had always been taught to be careful not to offend Deborah Teague,
for she had once nursed me through a serious illness, and looked on me
as a favourite.
No sooner had we come close together than she lifted her hand as if
to tell me to stop; then when I obeyed her gesture, she looked me
straight in the eyes.
Cain and Abel, she said, mysteriously.
No, Mrs. Teague, I replied, catching her meaning, nothing of the
Yer brother es gone to his mawther, she muttered. I axed un what
was the matter, and he said you'd took advantage and hurt un.
I accordingly told Mrs. Teague what had taken place.
No sooner had I spoken than she seized my hand, and with her bony
fingers began to draw the skin together over my joints, peering
curiously all the while.
Maaster Roger'll av to be keerful, she said.
What do you mean? I said.
Maaster Roger'll av to be keerful, she repeated, in a half
wheedling, half chuckling voice. Maaster Roger es the ouldest and the
biggest, and the strongest; but Maaster Wilfred ev got the eyes to
Oh, don't trouble, Mrs. Teague, I said; I'm going to Wilfred now,
to tell him I'm sorry I've hurt him.
And mark my words, Maaster Roger, she said, when you go, oal you
zay will be took no noatice ov, but yer mawther and Maaster Wilfred 'll
How do you know, Mrs. Teague? I said.
Know! she repeated, what do'ant I know? Tell me that!
I looked at her and was silent.
I'll tell ee, she cried, and then stopped. We musn't talk here,
she continued. Will'ee come to th'oull Debrah's house to-night,
Maaster Roger, and I'll tell ee something for yer good? No, not
to-night; but to-morrow night at nine o'clock.
I promised her I would do so, and Deborah hobbled away. As soon as
she had gone I went straight home with a heavy heart. Although I was a
full-grown man I dreaded my mother's anger, and Deborah's words rang in
my ears. Besides, I feared that Wilfred might be prejudiced against me
and not see things in their true light.
No sooner had I entered the dining-hall than I saw my mother bathing
Wilfred's head, my father looking on gravely meanwhile. Even my
father's presence could not quell my mother's anger against me.
You the elder brother! she cried. You, the heir to the
Trewinions! The name will be disgraced if you are master of the Manor.
You, a great strong monster, to punish a younger brother who is not
I tried to explain, but she would not allow me to do so, while
Wilfred looked at me with that strange expression which always appeared
on his face when he was not well pleased.
Shortly after, I went away with my father to whom I told my story.
Roger, he said, when I had finished, you must be very careful, my
lad. You will be either a blessing or a curse to your family. Future
generations will either bless your memory or they will remember your
name with loathing.
Why, I said, does so much depend on me?
Everything depends on you, Roger. You are the first-born son, and
if you turn out bad, everything will turn out bad. So, my boy, whatever
you are, or whatever you do, be truthful, be pure, and be forgiving.
God helping me, I will, father, I replied.
Some time after we all gathered together in the library, where we
usually sat in the evening. My father made it a rule to send the
servants to bed early when we had no company, so although it was only
eight o'clock and scarcely dark he had taken down the old family Bible
in order that we might hear the Scriptures and join in prayer before
retiring. My mother sat by Wilfred, her hand locked in his, while I sat
near to my father, as was the usual custom, and we waited for the
servants to come to prayers.
Instead of all coming together, only one came, and announced that
Deborah Teague had something to tell us.
Father, in spite of all the complaints against Deborah, regarded her
with much favour, and told the servant to show her in.
The old woman came in mumbling as usual. She waited for no greeting,
and took no notice of my mother's harsh look.
Maaster Trewinion, she said, lifting the forefinger of her skinny
right hand, expect!
She stood up nearly straight as she spoke, and I thought of the
Jewess prophetess whose name she bore.
Expect! she repeated. Expect a stranger and expect a storm.
What do you mean, Deborah? asked my father kindly.
Just that, she replied. I ha'ant a vollied the fortins of this
eer ous for nothin', and I say expect.
A stranger and a storm, repeated my father. The storm would be
nothing to wonder at, the weather is so changeable, but the
Es a woman, said the old crone, and a young woman. I cud
tellbut I wa'ant.
Could tell what?
Clouds, and storms, and darkness!
Come, tell us.
No, Maaster Trewinion, I be'ant zackly sure, but this I zay, git
yer booats ready to help the perishin', and it may be as ow the
stranger and the storm'll be together, like.
The old woman went away at this, while father, always heedful of
what Deborah might tell him, asked me to order some men to get the
strongest and best boats in readiness.
As I went down to the village which lies in the hollow near our
house, I remembered the curious looks that passed between my mother and
Wilfred while Deborah had been talking, and then I thought of my
promise to meet Deborah at nine o'clock the next night. I wondered
whether I ought to do so or not, and as the night gathered around I
almost shuddered at the thought of meeting her alone. Had she, I asked
myself, intercourse with evil spirits? Had she given herself to the
devil for knowledge and evil power, as it was reported she had done?
I reached the village at length and went in search of the men my
father had mentioned. There was a harbour near, and as at the time of
which I write a good number of people lived in the village, most of
whom managed to do a great deal of fishing throughout the year, a
number of boats had been built.
After telling the men to make preparations for a storm, I was about
to go back to the Manor House, when the question of Deborah Teague came
into my mind again. What had she to tell me? And ought I to listen to
what she had to say?
I could not for a long time make up my mind. On the one hand was a
great curiosity as to what she had to tell me, besides an anxiety to
please the old woman; on the other I felt sure she gained her knowledge
by unlawful means.
I decided at length. I would go to the vicar that very night. It was
not late yet, only half-past eight, and daylight had barely gone.
Surely the Rev. Thomas Polperrow would settle the matter for me. If her
power were evil he could guard me against it; if it were good, then all
It was a beautiful night. The moon was nearly full, although it was
encircled by a large misty ring, which betokened a change in the
weather; but the sea was calm and bright, and shone like glass. All
along the coast I could see the misty outlines of the cliffs, while
here and there a giant rock jutted into the water.
What was that? A wail!
Was it the night cry of a sea bird telling of the foretold storm? Or
A figure all in white stood near me!
I could not move. I was riveted to the place. Surely it was a
visitant from the spirit land!
Slowly it moved away. It went to the edge of the cliffs and
disappeared from my sight.
I was not so much surprised at this, for there was more than one
spot along the coast where those acquainted with the place could
disappear as if by magic. Still, my nerves were shaken. Perhaps some
evil was portended. I would rather have returned home, but I felt drawn
to go to the vicar. He could explain. He could tell me what I wanted to
Does anything happen in one's life without a meaning? Is the Great
Spirit of God in every event, ever trying to warn us from evil and draw
us towards good? If so, these things of which I am now writing must be
in some way connected with the after events of my life. But I shall not
try to connect them now. All I purpose to do is to write just what
happened, so that my children and my children's children may learn
lessons from my history.
I hurried on to the vicarage, therefore, and was soon admitted to
the study, I anxious to ask Mr. Polperrow's advice, he evidently
wondering what I had to say to him.
CHAPTER III. THE MARCH OF EVENTS
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.Ex. xxii. 18.
Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a
familiar spirit, that I may go to her and inquire of her. And his
servants said unto him, Behold there is a woman with a familiar spirit
at Endor.1 Sam. xxviii. 7.
Well, Roger, and what do you wish to see me about? asked Mr.
Polperrow as soon as we were comfortably seated.
I am somewhat in a dilemma, I replied. The truth is, I want to do
something which I am not sure is right, and so I have come to you about
You have done right, Roger. I hope you will always be as mindful of
your old friend. But what's the matter?
Do you think there are any witches living to-day?
Witches! Witches, why certainly, my boy; and yet I don't know
And the vicar broke off abruptly, as though he were exceedingly
doubtful about the matter.
What do you mean, Mr. Polperrow?
I mean this, Roger. There are a great many women who have been
condemned as witches when they have simply had the gift of second
sight. During the reign of the Stuarts, hundreds were put to death as
witches and wizards, and yet I am not sure, but they were innocent
people. Don't mistake me, my boy; I'm not going against the Scriptures.
I know that witches get their power from the devilthat is, real
witches; but I verily believe that a lot of women who suffered in the
time of James I were good women, who, through their goodness, obtained
knowledge unknown to the generality of people.
And ghosts, what about them?
Roger, I would rather not talk about them now. The vicar's voice
was low and husky.
I thereupon told him about my encounter with Deborah Teague and what
she had said, after which I asked him if I should go and see her.
Mr. Polperrow was some time before he answered. I am not sure, he
said, at length, that old Deborah deserves all that has been said
about her. She is a sensible old dame, and has searched out the healing
qualities of many of the plants growing around, and thus has gained her
reputation as a doctor; besides this, she has a curious way of making
the silly folk here do as she tells them; but beyond this I believe a
great deal of the talk is so much nonsense.
Then you think it would be no harm going to see her?
Roger, my boy, said the vicar, the world in which we live is full
of mystery, full of shadows. We cannot understand the occult forces
that everywhere exist, we cannot read the mystic writing which is
everywhere appearing on the lives of men. Before I went to college I
was a firm believer in many things which I have since discredited. Once
I believed in supernatural events, but since I have seen what can be
produced by purely natural and explainable means, I have begun to
doubt, and yet I cannot deny some things which the most superstitious
and ignorant believe.
Then what would you advise?
I would go and see this old woman; perhaps she knows things, not by
any supernatural means, but by keeping her eyes open.
But if she should possess evil power, Mr. Polperrow?
Read your Bible and say your prayers before you go, and in your
heart defy all that's wrong.
I went away from the vicarage with a strange feeling that my life
was surrounded by mystery, and that unseen forces were hemming me in.
What are we, after all, but the creatures of circumstance? Forces
over which we have no control make us what we are. I was born the elder
son and Wilfred the younger. I was born with a strong, healthy body,
and an impulsive, passionate nature. Wilfred was more delicate, more
thoughtful. What had we to do with the choosing of all this? Could I
help doing the things that I did? Could I resist the life-forces which
moved me, even as a mighty wave moves a ship that sails thereupon? Are
we, then, the architects of our own fate, or is our destiny fixed? Is
it man who moulds the circumstances, or circumstances that mould the
man? Who shall answer these questions? Looking back over my life I
cannot, and yet in some way I am conscious that there has been a
beneficent hand helping me, and making me strong, even stronger than
As I went home I thought the moon became dimmer, while sad, moaning
sounds were mixed with the musical splash of the waters, as they played
upon the hard sea sand. I slept well that night. No thought of the
figure in white haunted my pillow, no thought of my visit to the
village witch hindered my sleep. I was young, I was innocent, my blood
coursed joyfully through my veins, and the future looked bright, and so
I feared not.
The next day the sky was overcast. The sea looked smooth as glass,
save that now and then it gave a mighty heave, as if some terrific
monster beneath sought to lift a weight from his tired shoulders.
Sometimes we heard a moan sweeping across the waters; but we were
familiar with the sound, living as we did close to the broad Atlantic.
As evening came on the sky grew darker, while my mind became full of
the visit I was to make to old Deborah Teague. I made only a light
meal, and as soon as I was able to do so, went alone to her cottage.
It was a little tumble-down shanty, standing beneath a hillock, and
was as lonely a place as it was possible to be. Eighteen years of age
though I was, my heart beat faster as I thought of Deborah living alone
in a house that had the reputation of being haunted. What was I doing?
In spite of what the vicar had said, was it not wrong for me to hold
converse with the strange old woman?
But I would not go back; and so making straight for the little
window, through which I could see a candle dimly burning, I was soon
face to face with her.
Maaster Roger was 'fraid, said the old woman, half questioningly,
No, I said, I don't think so.
The Trewinions was never 'fraid ov th' livin', my deer, said the
old woman, but the dead, ah, the dead.
They can do me no harm, so why should I be afraid?
Ah, why! ah! ha! she giggled. But Maaster Roger es weth wawn that
can do lots ov things.
Oh, yes, lots, Deborah, I said; you can cure more diseases than
any doctor in Truro.
And more than that, Maaster Roger; but don't you be 'fraid, my
deer, I wa'ant hurt you.
No, I don't think you will; but why have you brought me here
Because I want to tell ee summin, my deer. Ah, Maaster Roger, tes
terrible fur theer to be favourites in a house.
I was silent.
They say how maaster is maaster; tedn't allays so, my deer. Missus
es maaster sometimes. They say I'm a witch, my deer, do'ant um? I read
the Bible, Maaster Roger. Iss, an ould woman like me, and theer I've
seed that Isaac loved Esau best, and 'Becca, she loved Jacob best.
Well, who got off best, my deer, hi? Iss, my deer, and they was twins,
they both had wawn mawther.
What do you mean?
I main that Maaster Roger'll have to be keerful, my deer. Ah,
theer's jillusy in curious plaaces.
I don't at all understand what you mean.
No, but you will, my deer. Do'ee mind what I zed to 'ee 'esterday
arternoon, dedn't I tell 'ee as 'ow you'd git nothin' but black looks
for all yer explainin'?
Yes, I remember.
Well, ded 'ee un. Was ould Debrah right or wrong?
You were right, Deborah; but then, I was in the wrong. I should not
have hurt him so.
The old woman chuckled as I spoke, as though I were trying to hoax
And ef you wadn't in the wrong, they'd make ee in the wrong between
Deborah, I said, you must be in the wrong. You talk as though my
mother were my enemy.
Mawther! she repeated, who zed she was yer mawther?
For a minute I did not know what to say. Was she not my mother? Of
course she was. I had ever been taught to call her mother, and my
father had ever called her his wife.
Do you know what you are talking about? I said, excitedly.
Knaw! she repeated. Knaw! Iss, and I cud tell 'ee lots ov things,
Maaster Roger, my deer.
But what do you mean by hinting that my motherthat isthatthat
she isn't my mother at all?
Why es it that she've bin allays agin 'ee, hi? Why have she allays
tried to shaw that you was in the wrong and yer brother in the right?
Why es it that your eyes es black and yer hair brown and curly, while
yer brother and sisters ev got blue eyes and yella hair, tell me that,
will 'ee, my deer?
This had never struck me before; certainly there was no likeness
between my brothers and sisters and myself.
Bbut, I stammered.
No buts, my deer, I be'ant goin' to tell 'ee nothin' more, though
ould Debrah do knaw lots ov things. There's no time, now, you've got
other things to do, and a terrible lot to go through as soon as you git
away. Hark, do 'ee 'ear that?
It was the sound of the breakers upon the rugged rocks and hard sea
sand, while the wind blew and moaned dismally.
Dedn't ould Debrah tell 'ee ov a storm? Well, tes come, and, Roger,
yer dark days es comin' on.
But what did you mean by telling me to come here to hear what I
have? I am sure of nothing.
Main! I main this. Maaster Roger'll have to bee keerful of the
woman he do call mawther. Watch her every day and watch Maaster
Wilfred, too. Hark, do 'ee 'ear that?
I heard nothing but the roar of the rising storm.
I can hear nothing but the wind, I said.
But I can, I can, she said. I can hear the screech ov the
sufferin'; oa tes wisht, terrible wisht, Maaster Roger, but tes yer
fate, my deer. I'll tell 'ee more another time, but you must go now, go
and help em, you father wants 'ee go, and be keerful of they I've tould
She pushed me out as I spoke, all the time looking around as though
she saw sights unseen by me.
You'll want oal yer strength and oal yer courage, my deer, oa tes
terrible. May Roger be protected; but oa, if 'ee saves her 'ee 'll have
Wondering at her words, I rushed out into the wild night, and had
scarcely done so before I saw a dark form rise from under the window in
the cottage, and hurry away right in the teeth of the wind. I started
and followed, but whoever he might be, he was more fleet than I. The
night was dark because of the storm, but the figure looked like that of
my brother Wilfred.
Full of conflicting thoughts, I hurried home, where I found my
father dressed as if to go out.
What's the matter, father? I asked.
There's a vessel round the point, Roger, and she's signalled for
Let me go with you. Is it a large one?
No, and I am afraid that my friend's child is in her.
Did you see that horseman this morning, Roger?
He came to tell me that an old friend was dead, and that in his
last hours he had expressed a wish that I should take care of his
Yes, father; what then?
She started to come here by boat, and should have arrived in our
little landing-place by this. Hark! that's another signal for help.
Come, Roger; where's Wilfred.
Wilfred cannot help on such a night as this, especially as his
brother hurt him so yesterday, said my mother, who had just come into
Come, let us go alone, then, Roger, said my father.
We hurried down to the little harbour, where a dozen hardy
Cornishmen were preparing to launch a boat on the angry sea.
Not gone yet, men? said my father.
No, Maaster Trewinion, and ted'n no good. We should be knocked to
pieces in two minutes, said one.
But we're goin' to have a try, said another.
It was, indeed, a dangerous undertaking. The seas were now rising up
like great hills and again falling into deep valleys. It seemed
impossible for a boat to live.
We ca'ant do no good, said the first speaker.
But they've signalled for help, said the second, and I ca'ant
As he spoke we heard a sound like a crack of a musket, which faintly
reached us above the roar of wind and wave.
We'll man the biggest boat somehow, said my father. Come here,
everyone; who will go with Roger and me?
To the honour of the brave Cornish boys, a crew was ready in a
We jumped into the boat and soon were out in the boiling surf.
Hold your oars firmly, cried my father, now, then, pull while you
may, the storm is rising every minute.
Bravely those noble lads strained and tugged; but it was terrible
work. We were tossed about as though the boat in which we sat were a
chip or a bit of cork.
For a minute no word was spoken. Every man breathed hard, and
laboured with all his strength, while my father watched, grasping the
rudder in his hand. Time after time I thought we should have been
thrown into the sea, but luckily we caught no side winds.
Presently we heard my father's deep voice:
I see her, he cried. My God, she's going straight upon the
The Devil's Tooth was one of the most dangerous rocks on the
coast. It was called devil's tooth because it was thought to possess
evil power, and because it had been the means of wrecking many vessels
as they tried to get into our harbour.
He had scarcely spoken when we heard a most awful crash. It was far
louder than the roar of the storm, and immediately afterwards we
fancied we caught the cry of people in distress.
There, it's on! Pull! cried my father, we may reach them yet. God
help and preserve us all.
Every man pulled with all his might towards the great rock with the
The great God will help us, said one solemnly.
Amen, cried the rest; but this is terrible.
Meanwhile, inch by inch, we drew nearer to the doomed vessel.
CHAPTER IV. THE WRECK ON THE DEVIL'S
At the best of times the rock called the Devil's Tooth was by no
means beautiful. It stood with five points towering into the air like
the prongs of a great tooth, and at its feet were scores of smaller
rocks, mostly hidden by the water.
Strange stories have been told about it. Some have said that on
stormy nights emissaries of Satan sit there, and lure vessels on to
destruction; but at the time I had no thought for such stories. The
terrible crash of the vessel was still echoing in my ears, and, in my
fancy, I heard above the howling of the storm the shrieks of the
We could not see much. The moon was full, but had been hidden by the
clouds. Only by the light of the storm, which was nearly darkness,
could we perceive anything. I know that my words are almost
paradoxical, but I can express my meaning in no better way. Still, our
eyes were accustomed to the darkness of a storm, and thus both my
father and I had some idea of what we were doing.
Slowly we made our way. Carefully my father sought to evade
It was terrible work. Now we were lifted on the pinnacle of a wave,
and again we sank deep in dark gulfs, until I thought we should never
rise again. But every man was strong and hardy, every man had braved a
dozen storms, and so we struggled on.
But for my father's thorough knowledge of the coast we must have
perished. With his knowledge there was hope. Suddenly we found
ourselves in comparatively smooth water and out of the beat of the
wind. We had shot into the lew (sheltered) side of the rock, and were
able for a moment to rest.
She is just around the point, said my father.
Iss, Maaster Trewinion, was the reply.
The question is, How can we get to them? said my father. If we
try to get our boat around there it means death for all of us. The only
means of saving the poor souls, if they are not all gone already, is
for us to scale the rock here and make our way to those on board. Then
they might be brought here one by one.
You see'd her break on the rock didn' 'ee, Maaster Trewinion? said
Yes, replied my father, she broke close against the long prong.
Then ef she edn't gone to pieces there may be hope, replied the
man; but who can climb up here?
Two will be enough, said my father; who'll go first?
Let me, said I.
Not yet, Roger, said my father.
Two others immediately volunteered, and started to climb, but the
rock was slippery, and there was only one way by which the top could be
They failed in their attempt.
Tie a rope round my waist, father, I cried. I've climbed it many
times and know the way.
Go, then, Roger, my boy, and may God preserve you.
It was only because of my boyish freaks that I knew the easiest way
to reach the summit of the rock. One day I had laid a wager with
Wilfred that I could climb to its summit, and so I had carefully
examined it when the tide was low, and after once climbing it, I had
often gone thither to hunt for the nests of sea-birds.
All my knowledge was necessary now. The stones were slippery as
glass, and I had to feel carefully for the jutting rocks in order to
get from one point to another. A false step, a bit of crumbling rock, a
slip of the hand would have destroyed our hopes, and perhaps have
maimed me for life, if not killed me. Providence, however, was in my
favour. After many a strain and many a struggle I reached the top.
I shall never forget the sight that met me. Even in the hour of
death I think I shall remember the terrible scene. Holding fast by a
rugged peak I could in the stormlight dimly see the five huge prongs of
the Devil's Tooth, grim and ghastly; while upon them broke the great
How the breakers roared! How the wind howled as it beat upon the
great rock on which I stood! Whenever the waves receded I could see the
white foam all round, while the spray beat pitilessly upon me. I had
never seen the like before. It is an awful thing to watch a storm from
the shore; but to stand in the midst of it, to hear it all round you,
is more awful!
I heard a shout from beneath. Do you see the wreck? was the query.
I looked in the direction of the long prong and saw the outline of
Yes, I replied, but I shall want help to get to her. There! I've
fastened the rope to a rock, let Bill Tregargus come up.
Instantly, by the tugging of the rope, I knew that some one was
coming, and a little later the giant form of Bill Tregargus was beside
We made our way to the wreck, and as we drew nearer I was sure I saw
people clinging to the half broken mast. Nearer and nearer we came, and
then, to our joy, we saw that two men had got from the vessel and were
now trying to scale the rock.
There's hope yet, Bill, I said. Have you brought the rope with
Part on't, Maaster Roger, and part I tied to the rock.
I shouted as loud as I could, but I was unable to make them hear.
The thunder of the storm made my little shout of no avail. I called to
the people on the vessel, but there was no response.
Meanwhile the waves swept over the doomed vessel, and roared along
the cruel rocks. There seemed but little chance of our rendering help.
Even we, sheltered as we were by the great prongs of the rock, found it
difficult to stand.
I took the rope from Bill, and, holding one end in my hand, I threw
it straight to the men, who I could see were struggling below. The
effort succeeded. It was immediately caught, and soon we got a man on
the top of the rock.
Many on board? I asked.
Twelve, he gasped.
Can you make the other one tell the crew to do as you have done?
We looked again, seeking for the best method to signal, and to our
delight saw that those on the vessel realised that help was come. In
the dim light I could see that they were leaving the vessel.
It was only a question of time. One by one, we pulled them up, some
bruised and beaten, but still hopeful, others gasping for life, and
others again dazed and faint.
We asked no questions; it was our work to save them first and
question them afterwards; and so, one after another, man by man, they
reached the summit of the rock.
At length we came to the last man. He was getting old and stiff.
Even in the night I could see that he was bent and weak.
Are you all here? I asked, when he had reached the top.
The old man who had last come up looked around him, and then cried
But where is Miss Ruth?
Miss Ruth? gasped two or three; is she not here?
No woman has come up, I replied.
Then Miss Ruth is still on the vessel, cried the old man. Wretch,
wretch, that I am to leave her.
But she left the vessel, replied another; why, Tom Poltewan said
he was going to help her down.
She said she must get something from the cabin, said another, and
I didn't see her. I thought Mr. Inch would be sure to take care of
Then followed a confusion of tongues, and in the storm I did not
distinguish what was said. Evidently in the great anxiety to escape
death a woman had been overlooked. But she must be rescued. The work
which had been begun must be completed. Surely God who had helped us
thus far would not desert us now?
What was to be done, however, had to be done quickly. The vessel had
struck on a great rock, the billows were sweeping over her, and she
might go to pieces any minute. The storm, although it had not yet
reached its full height, was rapidly rising, the wind blew louder and
louder, until we could scarcely hear each other speak. The men we had
saved were battered and bruised and nearly unconscious. As I think of
it now it is a wonder to me that they escaped death.
I tied the rope round my waist, and then asked Bill to lower me down
by the slippery rock. At first he objected to this, but I insisted, and
soon stood upon a broad flat ledge which was close to the wreck.
My object now was to get upon the vessel, but that was not easy of
accomplishment; the great breakers were constantly sweeping over the
vessel, and I began to despair of rendering assistance. I determined to
try, however, and after many vain attempts, reached the deck. To look
for anyone there was madness. No woman could stay in such a place.
Either she had been swept away or she must be down below. In spite of
storm and darkness I found my way there. The vessel was half full of
water, and I felt that it would be worse than useless to attempt to
find anyone in the darkness. Just then I heard a cry for help.
I cannot describe what followed. I have a dim recollection of
grasping a cold hand, of struggling to the deck, of holding fast by the
broken mast, and of a terrible wave that swept me quite away. After
that all was oblivion.
When I woke to consciousness I was in my own bed, with my father and
Deborah Teague sitting near me. At first everything seemed hazy, then
things became more real, until all the events of the storm flashed
before my mind.
How did I come here? I asked.
God helped us to save you, Roger, my boy, said my father.
How? I asked, faintly.
I got impatient of your being away so long, and so one of the other
lads succeeded in getting on the rock, while I, wanting to be near you,
followed him. I got to the long prong in time to see you swept off the
And then, father?
Then I went down to the broad ledge and found you both unconscious.
You had been stunned by the awful force with which you were hurled on
And she, father, thetheone who was with me?
We got you both in the boat after awhile. God only knows the
difficulty we had, for the storm rose every minute. Had the rock been
further out at sea I don't think we could have weathered it; but the
gridiron point broke the force of the wind just a little!
And is she well, father?
A great deal bruised, my boy, and very weak, but she'll recover.
Who is she? I asked after being silent for a few moments.
Her name is Ruth Morton; she is my old friend's only child,
answered my father, slowly.
I turned on my pillow wearily. I was tired and sore, and wanted
That's right, said my father, go to sleep again, I'll send the
doctor to you, and he, together with Mrs. Teague, will soon make you
He left the room as he spoke. Deborah looked keenly at me.
You'll soon git well, Maaster Roger, she said presently.
I think I shall, I replied, I am far from dead yet.
Iss, iss, she repeated, you'll soon git well, Maaster Roger, but
old Deborah was right. The storm and the stranger comed together, ded'n
I did not answer.
Maaster Roger must be of good heart, she continued, for he ain't
a seed the end of this ere matter yet.
I asked her to explain herself, but she would not. She sat silently
by my bedside until the doctor came and gave me a sleeping draught,
after which I remembered nothing for a long while.
I lay in my bed for more than a week. During that time my mother
came to see me twice, while Wilfred came only once. Evidently they did
not care much about my recovery. I was grieved at this, for in my heart
I loved them sincerely. My father told me, however, that Ruth Morton
was recovering, and was anxiously looking forward to the time when she
would be able to see me, and thank me for what I had done. In spite of
this, however, I did not ask many questions about her, and when, after
some days, I was pronounced well enough to see her, I cannot say I
looked forward with any pleasure to our meeting. Perhaps the reason for
this was that I hated to be thanked, or perhaps it was that I did not
like talking to girls, but be that as it may I was in no happy frame of
mind when my father led me to the room where she sat. I remember that
my blood rushed to my face as for the first time I saw the one I had
probably saved from death.
Perhaps my sadness foreboded the dark days that came afterwards.
CHAPTER V. THE SHAPING OF EVENTS
The brave man is not he who feels no fear;
For that were stupid and irrational;
But he whose noble soul its fear subdues
And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from.
Ruth Morton was fourteen years of age, but looked far younger. To me
she appeared only a child of twelve. She was diminutive in stature, and
had an innocent childish face. I did not think her beautiful, and yet I
remember that her face was pleasing. I remember, too, that her mouth
looked very sensitive, and was indicative of a gentle nature; but what
struck me most were her eyes. They were large and grey, and seemed to
contain a world of meaning. Her hair was dark brown and fell in heavy
masses on her shoulders.
She looked at me curiously, as if striving to read my character, and
when my father mentioned my name she timidly held out her little hand.
You must be friends, said he; indeed, you must be brother and
sister, and I shall look to you, Roger, to take care of her.
I scarcely know now what I answered, but I daresay it was little to
the point. During the next few minutes I was very uncomfortable, for
she tried to thank me for saving her life.
As soon as I could I led her to talk of other matters, chiefly
because I knew not what to say or how to act.
By and by she spoke of her father's death, and what she felt when
she was informed she must leave her home and come to Trewinion Manor.
She told me, also, of her desire to come by boat, and how Mr. Inch, an
old trusted servant, had arranged to get a crew together, and how they
had sailed along in sight of the giant cliffs.
She had a sweet, childish voice, and talked in a way that was quite
fascinating. By and by, as she told how the storm came on suddenly, of
the dread feelings she had as she saw the waves rise higher and higher,
and how she lost hope when the little vessel with an awful crash was
swept upon the great rock, I could fancy myself again out on the angry
In a little while my father left us, and then I wished I were again
back in my room, for I knew not how to talk. She, too, seemed ill at
I'm sorry you and your brother are not better friends, she said,
after we had been silent a few seconds.
I was surprised at this, and wondered who could have have been
talking to her.
Have you seen Wilfred? I asked.
Oh, yes, I have seen him twice. He came yesterday, and again
to-day. Your mother was here, too.
I am glad they have been to see you, I replied, but I did not
know that Wilfred and I were not friendly.
She looked at me, I thought, suspiciously, as though she doubted my
words, but did not speak.
Had my mother and Wilfred, I wondered, been saying evil things about
me. I hoped not, and yet it might be. Certainly, their conduct towards
me had been strange. I would not talk of this, however, and so asked
her if she liked my sisters.
Very much, she replied. They have been with me every day; and the
first two days when I was ill they were with me nearly all the time. I
think, I see them coming now.
As she spoke Katherine and Elizabeth entered the room. They were
bright, buxom maidens, well-grown and healthy. The latter, though two
years younger was quite as well grown as the stranger who had come to
live amongst us. Yet there was a difference. Ruth Morton possessed a
dignity and a grace which were foreign to both my sisters. Children
they all were, pretty they all were, yet the beauty of Ruth Morton was
of a different nature. She had been cast in another mould, and thus
presented a contrast to my sisters.
I was a great favourite both with Katherine and Elizabeth; but I did
not stay with them. Stiff and weak as I was I found my way back to my
room, where, throwing myself on the bed, I tried to rest.
I knew nothing whatever of the arrangements that had been made about
Ruth staying with us, except that Mr. Inch, the old servant, was to
remain, that the crew had been sent back to Penwingle, and that the
steward was taking care of the Morton estate. I took no interest in the
matter, however. From all I could gather her mind had been prejudiced
against me, and there was a look of satisfaction on her face when I
left her. She was as transparent as the day, so I had no difficulty in
seeing that in spite of my having risked my life to save her, she had a
bad opinion of me. Well, it did not matter much; in a few years she
would be of age and would return then to her old home.
I had banished all unpleasant thoughts from my mind when the door
opened and Wilfred entered.
Well, Roger, he said, getting better?
First rate, Wilfred, I replied.
Lucky, as usual, he said.
Why, in the first instance, you were privileged to save Ruth
Morton's life, and secondly, you are the hero of the neighbourhood for
miles around. The talk of the whole countryside is the bravery and
daring of Roger Trewinion.
This was said bitterly I thought, but I was not sure. Wilfred had
sometimes a way of talking which entirely hid his real feelings and
I don't know, he went on, if the parson isn't going to preach a
special sermon next Sunday, when his subject will be 'Roger Trewinion's
Bravery and the Mercy of Providence.'
He spoke mockingly, and I began to think that something had
displeased him. I was not sure of this however, so merely said that I
hoped nothing of the sort would be done.
Oh, but I hope it will, he said. Why, the people are saying that
you jumped from the top of the highest prong of the 'Devil's Tooth' on
to the wreck, that you waded through water several feet deep, and that
just when you had carried little Ruth on the deck the vessel broke in
pieces, upon which you plunged into the sea and carried her ashore. I
had no idea I had such a brother.
He laughed jeeringly.
His manner of speaking made me feel that if Wilfred had ever
possessed any love for me it was becoming embittered.
Have you seen Ruth? he went on.
Yes, I saw her to-day.
Father introduced you to her, I suppose?
And no doubt she was exceedingly anxious to glorify the hero who
No, I don't think she was, but I did not stay long with her. I
fancy she doesn't like me.
No? he said, questioningly. I wonder at that, for she seems to
like me a great deal; indeed, we are great friends.
I am glad to hear it, I replied, for somehow I can't be friendly
with strange girls.
No, he said, I don't think you are cut out for a girl's friend,
and you are not the kind of fellow a girl would like.
There is something in every man's heart which causes him to feel
hurt when he hears another say something about him that he would have
no hesitation in saying about himself. I had said many times that I was
not a lad whom girls liked, and yet when Wilfred said it I was annoyed.
After all, it's right, he went on. It is not fair that you should
have everything and I, nothing. You have the Trewinion name, its
houses, its lands, and its blessings, while I have nothing but my
brains, and people's love.
There are curses in connexion with Trewinion's heir as well as
blessings, I said. I am fettered on every hand.
Curses, he sneered; all old wives' tales. I wonder at you
thinking about them. Were I the eldest son I would throw all that to
the wind, I would see the world; I would enjoy myself, and spend some
of the hoarded gold of generations.
He looked at me closely as he said this, and I began to feel that
perhaps the old stories were foolishness. All my father had told me
seemed real in the night time, but in daylight it was shadowy and
Do you know about these stories? I said.
He looked a little confused, and then said, hurriedly:
Oh, I have read the history of our house, and have hunted up the
family documents. You see, while you have been climbing the 'Devil's
Tooth' I have been grinding away at the story of the devil's curses.
But, bah, Roger, what are curses to you? Surely, you can laugh at them
Throughout the conversation I felt that he had some purpose in his
talk. It seemed as though he were sifting me and seeking to read my
thoughts, and so I was silent.
Do you know anything about little Ruth's family? he went on.
No, I replied.
Her father owned miles of land, he said, and it is all left to
her. Your estate, Roger, is but a patch on hers. Morton Hall, too, is
about twice as big as this house. Eh, but you were lucky to save her
Looking back after a long lapse of years I feel that this is not the
natural talk of a boy of sixteen, and as I write, I ask myself whether
I have not incorrectly recorded our conversation. It is true I only
write from memory; nevertheless, I think I have faithfully described
what was said. Really, Wilfred was never a true boy. He was always
older than I, though born two years later, and when quite a child he
had an old-fashioned way of speaking. The villagers were in the habit
of saying that Wilfred had the brains of the family, while I had the
heart. Anyhow, he could always outwit me, and if ever we were matched
against each other, I, in the long run, always came off second best.
A few days later I was able to be out again, and once more lived my
old, free, untrammelled life. My father and I still continued friends
and companions; but Wilfred was little with me. I noticed, however,
that he was always anxious to please me. He ceased to sneer when
speaking of me, and I thought he looked sad and downhearted. This made
me gentle and forbearing towards him; so much so, that I often went out
of my way to help him.
I often thought of old Deborah Teague's words as to whether he were
or were not my brother; but I could find no answer to my questionings.
That we both had the same father I did not doubt; but was his mother my
mother? Was that tall, stately woman who always treated me so coldly
really and truly my mother? I asked old Deborah again and again, but my
father I dared not ask.
My mother's demeanour to me was always the same. I never had a
mother's cares, never realised a mother's love, and so I could do no
other than to watch, even as old Deborah told me to watch.
Ruth Morton and I did not become friendly. Evidently she did not
like me. I noticed that she looked at me furtively, and would never be
alone with me by choice. I could not help feeling that in some way her
mind had been poisoned concerning me, and I was not long in deciding
who was the poisoner.
It is true that I did not try to win her liking.
I felt it rather hard that she should treat me so harshly, and so I
never forced my company upon her.
This state of things existed for nearly two years. Wilfred was
friendly, and, evidently, beloved by her, but I was disliked. Often my
brother took her and my sisters for long walks, but I never did. I was
busy on my father's estate and learning the secrets of agriculture,
while he in the hours not devoted to study would be away with them, and
became, I thought, more than ever a favourite with Ruth and my sisters.
During these two years I had become quite a man in stature, while
Wilfred had likewise grown to be a tall, handsome fellow. I remember
that all this time my mother encouraged the growing friendship of Ruth
and Wilfred, and seemed delighted when she noticed her evident dislike
I was now twenty. Wilfred was more than eighteen, Ruth was sixteen,
and had grown quite a young woman. Katherine, too, who was the same
age, had become a splendid example of a healthy, happy, country girl,
while Elizabeth promised to become the beauty of the family.
At this time an event happened which made us better friends.
One afternoon I was sitting on the great headland overlooking the
sea. It was a glorious day. The sky was clear, the sun was shining
brightly, and the bright waves beneath were laughing and playing in the
light of the sun. To me, as I sat there, the great sea was singing a
wondrous song, full of a rich, rare music, which touched the deepest
feelings of my nature. I had not heard much in my life about religion,
and I am afraid I had not thought much about God, but as I sat there
that day, a great rock above me and hundreds of feet of cliff beneath,
while the sea chanted a song which the tones of a thousand organs could
not reproduce, I felt a longing in my heart to serve my Maker and to do
my duty while here below such as I had never felt before.
While I sat there I heard voices above me. Someone was standing on
the great rock in a crevice of which I sat.
Let's ask Roger to go with us? said a voice.
I recognised it in a second as my sister Katherine's and I waited
for the answer.
No, I heard Wilfred say, he hates girls; besides, he'll be as
ugly as a bear with a sore head.
That's not fair, Wilfred, said Katherine. Roger does not hate us,
and as for his being ugly, you know he's not.
Well, we can't find him, anyhow, said Wilfred, so let us go.
I must confess I felt angered by this, for I should have liked to
accompany them. I strove to banish my brother's unkind words from my
mind, however, and again tried to listen to the music of the sea; but
it was all driven from my heart. For I have learnt this is truth: we
must have music within us if we are to realise music in anything
I could not sit there long. My brother's words began to burn and
sting; I would go for a walk, too.
I had not gone far when I saw someone running towards me. It was
Help, Roger! he shouted.
What's the matter? I said.
Ruth has fallen down the cliff!
Fallen down the cliff! where?
Up here. Come with me.
We started running together and quickly came to a place where
Elizabeth was weeping bitterly, while Katherine was descending the
steep declivity as if to try and render help.
Where is she? I said excitedly. And how did she get where she
She wanted a plant, cried Wilfred. I told her it was not to be
obtained, or I would get it; but she would not listen to me, and said
she would fetch it herself. She went down a little way all right, but
when she reached out her hand for the plant she slipped and fell.
Fell! Fell where? I asked, excitedly.
To a ledge a few feet below.
Did you see her?
And did you not try to reach her?
Why, how could I do anything? I could only go for help.
It is true Wilfred was younger than I, but I thought this conduct
cowardly. He seemed to fear for himself, and dared not risk his own
limbs. Katherine, on the other hand, though but a girl of sixteen, was
trying to rescue her friend.
I quickly scrambled down the declivity, and was not long in reaching
the point from which Ruth fell. Katherine was here also, but she could
go no farther, for the ledge beneath, although only about eight or nine
feet down, was narrow, and to fall from there meant certain death. The
mystery was how Ruth had fallen on to this ledge, and for a time I was
afraid she had been precipitated on the rugged rocks beneath. I heard a
moan, however, and saw a bit of her white dress, so my mind was
comparatively at ease.
I sent Katherine back, and told her to run for a rope, as it might
be necessary, and then prepared to reach the narrow rock on which Ruth
Keep a good heart, Ruth, I said; I am coming to help you.
There was no reply, but I still struggled to get to her. Time after
time I essayed to reach her, and time after time I failed. I climbed
around and around, and from different points tried to get a footing on
the rock where she lay, but in vain. It was isolated, and was at least
nine feet from any point above it, and nearly as many from any standing
place on the same level.
There was only one way by which she could be reached, and that was
by gaining a rock nearly on the same level, and then leaping over the
chasm that lay between. This I determined to do, for how could I do
less? Ruth was lying like one dead, and if I did not help her who
could? I got on the point after some difficulty, and then found that I
was in nearly as much danger as she. I had jumped down to this jutting
rock, but I could not jump up again; the distance was too great. Could
I get on the rock where she lay there seemed a possibility to get down,
for the cliff looked slanting from that point.
Beneath me were two hundred feet of rugged cliff, and if I failed to
reach Ruth I should fall from point to point on the rocks beneath and
I took off my coat and prepared to leap.
At this moment she awoke to consciousness and looked around her, and
seeing her position she gave a scream of affright.
Don't move, I said, I'm going to save you.
Her eager eyes gave me strength and courage. I disencumbered myself
of everything that would hinder me and placed my feet in the best
position for a leap.
By this time I began to be excited. The sound of the sea seemed
cruel, while the rocks looked like so many giant gaunt spectres that
would lure me to destruction. There was no time for wild fancyings,
however, so I nerved myself for what lay before me.
Then I took the leap.
CHAPTER VI. LINK TO LINK
I shall never forget the feeling which possessed me when I made this
terrible leap. If my foot should slip, if I should fall short, if I
should fall and be dashed to pieces! It was only a second; but I seemed
to live a whole lifetime in that second. I landed safely, however, and
was soon by Ruth's side.
To my delight she was scarcely hurt at all, except that she had
received a shock. She was trembling violently, but she was a brave
little thing, and as soon as I came she conquered her weakness.
Can we get away from here, Roger? she said, at length.
I think so, I replied. If we can't get down from here they will
get us a rope, which I will fasten around you, so that you may be
easily drawn up.
Oh, I do not think I dare be drawn up, she said, with a shudder.
Can we not get down? I dare try with you to help me.
I examined the rocks, and decided to make the attempt. It was a long
and tedious journey, especially as I had to clamber from rock to rock,
and then lift Ruth. We managed it, however, and after a time stood
safely on the hard beach.
No sooner had we done so than I heard my father's voice above. He
had come with a rope and other means by which we might be helped; but
right glad was he when he saw that we were not needing his help.
The tide is out, I shouted in answer to his query as to how we
should get home, and I shall walk down to Trewinion Cove, and thus
escape climbing any cliffs.
We started together.
This is the second time you have saved my life, Roger, Ruth said.
Do you think so? I answered. You might have got on all right
I do not think I have been just to you, she went on.
How? I asked, abruptly.
Perhaps I ought not to tell you, she said, but I cannot help it
I asked her to explain.
I have sudden likes and dislikes, she said, and when you saved me
in the storm, and I heard that you were going to be my brother, I was
gladmore glad than I can say. Then when I was getting well your
mother came and told me that you had neither fear nor feelings. That
you had risked your life out of mere love of danger, that you were
cruel and vindictive. That, although you were the heir of the
Trewinions, you were totally unfit for its responsibilities. That your
brother Wilfred was in reality robbed of the position which he alone
was fit to take. That you had ever been cruel to him, that, although
you were superior in strength, you took advantage of his weakness.
Thus, when I saw you, although you had saved my life, I was prepared to
And then? I asked.
I thought you verified what your mother had said. You seemed rough
and uncouth, and very different from your brother.
I suppose most of us like to be thought well of. None of us wish to
be looked upon as objects of repugnance. Anyhow, I was in no pleasant
frame of mind, and I had hard work to keep from bursting out with some
strong invective against my brother, but I held my tongue and waited
for her to continue.
Since then, she went on, I have been finding out my mistake, and
I have wanted to tell you so; but you have always been so cold and
repellent that I dared not. You are rough and stern, Roger, not a bit
I bit my lip angrily.
Yes, I know you have saved my life again, she said, as if divining
my thoughts. I know that Wilfred dared not do what you have done; but
what I meant was that anyone who does not understand you would think
you harsh. Besides, it takes some time to know you.
But I always felt friendly towards you, Ruth, even though you
seemed to dislike me.
And I shall always be more friendly to you in the future. I want
you to forgive me, Roger. Will you?
She looked at me, and her great grey eyes were full of kindness, and
her voice was so gentle that I felt quite uncomfortable.
Don't talk about forgiving, I said, rather roughly, I expect, let
us be good friends.
She looked very pale as I said this, and then I saw that she was
more shaken and hurt than I had at first thought. She would have
fallen, I believe, had I not upheld her. I led her to a rock, where she
sat down for a rest, and when I had found some fresh water for her, she
was quite refreshed. She took hold of my arm as we walked home,
however, and I felt a strange pleasure in helping her. She had grown
just like one of my sisters to me, and she seemed to regard me as a
We talked quite pleasantly on our way, until we forgot the great
danger in which we had both been a little while before. I forget just
now what we were talking about; but I know that while we were laughing
heartily at something she had been saying we were startled by a voice
telling us to stop.
We looked up, and Deborah Teague stood before us. She eyed us
keenly, and when she saw how friendly we were, she said, Maaster
Roger, mind what ould Debrah said.
I always do mind what you say, Deborah, I replied; you have
always been a friend to me.
Maaster Roger, she continued, ould Debrah hev vollied the fortins
of yer family for years, and she ought to knaw.
Well, what's wrong now?
It wur a woman as tempted Adam, it wur a woman as tempted Samson,
it wur a woman as tempted Ahab. Lev Maaster Roger be keerful.
I hardly know what you mean, I said, a little astonished at this
She lifted her skinny hand above her head.
Mind, she said, mind Trewinion's curse! Oh, tes comin', tes
comin'. I see it now. Mind, Maaster Roger, my deer, mind. Doan't 'ee
forgit what ould Debrah tould 'ee on the night of the storm, years
agone. 'Twas the mawther that was too cunning for Esau, ah, and ef
Maaster Roger ed'n keerful the mawther'll be too cunnin' for him.
Try as I would I could not help shuddering at her words, while Ruth
clutched my arm convulsively.
Keep boath yer eyes oppen, Maaster Roger, or the curse'll be upon
'ee, for as sure as ould Debrah spaikes tes comin'.
She waddled away when she said this, leaving us to wonder at her
What caused her to speak like this? How could she know what she
did?for her words came true. Did she possess some power to peer into
the future? Were things clear to her vision to which I was blind? Or
was it simply that she was clear headed and clever and her statements
amounted only to a shrewd guess?
I will not dare to answer. I have seen so many strange things
happen, which I have been unable to explain, that to say she was
possessed of a power that was not natural would be unwise. And yet I
have been fed upon strange mental food, and have been led to believe in
things at which some laugh.
What does she mean, Roger? said Ruth, when she had gone.
I was silent.
Do you think she is a witch? she continued; she looks like one.
She is a strange old woman, I said, as lightly as I could, for I
did not want Ruth to be made anxious, and some think she is a witch;
but Mr. Polperrow says she is only a clever old woman who knows more
than the common run of villagers.
She was about to ask more questions when we saw my father, Wilfred,
and my sisters coming towards us. Both my sisters gave a shout of joy,
and I saw a glad look in my father's eyes. But Wilfred's face was black
as night, and the gleam of a devil flashed in his eyes. He did not
speak, and while the others were anxiously asking questions as to what
we did and how we had managed, Wilfred stood and glared savagely at me.
His eyes became red, and his face like the face of a corpse.
I asked myself whether my father had accused him of being a coward,
or if my sisters had been foolishly praising me, as they sometimes did,
for neither Katherine nor Elizabeth seemed to realise how rough and
uncouth I was. I noticed, however, that when Ruth began to magnify what
I had done, as in her exaggerated notions of things she did, he gave a
cynical, sarcastic laugh, and walked back to the house alone.
Did Wilfred care so much about praise, I wondered, or was he bitter
towards me because I was heir to the Trewinion lands? Why else should
he be so unbrotherly to me?
I do not think my sisters did Ruth any good by talking to her about
her danger, for it brought back to her that faintness which she
experienced upon the sands, so we soon took her indoors, where, being
able to rest in quietness, she recovered.
I do not think it is my nature to remain unfriendly with any one, so
I made an opportunity of trying to find Wilfred, in order to know what
I had done to offend him. I found, however, that he was with my mother,
and did not wish to be seen.
Again Deborah Teague's words came back to me. Was Wilfred's mother
my mother? If so, why was it she never allowed me into her private
room? Why were there no confidences between us as there were between
her and my brother? Was she the cause of my brother's anger?
That evening we all sat together in the library, as we generally did
before going to rest. Ruth still looked pale, and complained of pains.
Evidently her fall had hurt her more than we had thought. My mother sat
near her, and lovingly held her hand, often saying soft loving words,
as though she wanted to be a mother to her. I was glad of this, for I
was sure that Ruth must often feel sad and lonely, and it must comfort
her to know that although she was an orphan she was still beloved.
We all joined in conversation, with the exception of Wilfred. He sat
behind his mother, never speaking a word. I forget now what were the
subjects of discussion; it does not matter much. Still I cannot but
wish that some clever painter could have put the gathering on canvas,
for to me it looked beautiful. My father was so stately and grand,
while my mother was, I think, the handsomest woman I ever saw; and
behind her was the clear, Greek-like face of my brother. The three
girls, too, looked the picture of contentment. It was a home scene in a
quiet old house, and worthy of a painter's skill.
We had been sitting there some little time, when the vicar walked
in. He was always a welcome visitor and I regarded him as a sort of
second father. He joined in our conversation quite naturally, and we
soon became quite merry together.
Presently there was a lull in our talk, and then Wilfred, without
any warning, broke out excitedly, and in a loud voice,
Father, I want to go to Oxford.
We all looked at him in astonishment. He had been so silent all the
evening that this made us think something was the matter.
My father eyed him keenly, and then replied quietly.
I had arranged for you to go next year, Wilfred.
Yes, but I want to go now, he said, excitedly. I've been home
here long enough; I've wasted enough time.
You've not wasted so much time, my boy, said my father, kindly.
Mr. Polperrow has had you in hand, and has given you a good drilling;
besides, you are only just turned eighteen.
I know, he said; but I am the younger son, and so shall have no
fortune. Thus, I think, I should waste no time in getting an education.
Mr. Polperrow told me, not long since, that he could not do much more
for me, and as I am to be 'penniless Wilfred' I think I might have a
chance to earn my bread.
You will not be penniless, Wilfred, said my father. You will be
as well endowed as most young men, and I have my plans for the future.
But I can't stay here longer, he cried. If I have talents why
should I waste them here? Give me a chance, and then the second son may
turn out to be as good as the elder.
This was spoken both bitterly and sadly, as if he felt his lot to be
I have come about this very matter, said Mr. Polperrow. Wilfred
has very great gifts, and the sooner he goes to Oxford the better. I
have some little influence there, and if you thought fit I would make
arrangements at once.
My mother's eyes fairly shone with joy as he said this, and then she
too joined in the plea that Wilfred should be allowed to leave home so
that his powers might have a fair chance of being tested.
My father at length gave his consent, and Mr. Polperrow went away
with the commission to procure for Wilfred an entrance into this
ancient seat of learning.
When we retired to rest I thought long over the events of the day.
What was the meaning of this sudden desire to depart? Was there a
league between the three who had advocated this step? Only a few days
before Wilfred had been speaking of going to Oxford a year later. Why
then this sudden resolution?
I fell asleep, however, without solving the problem, and as during
the next few days Wilfred wore a grieved expression and seldom spoke to
any one but his mother and Ruth, I was still deeper in mystery. When we
were all together, if he spoke to me, he spoke kindly, but when we were
alone he betrayed a hatred for me that I could not understand.
A month later my mother was in great sorrow. Wilfred had started for
CHAPTER VII. THE WITCHES' CAVE
As I look back over what I am now about to relate, my mind is
strangely confused with the amount of reality and unreality that
appeared. At one time I am inclined to think it all real, at another I
am led to regard it as pure imagination, or as due to the credulity of
a hot-brained youth. Be that as it may, however, I will try and set
down what I remember as faithfully as I can.
After Wilfred had gone things were very quiet. My mother seldom
spoke to me, but kept Ruth by her side, until the two became, as it
seemed to me, almost inseparable. Indeed, she took far more notice of
Ruth than she did of her own daughters. As a consequence my sisters and
I were often together, until the villagers came to say that Roger
Trewinion wanted no sweethearts but his sisters.
On the afternoon of a sultry autumn day, some time after Wilfred had
gone to Oxford, I had to walk past Deborah Teague's cottage, and saw
the old woman sitting on the doorstep quietly smoking.
Come ere, Maaster Roger, she said; I've been waitin' for 'ee a
bra long while.
I looked at her in astonishment.
Iss' my dear, I knawed you was a comin', so I says I'll jist wait
for Maaster Roger.
How did you know I was coming?
Knaw! she replied, what doan't I knaw? But come in, I want to
talk to 'ee.
Somethin' you're interested in, my deer. Ther set down. Yer brother
es gone away to college edn't a?
Yes, he's gone.
Ah, ould Debrah ev for a long time bin thinkin' 'bout it, my dear.
'Twas a hawful storm, Maaster Roger, wadn't it, then? People do say
that ould women ca'ant do nothin', but, law, that storm wur big enough
and bad enough!
Do you mean to say that you caused the storm then?
No, not me, my dear, but I knawed it wur a comin' ded'n I un? And
ded'n I give 'ee warnin', my dear? Ef I dedn't, why she would'n ev bin
Deborah, I said, you are talking in riddles. If you have anything
to tell me, let me know about it.
Doan't 'ee be vexed, Maaster Roger. Ould Debrah is yer friend, and
do want for you to be her friend!
But I don't understand all this mysterious talk. You are hinting at
strange things. Let me know about it. Is there witchcraft in the
Ould Debrah do knaw 'bout Trewinion's curse, doan't she, my deer?
How should she know that except bywell, we wa'ant say what.
Yes, you have hinted about it? But what have I to do with it? I
have done nothing that will cause it to rest upon me.
But tes comin', Maaster Roger, ef I and some more doan't help 'ee.
Tell 'ee, my dear, things belongin' to the sperrits can onnley be
stopped by they whowell, who have got power in they paarts.
I was getting interested.
Are you a witch, then? I asked.
Can 'ee bear to hear it, Maaster Roger? she whispered.
I can bear anything, I said.
Maaster Roger, you've eerd of Farmer Jory?
Ah, ee died a awful death, my deer.
So I've heard, I said. People have told me that his last hours
were terrible; that he seemed like one placed upon a rock. And that
although at one time he was well off, all his cattle died and his
ground refused to grow crops.
You've eerd that, av 'ee? Well, now, I tell 'ee summin. My old man
Pitter used to work for'n, my dear, and my maid went there to sarvice.
Pitter and me were 'appy as two turtle doves, my deer, and my maid was
the puttiest in the parish. Well, Farmer Jory was a bad man, my deer.
He ought to ev married my maid, and he ded'n, an' though I went down on
my knees and prayed to 'im to save her frum disgrace, he would'nt, and
so she died heartbroken. By this time Pitter wur nearly a cripple and
couldn't work much, so that we wur nearly starvin'. He had worked for
the Jorys oll his life, and now when they ought to ev 'elped us they
left us to starve. Twa'nt more'n three weeks after we berried the maid
afore Pitter died of starvation and a brokken heart, and I wur left
alone. Oh, Maaster Roger, ef you could ev knawed what I suffered you
would pity me. I wur nearly mad wi' grief and shame, and the day after
my owld man wur berried I wur sittin' in the doorway theer, when Betsey
Tressider comed 'long. I was allays 'fraid of Betsey, cause people said
she wur a witch, and did meet with a lot ov others up in the witch ov
Fraddam's cave. She axed me what I wur grievin' for and I tould her.
Then she laughed and zed I wur a fool not to be revenged on Farmer
Jory, and not to make 'im suffer more'n I'd suffered. I axed her ow I
cud do it, and she tould me to become a witch. Then I axed her ow I
could be a witch, and she tould me to go to Logan Rock nine times at
midnight and tich it wi my little vinger, an' she laughed and went
Well, I wur oal alone, and so I thot and thot, and then I went to
Logan Rock and tiched it wance, and I veeled a strange shivery feelin'
and then I did it every night until the ninth night.
And what happened then, Deborah? I asked.
I shan't tell 'ee that, my dear, but when I comed 'ome I seed
Farmer Jory, and I looked top un, and I zedwell, never mind what I
zed; but you knaw what happened.
But witchcraft is of the devil, I said.
Tes and tedn't, she said, mysteriously. Who can charm as well as
me, and the charms es oal bout goodness. Here, my dear, I'll tell 'ee
some charms, and then you'll knaw ef they be good; but never tell a
man, Maaster Roger, ef you do you'll break em. You knaw that Tommy
Triscott's cheeld came to me t'other day with a scald, and I charmed
un, and the charm is this:
Then came three angels out of the east,
One brought fire, and two brought frost;
Out fire, and in frost
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy GhostAmen.
And is Tommy better?
He had aise in three minutes; but he wur cured with a good name.
I'll tell 'ee nother. You do knaw when you wur a cheeld you had a great
thorn in ye arm through fallin' off a hedge, and you comed to me, and I
charmed it and cured 'ee?
Well, I'll tell 'ee the charm:
Christ was of a Virgin born,
And He was prick'd by a thorn,
And it did never throb nor swell,
And I trust in Jesus this never will.
Christ was crowned with thorns;
The thorns did bleed but did not rot.
No more shall thy finger,
In the name of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
I could not help a creepy feeling coming over me as she uttered the
words. I remembered her charming the place where the thorn had been and
rubbing some ointment over it, and I also remember how quickly I had
So, my deer, she went on, tedn't always a bad power that witches
Well, I said at length, have you asked me to come in here in
order that you might tell me this?
Not all, my deer. I've wa'anted to show 'ee as ow I've got power,
Maaster Roger, and that tedn't oal bad. And I want 'ee to harken to me
so that you may not have the Trewinion's curse.
Can you stop it? I asked.
I weth others can, she said.
But the curse of the Trewinion's will not come upon me, I said,
for I shall not do anything to incur it.
Wa'ant 'ee, but you will, Maaster Roger, and ef you doan't do as I
tell 'ee you'll rue it to yer dyin' day. I see it comin', I see it
comin', and she lifted her skinny hand above her head. I zee Maaster
Roger beggard, I zee un starvin', I zee un mad wi' shame, I zee un
ouseless, and omeless, I zee hes brother where he ought to be oal
through Trewinion's curse.
In spite of myself I felt the old woman to be speaking the truth.
But I will abide by everything written for my safety, I said.
You ca'ant, you ca'ant, she screamed.
Why? I asked.
You were born in a onlucky month, and the onlucky week of the
month, and a onlucky day of the week, and an onlucky time ov the day.
Why, when was I born?
You was born at nine o'clock ov a Friday evenin', in the third week
in May, she said.
And I can do nothing to avert the curse?
No, but I can.
Will 'ee come wi' me to Betsey Fraddam's cave?
At what time?
No, I said with a shudder.
She glared at me with her evil eye, then she said slowly:
Betsey Fraddam's cave had an evil reputation. It was the
meeting-place for all the evil women in the neighbourhood. Women who
possessed terrible power. I had been taught to believe in them and to
avoid coming into collision with them.
Who'll be there? I asked.
You'll see, she said.
I went home soon after, pondering over Deborah's words. We retired
to bed early at our house, and by ten o'clock quietness reigned
everywhere. I could not sleep, however. My mind was excited by what old
Deborah had told me, and when eleven o'clock came I had an intense
desire to go to Fraddam's cave. The witch of Fraddam was almost a
household word among the simple people. It was said that she was
constantly raising storms and working mischief, and that if any one saw
her thus engaged, woe be to that one for ever after. From my earliest
childhood I had been frightened with stories of Betsey Fraddam's cave.
It was whispered that the terrible witch herself met the living witches
and goaded them on to terrible deeds.
Still I wanted to go. In the silence of the night the curse of the
Trewinion's became terrible to me, and I was anxious to know how I
could avert it. Besides, so much had my mind been filled with stories
of the superstitious and wonderful that I felt afraid to disobey the
old woman's summons. It is true I was a young man fairly well educated,
and as a consequence disbelieved many of the stories of a priest-ridden
age. And it may be that as the years roll by future generations may
disbelieve in what we speak of to-day, even as we disbelieve the
stories of the past. Nevertheless, at half-past eleven I rose and
dressed quietly in order to go down to Fraddam's cave.
I remembered the old vicar's words, however, and said my prayers
before starting, and then hurried down the precipitous pathway to the
sand. The tide was out, and I could hear the sweet murmur of the sea in
the distance. There was no wind, and the pale light of the moon lit up
the scene, which was grand in the extreme. On my right hand behind me,
rose the giant cliffs, rugged and forbidding, on the great headland
stood our house, bluff and bold like an old castle.
I looked in the direction of the cave of evil repute, but could see
nothing. My heart throbbed wildly. As old Deborah had said, we
Trewinions never feared the living, but we trembled at the thought of
As I drew near Fraddam's cave I saw a twinkling light, and on coming
up to its mouth I saw the bent form of an old woman.
Trewinion's heir! said a voice, and the light was taken into the
As if drawn on by a charm I entered. It was the first time I had
ever dared to do so. Often had I passed by the cave; but its reputation
for evil was so terrible that I had avoided entering it. I doubt
whether any inhabitant for miles around would ever think of intruding
in a place which, it was believed, belonged to the powers of darkness.
The cave became larger the farther I penetrated into it, and was lit
up by a ruddy kind of light. I noticed, too, in spite of my fears, that
the main cave led to smaller ones, and that on each side of the
entrance the ground was honeycombed. Presently the light became
brighter, and, turning a sharp angle, I saw a good sized fire, on which
a crock was steaming round about which weird forms sat. The ground was
quite dry and it was evident the tide seldom came so far. As my eyes
became more accustomed to the light, I recognised some of the women who
sat there. Betsey Flue, Mally Udy, and Tory Bone lived within a mile of
Trewinion Manor, and had doubtful reputations.
None of them looked at me for some time. They were intent on
watching the fire and the steaming crock. The smell from this article
was by no means unpleasant, evidently some savoury meat was being
cooked, and I began to feel the place to be less gruesome than I had at
first anticipated. I noticed, too, that a great many things were stowed
away which could have no connection with the unseen world. Evidently
the cave was used by smugglers as well as witches.
Let Debrah Teague spaik, said an aged crone.
Maaster Roger do knaw what I main, said Deborah. There's an awful
curse for the Trewinion 'ouse, and unless Maaster Roger do as we do
tell un he'll ave it.
Ghastly as was the sight, uncanny as was the place, this speech of
the old woman dispelled much of my fear. The nocturnal gatherings of
witches were in my idea always associated with mysterious incantations.
Although Shakespeare was a forbidden book to us boys, I had read
Macbeth, and this meeting was altogether dissimilar from the meeting
of witches therein described. In spite of everything, I could not help
thinking these old women were met for some sinister purpose far removed
from the mysteries of witchcraft, so I said boldly:
Old Deborah wanted me to come here; I have come. What do you want?
The curse is comin'. We can remove it, said the old woman who went
by the name of Mally Udy.
How? I asked, for the sound of their voices and the sound of my
own made me bolder still.
We've worked a charm, said Mally, the oldest woman in the party.
We stole into Trewinion Church and took some water that the parson had
used fur christenin' his oan grancheeld, an' we've made a broth of it.
We've boiled a piece of lamb in it, with some sycamore leaves and some
hagglet (white thorn) leaves, and we've said nine charms, nine times
aich, and it'll ondo any curse.
Where is it? I said.
Here, a boilin' now, was the reply.
I began to feel fearful again.
But Maaster Roger must make a vow afore he drinks, said Mally.
What? I asked.
You must say this, she said, shaking her skinny finger. I, Roger
Trewinion, promise never to hurt the women here to-night, or their
children. I promise it by the sperrits of the place. And I make a vow
that I'll allays protect they and their children as fur as I can.
There was a cunning look on her face as she spoke. I felt now that
these were evil women, and that I would have nothing to do with them.
I refuse to make the promise, I said.
You'm afraid, you'm a coward, cried Deborah.
No, I'm not afraid, I'm not a coward, I said, and I'll stop these
proceedings of yours. You have other reasons than witchcraft for coming
here, and I'll know what they are.
This roused their passion.
Evil sperrits shall tear 'ee, they said, and oal your tribe.
You are a set of evil hags, I said, furiously; and the mysteries
of this cavern shall be brought to light.
Stop! said old Mally Udy, this broth here was fur yer good. I'll
turn it to something bad and make 'ee drink it. The spirit of Betsey
Fraddam is here, and she'll make a mixture for 'ee.
I had worked myself up into a passion and I kicked the crock and
Never shall I forget the terrible words they said to me, or the
curses they called upon me. They cursed me in body and mind, they
cursed me in love and hate, in living and dying.
What was it, I wonder? Meaningless jargon, or not? When my story is
told you will be able to judge better.
I went out of the cave in fear, and when outside I fancied I saw the
terrible form of Betsey Fraddam. Then I went back to my home trembling.
CHAPTER VIII. THE BEGINNING OF THE
O beware of my lord of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on: that cuckold lives on bliss
Who, certain of his fate, love not its wronger.
But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes yet doubts; suspects yet fondly loves.
Alone in my room that night I began to think again. I had hurried
back from the cave with fearful speed, never daring to stop or think.
Now I could do both, and for hours I tried to solve the problem before
me. What was the meaning of this night's adventure? Had these women the
power to rid me of a terrible calamity, or were they seeking simply the
protection I should be able to afford in the future years? They were
all in bad repute, and ofttimes the anger of the people was aroused
against them, thus if they could gain my friendship they would be
comparatively safe. Did they seek to frighten me into a promise, or was
there some dread meaning in their words?
These questions drove me to pray, or rather, to say my prayers. I
did not, could not, really pray. To me there was no real God. All was
as misty and unreal as the mythical stories I had read about the fabled
Greek gods. For hours I sought light, and help, and strength; but none
came, and when daylight came I was still in doubt.
The next day I passed by old Deborah's cottage. I thought she might
have something to say to me, but when she saw me she, bent her head and
would not answer to my good-day. Try as I would I could not help
feeling that she had ill-will against me, and would lose no opportunity
to do me an injury. Once I thought of speaking to my father about it;
but I dared not tell him that I had been to Fraddam's cave at midnight;
that act was in itself enough to bring darkness to my future, if there
were any truth in the stories which floated in the very atmosphere of
Days lengthened into weeks, and weeks into months, and nothing
happened. Old Mally Udy passed and re-passed me, but she gave no sign
of our midnight encounter. She dropped her usual curtsey of respect
when she saw me. Thus it was that the awe of the night in Fraddam's
cave died out. I gave up seriously thinking about it, and as the
affairs of the Trewinion estate began to rest on me my mind was fully
During the months that followed, I believe I was moody and taciturn.
At any rate, my sisters did not find so much pleasure in being with me
as formerly, while Ruth was still my mother's companion. She was always
kind to me, and seemed glad if she were able to do little sisterly
acts, but we were never alone together, and never were there any
confidences between us.
On my twenty-first birthday there were great festivities at our
house. All the tenant farmers, their wives, and their children,
together with the cottagers and labourers on the estate, were invited.
These, with the neighbouring gentry, made a gay scene. There was one
vacant place, however, which largely spoiled the enjoyment of the day.
This was my brother Wilfred's. He had been pressed to return home, but
had refused to do so, even for the celebration of my coming of age.
Indeed, he intimated that he did not wish to do so until his three
years of college life should come to an end.
My father was annoyed at this; but my mother said not a word. It
seemed to me that she had expected things to turn out so, and was not
at all surprised. Her behaviour to me after my birthday was more cold
than ever. She took no pains to make herself friendly towards me, yet,
unless Deborah Teague were right, she was my mother.
The months slipped rapidly by, until three years had elapsed since
Wilfred had gone to Oxford, and now he was daily expected to return.
During that time none of us had seen him except my father and
mother, who had travelled to Oxford specially for that purpose. My two
sisters often speculated what he would be like, how he would act, while
Ruth, too, seemed to look forward with great pleasure to his return.
Ruth had grown to be a beautiful woman. She was by no means tall or
stately, but she was as fair as a spring morning, and lovely beyond
compare. Great pains had been taken with her education, and this, added
to her personal charms, caused her to be envied for miles around by
girls of her own age.
Her old friend Mr. Inch had remained at our house all this time, and
tried to gratify her every wish. He was friendly with Wilfred, and I
found out that they corresponded regularly. With me, however, he was
not nearly so friendly. He was always polite, almost painfully so; but
he never looked me straight in the face, and often, I thought, regarded
me with dislike. I explained this, partly by the fact of my uncouth
ways, and partly by his intimacy with my mother, who regarded him with
At length the day arrived when Wilfred came back. I shall never
forget it, for it began a new era in my existence. I awoke on the
morning of that day bright and cheerful, with not a cloud that was
worth the mentioning upon the sky of my life. When I retired to rest
all was changed. I awoke a boy, I went to sleep a man. But for that day
these confessions would never have been written; the events I shall
relate would never have come to pass. Even now, as I look back, my
heart beats more rapidly at the thought of it, and a strange feeling
possesses me, which reminds me of what I felt then.
I remember how anxiously I saw the horses being attached to the old
family carriage, and with what joy I saw my father and mother driven
away to meet the coach by which Wilfred was to come. I longed, as much
as any of them, to see him, although I said but little about it, for,
in spite of his apparent dislike of me, he was still my brother, and I
loved him very much.
We all stood at the old hall door as the carriage drove up, and
watched my father alight. Then another form stepped on the hard gravel,
and carefully assisted my mother.
I should scarcely have recognised him as my brother. He had gone
away but little more than a boy, he had returned a handsome, cultured
man. He was not big and clumsy like myself, but tall and lithe, and yet
exceedingly muscular. There was grace in his every movement, while
refinement was stamped upon his handsome face. I could not help feeling
the contrast between us. I was a great boorish country clown, he was as
handsome as a Greek god. Surely, too, there was a look of malicious
satisfaction on my mother's face as she saw the difference between us.
He seemed to change the very atmosphere of the house. Everything had a
new meaning when associated with him. My sisters looked at him with
admiration, while Ruth was evidently fascinated by the charm of his
In his boyish days he had often seemed sulky, but that was all gone.
His demeanour towards my father was at once respectful and
affectionate, to his mother he was kind and loving, to the girls he was
gallant and considerate, while to me I thought he extended an air of
The old Wilfred had gone, and a new Wilfred had taken his place; a
Wilfred who was brilliant, gallant, scholarly.
I remember that we dined early that day, and after dinner I went out
alone, as I often did, and sat upon the great headland which stood out
against the sea. I remained there some time thinking, and wondered what
kind of a life we should lead now that Wilfred had come back. I felt in
some way that I had no right to my father's estate; I was not fit for
it, and that I lived there on my brother's bounty.
These thoughts were disturbed by the sound of voices, and looking up
I saw a sight that caused my brain to whirl and my heart to throb
Wilfred and Ruth were walking arm-in-arm, and he was looking at her
at once tenderly and with an air of proprietorship. Then I knew what I
did not know before, then I realised what nearly drove me mad. I loved
Ruth Morton with all the strength of my being, while she, I could tell
from the tender confiding look on her face, was in love with my brother
I staggered to my feet, scarcely knowing what I was doing, and
stared them in the face foolishly.
Ah, Roger, said Wilfred, lightly, enjoying yourself in the old
way? All play and no work. Happy fellow, you, Roger; but then, some
people are born lucky.
I felt myself treated as a child. There was a jeering look upon his
face as he spoke, and his tone was that of a man speaking to another of
I did not answer his sally. I only felt desirous of joining in their
walk, of having a chance, no less than he, of speaking to Ruth; so I
You are going for a walk; let me go with you.
He did not hesitate a minute before replying, and in the same tone
as he spoke before.
You won't mind, I'm sure, Roger, when I tell you that we prefer
taking this walk alone. We haven't met for three years, and have so
much to say to each other.
Again I was treated as a child, and I became angry. I was about to
say something very foolish, but before I could utter the words they
were gone, and I heard Wilfred laugh a low, jibing kind of laugh.
I think I was mad during the remainder of that afternoon. My brain
was on fire, and everything seemed to whirl around me. My love was no
sooner known to myself than the object of it was snatched from me by
another, and that other my other brother.
I tried to convince myself that he was more worthy than I. I told
myself that I was a country bumpkin, an ignorant clown, and unworthy to
aspire to a maiden like Ruth Morton. That I was under a curse, that I
dared not leave the Trewinion lands for six months at a time, and that
it was better she should love Wilfred. This however, did not satisfy
me. Try as I would to stifle it, I could not help thinking I had more
claims to her love than he. What had he done for her? Nothing! I, on
the other hand, had twice risked my life for hers. But for me she would
have died, and yet she had bestowed her love on another. Had she? I was
not sure, and yet there could be little or no doubt about it. Wilfred
was capable of winning any woman's affection, and I felt certain she
would not resist his wishes. The very first day of his return they had
gone away together, and no doubt he would impress her with his
cleverness and greatness.
I would know the truth and that soon. Such was my determination. I
would ask her to walk alone with me as she had done with Wilfred, and
then I would find out.
I cannot describe my new found love, or, rather, the knowledge of
the love I had felt for years. It was so strange, so great. I had from
the first taken a special interest in Ruth; from the first I had
regarded her as a very dear sister. Now she was a thousand times more
than a sister. Nothing was too good for her. My one great thought was
to give Ruth happiness and joy. Why, then, did I not without a murmur
sacrifice her to Wilfred. Surely he could give her more happiness and
joy than I? Strange as it may seem, I felt that he could not. I
shuddered at the thought of her belonging to him in any way, and I
ground my teeth at the thought of their being together.
Perhaps this was because of my jealousy. Nevertheless, I am sure
that rough, uncouth, ay, half savage as I was, I would willingly have
laid down my life to save her from pain.
I had no chance to speak to her that day, nor the next, nor indeed
for many days. When my chance came, something stepped in between us.
Either Wilfred was with Ruth, or my mother claimed the girl as her
companion. I need not say that this maddened me more than ever and made
me act in anything but a creditable way. I would leave the merry family
party and go down to the village to talk with the fishermen. I would
seek to forget my own sorrows by laughing at their jokes, or entering
into their lives. Again, I would indulge in long, lonely walks, or go
away fishing alone. I knew I was fighting against my own interests by
doing this. I knew I was allowing my brother to use every fascinating
art in his power.
At length, my time came. We had all been out in the harvest fields
together, watching the reapers cut the golden wheat and gather it into
Surely the earth has few fairer sights than this! I have travelled
over a great deal of the globe, but I have seen nothing fairer than our
old Trewinion fields at harvest time. Especially was this so beneath
the light of the harvest moon. I shall never forget it. As twilight
faded, a thin mist rose from the earth, which, as the pale moon's rays
shone through it, looked strangely beautiful. The corn moughs (stacks),
too, looked weird and ghastly in the dim light, while the silver sea in
the distance made a low, delicious music as it gently rippled on the
In the distance I could hear the men and women singing on their
homeward way some plaintive Cornish songs, which to me blended sweetly
with the low sighing of the wind.
Ruth and I had by some means became separated from the rest, and my
heart fluttered rapidly, for I had determined to find out if she loved
my brother Wilfred. It has never been my way to lead up slowly to a
subject. What I have to say I must blurt out at once, ofttimes in a way
that gives pain to those to whom I speak.
Ruth, I said, I have long wished to tell you something.
Have you, Roger? she said, cheerfully then tell me at once, for
you have made me curious. What can you wish to say to me?
There was no hesitation, no trembling in her voice.
She spoke as naturally as my own sisters might have spoken.
Let us go home by Pentvargle Cove, I said, and turn in at
Very well, she said, gaily; and you'll pluck some of the
honeysuckle for me, won't you? I can smell it from here; how delicious
it is. Wouldn't Wilfred enjoy this?
She was thinking of Wilfred even now, when she was alone with me,
and I was about to burst out with an angry remark about my brother when
I looked down into her face.
To me it seemed like the face of an angel. Her large, lustrous grey
eyes had a far-away look in them, and an expression of sweet, placid
contentment rested on every feature. Never have I seen a face so sweet,
so beautiful. Tenderness, truth, purity were there, mingled with
courage, sacrifice, daring. It was a face never to be forgotten when
once seen. Never did I love her as I did then, and I could not say
angry words about my brother.
I have said I was clumsy in my mode of expression. I could say
nothing as it should be said; and now, when I felt I ought to be more
than usually careful, I was more than ever confused.
Come Roger, she said, what is it you want to tell me?
I want to know, Ruth, I said, my voice trembling, why you shun
me, dislike me, hate me so?
CHAPTER IX. OMENS OF DARKNESS
Look here upon this picture, and on this;
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See what grace was seated on his brow;
Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself.
An eye like Mars to threaten or command.
Hamlet, Act III, Scene 3.
She looked up as if surprised at my question.
Hate you, shun you, Roger, she repeated. Whatever led you to ask
such a question?
How can I help asking it, I said, when it is true? You never have
a word for me now. Your every thought is given to my brother. I suppose
it is because Roger is a boor, Roger is a clown, Roger is ugly.
What can possess you to speak in such a way? she said.
I knew I had spoken foolishly; but I could not help it. I was mad
with rage and jealousy. Having once begun to speak, all judgment and
discretion were gone. I was determined to know my fate, determined to
know if she loved my brother Wilfred.
Possess me! I answered. Well, I hardly know; but this I know.
Ever since my prig of a brother has come home from Oxford with his
affected smile and flattering ways, Ruth has had no ears or eyes for
any one else.
Still I fail to understand you, she said.
I do not doubt, I replied, savagely, that I am too ignorant a
clown to make my meaning clear. Were Wilfred speaking, you would
understand him. He would put his thoughts in such poetic language, and
speak in such cooing tones, that little Ruth would be made to think as
he thought, and feel as he felt; but II am nobody.
Roger, she said, you are not kind, you are not speaking like my
No, I cannot, I said, I do not feel that I am your brother. What
kind feeling have you towards me? Not a jot. It is Wilfred, Wilfred,
She walked on by my side in silence, I feeling that I had been a
brute, a savage. What right had I to speak so roughly, and thus to
annoy her? I looked down at her face, and I saw that her eyes were
filled with tears and her lips trembled. For a moment my jealousy and
anger were gone.
Forgive me, sister Ruth, I said, I ought not to speak so. Try and
forget what I have said. See, we are in Honeysuckle-lane, and here is
I picked a sprig of honeysuckle as I spoke and gave it to her, which
she received kindly. This emboldened me. Perhaps after all I was not so
hateful to her.
I have not a very poetical nature; but I think the scene by which we
were surrounded aroused what little I had. The birds were finding their
way to the hedgerows to seek rest for the night, ever and anon giving a
faint chirp of content. The beetles went humming heedlessly by, the
bees laden with honey returned to their hives, and all nature seemed to
be at peace. The honeysuckle and the hedge flowers that grew in wild
confusion perfumed the lane in which we walked; the nuts hung in thick
clusters on the fences, blackberries everywhere abounded. One by one
the stars came out of their obscurity until the heavens became
glorious; and as we walked on, the evening became more still. The
harvesters reached their homes, and we no longer heard the sound of
their voices. The night wind served only to make delicious music as it
played with the leaves on the trees and hedges or coquetted with the
golden corn. Now and then we could hear the sea murmur its old, old
song. To me it told of peace, and calm, and beauty.
And I was alone with the maiden whom I loved more dearly than my
I said that her kindness emboldened me, so with great trembling
hands I took her bonnet from her head and wove a piece of honeysuckle
amid her nut-brown hair.
Beautiful, beautiful Ruth! Yes, after the long stretch of weary
years I still call her so; but that night she was to me more than
beautiful, she was like an angel. I was young and unsophisticated,
andand I did not know what was coming.
For fully five minutes we did not speak. Slowly we walked side by
side in the calm still eventide, until we emerged from the lane, and
went towards Pentvargle Cove. Then the sight of the rugged cliffs
seemed to alter my feelings, and the old jealous passion returned. I
could see the five great prongs of the Devil's Tooth towering into
the sky, and I could not help thinking of the time, years ago, when I
had scaled its slippery precipitous sides to save the girl at my side.
Again the old desire to know the worst came back to me. Did Ruth love
my brother Wilfred?
Do you see the 'Devil's Tooth' yonder, Ruth? I said.
Yes, she said, how calm the sea is now. How different from when I
saw it first. Thenbut I cannot bear to think about it, can you? and
she shuddered as she spoke.
Oh, yes, I said. I like to think about it. Why, Ruth, I was able
to save you, you know.
She was silent, and again a bitter feeling crept into my heart.
Don't you wish it had been Wilfred who saved you, instead of
Roger? I asked, a little bitterly.
Why? she said, quickly.
Because you seem to think so much more about him. You like to be in
his company, and you treasure every word that he says.
I thought she looked confused, as she said hurriedly, Why should I
At this answer I was as much the slave to my mad feelings as when we
had commenced our walk. It was bitter hard for me. There, in sight of
the very place where I had saved her, she admitted her preference for
him who had done nothing for her.
Why should you not? I answered, boisterously, why not indeed.
There is every reason why you should. No doubt you wish Wilfred were
the elder son and I the younger. No doubt you wish he were Trewinion's
heir, and that I were penniless.
No, Roger, she said, were you penniless, and were your father to
die, you would have no means of obtaining a livelihood. It is best as
Blunt and dull of perception as I was I could not help seeing the
purport of this. She thought me too much of a fool to earn a living;
that it was only by the money which I inherited as a birthright I was
saved from starving.
I see the point of your answer, Ruth, I said. You think Wilfred
far more fit for the position of Trewinion's heir than I, and that I am
too ignorant a clown to get a living for myself.
I cannot help what conclusions you draw from my words, Roger, she
There is only one conclusion to be drawn, I answered. You think
Wilfred better than I. You think he should be master, and not I. You
think I am a brute, a savage.
I think no such thing, she replied, but you must yourself feel
the difference between you and him. He is kind, thoughtful, gentle; he
is cultured and refined. He gives way to no fits of passion, nor does
he seek to hurt one's feelings.
Yes, yes, I said, bitterly. He has been to Oxford, and has learnt
tricks dear to a woman's heart, and, having learnt them, he knows how
to practise them. He can quote poetry, and make soft speeches; he can
please you with flattery. His face is pale and interesting, his hands
are soft and white; and Ruth is very fond of him.
You are unkind, and you are unjust, Roger. If he has been fonder of
study than you, and if he has learnt to govern his temper, don't be
jealous or cruel. Better try and emulate him. You call yourself boorish
and clownish. Try and improve yourself; and then, perhaps, you will not
feel so much inferior to your brother.
As I have said before, no one cares to hear another say what in
self-disparaging moments he often says about himself. A dozen times in
the last fortnight had I spoken of myself as inferior to my brother,
but for another to say it was wormwood and gall to me.
Copy my brother! I said, savagely. Be a soft-fingered coward like
him! To be afraid of my own shadow like him! Copy him! Why he is but a
mere woman disgracing the clothes he wears. Had I been a puny thing
like him I should have ran away just as he did, and left you to die on
yon rocks. And yet you talk of my copying him. Why, he's just a
soft-muscled contemptible coward.
I scarcely know which I like less, she cried, a cowardalthough
I don't admit that your brother is oneor one who boasts of his own
bravery and taunts you with his own kind deeds. Roger, do you think
because you cannot appreciate your brother's nobleness that it does not
This silenced me. I had been answered. She had championed my
brother. She had declared in so many words that she preferred him to
me. She regarded what I had done for her as nothing.
I found then that my passion had been inflamed by hope, that my
jealousy was due to this reason. No sooner did Ruth speak in the way I
have described than a dull despair laid hold of my heart, and I was
dumb. I could see now that she loved Wilfred, and that she saw nobility
in him, which, in her opinion my nature was too poor to see, that the
fact of my having saved her life was to her little more than the action
of an animal, who acted instinctively without a thought of danger.
Well, on the whole I was glad to know the worst. I knew how to act now,
I was not upheld by any false hope.
I am glad you have told me this, Ruth, I said quietly. It is best
that I should know. I am afraid I have behaved very rudely! forgive me
and you shall have no reason to complain again.
She clutched my arm tightly, and seemed about to protest, but I did
not allow her to speak.
It was mean and unmanly of me to say what I have, I said, but I
was excited and almost beside myself; let us walk more rapidly towards
At this Ruth looked at my face as if in surprise, and began to
I hope I have not hurt your feelings, Roger, but Ithat is
Pray, don't distress yourself, Ruth, I said. It is well you have
spoken and let me see the truth. Perchance I shall be thankful some day
that you have spoken. Look, what's that?
I pointed towards the Devil's Tooth, which we could still see
rising clearly against the sky. On its very summit was a small
flickering light, and in my fancy I saw a dark form moving among its
It's a light, said Ruth, as if glad to change the subject; what
can it mean?
It means death, I said.
Death! I don't understand, Roger.
Whenever any one sees a light on the 'Devil's Tooth' it means death
to some one belonging to the man or woman who first saw it, I replied
with a shudder.
But that's only a superstition, replied Ruth, surely you will pay
no attention to such stories.
I knew it was only a superstition; but such is the power of
education and association that I could do no other than believe the
warning to be real. Why should it come just now when I was so little
able to bear it? Why should a darker cloud blacken my sky than was
I looked again. The light was gone, but surely I saw even in the
pale moonlight a dark moving figure. Try as I would to banish the
feeling I could not help fearing that a dread calamity was about to
fall on me. I felt ill able to bear it. I had been stunned by the fact
of Ruth's love for Wilfred and her dislike for me. It is true she had
not told me in as many words that she disliked me, or that she loved
Wilfred better, but I was convinced that she thought him more noble and
true, and that there was no hope of her ever coming to love me.
It was quite dark now, and we were away from the soothing influences
of the green honeysuckle lane and the rustling of the ripe corn. We
were walking on the top of the cliff and could see the misty outline of
the coast. We walked slowly on for some distance, and then we both
stopped, trying to see if the dark form were a reality or only a fancy.
Scarcely had we done so when I felt my arm touched.
What be 'ee lookin' for, Maaster Roger, my dear? said a
half-wheedling, half-mocking voice.
I turned and saw Deborah Teague.
I must confess that seeing her there alone made me feel strangely.
She had not spoken to me since the night when we met in the cave of
evil repute. Whenever we did chance to meet she looked steadily on the
ground, never answering any words I might address to her. I did not
wonder at this, for I fancied she had some ill-will towards me for not
complying with her wishes, but I did wonder at her coming now and
speaking to me in this familiar way. Nevertheless, I answered quietly:
I thought I saw some one on the 'Devil's Tooth,' but I'm not sure.
Ded 'ee zee a light jist now? she continued.
Yes, I did, I replied.
Do 'ee knaw who made the light?
No, I replied. I have been wondering what it meant.
Iss, and you've bin tellin' Miss Ruth 'bout it, aint 'ee, Maaster
Roger? I'll tell 'ee what you've zid (seen). You've zid Betsey Fraddam,
my dear, and you do knaw what that do main.
I know what foolish people say it means, I replied, but I do not
know what it really means.
Do'ant 'ee? But you will. 'Tis nearly come, Maaster Roger. You
defied and got vexed with they who would kip this from comin'; but 'tis
What's coming now?
Trewinion's curse, she screamed.
You hag, I cried, aroused into a passion. You have ill-wished
Ill-wished 'ee? No, I ain't, and that you do knaw. We can't
ill-wish a eldest son; but the curse es comin', and that we could have
See there, see there! she continued, pointing towards the great
forbidding-looking rock, do 'ee zee the light? I can!
Again I saw the flickering light on the rock between the great
prongs, and my flesh crept with fear.
Ted'n too late, is it? she said. Come to th' ould plaace to-night
at the same time, and we may do summin.
Do you think I'm a fool? I said. You cannot gull me with your
stories, for I know your tricks.
She laughed in my face, revealing gums that were toothless save for
one yellow fang that rested on her lower lip.
Oa, I remember it, Maaster Roger, she said. Ould Debrah do knaw
the curse. La me zee, how do it go?
His power be given to another,
And he be crushed by younger brother,
Then his son, though born the first,
By the people shall be cursed;
And for generations three
Trewinion's heirs shall cursed be!
The old woman recited these lines glibly, as though they had been
often on her lips, and she chuckled as she repeated them.
Go home, I said, angrily, and trouble me no longer with your ugly
Iss! Iss! I'll go, she screamed; but there'll be black days for
you. Ah, yer brother'll be wise if you be'ant. Ah, a Trewinion
disgraced, starvin', ruined!
I turned savagely towards her, but old as she was she nimbly stepped
out of my way, and pointed to the five-pronged rock.
The light es gone, and Maaster Roger's hope es gone, unless he do
come to Betsy Fraddam's cave at midnight, and there 'ee'll zee strange
You'll suffer for this, Deborah, I said, almost beside myself.
Zee where you're standin', she screamed, and think of what you
zeed three years agone, when you went to see the passen.
I looked, and, to my horror, I remembered that long years before I
had on this very spot seen a figure in white, which had disappeared on
the edge of the cliff.
I was so astonished that for a minute I did not move, and when I
recovered my senses Deborah had gone, although I thought I heard her
croaking, mocking laugh a little distance away.
The old woman is mad, Roger, said Ruth; let us go home quickly.
I was nothing loth. I hurried on as though the furies were behind
me, while Ruth was evidently as anxious as I to get indoors.
We had entered the old postern door, and were walking up the drive
leading to the house, when a servant met me.
Mr. Roger, he said, anxiously, you must please come in at once.
Why, is anything the matter?
Yes, your father has fallen off his horse and is badly hurt.
A great dread laid hold of me, but I hurried towards his room.
CHAPTER X. THE GATHERING DARKNESS
As I made my way along the dim corridors, fear gripped me. The weird
form I had seen between the prongs of the Devil's Tooth had told me
of darkness to come. This accident to my father was the fulfilment of
the omen. Arrived at the door of my father's bedroom I heard muffled
voices within; but no sooner was my arrival known than I was
immediately admitted. I found my father propped up in the bed by
pillows. There was a ghastly cut upon his face, and his hair was
clotted with blood. Evidently, too, he was suffering great pain, and he
breathed with difficulty.
No sooner did he see me than he beckoned me to approach. Although I
did not notice them at the time, I found out afterwards that my mother
was there, and Mr. Polperrow, the vicar, together with Mr. Inch and the
Roger! said my father, hoarsely.
Yes, father, I said, coming up and kneeling by his bedside.
My presence seemed to soothe him, for he gave evidence of less
suffering, and a look of peace stole over his face.
He laid his right hand upon my head fondly. My eldest-born boy, he
said, slowly, my big-hearted son. I am going to die, Roger, he said.
No, father, no!
Yes, Roger, 'twill soon be over. Only a few hours at most. I have
met with an accident, my boy. I was riding from Truro, and got near
home, when three men, who had been drinking hard at the tavern near by,
came out from the hedgeside and frightened Bess; she is a very flighty
mare, you know. She gave a side leap and threw me. My foot caught in
the stirrup, and I was dragged along the road until I fancy the mare
trod on me.
He said this quite calmly, as though it were a matter of everyday
occurrence. As for me, I could not speak, my heart was nearly bursting
I want to say a few more things to you before I die, my own boy,
he continued, slowly.
Say what you will, father, but don't talk of dying. Surely, surely,
the doctor here can make you well again.
No, no, Roger, no doctor can cure me, and he looked wistfully into
the doctor's face, who shook his head sadly. Then I felt sure that my
father's words would come true; that soon I should lose him.
The doctor felt his pulse; then said that what my father wished to
tell me must be told quickly.
Yes, yes, said my father. You, Roger, are my first-born, my own
boy, and again he lingered lovingly over the words.
Your own boy, I repeated, proudly.
You are Trewinion's heir, he continued, the master of all the
Trewinion lands. You remember what I told you years ago, my boy?
Ever remember them, Roger. Be careful.
I will, father.
There were other things in connexion with the history of our people
that I meant to tell you, but I kept putting it off, and now it's too
late; but perhaps it's as well as it is. You will find them out in
time. God grant you may be prepared. What I want to say now refers to
Wilfred, and to Ruth Morton.
I scarcely breathed. I thought I should hear something that would
make clear my future relation to Ruth, and would clear up the mystery
that I felt existed in regard to my brother and myself.
Wilfred he hesitated a moment, and then his eyes sought my
mother's. Instantly she came to his side, and looked at him strangely.
He heaved a sigh, and continued:
Wilfred is younger than you, and does not by law inherit any of the
Trewinion lands. I have left him money, however, and given him a good
What, dear father?
I fancy he thinks himself hardly treated. If you like, Roger, you
might grant him an annuity, and he named a sum.
God is my witness, father, that I'll be true to your wishes; if I
can, I'll give him more.
That's my own boy, Roger. He will not need it; but it's perhaps
I looked at my mother as he said this. There was a terrible look on
her face. I cannot describe it. Mockery, disdain, anger, despair,
vindictiveness were all stamped there, but I heeded little; I was too
intent on catching my father's every word.
With regard to the girls, Roger, they will live on with you. I have
left them a farm eachbought with the money saved through the years.
The rents of these farms have been, and are, accumulating. It's all
written down, and, when the lawyer comes, you can go into everything.
These farms, and the money received from them, will be their wedding
portion if they marry; if they don't they will never be in want.
I could only say, Yes, father.
If it's God's will, he went on, Wilfred will succeed Mr.
Polperrow and have the Trewinion living, unless anything happens to
you, thenthen he will be Trewinion's heir.
Involuntarily I again looked at my mother's face. There was exulting
triumph on it, mingled with a look of terrible hatred. I did not know
what it meant, nor could I conjecture.
But I hope there's no danger of that, he continued. You are my
eldest born, my own boy.
How fondly he repeated these words, and how proud I felt, in spite
of my grief, as I heard him speak them; and so I again repeated:
I'm your own boy.
There's just one other matter I'm going to speak to you about, he
said, after a pause. I ought to have spoken to you about it before;
but I thought there was plenty of time. Mr. Inch, will you come near?
The old man came up with a stately step. He had always been treated
with great respect in our house, especially as he was Ruth's valued
friend, and had much to do with the managing of Ruth's estate.
You remember, went on my father, and I noticed that he spoke with
more difficulty, the night you saved Ruth?
I had been in communication with her father prior to that; indeed,
as you know, we had been friends for years.
He turned to Mr. Inch when he said this, and went on:
You know Mr. Morton's wish with regard to Ruth, Mr. Inch; he told
you before he died all about it?
Yes, said Mr. Inch, and it was mentioned in his will.
I looked again at my mother. There was a stony look upon her face.
It was ghastly to see.
Yes, to be sure, said my father, it was mentioned in the will.
What was his lifelong wish, Roger, was also mine. His desire and mine
was, and is, that our families should be united, that you should wed
In spite of the tragic circumstances, my heart gave a wild leap for
joy! Ruth, my darling, my life, would be mine! It was her father's
wish, and she, I was sure, would be faithful to his least desire. I
could bear anything now!
Will you do this, Roger?
Gladly, if Ruth will, father, I said huskily.
Forgive me for interposing, said Mr. Inch, but you have not
exactly stated the true conditions of Mr. Morton's will.
In what way? asked my father.
What Mr. Morton stated in his will was that he desired his daughter
Ruth to marry the heir of the Trewinion estate, so that not only might
the families be united, but the estates also be joined.
Well, is not Roger the heir of the Trewinion lands?
Yes, but you mentioned just now the possibility of anything
happening to your elder son, then, of course, your second son would
take his place.
Yes, yes. Of course, of course, said my father, wearily.
Does Ruth know about her father's wish? I asked.
No, not yet, replied Mr. Inch, he thought it best that it should
be kept from her until she reached her twenty-first birthday, unless
necessity arose for her being told. No such necessity has arisen, and
hence she remains in ignorance of the arrangement that was made between
her father and Mr. Trewinion.
Everything else I have stated in my will, said my father, and all
things are arranged in due form. Roger, my boy, you will try and be
true to the Trewinion's name?
God helping me, I will, I said, but, father, have you anything to
say about my mother?
Your mother! he repeated, vacantly. Ah, yes, of course, she will
live on hereunlessbut that is all arranged. You need not worry
Inexperienced as I was, I could not help thinking that this was
strange. Why should my mother's welfare be dismissed in such a careless
way? I could not understand matters. Perhaps, however, everything was
privately arranged, and my father did not care to speak before those
who were outside our family circle.
I looked at my mother again, but this time her face told no story.
Evidently, I was to know nothing about her future, at any rate, for the
After this my father grew weaker rapidly, and although he suffered
but little pain we knew that his life was fast ebbing away.
What I felt as I sat and watched I cannot describe, for he desired
me to remain to the end. Nor will I try and write about the farewell
between him and Wilfred, and my sisters, and Ruth. Such scenes are not
to be written about; they cannot be. Even now that solemn hour comes
back to me, and I try to realise, as I tried to realise then, that my
father's spirit went to be with God.
Oh, this mystery of death! It surrounds us all, and yet we
understand it not. There we stood talking with him, who was soon to be
no more with usand we knew it. What would become of his spirit? We
did not know, we could only hope. Would father become nothing, or would
he live on? I could not realise the fact of his death then. I can
barely do so now. For one hour my father talked to us. His brain
thought, his tongue spoke, his soul felt, the nexthe was gone; and
yet he was not gone. He lay there, the father I had embraced, and yet
he did not lie there. The body could not love, and my father did
After we had sat some time in silence, Mr. Polperrow spoke to my
father. He asked him if he felt himself safe for the next world; but
father answered him not.
You have always been a good churchman, continued Mr. Polperrow,
and have always been regular in partaking of the Holy Communion.
My father smiled, I thought sadly, and then he beckoned to me again.
He looked as though he had something to tell meat least, I thought
soand I put my ear close to his mouth. He was now very weak, and
spoke with difficulty; but I thought I caught the words:
I thought he referred to the legend about the curse and assured him
that I would be careful, but he did not seem satisfied.
Beware of he said, and seemed to hesitate before pronouncing
the word that would make the sentence complete. He looked round the
room until his eyes rested on the place where my mother and Wilfred
stood, then he sighed deeply.
I will beware of everything wrong, I said, in trying to lead his
mind from difficulty or doubt. You are sure everything is well with
you. No vestige of the curse remains with you.
He looked at me strangely, then a smile lit up his face and a new
light beamed from his eyes.
There is no curse, he said. God is love.
These were his last words. Soon after his soul took its flight into
Then I went out into the night alone. One by one the events of the
day flashed through my mind, until I was sick and dizzy.
I was terribly excited; but beneath the excitement was a dull,
aching pain. For hours I walked the headland and tried to realise that
my father was dead, that I should hear his voice no more; but
realisation was impossible. I had seen him ride away in the morning, a
handsome, robust, man in the prime of life, and now.
In my grief for him everything else had for the time been forgotten.
Everything had been dispelled by this great calamity, and what was
hardest of all to bear was that I was not sure that my father
wassomewhere. I could not think of him as being in hell. I could not
think of God, father, and hell at the same time, but was he anywhere?
Father, I cried, let me know that you are somewhere! Let me hear
you speak, if only a word; only to know that all is well.
The night was very still. Not a breath of wind stirred, the harvest
moon was just sinking into the sea, and the water was all aglow with
its light. But I heard no voice. Even the sea made no noise, so still
were its waters.
Ah! I cried, my father is gone, for ever gone, and I am cursed
with the curse of my people.
Was it fancy? Was it the voice of man or the voice of God that I
heard in answer to my despairing cry? Fancy it could not be, for it was
past midnight and I stood alone on the great headland. Surely God spoke
to me, for there, alone in the silence, I heard my father's last words
repeated. How they came I know not, but this I know, in tones sweeter
than thought can fancy came the glorious message, There is no curse,
God is love.
After that I was able to think and connect, link by link, the events
of the evening.
And all this was but the twilight which told of the coming night.
CHAPTER XI. THE CALL TO RENOUNCE
Whereat Siddartha turned,
And lo! the moon shone by the crab! the stars
In that same silver order long foretold
Stood in range to say, This is the right!Choose thou
The way of greatness or the way of good;
To reign a King of Kings, or wander lone,
Crownless, and homeless that the world be helped.
The Light of Asia.
After this I went back to my room, and tried to realise the true
position of matters. One by one I thought over the events of the day,
and tried to understand their purport. There's Providence in the fall
of a sparrow, said Hamlet, and I, being to a certain extent a believer
in this, fancied that everything through which I had gone was an
essential part of the drama of my life.
First, there was Ruth's preference for Wilfred and her dislike for
me. Well, I must bear that. Besides, I was not sure. It is always the
function of a true-hearted woman to speak well of the absent one,
especially if he be maligned. I would not yet allow myself to be
Then there was the light on the great rock, the rock of evil repute,
the rock that lured vessels to their destruction. I thought again and
again of this. Then there was the appearance of Deborah Teague, who
told me the light foreboded evil, while the weird dark form between the
prongs told the same story. On other occasions I might have laughed at
all this; but that terrible calamity following so soon after the
warning impressed me strangely.
Yet what connexion could these dark omens have with the death of my
father? What link was there between evil women and one of the purest
and best of men. Clearer than all omens and louder than evil words was
my father's last message to me, a message repeated by the voice of
Heaven, There is no curse; God is Love.
Thus when daylight came, I was calm, and although I had passed a
sleepless night I was not altogether unrefreshed.
Three weary days followed, and then the funeral. Of that time I have
not much to say. I was mostly alone, except when I was obliged to
attend to the business which now devolved upon me, though I declared
that nothing of importance should be dealt with until after my father's
From the members of the family I received only kindness. My mother
said nothing that could hurt my feelings; indeed, she seemed
considerate and at times almost gentle. Wilfred, too, was more like the
Wilfred of olden times when we were on good terms with each other.
There was no change in my sisters. They always loved me, and were more
than usually loving, while Ruth was the comforting, cheering influence
of the house. Never until now did I realize the sweetness of her
nature, or her power to cheer and help others when her own heart was
I could not do much; but in my clumsy way I tried to make them all
feel my father's loss less.
And thus the time passed until my father was laid in the old family
vault, and we returned to our old house on the cliff. Then we came back
to the hard material things of life. We had to listen to father's last
will and testament, and hear his latest wishes. All the family gathered
in the library, together with Mr. Inch, Ruth, our solicitor, who also
attended to the legal matters of Ruth's estate, Mr. Tremain, the
doctor, and Mr. Polperrow, the vicar.
I need not here state the terms of the will: they have already been
hinted at. Everything that a loving father could devise for the welfare
of his children my father had done.
Not a word was spoken when the lawyer's voice ceased. If Wilfred was
discontented he said nothing at the time, and my sisters were too
overcome with grief to trouble about what money was left them. No
sooner had the will been read, however, than Mr. Inch spoke.
It seems to me that this is the time for the wishes of Mr. Morton
and Mr. Trewinion to be made known, he said.
I began to tremble violently, while Ruth evidently wondered what was
The lawyer complied very graciously with Mr. Inch's request. This
seems to be the right time, he said.
I could not help thinking that the matter had been arranged
beforehand, especially when Mr. Tremain produced a certain document and
began to read therefrom.
The words he read were very plain and distinct. They stated that it
was the wish of Mr. Morton that his daughter Ruth should in due time
marry the heir of the Trewinion estate, and while he did not enforce it
as a condition of her becoming his sole heiress, he still trusted that
his daughter's love for him would lead her to obedience. After this the
lawyer went on to say that on the night of his death my father had
reiterated the same wish.
When he had finished reading and speaking I looked at Ruth. Her face
was pale as death, and I saw that she was terribly moved. The
revelation had come to her as a great shock, and I could not help
seeing that a look of anger and disgust flashed from her eyes.
My father wish that I should marry Roger! she exclaimed, huskily.
Never! It cannot be!
My heart sank like lead; but no further word was spoken. Soon the
family conclave broke up, and we adjourned to the dining-hall.
I felt very strange, sitting at the head of the table in my father's
chair, and for a time was almost overcome; but I rallied presently, and
during the dinner was quietly thinking what was best to do. Although
the head of the family, I felt I was quite alone. Everything told me
that all in the house, excepting, perhaps my sisters, were in league
with my mother against me.
I made up my mind, however, that I would not speak for three days to
Ruth concerning her father's wish, and that then I would, if I dared,
say the words my heart was burning to make known.
Nothing worthy of mention passed during the dinner-hour, but
afterwards, having occasion to go into the library, I found Ruth alone.
Instantly I wanted to refer to what had been said concerning us. My
blood rushed madly to my head and my hands trembled.
I do not know, but I think she saw what was in my mind, for she
turned away her face and walked toward the window.
Ruth, I said, why do you go away from me?
She began to sob violently.
Ruth, I continued, something must grieve you to make you cry
thus. Is it because of what has been said about us? If so, do not
grieve any more. I will never ask you to do what would give you pain.
Her sorrow was terrible to see. Was it because of me that her grief
was so bitter?
Don't give way so, I went on. Shall I leave you alone? I am sure
I do not wish to give you any trouble. After our walk the other night I
determined I would never say another word to hurt your feelings, and
I'll be true to my determination. I did not mean to speak about the
will for some time, but perhaps it would be better if I were to tell
you now. Ruth, it is the dearest wish of my life that we should fulfil
our fathers' wish in this matter. I have loved you ever sincesince
that terrible night, when you first came, but I never realized it until
the day that Wilfred came home from Oxford. Then I was nearly mad with
jealousy. I am afraid I have been very rude to you since, but it was
because I love you so, for Ruth, I would do anything to make you
Still she sat leaning forward on a table, her head buried in her
hands, and sobbing as though her heart would break.
It hurts me to hear you cry so, I said, and I can see now why it
is. But cheer up, Ruth. I will not speak of this any more. I will never
ask you to obey your father's will. You shall not have the pain of
linking your life to mine. I love you too well for that. God bless you,
Ruth. I will try and find out what will make you happy, and then you
shall see how I love you; for I will do all in my power to give you
what you want.
She held up her head. There was an expression of thankfulness on her
face; a look of intense relief, as though a burden was taken away.
I knew my fate then; and while it gave me joy to give her one
minute's pleasure, yet it was agony to think that the promise of my
absence should be the cause of it. So great indeed was the pain that I
could not bear it, and stumbled blindly out. In spite of the fact that
when I got into the hall I thought I heard her calling Roger I rushed
away to the cliffs, whither I always fled in my hours of trouble.
But the events of the day were not yet at an end. As I stood alone
looking at the sea I saw a great cloud rising in the northern sky. Soon
I knew we should be enveloped in it and feel its darkness. In like
manner was there a cloud, darker than all the rest, rising in the sky
of my life. What it was I could not say; but I felt its coining, and I
shuddered. Coming events cast their shadows before, says the old
adage, and looking backward I can see how true it was in this case.
Aimlessly I wandered on while the evening shadows gathered around,
and the sea sobbed its sad song, telling me of the storm that was
surely coming. As chance or fate would have it, I passed by the cottage
of old Deborah Teague, and there in the grey twilight I saw her, with
Mally Udy, quietly smoking. They looked up at my approach, but spoke
not. A low chuckle escaped both of them, however, but I had no heart to
speak to them. Still, their gruesome appearance added to the dark
feelings that possessed me, and the dark shadows became more real.
At length I made my way back to the house, and although I was its
lawful owner, and although every inch of land for a long distance
around was mine, I felt that I was a stranger and an interloper. It was
cold, too, cold as a vault, and as I passed along, the stone paved hall
made a clanking noise which echoed through the silent rooms. I heard
the wind howling too, and the sea began to roar, and when this was so
there was always a ghostly, weird feeling about our old grey house.
As if drawn on by a spell, I made my way to the library, and on
arriving there found my mother sitting alone.
I have been waiting for you, Roger, said my mother quietly. I
felt there were some things about which I ought to speak to-night, and
so would not retire until I saw you.
And what about the girls, mother? I said. Where are they, and
where is Wilfred?
They are all gone to bed. It has been a terrible day for them all,
especially for Ruth, and so I sent them off. Besides, we must speak
Speak alone, mother? I thought everything was settled. I am weary,
and desire no business to-night. I have had much to do for three days,
and have more to do to-morrow. I must rest.
There is such a thing as duty as well as pleasure, said my mother
severely. You are now Trewinion's lord, and surely it is your duty to
care about the happiness of others. Besides, a mother should ever be
able to command her son?
Just so, mother, I said wearily. Tell me what you wish, and I
will do my best to obey you.
Roger, she said in an altered tone, you have had the reputation
of being kind-hearted and generous. I know you have often thought me
hard upon you; but if I have been so, it was only from the desire to
make you gentle as well as generous.
I looked upon her in surprise, and in spite of my sorrow my heart
bounded with hope. Perhaps my father's death had destroyed all hard
feelings, and now I should know the meaning of a mother's love.
Mother, I said, I have been rough and harsh. I'll try to be a
better son, and perhaps we may be happy in the future.
A sharp spasm, as if of pain, crossed her face, but she spoke
It may be, she went on, that what I shall say may hurt you, but I
only want to be a kind, loving mother.
My heart warmed more than ever. I am sure that is your desire,
mother, I said.
She was silent for a minute, and again I saw the look of of pain
which crossed her face.
Roger, she burst out, what I have to say nearly kills me, and
she burst into a flood of tears.
I went to her side and soothed her.
Don't grieve, mother, I said, and don't say anything that will
give you pain.
No, no, it's not that, she said, and then cried out, I can't tell
him, I can't.
Don't, mother, I cried. Wait until you are stronger, and then
tell me. These few days have been terrible for you. I have been
thinking too much about myself. I have been remembering that I have
lost my father, but have forgotten that you have lost your husband. I
know it's terrible, mother, but dear father is happy now, and Wilfred
and I will take care of you.
At the mention of Wilfred's name her face changed. A look of
determination came upon her face, and her hands clenched nervously.
Roger, she said, I am calm now, and hard as it is to tell you I
will do so.
I sat down before her, wondering what was coming.
You remember the night of youryour father'sdeath?
He said it was his wish, and the wish of Mr. Morton that you should
Yes, I said, my heart beating violently.
Roger, that must never be!
I spoke harshly, for my heart became hard as a stone, and yet it
seemed to grow too big for my bosom.
Because, she answered, her voice trembling as she did so, she
loathes, shudders at the thought of marrying you.
How dare you say this? I cried angrily, and yet I knew her words
were true. Ruth's face had told me the same story only that very
If you wish to drive her mad, kill her, murder her! went on my
mother, ask her to do as her father wishes.
What is there in me to drive her mad, or to murder her? I cried.
I have always been kind to her.
Nothing, nothing, Roger. She loves you as a brother. You have been
very good to her. None of us forget that twice you saved her life.
Then why do you say she loathes me?
Can you not see what I mean? She does not loathe you as a brother;
but she loathes the thought of your being her husband, and were you to
insist on a marriage, you would kill her!
Why? You say she loves me as a brother; why, then, should the other
thought be so terribly abhorrent? Could she not in time learn to give
me more than a brother's love?
Because she loves another!
Can you not guess?
Guess! Ah, yes; I could indeed. Had I not seen it for weeks? My
mother need not tell me more. I knew perfectly well.
Surely you have seen that they have been lovers from childhood,
she went on. She has been all in all to him, whilewell, you must
have seen how she regarded him. He did not speak to her about it,
however, until he came home from Oxford, and then, on the day of his
arrival, he told her what he had felt for years.
She told himthatwhat in short he had been longing to hear, and,
although we knew it not, they became betrothed.
It was what I had thought, it did not surprise me, and yet I felt
sick and giddy. It was some time before I could speak, and then I could
only stammer out:
And she promised to be his wife?
My mother nodded.
No words can describe what I felt, for never until then did I
realise how I loved her, or what pain it was for me to lose her.
Do you love Ruth very much, Roger? asked mother.
Love her! I cried, love her! I would die for her.
And she loves Wilfred, and would never be happy away from him.
I fought it down after a while; crushed all my envy, jealousy, and
hatredfor hate did possess me for a timeand then turned to my
Let Ruth and Wilfred be happy, I said, I shall put in no claim,
her happiness is more important than mine.
They cannot, said my mother.
Cannot! I cried. Why?
Because it was her father's wish that she should marry Trewinion's
heir, and she will do it, though she dies the next day.
I do not understand.
You know how much she has ever thought of her father. No one I ever
saw loved a parent, or a parent's memory, as much as she loved her
father's. And now, although she would have to sacrifice everything dear
to her heart, she will be true to his wish.
But I will not have it so. I will not call for the sacrifice.
Then you are hindering her father's wish from being fulfilled, and
you will still be keeping Ruth and Wilfred apart.
But what can I do?
My mother was silent.
Then I saw her meaning. My very existence was the great evil. I was
Trewinion's heir, whom her father wished her to marry, and yet she
hated the thought of it; while she could not marry the man she loved
because of her father's will. Meanwhile she was suffering a terrible
tortureand I was causing it.
I tried to look at the whole matter fairly and boldly. What were the
alternatives? I was Roger Trewinion's eldest son, and if I allowed my
father's and Mr. Morton's will to be carried out, I doomed my darling
to a loathsome lifea living death, while, though I should attain the
object most dear to me, I should live in hell, the hell of being with a
woman who loved another man. If I refused to marry her, things would be
nearly as bad. I should still be dooming her to misery; she would not
marry my brother, I should never be free from the thought that I was
keeping others from happiness, while the two houses of Trewinion and
Morton would not be united.
Slowly it came at first! Then the full meaning of the thought
flashed upon me! I could not do it, I could not! And yet it was the
Renounce my name, my possessions, my identity! Go away and never
That was the alternative, the only way by which the houses could be
united, the only way Ruth could be happy.
I see what you mean, mother, I cried out at last, but I must have
time, I cannot decide in a moment. I must speak to Ruth, to Wilfred.
Why speak to Ruth? You will only give her more pain. You spoke this
afternoon. Why cause her to bear more than she is already bearing?
Ruth had told her, then, and doubtless told her, too, what were her
feelings towards Wilfred! I saw the truth, the force of her words, and
yet it was very hard.
I must think, mother, I said. I know you love Wilfred the better;
I know you think him far more fit to be the head of the house than I;
you think I ought to make the sacrifice, but I must have time to
How long, Roger? The day after to-morrow Ruth leaves Trewinion
Need you ask? She cannot wait here in the house with the man she
thinks she has to marry, when the thought of such a thing is terrible.
I was driving Ruth away then. Not only was I giving her pain and
sorrow, but because of me she was going to leave the only home wherein
she could be happy. It was true she could return to her own home, which
had been kept in repair, but I knew she did not intend going there
until she came of age.
She does not wish to be with me longer than she thinks she is
forced by her father's will? I said.
She knows she is not expected to marry you until she is twenty-one.
That will not be for some time, and so she is going away.
This was hardest of all to bear, it drove me to madness. Her
detestation of me was so great that she determined to shun me.
Just one word more, mother. Have you spoken to me because of Ruth's
desire, or with her sanction?
A strange look flashed across my mother's face; then she said,
Roger, never think I can answer that question.
My brain seemed on fire, and I could not tell what to do, I could
not decide. I simply rushed out of the room saying, You will soon
I made my way to my room upstairs, and in passing along a corridor I
saw a light in Mr. Inch's room. Immediately I knocked at his door, and
on receiving permission, entered. I found him busy with a lot of
Is it correct that you and Miss Morton are going to leave us, Mr.
Inch? I said.
He bowed, and said, quietly but distinctly, It is so decided.
Might I ask the reason for this abrupt departure? I said. I have
heard nothing about it until to-night.
He looked at me for a moment steadily; then he said,
It is not for me to say; surely you should know that it is next to
impossible for her to remain here now.
He also had told me in words as plain as words could tell what she
felt. I must think, think alone. I found my way to my bedroom, but my
mind would not work there. I must get out under the broad sky, where
all was free. So again I left the house, went away towards the highest
point on the headland, where, hundreds of feet below, the waves were
lashing themselves into foam as they broke upon the great rugged rocks.
CHAPTER XII. NIGHT
And Esau hated Jacob. . . . And Esau said in his heart, the days of
mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother
Jacob.The Book of Genesis.
It did not rain, but the wind blew a wild hurricane. Now and then it
seemed to cease, and I could hear a kind of moaning sound which the sea
made, but again it came as though it would sweep away the great rocks
that grimly defied the fury of the elements. I did not mind this,
everything accorded with my feelings. I found ease in breasting the
storm, I breathed more freely when the wind blew its loudest.
By and by the thunders began to roar and the lightnings to flash,
still no rain fell, so I did not mind.
But it was terrible to be alone on such a night, and with such a
problem to solve. For hours I think I was mad. I am sure that in my
frenzy my voice could be heard above the wind and wave. Nothing,
however, made me forget what lay before me. The future ever haunted me,
and turned the thunderings of the wave into derisive mocking laughter.
Now and then I would stand and look at the old house, which I could
dimly see in the stormlight, and when I did so it became dearer than
ever to me. It was the home of my fathers, the place wherein they had
died, and my heart clave unto it. I felt proud of my nameproud that I
was born the representative of my family, and to give it up seemed like
pulling at my heart-strings.
And thus I was tempted in the night; I would maintain my position as
Trewinion's heir. I would wed Ruth. I would brave everything and carry
out the wish of my father. Ruth did not love me now, but she might
learn to love me in time, besides, I could not give her up. I loved
herloved her supremely. All the strength of my nature, moulded
largely by wild surroundings and an uncultured people, was given to
her. I did not love tamely. It was no tender passion I felt, it was a
mad, passionate adoration. I can call it nothing less. Fer her I could
brave danger, difficulty, death; but I could not give her up.
And I would not!
Why should I? I was master, I would remain so. I would maintain my
rights. I would let Wilfred know that I was the elder brother and he
the younger. And Ruth should be mine. My father wished it, and so did
hers, and so I would claim her. I would take my father's place and
reign righteously. I would be a pattern to the neighbouring gentry, and
my name should be respected far and wide. This was what every eldest
son of my race save one had donethat is, they had all claimed their
position, and so would I. Wilfred's happiness! Well, Wilfred had always
defied me and treated me as an inferior. Wilfred must take care of
himself; he must be thankful that I gave him the annuity my father had
mentioned. I could not help being born the first; besides, what had I
to do with his happiness? What right had he to seek to win Ruth's
affections? Doubtless he who was so friendly with Mr. Inch would know
her father's wish. Thus he must have acted like a sneak to have sought
what could not be fairly given to him. And Ruth! Did I not love her,
would I not humour her every wish, grant her every desire, and devote
my life to make her happy?
She had never cared for me, never trusted me, never treated me as a
son, never told me of her intentions. I did not know, indeed, if she
were my mother. Why, then, should I trouble about her? If need be she
could go and live with Wilfred; at any rate, I would be Trewinion's
lord, and maintain my rights.
Then the other side presented itself. If this were carried out what
would be the result? I should see Ruth suffering, pining day by day.
She would loathe my presence, she would shudder at my embrace. By my
selfishness I should wreck her life. I should be her murderer. Then
what happiness should I have? Could I be happy while the woman I loved
was being cursed by my presence?
Then I put it this way: If I went awaynot that I should, but
considering it suppositiously merelyif I went away, what would be the
result? Wilfred would claim to be master; he would be Trewinion's heir;
he would wed Ruth, who would gladly join her life to hisfor were they
not affianced lovers?my mother would rejoice, and all would be happy.
My black shadow would be taken from their lives, and they could for
ever live in the sunshine.
The picture seemed bright, and for a moment the thought of it gave
me pleasure. Then I remembered that I should be leaving Ruth for ever;
I should be leaving my old home for ever; I should not die in the great
chamber where all my ancestors had died. I should be a wanderer, a
vagrant, homeless and friendless.
Besides, what could I do? Strong and hardy I was, as a man could
well be, but I had no trade or profession. That is the curse which
befalls eldest sons who expect fortunes; if anything happens to them
they have no profession on which to rely. What did I know? Something of
the management of an estate, but not enough for a steward, nor would
anyone hire a steward without an assurance as to his abilities and past
career. I was not fit for that, and if I went away the name of Roger
Trewinion must be sunk for ever, so that I could not seek such a post.
The only thing I could say I was fit for was the post of a sailor. If I
went away I must try and get a place in a trading vessel.
I thought of all this, but would not confess to myself that I was
seriously thinking of leaving my home, the sacrifice was too great.
Meanwhile the storm was raging, and flakes of foam were blown
against my face. Then I felt some raindrops falling, and the sky became
I would go in and go to bed, and on the morrow I would speak to
Then came the moment of final struggle. Ruth was leaving the house
because of me, because she loathed the thought of being my wife, and
because she wished to be free from me as long as she could.
This thought took away much of my interest in home, as well as my
desire to remain among the scenes of my early childhood. It chilled
those warm feelings of attachment for the homestead, and for the people
who had become a part of my life.
Ruth leave because of me! And yet it was because of Ruth I wanted to
stay. I would look at the matter again. I wanted to make Ruth happy;
but what was the course I must take in order to do that? The great
hindrance to her happiness was myself. I was the black cloud that hid
her sun. If I did not exist her joy would be complete, for then she
would be free to wed the man she loved.
And while I was fighting this battle the storm beat furiously upon
me. Never shall I forget how the wind blew, nor how the waves became
more and more maddened. Dimly I could see the great mountains of
waters, as with thundering roars they hurled themselves on the
rockbound coast and became churned into foam. How stern and pitiless
nature was, how careless of all human joys or sorrows! It was well I
had my dying father's assurance that God was love, or I could never
have believed it then. To me there was an almighty devil ruling the
universe. A being who hated us, and sought our destruction.
I was however glad of the storm. It helped me. I had to resist, to
exert myself. It gave play to my active nature; it kept me from
succumbing to the dark cloud of sorrow in which I was enveloped.
I know not how, nor can I tell the exact moment when the decision
was made; but, in the end, I decided to leave the old homestead and to
give Ruth happiness. I claim no virtue for my act. There was not much
in it after all. I should never be happy if I remained at home; nay,
Trewinion Manor would be hell to me, while spectres that I should
constantly be raising would haunt my life. Besides, I might find some
relief away. I would go, I would roam the world all over, and, perhaps,
away from the scene of my misery, I should find peace. My heart was
breaking, and it was not worth while for me to add misery to that which
was already felt by those by whom I was surrounded.
It may be said by those who read this that my act was one of great
self-denial; but if it was it brought none of that peace and inward
satisfaction which are said to come from such deeds. My misery, if
possible, became more intense, and the storm seemed to mock me with
shrieks and howls of derision.
With a great weight on my heart I crept back to the house, and
slowly went to my room. When should I go?
To-morrow was the response of my weaker nature. Get a good
night's rest, make an impressive scene before Ruth, and go away with a
flourish of trumpets. But that would not do. I doubt whether I could
have had the heart to go away in the daylight if I saw Ruth near me.
Besides, I did not want to go away openly; I would leave in secret,
when no eye should see me, and when no one should be able to trace me.
When should I go?
That was the answer of my stronger and sterner nature. Leave in the
night, alone, and at once. Never look at the sweet face of Elizabeth
and Katherine, never be weakened by the beauty of Ruth, never be shaken
in my resolve by the patronising pride of Wilfred or the unloving look
of my mother. Delay would be dangerous. On the one hand were influences
leading me to stay, by making me defiant, hard, and bitter; on the
other, by making me weak and yielding. I would go at once then.
That mattered not for the time. I would leave the house at once, and
decide my course when once away and alone.
Should I let any one know what had become of me, should I write a
letter to Ruth, or Wilfred, or mother? I dared not. To do that would
weaken me at once. Still, it would be better that I should let them all
know that I was gone away, never to return.
I clothed myself in a strong plain suit of clothes, which I had used
when shooting on our boggy rough moors, put twenty guineas in my
pocket, and then went down into the library again. I did not look
around me and think of the hours I had spent there. If I did Ruth could
not be happy, for I should not have sufficient courage to remove my
black shadow from her life. I went to the writing desk and began to try
to say good-bye. That I found I could not do, so I simply wrote the
From this time Roger Trewinion is no more. He ceases to be so that
Wilfred can be Trewinion's heir and Ruth can be happy. Let Wilfred do
his duty, or Roger Trewinion may come to life again.
That was all, and after I had written it I felt more calm. Then I
took a stout oak stick, on which was engraven my father's name, and one
which he usually took when out walking and went away from the house, in
my heart bidding it good-bye for ever.
I walked rapidly northwards, keeping close to the cliffs. It was now
early morning, but the sun had not yet risen. The black clouds had
passed away, but the sea forgot not its anger, and still broke
furiously upon the shore.
I must have walked five miles when I saw signs of day. The sky
changed from nearly black into a sombre grey, while the sea became like
unto the sky. The birds creeping from their night resting-places, began
to sing, and from the farms by which I passed I heard the sound of the
On I tramped, anxious to get away from the neighbourhood where I was
known, the light becoming clearer and clearer as I went, until I could
see the outline of the coast. Then before me I saw a great jutting
headland, similar to the one on which our house was built, thence I
should be able to see my old home.
By the time I got there it was broad day, I think about five
o'clock, and wistfully I scanned the coast. Yes, there was Trewinion
clear and plain, although miles away. The grey, rugged walls stood out
distinctly and striking, while the tower lifted its head proudly into
the sky. And this home I had given up. Back from it stretched broad
acres that were mine, and these I had renounced for a woman.
Treat her well, Wilfred, or by the Creator of us both you shall
curse the day on which you were born.
I muttered this between my closed teeth, for at that moment I knew I
Then I remembered the Trewinion's curse.
Do I believe in supernatural agencies, in witchcraft? Am I prey to
superstitious fancies? I cannot answer. The unseen world is so linked
with the seen that they are but one world. I cannot tell where to draw
the line between natural and supernatural. To me the two are one. But
this I know; the moment I realised that I hated Wilfred, I was cursed
with a terrible curse. Evil passions surged within me, I planned dark
deeds, murder did not seem hateful, and hell far worse than that which
I had felt when I had been struggling on the cliff was now my doom.
A bottomless pit! I was in it. A pit of slavery to evil desire, of
savage joy which was not joy, at the thought of evil. This was where I
He, the miserable sneak, had robbed me of my love, my all. And yet I
could not go back. The house was mine, the lands were mine, yet I could
not claim them. I was bound, yet I could not see the fetters which
Does a curse like unto mine follow the footsteps of men who hate, or
does the Trewinion race stand alone. Be that as it may, I felt cursed,
the clear fountains of my manhood were gone. Roger Trewinion was more
demon than man. For hatred poisons the soul.
And yet I loved Ruth. This, I think, was the power that kept me from
going back and doing evil, and yet this love did not make me hate the
less. Nay, it made hatred more intense.
Long I stood alone in the grey morning, watching the bleak house
that stood in the distance, while the sea moaned and sobbed miserably,
as if to add another feeling to the misery of my heart. I seemed
riveted there. I looked at the five prongs of the Devil's Tooth like
one entranced, and thought of their associations. I saw the place where
I had saved Ruth, when she had fallen from the cliffs. I fancied I
detected the place where the witches' cave stood, and I remembered all
that had been said.
Ah, I cried, Deborah Teague is indeed a true prophet. Dark omens
have a meaning. I am indeed homeless, friendless, forsaken, and the
Trewinion curse is come. I go now, never to return, while my love is
given to another, and my power is taken by my younger brother. Yet
seemingly I have done nothing to merit this.
For a time I was mad. I shook my fist and called down curses upon
Wilfred and my mother. I prayed that they should never have rest or
joy, and that the ghost of my father should haunt them. And yet I could
give no real reason for this, only that my heart was black.
I felt I must go on. I must get farther away from the place where my
life had been spent; so I gave one look more, one long hungering look
that was full of agony, and as at last I turned my eyes away, my heart
strings seemed to snap.
Then I set my teeth together, clasped my stick firmly, and, with
lowering brow and a black heart, trudged wearily northward.
CHAPTER XIII. A WANDERER
I went on heedlessly for a mile or so. I was stunned, and felt
strange and giddy; but by and by I felt I must come to such decision in
regard to my course. So I struck into the main road, and continued my
journey northward. By this time I felt the warmth and brightness of the
day. The sun was now clear of the horizon, and revealed the glittering
dewdrops that hung on grass and flower. The majestic hills rose on
either side of me, the waving cornfields presented a rich and beautiful
The glories of nature did not soften me, however. My heart was still
hard with hatred and disappointment, and I was too busy with my sad
thoughts to decide what to do, or to what town to steer.
Presently a man met me, the first I had seen since I started. He was
a farm labourer, taking his oxen to the fields to plough, and on
looking at my watch I found that I had been walking for about six
hours, and that I must be at least twenty miles from home. The man
touched his hat, although I was sure he did not know me. Evidently my
dress was not that of a workman. If I was to get a place as a workman,
I must dress like one.
Where does this road lead to? I asked of the man.
Dun knaw, zur, I'm sure, but they do zay as 'ow it do go to
Wadebridge, eh? Do you know how far it is away?
No, zur, I doan't, for I never bin more'n vive mile away from
Treloggas, which is my home, zur, but my maaster es a bit of a
traveller, zur. He've bin to Bodmun, and he do zay as 'ow Waadbrudge es
fifteen mile on.
Fifteen miles. Is it a good road?
Oi, iss, zur. You do git into the turnpike dreckly (directly), and
then the roads sa smoove as a booard.
And is there a publichouse anywhere near?
Iss, zur, 'bout three mile on thurs a kiddley-wink (beershop) that
do belong to Tommy Dain, he as can raise the devil, you do knaw, zur.
This helped me to decide what to do. Wadebridge was a little
seaport, and there I should perhaps get on board a vessel that would
take me right away from home. Then, perhaps, when I was away on the
rolling seas, I should forget my disappointments, and find ease from
the gnawing, bitter hatred that had gripped my heart.
Inspired by this thought I hurried on rapidly. I was beginning to
feel hungry and faint after my long walk, so was glad to know of the
inn, even although Tommy Dean, the landlord, possessed such powers.
Arrived there I had a good breakfast of ham and eggs, after which
Tommy brought out a tankard of ale. I was about to drink it when I
reflected. But for drink my father's horse would not have been
frightened and I should not now have been fatherless. But for drink I
should not now be homeless and friendless. Drink had deprived me of my
dearest, best friend, and I would have none of it. So much did this
impress me at the time that I made up my mind never to touch intoxicant
again; at any rate, until I saw sufficient reason to alter my mind.
After breakfast I felt that the twelve miles which lay before me
were as nothing. In three hours, if nothing happened, I should be in
Nothing of importance happened on the way. Milestone after milestone
I passed wearily. I had little object or hope in life. I had sacrificed
my all for the sake of others, and it brought me no happiness. When I
reached Wadebridge my interest was somewhat aroused. My knowledge of
towns was very limited. I had only paid two or three visits to our
county towns, which are, to say the least of them, small and to some
extent uninteresting. Twice I had been to Truro, and once to Falmouth;
thus when I came to Wadebridge, I was somewhat excited. Such a thing
seems strange to me now, when I remember the facts of the case.
Wadebridge was only a little village composed of one street, which led
down to the river Wade, over which a bridge is built, hence the name of
There is a curious story among the Wadebridge people as to how their
bridge was built. Many years ago there was a ferry across the river,
but it was the frequent custom of farmers to ride their horses or drive
their cattle across it when the tide was low, but often men and beasts
were lost in the quicksands formed in the rising tide. After one sad
accident of this sort, the Rev. Mr. Lovebone, the vicar of Wadebridge,
determined that a bridge should be built, and after great pains and
struggling it was finished with seventeen arches of stone. But in spite
of their great labour, disappointment and defeat followed in their
track, for pier after pier was lost in the sands. A fair structure
was to be seen in the evening, but in the morning nothing was left. Mr.
Lovebone was ready to give up in despair; but one night he dreamed that
an angel came with a flock of sheep, that he sheared them, let the wool
fall in to the water, and speedily built the bridge on the wool. Then
the holy man awoke with a new idea. He appealed to the farmers, who
sent him all the wool they had, which was put into sacks; these were
placed thickly on the sands, and on these piers were built. Thus the
wisdom of the angel of the dream was manifest, for the bridge remains
to this day.
The harbour is not very wide or large at Wadebridge, and vessels of
large dimensions can only come in when the tide is high.
The first thing I did on my arrival was to go to a small shop where
seafaring apparel was sold. The owner looked at me curiously, as I
asked for a general rig out, but showed me what I wanted nevertheless.
I was not long in making a bargain, and then asked for permission to
change my attire.
Ain't bin doin' nothin' wrong, I hope? he said.
Not to my knowledge, I replied.
Cause you do'ant look much like a chap as is used to wearin' a
sailor's clothes, he said.
No, I answered. What do I look like, then?
He looked at my hands, then at my shooting suit, and again at my
face, and replied slowly:
Why, you do look look like a passen's son as hev got into trouble
and be now runnin' away; ed'n that about right, now?
Not exactly, I said, but I'm sure you'll allow me to change my
clothes, won't you?
He gave an unwilling consent at length, and I confess that, when I
had put on a rough suit of seaman's clothes, I hardly knew myself. I
went across the bridge to the little village of Egloshayle, and walked
towards Slades Bridge, which lay in the direction of Bodmin.
Now, I said to myself, you are no longer Roger Trewinion, but a
common fisherman, who is desirous of going to sea. Forget the past.
Forget that you are the heir to a fine estate, forget that you have
given up all for love.
But I could not do this. True, there was a sense in which all seemed
like a dream, so that the past was misty; but above all was the fact of
my great and burning love for Ruth, a love so intense as to lead me to
sacrifice everything that she might be happy with the man whom she
loved, and whom I hated, although he was my brother.
The thought was madness. My sacrifice seemed madness, and once I
thought of going back again. That, however, was soon banished, for
although my coming away might be the action of one who did not know
what he was doing, to go back would be to strike despair and anguish
into the heart of Ruth, and that would be hell for me.
No, I had fought that battle. I had made Ruth happy. I should soon
become as nothing to them, and thus Wilfred and my mother would have
their own way, and be joyous because I was no more. That was something,
and yet I was sure that Wilfred had schemed for such an end. What
definite reason I had for this I could not tell, but I was sure of it,
and I hated him. True, I had gone away freely, and yet I had been
driven away; things had been so arranged that I could not stay to be a
skeleton at the feast, a hindrance to all joy.
I ceased to think about it at length, and tried to bring myself into
harmony with my surroundings. What should I call myself? I could not
ask for a sailor's position as Roger Trewinion, and yet I did not like
to give up my name. Finally I decided to call myself Richard Tretheway.
It was a very common name, and by this name I should still retain my
initials. Where I came from was a matter of little importance; there
were lots of little fishing villages all the way down the coast; so I
settled on one near my old home, and made my way to the riverside where
some vessels lay. The captain of one of them struck my attention in a
minute. He stood quietly watching some men who were loading the boat
with corn. He was not swearing or bullying as some of the others were,
and I determined to speak to him.
And what may you want, my lad? he said as I went up to him.
A job, sir, I said, with a strong Cornish accent.
He looked at me keenly. What can you do? he said.
I named the work I could do on a ship.
Let's have a look at your hands? he said.
I showed him my hands. They were not so soft as those of most young
men in my position. I had done an amount of harvest work, and thus,
with constantly rowing and engaging in other physical exercises, they
were almost as hard as an ordinary seaman's.
What have you been brought up to? he asked.
That's a lie. You are neither a fisherman nor a sailor.
I hung my head.
Yes, you may hang your head, my lad, for you are not what you
Again in a clumsy way I repeated the duties of both, but the captain
would not listen.
Yes, yes, my young gentleman, you may know about these things as
well as I do, but that don't deceive me. You were never brought up to
work, you weren't; but you are a strong likely chap for all that.
I tried again to assure him that I could do a sailor's work well.
Now, look here, young man, he said, I'm an oldish chap, and have
seen a bit of the world, and have learnt to read a little of men and
things, and although you are not what you want to pass off to be I like
your looks. What you mean by being here I don't know; but that's not my
business, and I do want a likely young fellow like you. Answer me
square and fair. Are you seeking to get on this vessel because you've
done anything wrong, are you in fear of anybody or anything, and is
anybody after you now?
I liked his plain question, and I answered plainly.
I have done nothing wrong, sir, I said; I am not afraid of
anything or anybody, and no one is after me now.
He looked at me straight in the eyes, but I met his gaze fearlessly.
What's your name, my lad?
That is not your real name?
You are sure you are doing nothing wrong in concealing your true
name? Be perfectly honest.
I am doing nothing wrong. I am doing what's right.
I'll take you, he said.
I thanked him.
Look you, he said, expect no favours; you must do your work fair
and square like the rest. We go from here to Padstow, then on to
Falmouth, from there to Plymouth, then to London. From there, if you
behave well, I'll take you to France and down the Mediterranean. Do
what you have to do here quickly. It's high tide at six this evening,
and then we shall sail.
Thank you, I said; I have nothing to do, but I'll go and get some
dinner and then come straight back.
As I said this I turned to go; but the captain laughed and called me
Look you, Tretheway, he said, if I hadn't known you were a
greenhorn to this kind of thing before I should know it now. You
haven't said anything about wages.
I'll leave that to you, I said confusedly, and then went back to
I shall not dwell on my experience that evening, nor, indeed, shall
I speak of many of my adventures, as I want to relate only those facts
of my history which are vitally concerned with the name I bear, with
its associations and legends.
The next afternoon we sailed past my old home. Long before we drew
near it, I saw the grey tower on the great weather-beaten cliff, and
with beating heart I stood on the deck and watched while we drew nearer
and nearer. I strained my eyes to catch sight of any of my family, but
no one could be seen. Closer and closer we came, the great prongs of
the Devil's Tooth standing out more clearly as we swept on.
Did anyone there think of me? I wondered. Yes, they would naturally
do that. My mother would think of me, and be glad I was gone, for her
favourite boy would be master. Wilfred would think of me, and wonder if
I should come back, and, perhaps, dread the thought of such a thing
happening. My sisters would think of me lovingly, and wonder what had
become of Roger. And RuthI dared not think of her.
Who had seen my letter? I wondered. My mother was the most likely
one to do so, or Wilfred, and they would treasure up the words I had
written, they would weigh well their purport. But would it be shown to
Ruth or to my sisters?
My dear, dear old home, how I loved it! It was there I was born, it
was there my father had died. So near was I to it, and yet so far.
Besides, it was mine no longer. I had given it up to make the woman I
loved happy, and to keep it from being hell to me.
My thoughts were rudely checked. Two persons stood together on the
headland, the headland on which my home stood, and they were evidently
looking at the ship in which I was sailing. Who were they? I strained
my eyes to see. They looked like Wilfred and I dared not think of
it, the thought was maddening. I would not believe that Ruth was out
walking with Wilfred so soon after my departure, and on the very day
when she was reported to be leaving for her home.
Yet why not? By this time they had, perhaps, publicly announced
themselves as lovers; and yet they dare not. My departure could not yet
be regarded as a settled thing, and my mother had told me that Ruth
would be true to her father's wish. As yet I must be regarded among
them as Trewinion's heir, and thus she would look upon me as her future
husband. How, then, could she be encouraging the man she loved, when
she would regard it as a sin to do so?
But was it she, was it Wilfred?
The captain's glass was near me, and I seized it. I brought it to
the right focus. I saw them plainly, Ruth and Wilfred standing side by
side, with her hand resting on his arm. There could be no mistake.
Yes, she would know all by this time; she would know that I had
given up everything for her happiness, and she had accepted it without
a pang. She had come out alone with the man who had stepped into my
It was base ingratitude. She was not worthy the sacrifice. I would
leave the vessel at Falmouth, go home, and destroy their plans; I would
claim my own again. As for Wilfred, I would whip him like a dog, and
drive him from the place.
I know my thoughts were confused, and unreasonable, but I think I
was mad, for I stamped my foot in my rage.
I heard a noise behind me and turned round. The captain stood coolly
watching me. Instantly, my position burst upon me, and I was confused.
Well, Richard Tretheway, he said, and what have you been using my
It is a fine old headland, sir, and I wanted to see it.
Ay, and it's a fine old house on the cliff, eh. Whom does it belong
I was silent.
Ah, well, lad, I will not pry into your secrets; sometime, perhaps,
you may want to tell me, and he walked away.
Still I watched, while the couple on the cliff became more and more
indistinct, and the old grey tower seemed to melt away in the steely
sky, and as it did so my feelings softened, for I felt I was bidding
good-bye to it for ever. My love for Ruth began to exert its power, and
although I felt bitter, the thought of going back to wreck her
happiness was repugnant.
On, on we swept, until Ruth and Wilfred could no longer be seen, and
the old house was hidden by the prongs of the Devil's Tooth. Then I
broke down and sobbed like a child. Now, indeed, I was alone and
without a friend. There was no brightness in my sky, no hope for the
future. Truly I was sad at heart. With that the words of old Deborah
Teague came back to me.
Mind, mind Trewinion's curse, tes comin', tes comin'. I see Maaster
Roger homeless, friendless, despised, disgraced. Mind, Maaster Roger,
CHAPTER XIV. A HOME ON THE ROLLING
I found Luke Miller, the captain of the boat, to be kind and
friendly. Not that he took any notice of me for several days. He did
not. But when we arrived at Plymouth, and were away from the crew, he
began to talk kindly to me.
Tretheway, he said, I don't know anything about you, and it may
be that in talking freely to you I am in one sense taking a liberty.
May be you have been brought up well; fact, I'm sure you have. But all
that's no business of mine. What I want to say is this, I like you. I
daren't show it at sea, as there'd be jealousy. At the same time, if
ever I can show my real friendship to you, or if ever you want a
friend, you know where to come.
I thanked him warmly.
There's just another thing to say, lad. You've had a quiet time on
board yet, for the men ain't known what to make of you, but they begin
to feel their way. They fancies you are a swell and a sneak, so keep
your weather eye open. The best men of the crew are leaving here, too,
and I am afraid I shall have to pick up a rough lot, so, as I say, keep
a sharp look out.
I found this advice very much to the point a day or two after. Not
that I minded much. I was too terribly bitter towards almost everything
to care what happened to me. Still, when we were fairly out at sea from
Plymouth, and the men began to play practical jokes upon me, I
remembered the captain's words and remained cool.
There were one or two discontented men on board who took it into
their heads that I had a doubtful past, and, moreover, that I had a
secret in my life of the discovery of which I was in constant fear.
It was afternoon, and the men having nothing special to do were
standing lazily around. I was making my way to the bowsprit, and was
walking rather rapidly, when the biggest bully on the boat put out his
foot and threw me head foremost. This was received with a loud guffaw
of derisive laughter, and the man who had done it was highly
complimented on his achievement. I took no notice, however, doing that
which I had set out to do. This, instead of lessening their dislike for
me, increased it, and for days after I was subjected to many petty
annoyances. A few weeks before, I should not have stood it. I was wild
and passionate then, full of life and strength, now I was so bitter
that I scarcely felt any interest in anything. Besides that, the men
were so low and brutal that I disliked encountering them.
At last I went to them and asked what I had done to make them
constantly wish to annoy me.
Because tha'art a coward and a snaik, said one.
A spy and a tell-tale, said another.
Cause you think yourself too good to mix with we, who are a mighty
sight better than you, said another.
Or else you're afraid we'll find out something of your dirty ways,
said two or three together.
I felt sick and sad at heart. To mix with these men was bad enough,
to come into such relationship with them as would lead to a brawl was
I'm not a coward, a spy, a sneak or a tell-tale, I said quietly.
I don't think myself too good to mix with any honest man, and I'm not
afraid of your finding out anything about me.
With that the bully placed himself before me and spat in my face. In
a moment my calmness and self-control were gone, and in a minute more
we were engaged in a hand-to-hand fight. The devil that my hatred for
my brother had aroused now showed itself, and I fought with all the
fury of a demon. My opponent was as big as I, and as strong, or would
have been had he not abused his strength by evil habits; and in
addition to this, he knew many tricks of fighting unknown to me. Minute
after minute we fought, he more for the love of fighting than for
hatred for me, I with a mad heart, and with every evil passion aroused.
If at that moment I could in no other way have beaten him save by
selling my soul to the devil, I am sure I should not have hesitated to
make the bargain. I had allowed an evil passion to enter my heart, and
it had poisoned my whole being. Thus it was that I determined to die
rather than be conquered.
A determined man can do almost anything. A mad man is supernaturally
strong. I was both. Thus, at length, by a trick of wrestling, and a
blow that would have felled an ox, I laid him bruised, bleeding and
senseless on the deck. This did not satisfy me. I turned to another who
had been prominent in seeking to quarrel and laid him beside the first.
Then like a mad bull I rushed upon the rest.
I don't know what happened after that, save that there was a
terrible scuffle, and I found myself struggling in the grasp of brawny
arms, after which I felt a heavy stunning blow which rendered me
oblivious to all my surroundings.
When I awoke to consciousness I was in chains, and the captain by my
Well, Tretheway, said he, and this is the way you carry on?
I was silent.
I took you for a decent lad, perhaps my better in many things, and
yet, here I find you fightin' like th' old Nick himself.
What have I done? I said sulkily.
Done! Why disabled two men, unfitted them for work for a week at
least, knocked two more into a cocked hat, and would have killed 'em if
the whole crew hadn't seized you and took you below here and put you in
Somebody has struck me, I said. I've a wound on my head.
A chap said he were obliged to do that or you'd a bin the death of
Captain, I said, you know the truth about this, and that I sought
no quarrel; but now, nowif one of them dares to trifle with me
You won't have the chance, Tretheway, my boy. Every man jack of 'em
declares they will not sail with you. They've all given warnin' unless
you are dropped at the first port.
Because they say you are not a man but a devil. They say yer eyes
were red, and they see a flame a comin' from yer mouth as you fought,
and although they're a bad lot I hain't got time to get a fresh crew to
suit you, so you must either be left in irons until we get to London,
or be dropped at Dover.
I'll go to London, I said; I may stand a better chance there.
The captain left me, and I was again alone. I did not feel at all
excited, but a kind of despair possessed me. I was not at all surprised
or annoyed at the men. I felt that they were right. I should have done
harm to them had I remained at liberty. I was not fit to have my irons
knocked off. The spirit of hatred possessed me, hatred that was dark
and murderous, and hatred is the devil.
I spoke to no one during the time I remained on the vessel. I spoke
not when the irons were knocked off my feet and hands by the captain. I
climbed to the deck, and saw the men huddled together as if in fear,
and I stood and watched them; then I looked and saw we were anchored in
a great tidal river, and that London, great London, was on either side
of me. Once it would have aroused all the enthusiasm and excitement of
my nature. Now I was unmoved. I was about to leave the boat, when a
thought struck me and I turned to the captain.
Captain Luke Miller, I said, you know the whole meaning and
history of this matter, and that I picked no quarrel. I don't grumble;
but I want you to stretch a point for me. Can you give me a certificate
as an able-bodied seaman?
He did not speak, but put a piece of paper in my hand, and pointed
to the board by which I was to leave the boat. I gave him a look of
thankfulness and left.
I tramped through the crowded London streets unheedingly. I did not
realise the seething surging, masses of people; I forgot that I was in
the greatest city of the world, the centre of thought, and power, and
At length I came to London Bridge. I did not know it at the time,
but I have since learned that such was the fact. I stood for a little
while wondering at the great crowds of busy people, and then I looked
at the broad, dirty river. A large vessel was being unloaded of her
cargo, and I went straight to the captain.
I asked him for a place among the crew. He looked at me suspiciously
and then said, Who was your last captain?
I told him.
Let's have a look at your papers, he said.
Although I had not looked at what Captain Luke Miller had given me,
I handed the certificate to this skipper, who read it carefully.
I'll engage you, he said, giving me back my certificate.
I looked at it afterwards and found the reason of my ready
acceptance. Luke Miller had proved a friend indeed, and had spoken very
highly of me.
In a few days we set sail, during which time I remained on board. I
had no desire to see London; I wished to be away on the broad, deep
I found that we were bound for a long voyage, and that the captain
had got together a very motley crew. This did not trouble me; in fact,
I was glad on both scores. The journey would take me awayI cared not
where, the savagery of the crew accorded with my own wild feelings.
They were a poor, degraded set, weak physically, and with the stamp of
villainy upon them. Their conversation was degrading, their every
thought was steeped with filth. I soon made myself a sort of unofficial
captain among them, and by a strong will held them in subjection.
I dropped my pen at the last word, for I found myself beginning to
describe in detail my seafaring experience, and I must not do that. It
is not necessary, nor will it be interesting. One or two prominent
facts I shall relate, the rest must be imagined.
I sailed with this captain and this crew nearly twelve months, then
I left them, and for the next seven years I went from ship to ship and
from crew to crew.
I need not have done so, but I determined not to set my foot on
English ground. I wished to keep away from every association and
thought of my past life. There is not much that I need describe. I had
the usual experience of seafaring men. I experienced cold, hunger, and
storm; but was indifferent to them. I do not think I had any interest
in life. Often death stared me in the face, and I did not flinch. I
should not have minded had the hand of death struck me down. Indeed, if
I ever wished for anything it was that I should die, and still I
remained strong, and hearty, and well.
But my love for Ruth died not, my hatred for Wilfred was as strong
as it was when I had seen him with Ruth on the great headland watching
the ship in which I sailed. Every fact of my early life, and of my
relations with Ruth, was as real and vivid as when I had lived at home.
The eight years I had been away had destroyed neither my memory, nor my
It was a wild life I lived. I had no friends, no ties, nothing, in
fact, to refine or purify. The hatred in my heart kept me from being
loved by my associates, and nothing kept me from sinking to the lowest
depths of degradation but my love for Ruth. Often, when I was on the
point of yielding to the low and the depraved, my love for her saved
me. That was a pure force in my life, and it was my salvation.
Often did I think of the old home life. Often did I imagine what my
mother and the rest would be doing. Sometimes I asked myself if ever
they thought of me, or if they had any idea as to what had become of
me. I tried to comfort myself by believing that they thought about me,
or that they mourned me as dead. Then I hoped that they wished me alive
and waited for my home-coming; but that hope was speedily dispelled by
the remembrance of my last interview with Ruth and my mother.
Strange to say, I never once longed to return home; never once
desired that my feet should stand on the spongy turf on the great
headland; never wanted to speak to any one of the family. I felt that I
was a banished man, homeless and friendless.
It may be that some will say the Trewinion's curse is merely an
idle tale. I know not; this I know: that ever since I realised my
hatred for Wilfred, on the morning of my departure, I lived a new life,
a life that was all dark. The skies were black, the earth was black,
and, worst of all, my heart was black. Never since then had I known
real joy or gladness. A terrible despair gnawed at my heart, and this I
carried everywhere. I had thought that by going away from the scenes of
my childhood I should escape my sorrow. I was foolish to think so. I
discovered that sorrow comes not so much from the outward; it comes
from the heart, from the man himself. Wherever I went I could not shake
off the shadow of self, and thus I was never free from sorrow and pain.
At the end of eight years there was a change in my life. I was now
more than thirty. My softer feelings, all but one, had gone. I was as
hard and callous as the cliffs which surround the Cornish coast. At
this time we were sailing the Indian seas, and our vessel was laden
with a valuable cargo. The men were lazily standing around on the deck,
while the captain stood with his glass to his eye eagerly scanning a
We took no notice for a while, then it was whispered along the deck
that the captain had seen a curious, suspicious-looking craft that was
evidently bearing down upon us. This whisper was soon confirmed by the
fact that our vessel's course was altered, and every stitch of canvas
that she could carry was hoisted. In spite of this, however, we saw
that the other boat was gaining rapidly upon us, and must in a very few
hours overtake us.
I saw that a great fear had seized the crew, for there was but
little doubt that our pursuer was a pirate. For myself I did not care.
I was indifferent to life, and it mattered not what became of me. It
was, however, in my nature to fight for the side on which I found
myself, so like the rest I prepared for the struggle. When the two
vessels were near each other our pursuer hoisted a black flag, then we
were sure of what would follow.
Never was a crew braver than ours; every man fought for dear life,
but we were no match for the assailants. They were double our number
and armed to the teeth. At length we were overpowered and bound. The
vessel was no longer in our possession, and the company to which she
belonged would have to suffer a great loss. It was not that of which we
were thinking, however. Every man was in terrible dread as to what his
own future would be.
The captain of the pirate ship was one of the most striking men I
ever saw. He was, perhaps, forty years of age, and was of Spanish
extraction. His eyes and hair were as black as the raven's wing, and
his skin was of a dark, olive colour. His crew were likewise Spaniards,
plainly outlaws of the worst character. But I noticed that they all
loved and obeyed their chief. I did not wonder at their obeying him,
his personality was so strong, but I did wonder at their loving him. He
seemed stern, harsh, and violent.
After we had all been bound, I saw the captain of the pirate ship
consulting with his men; evidently they were deciding what to do with
us, and there seemed some difference of opinion. Presently the captain
inspected us one by one. We were by no means as fine a crew as our
conquerors, not simply in numbers, but in kind. We were made up of
different nationalities, and I was the only Englishman among the whole
number. There were Greeks, Arabs, Turks, and one or two Austrians among
us. The captain and the mates were all Greeks, and the ship belonged to
a Greek company. Most of the men were small in bone, and while strong
and wiry, were by no means striking in appearance.
After he had looked at us some time, there was another consultation,
and at length they decided what to do, and we saw that preparations
were being made. Eagerly I scanned the sea, but not a sail was in
sight, no help was near, and careless as I had been about danger my
heart felt heavy.
With blanched faces our men saw a plank which reached a few yards
into the sea, placed on the vessel's deck, and with beating hearts we
saw the officers of our ship bound.
I will not try and describe the scene. Hard and rough as I was, it
was terrible to see men killed in cold blood. In vain the captain
pleaded that he had a wife and little ones. No mercy was shown, and,
although we dreaded the sight, our eyes were drawn, as if by a magnet,
to see the men who had commanded us walking to their death. Even now
their awful shrieks as they fell into the sea ring in my ears. And we
were all bound, unable to help them, and waiting for a similar doom.
Then we saw what caused us common sailors hope. A good-sized boat
was lowered, and provisions were placed in it; and one by one, the men
were told to board it, This they gladly did, until I was left alone. I
was preparing to follow, when the captain came up to me. He took a long
look at me and then spoke to his men. I had picked up enough of Spanish
during the years I had been away to understand an ordinary
conversation, so I followed every word he said. His opinion was that I
should make a splendid addition to their crew, and that it was a pity I
should be lost to them.
Your name? he said to me abruptly.
Ah, you are English?
How long since you were there?
Why have you kept away from your home so long?
For private reasons.
Ah! he said eagerly, and he looked at me keenly. One of us, eh?
Stand up, Richard Tretheway.
I stood up. Tall as he was, I was taller, and broader too, for that
part. The Trewinions have ever been a race of giants.
What do you wish us to do with you? he said at length.
I'm not anxious.
Then you don't mind walking the plank?
It won't matter much. I must die some time, and I've not much to
The captain's eyes sparkled.
What do you think of us? he said at length.
I looked at our crew, who were evidently to be sent away to die. I
thought of our officers who had only a few minutes before been
condemned to death, and I said savagely:
I think you are bloodthirsty villainsdemons out of hell.
He laughed a mirthless, cruel laugh, while the crew demanded my
What would you do if you had us in your power?
To rid the earth of such a crew.
Let him walk the plank, cried the men.
But the captain was more forbearing.
Why, look you, he said, you are just as bad as we. We sent your
officers to Heaven or to the other place for our safety, while you
would send us there for the safety of the world. Who has the most
reason on his side?
I was silent at this, and the captain went on: You fought like a
mad bull when we were boarding you. There are three men down under
lying half dead because of you.
Serve them right, I said, I was defending the party attacked,
and, while I don't care a fig for my own life, I would fight to defend
those who do.
Would you like to be one of us? said the captain.
What would you have me do?
Be a king on the high seas.
In spite of everything I felt a liking for the captain. There was a
fascinating power about him, and I wanted to know about him. My eight
years on the wave had hardened me, and my hatred had dulled my higher
Look you, he went on, we are not wholly bad. We have freed
hundreds of slaves, and while we live by plunder we only take from the
strong and the rich. Only last week we set at liberty two hundred
slaves who would have been sold to a living death.
He went on speaking in this strain until I was less bitter towards
him, but I said:
All this does not prove that you are not cold-blooded villains. The
officers of my ship are now dead through you. Your robbery is bad. Your
murder is worse.
Again the men clamoured; but again the captain went on:
What, are we worse than your English man-of-war vessels? You go to
war with a country, you take her vessels, you kill her men, and your
crews divide the booty. What, are we worse? Nay, we are better!
I did not attempt to argue further with him, being maddened at the
thought of my captain being killed, and of the wife and children who
would have to bewail his loss. So instead of answering him I burst into
a torrent of abuse.
Tie his hands and blindfold him, cried the captain savagely.
In a few seconds this was done!
They placed me on the plank.
Walk! cried the captain.
In a second a vision of my old home flashed before me, but I walked
straight on. I felt the warp of the plank, and knew I was nearing the
Step by step I walked, then my foot went into space, and in a minute
more I fell bound into the deep sea, hearing the savage yell of the
pirate crew as I did so!
CHAPTER XV. THE VOICE OF THE SOUL
I had scarcely fallen into the water when I felt myself drawn up
again. Unknown to me a rope had been fastened around me, and in another
minute I stood upon the deck.
Good! cried the captain. You stood the test well, and are just
the sort of fellow we want. I looked at him in astonishment.
Yes, you may look, he said, but at heart you are one of us. I can
see both discontent and defiance in your eyes, your face. You are out
of love with the world, and when you know my history you'll sympathise
with me, and won't take much persuading to become one of our crew.
I was thereupon taken to a cabin, where I was supplied with dry
clothes, after which the captain came and spoke to me. Evidently, he
was desirous of my becoming one of his allies, for without hesitation
he told me the history of his life and his reasons for leading such a
I will not repeat his story at length. I do not wish to recall in
detail the terrible things he related. True to his Spanish nature, he
hated intensely and loved intensely. When quite a boy he had loved, and
his love had been returned. There were months of happiness, then a rich
nobleman appeared, and, fascinated by the beauty of his betrothed
sought to win her from him. Defeated in this, he used force. Then
followed a succession of plots and cunning intrigue, and, finally,
through the avarice and greed of his love's father, through social
influence, and through devilry of the worst kind, he, the pirate
captain, was robbed of the one for whom he would have died, while she
became disgraced and ruined. Then his passion burned to white heat, and
revenge was his one object. He did not rest until he had killed his
rival, after which he was obliged to fly. Others who had been engaged
with him in the fray left with him, and formed themselves into a band,
which gradually grew until they became what they were.
I shall never forget the terrible intensity with which he told his
story; how at one time his eyeballs were red as fire, and at another
his hands trembled with passion; and again, when he told of the beauty
of his betrothed, how his voice became gentle, and his eye became
moist. In spite of everything I could not help sympathising with him,
and, afterwards, when he spoke of his buccaneering career and
remembered what led him to it I did not wonder.
Need I tell how, little by little, I fell in with the captain's
proposals and vowed allegiance to him? I can scarcely realise what
happened now; it seems but as a half-forgotten dream; though real
enough then. In those days my better nature was dead, or nearly so. I
had allowed one passion to conquer me, and it had poisoned my whole
being. I had learnt the meaning of the words of Scripture: For
whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is
guilty of all. This is more than mere words; it is a principle of
life. One passion corrupts the whole being, degrades the whole man, and
thus I, because I entertained hate for my brother, lost my finer nature
and joined a crew of pirates.
I will not portray the life we led; how by sheer brute force and
will power I fought my way up until I was next in power to the captain
himself. I could fill a volume in narrating the battles we fought and
the hair-breadth escapes we had, but whoever reads these lines must
imagine for themselves how we dreaded being taken, and how we vowed a
terrible vow to die the most awful death rather than be conquered by
any vessel, of whatever nationality. Truly it was a wild life, full of
danger and peril; and yet I was happier in it than I had been for
years. There was freedom on the wide seas, there were interest and
excitement in our constant frays. The life suited my uncouth, rugged
nature, and thus for two years I almost forgot my past and lived only
in the excitement of the present.
I had been ten years away from home, ten years without ever catching
sight of the British shores. Eight years I had served on trading
vessels of various nationalities, and two years I had been a pirate,
when another change came.
I was sitting one evening alone, watching the setting sun, when I
began to think of my old life. I remembered all the legends of our
house and name as vividly as if I had been hearing them during the last
ten years. I thought of my father's warning that I should never leave
the Trewinion estate for six months at a time; if I did the race for
three generations would be cursed, while I should be haunted by dark
spirits on my deathbed. I remembered how he told me that if a Trewinion
did what was unlawful he brought down the vengeance of Heaven. And I
had been away ten years; I had become a pirate and was ever under a
sentence of death. I thought again of old Deborah Teague's warning, of
the cave full of evil women, and wondered. Then memories of Ruth came
back to me, and I saw her at Trewinion Manor as Wilfred's wife. I
wondered if I should ever see them all againwondered, and then tried
to forget. I became oblivious of the beauty of the setting sun and of
my surroundings. The ship on which I sailed might be a ship of the
fancy for all I knew, for all I knew the crew might be spirits or men.
I was back again in my old home, and when at length I was aroused from
my reverie I could not get rid of the impression that I was wanted,
needed amongst the scenes of my childhood.
Presently the captain came near and laid his hand on my shoulder.
Tretheway, I am getting tired of this roving life, he said.
So am I, was my reply.
I have been thinking, he went on, if there may not be happiness
and peace for me even yet. I have been wondering if I may not return to
the land of my birth, and maybe find someone whom I can love and who
can love me.
I looked up into his face. There was a soft expression in his eyes,
and his lip was tremulous.
Perhaps the way may open up soon, I said.
It shall, he replied, sternly, and walked away.
Soon after this I turned in. I did not expect to sleep, but no
sooner had my head been placed on the pillow than I fell asleep and
I saw the old home again as plainly as if I were there, and
recognised several of the servants. Katherine and Elizabeth I could not
see, but my mother was there, and Wilfred. In my dream I wandered from
room to room. I felt sure that Ruth was in the house, but I could not
find her. At length I entered the library. I thought I could see
everything, and yet I was unseen. It appeared to me that while my
spirit was there my body was elsewhere. All my thinking powers were
supernaturally awake, but my body was asleep.
The room was in darkness, or nearly so, and I thought no one was
there until I heard a sigh, and then I saw Ruth. She moved in her chair
as if weary. A servant entered bearing a light, and then I saw her
face. It was wonderfully changed. It was not that she looked older, but
that she was so weary and wan. The old joyous light was gone from her
eyes, and she was very thin and fragile.
Ah! I thought, the marriage has not been happy. Perhaps Wilfred
has not been kind to her; perhaps she has children, and they are
I looked at her hand, but could see no wedding ring. Then I heard a
noise outside and a whispering, and I saw that her face had a look of
terror upon it, as though she dreaded some great calamity.
The door opened, and in walked my mother and Wilfred.
I looked at both their faces and watched their expression. Hers
looked somewhat haggard and hard; while his was cunning and yet
They sat down beside her, and mother asked her why she looked so
troubled and wan; but she was silent. Then Wilfred spoke to her.
Ruth, he said, the ten long years have come to an end. You know
your promise. Think how patiently I have waited, and how I must have
loved you to wait so long. Now, Ruth, let us wed at once, so that we
may fulfil our fathers' wishes.
Then I looked at her again, and from her eyes tears fell, and on her
face was such a look of misery that her enemy, had she one, could not
help pitying her.
You are not Trewinion's heir, she murmured.
How can you say that? he replied. Roger is dead, of that we are
sure. You know that his body was found a few days after his departure,
bruised and battered, 'tis true, but still my mother recognised him,
and so did Mr. Inch, and Mr. Polperrow. All believed it was Roger but
you, and so when I asked you to fulfil our fathers' wishes you would
not. Then the months and years passed on, and Roger came not; so I
pleaded with you again, and you said if Roger came not within ten years
of his departure you would believe him dead and wed me. Those ten years
are complete this very night, and I am come again to claim my promise.
Then I saw Ruth bury her face in her hands and sob bitterly.
Again the door opened, and I saw Mr. Inch enter with a roll of
papers in his hand.
Mr. Inch, cried Ruth, will you not be my friend, will you not
tell me that this need not be?
Then I saw Mr. Inch and Wilfred change glances, and the former open
his roll of papers.
I am your friend, he said; and I am also your father's old
servant, and I would see his wishes carried out.
Then he began to read:'I desire my daughter Ruth to dwell in the
house of my friend, Roger Trewinion, and that she shall be wedded to
his heir, so that the two estates shall be united. And it is my will
that she shall be wedded to him as soon as possible after she comes of
age, and to remain at Trewinion Manor until within a month of the
wedding day. Then she shall return to Morton Hall to prepare for the
marriage ceremony.' This is an extract from the will, he went on, and
I should not be a friend to Miss Ruth if I failed to see this carried
out. We have waited now many years beyond the time, and if this be not
done soon the bodies of the dead fathers will rise from their graves to
know why their wishes have not been fulfilled.
Then I heard Ruth speak again.
Oh, Roger, Roger, she said, why did you go away?
Why? said my mother, because you drove him. He was mad with love
for you, and because you scorned him he ended his days. Be careful, or,
perchance, you will drive my other son to his death as well.
At this she looked up to the faces of those in the room with an
expression of dull despair.
I will obey my father's will, she said huskily, make what
arrangements you choose.
Then I saw Wilfred move towards her, as if to embrace her; and I
thought I went forward too, as if to hinder him, but Ruth looked up and
gave a scream, half of joy, half of fear.
Roger is here! she cried.
I thought I saw consternation on every face, then all melted away,
and I awoke.
I was lying in my cabin in a pirate vessel, was not at home at all;
what I had seen was a mocking dream. And yet all was real. I could not
believe that I had not been at home, though I knew it could not be. I
was away on the broad seas, hundreds of miles from land. My imagination
had been excited, and I had dreamedthat was all. I tried to sleep
again, but could not, I was constantly thinking of what I had seen in
my vision. Then I remembered the day of the month and the year. Yes,
ten years ago that very night I had left home. I had not been thinking
of that, but in spite of everything it had been revealed to me in my
dream. Was it a dream, or was it real? Had my spirit travelled home,
the spirit that knows no boundary or limits, had I seen a vision of
what really existed?
Such a thing was without precedent in my experience, and yet why
should it not be? Our bodies are not ourselves. We are distinct from
the flesh, the bone, the sinew, why then might not the spirit have
liberty to go home to its early associations?
I could remain in my cabin no longer. I rushed up to the deck, saw
two sailors standing at the post of duty. I spoke a word to them, and
then went towards the forecastle alone.
The night was as still as death, not a ripple could I see on the
waters. I looked around me, and all was smooth, placid sea. I looked
upwards and saw a cloudless sky, the full moon was almost as bright as
the sun itself, so much so that the stars barely showed themselves. Now
and then I could hear the gentle lapping of the water against the
vessel's side, but beyond thatnothing.
I stood alone, minute after minute, thinking. I could not forget my
dream, for such I had forced myself to believe it was, when
What was it I heard?
The cry of a woman! A wail of distress!
My heart seemed ready to burst; but I listened.
Then I heard words. I heard my own name uttered by a woman' voice!
And I was alone on a vessel, with nothing but men on board, hundreds
of miles from land, and no other vessel near.
Roger! Roger! where are you? said the voice.
I answered not, I could not, for my tongue clave to the roof of my
mouth, but eagerly I listened.
Come to me, Roger! Come to me, or they will kill me!
It was Ruth's voice, carried by the power of God to me. I was wanted
home. I was sure of it, yet I could make no answer to what I had heard.
For years I had forgotten God, but He had not forgotten me. He had
revealed Himself in the voice I had heard. He had carried the message
of Ruth's heart to me. I was sure now that there was a God in Heaven,
and that He was telling me to frustrate evil.
Then something told me that all this was fancy, the result of an
excited brain. I had been dreaming, and now I fancied I had heard what
only existed in a mind half mad. I rushed to one of the sailors.
Did you hear a woman's voice, just now? I said.
Woman's voice? said the man, evidently surprised, why no, sir!
Had I been mistaken? Was it all delirium?
Again I strained my ears, and again I heard the voice.
Come, Roger, I am all alone. Oh come to me!
I answered, but whether articulately or no I cannot say; the words I
said in my heart were,
I am coming, Ruth, I am coming.
Then it seemed to me that the broad waste of waters reiterated my
words, until away in the far distance, where the sea lost itself in the
sky, I could hear them repeated I am coming, Ruth, I am coming.
I know that this will seem strange to whoever may read it, but I
only speak the truth. Perhaps my sons and my sons' sons may say it was
simply the result of an overwrought mind; but I believe otherwise.
For hours I walked the deck, but I heard nothing more. I expected
nothing. I weighed what I had seen in my dreams, and connected it with
what I had heard in my waking moments. What did it mean? First my fears
said it was but the deceitful words of the devil, who would drag me
deeper into sin. But my heart cast that off. I felt that there was no
evil agency at work. Then I thought it was only a dream; but how could
that be? Why should it come that night, exactly ten years from the time
I had left home, and why should I hear the voice afterwards? And so I
came to the conclusion that I had been allowed by God to know that I
was needed at home.
The thought gave me new life, new energy. The passion of my hatred
was stunned by some greater passion. If my dream were indeed true, if
the voice were not a mockery, Ruth was not yet married, and she loved
me. For hours I lived in blissful ecstasy, the smooth waters were
written all over with messages of joy, the sky seemed full of the
angels of God.
Then I became possessed of a feverish anxiety to return home. I must
not lose a minute, but great difficulties lay in the way. I was
thousands of miles from England, and there were no civilised ports we
dared enter. Piracy on the high seas is a crime, and so there would be
great difficulty in landing at any port from which I could sail for
home. But the difficulty must be managed somehow. Ruth wanted me, and I
would go home.
I must speak to the captain at once, he could sympathise with me; he
would help me.
Then I saw a streak of gold shoot across the waters, and soon the
sea was flooded with glory. The king of day rose, triumphant, grand.
The night was over, and I felt the light of day in my heart.
I turned to the gangway and saw the captain wistfully watching the
Without hesitation I went to him, and began my story.
CHAPTER XVI. AFTER LONG YEARS
I wish to say a few words to you, captain.
Say on, Tretheway.
I have never told you the history of my life, now I wish to do so.
He nodded his head as if ready to listen. Accordingly I began, and
related in some detail the story of my life. He listened attentively;
evidently, he was interested. Step by step he followed my narrative,
until I came to the previous evening. Then as I told him of the dream
and the call I had heard, his face became pale as death, and he
clenched his hand nervously.
It is the voice of God, or of the mother of God. You must go,
Tretheway, he said.
Yes, I feel I must, and that soon, I replied. But how?
Last night I told you that I was tired of this life, he said.
This morning I feel I must leave it. I have been a wild, lawless
fellow, Tretheway; but I have been more sinned against than sinning,
and I want to go home, where, by gifts to the Church, prayers, and
penances I shall surely receive forgiveness.
For an hour we talked together.
It was all settled at length. The vessel should sail under his
direction with all speed to the coast of France, where we were to make
over the whole cargo and ship to the crew, and then leave it for ever.
Accordingly we altered the course of the vessel, and after a few days'
fast sailing reached the desired position. Then the captain called the
crew together and appointed officers to command, ordered a boat and
provisions to be lowered, and told them he meant to leave them for
At first the men demurred, they could never agree under another
captain they declared, but when Salambo (the captain) told them that
the vessel and all its belongings were theirs, and that he should make
no claim upon it, they became pacified.
We were now a few miles from land, at the nearest point between
France and Spain, and we could see the lights of St. Sebastian in the
distance. It wanted but an hour to daybreak, and we wished, if
possible, to land without attracting any attention. To me this seemed
almost impossible; but the captain was confident, so I trusted him.
We left the pirate vessel at length, I feeling a great load lifted
off my mind. All the time I had been with the crew I had seemed to
breathe foul atmosphere, and when I was once rid of them a new life
opened before me. We had drifted, perhaps, a mile from the vessel when
Salambo hoisted a small sail, and the wind being favourable we were
wafted quickly towards land. This being done, he opened a box, which he
had taken care should be lowered into the boat, and took from it two
complete suits of gentlemen's attire.
I always like to be ready for emergencies, he said, coolly. If we
go on shore dressed as we are we shall be objects of suspicion
He changed his clothes, which completely altered his appearance,
after which he bade me follow his example.
Now, he said, when I had finished, you look more like a civilized
man; but there is a pirate's fire in your eye even yet. I don't know
that I should like having you for an enemy, for I think you would still
make short work of the man you disliked.
Involuntarily, I thought of my brother Wilfred, and clenched my
hands nervously. Salambo watched me with a curious look on his face,
and then continued:
But we must get rid of these things, or they will not fit in with
my story when we land.
Why, what are you going to say?
Say! Why, that I am a Spanish gentleman from Santiago, that you are
an English friend of mine, and that we have for a freak come over here.
I speak the Spanish language perfectly, of course, while you speak it
with an English accent. Leave all to me. I'll manage it.
We landed at St. Sebastian in the early moming without difficulty.
The change in Salambo's clothes had not only altered his appearance,
but it had apparently made a different man of him. He was no longer the
wild sea robber, but a refined, courteous gentleman. Instinctively the
peasantry saluted him with respect, and we were soon installed in the
best place of accommodation in the town.
I was anxious to get away, and feverishly asked him as to my best
means of getting to England.
I have been thinking whether we shall ever meet again, he said,
without answering my question. We have been together nearly two years,
and we have come to regard each other as friends. Should we ever settle
down, which I doubt in spite of our desires, I hope we shall be able to
meetmeet in peace as brothers.
Why not? I said, boldly and confidently, nothing would give me
more joy than to welcome you in my old Cornish home.
Ah, Señor Trewinion, he said, for I had told him my true name, we
have both been away ten years, and when we get to our respective
birthplaces we shall find things much changed. Andwell, my heart is
sad, and I have many doubts.
I feel that my Ruth is alive, I said, confidently, though my heart
sank within me.
She may be alive, and yet who knows if she loves you? Ah! Señor, do
not build your hopes too high. A woman is for ever a woman, a puzzle to
themselves, and an unfathomable mystery to men.
Well, I'm going to see if all is well, anyhow, I said. What are
you going to do?
Trewinion, I feel I have acted wrongly, he said. I came away
leaving my Inez unprotected. The man who stole her from me is dead; but
what has become of her I know not. Methinks I never loved her well, or
I should not have left her because of fear of pursuit. She was guilty
of nothing, and she loved me, and I have left her all these long
I was silent, for I felt it would be useless to speak.
But I shall try to find her, he went on, andwho knows?it may
be that she will forgive me and we shall be happy. I trust so, I pray
it may be so.
And if you do, how shall I know? I said.
I have been thinking of this ever since we decided to leave, he
replied, and this is the plan I have marked out. You had better go
first to Bordeaux. From there you will be easily able to get a vessel
for England. I, on the other hand, shall go across The Pyrenees to my
home at Barcelona. If I am alive, this address will find me, and he
put a piece of paper in my hand.
Will you be safe there? I asked.
I think so. You know my people are wild and passionate. They easily
forgive such sins as mine when they remember my provocation. Indeed, I
have known the perpetrators of similar deeds lauded as heroes. My only
thought is, if I shall find Inezif I do not I shall not care to live;
but if I do, the past will be forgotten, and I shall be happy.
The tears stood in his eyes as he spoke, and then I realised that
all his sinful deeds had not destroyed his heart.
I left that same afternoon for Bordeaux, while Salambo made
preparations to go to Barcelona, where he hoped to find his Inez.
In spite of all my eagerness and anxiety it was one month from the
night on which I received my summons home to the time I landed at
Falmouth. Without waiting an hour I made preparations to hurry on to
Trewinion Manor. I shall never forget my feelings when, after ten years
of absence, I first saw the Cornish cliffs. At one time it seemed as
though the past ten years were only a dream, and that I had never left
Cornwall at all, and again I felt as though my life prior to my leaving
home was an unreality.
I found a coach at Falmouth that would take me within a few miles of
my home, so I quickly took my place, and then fretted and fumed as we
slowly rumbled on. It was towards afternoon when the coach arrived at
the spot where I could be set down, and there with fast beating heart I
watched the retreating conveyance, while I stood not far from my
How quiet it was to be sure! There were no houses near, save one
little wayside cottage and a small farmhouse among the fields. All the
features were as familiar as if I had never left them. Hill and dale
alike were known to me, I had roamed over them all long years since.
All these rich green meadows were mine. I, who had been an alien and a
wanderer on the face of the earth, was the lawful master of all I saw,
and yet nothing was mine, for had I not renounced them long years ago,
renounced them for the sake of the woman I loved?
I set out for the old homestead and walked rapidly. Eagerly I passed
by every landmark which told me I was nearer home, and when at last
only one little hillock stood between me and the sight of the place
that was ever dear to me I almost lost control over my actions.
Up I rushed, heedless of everything, until nothing hid it from my
gaze. I was like the old Israelites who travelled towards Jerusalem,
and anxiously waited for the last hill to be reached in order that they
might see the place they loved best in the world.
And this was the place I loved best. There it stood, grey, rugged
and stern as in the olden days, its sturdy tower still braving the wind
and weather. Long I stood and looked at it. My home! The place where my
father had taught me to love him, the place where he had died, blessing
me! Eagerly I watched for signs of life, but I could seen none; all was
silent and lonely. I looked seaward and saw the smooth, glittering
waters as they played around the base of the Devil's Tooth; I watched
the yellow beach, which sloped up towards the witches' cave; I saw the
rugged cliffs and the rocks over which I had helped Ruth years before,
when Wilfred had left her alone. And, as I stood, memory after memory
flashed through my mind, old sayings came back to me, and scenes which
I had not thought about for years excited my mind, until my whole being
was moved to the very centre, and in spite of all my hardships and
buffetings I sobbed like a child.
I was surprised that no signs of life appeared. I looked at the
fields and saw not a single soul. I looked at the little cove. A few
boats were rocking idly on the waters, but no human being was near. Was
the place deserted? Then I began to think. The day of the week was
Monday, and it was the third Monday in September. Yes, that was the
feast day of Trewinion parish. Yesterday the parish church would be
crowded; to-day the parishioners would meet at the Churchtown, where
there would be great festivities. It was a general holiday for the
whole parish, and the people had congregated on the village green over
by the church.
Still, I expected a few servants would be at home, and mother, and,
perchance, Wilfred. He would never mix with the rowdy villagers, as he
called them, and would probably be in the library following some
favourite literary pursuit. What should I do? Go home and proclaim
myself as Roger Trewinion, owner and master of everything? No, I did
not like to do thatyet I must know how things stood. I must know
about everything, where Ruth was, and what position she held!
And still I stood gazing on the old house on the cliff until I saw a
man come out and slowly saunter down the drive.
It was Wilfred.
I started to go forward and speak to him, but stopped immediately
after. Long years of foreign travel and passing through dangerous
scenes had made me careful. I knew not how I should be received, and I
must not give Wilfred the whip hand of me. No, I would find out what
had happened at home during the intervening years. I would go on to the
village green, and there, perchance, I should see those who knew me in
the past, and should give them a chance of recognising me.
Passing near the church, however, I could not resist the temptation
to enter. To an ordinary sightseer, it would doubtless possess small
attraction, but to me who accompanied my father there more than twenty
years before, and where I had received what little religious
instruction I possessed, it was of more than ordinary interest.
Besides, my father was buried beneath the altar steps, and I longed to
see the place again. Accordingly I entered the churchyard, and finding
the church door open, entered the sacred building. Instinctively I
found my way to the eastern end of the church, and there experienced
one of the strangest sensations of my life. On the wall just above my
father's tomb was a tablet erected to the memory of my father, giving
not only the year of his birth, but the manner of his death. But this
was not what affected me. I had expected to see some memorial of my
father, but what startled me was the sight of another tablet
immediately beneath it, on which were written these words:
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
ELDEST SON OF THE ABOVE
WHO MET HIS DEATH BY DROWNING, AND WHOSE BODY
WAS DISCOVERED ON THE SANDS.
Thy brother shall rise again!
THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED BY HIS LOVING MOTHER
Whether wonder or anger were strongest within me I know not, but
both strove mightily. For first of all it is a strange experience for
any man to see his own tombstone, and in spite of myself I could not
help shivering. But strong as was this feeling, anger well-nigh
overcame it. It seemed to me that both my mother and brother were so
eager for me to be dead, that they were glad of any excuse for making
me appear so, and I determined that I would understand what it all
Accordingly I walked towards the village and soon found myself in
the midst of about two hundred people, which was regarded as a great
crowd in that neighbourhood. In one corner of the green was a wrestling
ring, and in another was a group of young folk dancing to the music of
two or three instruments, which had evidently been specially obtained
for the occasion. Some very coarse sweetmeats were being sold at the
sweet stalls and a general holiday air pervaded the scene. I saw as I
came up that I was curiously regarded. My dress was of foreign make,
and I was bronzed by years of exposure. My beard, too, was long, and my
whole appearance was different from those whom the people would be
likely to see. Moreover, it was very seldom a stranger visited that
neighbourhood, and thus naturally I was regarded as a sort of
I looked from face to face, but could see no one that I knew. During
these years middle-aged men seemed to have grown old, and children to
have sprung into men and women. I made my way towards the wrestling
ring, where two youths struggled with each other, while the people
looked at them with open mouths. Here I saw two or three farmers whom I
knew, but I did not care to enter into conversation.
It was very strange. I was home, and yet no one knew me. The parish
was called by my name, the church was called Trewinion Church, and yet
I, Roger, the oldest male member of the house, was a stranger, and
looked at curiously by the people. Eleven years before I had been at
the feast, and then everyone had paid respect to Maaster Roger; but
now, the bronzed, bearded, foreign-looking man, was an alien.
At length one of the two men who had been wrestling was thrown, and
then I heard a voice which I thought I knew, saying, That's a feir
vall. It was spoken by the man who had been selected as umpire, and
when I caught sight of his face I recognised Bill Tregargus, the man
who climbed the Devil's Tooth on the stormy night when Ruth was
rescued. I had always remained friendly with Bill up to the time I
left. I determined I would speak to him.
As this was the last hitch of the day, the ring was broken up, and
I saw Bill going with the rest towards the village alehouse.
I went up to him and touched him upon the arm.
You seem to be a man of some importance here, I said.
Bill looked very modest, but nodded.
I want to have a little talk with some respectable man in the
parish, I said: one who knows the worth of land and one who knows the
Wal, I think as 'ow I knaws everybody, said Bill; I've bin ere
oal my life, and don't owe nobody nothin'. I've got three booats, and a
daicent little farm.
I can quite fancy that, I said, by the way people regard you. Is
your farm your own land now, or do you rent it?
Nobody farms their own land in this ere parish, replied Bill, it
do oal belong to Squire Trewinion, but who be you and what do you want
to knaw about the parish for?
I'm a stranger, I said, and I used to know young Roger Trewinion;
can you tell me anything about him?
Knaw young Maaster Roger, did 'ee? cried Bill, why he was a
friend to me; ain't 'ee 'eard un spaik of Bill Tregargus?
Bill Tregargus? I said; many a time! why, did you not go out with
him one night and rescue a young lady whose ship was wrecked upon a
Why, iss, said Bill excitedly, ded a ever tell 'ee 'bout that?
How should I know it else? I said; but now I want to know about
him and the family.
He took me away from the people by a pathway that led through a
You was a friend of Maaster Roger's, said Bill, zo I can tell
'ee. He's dead, and there's been foul play.
Foul play? How?
It's my belief 'ow 'e've bin murdered, zur.
Murdered! Why should you think that?
When did you knaw Maaster Roger, sur?
Oh, twelve years ago, just before he came of age, I think.
Well, sur, ther've bin awful doin's up at th' House since then,
things, sur, as I'm amooast 'fraid to tell 'ee, 'cause
Then a frightened look came into Bill's eyes, and he looked round
CHAPTER XVII. REVENGE!
You doan't belong to this neighbourhood, do 'ee? said Bill, at
I have not been in England for years, was my reply.
Well, sur, I'll tell 'ee oal about it. Perhaps you knaw that the
young lady who was saved was stayin' at the house?
Yes, I've heard of it. Miss Morton was her name, wasn't it?
Iss, that's it. Well, Maaster Roger and Maaster Wilfred was boath
in love wi' her; and Maaster Wilfred he stood the best chance 'cause
Mrs. Trewinion dedn't like Roger, and she amoast worshipped Wilfred. Of
course, we doan't know all about it, but we've heerd as 'ow there was
somethin' in Squire Morton's will which made Miss Ruth marry the Squire
of Trewinion. Anyhow the ou'll squire got killed, and jist after that,
altho' Maaster Roger wur maaster of everything, he runned away and left
Wilfred to be the squire. Of course, everybody wondered at that, and
grieved too, for Maaster Roger wur a fav'rit' with us all. Then we
heerd from the sarvents that Mrs. Trewinion and Maaster Wilfred had
worked it out. She had tould Miss Ruth that young Roger had been
boasting that she would 'ave to marry him, although 'ee didn't care
anything 'bout 'er, and we heerd as 'ow she tould Maaster Roger that
Miss Ruth loved his brother, but couldn't marry him 'cause he was in
the way, and that the thought of marryin' him, that is Maaster Roger,
was drivin' her mad. We doan't knaw 'bout oal these things, sur, but
anyhow, Maaster Roger was missin' dreckly after his father's funerl,
and hev never bin seed alive since. Well, after he was gone, Miss Ruth
nearly broke her heart. You never see such a pale thing as she went
But I think I heard that she liked Wilfred best; at least, Roger
told me so.
Ded Maaster Roger tell 'ee that, sur? Well, everybody thought so.
She would go out a walking with Wilfred, but 'ardly ever with Roger;
but wimmin be curus critters, and it 'pears that all the time she wur a
dyin' for 'im, only she wur too proud to let 'im know it.
In spite of myself my heart gave a great bound. I saw it now. I had
been the tool of my mother and Wilfred. I had spent long years of grief
because of them; my life was perhaps wrecked, but I kept calm before
Bill, and bade him go on with his story.
Well, sur, Bill continued, while everyone was talkin' 'bout
Maaster Roger, and was wonderin' what 'ad become ov him, the body of a
man wur found at the bottom of the headland oal bruised and battered.
Of course, everybody said 'twas Maaster Roger. In fact, Mrs. Trewinion,
and the passon, and Maaster Inch swore to him, an' 'cordingly it was
took into the house, and in a day or two was buried in the Trewinion
vault, under the Communion in the church there, pointing to the grey
tower, which we could just see between the trees.
But were proper steps taken to indentify it? I asked.
Well, sur, you see, when a young fella's mawther sweers to 'im
there can't be much more zed. Anyhow, everybody believed it but Miss
Ruth. She stuck out that 'twadn' Maaster Roger, and wudd'n go to the
funeral. Of course, there were a lot of talk, but we people only heerd
jist bits of gossip like. For my oan paart, I 'greed with her. I knawed
that Maaster Roger knawed too much 'bout the cliffs not to vall over
um, while as fur killin' hisself, he wadn't the sort of chap to do
Did you say so?
'Course I did, but people laughed at me, and zed I worshipped
Maaster Roger, which wur purty nigh true. But what vollied wur strange.
People zed as ow a strange figure wur seed in the churchyard, and that
it went wailin' up an' down, and then went in through the church door,
and then up to the Trewinion vault, where it vanished.
But how could anyone see it go through the door, and then up to the
Dunnaw, sir; but sperrits be curse things. Any-rate, thur wur lots
of talk, fur 'twas seed not only in the church, and churchyard, but up
at the house.
Who was it supposed to be?
Well, some do say as 'twas this man that was buried that wasn't
Maaster Roger. Some do say as 'twas th' oull squire hisself, who come
back to tell un that they didn' bury his son; while others do say that
the squire com back to tell Miss Ruth to marry Wilfred. Anyhow, things
went on like that for a week till the passon was called up to the
house, and was tould to lay the ghost.
How do you know if that is true?
Well, sur, that es what people do say. They say that Mrs. Trewinion
and the passon went first into the library and then to the church, and
there the passon ded read the funeral service over again, and took care
to turn the Prayer-book upside down so that the ghost couldn't rise any
And was it seen afterwards?
No sur, it weren't; but some don't think 'twas the passon laid the
ghost, but 'cause Debrah Teague had summin to do wi' it, and the passon
had a row wi' her.
Well, what happened afterwards?
Things went on quiet for a bit, sur; then we heerd as 'ow Maaster
Wilfred, who took 'pon him the place ov squire, was plagin' Miss Ruth
to marry un, and she wudden, then it laiked out that she said she
wudden marry un 'till ten year after Maaster Roger 'ad gone.
My dream, my dream! I thought. Surely the hand of God was in this;
but I did not know all then!
Well, are the ten years up yet? I said, as quietly as I could.
'Twas up 'bout a month ago, sur; and then, sur we've heerd as 'ow a
strange thing happened.
I have to go up to the house a goodish bit, sur. I take fish there,
and I'm friendly weth the sarvents, too, and so I heer more'n anybody
They do say as 'ow Mrs. Trewinion and Maaster Wilfred went
botherin' 'er again to marry 'im, tellin' her that the ten years was
up. They say, too, that Maaster Wilfred got Miss Ruth's old steward
Inch into some scrapes, and can make un do moast what he've got a mind
to. Anyhow they oal got at her, and got her to promise, when she
screeches out 'Roger es ere; I see un!' There were a sarvent in the
'all that eerd her and she tould me!
Merciful God, I thought, my dream again.
What happened afterwards? I said, excitedly.
Why, sur, Miss Ruth she fented away, and lyed like one dead for a
long time, and when she came to she looked oal dazed.
The next day she went to her own house.
To prepare for the weddin'. She believed, so she tould her maid,
that Roger must be dead, and so she went home tu fulfil her father's
will, and prepare for the weddin'.
What, did Wil, that is, the other brother, persist in her
marrying him, though he knew she didn't like him?
That he did, sur. You see, he've bin livin' wild, and people do zay
that the whole estate es mortgaged up to its eyes, and he ded want to
get Miss Ruth so as to kep Trewinion.
My heart grew hot with anger, but I only urged the man to go on with
Well, I do'ant knaw much after that 'ow things went on; but I've
heerd that she pined and pined, and still Maaster Wilfred kept her to
her promise. The banes (banns) was called in church, and the day fixed;
but she got thinner and thinner, till 'bout a week ago sheshe
She what? Tell me?
She died. Goodness gracious, who be you?
Ruth dead! Died of a broken heart! Wilfred, your cup is full! You
shall die for this! I cried wildly. My brain was on fire, my heart was
breaking. I had come home for this! The message was a mockery, nothing
was before me but despair andrevenge.
Look you! cried Bill, you beiss, good Lordyou be Maaster
Yes, Roger, I said, come home for this!
Oa, Maaster Roger, I wish I 'ad'n tould 'ee. I'd a bite my tongue
out fust; but I ded'n knaw, and yet I thought you was somebody I'd seed
before. Oa, Maaster Roger, do'ant 'ee give way so. Oa, to think you
should 'ev bin dead, and come back livin', and that Bill Tregargus shud
hev bin the fust to tell 'ee the bad news. Ef I'd only knaw'd I'd ev
altered it; but I ded'n.
I conquered myself at last. I had been in a hard school during the
last ten years, living almost without hope in life, and so I felt it
less than if I buoyed myself up with joyful hopes. Still, it was
terrible, terrible. If I had come home a month before it might have
been different, but I was too late. Ah, I was cursed, cursed with the
Bill, I said, after many wild questions on my part, and excited
exclamations on his, for he could not realise that I was alive, tell
me all about it, all about her death, and everything.
Well, Maaster Roger, said Bill, what I knaw is through Jane
Treloar, who was Miss Ruth's maid, and she came back yesterday by the
coach. She do live here, you do knaw, sur. Well, she tould me and the
cook that she only made one request when she got very ill, and that was
that Maaster Wilfred shouldn't see her. She got weaker, sur, very fast,
and never spoke to anybody, and died without a murmur.
When was she buried?
Two days agone, sur.
In the church, sur, near her house, in the vault under the
Communion, so Jane Treloar said.
For a long time Bill and I remained together, until I saw the
evening shadows fall, then I made up my mind I would go to the Hall.
Bill, I said, did you know me at all while we were talking?
Not until you got wild, sur, then it struck me who you was. Nobody
would recognise you at once, sur, you've so altered.
I don't want you to tell anyone you've seen me until you hear from
me again, Bill.
All right, sur, I won't do nothin' you do'ant want me to do; you
be'ant goin' away, be 'ee, sur, y'll stay and be squire!
I don't know what I shall do yet, I said, I'm almost mad; but
you'll know by and by.
Then I went away towards the house. I knew Wilfred was home, and I
determined that we should meet, and that he should give an account of
his dealings with the woman for whom I had left my home.
Daylight was nearly gone when I reached the headland so I went to a
spot near the house, where I could watch. It was a glorious September
evening, and nature was on every hand beautiful. The flush of summer
had gone; but the decay of winter had not set in, and the cornfields
which had been shorn of their crops were by no means destitute of
loveliness. The fruit trees were laden with their crimson and golden
clusters, and the first tinge of brown that was just beginning to
appear only added to the beauty of the foliage I felt this rather than
saw it. The spell of the night exists more in my consciousness than in
my memory. The music of the waters comes back to me rather as a
half-forgotten dream than as anything I distinctly remember. My mind
was then too busy with other things. I was thinking of Ruth, Ruth
loving me through long years, and then dying of a broken heart. Through
the wilful deception of my brother and mother I had been bereft of
everything I loved. Through them I had sacrificed love, hope and
comforts; through them my darlingwho loved me all the timewas
murdered. Oh! If I had but known. If I had but known we might have been
happyso happy! But no, they had remorselessly pursued their course,
until they had killed my darling.
If I felt hatred on the morning I left home, I felt it ten times
more now. Then my hatred was blind hatred without knowing the reason,
now I knew that it only foreshadowed what should come after. It was a
prophetic power in my soul, which told me vaguely perhaps, but truly,
what my brother would do; now I realised it. Then, if I may so speak,
it was abstract, now it was concrete. What I had only dimly feared was
become a fact. Ruth, who had loved me, loved me without my knowledge,
had been killed, murdered, as truly as if an assassin had used a knife
or cudgel for his devilish work. Nay, it was worse, it was a slower and
more cruel death. She had died because of the fear that her life was to
be linked to a man she did not love.
I was very calm I remember, even though the fires of hell burnt in
my heart. After all, the anger which is most dangerous is not that
which raves and cries aloud, but that which makes no noise. Calm as I
was, I felt my muscles grow hard, and I had a kind of savage joy within
me as I pictured the death agony on his face and heard the death rattle
in his throat. Nevertheless, I would not act foolishly, and I set
myself to thinking how I could bring my desires to pass.
How should I enter the house? How should I be able to get Wilfred
Surely, the powers of darkness were on my side, for while I waited
and watched I saw him come out of the tower entrance, and walk in the
direction of the gate that led out to the headland where I was.
Ah! said I, God is going to give you into my hands. He is a just
God! He will not grant me love, but He will grant me hate, and He will
find a means of vengeance.
He came out of the gate and wandered slowly on. I was too far away
to see his face clearly in the evening light, but could see he moved
with the old, careless swing. Ten years had scarcely altered his
appearance. He was still the elegant, handsome Wilfred.
He walked towards the vicarage, and took the coast path. So much the
betterit was the most lonely path in the countryside. It suited my
purpose exactly. I followed silently. No sound of footsteps could be
heard, for the grass was soft and spongy; the grass on which we had
often played together as boys.
He wandered along aimlessly as though he had come out to be alone.
He did not look back; but every now and then stopped and gazed at the
Devil's Tooth, the five great prongs of which could be clearly seen
in the evening light.
Presently I thought we had gone far enough for my purpose, and so I
went up to him.
I desire to speak to you, I said.
He turned round sharply, and looked straight at me.
Who are you? he cried.
Look and see, I said.
The moon had risen, the sky was clear, and my features could be
He looked at me steadily with his sharp brilliant eyes, and spoke
I do not know you.
I think you do, I said. You and I have often played on yonder
headland, often wrestled there; look again.
Then he gave a great start, and trembled.
My God, it is Roger! he cried.
Ah, you remember at last, do you? Yes, it is Roger.
He seemed to detect something fearful in my voice, for he asked
Where do you come from, and why are you here?
I am come from silence, and from mystery, as far as you are
concerned, I replied, and I am here in the name of righteousness and
Something in my answer seemed to startle him.
Alive? he said, with a gasp.
Yes, alive, I said. When I left I told you to be careful, or
Roger might come to life again. I told you to be kind to the one for
whom I sacrificed my all, or the dead would arise. Let your own memory
answer the question whether there is cause for me to come back.
He caught my meaning, and began to stammer.
But, Roger, II have done nothing, and
Stop, I cried, I know all. You know that I was deceived into
believing that Ruth loved you, and that I was the hindrance to her
happiness. And I know now that it was a lie concocted by my mother and
you. I know how you have imposed upon and deceived her. I know that you
have tried to frighten her into marrying you, and I know, too, that by
keeping her to a promise that her soul abhorred, you have murdered her!
I know all this, and now I have come back for revenge.
What will you do?
I do not know as yet. First of all confess to me this; did not you
and my mother deceive both Ruth and me to get me away, so that you
might have what was mine?
You said you knew, why do you ask?
I wish to hear what you say; answer me!
Mother put in into my mind, and I thought thatthatyou didn't
care, so II he stopped in confusion.
Coward! to put the fault on your mother. Now another question. Did
you villify me to Ruth, did you wear away her life by trying to get her
to marry you, even when you knew she loved me?
Roger, I wanted her so, and you were gone, and we thought you dead,
and our affairs got entangled so
You killed her, I said savagely. But for your accursed cunning
and greed she would be alive now.
I didn't know, Roger. I knew she didn't like me afterafteryou
went away, but I didn't think I should
Did you hold her to her promise to the last?
Yesthat is, I thought she might get better again and so
You drove her to her death, and now my turn has come.
But you will not hurt me, Roger; you will not hurt your brother!
What will you do?
This touched me to the quick, and for a time I felt I could not hurt
Is there unspoken communication of thought? Is there a subtle
interchange of mind which is instinctively felt? I think so, for no
sooner did I feel that I could not harm Wilfred than his evident fear
left him. He acted on the aggressive immediately, and spoke boldly.
Yes, what will you do? he said. I refuse to know you. I refuse to
recognise you. My brother Roger is dead, and was buried long years
since. You are some impostor come here to claim what is not your own,
under the paltry pretence of revenge.
My brother's villainy was now manifest, and my old hatred came
Roger is not dead, and that you will soon find out, I said. All
your authority and power are gone, the son and heir has come; but
Ruth's avenger is come too! 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a
tooth.' You shall suffer as she has suffered, you shall die as she
died. I have a long score to pay. I have ten years of misery in the
past to account for. I have a blackened future from which you are not
We were standing near the cliff as I said this, but I had my eye
upon him, and it is well it was so, for he jumped at me savagely, and,
had I not been prepared I should have fallen from the dizzy height to
the ragged rocks below.
Curse you, he cried; but you have not a child to deal with, or
the puny boy whose weakness you used to take advantage of. I am not
going to let Trewinion go. I have not enjoyed it for ten years to lose
it now. If Roger did not die ten years ago he shall die now.
With that he sought to drag me nearer the cliff, while I gripped him
firmly. He did not fight defensively now. For him, everything depended
on the struggle. To rob me of my love, and to rob me of my money, he
had schemed to get me away, and now that I had come back he determined
to hold by all he had stolen. Nor did I fight defensively. I felt I had
lost Ruth, ay, I had lost my life itself through him, and I gripped him
with a grip of iron. I thought of misery, and revenge; he of disgrace
and the loss of what he held dear.
I soon found out that, as he had said, I had not a child or a puny
boy to deal with. His muscles seemed of iron, and he coiled around me
like a serpent. If I hated, he hated still more, and with the malignity
of a demon he sought to master me. I was, however, the bigger and the
stronger man, while the past ten years of my life had developed my
physical strength greatly. Toil and exposure had given me power of
endurance unknown to him, and soon I felt his grasp weaken. Little by
little I mastered him, until with the grip of a giant I crushed him in
He looked up at me despairingly.
You will not kill me, Roger? he gasped.
Would you not have killed me if you could? I said, for there was
murder in my heart. You have killed my Ruth, and now
I did not finish the sentence, for, in spite of myself, I felt him
dragging me nearer the edge of the cliff, nor was I able to stop him
until we were within a foot or so from the awful precipice. Then I
lifted him from the ground and held him. His strength seemed gone,
while mine was unabated.
What should I do with him? He was the destroyer of my life's
happiness, he had killed my love, he had filled me with despair; but he
was my brother. Should I destroy the venomous life that wrought only
Hurl him over! said the devil within me, he is your blight, your
curse! Show him no mercy, let him be dashed to pieces, and thus you
will avenge your misery, and avenge Ruth's death!
[Illustration: 'Hurl him over!' said the devil within me.]
No, no, he's your brother, forgive him! said another voice.
All this passed through my mind in the moment, that I felt him
struggle again, then, with an awful shriek, he fell from me.
I stood alone on that dizzy heightalone! I was the conqueror. I
was avenged. Ruth's murderer was dead.
I looked around me, and I remembered where I stood.
Long years before I had gone to the vicarage, and on this spot I had
seen a shadowy, shapeless figure in white!
On the night my father had died I was standing on this place when I
saw between the prongs of the Devil's Tooth the omen of darkness.
Now, standing there alone, I realised what had been done on this
place of evil memory.
I stood on the edge of the cliff and looked down I could see
nothing, but below me I heard the waves break upon the rocks, and they
seemed to laugh with fiendish glee, and mock me in my black despair.
CHAPTER XVIII. HELL!
I cried to God, Oh, I am so weary.
God said, You have not seen half hell.
I said, I cannot see more, I am afraid. In my own narrow little
path I dare not walk, because I think that one has dug a pit for me;
and if I put my hand to take a fruit I draw it back again, because I
think it has been kissed. If I look out across the plains the mounds
are covered houses; and when I pass among the stones I hear them
crying. The time of the dance is beaten in with sobs, and the wind is
alive. Oh, I cannot bear hell.OLIVE SCHREINER.
For some time I was conscious of nothing, but by degrees I realised
what I had done. An awful crime rested upon my soul, a crime only the
shadow of which had rested upon me before.
The hatred of years had found expression at last. The serpent that
had lain in my heart, writhing and turning, and growing for years, had
at last lifted its head, the latent devil had asserted itself, and I
was a murderer.
The ghastly, terrible truth pressed itself upon me more and more. I
was alone on the weather-beaten cliff, around me all was still; beneath
me was the ever sobbing sea telling me of what I had done.
Oh! The terror of that thought. Even now, after long years, I
trembled at what I then realised. I, Roger Trewinion, trained by a
godly father, surrounded during my early life with every good
influence, was a murderer. In my madness I had arisen like Cain and
taken away my brother's life; in my hatred I had wrought desolation.
Alone! alone; with only the mocking sea to speak to me from without;
while within I felt the fires of hell.
I saw, as in a lightning flash, the events of the past twenty years.
I saw myself and Wilfred playing, rollicking on the cliffs, I saw us
rushing home from school, and nutting among the woods. Again we were
together in the waving cornfields, or swimming in the shining seas. We
were reared in the same home, and had through our childhood slept in
the same room. We both bore the same name, and the same blood ran in
And I remembered more than that. Thousands of incidents concerning
the happy days of childhood flashed through my memory. Then we had few
cares and many joys. I saw us sitting in the old family pew in church,
and the lines of the old hymns we had sung came back to me, hymns about
the love of God and the Cross of Christ.
And I had murdered him! Never, in my wildest moments, did I dream
that my hatred of Wilfred would ever take outward form in actual
killing. I did not mean to kill him when we stood together, and held
him in my arms. But he fell from mefell from that awful height, down,
down, among the cruel jagged rocks, and would be dashed to pieces,
while the mocking waves would sweep over him.
Now, where was the purpose of my hate, my revenge? They had not won
back the lost years of my life, they had not given Ruth back to me. My
evil deed had only made the evil more evil; had poisoned my own soul
with a poison more deadly. What right had I to visit vengeance upon my
brother's wrong-doing? Was I perfect? Had not hatred mastered my life
for years? Had I not allowed my lower nature to conquer my higher? Yet
I had dared to avenge my wrong. I had dared to take the work of God
into my own hands. Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, said the Lord.
Bitterly now did I feel the truth of this, for God was taking His
vengeance on me! II had broken His laws, I had yielded to the devil,
I had hurled the crown of my manhood from me.
And I still stood alone, with bare head and burning eyes, while in
my heart burned a scorching, tormenting, yet non-consuming fire.
Then a more terrible thought came. What I had done could never be
undone. Never! Age upon age might pass away, but that fact, ghastly and
black, would remain! It might be possible, I did not think He ever
would, but it might be possible that in the far-off future God would
forgive me. But then, even God could not undo the fact that I had
killed my brother.
But I had not intended to throw him over the cliff. His death was
due to an accident; I had not altogether yielded to the strivings of
the devil. True, true, and yet murder was in my heart, for did I not
hate him and had I not hated him for years.
Whoso hateth his brother is a murderer. So said the disciple of
the Son of God, and I had hated him, and now neither God nor eternity
could undo what I had done.
I thought of my mother. Soon she would learn that Wilfred was dead,
and then her sky would be black, and it would be I, Roger, who had
blackened it. The deed which would bring her grey hair with sorrow to
the grave, had been done by me.
Ah, I thought, if I could only cease to be, cease to think, but
that, I knew, could never be. Had I hurled myself from that dizzy
height, so that my battered body might be beside my brother's, the
awful thing I had done would remain, and I should remain. I might kill
the body, but I could not kill the soul; and self-murder would make my
crime greater, not less.
Oh, how desolate the world was. The summer sky had no beauty; the
fields, which I could still dimly see, were shorn of every loveliness.
Then I looked seaward, and the only visible object was the ghastly
rock which was ever a nightmare to my soul.
What was it I saw there? It was a light, like the light I had seen
on the night of my father's death, a weird, ghostly light, moving
between the great grey prongs.
I remembered then of what that light was supposed to be the omen,
and my senses seemed to leave me. Everywhere, everywhere, I could hear
taunting voices crying Murderer! Murderer! The winds as they swept by
said it, the sea playing with the pebbles on the beach said it, and
thousands of voices all around me uttered the same dread word. I put my
fingers in my ears to keep away the hideous sound; but not so could I
silence conscience. The word came not from without, but from within. It
was my guilty soul that repeated it, until I longed to have the power
to flee from the self which I loathed.
Not only did my ears hear the word; my eyes saw it. Everywhere it
was written. On the broad sky I could see it written from end to end. I
turned to the sea, and on its silvery waters the same awful word was
traced, in letters that were black as the blackest night. I turned my
eyes landward, and it was there, and when I closed them I saw it still.
Yet I was not sorry for what I had done! I suffered the pains of
hell, but I was not sorry, nor did I hate my brother the less. Could I
have shed one bitter tear or realised one true feeling of repentance I
should have suffered less; but I could not, and this made my hell
harder to bear, it made my hell a hell of the blackest kind. Dives did
not feel the burning so keenly as I, for in his pain he could still
love his brothers and long for their salvation; but I was in worse
straits than he. I hated all, because of my hatred of one.
And all the time I felt this, I stood on the verge of the cliffs
hundreds of feet above the ever-sounding sea. My loneliness was
terrible! I longed to hear some voice, to feel the grasp of some
friendly hand, yet I dreaded the approach of any one.
My eyes and ears were, after a while, delivered from the terrible
word, and looking again I saw the mysterious light moving among the
prongs of the Devil's Tooth, then I saw a form approaching me, a
grey, bent, ungainly form.
Trembling I waited as it approached, until it stood close by my
What do 'ee zee? said a croaking voice.
I did not reply. I felt that I could not.
Es it the light you be lookin' at? That's Betsey Fraddam's lantern,
that es, and that do'ant tell'ee of any good luck.
I knew now that it was old Deborah Teague who spoke. The years had
not softened her harsh features, nor did she seem older than when I had
left Trewinion, save that she stooped more. My blood curdled when I
knew it was she. When I stood on this place last she had come to me and
had repeated some lines of the Trewinion's curse; she had told me of
the darkness that was approaching, and now on the night that I had come
back, the night on which I had been engaged in a deed of darkest dark
on this same dread spot, she had come to me again.
Yet did I not reply.
Who be you? she continued.
I remained silent, looking again towards the Devil's Tooth, where
angry flames leaped up.
The old dame laughed when she saw my evident fear, and continued in
her hoarse, croaking voice:
That's ou'll Betsey cookin' her broth, that es; and it was made
where you do'ant want to go. I shudn't stay there much longer or ou'll
Betsey 'll bring'ee some, and nobody ever refuses her.
With that she hobbled away, leaving me again alone. But I did not
stay long. A maddening desire came into my heart to get away, and with
eager feet I rushed landward.
Where should I go? Somewhere, anywhere away from Trewinion, away
from this dark deed of my life. For a mile I rushed blindly on. Then I
stopped. I must make up my mind what was to be my destination.
Morton Hall! I had not been thinking of it, but that was the place
that impressed itself on my thought and memory. I would go there. For
what purpose I did not know, but in my misery that one place seemed to
invite me. I could do no good, for Ruth was dead, and laid in the cold
tomb. Dead, dead, and she had died loving me! The thought softened my
hell, and yet it made it harder to bear, for while it put tenderness
into my heart, it made me feel more than ever unworthy even to mention
I stopped in my journey again, for I had started in the direction of
Ruth's home, and, looking upward, I saw a star that was nearer to me
than any other, and it seemed to look lovingly upon me; then my heart
was subdued, and I sobbed like a child.
Again a mad frenzy possessed me, and I rushed away in the direction
of Ruth's home as though the powers of darkness pursued me.
CHAPTER XIX. TOWARDS RUTH'S GRAVE
But if you look into it, the balance is perfectly adjusted, even
here. God has made His world much better than you and I could make it.
Everything reaps its own harvest; every act has its own reward. And
before you covet the enjoyment which another possesses, you must first
calculate the cost at which it was procured.FREDERICK W. ROBERTSON.
Morton Hall was about thirty-five miles from Trewinion, in a
south-easterly direction. It lay on the opposite side of the county,
and the country between was hilly, but fertile. I did not know the road
well, but I knew it well enough for my purpose. By travelling at the
rate of four miles an hour I could reach the Hall in nine hours. I
could give no reason for going thither except that I was drawn by an
irresistible power, a power by means of which I hoped to quench the
awful fires in my soul.
The night was clear, and the stars shone brightly overhead. These I
had studied through the long years of my seafaring life and so knew
their location well. Fixing on one which lay in the direction in which
I desired to go, I followed it as my guide.
To analyse the feelings that possessed me that night would be
impossible. One hears sometimes of a murderer escaping. That may
never be. The officers of the law may not suspect him, the hangman's
rope may never come near him, but no murderer escapes. He never escapes
the terrible undefinable fear which constantly dogs him, the ghastly
gnawing which eats at his heart.
At every step I saw my brother Wilfred. I constantly heard his
voice, and every footfall spoke of what I had done. The hedges were
full of grinning devils, which mocked me, while the stars that spangled
the sky spelt the word that was dragging me deeper into hell.
Time after time I tried to comfort myself with the thought that I
did not intentionally kill him, that it was an accident which caused
him to fall upon those cruel rocks hundreds of feet below, but I found
no comfort in the thought. I could not get rid of the fact that I hated
my brother, and that whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer. Even
had I not done the deed, even had Wilfred been alive, I was still a
murderer at heart. I had hated him alive, I hated him still, and even
now I had no sorrow at what I had done.
On, on I went, wildly yet wearily; tired I was, but I never rested,
nor abated my speed, and ever as I went ghastly thoughts tormented me.
Now I pictured him lying bruised and bleeding among the rocks, alive
yet helpless; and as he lay I saw the tide rising all around him, and
laughing at his cries for help. Then I saw him a ghastly, mis-shapen
mass, crushed and battered beyond all recognition, with eyes red as
blood and bursting from their sockets. Again I saw him, and the scene
was more terrible still. He was entering a great gulf which I knew to
be the mouth of hell, and as he went I saw that he was attended by
ghastly, pallid creatures, who were cold and clammy in spite of the
fires that burned in their breasts.
Who sent you here? they cried, in harshly grating voices.
My brother Roger! he answered.
Breathe the prayer dearest to your heart! they grinned.
May he wallow in a hell a thousand times blacker and more painful
than this, he said.
Your prayer shall be granted, they screamed.
Then I lost him amidst gloomy caverns, that burned with fires giving
no light, and I realised that I was still tramping madly on towards the
south-east, but I knew his prayer was answeredmy hell was blacker
Oh! the length of that awful night. Every second seemed a minute,
every minute seemed a day, nay, a night, a thousand dark nights! I was
in eternal punishment! I had died into eternal death!
How many hours I had tramped on I knew not, when I saw in the
eastern sky a red tinge which made the whole horizon seem a wall of
heated steel, set in diamonds. North and south the sky appeared more
blue because of the brighter colour in the east, and it looked more
distant, more unfathomable. Of what moment was this earth of ours in
this vast space which separated it from the nearest star? It was but as
the fine dust of the balance, and yet I, the loathsome thing that
walked the earth, could feelcould sufferI was something more than
Slowly the day dawned, brighter and brighter became the flush in the
east, one by one the stars sank out of sight, and suddenly I saw a
golden streak of light flash across the hills, then another, and still
others, until a disc of the king of day became visible. A minute more
and it was day! Day! and yet I was still in night, the gloomy fires of
my heart were still unquenched, the darkness of my soul was still
I now began to think about what my mother would say, what she would
feel. When Wilfred did not come home a search would naturally be made,
and in time he would be found. And what then? I dared not think of
Presently I saw a labourer with hedging tools on his shoulder. I
would speak to him, it would relieve my feelings to hear the sound of a
Closer and closer we came until we were within a few yards of each
other. I could not speak to him. I was ashamed. I was a guilty wretch,
and could not look an honest man in the face, so I passed by without
looking at him or speaking a word. Another mile I tramped, then I saw a
farmer coming in his cart; evidently he was going to some distant
market. I would speak to him. I had now got over the shock which the
sight of the other man had given me.
Could you tell me, I said as he came near, how far Morton Hall is
Morton Hall, he replied, I' sh' think I cud. I ain't a lived in
this ere neberhood for vive and vorty year wiout knawin' that?
I waited for him to go on, but he did not speak another word, and
then, looking at me strangely, prepared to drive on.
Will you tell me, then? I said.
You asked me if I cud, he said, not ef I wud. Es,
I'll tell 'ee, tes nine mile'n haaf, and the farmer drove on.
Nine miles and a half! I had walked twenty-five miles then, and
more. I was very tired, and I knew not why I should go there; but,
impelled by a strong power, I hurried on.
By this time the day was quite warm, and soon I began to feel the
perspiration ooze from my forehead, so seeing a stream of clear water
running by the roadside I stooped down and washed myself. It helped and
refreshed me much, and enabled me to think more calmly. Then I
remembered that many a long hour had passed since I had tasted food. I
felt hungry and faint, but I walked on, for there seemed small hope of
obtaining food for some time. Happening, however, to pass near a
farmhouse I heard some one singing. It was a milkmaid sitting among her
cows, singing as she worked, and her song was the expression of a light
heart free from guilt. Jumping over a stile I made my way towards her,
and seeing me coming she stood up and curtsied.
Can you sell me some milk, Mary? I said.
No sur, I can't sell any, and my name edn't Mary but Em'ly, but I
can give 'ee zum.
With that she ran to the house, and soon appeared with a quart jug,
which she dipped into the bucket and filled, then handed it to me. I
drank it greedily, and I did not take my lips from the jug until I had
nearly emptied it. To me it was both meat and drink, and it gave me new
life. I offered the girl money, but she refused it indignantly.
As thoa, she said, anybody cud taake money vur a drap a milk.
I had no difficulty in accomplishing the remaining distance after
this, and soon after I came to the park gates of Morton Hall. Then the
real difficulty of my position was revealed to me. What should I do now
I had travelled these thirty-five long miles? what object could I have
in visiting the house? what should I say if any one asked me my
Although I could not settle this in my mind, I opened the gate and
strode up the long drive. It was a fine house, and had been kept in
good repair. Great trees bordered the way, but hid not the colossal
pile that was plainly to be seen at the end of the widening avenue.
Without waiting a second, or being able to give a reason for what I
was doing, I went to the main entrance and rang the heavy bell.
An old, grey-headed servant appeared, looking exceedingly solemn,
and asked my business.
I want to see the owner of this place, I said, speaking on the
impulse of the moment.
There is no owner, was the reply.
How is that? I asked, abruptly.
He looked at me keenly for a minute, as though to sum up my social
position and qualities before answering. Evidently he was an old and
It is not a matter for strangers, he said, but if you have any
business I will convey it to the person who is at present in charge.
My business is of importance, I said, speaking from secret
impulse, and not knowing what I should have to say next. I can only
entrust it to the owner.
But the owner is dead, he replied, and who the new owner will be
is not known yet. There are many claiming to be next-of-kin, and Mr.
Inch and the lawyers are busy at work.
Mr. Inch is the steward, I suppose?
The man nodded, but did not speak.
The late owner was a lady, I said, speaking more calmly than I had
thought myself capable. I used to know her. Miss Ruth Morton was her
name. I have a message of great importance; but you say she's dead.
Again the servant looked at me keenly.
I know Mr. Inch too, I went on, and I must see him. Perhaps he
was not as faithful to his mistress as he should have been; he must
answer me that.
This I said as one in a dream, for I had not thought of it before.
It caused a light to flash from the man's eyes, however, and he spoke
I will tell Mr. Inch you are here, he said, and I will answer any
question I can. I have been a servant in this house all my life, and I
loved Miss Ruth like as if she were my own child.
Did she ever live here after her father's death? I asked.
Not until she came of age; then she used to come here through the
summer months, but returned to Trewinion, I believe, because of her
What did your mistress die of? I asked, abruptly.
The old man was silent.
Can you not tell me? I urged.
I cannot, he said, stiffly. I dare say you could know by applying
to the doctor.
I could not help noticing a strange look in his eyes as he spoke,
but I said quietly.
Then you will, perhaps, tell Mr. Inch I wish to see him.
Yes sir. What name?
No name? He will not see you.
Tell him a friend of the Trewinion family wishes to see him.
He gave me a searching look and then went away, and in a minute more
came back and showed me into a room, telling me that Mr. Inch would see
I had not to wait long. Soon I heard a slow, measured step along the
hall; then the handle of the door turned, and Mr. Inch and I were
gazing steadily into each other's face.
CHAPTER XX. VISIT HER TOMB
O, how blest are ye whose toils are ended!
Who through death have to God ascended!
Ye have risen
From the cares which keep us still in prison.
I am at your service for a few minutes, he said stiffly; but our
interview must be short, for I have much to do.
And I have much to speak to you about, I said, still confused as
to the issues of our interview, but dimly feeling that he was in some
way responsible for Ruth's death.
I am ignorant as to what it can be, he said, looking at me
curiously, for certainly I do not remember ever seeing you before.
You do not remember, I said, but you have nevertheless seen me.
Yes? he said, still questioningly.
Yes! I replied. I am at present travelling like that ancient god
of night whom men call Nemesis. I was for years lost to the earth, now
I am come back, if not to restore the righteous to their true position,
at any rate to punish betrayers and oppressors, and you are both a
betrayer and an oppressor.
Do you know to whom you are speaking?
Then I will call a servant and see that you are shown off the
No, you will not.
He looked at me strangely. A friend of the Trewinions, he
murmured, surely he must be mad.
Yes, I am nearly mad, I replied, but I am sane enough to know
that Ruth Morton was not fairly treated, and although there is nothing
but darkness for me in the world, and although every deed I do leads me
further into the thick darkness, it shall be my work to unmask
Unmask villainy? he said, as if in surprise, and then made a
movement towards the door.
No, I said. Think one minute before you call a servant. Let your
mind go back a few years. Remember a dark, wild night many years ago,
when you and your mistress were shipwrecked upon a rock on the northern
coast. Think of who saved you.
It cannot be! he said, staring amazedly at me.
You did not like him, did you? I said. You cared more for the
younger brother, and played on the elder's trusting nature and helped
to get him away. You swore that a body which was washed on the shore
was his, although in your heart you knew it was not. You persecuted
your mistress by constantly trying to make her marry the man she did
not love, and on the tenth anniversary of his departure you appeared
armed with her father's will and drove her to the promise which killed
He grew as pale as a sheet.
You are Roger! he gasped.
I am Roger, I said.
But what will you do? he said, his face ashy pale.
Do? I cried. I will destroy Ruth's destroyers, and then destroy
myself. I will sift your dealings to the bottom and then
Stop, Roger, he cried; stop! I have sinned, but I have also been
sinned against. I loved Ruth, ay, loved her like my own child; but
Wilfred got me into his power, and then, like the devil he was, he made
me do his will. Oh, I have suffered as well as you, more than you! He
found out the one weak place in my life, as he found out everything
else, and then he held me fast. Oh, I have waded through the blackest
slime for him. But for his power over me I should have scorned to do
what I did; I would have died before I would have taken advantage of
her loyalty to her father's slightest wish; and now
Now, because you had no mercy on her or on me, I shall have no
mercy on you, I said. Everything shall be made known, all your deeds
shall be dragged into the light of day.
No, no, Roger; she would not have done that. She forgave me
everything, for at the last I confessed to her all that had been done.
She suffered terribly at your departure, and more, I believe at the
thought of wedding Wilfred, and yet she forgave me. Oh, I wish you had
seen her at the last, so calm, so patient, and so beautiful. She loved
you to the last, Roger, and one thought that cheered her in the hour of
death was that she would soon see you again.
Did she think I was dead?
She believed you died soon after you left home, he replied. But I
did not believe him.
And she loved me; did she confess it?
Not to me, but to the maid who was with her; her whole life and
being seemed to be gone over to you; and thus it was that the thought
of obeying her father's will killed her.
And I had been away from her all these years; I had been robbed of
what was most dear. I was glad I had been revenged on Wilfred now, and
the gladness was fiendish. This man, too, should reap as he had sown;
as he had helped to make me suffer I would make him suffer. I knew that
sooner or later my struggle with Wilfred would be made known, and that
I should be suspected of his death; but I did not care, madness was in
my heart again.
I burst forth with expressions of hatred and determinations of
revenge, the old man still cowering meanwhile before me. Then he spoke.
Roger, who are you that you should seek revenge? Is your life
wholly pure and free from stain? Think, you, if you ruin my life by
bringing me to disgrace, or if you destroy your brother Wilfred, that
Ruth could welcome you to Heaven, if God should even allow you to go
there? She died with the look of a glorified angel on her face; I wish
you had seen her, you would not talk of revenge.
All the time I had been living as in a dream. A vague feeling of
darkness and revenge possessed me. I felt drawn on by unknown
influenceswhither, I could not say.
These words of the old steward and friend to the Morton family
aroused me. Who was I, indeed, that I should seek revenge? I was the
murderer of my brother, I had yielded to as low impulses as they, and
yet I talked of myself as Nemesis. How, indeed, should I dare to meet
Ruth again with such a sin on my soul?
Without a word I left the house, Mr. Inch staring amazedly after me.
I strode down the drive towards the park gates, and had gone, perhaps,
half the distance, when I was chained to the earth by the memory of the
old man's words:She died with the look of a glorified angel on her
face; I wish you had seen her.
No sooner had these sounded in my memory than another voice seemed
Go and see her, it said. Visit her tomb.
At first I was almost stunned by the thought. To see my Ruth again
would indeed be ecstasy, but even as I so thought I heard another voice
speaking in cruel mockery. That which I should see would not be Ruth,
she would be far away, where I might never go. Yet the idea still
haunted me. I would go. It might ease the terrible madness of my soul
if I could see even in death the lips that had confessed their love for
How should I accomplish my object? I remembered Bill Tregargus's
words, She was buried in the vault under the Communion. To the church
then I would go, and I would see her face again, although it was the
face of the dead.
My first work was to go to the village sexton and get the church
keys, so when I arrived at the village I enquired for his house. I
discovered that he was a bachelor, and lived alone on the outskirts of
the village. I quickly made my way thither, and, on arriving, found the
door locked. Evidently he was out. On making further enquiries, I found
that he had that day gone to the nearest market town, and probably
would not be home until dark. It was now about noon, and, faint and
hungry, I found my way to the village alehouse, where, after having had
something to eat, I tried to think.
Since yesterday, I had lived a lifetime. Yesterday at that time I
had not arrived home, I had not seen Bill Tregargus, I knew nothing of
what had occurred. Now I was branded with the brand of a murderer. The
wild deeds I had done when I sailed the seas as a pirate scarcely
weighed on my conscience at all; but this deed, though I did not
repent, and though my hatred remained unabated, made life unendurable.
Hour after hour I sat in the parlour of the village inn, thinking,
wondering and fearing. Would the landlord be so obliging, I wondered,
if he knew what I had done; would he not loathe my presence, and
deliver me to the justice of man?
Yet who are the murderers of the world? Are they to be found among
those only who do actual murder, or are murderers a class of people who
are capable of murder? Is not every man who is not filled with Divine
love capable of murder, and are not many free from the stain of
murderous deeds merely because they have never been provoked, tempted?
Who shall judge as to who are real murderers? None but God alone!
Night drew on at length, and full of the thought which became dearer
each hour, I found again my way to the sexton's house. This time he was
at home. He stared at me in astonishment when I told him what I wanted.
Want to go in th' oul church after dark! he said. You must be
Why! You cudden git more'n two people in the parish to do it. Me
and the passen be the only two that be'ant afraid.
But I don't want you to go with me, I said. I simply want you to
lend me the keys, and I'll bring them back to you again.
And you we'ant want me to go in the churchyard nuther?
I must'n do it, he said. The passen 'ud give me the sack straight
off ef 'ee was to knaw it.
No one need know, I said.
For a long time he held out. I could see that he would willingly
have let me enter the church at daylight, and would himself have gone
with me; but at night he was afraid to do so, and was also afraid to
let me have the keys.
I ca'ant 'ford to lose my place, he said; not that the burryin'
es wuth much. I ain't a berried a livin' soul for a long time, so times
es bad in that way; but I git a goodish bit for clainin' the church.
How much do you get a year?
I make so much as ten shillen a week oal the year round, he said.
I do'ant knaw how much that es a year.
I took fifteen guineas from my pocket, and put them before him.
There is more money than you would get in a whole year, I said.
If I don't bring back the keys in safety, you'll have that money to
take you where you like to go, and if I bring back the keys you shall
have five of them for your trouble in lending them to me.
You'm sure you won't do no harm.
Then take 'em, and going to a little recess in the room he took
the keys from a nail and gave them to me.
I expect you to be waiting for me here when I come back, I said.
Oa, never fear, I sha'ant steer out of the 'ouse, was his reply.
I took a lantern, in which the old man had placed a candle, and
prepared to start.
You'm sure you beant goin' to do nothin' wrong, he said.
Perfectly, I replied. You will not regret it for an instant.
He looked at me again, then, as if they were an enormous fortune, at
the guineas that lay on the table, and seemed reconciled.
Tha's the kay of the church, he said, pointing to the biggest in
the bunch, the churchyard gates is allays left unlocked. And I'll be
waitin for 'ee when you come back. How long shall 'ee be?
I don't know; perhaps an hour, and with a beating heart I went
away towards the church. It was a great, grey, gloomy pile, the four
steeples on the square tower at the western end reminding me of the
prongs of the Devil's Tooth.
I entered the churchyard gates. All was silent as death. I had
expected it to be so; no one ever dared to enter there after dark,
unless it was a cluster of worshippers gathered together in church
time. Even this did not happen often, for rarely was an evening service
held there. Like many other country churches in Cornwall, the time of
worship was morning and afternoon. Had I got into the church in the
afternoon I should not have been free from observation, for the country
folk are courageous in the daytime, and often prowl around the
churchyard; but at night I knew if I entered I should be left
Slowly I wended my way down the churchyard path. I began to realise
now what I was going to do, and for the first time the thought struck
terror. Yet did I not hesitate in my purpose. I remembered every
superstitious association of my early childhood. Stories of the
troubled dead roaming around their graves came back to my mind. I saw
the grey tombstones grim and lonely, as if inviting those in whose
memory they were erected to bear them company through the silent night.
A lonely churchyard is an awful place, and this one seemed more
awful than others to me, who was about to visit the dead!
How plainly my footsteps sounded as I went down the gravelled
footpath. I felt as though I were disturbing the dead in their graves.
What was that dark grey form moving among the tombstones? Was it the
village witch gathering the nettles that grew on the suicide's grave,
in order to work her mystic spells and secret charms? Was that sound I
heard her dark laughter, as she plucked the mugwort of evil repute?
No; it was only my excited imagination conjuring up dread objects
I stood at the door of the belfry tower. It was grey, and iron
studded. Should I enter this way? No; my passage among the bell-ropes
might set the bells jangling in ghastly discord, and quickly I hurried
to the church porch.
I stood and listened; but could hear no sound. The stone seats
around the porch looked very cold, and the parish notices that were
pasted around its walls looked to me like the letters of departed
I lit the candle in my lantern, and fumbled among the keys, my hands
trembling as I did so. I found the right key at length, and placed it
in the door. I tried to turn it, but it would not move. I pushed it a
little farther and tried again. The lock was very stiff, it was but
seldom movedonce or twice a week at most, and even more seldom oiled.
In spite of the rust, it at length yielded to the strength of my hand,
the bolt shot back with a rough grating sound, the great door swung
back on its rusty hinges, and I entered the silent church.
I withdrew the keys and shut the door. It closed with a bang that
sounded terrible in the great building, but I did not heed. I went
eastward towards the Communion, under which was the tomb of the
CHAPTER XXI. THE VAULT UNDER THE
There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but
which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction.
These the mere romancist must eschew, if he do not wish to offend or
disgust. They are with propriety handled only when the severity and
majesty of truth sanctify and maintain them. We thrill, for example,
with the most intense of pleasurable pain over the accounts of the
Passage of the Beresina, of the Earthquake at Lisbon, of the Plague of
London, of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, or of the 123 prisoners in
the Black Hole at Calcutta. But in these accounts it is the factit is
the realityit is the history which excites. As inventions we should
regard them with simple abhorrence.EDGAR A. POE'S Tales of Mystery
I stood alone in the old church. How silent everything was! The
great grey granite pillars, surmounted by circling arches, appeared in
ghostly array before me; the high-backed pews seemed to be peopled by
dim, shadowy figures, who had come back to watch me as I looked on the
face of my loved. Everyone of the tablets on the wall was to me a face
of warning. My footfall echoed and re-echoed, until I fancied the
silent church peopled by innumerable visitants from the spirit land.
A dim light which caused weird shadows to fall across the old
building, came in through the small windows, while the light of my
lantern made other shadows more dark, more forbidding.
I wended my way towards the Communion, for even there Bill
Tregargus's words came back to me. She was buried in the vault under
the Communion, and there I should see all that remained of the only
woman I had ever loved. I passed by the reading desk, then came to the
pulpit, but I did not pause either to examine the curious carvings on
its front or the ancient worm-eaten wood of which it was made.
At length I stood by the Communion, and a great fear laid hold of
me. Tremblingly I looked around the church. All was silent save the
night winds as they moaned in the tower at the western end. Then an owl
hooted dismally, and soon after I heard three distinct raps at a
window, as though a large bird had tried to break the glass and thus
enter the church.
What did it mean? Deborah Teague had spoken of three raps as a sign
of death. To whom could it apply? To me? I was not anxious to live, and
yet I shuddered.
Perhaps I shall die, I thought, and see my darling again; but how
can I meet her? Have I not a murderer's hand and a murderer's heart?
I turned the light of my lantern upon the altar table, and on it I
saw a cloth, on which was embroidered a cross, the symbol of the
Saviour's death, and this made me remember how He had spoken to a dying
thief. For a moment the thought gave me comfort, but in the next I
recollected that the thief was penitent, and that I had no proof he
was, as I was, a murderer. And I was not penitent; I still hated
Wilfred. He had robbed me of earthly happiness here and Heaven
hereafter. I hated him; and I was a murderer. After that the cross
brought me no comfort.
Before going to the sexton's I had provided myself with a short
pointed piece of iron. It was the only instrument I could procure with
which to open the vault without attracting suspicion.
I quickly found the burial place of the Mortons. A tablet was on the
wall, on which were written these words:
Under this stone, and waiting for a joyful
resurrection, lie buried all the mortal
OF MORTON HALL,
Who lived and died in the fear of the Lord.
He was hated by none, and beloved by all.
Then followed a eulogy of his life and works, his gifts to the
church, his kindness to the poor, together with many other things.
I looked beneath the tablet on the floor of the Communion, and saw
that a large slab had been lately moved. No doubt, then, that Ruth had
been buried in the family vault.
With trembling hands I placed my piece of iron beneath the joints of
the floor, and with but little difficulty lifted it up; then I slipped
my hands beneath the stone and lifted it still higher.
Air, stifling, unwholesome, came from underneath, and again I felt
like leaving my purpose unfulfilled; but a stronger impulse urged me to
proceed, and I moved the stone still farther. A minute later I had
turned it back, and Ruth's grave was opened.
For a minute my heart ceased to beat; then it seemed as though my
bosom were not large enough to contain it. Not that I feared the dead,
at any rate not Ruth. Had I not been guilty of that awful deed the
night before I do not think I should have been so moved; but with
murder on my heart, to look on the face of my beloved was terrible. And
yet I felt I could never rest until I had seen her.
I stared into the vault.
At one end were steps by which I could descend. At the other was a
My blood seemed to freeze in my veins, yet I went down the steps,
slowly and steadily, until I stood in the abode of the dead.
Never shall I forget how I felt. Never while consciousness remains
will the awful sensations that possessed me be altogether taken away.
Around me was the dust of departed generations of the Morton family,
while close to me was the face of one whom ten years before I had seen
a bright and beautiful maiden. Ruth, whom I had ever loved, and who had
died of love for me, was there!
Vague thoughts of how she would look floated in my brain, and in my
delirium I fancied that her spirit had come back to watch me as I took
one last look at her dead face.
The coffin was placed in a recess in the tomb. I knew it was hers,
for it was new, and had been only lately placed there.
I thought I had heard a sound above. I listened for a second, but
could hear nothing save the wild beatings of my almost breaking heart.
Then I placed my hand on the coffin.
It was fastened with what looked like golden clasps, large and
strong, which pressed closely on the grey oak of which the coffin was
made. Mechanically I moved the clasps, and then lifted my lantern
Again I listened, but all was silent. If the spirits of the dead
were there they made no sound.
I lifted the coffin lid.
For a second I held it in my hand, then I turned it back.
Even then I could not bear to look in and see my darling's dead
face, and stood trying to gather together sufficient courage.
I let the light fall upon the head of the coffin and looked.
Yes, it was Ruth, little altered from when I had seen her last,
except that she looked thin and pale, oh! so pale.
She was not like anyone dead; in spite of her stony stillness, there
was the shadow of colour upon her thin cheeks.
I looked at her like one entranced, then glanced fearfully around
the vault, which was only faintly lit by the flickering candle burning
in my lantern.
A longing came over me to get away, but I felt I dare not, I must
remain longer with Ruth. I felt that she was glad I was there, and
would not have me leave her so soon.
Yet she lay like a beautiful piece of marble. Her hands were folded
on her breast, and she looked peaceful, so peaceful.
How I loved her, and how I longed for one word, one movement whereby
I could know she loved me!
I do not know how long I stayed there. I lost all thought of time as
I stood gazing at the face of my darling. Everything like fear passed,
for in spirit I was with her.
I kissed her cold lips, as if to bid her good-bye, then seeing the
candle in my lantern had burnt low, I began to think in a dazed kind of
way that I must go. But it was so hard, so terrible! If I could only
have some memento to take, something I might aways keep until I, too,
should be laid under the cold sod!
What was that?
Flashing from her finger that lay on her heart I saw a ring. Dare I
At first I shuddered at the thought. Robbing the dead seemed
sacrilege, yet it did not seem like robbery. And was I not sure that
she would wish me to take it? It might comfort me during the little
time I had to live, for I could carry it everywhere with me.
I took her hand in mine.
Slowly I began to remove the ornament. It was a thick gold circle,
and three large diamonds had been inlaid and flashed brightly.
It was rather hard to pass over the joint, but I was determined to
possess it. Then I stopped as if stunned, and trembled like an aspen
I felt the hand move!
Yet I did not drop it. I could not, it seemed welded to mine.
Was it the judgment of God for seeking to rob the dead? I looked at
her face, as if expecting a curse, and my heart seemed to come into my
Her eyelids began to quiver, her mouth to twitch,[*] and her whole
body to give signs of life.
To say that I was awed would be but to hint at my feelings. At first
I thought it was her ghost rising to denounce me, but soon I saw it was
physical life, and then I thought God was working a miracle.
Almost unconsciously I went on rubbing her hands, while evidence of
returning life became plainer and plainer.
Then I trembled lest the shock of seeing me there in that silent
vault should kill her, or do her serious injury, and yet I longed to
hear her speak, I longed for expressions of her love.
Still more plainly did life appear, until I saw her open her eyes.
They were dull and had a blank expression, but by and by they became
brighter. She looked around the vault as if in wonder, then her eyes
rested on the lantern, and again she turned them towards me. For a
minute she gazed, then with a cry she sat upright.
* Although the reader may regard the foregoing as wild and
impossible, I can vouch for the truth of a story identical in many
points with that told by Roger Trewinion. The wife of a nobleman of the
West of England, whose name is well-known in Cornwall, was supposed to
be dead, and was buried in the family vault situated in the old parish
church. A valuable ring which was on her finger when she died was
allowed to remain, and it was known by the servants and villagers that
this ornament was in the tomb with her. The sexton determined to get
it, and accordingly at midnight made his way to the church. In seeking
to remove the ring he caused the latent life to assert itself, and
seeing the lady move he ran out of the church, leaving the lantern
behind him. She became conscious, took the sexton's lantern, and found
her way back to the hall. She lived long enough to become the mother of
a son, who afterwards became the heir of his father's estates.Note
by the EDITOR.
CHAPTER XXII. THE VOICE OF THE DEAD
Oh, one more kiss from your lily-white lips,
One kiss is all I crave;
Oh, one more kiss from your lily-white lips
And return back to your grave.
Old Cornish Song.
Long years have passed since the events I am now narrating, yet my
flesh creeps as I write. Imagine, if you can, the circumstances that
surrounded me; think of the position in which I was placed. I had
learnt amidst anguish and despair that the woman I loved, and who I
thought had called me home, was dead, and I had determined to visit her
grave and to see her dead face. Then when I had found my way to her
tomb, and uncovered her resting-place, I had seen the one whom I had
thought dead move, and give other signs of life. When she sat up in her
coffin my blood froze in my veins.
Was it my Ruth who lived? Was her death only fancied after all? Now
I saw a purpose in all my blind wanderings! Now I understood the cry
which I had heard sweeping across the weary waste of waters, Come home
and save me, Roger! Now I saw meaning in my mad impulse to come to
Morton Hall, even when the fires of hell burnt in my soul! Now I knew
why I had heard the strange words, Visit her tomb!
Merciful Heaven, from what had I saved her? Suppose she had regained
consciousness while within the narrow confines of that narrow coffin!
No air, no room, no light! The horror of the thought is enough to drive
one mad; what then must the reality be?
This flashed through my mind in a moment, but I did not stay to
think of it. How could I? The dread might be had not become a
reality, and my Ruththe Ruth that I had been mourning as dead, Ruth
for whom my heart had been weeping tears of bloodwas alive; she was
sitting up in her coffin, she uttered a cry. Ruth was not lost for
And still I did not know what to do; still I could not act or speak!
My mind was confused, my head was dizzy; the very vault in which I
stood seemed to whirl around.
For a second we gazed into each other eyes; she with a fearful, yet
curious, wondering look, I with a look of madness, at once of joy, of
fear, of dread!
Then she spoke, slowly, tremblingly, but still clearly, and I
remembered the voice.
What is this? Where am I? Is this Heaven?
All is well! I whispered.
It must be, she said, in a dazed kind of way. I am so rested, so
free from pain, and then your voice is so familiar. Where am I, and who
Think, I said; but do not be afraid; remember where you were
last, and then know that all is well.
All is well, she repeated slowly, as if trying to impress the
thought on her half-awakened mind, I am so glad.
You are safe here, I went on, no one shall harm you in any way.
Do not be afraid whatever you may see.
She looked around the vault, then a look of horror came into her
eyes as she saw where she sat.
I am in a coffin! she gasped. Am I dead?
No, I said, it is all a mistake; but all is well. Think, try and
remember the past.
I saw that she made a mental effort, and then slowly light came into
I was very ill, she said, and so weak and weary. I wanted to die
becausebecausewhat was it? Oh, I remember nowbecause I was to
wedWilfred, and I did not love him, and my wedding robe was made, and
the wedding day was fixed, and I gave up hope that he was ever coming
My heart began to beat with joy. Life and light came back to my
heart. That he meant meRoger.
And then? I said, almost unconsciously.
And then I thought I was going to die, and I was glad, for I felt I
could not endure being wedded to another.
She spoke as if dreaming, or as if she unknowingly expressed the
thoughts that dimly passed through her mind.
Well, I said, you wanted to die; you grew weaker and weaker,
until your friends thought you were dead, and you were brought here.
Here! Here! and she looked eagerly around. Where am I? The light
is so dim that I cannot see.
The candle was now very low in the socket of the lantern, and I
scarcely knew what to do, but I tried to assure her that all was well.
You need not be afraid, I said, It was all a mistake. You were
thought to be dead, and you were brought to the grave of your family.
The grave, the family vault, she said, in the church, under the
Communion! But how came you here, and who are you?
The time had come for me to tell her, and I trembled lest I should
say a mistaken word, or arouse a harmful feeling. I felt that the
slightest thing might unhinge her delicately-balanced mind, and I
scarcely knew what to say.
Can't you think who I am? I said at length. You called me home
when I was away on the distant seas. I heard you say 'Roger, come
home,' and I came, for I knew that you needed me.
Roger! Roger! she said; what! my Roger?
The words came out apparently unthinkingly. She did not know what
she was saying.
Yes, Roger, I said, your Roger. I came back to find you, I heard
you were dead, and it drove me nearly mad. I felt I must come and see
your dead face, so I came here and found you, not dead, but only
asleep, and II awoke you.
I watched her face as I spoke, still holding her hand in mine.
Slowly she realised things as they were; slowly one fact after another
passed through her mind, until she saw clearly.
At first there was an expression of horror on her face, then she
looked eagerly at me and I saw tendernesslove in her eyes.
I dropped her hand and opened my arms. She did not hesitate a
moment, but struggled to come to me, so I took her in my arms and
pressed her to my heart!
Oh, how she clung to me, while I held her fast, my heart trembling
for joy as I heard her whisper, My Roger come home to me! Then I
realised how cold she was, and saw too, that she was wrapped only in a
You are cold, Ruth, I said.
So cold, Roger; but I do not mind now!
The light in the lantern became dimmer, and I had no more candle. I
thought of the candles in the church, and wondered how I could get at
Ruth, I said, could you bear to stay here while I go into the
church for another light? Our candle is nearly out.
No, Roger, she said, clinging to me, I could not bear for you to
leave me, and she clung to me more closely.
I lifted her out of her narrow bed and prepared to carry her. I had
not much difficulty in this. She was very light, very thin.
Taking the lantern in my hand I bore her away from her dread
resting-place. With what a sense of relief I lifted my darling through
the narrow entrance! With what gladness I realised that she was not
dead! When I went down my heart was cold and heavy as lead; now it was
warm; it beat with new life. I went down in what seemed to be the
darkness of death; I came out into the light of Heaven!
I seized a candle which stood on the Communion table and lit it from
the one in my lantern which had almost gone out.
Then I tried to take off my coat to wrap her in, but this she would
not allow me to do. She was still unselfish Ruth, suffering herself
rather than let another suffer. So I took the cloth that lay on the
table, the doth which was marked with a cross. I wrapped her in that,
and surely I committed no sacrilege in doing so. It was large and warm,
and entirely covered her, all but her white feet that peeped out from
under her shroud.
I took another look at her, a longing, loving look. Her old beauty
was coming back; she was losing all fear as she realised my presence.
Ruth, I said, it is your Roger who asks you, may I kiss you?
A faint smile came into her face, something like the smile I had
seen in the olden days.
Dare you kiss me in my shroud, Roger? she said.
Even then she could not repress the quaint, quiet humour I had loved
Dare I! I covered her face with kisses, and as I did so I forgot
everything, forgot all I had done, forgot where I was. I only knew that
I held Ruth in my arms, and that her lips met mine!
Then, in spite of her protests, I took off my coat and wrapped it
around her little feet.
What are you going to do with me, Roger? she said.
I am going to carry you home, I said.
Home! Home where?
Home to Morton Hall.
Can you? she said. It is a long way.
Can I? I said with a laugh.
She looked at me as though she gloried in my strength, and was glad
she could trust herself to me.
I carried her down the silent church; but no longer did my lantern
throw weird shadows on the floor; no longer were the pews filled with
forbidding spectres. For now the church was full of bright rejoicing
When I came to the church door, and saw the heavy clanging keys, I
wondered what I was to do with them.
The old sexton would lose his senses if he were to see the precious
burden I bore. I locked the great door and took her out into the silent
I no longer needed the lantern; the light of the moon was clear and
bright. It was indeed a relief. To me, after being immured in the
church, the clear, pure air was welcome beyond expression. And if it
was welcome to me, it was a thousand times more so to Ruth. I do not
think she fully realised from what she had escaped until now. She gave
a cry of gladness, such as a bird gives when freed from a cage. Behind
her were suspense, cruelty, doubt, despair, death and the grave; before
I bore her on, feeling no weariness, no pain, no sorrow. The
gravestones told me no sad stories, the shadows of the trees were only
beautiful pictures painted on the green grass.
When I came to the churchyard gate I saw the old sexton.
What have 'ee got there? he gasped.
[Illustration: 'What have 'ee got there?' he gasped.]
Take your keys and lantern, I said.
He took them both mechanically, and then looked at Ruth awestruck.
Where did 'ee take et from? he said, in a hoarse whisper.
Her grave, I said.
He took a look at Ruth's face, which was clearly to be seen in the
moonlight, and immediately recognised it.
Great Loard! he cried, 'tes our dead lady's face, 'tes our dead
lady, and the devil have got her.
With a cry which showed how real were both his fear and belief, he
rushed away from us.
I did not stop him: I did not think it necessary; soon the truth
must come out, and then all his fears would be allayed.
Never shall I forget the journey from the village church to the home
of the Mortons. My joy was so great that I did not feel Ruth's weight
at all, and when she asked me anxiously, yet lovingly, if she wearied
me, I only pressed her more closely to my heart, while she only nestled
more contentedly. And small wonder? Had I not brought her back from the
dead, and had she not found herself free from the terrible chain that
bound her, free to speak to the man she loved?
Nearer and nearer we came to her home, the home which all thought
she had left for ever. We came within a few yards of the front
entrance, when a great dog came bounding up with a furious growl. I
wondered how I should get rid of him; but Ruth spoke only one word, and
he did not know how to express his joy; he walked by our side and
licked the shroud she wore.
I seized the great bell, the bell I had rung that morning. Soon its
clanging voice echoed through the hall, and soon after we heard the
sound of voices, and footsteps echoed along the corridors.
A minute later we heard the bolts shoot back from the door at which
CHAPTER XXIII. THE SHADOW OF EVIL'S
Avenge not yourselves; but rather give place unto wrath, for it is
written, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord. . . .
Be not overcome of evil; but overcome evil with good.
The Epistle to the Romans.
When the door opened, I saw two men-servants, each bearing a candle,
each looking as frightened as men could well look. One I recognised as
the man to whom I had spoken in the morning, the other was evidently an
Each stared at me and at the burden I bore in amazement. The one
recognised me, the other evidently wondered who I was.
May I ask what you want, said the old servant, and why you arouse
the house at this time of the night?
Show me a room where your mistress can rest, I said.
My mistress? said the man. Great God, who are you?
As he said this he took a look at Ruth's face, and then with a
shriek of fear he rushed away from us.
Come back, I said, there is nothing of which you need be afraid.
Afraid! he gasped, that is the dead body of my mistress.
Your mistress is not dead, I said; she is alive; show me a room
where I may rest her, and she will speak to you.
Tremblingly he led the way to a room, where I laid her down, and
then, at my command, he went away to get food and drink for her.
Soon after the other servants appeared. The shriek of horror given
by the man when he caught sight of Ruth's face had aroused the
household. Never shall I forget the expression on their faces as they
looked at me as I sat by the side of the precious burden I had borne.
Evidently the younger of the two servants had told them what I had
said, for they were afraid to speak, and kept gazing at us fearfully,
Ruth was now becoming exhausted. After the scene in the church the
journey home had been too much for her. Perhaps, also, the awfulness of
her position together with dread memories, were too great for her to
bear, so I bade the servants hurry in getting refreshments for her.
After taking some food she was, however, strong enough to sit up and
I will not describe what followed, nor how the servants crowded
around her, weeping and trembling. Some I found were on the point of
leaving, having received their discharge, while others wondered what
their future would be. There had been every probability that the
household would be broken up, and those who had grown grey-headed in
the service of the family grieved much at the thought of leaving. And
now, when all hope was gone, their mistress had come back, and their
joy and their astonishment knew no bounds.
Presently we heard a tottering step outside the door, and in another
second Mr. Inch appeared on the scene. For a minute I thought he would
have fainted; but by a great effort he mastered himself, and came
slowly to the place where Ruth sat, looking at her steadily in the face
for, I should think, a minute. Then he heaved a great sigh, and said;
Great God, Thy ways are wonderful!
I had been holding Ruth's hand all the while, and I felt her shudder
as Mr. Inch approached. I was sure that she felt that he had not acted
as her friend, and now, in spite of herself, she feared him, and
unconsciously she came nearer to me.
I think the old man saw this, for a strange look passed over his
face, and he did not take her hand, as I was sure he had intended to
do. He turned towards me, however, and said:
Tell me, Roger Trewiniontell us all, how this great miracle has
A look of intelligence passed over the servants' faces as my name
was mentioned. Apparently, it was well known to them, and all listened
eagerly for my answer.
Then I told how, in leaving the house that morning, I had heard the
voice telling me to visit her tomb, and had determined to do so. I will
not describe the excitement and wonder of those who heard my
experiences. It would take a pen far more able than mine to convey to
the minds of my readers the terrible interest that was taken.
Perhaps I ought not to have told the story before the servants; but
we were too excited to know what was right and seemly. Indeed, so
overwrought were we that Ruth had not been divested of her strange
garments, and soon after I had finished my narrative I felt how
thoughtless I had been, and how neglectful of her comforts.
When Ruth was taken to her room, however, with two of the maids to
attend her, the excitement began to pass away, and the servants, with
the exception of the old man whom I had seen at my first visit,
returned to their rooms.
For a few minutes Mr. Inch and I were left alone; he still trembled
with fear and wonder, perhaps also because of a troubled conscience, I
with a strange joy surging in my heart, thinking only of the blissful
This will cause much talk, and necessitate much investigation,
said the old steward.
I suppose so, said I, absently.
A great lawsuit would have come on, he said. Two parties were
claiming the property. Lawyers are preparing the case on either side,
and the matter has already become public.
That will all come to an end now, I said.
I suppose so; but it will be the wonder of the countryside. I
wonder what Wilfred will say?
I had forgotten Wilfred. The feelings aroused by seeing Ruth alive
had for the time quieted all my bitter memories of my struggle with
Wilfred, together with its awful ending.
I wonder what Wilfred will say!
The words struck terror into my soul. Wilfred, unless now
discovered, was lying bruised, battered, dead, on the great rocks
beneath the cliffs. Perhaps the fishes might know of his presence, and
the great sad sea would sweep remorselessly over his lifeless body; but
Wilfred would never know of what had been done.
My heaven of joyful thoughts was gone now. The hell of bitter
memories, the hell of a murderer possessed me.
The old man's remark was left unanswered. It had dashed me down into
a great gulf; it had led me to make what was to me a terrible resolve.
A little while later Ruth came back to the room again. The servants
had tried to persuade her to retire; but she declared that she could
not sleep and she wished to come to me.
She was Ruth again now, Ruth as I had seen her last. She had got rid
of her terrible garments, and except that she looked very pale, and was
a little older, I saw no difference in her. But there was a difference.
Love was shining out of her eyes, and she did not hide from me the fact
that I was the king of her heart.
But this gave me no joy now, no heaven. The ghastly form of my
brother Wilfred stood between us. I took her hand as she came in, and
tried to soothe her, for I felt that she was still trembling, that she
felt safe with no one but me. Then the old steward rose up and left us,
and the servants likewise retired from the room. They saw our relations
to each other, and although it was night we were left in the room
Again for a time I banished my dark thoughts, for a time I allowed
love, rather than duty, to fill my world, and I yielded to the gentle
witchery of her presence. I had made up my mind to tell her all; but I
postponed it for a while. Time enough yet, I said; let me have some
happiness before eternal night sets in.
How gentle, how kind, how loving she was! Her every word told of the
love she bore me, and had borne me for long years, every word told me
how she believed in my goodness and purity.
What we talked of, I may not recount. I only know that for a few
short minutes we lived in the blissful present. The thought of her
great love was more powerful than the dread remorse which had possessed
me a little while before.
And was it any wonder? Think, if you can, how I must have felt! Ten
long years before I had left her, thinking she loved another, and all
those years I had roamed the world in misery and hopeless despair. I
had come back at the summons of a voice which I had heard, or thought I
had heard, sweeping across the wide seas, and when I had arrived at the
place where I had hoped to see her I had heard she was dead. Then,
after grief that amounted to madness, I had discovered her alive, and
had found that she loved me. More than that, she was with me, we were
alone, and I felt her hands in mine. Was it to be wondered at then,
that darkness should, for the time, be driven away?
Swiftly the time passed, sweetly her gentle voice sounded as she
told me how happy, how safe, how contented she was, and, in spite of
her terrible experience, how little weakness she felt; and then she
asked me to relate to her my adventure since the night on which I left
the Trewinion Manor.
Again I remembered what I had done, again the agonies of remorse,
which had been awakened by memory, began to eat into my soul. But I
would tell her all. I would faithfully relate the tale of the years
that had passed, I would faithfully tell her what I had done.
And so I cast my mind back and told her what I have written in these
pages. How I had gone away to sea, and how, for years, I had sailed in
every clime, and with men of different nationalities. I recounted how I
had been taken by the pirates, and how for two years I had been with
them. I kept back nothing from her. I told her of many wild deeds that
I had done, and of the wild life I had led. By and by I came to the
night on which I had such a strange dream, or else had seen such a
strange vision, and here I hesitated. It seemed so wonderful, and
withal so unreal. I told it her, however, while she listened with
Yes, Roger, she said, it all happened just as you saw it.
And did you cry out, Ruth. Did you say, 'Roger is here?'
I did. I felt you were there, although I could not see you.
And then, Ruth; what did you do?
I went out into the night. I knew your habit of going out on to the
headland when you desired to be alone, and I felt I must go somewhere
where you had been.
Yes, Ruth, and afterwards?
I went out and wandered for a long time, until I felt my heart was
breaking. I seemed all alone in the world, with no one to help me, and
I cried out in anguish, 'Roger, come home.'
And I heard you, Ruth. After I had seen you in my dream, or
whatever it was, I went on deck, and while there I heard your cry, and
I answered back. Did you not hear me?
No, Roger, I heard nothing in answer to my cry, save a kind of
wail, which, as it mingled with the splash of the waves seemed to be
only a mocking echo of my words.
And yet your words called me home.
Thank Godand then?
I told her how I had come home, and had met with the fisherman who
had informed me of her death, and how she had died because of Wilfred
and Mr. Inch, who had goaded her to do what was death to her.
And what followed, Roger? she said, anxiously, as I hesitated a
I hated Wilfred as I never hated man before. I felt that he was
deserving of the worst that could befall any man, and I determined to
Again I hesitated, and again she told me to go on.
Should I tell her? Should I with a few words blacken her life,
should I destroy her every hope? Yet the truth must out. It always
does, and I should but put off the evil day by refraining from telling
her. Yet it was terribly hard, the man must have a steady hand who
writes his own death-warrant without shaking.
She saw, I think, how terrible was the ordeal, for she nestled
closer to me and spoke gently.
Dear Roger, she said, it must have nearly driven you mad to meet
I think this gave me strength, for I clenched my hands nervously,
and began to tell her of our meeting and of the darkest deed that ever
blighted my life, wondering in my heart what she would say and do when
she knew what I had done.
CHAPTER XXIV. CAIN
And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth
to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. . . . A fugitive and a
vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
And Cain said to the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can
bear.The Book of Genesis.
At last, I had told her. The dread truth which I had trembled for
her to know was made known. Word by word, sentence by sentence, often
hesitating, often stammering, I related our meeting, the awful struggle
on the cliff with its terrible ending.
Then I felt her tremble.
And Wilfred is dead? she gasped.
Dead, I repeated.
And you killed him?
II killed him.
Then you are aa
Yes, I am. My God, I am a murderer!
I felt her shrink from me, I saw the blood recede from her face, and
in another second she lay motionless in my arms.
I laid her gently down in an old settle, and ran into the hall
shouting for help. The two women servants who had attended upon lier
Your mistress! I gasped. Make haste.
They hurried to the room and found Ruth lying as one dead.
I could not stay there while they tried to restore her. I felt I had
killed her, and my head whirled so that I could scarcely stand. Until
then I did not know what a man could bear and still live. No tongue or
pen can describe what I suffered. I had been in hell the night before;
it was worse now. Then only the death of the man whom I had hated
pressed on my conscience, now, I feared, I had by the same deed killed
my darling, whom only a few hours before, I had taken from a living
Presently I heard the sound of horses' hoofs on the gravel outside
the house, and in another minute the village doctor entered. Unknown to
me, Mr. Inch had sent for him, thinking Ruth might need his advice.
Evidently, too, the servant who had been to fetch him had told him of
the strange event that had happened, for when he saw me he exclaimed:
Great heavens, you did it, did you? Well, its the most wonderful
thing that ever happened.
I think he would have stayed a few minutes with me had I allowed
him, but I hurried him quickly to the room where Ruth was, while I
stayed at the door and listened.
At length I heard a woman's voice say, She's coming to, and a
great burden rolled away from my heart. At all events, Ruth's death
would not lie at my door, and so far my mind was at rest. By and by I
heard more whispering, and then I heard Ruth speak. Was she not asking
for me? I thought so; certainly, I heard my own name.
I entered the room, and found Ruth sitting up, while the doctor was
walking excitedly round the room, rubbing his hands with satisfaction.
She looked up and our eyes met. Then I knew that a great gulf was
between us, as great as the gulf that lies between Heaven and hell. She
could not come to me, I could not go to her. We were divided, not by
distance, but by my guilt. We were in the same room, and yet, now that
she knew what I had done we could not be as we were.
In spite of this, however, I made a step towards Ruth as if to take
her hand, but I saw as I came nearer a look of terror came into her
eyes, and she shrunk from me with a cry of pain. Now I knew my doom was
sealed, and without a word I turned and walked away from her. I loved
her still; God only knows how; but I could not stay with her when my
presence caused her so much pain. Nay, I felt that if my love were
worthy the name, she must never see me again. Would she not feel that
she had loved a man whose hands were stained by his brother's blood?
I did not even say good-bye. I do not think I could have done so,
for weights seemed to hang upon my lips. Yet it was terribly hard to
go. We had been separated for more than ten long years, and then we had
met, as perhaps lovers never met before, met for a few brief hours only
to be again divided.
I stood alone in the hall, as if waiting for some voice to recall
me, but I heard none, so I placed my hat upon my head to go out alone.
As I walked towards the door I thought of the sweet hours we had spent
together, and of the Heaven of which my sin had deprived me. But
nothing could undo the past. I must reap the harvest of my sin. Before
I had gone far, however, Mr. Inch stepped out of one of the rooms and
Are you going out, he said in astonishment.
But why? Surely there is no reason.
Yes there is.
But you are not going far? You will soon return?
I do not know how far I shall go; but I shall never return.
He looked at me in wonder; then a look of intelligence came into his
face as though he had guessed the reason of my departure.
Perhaps you do not know Miss Morton's feelings toward you, he
said, with a smile. This wonderful night has doubtless made us all
half-mad; but don't forget what it was that caused her illness and, as
we thought, her death.
I know all, I said, but I must go.
I placed my hand on the door handle when a thought struck me, and I
turned to him again.
But remember for all that, I said, that Miss Morton is not
without a friend. Remember that I know how false have been your
dealings with her, and now, if she be defrauded of one penny in the
future, or if you in any way seek to take advantage of her, you shall
be thrown into a felon's cell. Your past shall only be forgiven on the
condition that your future be blameless.
Roger Trewinion! he cried, I know it may sound cowardly to shift
a sin upon another's shoulders, but your brother is guilty of all the
real wrong. I was only a weak tool in his hands. But for the future, so
help me God, I will serve my mistress faithfully.
See that you do, I said, and then, leaving him half dazed, I went
out of the house.
Thus I was alone again, alone in the night! My sin had driven me
away, and now I was cast upon the world again, with no one to help me,
no one to love me. For I could not for a minute think that Ruth could
love me now that she knew what I was, and of what I had been guilty.
Down the long avenue I tramped, thinking all the time of what might
have been, and hating myself for what I had done. For a time I went
heedlessly, and then I began to decide which course I should take.
I have heard it said that murderers are always possessed by the
ghastly desire to look on the face of their victim, to visit the scenes
which are associated with the deed that cursed them for ever. Whether
this be true or not I cannot say, but I had not gone far, before I was
filled with the dread longing to go back to the spot where Wilfred and
I had struggled, and yielding to it I started to retrace the weary
steps which I had trodden only a few hours before.
After walking two or three miles in a vague, half conscious sort of
way, I felt a great desire to sleep, and seeing by the light of the
moon a haystack in a field close by, I clambered over the hedge and
walked, towards it. I found it to be only half-built; evidently, there
was a late crop of hay being carried, and most likely the stack would
be finished the next day. A pile of hay was lying on one side, waiting
to be thrown on the stack, and on this I threw myself, and quickly fell
When I awoke it was broad daylight, and from the sound of voices
near me, the haymakers were evidently at work. I rose up from my
resting-place, and as I did so, those who had been partaking of
croust gazed at me in astonishment.
I was not dressed like an ordinary tramp, however, and so was
Will you tell me what time it is, I said, after some remarks had
Nearly leben o'clock in the vorenoon, said one of the men. 'Ave
'ee bin slaipin' here oal night?
Then you must be awful ungry.
Yes, I said, have you anything to eat?
For reply, a basket containing a good deal of wholesome food was
placed before me. I ate heartily, for I was hungry, and after making a
good meal prepared to go on.
The men did not ask me who I was, or where I was going, but looked
smilingly on the few coins I gave them, and wished me a good journey.
I went on in a dazed way the whole of the day, stopping only once
for refreshment at a little wayside alehouse. I inquired of the
landlord if he had heard any news, but he said, No, nothing had
happened except that his sister-in-law had got another, her eleventh
baby. As I did not regard this of much importance, I trudged on again
as soon as I had finished my meal. That I might be going in the teeth
of danger did not occur to me; in fact, I never troubled about any
punishment for my deed, except the terrible punishment of my
About eight o'clock in the evening, I entered the parish of
Trewinion, and soon, as if drawn by a magnet, I found my way to the
place where Wilfred and I had met.
How vividly everything came back to me, and yet I seemed to have
lived long years since we met. Only two days had elapsed; and I had
seemed to have grown old in that time. In my excited imagination I
pictured him coming towards me again; but soon my illusions were
I looked up towards my old home, wondering if I should see any signs
of what had happened, but the house was quiet, and, except for a few
lights that flashed from the windows, I saw no signs of life. The
prongs of the Devil's Tooth still lifted themselves in the air, but
no light was there; evidently Betsey Fraddam was not visiting her old
haunt that night.
Again I stood on the place on which we had wrestled, again I looked
from the dizzy heights on the rocks below, as if trying to see Wilfred,
but nothing was visible. The rocks told no stories; the moaning sea did
not recount what had become of my brother's body.
Had he been found, I wondered? It could scarcely be otherwise.
Fisherman were constantly tramping along the beach, and when he was
missed search would certainly be made. Still it might not have so
happened; I would go down to the beach to see. The tide was ebbing out,
and I could easily walk along the sands at the foot of the cliffs.
I went to the place where a rough track had been made, and soon got
on the beach. It was a glorious night; the sea shone beneath the
silvery light of the moon, and had I any melody in my heart the splash
of the water on the beach must have made music to me; but there was
nothing but remorse and despair within me, thus, what would have
otherwise have been a song of gladness was only a wail of misery.
When I came to the place beneath the point where we had wrestled, I
looked for a sign of Wilfred's body, but there was nothing to be seen,
nor was there any marks on the sand, not even a footmark was visible.
This was not altogether strange, for the tide would have washed away
any such marks, and yet I wondered at none being visible when such a
terrible tragedy had taken place.
Near here was a cave, and, scarcely knowing what I was doing, I
entered it. I spoke, but was frightened by the echo of my own voice. I
dared not stay there long. Every sound was magnified so, and as the
waves broke upon the shore their echo thundered around the walls of my
grim resting-place, until it seemed filled with thousands of dark
spirits of the dead.
I went out again into the night, and wandered on until I came to the
witches' cave. I seemed drawn, as if by a charm, and for a minute I had
a strong desire to go where I had gone long years before, when Deborah
Teague tried to make me promise ever to be her friend; but fancying I
heard sounds within the dark confines of the cavern, I hurried away
filled with superstitious fears.
Then a new feeling possessed me. I must get away from England and
never return. There was no hope; no peace for me here. Wilfred was
deaddestroyed by my hand, and Ruth loathed me. I would go away on the
wild seas again, and perhaps, although I could never know happiness, I
might find forgetfulness. Here I should be ever haunted by fears; here,
too, I was in danger of the law, once away I should be safe.
The thought brought relief, it gave me something to do. It was an
escape valve for my feelings, and without waiting a second I started on
the road to Falmouth.
A few days later I was sailing down the Bay of Biscay, bound for
Barcelona, where I hoped I might find Salambo, who had been captain of
the pirate ship.
 Croust is a corruption of the word carouse. This designates
a meal which harvesters and haymakers have between ordinary meals on
account of specially hard work.EDITOR.
CHAPTER XXV. THE VOICE OF A FRIEND
The journey to Barcelona was uneventful, at any rate for me. During
the whole time I lived in a kind of hideous dream. I was ever thinking
of what I had seen and done during the little time I had been in
England, but nothing was real save a horrible weight that oppressed me.
I know that the captain sought to be friendly, while some of the
passengers seemed to be interested in the sad, silent man who ever
sought to be alone, but I paid little heed to their overtures. How
could I when two ghastly passions, hatred and remorse, possessed me?
Sometimes I caught myself thinking of what Ruth had told me during
those two or three sweet hours we were together. I remember asking her
why she had seemed to love Wilfred the better, and why, when she saw
how I loved her, she did not in some way let me know that she cared for
me. And blushingly she told me that, besides the reports about my
boasting that she would have to marry me, which she only half believed,
she was afraid I would think her forward and immodest. This set me
thinking how it had all ended. How through misunderstandings our lives
had been ruined, until life seemed a tragedy, and Providence only a
dream. But no relief came to me, the burdens which I had myself made
still crushed me to the earth, and I could see no brightness in the
We reached Barcelona at length, and I set out to find Salambo. I
knew that if all had gone well with him I should have little difficulty
in this. He had given me instructions which were unmistakable as to his
whereabouts, so I started at once for the house at which he told me to
I found that this house was occupied by his own parents, and no
welcome could be warmer than mine when I told them my name.
I asked them if their son was well, and I quickly found that he was
well and happy, that he had found Inez, that they had been wedded, and
were living not far away from them.
Quickly I found my way thither, and soon Salambo and I stood face to
face. Only one look at him was enough to convince me that his parents
had told me the truth.
All is well with you, Salambo? I said.
Ah, all is well, he cried, the saints have been good to me. You
must see my Inez, she will be here directly.
This gave me a little hope. Salambo had committed a sin similar to
mine, and yet he was happy. He had become wedded to the woman he loved,
in spite of the terrible past. Might there then be some chance for me?
Not that I expected to wed Ruth, I gave up all thoughts of seeing her
again; but I might find rest from the terrible pangs which now made
life almost unbearable. I resolved before the day was over to have a
long talk with my old captain, and, if possible, to seek the same means
to obtain ease and happiness.
Presently his wife came into the room. They had only been wedded a
short time, and she blushed at being introduced as his wife; but I saw,
in spite of everything, that she was happy. Not that she looked free
from pain. There was a look in her great black eyes which told me that
she had suffered terribly in the past, and the silver streaks in her
raven black hair told the same story.
She was very beautiful, and I did not wonder that Salambo loved her.
From the way her eyes rested on him I knew that he reigned king of her
We sat together during the evening, sometimes talking and sometimes
listening to Inezfor such Salambo would have me call heras she sung
some sweet Spanish love songs, until the time came for her to retire,
and then we two men, who had passed through many strange scenes, were
You are very happy, I said, when she had left the room.
Happy as man can be, he replied. My Inez through all these long
years was faithful to me, and has ever been as pure as an angel. And
you, Tretheway, or rather, Trewinion, how did you find affairs at home?
not well, I fear.
I told him, just as I have written it in these pages, all that had
happened since I left him. When I described my meeting with Bill
Tregargus, and how I had heard that Ruth had died of a broken heart,
driven to death by Wilfred, I saw the tears start to Salambo's eyes,
and he eagerly asked what followed next. Then I told him of my meeting
with Wilfred, what we had said to each other, and how we had engaged in
a deadly struggle on the cliff.
And didn't you kill him? he cried, clenching his hands nervously;
didn't you hurl the viper on the rocks beneath?
Would you? I said.
Would I? he cried, ay, and be proud that I had rid the world of
such a one. The saints would sanction such a deed.
I told him what had happened, at which he gave a great sigh as if of
relief, after which a scornful smile played around his mouth as I told
him of the terrible sufferings I had endured.
He did not speak a word during the recital of the visit to Ruth's
home, but gave a start as I told him of my determination to visit her
grave. Then he sat like one entranced as I described my entrance into
the church, and related how I lifted back the stone from the vault.
Breathlessly he sat while I narrated how I had removed the clasps from
the coffin and looked on the still face of my darling; and then leapt
like a madman from his chair as I told how I felt her hand move. After
that, while I related the remainder of my story, he walked up and down
the room excitedly, sometimes laughing and again giving a cry of
gladness, until I came to that part where I told Ruth of my sins,
whereupon he sat down again, still staring at me wildly.
And you left her because of that? he said in astonishment, when I
I could do no other, I replied.
Ah, but you could, he cried.
How? I asked.
Why, that action of hers did not express her aversion of you, or if
it did it could be easily overcome. You should have remained with her
and she would soon have forgiven you.
How could she when I could not forgive myself? Besides, if I had
stayed in England I should have been arrested as a murderer, and that
would have brought her worse sorrow still.
That need not have been, he replied. You could have brought her
here, ay, and she would have gladly come, too.
I dismissed this suggestion, for I knew it was not possible.
For three weeks I remained with Salambo, then I felt that I could
stay in Barcelona no longer, and must be on the move. Bitter memories
still urged me to go somewhere, it mattered not where, in search of
I told Salambo this, and he did his best to persuade me to stay with
him, Inez adding her entreaties to his; but I felt I could not.
Something, I knew not what, impelled me to leave them, so I got a berth
on board a vessel, and went away again to follow the calling I had
followed so many years.
We shook hands at the vessel's side; he to go back to his home and
to happiness, and I to sail down the Mediterranean, still in search of
rest and peace.
CHAPTER XXVI. THE VOICE OF GOD
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
The Ancient Mariner.
For a year I sailed the Mediterranean as a common seaman. I thought,
or rather, I hoped, that by hard work and mixing in the society of men
who had borne something of the brunt of life, besides visiting
different towns at which we had to call along the coast, I should
banish from my mind what became more and more terrible to me. It was a
At the end of the year I despaired of finding happiness or peace
again. There is no such thing as forgiveness of sins! I said, and
life is but a bitter mockery.
Ofttimes I wondered what had become of them at home. At night time
especially I found myself thinking of Ruth and how she bore her
terrible trials, and this led me to wonder what had become of
Wilfredhad he ever been found, and, if so, had I been suspected of
his death? Naturally, Bill Tregargus would think of me; but would he
tell of his meeting with me? Then again, would Ruth feel it her duty to
denounce me as a murderer, even though I had saved her from the most
horrible fate imaginable? I knew how great was her sense of right; I
knew, too, how much she had loved me, and I did not know what course
she would take.
But never one ray of light, or hope, or comfort came in the thick
darkness. Sometimes I was tempted to drown my troubles in drink, but I
remembered my father's death, and refrained from doing so. Again I was
tempted to seek forgetfulness in what was unworthy, but I remembered
Ruth and was saved from that.
One day, about a year after I had left Salambo, the vessel in which
I was sailing arrived at Smyrna, where we had to stay some days.
Towards evening we were at liberty to go into the town, and I as usual
strolled away alone. I had not gone far, when, lying on the side of the
street, I saw a little crippled child who had apparently lost its way,
or was in some trouble, for it was sobbing bitterly. I came close and
lifted the child to its feet, and as I did so caught sight of its face.
It was a little girl about five years old. She was by no means pretty,
on the contrary, her face was almost evil, and for a moment I felt like
passing on without taking further notice, when the prayer which had
constantly been on my lips of late came to my mind. Hitherto I had
received no answer to it, but now I felt that I loved this little
crippled, ugly child.
In my constant visits to this coast I had picked up a smattering of
Greek, so I spoke to the little maiden, and asked her where she lived,
and without hesitation she told me. With a strange feeling in my heart
I took her in my arms, and carried her in the direction of her home. As
I walked on I met some of my crew, who laughed to see me with my
strange burden, but I did not mind, nay, rather, I rejoiced because of
what I was able to do. And all the while I continued to breathe this
prayer, Lord, help me to love.
We reached her home at length. A miserable place it was, and I found
out that the little maiden had no father. He had died a few months
before, but she had a brother and sister, both younger than herself,
who lived with their mother. I did not stay long, although I felt a
strange feeling of pity for the poor desolate ones, but I left some
money with them and walked away alone.
As I did so I remembered the words I had heard often in our old
church. Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these My
little ones, ye have done it unto Me. Unto Meunto whom? I called
to mind that they were the words of our Lord, and I asked myself what
it meant. Ye have done it unto Me. I repeated again and again. How
have I done it unto the Lord?
One day while I had been in Barcelona, I had gone into a church, and
had made confession of my sins to a priest. I remembered that Salambo
was a Catholic, and I wondered if by making confession peace would come
to my heart. The priest had told me that I must forgive every one, and
do penance. But I was not able to forgive; as for penance, it seemed to
me that no man could suffer worse penance than I had already suffered.
Besides, I remembered that the priest was an enemy to the faith which I
had been taught to believe, and so, perhaps, prejudice hindered him
from helping me.
His words returned to me that night, however, and I asked myself for
the hundredth time how it was possible for me to forgive Wilfred.
He is dead, and I have killed him! I said to myself, and yet I
cannot forgive him. I hate him still. He has robbed me of everything I
hold dear. How can I forgive him? How can I find peace? Then, as if in
answer to my cry, came the words, Come unto Me all ye that labour, and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
I do not know how, but the message of our Lord had a new meaning. I
had heard it read a hundred times without ever thinking of its meaning,
but now my heart throbbed with a new hope as I thought of it, Come
unto Me, Come unto Me, and I will give you rest. I kept repeating the
Lord, how can I come! I cried, and how can'st Thou hear my voice,
the voice of a murderer? and then, as if in answer to my cry, I seemed
to hear the words, Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast
That night for the first time for years I truly prayed. I prayed for
light, for penitence, for forgiveness. Ay, I did come to Christ as a
poor penitent wayward sinner, and even as I prayed, I caught myself
thinking of my brother Wilfred. Without realising what I was doing, I
remembered some of our boyish freaks. I thought of the happy days we
had spent together and of the times we had knelt side by side and
prayed; and then, I know not how, I realised that the hatred I had felt
for Wilfred was gone. God had answered my prayer; I had learned to
love, and to love my enemy.
Do not imagine that my burden was gone when I felt this. The memory
of that terrible night became more vivid; but I was changed. I was not
the man I was on the night when I madly wrestled with my brother. God
had answered my prayer, and in doing so He had changed me.
I went back to the vessel a new man, with new feelings, new desires,
Night came on again, and still the vessel remained in the harbour at
Smyrna. I sat on the deck alone, looking sometimes at the lights of the
town, and again at the moonlit sea, still longing and praying for rest.
Hour after hour I remained, until my heart grew so sad that I began to
realise a misery as great almost as that I had known before the hatred
I had for my brother was taken away.
Oh, God, what shall I do? I cried at length.
What was it that answered me? A voice from Heaven, or was it my own
heart? All I know is that, sounding from I know not where, I heard the
words, Go home.
I felt I could not do this. I could not bear to go back to the
scenes of my misery and sin. I should be ever seeing the dead face of
my brother; there would be less rest for me there than here. Nor it
would not be safe to do so. Perhaps even now the officers of the law
were in But I would not think of that.
All through the night I struggled and prayed, but ever in answer
came the same dread message:
Go home. Confess your sins.
At length strength came; at length the battle was fought. I made up
my mind to go home, to give myself up to the officers of the law as my
brother's murderer, and in a moment the burden was gone, and I was a
I will not try to describe with what feverish anxiety I made my way
back to England. I only know that some secret power seemed to be urging
me back, and although I felt I was going to my death, I was glad when I
landed in Falmouth harbour.
Once on my native soil my love for life became strong, and I had to
fight my battle over again, or I should have had to do so if I had
allowed myself time to think of it; but I stifled all thoughts of
escape, and hurried on to my old home.
When I arrived within a mile or so of Trewinion, I paused, and began
to ponder as to what course would be best. Should I go to the village
constable, Philip Pinch? I knew him well as a lad, and had seen him
when I had been home the year before. Or should I go straight to the
old house on the cliff, and there, before my mother and servants,
confess my sins.
The desire to see the old place was so strong that I determined to
take the latter course. If I surrendered myself to Philip Pinch I
should be taken at once to the lock-up, and thence to Bodmin gaol,
while if I went home I should have one more sight of the old rooms
which I had not seen for more than eleven years.
And so, with fast-beating heart and limbs trembling, I hurried
onward. Feverishly I opened the postern door which admitted me into the
grounds surrounding the house, and then, with a pain at my heart which
no words can describe, I went up to the tower entrance and rang the
CHAPTER XXVII. WITHIN THE OLD HOME
Eleven long years. Yes, it was that since I had last stood by the
hall door. I had left it with a mad passion in my heart, with fierce
grief raging within me; I returned saddened by sin, stained by crime,
yet subdued and repentant and hopeful.
I could not help thinking of this as the bell clanged within the
wide hall and echoed through the silent house, while memories of the
old days flashed like lightning through my excited brain.
How singular it was, that I, the rightful owner, should stand
ringing for admission like a stranger, and more singular still it
seemed at the time, that I should for long years have been a wanderer
away from the home of my fathers. And I stood there as a culprit. I was
about to enter my home, only to come out a prisoner, a man accused of
an awful crime. I was not sure if they would hang me, for his death was
an accident. I did not hurl him from me; he slipped from my hands in
spite of me, and yet murder was in my heart.
And thus I stood at my own door after eleven years of weary
wandering, of lonely agony, of God-forsaken life, waiting excitedly,
yet with a numbing pain at my heart, for the meeting with my mother.
Ah, how should I look her in her face when she asked me for her son;
how should I withstand her withering scorn, her terrible wrath? It was
eventime, and the October winds had shorn much of the foliage from the
trees, what remained being russet brown. The wind, too, as it played
amongst the shivering leaves, told only a tale of decay and death.
At length I heard a step along the stone, corridor, an aged step, as
though the one who came was weary and tired. All this I noted as I
stood waiting while the door opened.
It was Peter Polperrow, who had been servant of Trewinion long
before I was born. He looked at me with some astonishment, not unmixed
Whom do you want to see, sir? he asked.
Mrs. Trewinion, I said.
He eyed me from head to foot, as if afraid that by admitting me, he
should be doing wrong.
I cannot admit a stranger, he said at length, and I cannot let
you see my mistress until I know who you are.
Is she well? I asked.
Again he seemed to wonder why I should ask such a question, and he
Yes, considering all things; but what is that to you? Who are you
and what do you want?
I suppose I was not of a very prepossessing appearance. Like most of
my race, I was large and strong, but my clothes were somewhat coarse,
and my hands were brown and bare. Then my face was covered with a huge
brown beard, and I was tanned by long years of exposure to sea air.
Take me to some room where we can talk together, Peter Polperrow,
Peter Polperrow! repeated the old man; Who are you that you know
I will tell you soon, Peter, I answered; meanwhile lead me to Mr.
Roger's old room. I will promise you no harm.
Master Roger! repeated the old man; he has not been here for long
years. He has gone away, God only knows where for that matter; nearly
everybody believes him to be dead, and so I suppose he'll never return
any more. But what do you know of Master Roger?
Lead me there and I'll tell you. I can tell you many things you
would like to know.
He seemed to be staggered at my words.
Do you know him? he asked.
Yes; I have seen him, and spoken with him.
What! Seen Mr. Roger!
New life seemed to come into his withered, aged form, a new interest
came into his aged face.
Seen him! When, oh when did you see Mr. Roger?
I have been with him to-day.
Still the simple old man did not catch my meaning. He evidently
could not think that I was Roger.
Where did you see him? Is he coming home? he asked anxiously.
Take me to his room and I'll tell you.
Without another word he led me to the room I used to call mine, I
feeling a kind of shiver as I stood within the walls of the old house.
At length we were alone, but it was dark there; we could scarcely
see each other's faces.
Get a light, Peter, I said.
He hobbled away, and soon returned with a candle, revealing the
furniture of the room just as I left it years before.
No one has slept here since Mr. Roger left, said Peter
tremulously. I don't think that anyone dare that knew him, and
certainly no one should with my consent.
No one but me, Peter, I said.
What do you mean? Who are you, andand when did you see Mr. Roger?
Tell me quickly.
Peter, I said, does nothing tell you? Hold the light to my face
and then think. Have you never seen me before?
The old man held the candle as I had desired him, and looked
steadily at me, but there was no flash of recognition, no look of
I doan't remember; I never seed 'ee before.
He said this dreamily, and in so doing relapsed into the old Cornish
Look again, Peter. Remember how Wilfred and I used to wrestle on
the headland. Remember how I frightened you by telling you that Deborah
Teague had ill-wished you. Think of an awful storm, and that wreck on
the 'Devil's Tooth,' and of the young lady I saved. Can't you recognise
Then old Peter knew me, and tears rolled down his wrinkled cheeks.
Oh, Master Roger, he said, thank God you've come home; but to
come like this, to come home as a But he could say no more, he
sobbed like a child.
He had heard then. Somehow it must have been rumoured abroad that I
had killed my brother, and so my presence was painful to him. Perhaps
Bill Tregargus had told that he had seen me, and heard me vow
vengeance. Perhaps Ruth had in a moment of madness revealed the
Do you think my mother will see me, Peter? I said to the faithful
old servant as gently as I could.
Oh, Mr. Roger, he sobbed, you was so young, so beautiful, so
happy in the old days, and I always looked forward to you becoming
master, and servin' you till I died, and now to see you come home like
this, a ringin' at the door, when you should have walked straight in,
and to be asked questions by me whenwhen
Never mind, Peter, I said, it cannot be undone now, but still you
won't mind doing something for me now, for the sake of old days.
Do! I'll do anything, he cried.
I'm going down to the library, I said; will you go and tell my
mother to come there? but don't tell her it is I who want to see her.
Simply say that a stranger is asking for her.
I found my way into the library. Candles which cast a flickering
light were placed on the table, making the room ghostly enough.
How well I remembered the old place, and how memory after memory
came back to me as I waited there. I often thought of the time my
father had led me there on my fifteenth birthday, and told me of the
curse of my race, and many other things which seemed to have cast a
shadow over my life. Then I thought of how terribly his words had been
fulfilled. The story of the curse was no meaningless jargon. It
contained awful truths, which had been fulfilled in me. And yet I was
not sure. Perhaps what had happened was the simple outcome of broken
laws; perhaps Trewinion's curse was an old wives' fable. Still, the
truth that my life was cursed was ever before me. I felt that even then
I was, humanly speaking, branded with the hand of Cain. God had
forgiven me, but man never would; the sin of my life could only be
wiped out by yielding myself up to the hands of justice.
And this I had come home to do. I was waiting there to tell my
mother that I had murdered her dearest son, that I had taken all joy
and brightness from her life, and then, having brought the greatest
sorrow a son can bring upon a mother, I would go to meet my righteous
Presently I heard the sound of footsteps, and soon my mother entered
I had no difficulty in recognising her. Ten years had worked but
little change in her appearance. Certainly her hair was tinged with
grey, and the lines on her face were deeper, but otherwise there was no
difference. There was still the cold expressionwhich was ever the
same, except when her eyes rested on Wilfredstill the same stately
She glanced at me for a second, and then asked my business.
Mother, I said, standing up.
She looked at me keenly for a few seconds, then she cried hoarsely,
My God, what brought you here?
Mother, forgive me, I said.
I thought she recoiled from me as if in abhorrence. I know that she
stepped back from me.
Why have you come? she said, and I saw fierce hate gleaming from
her eyes. Have you not caused misery enough? Are you not content with
the lives you have poisoned? You went away; why did you ever come
I could not rest, mother, I said, humbly, for I felt I deserved
her reproach. I wanted to tell you all; I wanted your forgiveness.
Tell me! she cried, as though I did not know. Forgive you, how
can I forgive you when but for you my boy might have been
Let me tell you everything, mother, I cried. God knows I have
suffered much for what I have done, but He has forgiven me, and I
wanted your forgiveness before I die.
Do I not know? Have I not heard? she went on. Has it not been the
talk of the neighbourhood? Have you not ever been my son's enemy? When
you were children it was you who had your father's affections, it was
you who saved the life of the only one my Wilfred loved, it was you who
stood between Wilfred and his right position. It was you who kept Ruth
from loving him, and although you went away you were ever the black
blot on his life. And now you have come back again. Why? To breathe
more poison, to carry out more of your murderous designs.
No, mother, I have come to atone for the wrong I have done rather
than to do more wrong.
That can never be. You can never atone for the wrong you have done.
You were born to curse my son's life, and you have done it. You have
stripped my life of happiness, and now you come again, to take away
what paltry right, I suppose, you claim.
Call me not 'mother,' you are no son of mine.
Not your son! I cried, how can that be?
She did not answer me, and my memory flashed back to the time when
Deborah Teague had hinted that she was not my mother. Now her mad
jealousy of my position was explained. Now I knew why Wilfred was all
and I was nothing. This woman was not my mother, and as a consequence
true affection had not existed between us.
Whose son am I, then? I continued, after a pause, and who is my
I shall not say, she said, it is enough that you are not my son.
And my sisters, Elizabeth and Katherine, are they not really my
sisters? If not, who are they, and who are you?
I shall not tell you, she said, and then stopped, as if in doubt.
Yes, I will though, she continued. You are not my son, for you are
the son of your father's first wife. No one here knew that he was
married before he married me, I made him promise none should. He never
brought his first wife home here, for he married her privately. He
would have brought her home when you were born had she not died. A few
months afterwards he married me, and I came home as his wife, and you
passed as my child, it being given out that we had been married more
than a year. When I had a child of my own I hated you, and when I saw
your father loved you best I hated you more. Now you know why I have
always been your enemy. This information stunned me. I had not
expected this kind of meeting. As yet no definite word had been spoken
concerning the real object of my coming all the way from Asia. I
determined, however, to do my duty and to confess my sin. Only when I
had realised strength to do the right had I realised ease of
conscience, and because Wilfred was only my half-brother was no reason
why I should keep back the words that seemed to burn my lips.
I was about to speak again and tell all when I saw a form in the
doorway which made me think my senses must have left me, and I had
become a madman.
CHAPTER XXVIII. TREWINION'S CURSE
I rose from the chair on which I had been sitting during the latter
part of my conversation with my mother, and made one step forward.
You here! I exclaimed bewildered.
Ah, my presence surprises you, does it? he said, and every tone of
his voice told of vindictivenesshatred.
For a moment I could not think; my head whirled and I staggered to
my seat as though I were a drunken man. Wilfred was not dead, the guilt
of his murder did not rest upon me, I was freefree! I had not hurled
him to his death on that awful night; my gloomy forebodings had no real
How had he managed to escape? I had stood with him alone on that
dizzy height, and as far as I remembered the cliff was perpendicular
there; he had I felt slipped from me, and I had heard the sound of a
What do you here? he exclaimed, after a minute of silence; how
dared you return to your native shore thinking as you did.
I thought you dead, I gasped, dead by my hand, and I could not
rest. I wandered from place to place, but I found no peace, until I
determined to confess what I thought I had done.
And you came home for that?
Fool, fool that I was not to think of the idiot's
conscientiousness, he muttered, then all might have been arranged
even yet; but now he knows all, and I am undone.
But how did you manage to escape? I asked, still in a dazed kind
I will tell you, he replied, with a bitter, mocking laugh, for
nothing can be altered now. You thought you knew more than anyone about
our coast, but I had found a place of which you knew nothing. There is
a crevice and a broad ledge beneath that place where we wrestled, and
finding that you were stronger than I, I determined to do by cunning
what I could not do by brute force. So dragging you to this place I
slipped from you, fell down upon this ledge, and allowed you to think
you had murdered me!
He spoke with all the bitterness and cruelty of which any one could
be capable, and as I thought of what I had suffered, of the hell in
which I had lived through long months, I realised something of the old
feeling which I had entertained for him on that awful night.
And after all, I have served you out, he went on. I have enjoyed
Trewinion's wealth for eleven years, and I have made the most of it.
You may claim possession if you will; but precious little you will
have. I have mortgaged it up to every farthing it is worth, and if you
hadn't come soon you would have found another family here. Even now you
will have a difficulty in keeping the house above your head, and he
As he said this, it struck me that he was trying to make me angry,
and as I saw the wickedness and meanness of his heart, I felt a great
bitterness rising within me. Then I remembered what I felt at
Smyrnahow I had prayed that God would help me to love, and in a
second the bitterness was gone, and all harsh feelings were turned to
pity. I saw the veil torn aside, and I knew that, much as I had
suffered, he had suffered more; that deep as I had been in hell, he had
been in a hell yet deeper. I did not remember the deceit, the fraud,
the treachery he had practised towards me, I only thought of the
possible Wilfred, the Wilfred as he might have been, and as God
intended he should be.
And what do you intend to do? said my mother, for such I shall
continue to call her.
Do, mother, I said. I shall do nothing.
Do! What can he do? laughed Wilfred. His hands are tied. I am
glad on the whole that he has come, for the place is accursed. It has
never given me anything but misery. I have been in a constant fever.
And Roger will suffer more, I am glad to say. As for you, mother, serve
you right if you never have another day's happiness.
Wilfred, my boy, said mother, how can you say so?
Say so, repeated Wilfred, because you have been my real curse.
Who taught me first to envy Roger? You. Who taught me to hate him
afterwards? You. Who was ever at my elbow seeking to make me
misrepresent his every action? You. Who taught me how to deceive Ruth?
You. But for you I should have been content to be the younger son,
content to be the vicar of the parish; but bitterness was instilled
into my heart as a child, until I hated him as I hate all the world. I
wish he had killed me a year ago, for then I would have haunted him
until life should be such a ghastly possession that he should seek
death. But, never mind. Trewinion's curse is fulfilled in him; he has
suffered, and he will have to suffer.
How? I said, with pain at my heart.
How? he said, You have broken every condition of happiness, you
have violated every law of our people. It is a law that Trewinion's
heir should never be away from the homestead for more than six months
at a time, and you have been away eleven years. It is written in the
curse, at which you have reason to tremble, that if you stray from
God's pure laws you shall be cursed and crushed by a younger brother.
The curse of our people ever rests upon the heir who hates, and you
I did not believe in the curse at this time; I felt that Wilfred
had a purpose in speaking thus, and yet a strange awesome feeling crept
around my heart as he spoke. Did Wilfred really believe in this legend
of our people? I did not know. Certainly all our family had believed it
in the past, and strange things had happened to our race. Was ill-luck
ever to follow me? Was a dark pall ever to rest upon my life?
All this time I had been living in a sort of dream. I had as yet
scarcely realised that Wilfred was not dead, as yet the awful weight
that had so long rested upon my shoulders was scarcely lifted.
Wilfred, I said at length, why you speak thus I do not know. For
my own part I have ceased to believe in that old story which has been
handed down from generation to generation. Or if I believe it, I
believe that it is as applicable to the rest of the world as to me. If
we sin we suffer, if we hate we live in hell. I have sinned, and I have
suffered, I have hated and I have been in hell. But I trust it is over
now. I have repented of my sin, and I believe God has forgiven me. I do
not believe a curse can rest upon those whose hearts are full of love.
But that does not free you, for you hateyou hate me.
No, Wilfred, no, I love you.
Love me! You do not know. I have always schemed to ruin you. All my
life I have hated you; all my life I have sought to thwart your every
purpose. All the misery you have had has been through me, your years of
homeless wandering have been due to me. It was I who sought to take
away the love of the woman to whom you had given your heart, and since
you left the last time, and she believed that you did not intend to
kill me, I have been to her and told her that you used the basest means
to kill me, and that I only escaped by a miracle. I tell you I have
blackened your life at every possible opportunity, I have robbed you of
the best part of your manhood, through me you will die lonely,
forsaken, despairing; do you hate me now?
And does Ruth believe you? I said.
Yes, he shrieked, and she shudders at the mention of your name.
You are the terror of her life, and I have made you so.
Again I had to struggle or I should have hated him again. Ay, I
began to hate him in spite of my trouble, and then I prayed as I had
prayed away in Smyrna, Lord, help me to love, and even as I prayed
all my bitter feelings passed away, as they had passed away then.
Brother Wilfred, I love you still, I said.
He seemed staggered at my words, and he turned to his mother as
though in astonishment.
Are you going to be a fool? cried she, are you going to yield to
his folly? Surely, if he is a fool you need not be one. He believes
that Trewinion's curse is an old wives' fablelet him believe it. But
you are the younger brother, and according to it you have the power to
curse him. Curse him, then; let all the darkness that can befall a
Trewinion fall on him. If he be married, let curses fall on him and his
wife. If he has children, let curses rest upon them. While he lives let
darkness ever be in him and around him, and when he dies may powers of
darkness attend him even as they attended his father's father.
My mother spoke in a voice full of passion, and I knew if such a
curse could take effect she would hurl it at me. Her words, too, seemed
to fan Wilfred's hate into a flame, a hatred which, I thought, lessened
when I told him I loved him.
Ah, yes, he cried, you do not believe in those lines our father
showed you on your fifteenth birthday They have become to you but an
idle tale, but you will know they are true, and you will know, too,
that Wilfred cannot be thwarted without making you suffer. Listen to
If from God's pure laws he stray,
Trewinion's power shall die away,
His glory given to another,
And he be cursed by younger brother.
Then this son, though born the first,
By the people shall be cursed;
And for generations three,
Trewinion's heirs shall cursed be.
I tell you you cannot escape, and if there is any power in the curse
of the younger brother, I call it upon you now.
Doan't'ee be a vool no longer, said a voice at the door; Stop!
said a strange, croaking voice, and turning, I saw the form of Deborah
Teague, more bent and more wrinkled than when I last saw her.
I seed Maaster Roger comin' up here, said the old dame, and I
vollied un. You've a gived me a good dail of liberty in this ere 'ouse,
and so no noatice was took of me when I stopped and 'arkened at the
door. I knaw every word that ev bin zed, and this I can tell 'ee, no
curse can hurt Maaster Roger now.
Why? asked my mother.
Why? Because you ca'ant hurt nobody who's heart es vull of love.
Curse hes cheldren you may if ever he do 'ave any, ay even to the third
generation; because you be a Trewinion, but he you ca'ant curse, for
'ee do love hes enemies, and he do bless them that do curse him. Ef he
were ere with hes heart full of revenge and hatred, then 'twould be
defferent, but you ca'ant hurt un now.
Then, cried Wilfred, if there is truth in this story, I curse his
children and his children's children, for he has robbed me of
everything that makes life worth the living.
When the old woman had gone I turned and looked at my mother's face.
A marked change had come over it in the last few minutes. She seemed to
be making a great resolve.
Mother, said Wilfred, what are we to do?
But she did not speak; a stony stare had settled on her face.
What is the matter with you? asked Wilfred, anxiously; tell me?
Still she did not answer him, but instead stepped out into the hall,
where old Peter Polperrow stood waiting as if he expected some
Tell every servant to come at once into the library, she said
Meanwhile Wilfred and I waited, wondering what she intended to do
when her order was obeyed.
CHAPTER XXIX. MOTHER AND SON
A few minutes later all the servants assembled in the library. Most
of them were old and trusted, and had been in the house for many years.
There was a look of eager expectancy on their faces, as though they had
heard strange news.
Do you know who this is? said my mother, pointing towards me.
Evidently Peter Polperrow had told them of my arrival, for without a
moment's hesitation they answered:
It's Mr. Roger.
You recognise him, then?
Ay, that we do.
My mother looked at Wilfred with a yearning look, and then turning
towards them said,
Mr. Roger left this house eleven years ago. Many of you were
servants here then, and since then you have served my son and me
faithfully; but your rightful master has come home, and now I resign
all authority and command to him.
But mother I interrupted.
Stop, she went on, I must do my duty. It will not be much
longerturning to the servantsthat I shall be with you, but this I
must confess; I have been the means of Mr. Roger being away from you;
through me you have been deprived of your rightful master.
It must have cost her a terrible struggle to say this, for she was a
proud woman, and regarded servants as inferior beings to herself, and,
as with blanched face and trembling step she left the room immediately
after, I realised that she had come to some resolution which as yet was
unknown to me.
Meanwhile all the older servants crowded around me, each expressing
gladness because of my return, and gladly acknowledging me as master.
And all the while Wilfred sat like one entranced, never moving, never
uttering a word.
They left us at length and thus Wilfred and I were alone together.
For a time neither spoke, then I held out my hand to him.
Wilfred, I said, let us shake hands and be brothers once more.
You are no brother of mine, he said, without moving.
We are both blessed with the same father, Wilfred, I said.
But not with the same mother. You know that. Has she told you?
For a minute he did not speak, but looked at me with such a stony
stare that his face seemed entirely changed; then he said slowly, but
I hate you.
Come, Wilfred, I said, let the dark past be buried. We can make
some arrangement about the property, if any remains, that will be
agreeable to us both. I have no heart to quarrel about money.
Share with you, when I have been master and have had entire
control? he said. Never!
Nay, Wilfred, be not so hard. Don't let us remember those things
that will cause bitter feelings, but think of what is bright and
Bright and pleasant, he answered; what is there bright and
pleasant for me now you have returned? Nay, nay, I am accursed; but, by
heavens, so are you.
And you will not shake hands?
At this moment a servant entered the room with the message that our
mother wanted to see us both in her private sitting room.
Neither of us delayed in answering her summons, and in a minute more
we were seated near her. I thought I detected a change in her face as I
entered; something of her harshness had gone, and a look of tender
longing had taken its place.
Mother, I said, as naturally as I could, I have been very
forgetful and unbrotherly, but I have heard nothing of my sisters, are
they well and happy, can you tell me anything about them?
Both are married and both are happy and well, she replied
absently; but we can talk of them on some other occasion. I want us to
speak of something else just now.
Roger, will you give us an account of what you were doing and where
you went during those years you were absent from us.
I told her all, not in such great detail as I have written it here,
but I told her enough to give her the information she desired to know.
It took me a long while, but she sat patiently during the whole time,
listening attentively to every word, while Wilfred sat with the same
stony stare upon his handsome face.
When I had finished she rose and took Wilfred's right hand in her
left hand, and my right hand in hers and tried to draw us together.
Roger and Wilfred, shake hands, she said.
Gladly, I replied.
Never, cried Wilfred, drawing his hand away. Mother, do not think
that the hatred of a lifetime can be destroyed in a moment of weakness.
It took you years to teach me to hate Roger; you cannot make me love
him in a minute. I will never take his hand. I will be his enemy as
long as I live. In my heart of hearts I have cursed him, and I will not
be friendly now because of a whim of yours.
Wilfred, she said, as you value my happiness, as you value your
own happiness, here and hereafter, do not refuse. Roger, she
continued, turning to me, great as has been your misery and
loneliness, it has not been nearly as great as mine. Oh, if you have
suffered for your sin, I have suffered a thousand times more for mine.
Morning, noon and night, I have had no rest, no comfort. When I married
your father I promised that, God helping me, I would do my duty by you,
but as soon as Wilfred was born I hated you, and I vowed that he should
be Trewinion's heir and not you. No one but Wilfred knows how I have
schemed, deceived, sinned for him, and now, when I am getting old and
am yearning for love, he, my only son, has turned against me. Oh, I
might have known that the harvest of my sin could not bring happiness;
but I loved him so, and trusted him so fully. Oh, Wilfred, you can
never have anything but misery while you are your brother's enemy.
Learn to love him, Wilfred, and even yet all may be well.
No, I cannot, and I would not if I could, he cried, savagely.
Both of you have helped to blacken my life. You taught me to hate and
deceive, and he, in spite of all we have done together, has thwarted
our every purpose. And now why should I love him, or you either. Nay, I
hate you both.
Never shall I forget the cry she gave, so full of anguish and
Hate me, Wilfred! she gasped.
Yes! he cried, harshly. You taught me to be greedy, and selfish,
and deceitful, but you did not tell me of the futility of money and
position to satisfy, nor yet of the terrible power which they have, no
not even when you knew they would mock me. But for you I should have
been poor perhaps, but still happy, while now there's nothing but
misery for me here, and hereafter. I tell you I believe we both sold
our souls to the devil to get rid of Roger and obtain Trewinion, and
now he is chuckling over his bargain.
But have you no love for me, your mother? she cried in anguish.
None, cried he, cruelly, I love nothing but myself.
Never before have I witnessed the payment in full of the ghastly
wages of sin as I did then. Never shall I erase from my memory the
awful look upon her face.
Then, Wilfred, for your own sake, if not for mine, learn to love,
to forgive. Naught but misery can come from sin, I know it too, too
I care not, he answered. There was only one that I ever really
loved, and that love you cankered. But I did love her, more than aught
else, and she has been taken from me, and he has done it. With her by
my side I could have forgiven you, I could have learned to forget my
greed; but now it can never be, and although I believe that I have at
last made her hate Roger, she still despises me. And now what have I
left to live for? Nothing but this; I will be a curse to him. Roger
says he believes that the old stories about our house are false, but
strange things have happened, and they say that the younger brother can
curse the elder. I know what Deborah Teague said; but I repeat it, if I
cannot curse him I will curse his children and his children's children.
If ever I wed and have children I will teach them to hate all that is
near and dear to him. You told me to do so this very night, and
although you have suddenly changed your wishes, I will abide by your
Oh, God, my mother cried out in agony, my punishment is greater
than I can bear. My own son, for whom I have sacrificed everything, has
discarded me, spurned me. My daughters have left me, no one loves me
No man with any manhood left in him could have refrained from
pitying her, so helpless, so forsaken. My heart was strangely stirred
within me, and tears started to my eyes.
Mother, I said, I love you, will you let me be your son?
You, Roger! Why I have always been your enemy, it is I who has
caused you all your misery and pain. You cannot really love me?
How fondly she looked at Wilfred even yet, as though she hoped for
some tender word or look, but he only walked up and down the room,
muttering savagely, yet casting furtive looks towards us.
I cannot love you as I love Wilfred, she said; he has discarded
me, but I shall love him as long as I live. I am a poor, weak, selfish
woman, but I want your love, Roger, and your care; if you can forgive
me, and love me.
I laid her poor, weary, aching head upon my breast, where she seemed
to find ease in sobbing out her grief.
No sooner did Wilfred see this than, with a mocking laugh, he walked
out of the room, leaving us together.
Will you kiss me, Roger, my son? she said, presently.
I kissed her, while the tears trickled down my cheeks, and I
wondered much to see her who had been so haughty, so cold, become
subdued and penitent.
CHAPTER XXX. THE TRAIL OF THE
No words can describe how strange I felt when I stood again in my
own bedroom alone. There was the old bed at the corner of the room,
just as I had left it long years before. Indeed, nothing in the room
had been changed, and it seemed at times as though I had never been
away at all, that the past eleven years were only a long dream, and
that I was still the gay young Roger who sported on the headland with
his younger brother.
I was very excited, and although I had not slept for many hours, I
did not feel at all like retiring to rest. I was glad to sit alone, and
listen to the roll of the waves on the beach, and think of the strange
events which had taken place.
And then there was Ruth. Although I had scarcely mentioned her name
since I had arrived she was ever in my mind. Could I now ask her to wed
me? My hands were free from the stain of blood, and hatred was no
longer in my heart. Surely I might go boldly to her now, and tell her
all I desired her to know, yet on the other hand I remembered her look
when I last saw her face, the shudder with which I was sure she had
recoiled from me. Besides, Wilfred had told me that he had more than
ever poisoned her mind against me. And yet I loved her so much! All the
experiences during the eleven years of my wandering life had but
strengthened my love for her, and that love for her was, I believe, the
only link that held me to Heaven, the only power that saved me from
falling into hell. And thus I mused on, when
What was that I heard?
At first it seemed like a stealthy step, but I was not sure; then a
few seconds later I thought I heard someone whispering. I opened my
door and listened, but could detect nothing.
It is my fancy, I said, or else the servants are preparing to get
I did not know the time, but I knew that morning must soon be
breaking. A drowsy sensation was now creeping over me, so I prepared
for a few hours' rest, but as I lay down on the old bed I had used as a
boy I distinctly heard the sound of horses' hoofs; They seemed a good
way off, but I was not sure, as the night was still, and the sound
would travel far and fast; but there was nothing to trouble about, so
with a sweet feeling of restfulness I fell asleep.
When I awoke it was broad daylight, and with a glad feeling at heart
I dressed quickly and looked out of the window. Yes! I was home at
last. The long bitter years of hatred and remorse were behind, the
future, though cloudy, could never be as dark as the past had been.
I heard a knock at the door, and on opening it found my mother
standing with a look of expectancy on her face. She gazed up into my
eyes, as if in doubt about her reception, and then allowed herself to
be folded in the arms of her rough sailor son. I knew all the time it
was not my love she craved for, but she was glad even for that, so
hungry was her heart.
Roger, do you know it is past mid-day? she said, with a sad smile.
I thought something was the matter with you, but on listening at the
door I heard you breathing regularly, and so let you sleep on. But come
to the breakfast-room, I'm sure you must be hungry.
We went down the broad staircase together arm in arm, while the
servants flitted around excitedly at the advent of Mr. Roger. How
gladly, how proudly they waited on me, while my mother told me that the
inhabitants of the parish had arranged to have a bonfire, and that a
lot of festivities had been arranged in honour of my arrival! I seemed
to be living a new life, to be breathing a new atmosphere, and so kind
was my mother to me that by and by I broke down and sobbed like a
Then we went out on the headland together, she holding my arm, while
the servants smiled and whispered one to another that it was somethin'
By and by, after talking of many things relative to what had
happened in the years of my happiness, she said:
Roger, you still love Ruth?
More than ever, mother.
I shudder when I think of the dreadful fate from which you saved
You heard of that, then?
Heard of it? Why, it was the talk of the county. The more so as you
so suddenly disappeared.
Did no one know why?
No one except Wilfred and I, unless you told Ruth, I fancy you did
tell her, for when Wilfred and I went over to see her she seemed amazed
at the sight of him.
And Wilfred told her of our struggle?
He deceived her.
He tried to. I do not know if he succeeded.
I saw this turn in the conversation pained her, so I was silent.
After a few minutes she spoke again.
Are you going to Morton Hall?
I do not know.
I am afraid she hates me, loathes me. I could not bear to see her
turn away from me in terror.
I wish you would go, Roger.
Because I love her, and I think, I am sure, you will never be happy
unless you do.
But, mother, do you think that
Nay, Roger, I would not tell you if I could. It is for you to
I could not bear to talk any more about it just then, so to change
the conversation I asked her if she had seen Wilfred.
No, she replied, but I am not surprised at that he has gone away
for weeks together sometimes, and I have had no idea where he has
I was about to ask another question when I heard a voice behind me.
Right glad to see 'ee, Maaster Roger.
Bill Tregargus, I said, and I am glad to see you.
There was an uneasy look on his face, however, and although he
touched his hat to my mother, and made many remarks about his happiness
at finding me home once more, I saw that something was wrong.
Cud I ave a vew words in private with 'ee? said Bill, at length.
Certainly, I said, and my mother, evidently thinking that Bill had
come relative to some matter connected with the estate, left us.
Ave 'ee seed yer brother, sur? said Bill, as soon as she was gone.
Yes, last night.
'Scuse me, sur; but was 'ee friendly?
I did not resent this question, for Bill knew of our past relations,
he knew what I had said when I heard of Wilfred's cruelty to Ruth.
No, I said.
You'll forgive me, Maaster Roger, went on Bill, but I've got a
raison for axin'; was anything said about Miss Ruth?
Nothing definite. Why?
Maaster Roger, said Bill, as if feeling his way, people do zay as
'ow he will never stand no chance wi' Miss Ruth now, but do 'ee think
'ee wudd'n try to kip you from 'avin' 'er?
I think he would, I cried. But what then?
Maaster Roger, I'm afraid he'll bait 'ee after all, ef you doan't
I don't understand; tell me what you mean quickly.
Well, Maaster Roger, yesterday I was over to Polcoath Downs. As you
knaw, 'tes 'bout fifteen mile from here. I've got a brother as do live
there, the waun younger'n me. You remember Daniel, doan't 'ee?
Very well. Go on quickly.
Well, I 'adn't seed un for a long time, so I stayed till nearly
mornin', and as I was comin' on the road 'bout an hour afore daylight I
heerd the sound of hosses. I was goin' down a steep hill when I heerd
it, and I wondered who twas comin' at that time. In a minute more I
seed two men comin' ridin'. They wa'ant goin' very vast, so I could
hear 'em talkin. When I got to the bottom of the hill I sed to meself,
I wan't let those chaps zee me, so I gets under a bush cloase to a pool
beside the road. As luck wud 'ave it, they got off their 'osses right
against where I was, so as to let um drink, and then I seed that one of
them was yer brother, and tother a strange chap, as Maaster Wilfred
'ave got very thick wi'.
Who was he?
I don't knaw, 'cept 'ee's a bad un. 'Ee don't do nothin' but loaf
around the Manor and the kiddley-wink (beershop). I'm told as 'ow he's
terrible thick wi' Maaster Wilfred, who do kip un to do all soarts ov
dirty jobs. I've 'eerd 'ee's from Plymouth, and he goes by the name of
Well, Maaster Wilfred wur sayin' somethin' about his brother comin'
'ome again and wishin' he knawed he wur comin', as then Jake cud 'ave
stopped un from comin' home. Then, Maaster Roger, I 'ad a sort o'
notion 'ow that you'd come 'ome again, and I wur glad.
What then? Tell me quickly.
Then your brother said as 'ow he'd pay you out now, and that,
though you might get the old estate, which was mortgaged, you shud
never 'ave the girl you loved.
I couldn't rightly make out, but I heerd Maaster Wilfred zay that
he'd kill yer weth hes own 'and rather than you shud ever 'ave her.
Then I 'eerd Jake Blackburn ax what 'ee'd got to do wi' that, and your
brother told 'im that ef Miss Ruth didn't come down from 'er 'igh 'oss,
there'd be some work for 'im to do.
You don't mean to say that Wilfred would use this villain to kill
I don't say nothin', sur, but I knaw Maaster Wilfred wur awful mad,
and wur tellin' Jake that ef 'ee ded'n do as he was told he'd put a
'angman's rope round es nuddick. I 'eerd un zay, too, that he wud tell
'er you was dead, and that it wur 'er place to 'ave him, and if she
wuddenwell, and then they was whisperin' one to another.
And are you sure they were going there?
As sure as I can be, sur. I 'eerd em zay they'd git to Morton Hall
by ten o'clock.
And now it's after two. Why did you not tell me before?
I've bin three times this mornin' sur, but they zaid they wudden
wake 'ee. I've told 'ee as soon as ever I cud.
I could not believe in what Bill had said, it was too terrible, but
I hurried madly back to the house, he keeping by my side.
Do you really think he is capable of such a thing as you hinted at,
Bill? I said.
I'm sure 'ee's capable of doin' any devilish thing, said Bill;
beside, 'e've bin drinkin' 'ard lately.
The thought was ghastly in the extreme, and yet as I remembered the
look on his face the night before, when he said he would ever seek to
curse my life, I felt the truth of Bill's words. He had tried to murder
me in order to retain wealth, would he not murder her rather than see
her make me happy? Then the thought came to mewas this a part of the
curse? For the past eleven years I had never known real happiness.
Before I had raised the cup to my lips it had been dashed out of my
hand. Was it to be now as it had ever been? For a moment I believed
that an evil power attended me, and that I could not rid myself of the
evil to which I had been born. Then I thought of old Deborah Teague's
words. You ca'ant curse waun that do love everybody, and whose heart
es full ov love. This comforted me; not that I believed particularly
in anything she might say, but because her words sounded true.
Anyhow, if such were the case, I would resist my fate, I would
struggle to the end, and God would help me.
I rushed to the stables, where two or three men lolled around.
Are the horses all in the stables? I asked.
No, sur, there be two gone.
The best we've got, sur. Brown Molly es a thora breed, sur, and
will run till she do drop; and Prince is nearly so good.
Have you a good horse now?
There's Bess. She's a bra mare, jist brok in, sur.
Saddle her at once for me, and stop! Do you know who has the other
No, sur; but Master Wilfred do often take hosses without we knawin'
Just so. Bring Bess to the hall door immediately.
I rushed into the house, where I found my mother. I told her all
Bill had related to me. As I did so I saw her face pale to the very
Oh, Roger, oh Roger! she cried, save him.
Do you think Bill's surmise correct?
Oh, Wilfred, Wilfred, you will kill me yet, she murmured. Ride
fast, Roger, ride for your life. Don't wait a moment if you would save
her, and save him!
The horse was brought up to the door at that moment, a powerful
black mare, well fed and exercised.
I kissed my mother and prepared to go, but she held my arm for a
Be careful and watchful, she said, he's very cunning; but, oh, my
God, save him from this!
I jumped into the saddle, and in another minute was riding with a
fast beating heart towards Morton Hall.
CHAPTER XXXI. TO THE RESCUE
For the first mile I rode almost without heeding the direction I was
taking, or thinking of what was the best way to proceed.
My mind was too full of terror. Perhaps even then Wilfred with his
devilish cunning was weaving a net from which my darling could not
escape. Aided by the villain with whom he had been so friendly, he
might destroy my happiness for ever. And so, unthinkingly, I allowed
the mare to carry me whither she would. It did not matter, however. By
a strange instinct, which I am sure some animals possess, she seemed to
divine the road I wanted to go, and plunged forward joyfully.
I was no light weight to carry. It is true that the past year's
sorrow had worn me very much, so that there was but little flesh on my
great, gaunt frame; but I still weighed nine score pounds, and thus
would tire any horse that had to carry me a long distance. I could not
have ridden a more noble animal, however; I think she united all the
qualities of strength and speed, and tore along the road as though she
felt my weight no more than if I had been a feather. It was but little
I had done in riding during the eleven years I had been away, but I
found I had not lost my old skill, and soon I was able to bring Black
Bess into entire subjection, and settled down into a good swinging
I longed to gallop the gallant animal all the way, so anxious was I
to reach Morton Hall; but I knew that she could not hold out at such a
speed, so I patted her neck and gave her a few kind, caressing words,
at which she whinnied a little and tossed her head proudly, as if to
tell me she was prepared to go as fast as I liked.
Thirty-five miles. It was a long stretch of land, and difficult to
cover quickly. In most places it was very hilly, which would often
check our speed. I calculated, however, to get to Morton village in
four hours. It was just after two o'clock when we started; by six we
should get there if nothing was amiss. It was in the month of October,
so that the day would be nearly gone ere I should see the old village
church, which a year before had been the scene of such a wonderful
After riding an hour I was able to think more clearly, and to form
some idea as to the steps I should take. I remembered that I had a
cunning, unscrupulous man to deal with, one who, in his disappointment
and jealousy, would stop at nothing. There were but little data on
which I could build my theories, or form my plans. The first question
that appealed to me was, What was Wilfred likely to do? What steps
would he take?
From what Bill Tregargus had told me I gathered that he was going to
tell her that I was dead, and again press upon her his suit, and then
if she would not listen to him towell, I knew not what.
But I was sure he would not dare to harm her in her own home, where
she would be surrounded by so many servants and friends. No, he would
seek to lure her away alone; where I could not guess; but knowing
Wilfred as I did, I felt sure that this would be his plan. The
execution of this plan would, however, be delayed till dark, so my hope
lay in arriving before sunset.
Let no one think, then, that I was riding on a scheme of vengeance;
on the contrary, my intention was to save. I hoped to save Wilfred from
committing a dark deed, I longed to save Ruth from becoming a villain's
prey. I had no desire to hurt either Wilfred or his accomplice. No good
could come of that. To meet evil with evil is useless for any good
At length my heart began to beat loudly, for I knew I was nearing
Morton Hall. I passed by the farm where a year before a buxom maiden
had given me some new milk, and when I had ridden a little farther I
saw a great clump of trees which I knew surrounded Morton Church. It
was well that the journey was nearly over, for Black Bess was covered
with foam, and by her spreading nostrils and hard breathing I knew she
would be glad to rest.
Knowing nothing of Wilfred's schemes, I had no definite plans made;
but I had been revolving a dozen in my mind, and determined, if
necessary, not to hesitate to take bold action.
Just before coming to the village, I decided that it would not be
wise to go to the inn. My brother would very likely stable his horses
there and for aught I knew might have watchers on every hand. Where
should I go, then, so as not to be noticed?
When last there, I discovered that there was no need for me to go
into the village in order to reach Ruth's house. Perhaps it would be
better to ride there direct, and make the necessary inquiries.
PerhapsGod knows how I hoped itshe was still in the house, Wilfred
not having been able to concoct a plan sufficiently plausible to get
her away alone. If so, I should meet her, and be able to warn and
This I would do, then, but I dared not go dusty, dishevelled,
travel-stained as I was. So I got off my horse, and washed myself in a
streamlet that trickled beside the road. Then I picked up a wisp of
straw and rubbed down the mare. It was but little I could do for her,
but I wiped the foam from her, and made her look less conspicuous than
she had been before. This done, I mounted again and rode direct to the
How my heart thumped as I neared the stately old mansion, and how I
hoped and prayed that I might be successful in my mission! I thought
not of myself now. My one thought was to save Ruth, and to save
Daylight had begun to fade as I rode up to the Hall door. A stable
boy had seen and followed me. Without a moment's hesitation I flung
myself from the faithful creature who had borne me so gallantly over
those long weary miles.
Take this mare, rub her down well, feed her well, and wrap her up
warmly. And, staydon't give her too much water.
He looked at me in astonishment, then a look of recognition came
into his face. Evidently he had seen me before, for he grinned and
touched his cap as he said, I'll zee to 'er proper, sur.
I would have followed him and made sure that he did as I commanded;
for, brought up among horses as I had been, I had learnt to care for
them, and to see them properly provided for, but now, other matters
were more pressing. So I threw him a crown piece, and hurried to the
Again the bell clanged through the old hall, again I stood with
beating heart waiting for the answer, for now I was nearing the great
crisis of my lifeat least, it seemed so to me then.
The old servant I had seen a year before met me, and despite the dim
light recognised me in a secondjoyfully, I thought.
Mr. Trewinion, sir, he said, quickly, walk in.
Again I entered the house and with a fast beating heart.
Is your mistress at home? I said, hastily.
He looked up at me anxiously, I thought.
Yes, sir, he replied, she is at home; that is, sir, she is not at
home now, but we expect her home every minute.
Has she been far away?
No, sir; oh, no, she's only gone to the village.
Do you know why?
Why, sir! he said, looking at me strangely. She's not gone into
the village exactly, but to a little cottage just outside. You see,
sir, she's mighty good to the poor, and she do visit 'em and carry
things to 'em.
Do you know the one she's gone to visit now?
Oh, yes, sir. She's a bedridden old woman. Mistress has been to see
her many a time.
Did she walk or ride?
Walked, sir; you see, she couldn't ride to Mrs. Bray's, her cottage
is among the fields, and there's no carriage road.
She is not gone alone?
No, sir, said the man, evidently wondering more and more at my
questions, one of the servants went with her to carry the basket.
Have there been any callers here to-day?
No, sir, no one has been but Mrs. Bray's little maid, who came to
say that her grandmother was worse.
Ah! You are sure it was Mrs. Bray's granddaughter; you know the
Know her, sir! Of course, know'd her ever since she was a baby; you
don't think that
How long ago did this girl come?
About two hours, sir.
And how long since your mistress left?
Directly after the little maid.
And the servant who is gone with her is trustworthy?
Oh, yes, sir; why sir, you don't
Where is this old woman's house? Tell me quickly.
He told me the direction, and assured me that by going across the
park I could reach it in less than ten minutes.
I'll go and meet her, I said, as calmly as I could, but if she
arrives before I do, say nothing of my being here. I shall not be much
later than she. But point out the road by which she will come.
He did so, and then wanted to send a servant with me; but of this I
would not hear. I wanted no prying, gossiping servants to be around.
The truth was I feared Wilfred had succeeded in sending Mrs. Bray's
granddaughter on a false errand, or else had watched her and found out
hers. At any rate, I felt sure that he would be cognisant of the
child's visit, and would use it as a means to carry out his designs.
I hurried across the park like a deer when the hounds are behind it,
cleared the fence that lay at its utmost extremity, and struck into a
footpath that led to the cottage. The way was very lonely. A few
straggling houses formed the village and the cottage was some distance
from them. Two weak, defenceless women could easily be met and
overpowered and without anyone being the wiser.
Wilfred was not likely to attempt to carry out his designs in
daylight, so if the summons to Mrs. Bray's bedside were genuine, the
chances were that Ruth would be allowed to pay the visit first. Perhaps
she might be there even now, and if I went a little faster I might be
in time to see her before she left the cottage. Filled with this
thought, I rushed rapidly on to the little thatched house, and knocked
at the door.
A little girl came, with a tallow candle in her hand.
Does Mrs. Bray live here? I said, pantingly.
Iss, sur, she do, replied the child.
Is she alone?
Iss, sur, wonderingly.
Has any one been to see her this afternoon?
Iss, sur. Miss Murten 'ev bin.
Miss Morton, I said, with a glad feeling at heart. How long has
she been gone?
Not more'n 'bout vive or ten minutes, sur.
Has she gone down the lane? I said, pointing to the one I took to
be that of which the old servant at the Hall had told me.
Iss, sur, said she, timidly.
Without another word I rushed down the narrow lane which led to a
distant farm, then coming to a stile I jumped over it into a field.
Daylight was now quite gone, and I knew that I must be careful.
True, I did not know that Wilfred and Blackburn had come to the village
at all, but I must be ready for any emergency.
I could dimly see the footpath by the hedgerow, so I ran noiselessly
along it, until I reached the end of the field, then I stood upon the
stile and listened. All was silent as death.
Surely, I said. My fears are in vain. Ruth has gone quietly back
to her home. If I am quick I shall overtake her.
With this hope in my heart, yet feeling terribly anxious, I rushed
along the hedgeside, and had nearly traversed the length of the field
when I heard what I thought was a smothered scream.
The sound was near me, too, it seemed to come from the other side of
the fence which was just before me.
With beating heart I went stealthily forward and looked over the
hedge into the other field.
In the dim light I saw four figures.
But there was no struggling. They seemed to have only just met, and
as I looked I heard a voice that set my every nerve quivering.
Wilfred, said the voice, which I knew was Ruth's, how came you
I came to see you, Ruth, said Wilfred in low, subdued tones.
But why did you not go to the house? I have been home all day, and
my doors are never closed to any one bearing your name.
I have met you here because I want to see you alone, and because I
have some strange things to tell you.
Well, speak on, she said, haughtily; here, Clara, come and stand
by my side.
No, said Wilfred, hoarsely, I want no servants near; I must speak
to you alone, here, now. Jake, take this jade a few yards away and stay
Jake did as he was told, and the servant, having evidently seen
Wilfred before, seemed to think no wrong. I saw Ruth look around her as
if in fear, however, while I, scarce knowing why, waited for what
should follow next.
Wilfred, said Ruth, this is strange acting. Never before has any
one dared to treat me so; but you are an old friend, or I should say
perhaps that I have known you a very long time, and so I grant your
request. Speak, but speak quickly. Meanwhile we will walk home.
No, said Wilfred, I say what I want to say here.
Ruth, I am a desperate man, and I must use desperate means. I am
not going to be frightened out of my purposes; nothing shall stay my
He spoke with the old intense tone of voice that I knew so well, and
I knew, as he said, that he was desperate.
Well, what have you to tell me, Wilfred? There was no fear in her
voice. Evidently, she felt she was on her own land, and that no one
would dare to molest her, where she was beloved by all.
First of all, Ruth, he said hoarsely, I am come to tell you that
Roger is dead. News came last night of his death.
Died! How? she gasped.
Hanged, he said, savagely. The pirate vessel on which he sailed
was captured, and he has been hanged. One or two of the crew were
granted a reprieve, but Roger was the most bloodthirsty man among them,
and to him no mercy was shown.
She did not speak, and, after being silent a second, he went on.
I came to tell you that first of all; I thought you might be glad
to know that he will plague you no more.
Then, Ruth, he went on, I am come to tell you something else. I
cannot live without you, Ruth. I have been mad for love of you for
long, long years. Oh, if you only knew, if you only knew!
Wilfred, she answered, say no more about that. Surely you know
that when I was nearly driven to marry you, the thought of it almost
killed me. You cannot come with that petition again.
But, Ruth, Roger is dead, and now I have come to beseech you to
have pity. I am dying for you, Ruth. Oh, if you will only pity me, and
if although you do not love me, you will fulfil my father's wish, and
your father's wish, and wed me, you will save me. Save me from death
herefrom death hereafter.
He spoke with passionate earnestness, which I can never forget. He
pleaded for her love as a man fearful of death might plead for his
life. But to all his petitions she gave no encouragement.
I cannot do as you ask, Wilfred, she said, neither would my
father, or your father, if either were alive, have me do it. My eyes
have been opened as to their real wishes, and I cannot marry you.
But, Ruth, he continued, you do not know. My very existence
depends on your answer. Do not think I care for your money; but, driven
to madness by your constant refusal of my love, I have acted foolishly,
I have blindly engaged in speculation, until Trewinion estate is no
longer mine, except in name. If you do not have pity on me it will
become the property of strangers, and those who care nothing for us or
ours will possess it. My mother will be homeless, and the old rooms,
which were my father's andRoger's will be desecrated by others. For
myself I care nothing, but I cannot bear that my mother should have to
leave the home of our people.
She seemed moved at this, for in her pure guilelessness I do not
believe she ever thought that Wilfred was seeking her for her wealth
alone. Hence what he had said appealed to her, as my brother intended
it should, as an additional reason for her to accept him. Still, it did
not alter her determination.
I will help you, Wilfred, she said, if it is in my power to do
so. I will see that all shall be well with your mother, but I cannot do
as you wish.
But why? Wilfred asked hoarsely. Roger is dead, and even if he
were not you could never wed him when you know that his heart is full
of murder. You know that he sought my life, and but for a
I do not know it, she said passionately, neither do I know that
he is dead.
What! he exclaimed, savagely, you believe that I
I know that you have deceived me about him in the past, she said.
I know that you drove him from home. I know that you have tried to
make me believe that he sought to murder you, but let me tell you this,
Wilfred: If I believed he were dead, which I do not, and if he has been
all you say he has, then, knowing you as I do, I cannot, will not, be
what you ask. Now, I will go home. Stand aside, please?
You refuse, then?
Certainly, Wilfred. And now that I have yielded to your wish for
this unseemly interview, I wish it to be the end of all such scenes.
Ay, and it shall be, for I have a few words to say. His tone
changed, and he spoke with haughty insolence. We are in a lonely
place, he said, half a mile from a house. No one will molest us here,
and you are in my power. I have begged you to grant my request, now you
will have to yield to one of two alternatives. The first is this: The
town of is ten miles from here. You will ride there with me this
very night, quietly, and remain there until arrangements are made for
What! she exclaimed, you seek to force me? You dare not do such a
I dare do anything, he said, for I am a desperate man. Will you
accede to this?
Never. I will die first.
Then hear my other alternative. There is a vessel lying in the cove
yonder. I have got it for this emergency. You will come with me now,
and to-night we shall sail for a port where my wishes will be carried
out in spite of you. Stop, if you scream or cry for help I will gag
you, and Jake will do the same by your girl. He has my orders. Choose
which you like, but one of them you shall do.
All this time I had listened as in a dream. For a time I seemed
incapable of action. I was stupefied by the villainy of my brother,
while my blood surged madly at the sound of Ruth's voice. It seemed so
strange that I should have come thus, and be listening to such a
conversation. At first I could not think it real, and yet I remembered
I had ridden thirty-five miles to prevent whatever schemes he had
Choose quickly, he went on after a pause. I have no time to
waste. Either you come to the three bridges, where horses are waiting,
and ride to , and marry me as soon as it can be arranged, or you
come to Pendugle Cove. I care not which, but as I am a maddened,
desperate man, it shall be one or the other.
She did not lose her presence of mind. I do not think she realised
Wilfred, she said, I have long known that you were capable of
much that was bad, but I never thought you were as bad as this. You
have my answer. I will die rather than accede to either of your plans,
and you dare not carry them into execution.
But I will. Then you will wish you had consented. Jake, Pendugle
Cove, and gag the girl. I will manage Miss Morton.
He laid his hand on her as he spoke. She gave a slight cry for help,
which was instantly choked.
Then all my stupefaction left me. With one bound I cleared the
fence, and in another second I was by Ruth's side.
CHAPTER XXXII. TWO HEARTS
More than eleven years of seafaring life had accustomed me to
danger. During the two years I sailed in the pirate ship I had often
been within the jaws of death, for as all the world knows pirates are
not dealt leniently with. I had been mixing with men of all
nationalities, and had been engaged in all kinds of fray. Thus, I was
never unprepared for a struggle. To be ready to meet danger was second
nature with me.
Almost instinctively I settled on my plan of attack. They were two
to one, so stratagem was required as well as strength. Noiselessly as
possible, and with no parleying, I seized Wilfred, mastered him, and
bound him, before he was capable of resisting. No sooner had I done
this than I saw Jake Blackburn coming towards me, as if wondering what
was the matter, but seeing a man almost twice as big as himself
confronting him he took to his heels.
The struggle was so soon over that Ruth scarcely realised what was
done. Wilfred, however, understood only too well.
Jake, Jake, he shrieked, help!
Jake is gone, Wilfred, I answered. He will not help you.
Roger, Roger, cried Ruth, is that you?
It is Roger, I said, as calmly as I could, but danger is not over
yet. Will you lead the way to the high road, and then on to the Hall as
quickly as you can?
The servant came up just then. She had contrived to free herself,
and now ran to assist her mistress.
Wilfred writhed and struggled, but I held him fast. This I had
little difficulty in doing, as his hands were firmly tied behind him.
Meanwhile Ruth, as if in a dream, led the way home. Silently, yet
swiftly, we went on, I wondering all the time, not whether Jake
Blackburn would return with his accomplices, if he had any, to carry
out Wilfred's design, but whether Ruth still loved me.
I dared not speak to her. My tongue seemed tied, while she moved on
like one in a trance.
Presently we came to the churchyard gates, and as we did so I could
scarcely help shuddering. Like lightning the events of a year before
flashed through my mind. Vividly I remembered going down the churchyard
path and opening the old church door, in order to gaze on the face of
the dead. But Ruth seemed perfectly unconscious of that which haunted
me. A look of expectancy was on her face, and by and by she gave a glad
exclamation as we heard the sound of wheels. In a minute more a
carriage drove up and stopped at our side. I still held Wilfred by the
arm, and he, doubtless feeling that resistance was useless, submitted
Roger, said Ruth huskily, you will come home with me?
In reply I was about to enter the carriage with Wilfred by my side;
but no sooner did she see this than she exclaimed as if in horror,
Not him, Roger; no, not him.
Then I will ride on the box by the driver, I said. I will not let
him go yet.
But will you be safe? she said, anxiously.
Perfectly safe, Ruth, I answered.
Then she allowed the servant to help her into the carriage as if she
were dazed, while I mounted the box with Wilfred.
We were not long in reaching Morton Hall, I realising more clearly
each minute the position in which I was placed and the hopes dearest to
The old servant I had seen on my first visit was delighted as well
as relieved at our advent, but looked strangely at Wilfred, and at my
request silently opened the door of a room, and left us together.
I did this because, as I descended from the carriage, Ruth said:
Say what you must say to him quickly, Roger, I cannot bear for him
to be in the house. I cannot bear to see him again!
And so he and I stood alone in the room into which we had been
ushered, and in the flickering light I saw that his face was pale as
You have won again, he said between his set teeth.
Be thankful I have won, Wilfred, I said. Supposing it had been
otherwise, and you had succeeded in your designs. Would you have been
any happier? Would you not have been haunted with the thought that you
had ruined her life, besides condemning her to the hell of a loveless
And would I have cared for that? he retorted, My chief thought
was to baulk you, to crush you, as the younger brother should crush the
elder, when the elder has been unworthy of his name. To do this I would
suffer hell, here and hereafter; to do this I would allow myself to be
buffeted, scorned, hated; I would be as I have been, the vile plotter
and cunning villain. And why? I hate you, partly because you have
stepped into the place I longed for, but more because my mother taught
me to do so. Ay, and I will hate you, and I will curse you.
Wilfred, I said, do not goad me too far. I wish you no harm; nay,
I only wish you good. I have in the past sacrificed much for you; but
if you plot against Ruth again, or if you lift a finger against her, I
shall be obliged to crush you as I would an adder, not because I hate
you, but because I care for others.
And that's your love for me, is it? he sneered.
Yes, it is my love, I answered; for I will not allow you to be
more a devil than you are while I can prevent it. Remember, Wilfred,
there is a law in England, and to that law I will appeal, and if that
law will not give me justice, then, Wilfred, you know me, I will take
you in hand, and I will lock you up as a fiend, a moral madman, that
should not be at large. I will imprison you as I would a mad dog. I
want no revenge, for I have no wish for it in my heart, although God
only knows what I should have felt had you succeeded in your designs
to-night. As it is, I only tell you to beware.
And what do you intend doing with me now? he said.
Nothing, I said. At first I held you to keep you from doing harm,
but when I saw the carriage I brought you here, that I might give you
And do you think I care for your warning?
I do not know, Wilfred; but in roving round the world for more than
eleven years I have learnt to take care of myself. Depend upon it, I
shall use that knowledge, not only to care for myself, but for others.
Be careful then. Justice is sometimes as strong a feeling as revenge,
and if needs be I shall take terrible means that justice may be done.
Upon this I cut the handkerchief with which I had bounds his hands,
and he was at liberty. He snapped his fingers in my face.
You have given me warning, he said, hoarsely, Now I will warn
you. First of all I thank you for what you have told me. I will heed
your words, and you need not fear that I shall put myself within the
reach of the law. Experience has taught me wisdom. But I tell you this
again. If there is any power in evil, you shall suffer. If it is
possible to sell myself to the devil that I may make you accursed, I
will do it; if the curse of a man who hates can avail, your future
shall be as black as hell, and your children and your children's
children shall suffer too. I have told you this before, and I tell you
so again. Not one penny of the money you can get out of Trewinion will
I have; but I shall live, and you shall have reason to know it.
With that he went out and I did not seek to hinder him. I saw two of
the servants, evidently under orders to do so, follow him as if to see
him safely out of the grounds, and thus I was left alone.
I did not think of his words, nor did they have any effect upon me.
I seemed to be encased in an impenetrable armour. Sorrow I did feel for
him, but fear entered not into my heart.
For some minutes I sat alone, wondering what I should do. I had
indeed found Ruth, and yet I knew nothing of her feeling towards me. I
knew not whether I might hope, or whether the events of the long weary
years had destroyed all her love for me. I longed to go to her, and yet
I dared not. I longed to tell her of the great love that burned in my
heart, but something hindered me from doing so. What should I do? I was
in the same house with her, I had again rescued her from terrible
surroundings, she had spoken kindly to me, and yet I remembered the
look she gave me more than a year ago, and I could not nerve myself to
By and by a knock came to the door, and a servant entered.
Please, sir, your room is ready, he said, and led the way to a
I followed him bewilderedly, wondering what the end was to be.
Everything was so strange that I scarcely realised what I was doing.
Miss Morton told me to tell you that she would be in the library,
he said as he showed me into the bedroom, and left me.
It will be remembered that I was more than thirty years of age, and
yet no lover of eighteen could have felt more nervous than I. For the
first time during eleven long years I dared to hope that I might be
happy, and yet as I stood outside the door, longing yet not daring to
enter, my limbs trembled like those of a woman in great fear.
At length I knocked timidly, and heard Ruth's voice telling me to
enter, and in a second more we stood face to face.
She stood by the library table with an eager look upon her face. For
a minute we did not speak, but looked steadily at each other.
How beautiful she was in spite of the long years of trouble and
disappointment! True, the first blush of maidenhood was gone, for she
was only four years younger than I, but she was beautiful beyond
description. Little of stature, yet perfectly moulded, her great, grey
eyes still possessed their old charm, while her brown hair made a
fitting crown for so beauteous a face. To me, the rough sailor, who for
more than eleven years had scarcely spoken to another woman, save
Salambo's wife and my mother, she seemed like an angel.
All this flashed through my mind as her great eyes met mine.
Ruth, I said.
Roger, she sobbed, thank God you've come.
I could not speak another word just then. I could only open my arms;
but with a glad look on her face, and with a joyful cry, she laid her
face on my bosom. And II was in Heaven. My happiness was beyond all
thought, all hope. It was joy unspeakable to feel her in my arms, and
to know that no cloud intervened.
Ruth, I said after a while, I have loved you all these long
years, loved you when all was darkness, and when there was no hope.
When my heart was full of hatred for all else, I loved you. Ruth, I
have been a sinful man, rejecting God's help, and breaking His laws,
but I have loved you.
She did not answer, save to sob as though her heart were too full
Can you not speak some word, to me, Ruth? I went on. I know you
must have hated me when I left you more than a year ago, for in my
madness I thought that I had
No, no, Roger, I never hated you, she said, quickly. I loved you
all the time. I was mad, I thinkand I did not know what I was doing,
and I thought I should have died when I knew you were gone.
And now, Ruth?
Can you ask, Roger, afterafter all you haveno, no I do not love
you because of what you have done, but because I cannot help it, and
she clung more closely to me.
After that I remembered little that was said, and what still remains
with me I cannot write down, for such joy as mine comes to man but
rarely, and cannot be told to others.
By and by the dinner bell rang, and Ruth and I entered the dining
hall together, where we found Mr. Inch, still stately and upright, but
growing very feeble.
He had heard of my arrival, and now gave me a hearty welcome. I
learnt afterwards that he had endeavoured to do all in his power to
atone for the past, and that no one could be more true and faithful
than he, after he had once shaken himself free from Wilfred's coils.
And I found, too, that he had constituted himself Ruth's protector, and
although she often had friends to cheer her in her loneliness, to the
end she regarded him as her adviser and comforter.
When Ruth and I were again alone in the library, she asked me to
relate all that had passed since I had left her on that terrible night.
Then I told her of the scene at my home on the night before, of
Wilfred's avowal of hatred, and then of what had happened in the
morning, and of Bill Tregargus's news. I described the journey to the
Hall, and my inquiries of the servant, and at the cottage where I had
He told me you were dead, she said hoarsely.
I heard him, I answered.
I did not believe him, she went on; I could not, something told
me even then that you were near me, and so I was not afraidbut oh, I
shudder at it now.
Thank God I was in time, I said; and yet I cannot think he would
have dared to do what he threatened.
I do not know, Roger; I dare not think of it; but what passed
between you after you came here?
Then I told her all, told her of the curse which was said to belong
to our race, and related how Wilfred had sworn that if it could reach
me I should never know happiness.
Do you think it is true, I said, at length; or do you think these
stories are only vague rumours and idle tales?
I cannot say, she answered. Your mother told me many wild stories
when I used to live at Trewinion Manor, and I thought they were true.
Then, I said, if it is true, I cannot allow you to link your life
with mine. Why should I bring pain and sorrow on your?
I do not know whether these stories are true, she repeated; but,
Roger, I am yours always. If you are to have sorrows, I intend to bear
them with you. I do not believe a curse can fall on a heart that is
full of love like yours; but if you are to be cursed, Roger, I shall
help you to bear it.
And thus there was light, even on the one black cloud of the sky of
CHAPTER XXXIII. THE DAWNING OF THE
I would fain linger over that evening, and the days which followed.
To me a new life full of joy and pleasure began. And yet I did not feel
quite at rest. A fear constantly haunted me that Ruth would be taken
away from me, so I begged her that there should be no delay in
arranging for our wedding.
When I left her the following morning, I made her promise that she
would not go out of the house, unless under sufficient escort, while
she in return made me promise that I would not for any length of time
stay away from her. With a sad heart I mounted Black Bess to ride back
to Trewinion Manor, and watched her until we could no longer see each
other as she stood with tearful eyes at the hall door, but it was only
to be for a day, for on the morrow I determined I would return.
I found my mother anxiously awaiting me when I arrived home. She
was, however, relieved beyond measure when I told her of the defeat of
And you, Roger? she asked anxiously, are you going to give me
Ruth for a daughter?
I think my answer satisfied her, for a look of contentment came into
As soon as possible I consulted the old family lawyer, and together
we discussed the affairs of the estate. They were quite as bad as
Wilfred had declared. Everything he could turn into money he had sold
or mortgaged, until there was scarcely any unencumbered property; but
the lawyer told me that, with care and economy, I might in a few years
replace what Wilfred had so extravagantly wasted.
I also visited my sisters, and found them delighted beyond measure
at seeing their brother again, and looking forward with joyful
anticipations to welcoming their new sister.
Altogether my life was very happy, and as I constantly rode over to
Morton Hall to see the sweet woman who had promised to be my wife, and
watched the gladsome smile that lit up her face whenever she saw me
coming, my cup of joy was full.
A month later we were wedded in the old church, from which I had
carried her more than a year before.
When I entered the gloomy building, I almost felt like shuddering,
so awful were its associations, and when I saw the clergyman take his
stand near the very spot from which I had turned back the stone, to
enter the resting-place of the dead, I could not help picturing what I
had then seen. I think Ruth must have felt it too, for her hand
trembled in mine. Perchance she thought of the awful doom from which,
by the mercy of God, I had rescued her; but when I heard the old
clergyman pronounce us man and wife, and then repeat in solemn tones
the words that were full of meaning to me, whom God hath joined
together let no man put asunder, my heart thrilled with a new joy, for
I felt I possessed the greatest blessing on earth.
And then as the bells pealed out, while with Ruth on my arm we
traversed the long nave, it seemed as though the angels of God were
there to smile on our wedding morn.
And what of Ruth? In her great happiness, she could scarcely grieve
for the long years of pain, and as she nestled nearer to me, on our way
back to the Hall, she whispered that no joy could be as great as ours,
because for years we had both despaired of ever meeting each other
At the wedding festivities, my mother sat, pale and sad, perchance
thinking of Wilfred, of whom we had heard nothing since the night he
had been disappointed of his hopes. As soon as they were over, we went
back to Trewinion, which we both decided should be our home.
I shall never forget the scene as we returned and entered by the
postern door into the grounds. All the people in the parish had
gathered together to do us honour, and with gladsome words and hearty
cheers they bade us welcome home. They lit great bonfires on the
headland, around which the village lads and girls danced with joy,
because of the return and happy marriage of Master Roger.
And yet amidst all the joy I could not help sorrowing for my mother.
It is true that both Ruth and I, as well as Katherine and Elizabeth,
had done all in our power to make her happy, but I saw that she brooded
over the past, and was anxious about Wilfred.
Mother, said Ruth, brightly, your sad days are over now; let only
bright and happy things possess your mind.
This was after the crowd had gone home, and we sat around a huge
fire, for November had come, and the nights were chilly.
How can I be happy, she answered, when, but for me, you might
have had happiness instead of misery these eleven long years? How can I
think of gladness when my accursed selfishness has destroyed my boy's
life, made him hate his mother, and driven him into the world an
outcast? And, besides this, it is I who have led him to curse you and
be your enemy, and of this I am sure, if he can ruin your life he
But he ca'ant, said a croaking voice in the doorway, and turning
round we saw Deborah Teague. She was ninety years of age now, and bent
almost double, but she had hobbled up from her cottage to speak to the
Maaster Roger, croaked the old dame, do 'ee remember that there
night when you come'd up to Betsey Fraddam's cave in the middle ov the
Very well, Deborah, I answered.
People do zay as 'ow we ain't got no power, she went on; but
ded'n us tell 'ee true? We tould 'ee you'd 'ave to suffer; but there's
no curse can stand 'ginst love, and so when you larned to love
everybody, oal your darkness went away.
True, Deborah, I answered.
But take care o' yer brother still, she croaked, ef ever you do
hate, or feel enmity to he, or to anybody else, well thenblack days
'll come. And, Maaster Roger, ef ever you do 'ave cheldern, taich 'em
to love, for love es the only power 'gainst curses, and as sure as
you'd live, yer brother es yer enemy, and aw, Maaster Roger, remember
Trewinion's curse! As she spoke she lifted her skinny hand, as I had
seen her lift it long years before.
Soon after the old woman left, and I sent one of the servants with
her, to see her safely home.
* * * * *
I have little else to write, for in narrating what happened during
the years that followed I shall not use many words. My pen drags
wearily, and my eyes begin to grow dim.
About six months after our wedding we received the startling news
that Wilfred was married. During the years of my absence he had made
the acquaintance of a lady whose father's estate joined Ruth's, and
whom he had fascinated by his handsome presence and smooth speech.
The news made me glad at first, for I hoped that his marriage would
put an end to his enmity and make us brothers again. But when I went to
see him he at first refused to see me, and then he told me he had only
married to gain wealth and power, both of which should be used to crush
me and mine.
And so, to my heart's deep sorrow, he still remained my enemy, the
door of his heart continued to be shut towards me, and the one black
cloud on my sky continued to remain.
After that two years passed quietly away, during which time my
mother grew weaker and weaker, and although I trust that her life was
not altogether sad, yet she was constantly weighed down with the one
great trouble of her life. At the end of two years she became too weak
to leave her room, and after a few weeks passed away. Before she did
so, however, she asked us to send for Wilfred; but he refused to obey
her summons, and so she never saw him from the night on which he told
her he hated her for cursing his life.
Shortly after she died a boy was born to us, but he only lived a few
weeks. Then a little girl came; but she too was taken, and we began to
fear the curse of my race. After that two more years passed away
without any event of importance, save that Deborah Teague died, and
then another boy came, whom we called Roger, and he is with us yet, our
joy and our hope.
And now what more shall I write? I have told my story so that Roger,
my only son, may learn the lessons of my life.
Looking back now over the days of my life, I cannot say whether I
believe in the legend of my race, and so I know not whether my son may
have to suffer, and his children inherit a dreadful legacy.
It is true Wilfred still hates me, and has taught his children to
hate me and mine. In a letter he sent me not long since, he tells me
the curse of the Trewinion shall still fall on Trewinion's heirs, that
they shall have blackened lives and terrible deaths.
What is that? It is Ruth asking me if my work is not almost done,
and I answer, Yes, I have almost done. And as I answer, I look up
from my paper and see my dear one who has been with me for long years,
ever my comforter, my counsellor, and joy. She has lost the fresh bloom
of her womanhood, but to me she was never so beautiful as now. Never
did I think that such a pure soul could exist on earth, or that a woman
could be so brave in difficulty, so hopeful in sorrow, so comforting in
the hours of darkness.
I look forward with hope and joy. Let the lamp of life burn dimmer
and dimmer, I fear not. Ruth will be near me, and her presence will
make me strong. But a few more years, and Ruth and I must enter the
dark valley from which we shall never return, but she will be by my
side, and in her dear presence, I am full of hope.
THE END OF ROGER TREWINION'S CONFESSION.
Thus finished the story, a story of sin, and sorrow, and of a curse.
I must confess that when I laid it aside the life of Roger Trewinion
had become very real to me, and for a long time I sat thinking over the
events which were related. Everything was more vivid to me, for I had
for days past been living in the atmosphere of superstition, and
speaking to people who still believe in many of the things about which
Roger Trewinion spoke. Moreover, I had seen the old house, I had
realised the rugged grandeur of the rock-bound coast, I had let my
imagination brood over the great mass of rocks which are called the
Devil's Tooth. In spite of myself, too, I began to be influenced by
the story of the curse, which, although not clearly explained, was
fearfully spoken about. Yet I could not see why a man like the present
Roger Trewinion should allow himself to become a misanthrope because of
it. Perhaps succeeding events had led him to shun society; but whatever
may have been the explanation of his attitude, I longed to know more
about himself and his family, and before I went to sleep I made up my
mind that I would go back to Trewinion Manor and see whether the
Trewinion curse had manifested itself since the time the grandfather
of the present squire wrote his confessions.
It was midday, when I left my apartment, and, on entering the
reading room of the hotel, I found my friend Will just on the point of
sending to see if anything had happened to me.
Well, have you read the confessions? grunted he, after grumbling
some little time.
I have, indeed, I answered.
And found a lot of foolish jargon, I suppose?
I found a strange story, I answered, and it has so interested me
that I am going to hire a conveyance and drive to Trewinion this very
Will muttered something about the man going crazy over silly
stories, and then burst out laughing, but still showed considerable
interest as I related to him the chief outlines of the confessions.
After a meal, I started for a twelve-mile drive along the coast, and
was able to enjoy to the full the grand scenery that escaped my
attention on the afternoon of the previous day. As I drew near to the
house, too, I was able to recognize many of the places Roger had
mentioned, which made the events connected with them far more real. So
real, indeed, were they that once or twice I felt like shuddering as I
thought of the feelings that must have possessed him. Especially was
this so when I traced the outlines of the Devil's Tooth, and when I
thought I recognized the spot on which Wilfred and Roger had struggled
At length I reached the postern door, which had looked so formidable
on the previous day, and was again met by the same men I had seen
before. The place did not now seem nearly so strange, and I felt as
though I were a friend of the Trewinion family, and as if the old house
had been long familiar to me.
Roger Trewinion welcomed me heartily, and I thought I saw in his
face some indications of expectancy.
Well, he said, after I had been seated a few minutes, you have
read the confessions?
And what do you think of them?
I found them so interesting that I could not leave them until I had
read the last word.
And now you understand why I live here like a hermit, and why such
strange stories are circulated about me?
I can see why stories are circulated about you certainly, but I
cannot see why you live here so lonely and forsaken.
But you read about the curse, and the way it worked itself out?
I read what might easily be explained in the light of to-day. Your
grandfather saw things through the glasses of the time he wrote. Like
all literature, it is a product of the age and surroundings of the
writer, and must be judged accordingly.
Ah, but you do not know all that followed. If you did you would not
No, I am here to-day to hear more, so interested have I become. I
found yesterday that you were a man of culture and intellectual power,
and I cannot help wondering that such a story could so influence you.
No, honestly, I do not think I am a fool, and, believe me, I have
read and studied, as few men have, in order to free myself from the
fear that possesses me. Look at me! I look sixty years of age, and yet
I am only fifty. Fear and dread have made me old. Naturally, I am fond
of society, but an invisible presence, which always seems to confront
me, makes me live alone, without friends, without companionship.
Will you tell me the sequel of what I have read, then? I said,
anxiously, for I was greatly interested.
Yes, I will tell you as plainly as I can. It is said that my
grandfatherthe writer of the confessionsdied a terrible death, and
that dread thoughts ever haunted him. Of that, however, I cannot speak
I do not believe it, I said. No one who reads the closing words
of his confession could believe such a thing. Nay, I feel sure his end
Well, it may be so; I hope it is. But directly after his death my
grandfather's brother, the Wilfred he speaks so much about, sent for my
father. What he said to him I do not know, but from that time he became
as one possessed of the devil. He married, and although his wife was my
mother, and it is hard to say it, she made his life terrible to bear.
They had several children, all of whom died at an early age, excepting
me. Everything to which my father put his hand, seemed accursed, and
every life he touched he blighted. Although, before he died, my
grandfather had put the property on a firm and secure basis, my father,
in spite of himself, let a great deal of it slip out of his hands.
Disappointed in life, he drifted away into sin, and died with his mouth
full of curses, a raving maniac. After his death I of course succeeded
him. True, I do not need money, but a great part of the estate is gone,
while the whole of the Morton estate has passed from my hands.
To the other branch of the family. Before my father's death,
Wilfred had secured the whole of my grandmother's estate, and a great
deal of mine, as he spoke his eyes lit up with an angry flash.
And does the enmity still exist?
Ay, does it? Man, I tell you the hatred is not one-sided now. I
have prayed to love, and I cannot; if hatred can make a man liable to
come under a curse, I am that man. There is bitter undying enmity
between us. Our family has been looked on by them as robbers of their
rights, and enemies of their peace. Wilfred taught his children to look
on us so, as he swore he would, and the feeling exists to-day.
He paused a second and then went on.
And now they gloat over the fact that the old Trewinion Manor shall
be theirs, the place they have coveted so long, and that I shall pay
for my father's sins by dying an accursed death. I am the last of the
heirs, and, according to them, am of the third generation, my
grandfather being accounted by them as the first who really felt the
curse. Do you see now why I fear? I saw my father die, and the legend
says that my death shall be worse than his. Even now I can hear shrieks
of despair, and his unavailing cries for peace and comfort, and that I
am to die a death worse than that is maddening to think.
I saw that he had been feeding his morbid imagination by brooding
over these things, and that living alone in that lonely old house of
weird associations must have led him to live such an unnatural life
that he had become a confirmed monomaniac.
But why should you be the last of your race? And why should you
give way to these dread fancies?
Why should I be the last of my race? he repeatedah, man, you do
I know that you could wed some pure-minded woman who would drive
thoughts of the curse away, even such a one as your grandmother, the
Ruth whom I read of in the confessions.
And do you think I could marry? Let me tell you. When I was about
five and twenty I determined that I would not succumb to dark feelings.
I went into society, and I fell in love with an angel. Ay, she was an
angel, and it is she who makes me believe there is a heaven, for I am
sure such a soul as hers could never die. Well, my love was returned,
and I laughed at all thoughts of the curse, and soon I was wedded to my
darling. For three years I was in Heaven. My life was full of joy and
gladness, and Alice was as happy as I. But at the end of that time
every hope was dashed to the ground, every joy was stamped out of my
life. And why? I have not spoken of this for many a long year, but I
feel a relief in being able to speak about it now. A year after we were
married, a baby was born to us, a bright, bonny boy, and we called him
Roger, the old family name. My joy knew no bounds, and I breathed
defiance against my enemies. How could there be a curse, I said, when
God had given us such a boy? Ah, how we loved him, Alice and I, how we
watched him as, day by day, he grew in strength of body and mind! A
year passed by and all was well, still another passed and nothing
seemed to darken our sky. Our boy was now two years old, and was strong
and healthy, while my wife and I looked forward to long years of
But the curse had been laid upon my race, and it crept upon us like
a crawling poisonous serpent. Just after our boy's holiday he was
missing. We searched for him high and low, we scoured the country side,
but we never saw him alive again.
What became of him? I asked anxiously.
A week after we missed him some fishermen discovered the body of a
child, bruised and beaten beyond recognition, but still wearing clothes
similar to those worn by our boy. And thus we concluded, that he must
have strayed and fallen over the cliff.
I felt it useless to speak. Words, I knew, would only add to the
suffering caused by the awakening of these bitter memories.
It broke our hearts, he continued, hoarsely, after a minute's
silence. Soon I saw that grief was killing my wife. God only knows how
I prayed for her. I consulted all the best physicians; but it was no
use, in three months sorrow killed her, andI was left alone.
He laid his head on the table, while sobs shook his mighty frame,
and for minutes he did not speak. Mastering himself at length, he
continued, more calmly.
Then I shut myself up here. I dismissed all the servants save the
two you have seen, and have for years refused to mix with my fellows. I
grew churlish and bitter. I talked strangely, until stories were
circulated about me, wild and foolish, of course, but still making me
become more a misanthrope than ever. Why I gave you admittance
yesterday I do not know, but acting on sudden impulse I did so, and
then was led to allow you to see those confessions, and still further
to relate my story. Now do you believe in the curse? Now do you believe
that, remorseless as fate, it is dogging me, and will dog me, until,
mad with despair, and taunted by powers of darkness, I go away into
No, I answered, I do not.
Curses such as that do not exist, as your grandfather half
perceived. You would not believe in anything of the sort but for your
unhealthy and lonely life. Go out into God's sunshine, lead a healthy,
vigorous life, and your dark fancies will dispel like mist in the
He shook his head sadly.
Nothing can turn the curse aside now, he said, only one thing
could ever have done so.
And what is that?
If my son had lived and married, and children had been born to him,
then I should not be the last of my race, and the curse must go.
But why may not you marry again?
I marry! he exclaimed. Man, much as I fear the horrible death
that I daily think about, I would rather bear it than that another
woman should take the place of my Alice. No, no, that can never be!
Then go out into the world and mix with your fellow creatures, I
said, I believe that even this visit of mine will do you good.
Your visit yesterday did do me good, he answered, and I hope to
see you again soon. The old place shall ever be open to you. Come when
you like. I think you could make me forget some of the dark things of
life. But now about the publishing of these confessions. Can it be
For a time we talked the matter over, and after a while I drew him
on to converse about other things until he became comparatively
Will and I finished our tour around the Cornish coast, and then I
came back to London, and made arrangements for the publication of the
manuscript which had been given to me for that purpose.
I had re-written all that was necessary, and had corrected the last
proof sheets from the printers, when I recollected that we were near
the date on which I had promised to go to Trewinion Manor. I must
confess that, sitting in my rooms in London, weary with the amount of
work I had done, the thought of spending a few days among the scenes in
which I had been led to take so much interest, was very fascinating to
me, and I eagerly began to make preparations for going.
Two days before the time for starting, I received the following
DEAR , I must ask you to delay your visit a little whilehow
long I hardly knowyet. I have received information, which has every
evidence of being true, that my son is not dead. I have no time to go
into details now, but I pray God, ay, I even hope, that there is yet
happiness in store for me. Indeed, I feel like saying, with one of my
ancestors of whom you have read, 'There is no curse, God is love!' Yet,
I am naturally terribly anxious, and I leave Trewinion to-day to verify
the information, and please God to bring home my son! The very thought
is Heaven! Ah, dear God, may it be so!
I will let you know all later on, for I have come to feel that you
are my friend, and ifif all is well, I will give you such a welcome
as man never had before.
I shall be doubly glad to see the 'confessions' printed, if my
hopes are realised.
Anxiously, yet hopefully.
I have finished my work. I have told how I came by the strange
history here given, and, without sacrificing altogether the quaint and
characteristic Cornish vernacular, I have endeavoured to tell the tale
in homely English, and, as far as possible, in the spirit of the time
in which the events herein narrated passed.
Of the final outcome of the matter mentioned in the letter just
quoted, it is not for me to say anything now. It may be that at some
future time I shall have an opportunity of following still further the
fortunes of the Trewinion family; but, in laying aside my pen for the
present, I must express my feelings of thankfulness that hope had
dawned in the sky of the lonely man whom I met in the old house on the
THE END OF EPILOGUE