HotFreeBooks.com
Roger Trewinion
by Joseph Hocking
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Frontispiece: "She lifted her skinny arm above her head."]



ROGER TREWINION

By

JOSEPH HOCKING

Author of "All Men are Liars" "The Scarlet Woman" "A Flame of Fire" etc. etc.



ILLUSTRATIONS BY GUNNING KING



LONDON

WARD LOCK & CO LIMITED

1905



BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

ALL MEN ARE LIARS FIELDS OF FAIR RENOWN ISHMAEL PENGELLY THE STORY OF ANDREW FAIRFAX JABEZ EASTERBROOK THE MONK OF MAR-SARA ZILLAH: A Romance WEAPONS OF MYSTERY MISTRESS NANCY MOLESWORTH THE BIRTHRIGHT: A ROMANCE AND SHALL TRELAWNEY DIE? THE SCARLET WOMAN THE PURPLE ROBE THE MADNESS OF DAVID DARING LEST WE FORGET O'ER MOOR AND FEN GREATER LOVE ESAU FOLLOW THE GLEAM A FLAME OF FIRE THE COMING OF THE KING



CONTENTS

CHAP.

PROLOGUE I THE PROPHETIC WARNING II THE WITCH'S WARNING III THE MARCH OF EVENTS IV THE WRECK ON THE "DEVIL'S TOOTH" V THE SHAPING OF EVENTS VI LINK TO LINK VII THE WITCHES' CAVE VIII THE BEGINNING OF THE END IX OMENS OF DARKNESS X THE GATHERING DARKNESS XI THE CALL TO RENOUNCE XII NIGHT XIII A WANDERER XIV "A HOME ON THE ROLLING DEEP" XV THE VOICE OF THE SOUL XVI AFTER LONG YEARS XVII REVENGE! XVIII HELL! XIX TOWARDS RUTH'S GRAVE XX "VISIT HER TOMB" XXI THE VAULT UNDER THE COMMUNION XXII THE VOICE OF THE DEAD XXIII THE SHADOW OF EVIL'S REWARD XXIV CAIN XXV THE VOICE OF A FRIEND XXVI THE VOICE OF GOD XXVII WITHIN THE OLD HOME XXVIII TREWINION'S CURSE XXIX MOTHER AND SON XXX THE TRAIL OF THE SERPENT XXXI TO THE RESCUE XXXII TWO HEARTS XXXIII THE DAWNING OF THE MORNING EPILOGUE



ILLUSTRATIONS

"She lifted her skinny arm above her head." . . . . . . Frontispiece

"'Hurl him over!' said the devil within me."

"'What have 'ee got there?' he gasped."



PREFACE

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 days—well, 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 "up-side-down."

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.

JOSEPH HOCKING.

TREVANION, WOODFORD GREEN, The New Year, 1905.



PROLOGUE

I

The following story came to my knowledge under somewhat curious circumstances:—

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 feudal castle.

"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 stood there.

"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 him."

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?"

"Iss."

"Is there a parish church anywhere near?"

"Iss."

"Where?"

"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.

"Five."

"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:

"Trewinion Manor."

"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 reply.

"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.

"None."

"Nor you wa'ant say nothin' to un ef I tell 'ee?"

"Not a word."

"Well, then, ould Squire Trewinion do live there."

"Alone?"

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?"

"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 now—m—m—m!"

"Now, what?" I asked.

"Hunted!"

"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 us."

"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 story."

"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 resting-place to-night."

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 evil spirits."

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 behind us.

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 wealth.

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.



II

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 shuddering.

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, brusquely.

"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 that—that——"

"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; "and—well"—he stopped and mused a minute, and then, pointing to the bookshelves, continued—"I 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 need."

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?" he said.

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 a history——"

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 my face.

"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:

"THE CONFESSIONS

OF

ROGER TREWINION,

OF

TREWINION MANOR,

CORNWALL.

"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 Roger—I am called Roger—the last of my race. If—ah—if—but 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 life."

"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 originally wrote.

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 age.

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 thrown.

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 do—such as scaling the cliffs for rare plants, getting precious stones, and so forth—I 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 L100 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 times together.

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 scriptural.

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 together.

"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."

I shuddered.

"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 years—for she was scarcely seventeen—married 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 born—a son—the 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 eagerly.

"She lived many years with her son; lived with him, indeed, until she died."

"And he?"

"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 read:

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 outside—three 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 against us.'"

"'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 happily."

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 before—that 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 stimulated.

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 are 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.

"Why, Wilfred?"

"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 come."

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 possible.

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 sort."

"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 zee."

"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 look black."

"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 full grown!"

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 stranger——"

"Es a woman," said the old crone, "and a young woman. I cud tell—but 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 was well.

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 was it——stop!

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 know.

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 it."

"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 exactly——"

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 devil—that 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 circumstances.

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, half wheedlingly.

"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 to-night?"

"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 her.

"And ef you wadn't in the wrong, they'd make ee in the wrong between 'em."

"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 mother—that is—that—that 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.

"B—but," 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 'ee about."

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 to suffer."

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 help."

"Let me go with you. Is it a large one?"

"No, and I am afraid that my friend's child is in her."

"What child?"

"Did you see that horseman this morning, Roger?"

"Yes, father."

"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 child."

"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 the room.

"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 stand that!"

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 minute.

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 'Devil's Tooth.'"

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 terrible name.

"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 TOOTH."

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 perishing.

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 unnecessary danger.

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 one.

"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 reached.

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 black waves!

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 the vessel.

"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 me.

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 you?"

"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 out:

"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 her."

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 deck."

"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 the rock."

"And she, father, the—the—one 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 rest.

"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 well."

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 um?"

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. —Joanna Baillie.

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 sea.

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 ease.

"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.

"How?"

"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 meaning.

"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?"

"Yes."

"And no doubt she was exceedingly anxious to glorify the hero who saved her."

"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."

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse