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Title: The Birthright
Author: Hocking, Joseph, 1860-1937
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Birthright" ***

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THE BIRTHRIGHT

BY

JOSEPH HOCKING

AUTHOR OF "ALL MEN ARE LIARS"


NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
1897

COPYRIGHT, 1896, BY JOSEPH HOCKING

BURR PRINTING HOUSE, NEW YORK.

[Illustration: "I MADE A LEAP AT SAM LIDDICOAT."]


CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I
                                                     PAGE
TELLS HOW THE PENNINGTONS LOST PENNINGTON               1


CHAPTER II

TELLS HOW I, JASPER PENNINGTON, TRIED TO GET MY OWN    15


CHAPTER III

HOW I WAS ROBBED OF ELMWATER BARTON; HOW I FLOGGED
THE TRESIDDERS, AND WAS PILLORIED BECAUSE OF IT        28


CHAPTER IV

I ESCAPE FROM THE WHIPPING-POST, AND FIND MY WAY
TO GRANFER FRADDAM'S CAVE                              44


CHAPTER V

I SEE NAOMI PENRYN ON ROCK CALLED THE SPANISH
CAVALIER, AND RESCUE HER--WE ESCAPE FROM THE
TRESIDDERS                                             59


CHAPTER VI

I DISCOVER ANOTHER CAVE, AND HEAR A CONVERSATION
BETWEEN RICHARD TRESIDDER AND HIS SON                  74


CHAPTER VII

I HEAR RICHARD TRESIDDER TELL NAOMI PENRYN'S
HISTORY, AND AM IN DANGER OF BEING KILLED BY
SMUGGLERS                                              87


CHAPTER VIII

I GO TO KYNANCE COVE WITH CAP'N JACK TRUSCOTT'S
GANG, AND MEET HIS DAUGHTER TAMSIN                    100


CHAPTER IX

WHAT HAPPENED AT CAP'N JACK'S HOUSE--TAMSIN'S
CONFESSION, AND THE SMUGGLERS' PLANS                  114


CHAPTER X

WHAT BECAME OF THE WRECKERS' LIGHT--HOW I ESCAPED
AND ENTERED PENNINGTON                                127


CHAPTER XI

I SEE NAOMI PENRYN, AND AM GREATLY ENCOURAGED,
BUT SOON AFTER AM TAKEN PRISONER                      141


CHAPTER XII

HOW MY LOVE SAVED ME--WHEN FREE I GO TO SEA, AND
MONTHS LATER COME BACK TO BETSEY'S COTTAGE AND
HEAR BAD NEWS                                         155


CHAPTER XIII

BETSEY FRADDAM AND CAP'N JACK MEET--I GO TO
FALMOUTH AND MEET NAOMI--AFTERWARD I SEE MR.
JOHN WESLEY                                           170


CHAPTER XIV

I AM TAKEN PRISONER, AND AFTERWARD EXPERIENCE
MANY STRANGE THINGS--I AT LENGTH FIND MYSELF IN
A DUNGEON                                             185


CHAPTER XV

MY EXPERIENCE IN MY PRISON--I AM TOLD TERRIBLE
NEWS ABOUT NAOMI                                      200


CHAPTER XVI

I HEAR A STRANGE NOISE IN MY PRISON--THE SECRET
PASSAGE WHICH I FOUND--A WILD STRUGGLE, AND A
HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE                                    214


CHAPTER XVII

TELLS OF THE MANNER OF MY ESCAPE, OF THE STRANGE
MAN I MET, AND OF ELI'S STORY OF A BURIED TREASURE    228


CHAPTER XVIII

HOW I LEFT BEDRUTHEN STEPS AND, AFTER MEETING
TAMSIN TRUSCOTT, SOUGHT FOR NAOMI                     241


CHAPTER XIX

TELLS HOW I CLIMBED THE WALL OF THE MANOR HOUSE
GARDEN, AND WHAT I SAW                                254


CHAPTER XX

HOW I FELLED A HORSE WITH MY FIST, AND CARRIED
NAOMI SOUTHWARD                                       269


CHAPTER XXI

HOW I TOOK NAOMI TO MULLION PORTH AND THEN STARTED
WITH ELI TO FIND THE TREASURE                         282


CHAPTER XXII

HOW I FOUND THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE, AND WENT
TO THE SCILLY ISLES                                   295


CHAPTER XXIII

HOW WE FOUND THE IRON BOX ON ANNETTE ISLAND, AND
THE TERRIBLE ENDING TO OUR ADVENTURE                  309


CHAPTER XXIV

TELLS OF THE STRANGE REVELATION MADE BY THE MADMAN
OF BEDRUTHEN STEPS, AND OF TAMSIN TRUSCOTT'S
TREACHERY                                             323


CHAPTER XXV

HOW WE WENT TO PENNINGTON, AND HOW THE TRESIDDERS
WON THE VICTORY                                       337


CHAPTER XXVI

TELLS OF MY FORTUNES IN WINNING BACK MY
BIRTHRIGHT, AND FINISHES THE TALE                     351



THE BIRTHRIGHT



CHAPTER I

TELLS HOW THE PENNINGTONS LOST PENNINGTON


I am writing this story at the wish of many friends, who tell me it is
my duty so to do. Certain stories have been afloat, which are anything
but true, and it has been urged upon me again and again to set down in
plain terms the true history of events which have set people's tongues
wagging. I must confess that, in spite of the pleasure I have in
recalling the memories of past years, it is with great diffidence that I
at last commence my work. Not because I have any difficulty in
remembering what took place. My memory, thank God, is as good as ever,
and the principal scenes in my history are as clear to me as if they
happened yesterday. It is not that. The truth is I was never clever at
putting things on paper, and somehow, while the facts are clear enough
in my mind, I feel a great difficulty in relating those facts in a way
that is clear and understandable. You see I have lived an open-air life,
and have spent more hours with the bridle-reins in my hands than the
pen, and although I had a fair amount of schooling I was never
considered a quick learner.

Still, as John Major said to me only yesterday, it seems a duty to
clear up certain matters which are altogether misunderstood, and what is
more, to clear my name from scandal. Moreover, as he truly insisted,
there are others besides myself upon whom clouds rest, and one
especially about whom the truth ought to be told.

"People are saying," asserted John Major, "that the land you call yours
is not yours by right, and that in order to get your will you were in
league with the devil. It is also said that you broke the laws of God
and man in your dealings with your relations, and that Parson Inch
refuses to give you the right hand of fellowship until you can prove in
a fair and straightforward way that you are not the man some take you to
be."

Now I am quite aware that many things have happened to me which happen
to but few men. I know, too, that I have had experiences which, to say
the least of them, are strange, neither am I sure that I can explain
certain matters to Parson Inch's satisfaction. At the same time I am not
afraid of the light, and so I am determined to set down truthfully, to
the best of my ability, the true account of those events in my life
which are misunderstood, so that no stigma shall rest upon those who are
as dear to me as my own heart's blood.

Let it be understood, however, that I make no pretence at fine writing,
neither must it be expected that I, who never boasted great learning,
can explain that which has puzzled Parson Grigg, who was in the parish
before Mr. Inch came--aye, even puzzled the Bishop himself who came to
visit the rectory some years since. All I undertake to do is to put down
in plain, homely words the story of my life, in so far as it affects my
good name and the good name of those who are associated with me. It may
be that I shall have to touch upon matters peculiar to the part of the
country in which I was born and reared, and to which I am proud to
belong. As far as I can I will make them clear; but even concerning
these I will make no great promises.

To begin at the beginning then, for I must do this to make everything
clear, and I desire above everything to make matters plain. My father,
Jasper Pennington, died when I was nineteen, leaving me as I thought
Elmwater Barton, a farm of about three hundred acres. I am called Jasper
too; indeed, for generations back there has always been a Jasper
Pennington. Elmwater Barton is by no means a bad farm. Nearly all the
land is under cultivation, and the house is roomy and substantial. You
must not imagine, however, that the Barton is the principal place in the
parish of St. Eve. Far from it. The parish contains twelve thousand
acres, and is, on the whole, the richest parish in Cornwall, and so
three hundred acres do not count much. Up to the time of my father
living at Elmwater Barton the place had always been held by a family of
yeomen by the name of Quethiock, respectable people, of course, but not
regarded as gentry. No, the principal house in St. Eve is Pennington,
which, when my father died, was owned by Richard Tresidder. My father
was born at Pennington, and my grandfather and great-grandfather were
born there; indeed, the estate, which is a very valuable one, has been
owned by the Penningtons for many generations.

The question, therefore, naturally arises, How did a Tresidder get into
the possession of the estate which has always belonged to the
Penningtons? It is well to explain this because evil tongues have told
lies concerning it.

My father's mother died soon after his birth, when my grandfather was a
comparatively young man; and when my father was about five years old,
his father called him into the library one day, and told him that it was
his intention to give him a mother.

"A mother?" said my father, "you told me my mother was dead."

"Yes, she is," said my grandfather, "and is in heaven if ever it is
possible for a woman to get there; that is why I want to give you
another, Jasper, one who will take care of you better than I can."

"Will she be kind to me?" asked my father.

"That she will," was the reply; "but more than that, she will bring you
a brother, who is about your own age, and he will be a playfellow for
you."

My father was greatly pleased at this, and so he welcomed his new mother
very eagerly, thinking all the time, of course, of his new playfellow.

The lady my grandfather married was a widow. Her husband, Richard
Tresidder, had been a lawyer in Falmouth, but he had died of cholera
about four years after my grandmother died. Her little boy, too, was
called Richard, or Dick, as they named him for short, and in a little
while the two boys became friends.

Now the widow of lawyer Tresidder brought my grandfather no property at
all, not a pennypiece, but she brought a great deal of discord instead.
She was always jealous for her son, and she hated my father. The very
sight of him used to vex her, especially as after several years she did
not bear my grandfather a son. There were three daughters born, but no
son, which greatly disappointed my grandfather, and made his wife
exceedingly bitter toward my father.

As years went by it seemed to be the great purpose of her life to cause
quarrels between the father and son, and at the same time to show up the
excellencies of her own son, Richard Tresidder. I suppose the wisest and
best men are clay in the hands of women; at any rate, such has been my
experience in life, especially if that woman is clever, and has a will
of her own, which latter quality few women are short of. Anyhow, after
many years, she succeeded in setting my grandfather against his only son
Jasper. How she managed it I don't know, for my grandfather always had
the name for being a just man, but then, as I said, what can a man do
when a woman gets hold of him? Just before my father was twenty-one this
widow of Tresidder got her husband to make a new will. She persuaded him
to let her husband's brother be present when Mr. Trefry, the old family
lawyer, was writing the document, and a good many hard words passed even
then.

You see, Mr. Trefry couldn't bear to see my father defrauded, and yet he
had no right to interfere. The upshot was that the will gave my father
the sum of £500, while all the Pennington estates were to be held in
trust for Richard Tresidder. This of course seems very strange, but it
goes to show how a woman can twist a man around her finger when she sets
out to do it. There was a clause in the will, however, which my
grandfather, in spite of James Tresidder, who was also a lawyer, would
have inserted. I think the old man's love for justice, and perhaps his
love for his son, caused him to have a mind of his own in this case, for
in the face of lawyer Tresidder's objections and his wife's entreaties
he stood firm. The clause was to this effect--that if Jasper Pennington
or his heirs were ever in a position so to do, they could demand to buy
the Pennington estates, as they existed at the date of the will, at half
the value of the said estates. And that in the case of such an
emergency, five representatives of five county families be asked to make
the valuation. My grandfather further stipulated that none of the
Pennington lands should be sold at any time for any purpose whatever.

Now, the widow of Tresidder greatly objected to this, and even after it
was duly signed did her utmost to get my grandfather to have this clause
expunged. But the Pennington blood asserted itself, and although he had
given way to his wife in such a degree that he had almost disinherited
his son, he still held to this clause.

Not that it could be worth anything to my father. How could he, with
only £500, expect to gain many thousands?

As I said, the will was made some few months before my father was
twenty-one, and it was stipulated that he was to receive the £500 on his
twenty-first birthday.

And now comes a stranger part of the business. About a week before my
father came of age, my grandfather grew angry at what he had done. The
thought of his only son being disinherited in favour of a stranger just
because a woman had twisted him around her finger made him nearly mad.
He saw now what his wife had been aiming at for years; he saw, too, that
the quarrels he had had with my father were of his wife's making; and
anxious to do justly, he wrote a letter to Mr. Trefry telling him that
he desired his presence at Pennington, as he wanted to make a new will,
which should be duly signed and sealed before his son Jasper's
twenty-first birthday. This letter was given to a servant to take to
Truro. Now this servant, like almost every one else she had in the
house, had become a tool of the solicitor's widow, and there is every
reason to believe she saw the letter. Be that as it may, before Lawyer
Trefry reached Pennington, my grandfather, who the day previous had been
a hale, strong man, was dead, and the doctor who was called said that he
died of heart disease.

My father, however, believed that his father had been poisoned, or in
some other way killed, because the woman he had married feared that he
would make a new will in favour of his son Jasper.

And now I have told why Pennington, which had been in the possession of
the Penningtons for many generations, passed out of our hands, and
became the property of the Tresidders.

After my grandfather's funeral £500 were paid to my father, and he was
ordered with many bitter words to leave the home of his fathers. The
clause in the will to which I have referred, however, comforted him
greatly. He was young and strong, and he determined to save up enough
money to get back the Pennington estates according to the provisions
laid down. At that time Elmwater Barton was to let. Old Mr. Quethiock,
who had just died, had left one son who had a shop in Falmouth. This son
did not like farming, and he willingly agreed to let the Barton to my
father, who spent nearly the whole of his capital in stocking it.
Meanwhile, Richard Tresidder lived in state at Pennington, and sneered
at my father, who toiled hard at the Barton, and thus, if my father
hated Richard Tresidder, was it to be wondered?

Now, joining the Pennington lands are those belonging to the Lantallick
estates, which belong to the Archer family, a family as old as the
Penningtons and as greatly respected. Squire Archer had five sons and
one daughter, and my father, who was always friendly with the people at
Lantallick, visited the house often, and all the more because he loved
Mary Archer. Concerning Mary Archer I will pass no opinion. I will only
state facts. I have been told that she was a beautiful young woman, and
that my father loved her dearly. Indeed, it was generally understood
that he should marry Mary when he came of age. It has been said, too,
that Mary was simply crazy in her love for my father; but about that I
have my doubts.

Not long after my father settled down at Elmwater Barton, he asked Mary
to be his wife, and it was then that Squire Archer told him to leave the
house, and informed him, moreover, that his daughter would be shortly
married to Richard Tresidder.

"But," said my father, "Mary has promised to be my wife, promised again
and again."

"And do you think," asked the Squire, "that I would allow my only
daughter to marry a tenant farmer, a wild young scamp that his father
disinherited? Leave the house, I tell you!"

I have heard that Mary pleaded with her father, but I will not vouch for
the truth of that. Certain it is that some time after she became married
to Richard Tresidder.

Thus it was that Richard Tresidder robbed Jasper Pennington not only of
his home and lands, but his love.

Now, my father prospered at Elmwater Barton. He was a clever man, and
fortune favoured him. He began to lay by money, and he farmed the land
so well that folks said he would in a few years, by the blessing of
God, have enough to buy back the Pennington estates, according to the
terms of his father's will. This was told Richard Tresidder and his
mother one day, and they both laughed. About this time my father's
cattle began to die. No one could explain why, but die they did, until
many rumours were afloat, and people whispered that the cattle were
bewitched. Anyhow, it was asserted that Richard Tresidder had been seen
talking with Betsey Fraddam, the witch, while many delicacies had been
taken to Betsey's cottage from Pennington.

Now, as I said, there will be many things in this narrative which I, an
unlearned man, cannot explain. Still, I must tell of matters as they
occurred, this, among others, especially as my relations with Eli
Fraddam, Betsey's son, have been condemned by Parson Inch. It is said
that the Fraddam family has witchcraft in its veins. Anyhow, it is well
known that Betsey was regarded as a witch, while Eli, her son--but of
the poor gnome I will tell later on.

My father tried everything to cure his cattle, but could not, and what
was more perplexing was the fact that other people's cattle in fields
adjoining suffered not at all. In a few months he was driven to
extremities; he saw his chances of buying back his old home slipping
through his fingers, and what maddened him most was that whenever he
passed Richard Tresidder, the man who lived on his estates, laughed him
in the face.

One day my father was in a field adjoining the Pennington lands when he
saw Richard Tresidder.

"Well, farmer," said Tresidder, with a sneer, "and how are you getting
on?"

Whereupon my father accused him of having dealings with Betsey Fraddam,
and told him he was a black-hearted knave, and other things concerning
himself, which maddened Richard Tresidder so that he jumped over the
hedge that divided them and struck my father with his heavy riding-whip.

Now the Penningtons have always been a large-limbed, powerful race, and,
while they have been slow to anger, they have--thank God--always had a
strong sense of what is just, and have always been regarded as brave
men. Richard Tresidder was a slim, wiry man, and, while strong and
agile, was no match for a man who, when he hadn't an ounce too much
flesh, weighed over eleven score pounds. What my father would have done
by him I know not, but while he was in the act of thrashing him two of
Tresidder's men came up, and thus the business ended, at least for the
time. A little while later my father was summoned for attempted murder.

The affair was the talk of Cornwall for some time--at least, that part
of Cornwall--and most people thought my father would be hanged. The
magistrates, who knew the Penningtons and liked them, however, did not
allow this; but he had to pay Tresidder a sum of money which, unless he
were helped, meant his utter ruin.

Again had Richard Tresidder and his mother, who, I believe, was behind
all this, got the upper hand of my father, and again by unfair means.
Was it a wonder, then, that Jasper Pennington should regard them as
enemies? Was it any wonder that I, when I came to know about these
things, should feel bitterly?

After the sentence was passed my father, wondering what to do, went to
see Betsey Fraddam, the witch.

"Betsey," said my father, "tell the truth about my cattle. You can't
harm me, because I'm the oldest son, indeed the only son, but I can
harm you. Did Tresidder hire you to ill-wish the cattle?"

"Jasper," said Betsey, "ded 'ee bait un--ded 'ee bait un, now, right
bad? Zay you ded, now."

"Yes, I did," said my father. "I'm glad the two men came up, or I should
have murder on my conscience, and that's not right, even when the man is
your enemy."

"But you ded bait un! Aw! aw! Jasper; ther's they that can kill, an'
ther's they that can cure. Some can do both."

"You can, Betsey."

"P'raps I can, Jasper. Ave 'ee seed my boy Eli, Jasper?"

"No," replied my father.

"Then come in and zee un--come in, Jasper," and she led the way into the
cottage.

My father, who told me this years after, said he should never forget the
curious feeling that came over him as he saw Betsey Fraddam's son. He
looked even as a child like an old man, and he had a wild look in his
eyes that made him shudder.

"He 'ed'n wot you may call a purty cheeld, es a, then?" asked Betsey.

My father did not reply.

"Well, we ca'ant expect for Betsey Fraddam to 'ave purty cheldern, can
us, then?"

My father was still silent, for Betsey had a strange way with her that
made people afraid. Even I can remember that.

"You may have a son some day, Jasper."

"No," said my father.

"But you may," said Betsey, "you may; I do'ant main nothin' wrong,
Jasper. Margaret Quethiock es well off, and her father do oan the
Barton. Think about it, Jasper. And then ef you do ever have a son,
you'll tell 'im to be kind to Eli, wa'ant 'ee now, Jasper?"

"Yes," said my father, wondering all the time why he should give the
promise. And that was all the conversation they had together at that
time, for my father told me, and he was always a truthful man. But his
cattle got better from that time, and as Mr. Quethiock, of Falmouth,
lent him £300 he was able to tide over his difficulty.

A little while later my father married Margaret Quethiock, and the
fortune that her father gave her was £200, besides the £300 he had
borrowed, and Elmwater Barton rent free during her lifetime. If she died
before my father, the question of rent was to be considered. They had
been married about two years when I was born; but my mother died at my
birth, so I never knew a mother's care and love.

My grandfather Quethiock said nothing about rent after my mother's
death, but my father did not become a rich man. Somehow things were
constantly going wrong with him, and he was in endless trouble about
money matters. It was his stepmother, he told me, who was constantly
persecuting him, because she feared his getting rich, while her son, who
enjoyed my father's wealth, had all sorts of people ready to do his
will. Only for him to hint at a thing, and his satellites would do it.
Thus, one day a herd of cattle would get into a cornfield and destroy
it; and on another, without any apparent reason, a corn-mow would catch
fire. We could never trace it to them, but we always knew by the
jeering laugh on Tresidder's face when he passed us who was the cause of
our trouble.

All this shortened my father's life. When I was nineteen, at the time
when he should have been in his prime, he was a worn-out old man; and
so, when sickness overtook him, he had no strength to fight against it.
It was during this sickness that he told me some of the things I have
written, and also informed me of other matters which will be related
later.

I was with him shortly before he died, and then he said to me very
earnestly, "I leave you Elmwater Barton, Jasper, for I don't think your
grandfather Quethiock will ever charge you rent, and he told me it
should be yours completely at his death; but your real property is
Pennington, my boy. Now I want you to make me a promise."

"I will promise anything in my power, father," I said.

"Then," he replied, quietly, "I want you to promise me that you will
never rest until you get back your own. Never rest until you are back at
Pennington as master and owner. You have been robbed, my son. I have
tried to get your rights and have failed, but you must not fail."

"No, father, I will not fail," I replied. "I will never rest until I
have got back Pennington."

"And never trust a Tresidder, Jasper; they are all as deep as the
bottomless pit, and as cruel as the fiend who rules there."

"I hear, father," was my reply, "and you shall be obeyed."

This was in the month of July, in the year 1737, when I was nineteen
years of age.

What I have to tell is how I tried to get back my home, of the battles
I had to fight, of the love which came into my heart, of many mysteries
which I cannot explain, and of the strange experiences through which I
passed in seeking to obey my father's will.

Whether I shall be believed or no I cannot tell, but I will tell only
the truth, strange as it may all seem. Moreover, let God be the judge
whether my quarrel with the Tresidders was not a just one, and whether I
did not fight fairly, as every honest man should.



CHAPTER II

TELLS HOW I, JASPER PENNINGTON, TRIED TO GET MY OWN


I do not think I have as yet mentioned it, but Richard Tresidder--I mean
the man who entered into my father's possessions--had three sons and one
daughter, and each of these was brought up with the thought that I was
their natural enemy. Of course, they were informed that my grandfather's
will provided the means whereby I, if I were sufficiently fortunate,
could buy back the estate at half its valued worth. And they were in
constant suspense about it. If I were to marry a rich wife it could be
done; if I were to have some stroke of fortune their home might be taken
from them, they having only a given sum of money. And thus it was to
their interest to keep me poor, as well as to damage my reputation in
the neighbourhood.

The eldest son was a year or more older than I, and was, of course,
respected as the heir to the Pennington lands, for it is strange how
people's sympathies veer around on the side of the people who are in
power. My father has told me many times how, when he was thought to be
the prospective heir of Pennington, people could not make enough of him,
while Richard Tresidder had but scant courtesy paid him. When it became
known that my father was disinherited, no matter how unjustly, these
same folks discovered that Richard Tresidder was a very mine of wit and
goodness, while my father was made a butt for fools' jokes.

And so I discovered that my being a Pennington counted but for little,
while it seemed to be forgotten that but for the wiles of a clever,
selfish woman, I should be the Squire of the parish.

When I was old enough I was sent to Tregony grammar school, my father
being determined to give me a schooling befitting the position he hoped,
in spite of his misfortunes, I should some day occupy. Now Nick
Tresidder had been attending this same school for some months when I
went. For this I was very glad, because I thought it would give me an
opportunity for testing him. I had not been in the school a week,
however, when my father came to fetch me away. The reason was that
Richard Tresidder had demanded it, as he would not allow his son to be
educated at the school where the son of a tenant-farmer was admitted. He
told the schoolmaster that he had two other sons whom he intended to
send, but that he should immediately withdraw his patronage if I were
not sent away.

All this angered me as well as my father, but there was no help for it,
and I was sent to Probus instead, where the education was as good, but
where I had no chance of meeting the Tresidders.

I have said that Elmwater Barton was a good farm, but I must confess to
looking longingly at Pennington. This was in the nature of things very
reasonable on my part, for I always looked upon it as my home. But
besides this, I doubt if the whole country can present a stretch of land
so fair, or a house so pleasantly situated. There may be bigger and more
imposing houses, but there are none more comfortable. Besides,
Pennington faces a beautiful glen that is about half a mile wide. I know
of no grass as green as that which grows there, or of trees so fine and
stately. Besides, the river which winds its way downward, and which
sometimes runs side by side with the drive leading from the house to the
main road, is the most beauteous stream of water I ever saw. Then
sloping away from this glen are wooded hills, the sight of which in the
early summer time is enough to make a man sing for joy; and in addition
to all this, while standing at the main entrance of the house you can
see the blue sea, say a mile and a half away. I, who have seen something
of the world, say there is nothing finer in the way of green and
pleasant land, while all the world knows that nowhere are cliffs so fine
and the sea so blue as that which is to be seen in this part of my
native county. Besides, all that land from the house where my father was
born right to the sea belongs to the Pennington estates, while at the
back of the house it stretches just as far, and just as fair.

One day--it was before my father died--I had climbed Trescowal Tor, just
to feast my eyes upon so much loveliness, when I saw Richard Tresidder
walking with his mother toward the Pennington woods. Now a great desire
came into my heart, not to see Tresidder, but to speak to his mother,
whom I knew to be the evil genius of my family. And so I made my way to
the woods, and stood in the pathway as they came up.

They both knew me, not only through my likeness to my father, but
because of my size, for it is well known that the Pennington family on
the male side are at least six inches taller than the ordinary run of
men.

"Do you know you are trespassing?" asked Tresidder.

"My name is Jasper Pennington," I said, proudly.

"Then get off my lands at once," he said, sternly, and with a black
look.

"Not until I have had a good look on the man and woman who have robbed
my father and me," I said--and I knew I had aroused the devil in them as
I spoke. For the woman who had robbed us fairly glared at me, while
Tresidder grasped his stick as though he would strike me. The woman was
nearing seventy, but she was strong and hale, and her eyes flashed like
those of a young girl. I saw, too, that she must have been handsome when
she was young. I marked the cruel, resolute expression of her mouth, and
I did not wonder at the difficulty my grandfather had in resisting her.

"I will have you put in the stocks, and then taken to the lockup, if you
are not gone at once," said Tresidder, savagely.

"I will give your three sons the chance of doing this," I said, with a
laugh. "Three Tresidders against one Pennington isn't bad in fair fight.
Of course, where cunning and cheatery comes in I should be nowhere. Or
perhaps," I continued, "you would like to try yourself. I am only
eighteen, and you are in the prime of your life; still, I should be
pleased to give you the chance."

But he laid no hands on me; instead, he put a whistle to his mouth and
blew.

"Yes," I said, "get some one else to do the work you are afraid to try
yourself; that's a Tresidder all over. Well, I'll go now; I've had a
good look at you both, and I shall know you again."

With that I turned and walked away, for, if the truth must be told, I
did not care about fighting with Tresidder's minions, and my father had
told me many times to be careful.

The path was very crooked, and the foliage was very thick, so that I had
not gone more than a few steps before I was out of their sight. Acting
on the impulse of the moment, I stopped and listened.

"A regular Pennington," I heard the old woman say. "You must be careful,
Richard, for he has more brains than his father. He has all the good
looks of the family, too. We must be silent about all our plans, for if
he knows he will spoil them. Remember the will."

"I do remember; that is why I am anxious about our boys. Still, there
can be no fear, and it will not be so very long before we shall get her.
That settled, and Nick will be all right."

I heard no more after that, but I wondered often what he meant. I told
my father, too, but he could give me no hint toward the solution of
Tresidder's words.

After my father's death I ceased to think so much of Pennington; for I
had Elmwater Barton to look after. I was determined to make the farm
pay, and now that all the responsibility rested on me, I made up my mind
that the Tresidders should not play fast and loose with me, as they had
done with my father. In order to do this I looked carefully around me
for a man in whom I could trust; for, be it remembered, this was a very
difficult matter. My father had engaged two hinds, and each of these had
been bribed by the Tresidders to injure his property. You see, his
enemies had almost supreme power in the parish, and they used it to his
injury. Still, I knew that the Tresidders must have enemies as well as
other people, and it was for me to find out who they were. This I had no
great difficulty in doing. A man named William Dawe had farmed a place
named Treviscoe, on the Pennington estate, and the poor fellow had
several seasons of bad luck. One year his turnip crop failed; the next
the foot and mouth disease got hold of his cattle; and the next, during
the lambing season, he lost a great number of sheep. Indeed, so bad was
his luck that he was unable to pay his rent. Perhaps Tresidder would
have been lenient with him but for two things: one was that he had
refused to take sides with him against my father, and another was that
when Nick Tresidder insulted William Dawe's daughter the farmer gave him
a thrashing. The end of all this was that William Dawe was sold up, and
even then he was not free from all his difficulties.

One of the first important things I did after my father's death,
therefore, after a serious conversation with the farmer, was to lure him
to come to Elmwater Barton, with his wife and son and daughter, in order
to manage the farm. I do not think in all my life I have ever seen a man
so grateful.

"Will you come, William?" I asked, when I told him what wages I could
afford to give.

"Come, Maaster Jasper, come! I reck'n I will! Why--" And then he caught
at my hand, and behaved in a way that made me think for the time that I
was serving him only, and not myself at all.

In a few days William was settled down at the Barton, and right well did
he arrange for the harvest, and right hard did both he and his son work
for me. Indeed, both William and his son George seemed ready to work
their arms off for me, and were both anxious to serve me night and day.
George Dawe was a strapping fellow of twenty-five, nearly as tall and
strong as myself, though not quite. This was proved one day when we
wrestled down in the calves' meadow. I had hard work to master him, for
George had taken the wrestling prize at St. Eve's Feast for three years
in succession. I was proud to have thrown him, especially as I had not
yet got my full strength, not being twenty years of age. George had had
a varied experience. He had been to sea in a trading vessel, and, if the
truth must be confessed, had done a fair amount of smuggling. Be that as
it may, George Dawe loved me like a brother, and nothing was too much
for him to do for me. Thus I regarded myself as very fortunate. Eliza
Dawe, too, was a careful, sensible woman, while Selina, her daughter,
was a strapping, healthy wench who could do as much work as two ordinary
women.

Now, I say this was a great help to me, for they all watched my
interests closely.

"Lev any ov the Trezidders try any ov their dirty capers now," said
George to me, "and we'll laive 'em knaw."

Those who know nothing about farming can have no idea what a great
amount of harm a seemingly little mistake can do. Suppose, for instance,
there are two ten-acred fields side by side. Suppose the month is early
July, when the corn has nearly reached its full height, and the heads
have all bursted ready to ripen. Well, suppose, again, that one of these
ten-acred fields has barley, or oats, or wheat, while the other is a
browsing field in which twenty or thirty head of cattle are feeding.
Then let some evil-disposed person open the gate between these two
fields, and the thirty head of cattle get into the cornfield--what
happens? Why, £20 worth of damage can be done in a single night. And
things like this were often happening in my father's days, and thus he
was kept poor.

But things changed after I got George Dawe on the Barton. His eyes
seemed to be everywhere, and always in my interests.

Let me give one example (and then I will soon get on to my story proper)
how George Dawe saved me a large amount of money, and at the same time
helped me to teach the Tresidders a lesson.

It was the June after I had got William Dawe's family to live with me.
We had had several dry weeks, so that the fields had become parched and
bare, and we were anxious lest the sheep should not have enough grass.
One field had been planted with vatches, which, as every farmer knows,
grow quickly and are cut for the horses.

"William," I said to Dawe one day, "I am afraid we shall have to
sacrifice a hay field. The browsing fields are all brown; the sheep
can't get enough to eat. We must be careful not to turn them there when
the dew is on the grass, though, or they'll get vlayed."

"I wudden trouble, Maaster Jasper; ship c'n nibble a lot on a dewy
mornin', and we sh'll git rain zoon, I reck'n."

"Well, as you think best; but I fancy we'd better turn the biggest lot
into the 'Sheeps' Close' to-night." The "Sheeps' Close" was the name of
one of the best meadows, which at this time was very bare owing to the
long spell of dry, hot weather.

Well, I had to ride to Truro that afternoon, so I did not get home till
late at night. I found George Dawe waiting up for me.

"Anything the matter, George?" I asked.

"Iss, ther es, Maaster Jasper."

"What?" I asked.

"The Trezidders be up to the ould gaame. When I wos comin' 'ome from St.
Eve two or dree 'ours agone, I 'eared young Nick plannin' ev it weth
Buddle."

"Explain, George," I said.

George told his story, with the result that we made our way to the
"Sheeps' Close" and hid behind the hedge. Just before dawn--that is,
about three o'clock in the morning--we saw two men coming toward the
gateway. We saw them unfasten the gate and open it wide, then we heard
one say to the other, "Now let's fetch up the sheep, and the fool will
be worth a bit less money in a few hours."

Then they went away, and in a little while we heard them "whishing" up
the sheep. George closed the gate, and we both waited until they came
up. There were a hundred and seventy-five sheep in the flock, and they
brought them up for the purpose of turning them into the vatches. Here
they would be knee-deep in rank vegetation, and the poor things, glad to
get to such juicy meat, would eat ravenously. The result of this would
be that they would get filled with wind and would swell horribly, and if
not immediately relieved would die a painful death. If the design
succeeded in this case I should be hundreds of pounds poorer before the
men would be at their work.

It may be imagined, therefore, that my blood was pretty hot, and that my
feelings toward the Tresidders were not those of a lover, and I will
leave it to any fair-minded man whether my anger was not reasonable.

As I said, George and I waited by the gate until they came up. The sheep
came close to the gate, as if waiting to be let in, and the two men
stood behind, not knowing, evidently, why the poor creatures did not go
to their death.

"What's the matter, Jacob?" asked young Nick Tresidder.

"Dunnaw, aw'm zure," answered Jacob, who was the eldest son of
Tresidder's "head man" and the worst rake in the parish. "Lev us go up
an' zee."

So they came up, as we expected they would.

"Why, the gaate es cloased and apsed!" cried Jacob. "The devil must 'a
'bin 'ere."

"Nonsense," said Nick, "you couldn't have opened it; you must have been
dreaming. There, open it."

"You tackle Nick Tresidder, an' I'll 'ave a go with Buddle," said George
to me, in a whisper; "he's allays a-braggin' as 'ow 'ee c'n bait me. Now
then, jump out!"

At this we both leaped forward. I took Nick Tresidder by the scruff of
the neck, while George gripped Buddle like a blacksmith's vice.

The sheep jumped away frightened, while these two blackguards cried out
as if the judgment day had come.

"Es et the devil?" asked Buddle.

"No," I roared out, "it isn't the devil; we're not related to you in any
way, and your master won't help you."

By this time they found out who we were, and began to wriggle finely.

"Look you, Nick Tresidder," I said; "the law will do nothing for us, so
we are going to take the law in our own hands."

"What do you want?" asked Tresidder.

"Nothing unfair," I said. "We are man to man. You are on my land, and
you were doing a trick worthy only of the devil, your master. We will
wrestle fair, as becomes Cornishmen, and you must show no mercy, for as
God is above me I'll show none."

Now I will do these men justice. They were not afraid of us, and when
they knew that we were people of this world and not ghosts from the
other, they showed no desire to run away. Nick Tresidder was a year
older than I, while Buddle always sneered when folks said that George
Dawe was a better man than he. Besides, they both saw that we did not
mean playing at wrestling.

But Nick Tresidder, Tresidder-like, was not fair; he jumped upon me
before I was ready, a thing always regarded as cowardly at a wrestling
match. I saw in a minute, too, that he knew the tricks of the art, and
were I not a wrestler, too, and a strong man to boot, my arm must have
been broken before I could put forth my strength. This angered me more
than I like to be angered, for now, when we were to meet man to man, I
felt not so bitter about the sheep. So I put forth all my strength and
made him let go his vantage hold, then I put my arm around his chest,
and right glad was I when I found him a strong man; so I played with him
for the pleasure of wrestling, just as any true Cornishman will. But I
was wrong in doing this. My father had told me never to trust a
Tresidder, and I did trust him to wrestle fairly, even although he had
tried to kill my sheep. While I wrestled, merely for the pleasure of
wrestling, I felt a stab at my side, and I knew that a knife had entered
my flesh just under my arm.

"You are a coward, Nick Tresidder," I said, "a coward in every way;"
then, not knowing whether I was dangerously wounded or no, I played with
him no longer, for a man cannot bear everything. I caught him in both my
arms and lifted him from the ground; then I wrestled in earnest. I heard
one of his ribs snap, but he did not cry out, then another, and he
became but a child to me; so I let him go, and he staggered away like a
drunken man.

"Now go home and tell your father what you have done," I said, "and tell
him who you found in Elmwater Barton 'Sheeps' Close.'"

Then I turned to George, who was still struggling with Buddle, and who,
just as I came to him, threw him heavily.

"George," I said, "I have been stabbed. Just tie this cloth tightly
around my chest."

"The coward!" said George, panting; "but where es a, Maaster Jasper?"

"He won't wrestle any more for a month or two," I replied; "but I would
not have hurt him so if he had not stabbed me."

So there, in the early morning light, while the birds began to sing, and
the sheep tried to find food on the dewy ground, George Dawe tied a
cloth tightly across my naked chest, and I could not help wincing at the
pain. Just as he was finishing, Jacob Buddle got slowly up from the
ground. He had been badly stunned, but no bones were broken.

"Look after your master," I said; then I saw the knife with which Nick
had stabbed me lying on the ground. "There," I said, "you know that
knife, I expect; your master used it while we wrestled."

But Buddle was dazed, and did not reply. So when I had put on my coat I
went to Nick Tresidder, who was very faint and unable to walk, so ill
had he become. Then my heart softened, and together we took him up to
Pennington, and Buddle, who was by this time better, said he could
manage him.

The next day I heard that Nick Tresidder had fallen from his horse and
broken his ribs, and Dr. Hawke, who had been called in, said that he
must remain in bed many days. But of this I am sure, although neither
George Dawe nor I said a word, Richard Tresidder knew the truth.

Now I have told this, not because I delight in such things, but because
I want it to be known how I was treated, and what I had to contend with,
for this was but a sample of the many ways in which the Tresidders had
tried to harm me. I have often wondered why they felt so evilly toward
me, seeing that they were rich at my cost, and I have come to the
conclusion that it is a law of human nature for a man to hate those whom
he has treated unjustly. But I am an unlearned man, and the heart of
man--and woman--is past finding out.

And now I must tell how, in spite of myself, I was drawn more and more
into contact with the Tresidders, with other matters which strangely
affected my life later on.



CHAPTER III

HOW I WAS ROBBED OF ELMWATER BARTON; HOW I FLOGGED THE TRESIDDERS, AND
WAS PILLORIED BECAUSE OF IT


A month after the event I have just related I was walking down toward
the sea, for my wound, which was but slight, had healed up, when,
passing by Betsey Fraddam's cottage, I saw the old woman sitting by the
door mending a garment.

"'Ere, Maaster Jasper, I want 'ee," said Betsey.

So I went toward her, not caring to offend her. Now I am not a
superstitious man, neither did I ever believe in some of the stories
told about Betsey. At the same time, I knew better than to offend her.
Even Parson Grigg was civil to her, and admitted that she had powers
which could not be trifled with. It is also a fact that she had cured
some of my cattle which had been stung by adders, by charming them,
while, on the other hand, my father believed that she had, at Richard
Tresidder's bidding, ill-wished his cows. She had on several occasions
cured terrible diseases which the doctor from Falmouth said were
incurable, and I have heard it said that when Mr. John Wesley visited
Cornwall, and was told about her, the great man looked very grave, and
expressed a belief in her power. This being so, it is no wonder I did
not like to offend her; neither had I any reason for doing so. She had
been kind to me, and once, when I had scarlet fever, gave me some stuff
that cured me even when Dr. Martin said I should be dead in a few hours.
Besides, according to my father's promise, I had been friendly with Eli,
her son. Now, Eli was several years older than I, but he never grew to
be more than about four feet high, and was the most ill-formed creature
I have ever seen. He had bow legs, a hump back, and was what was called
"double-chested." His thick black hair grew down close to his eyes,
which eyes, in addition to being very wild and strange-looking, were
wrongly set, so that no one could tell which way he was looking. He was
rather sickly-looking, too, and was thought to be very weak. But this I
know to be wrong. Eli, ill-formed as he was, was much stronger than most
men, nature having endowed his sinews with wondrous hardness and powers
of endurance. Eli did no work, but lived by poaching and begging food at
the farmhouses. As Betsey's son he was never refused, especially as some
believed he had inherited his mother's powers.

Well I entered the cottage and sat on a wooden stool while Eli sat in a
corner of the open fireplace and looked at me steadfastly with one eye,
and with the other saw what was going on out in the road.

"Well," said Betsey, "and so you found out what Nick Tresidder wanted to
do, then? An' I 'ear as 'ow you've nearly killed 'im."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"How do I knaw? How do I knaw everything? But you'll be paid out,
Maaster Jasper! Tell y' Dick Tresidder 'll pay 'ee out. I c'n zee et
comin'."

"See what coming?" I asked.

"Look 'ee, Maaster Jasper; 'ave 'ee bin to zee yer Granfer Quethiock
lately?"

"No."

"Then you be a vool, Jasper--tell y' you be a vool. Wy, 'ee's nearly
dead; he may be dead by now. What 'bout the Barton, Jasper? 'Ave 'a
willed et to 'ee?"

At this my heart became heavy. Up to now no rent had been charged, and I
hoped that my grandfather would make it over to me. My uncles, I knew,
did not like me.

"Old Mester Quethiock es dead, es dead, es dead," said Eli, in his
funny, grunting kind of voice.

"How do 'ee knaw, Eli?" asked his mother.

"I knaw, I knaw," grunted Eli, and then he laughed in his funny way, but
he would tell nothing more.

"What ought I to do?" I asked, for I felt a great fear come into my
heart, although my father had told me that my Grandfather Quethiock
meant to give me the Barton.

"Go and zee, go and zee," said Betsey.

So I went back home and saddled my mare and rode to Falmouth. When I got
into Falmouth town I saw an ironmonger whom I knew, and he looked as
though he would speak, so I stopped my horse.

"Well, and so yer poor gran'father is gone," he said.

"Is he?" I replied; "I did not know till now."

"Iss, he's gone, and a good man he wos, too. His two sons, yer uncles,
'ave been waitin' a long time to git into his shoes. Ah, there'll be a
change now! Th' ould man was the soul of generosity; but the sons, Peter
and Paul, nobody'll be able to rob one to pay the other of they two. But
I 'ear as 'ow you'm safe, Maaster Jasper. The Barton es yours, I'm
told."

This cheered me, so I rode on toward my grandfather's house. Just
before I got there I saw my two uncles coming down the street, and with
them was Richard Tresidder. I checked my horse and watched them, and saw
that they entered a lawyer's office, and the lawyer who owned it was the
son of the man who was present when Lawyer Trefry drew up my
grandfather's will.

I got to know nothing by going to my grandfather's house, save to find
out the day of the funeral, which was fixed for three days later, and
which I attended. After the funeral was over the will was read, and the
lawyer who read it was Nicholas Tresidder, a bachelor after whom young
Nick was called.

Now, I do not pretend to be a learned man, but I do love honesty, and I
do say that the will was drawn up to defraud me. Neither do I believe
that my grandfather ever intended the words written down, to read as the
lawyer said they read, for he had told my father that Elmwater Barton
was to be left to me. According to Lawyer Tresidder, however, the whole
of my grandfather's property was left to his two sons, Peter and Paul
Quethiock, and it was left to their generosity as to whether I, his
grandson, Jasper Pennington, should remain at the Barton free of all
rent, and whether the land should be eventually mine. Thus, according to
the lawyer's explanation, it was left to my uncles' generosity and
judgment as to whether my grandfather's desire should be carried out. I
desired that this part of the will should be read again, but so many
words were used that I had difficulty in making head or tail of it. All
the time I noticed that my uncles looked very uneasy.

Now, I know that my grandfather was very fond of me, and in spite of
the fact that I had been robbed of my rightful heritage, he was proud
that he had a Pennington for a grandson. Thus I am sure that it was his
will that I should have the Barton for my own. But during the last few
years he had been very feeble and infirm, and thus in the hands of a
clever lawyer he could easily be deceived as to what was legal.

I will not attempt to give a lengthy account of what followed. Indeed, I
have not a very distinct remembrance. I was not long in seeing what was
in the minds of my two uncles, and I quickly realised that they had been
in league with the Tresidders; and so, feeling that it was their
intention to defraud me, I became dazed and bewildered. I have a
confused recollection of asking some questions, and of the replies
given, and after hearing them I left the house, with the consciousness
that I was not the owner of Elmwater Barton, but a tenant liable to be
dismissed by my uncles, both of whom were, I was sure, tools of Richard
Tresidder.

Still, I determined not to give up without a struggle, so I rode to
Truro that same day and saw Lawyer Trefry, the son of the old lawyer who
drew up my grandfather's will. He listened to my story very attentively,
and when I had finished declared that Nicholas Tresidder was a clever
fellow.

"I think it is possible you may have a case though, Jasper," he said; "I
think you may have a case. I will see to it at once. I will examine the
will, and if there is a chance you may depend that I will seize on it.
But remember this: Nicholas Tresidder is a clever fellow, and when he
sets his mind on a thing it's a difficult thing to find him napping."

That night I went back to the Barton with a sad heart, speaking not a
word to any one. I longed to ease my pain by denouncing the people who
sought to work my ruin, but in spite of William Dawe's anxious
solicitations I held my peace. It is true Lawyer Trefry gave me some
little hope, but I did not sleep that night, and for the next few days I
wandered around the farm like one demented. Presently I saw Lawyer
Trefry again, and I knew directly I caught the look on his face that my
case was hopeless.

"Nicholas Tresidder is a smart fellow," he said, with a grunt, "a very
smart fellow. There is no doubt but that your grandfather meant you to
have the Barton--not the slightest doubt; but then, you see, it is not
legally yours. Let us hope that your uncles will abide by your
grandfather's evident desire and make it yours."

But I had no hope of that, and I shook my head sadly. "As well expect
water from a stone," I said. "For a long time I have wondered why
Richard Tresidder should be so friendly with Peter and Paul Quethiock;
now I know. He has been for years trying to ruin me, and now he has
accomplished it."

"How old are you?" asked Lawyer Trefry, suddenly, as though a new
thought had struck him.

"Twenty next month," I replied.

"Bah! why did not old Quethiock live a month longer?" grunted the
lawyer.

"Why, what would have been the use?" I asked.

"Use? Why, if you could prove that you had held the land for twenty
years, you could lawfully claim it as yours."

And thus everything was against me, and although we talked over a dozen
things together, no ray of light came to cheer the darkness.

The next thing that happened was the event of a letter which I got from
Nicholas Tresidder, the Falmouth lawyer. This letter was to the effect
that as I was neither a lawful tenant of Elmwater Barton, nor the owner
thereof, I must immediately vacate the place, as Paul Quethiock intended
to take possession thereof immediately. I had expected this, and had
been for days trying to value the stock on the place. As I have before
stated, I was barely twenty years of age, and although my father had
appointed as my guardians two neighbouring farmers, they took but little
interest in my affairs--indeed, I do not think they understood what
their duties were. Anyhow, they took no steps to help me, neither did
they interfere with me in any way.

On the receipt of this letter, which was brought from Falmouth by
messenger, I saddled my mare, and immediately rode to see Lawyer Trefry.

He read the letter very carefully, and then asked me if I had received
nothing else.

"Nothing," I replied; "what is there else to receive? They have taken
away the farm, they have ordered me to leave it; now I am come to you to
arrange with James Trethewy and John Bassett about selling the stock. I
suppose the crops will have to be valued, too, and a lot of other
matters before I can realise on my property."

He looked very grave, but said nothing for some time.

"I will do what I can at once," he grunted, at length; "but believe me,
Jasper, my boy, Nicholas Tresidder is a clever dog--a very clever dog.
He's been set to work on this bone, and he'll leave nothing on it--mark
my words, he'll leave nothing on it."

"He _has_ left nothing," I replied; "I doubt if the stock will fetch
very little more than the £500 my father spent when he took Elmwater
Barton from my Grandfather Quethiock."

Lawyer Trefry shook his head and grunted again; but he made no remark,
and so I left, thinking that I knew the worst. I imagined that when the
stock was sold I should be worth several hundred pounds, and with this
as a nucleus, I should have something to give me a fair start.

And so the day of the sale of the stock on the Barton was fixed, but
before that day came another letter was brought by a messenger of Lawyer
Nicholas Tresidder from Falmouth. This letter stated that as no rent had
been paid since the death of Margaret Pennington, the heirs of the late
Peter Quethiock claimed six years' rent, as they were entitled to do by
the law of the land.

I knew now what Lawyer Trefry meant when he said that Lawyer Tresidder
would pick the bone clean. He had seen this coming, while I, young and
ignorant of the law, had never dreamed of it. Old Betsey Fraddam had
said that Richard Tresidder would pay me out, and he had done so now.
Six years' rent would swallow up the value of the stock, and would take
every penny I possessed. Thus at twenty I, who, but for the fraud and
deceit of the Tresidders, would be the owner of Pennington, would be
absolutely homeless and penniless. Then for the first time a great
feeling of hate came into my heart, and then, too, I swore that I would
be revenged for the injury that was done to me.

Again I went to Lawyer Trefry, and again he grunted.

"I expected this," he said; "I knew it would come. Nick Tresidder is a
clever dog; I was sure he would pick the bone clean."

"And there is no hope for me?" I asked, anxiously.

"You will have your youth, your health and strength, and your liberty,"
he replied. "I do not see how they can rob you of that; no, even Nick
Tresidder can't rob you of that!"

"But the rest?"

"It will have to go, it must all go; there is no hope for it--none at
all," and the lawyer grunted again.

I will not describe what took place during the next few weeks--there is
no need; enough to say that all I had was taken, that I was stripped of
all I possessed, and was left a homeless beggar.

As Lawyer Trefry told me, they had done their worst now, at least for
that time. Richard Tresidder had been undoubtedly working in the dark
for years to accomplish this, and in his kinsman the lawyer he had found
a willing helper. It was plain to see, too, that it would be to Peter
and Paul Quethiock's advantage to try and take the Barton from me. It
was a valuable piece of land, and would enrich them considerably. There
was no difficulty, either, in seeing Richard Tresidder's motives. He had
wronged me, and, as I said, it seems a law of life that a man shall feel
bitterly toward one he has wronged; and besides all that, his safety lay
in keeping me poor, and to this end he brought all his energies to bear.

When it was all over I think I became mad. While there was a straw to
which I could hold I managed to restrain myself, but when the last was
broken I think I gave myself over to the devil. I behaved in a way that
frightened people, until even those who were inclined to be friendly
avoided me. By and bye only one house was open to me, and that was old
Betsey Fraddam's. It was true I visited the taverns and beershops in the
neighbourhood, and formed companionships with men who years before I
despised; but Betsey Fraddam's house was the only one open to me which I
could regard as anything like a home. Even Betsey grew angry with me,
and would, I think, have bidden me leave her doors but for her son Eli,
who seemed to love me in a dumb, dog-like sort of way.

"Why doan't 'ee roust yerzelf up, Jasper?" she would say. "Spoase you be
put upon, spoase Squire Trezidder 'ave chaited 'ee--that ed'n to zay you
shall maake a maazed noodle of yerzelf. Roust yerzelf up, an' begin to
pay un back."

"How can I do it, Betsey?"

"'Ow? Better do a bit a smugglin' than do nothin'."

"Yes; and isn't that what Tresidder wants? If he can get me in the
clutches of the law that way it will just please him. Mad I am, I know,
but not mad enough for that."

"Then go to Plymouth, or go to Falmouth, my deear cheeld. Git on board a
shep there, an' go off to some furrin country and make a fortin."

"There are no fortunes to be made that I know of, Betsey; besides, I
don't want to get away from St. Eve. I want to stay here and keep my eye
upon Tresidder."

"And what good will that do? You ca'ant 'urt 'ee by stayin' 'ere. 'E's
too clever for you; he c'n allays bait 'ee while you stay 'ere,
especially when you do behave like a maazed noodle."

"Very well, Betsey. I will leave your house," I said after she had been
talking to me in this fashion one day; "I can manage to live somewhere."

"Jasper mus'n't go 'way," said Eli; "Jasper stay with me. Ef Jasper go
'way, I go 'way. I help Jasper. I knaw! I knaw!" and then the poor gnome
caught my hands and laughed in a strange way which was half a cry.

And so, because Betsey loved Eli with a strange love, and because Eli
clung to me with a dog-like devotion, I made Betsey's cottage my home.
Plan after plan did I make whereby I might be able to make Richard
Tresidder and all his family suffer for their behaviour to me, but I saw
no means. What could I do? I had no friends, for when I left Elmwater
Barton William Dawe and his family left the parish. For a long time I
could not make up my mind to ask for work as a common labourer in a
parish where I had been regarded as the owner of a barton. It seemed
beneath me, and my foolish pride, while it did not forbid me to idle
away my days and live in anything but a manly way, forbade me to do
honest manual work. But it would have made no difference even if I had
been less foolish, for when I on one occasion became wiser, and sought
work among the farmers, I was refused on every hand. The fact was, every
one was afraid to offend Richard Tresidder, and as every tenant farmer
in the parish was in his power, perhaps their conduct was reasonable.

And thus it came about that my manhood slipped away from me, and I
became a loafing outcast. I would have left the parish but for a
seemingly unreasonable desire to be near Richard Tresidder, who day by
day I hated more and more. I know I was mad, and forgot what was due to
my name in my madness.

When a year had gone, and I was nearly twenty-one years of age, there
were few more degraded sights in the parish than I. My clothes had
become worn out, and my whole appearance was more that of a savage than
of anything else. People said, too, that the look of a devil shone from
my eyes, and I saw that people avoided me. And as I brooded over this,
and remembered that I owed it all to the Tresidders, I vowed again and
again that I would be revenged, and that all the Tresidder brood should
suffer a worse hell than that through which I passed.

Nothing cheered me but the strange love of Eli Fraddam, who would follow
me just as a dog follows its master. When I could get a few pence I
would go to the alehouse and try and forget my sorrow, but I nursed my
anger all the time, and never once did I give up my dreams of harming
the Tresidders. I write all this because I want to tell my story
faithfully, and because I will give no man the chance to say that I
tried to hide the truth about my feelings toward my enemies.

The day before my twenty-first birthday I was loafing around the lanes
when I saw Richard Tresidder and his son Nick drive past me. They took
the Falmouth road, and, divining their destination, I followed them in a
blind, unreasoning sort of way. As I trudged along plans for injuring
them formed themselves in my mind, one of which I presently determined I
would carry into effect. It was the plan of a savage, and perhaps a
natural one. My idea was to wait outside the town of Falmouth, to waylay
them, and then to thrash them both within an inch of their lives. I
remember that I argued with myself that this would be fair to them. They
would be two to one, and I would use nothing but my fists.

When I got into Falmouth I spent the few pence I possessed in food, and
then I made inquiries about the time they would return. I discovered
that they intended to leave the George Inn about five o'clock in the
evening, so I spent the time loafing around the town, and repeating to
myself what I would do with them both that night.

About three o'clock in the afternoon, however, my plans became altered.
As I stood at a street corner, I saw Richard Tresidder, with his son
Nick, besides several other gentlemen, coming down the street. Scarcely
realising what I did, for the very sight of him made me mad, I went
toward them, and as Richard Tresidder came up I spat in his face.

"Who's a thief? Who's a cheat? Who got Pennington by cheatery and
lying?" I shouted.

"Get out of the way, you blackguard," cried Nick Tressider, the lawyer.

"I'll not get out of the way," I cried; "I'll tell what's the truth. He
killed my grandfather; he hocussed him into making a false will, and he
and you have robbed me. Ah, you lying cowards, you know that what I say
is true!"

Then Richard Tresidder lifted his heavy stick and struck me, and before
the bystanders knew what had happened there was a street brawl; for I
struck Richard Tresidder a heavy blow on the chin which sent him reeling
backward, and when his son Nick sprang upon me I threw him from me with
great force, so that he fell to the ground, and I saw the blood gush
from his nose. After that I remember nothing distinctly. I have a dim
recollection of fighting madly, and that I was presently overpowered and
taken to the lock-up.

I remained in the lock-up till the next morning, when I was taken
before the magistrates. I don't know what was said, and at the time I
did not care. I was angry with myself for not biding my time and
flogging the Tresidders in the way I had planned, and yet I was pleased
because I had disgraced Tresidder--at least, I thought I had--before the
whole town. I have an idea that questions were asked about me, and that
one of the magistrates who knew my grandfather said it was a pity that a
Pennington should come to such a pass. Richard Tresidder and his friends
tried to get an extreme sentence passed upon me, but the end of it all
was that I was sentenced to be pilloried for six hours, and then to be
publicly flogged.

Soon after I was taken to the market-place, where the pillory was set
up, and I, in face of the jeering crowd, was tied to a pole. Then on the
top of this pole, about six feet from the platform on which I stood, a
stout piece of board was placed, which had three hollow places cut out.
My neck was pressed into one socket and my wrists in the two others.
Then another stout piece of board, with hollow places cut out to
correspond with the other, was placed on the top of it. This pressed my
neck very hardly, and strained it so that I could hardly breathe; it
also fastened my hands, and hurt my wrists badly. I know of nothing
nearer crucifixion than to be pilloried, for the thing was made
something like a cross, and my head and arms were crushed into the piece
of board which corresponds with the arms of a cross in such a way that
to live was agony.

And there I stood while the jeering crowd stood around me, some howling,
some throwing rotten eggs at me, and others pelting me with cabbage
stumps and turnips. After I had stood there about three hours some one
came and made the thing easier, or I should not have lived through the
six hours, and after that time, the mob having got tired of pelting me,
I was left a little time in peace.

When the six hours were nearly up, I saw Nick Tresidder come to the
market-place with two maidens. One I saw was his sister, the other was a
stranger to me. I knew they had come to add to my shame, and the sight
of them made me mad again. I tried to speak, but the socket was too
small, and I could not get enough breath to utter a word. Still, anger,
I am sure, glared from my eyes as I looked at Nick and his sister; but
when I looked at the other maiden, a feeling which I cannot describe
came over me. She was young--not, I should think, quite eighteen--and
her face was more beautiful than anything I have ever seen. Her eyes
were large and brown, while her hair was also brown, and hung in curls
down her back. Her face, thank God! was not like that of the Tresidders;
it was kind and gentle, and she looked at me in a pitying way.

"What has he done?" she asked, in a voice which, to me, was as sweet as
the sound of a brook purling its way through a dell in a wood.

"Done!" said Nick Tresidder. "He is a blackguard; he nearly killed both
me and my father."

She looked at me steadfastly, and as she did so my heart throbbed with a
new feeling, and tears came into my eyes in spite of myself.

"Surely no," she replied; "he has a kind, handsome face, and he looks as
though he might be a gentleman."

"Gentleman!" cried Nick. "He will be flogged presently, then you will
see what a cur he is."

"Flogged! Surely no."

"But he will be, and I wish that I were allowed to use the whip. Why, he
belongs to the scum of the earth."

By this time I felt my degradation as I had never felt it before, for I
felt that I would give worlds, did I possess them, to tell her the whole
truth. I wondered who she was, and I writhed at the thought of Nick
poisoning her mind against me.

Seeing them there others came up, and I heard one ask who this beauteous
maiden was.

"Don't you know?" was the reply. "She is Mistress Naomi Penryn."

"What is his name?" asked this maiden, presently.

"Can't you see?" replied Nick. "Ah! the eggs have almost blotted out the
name. It is Jasper Pennington, street brawler and vagabond."

And this was the way I first met Naomi Penryn.



CHAPTER IV

I ESCAPE FROM THE WHIPPING-POST, AND FIND MY WAY TO GRANFER FRADDAM'S
CAVE


No words can describe the shame I felt at the time. Before Naomi Penryn
came there and looked upon me I was mad with rage and desire for
vengeance. I longed to get to a place where I could meet the whole
Tresidder brood face to face. But now a new feeling came to me. Had I
not after all been a brute, and had I not acted like a maniac? For the
look on her face made me love goodness and beauty. I could do nothing,
however; my hands were numb, and my tongue was dry and parched. All I
was capable of at this moment was to listen and to look into the fair
maid's face, and feel a great longing that she might not despise me as
Nick Tresidder evidently intended that she should.

The crowd did not pelt me while she stood there; I think it was because
there was something in her presence that hindered them. Every one could
see at a glance that she was different from the host of laughing things
that cared nothing for my disgrace.

I waited eagerly for her to speak again; her words seemed to ease my
pain, and to make me feel that I, too, was a man in spite of all I had
suffered.

"Jasper Pennington," she said, presently; "why, Pennington is the name
of your house, Nick!"

"Yes," replied Nick, savagely.

"He's young, too," she continued, looking at me curiously, and yet with
a pitying look in her eyes.

Then I remembered I was twenty-one that day, and that my father had been
dead barely two years. Thus, on my twenty-first birthday, I was
pilloried as a vagabond and a street brawler, while this beauteous girl
looked at me.

"Where does he live?" she asked again, as though she were interested in
me.

"Up to a year ago he lived in St. Eve's parish," replied Nick. "He
managed to stay by fraud on Elmwater Barton; he was a brute then, and
tried to kill me. He would have succeeded, too, but for Jacob Buddle. I
hope the man who flogs him will lay it on hard."

She gave me one more look, and in it I saw wonder and pity and fear.
Then she said, "Let us go away, Nick. I do not care to stay longer."

"No, we will not go yet!" cried Nick; "let us see him get his lashes. He
will be taken down in a few minutes. There, the constables are coming."

I saw the tears start to her eyes, while her lips trembled, and at that
moment I did not feel the sting of the lies Nick had told.

The whipping-post was close to the place where the pillory had been set
up, and I saw that the constable held the rope with which I was to be
tied. Then two men came and unfastened the piece of wood which had
confined my head and hands. At first I felt no strength either to hold
up my head or to move my hands, but while they were untying my legs the
blood began to flow more freely, and I knew that my strength was coming
back. The ropes being removed I was allowed to stand a minute, so that
my numbed body might become sensitive to the lash of the whip, but I
thought not of it. I kept my eyes steadily on Naomi Penryn, and fed upon
the look of pity on her face. I knew that she must think of me as a
savage brute, and yet she felt kindly toward me. She did not ask to go
away again; she seemed to be held by a strange fascination, and watched
while the rope was fastened to the ring in the whipping-post. Then I saw
Richard Tresidder come up. He had a scar on his cheek, and from his eyes
flashed a look of anger, as though he gloated over the thought of my
shame and suffering. No sooner did she see him than she came to him and
asked that I might be spared the whipping, but Tresidder would not
listen to her.

"He deserves to be hanged, my dear," he said; "if such low fellows as he
are allowed to bully gentlemen in the streets, what is to become of us?"

Now this was hard to bear, for as all the world knows the Pennington
family is one of the best in the county, but I saw that he wanted to
embitter her mind against me.

Then I saw Lawyer Trefry come up, and two justices with him, and while
my old friend did not speak to me, I knew that he thought of me kindly.

"The lad hath been much provoked," he said. "I have known him as a good
lad for years, and but for unfair treatment, matters would be reversed."

At this two of the justices nodded their heads, while Richard Tresidder
called out for the constables to do their work, for he saw that people
began to sympathise with me.

Again I turned to Naomi Penryn, and as I saw the look on her face I
determined that I would not bear the lash. Not that I feared the pain of
body, but I could bear the degradation no longer. Then they lifted me
from the platform on which I had been standing, and the people could see
that my neck was cruelly discoloured, while my hands were blue.

"He hath suffered much," I heard it whispered, "and Squire Tresidder
hates him. He's a Pennington, and his father was robbed. Isn't he a
fine, strapping fellow; no wonder they are afraid of him."

This and other things I heard, until I knew that Lawyer Trefry had been
making the mob friendly; for I have noticed again and again that
ignorant people are easily changed from one state of feeling to another.

Now when I came to the whipping-post I began to look around for a means
of escape, and to think how I should deal with the two constables that
held me.

"Fasten him tight!" cried Richard Tresidder; then, just as the
constables released my hands in order to put the rope on me, I gave a
desperate struggle, and feeling great strength at that moment, I threw
the constables from me, and made a great leap through the crowd. Not a
man laid hands on me in spite of Richard Tresidder's commands, for which
I knew I had to thank Lawyer Trefry, who with others had changed the
feelings of the people. So I quickly got away from the town, and ran as
hard as I was able to the River Fal. I knew that I should be followed,
for I had not undergone my full penalty, and the law was on Richard
Tresidder's side, so I determined that I would get among the woods that
slope up westward from the river, and hide as best I might.

I knew I should be safe for the night, for the woods there were very
thick, and night would soon be upon me. My only fear was that my
strength would not hold out, for having eaten nothing for many hours I
was hungry and faint.

After more than an hour's running I reached the woods, and, as far as I
knew, little trouble had been taken to follow me, so having hidden
myself among some very thick branches I laid down and rested. Could I
have obtained some food I think I should have been fairly contented, for
I felt neither so angry nor friendless as I had felt in the morning.
Presently I heard a rustling among the bushes, and I fancied that my
pursuers must be near me, so I lay very quiet and listened, but could
hear no sound of human voices. So I became curious to know what made the
noise, and to my delight I saw a cow that had evidently strayed away
from its field, having probably got into the wood to be under the shade
of the trees, and away from wasp-flies. At first she was frightened at
me, but I had been used to cattle all my life, so I soon quieted her,
and she let me approach her. I saw that it was time for her to be
milked, so, making the palm of my hand into a cup, I got enough milk to
refresh me considerably and to give me strength to carry out any plans I
could make.

Scheme after scheme passed through my mind, but every one of them was
driven away by the memory of Naomi Penryn's face and the kind words she
had spoken. I knew that in going back to St. Eve I was going back to
danger, and yet I determined I would go. I wanted to be close to the
Pennington lands. I wanted to watch Richard Tresidder. Besides, I
remembered that Naomi Penryn was probably a guest at Pennington. Then I
began to ask myself why she should be with the Tresidders, and what
relationship she bore to them. For I did not know her at all. The name
of Penryn was well known in the county, but I did not know to what
branch of the family she belonged. What connection had she with Nick
Tresidder? Why should he bring her to see me that day? And what were the
Tresidders' plans concerning her?

It came to me suddenly. She was intended for Nick Tresidder. I
remembered the conversation I had heard between Richard Tresidder and
his mother, and I thought I understood its meaning. Then my heart gave a
wild leap, while hot blood rushed madly into my head, for I knew then
that a new life had entered mine. I felt that I loved Naomi Penryn with
a great love, and that this love would never leave me while my heart
continued to beat. For I had not been given to walking out with maidens;
my life had been filled with other things, and so the love I felt was
new to me--it filled my whole life, and every breath I drew increased
it.

For a long time I lay and dreamed of my love; I did not think of the way
in which she must have regarded me, neither did I for a long while
remember my degradation. I lived in happy forgetfulness of everything,
save the love-joy that filled my life. The birds fluttered hither and
thither on the twigs which grew so thickly around, and finally settled
to rest, while the insects ceased to hum as the night descended, but I
scarcely heeded them. I lay among the ferns, my head pillowed on a
moss-covered stone, and thought of Naomi Penryn. I did not care who she
was; I did not think. Why should I? For I believe that when God sends
love into our hearts, it does not matter as to name and lineage. I had
seen the flash of her eyes, and remembered the tear drops that
glistened. I had seen the beauteous face, so full of tenderness and
truth; I had heard her voice, sweeter than the sighing of the night wind
as it played among the wild flowers, and I cared for nothing else. Hour
after hour passed away, the woods became darker and darker, but I could
still see Naomi's face. Then the eastern sky became streaked with golden
light, and the birds sang to welcome the advent of day, but their songs
were not so sweet as the memory of Naomi's voice. For my love was the
gift of God, and I thought then only of what was beautiful and true.

But with the dawn of day other memories came to me. I thought of my
shame; I remembered that she had been told to regard me as a vagabond
and a street brawler. I knew that Nick Tresidder would seek to poison
her mind against me, and that even now I was being searched for that I
might be degraded by the lash of a whip; and then a great pain and
bitterness filled my heart, for I felt that my love was hopeless. While
I had rejoiced in loving I thought not of this, but after a time my love
became a desire, an overmastering desire to woo Naomi Penryn, to make
her love me as I loved her.

And this was hopeless. Had she not seen me pilloried as a shameful
vagrant? Had she not seen me persecuted, tormented--the byeword, the
laughing-stock for the offals of Falmouth town? Had I not been pelted by
refuse? Was I not made hideous by disfigurement? How could I win her
love? Then I hated the Tresidder tribe more than ever. They had robbed
me of my home, my heritage, my all, and now through them I must be
loathed by the one, the light of whose eyes burned into my heart like
fire. But more than all this she would be with Nick Tresidder day by
day. He would walk with her, ride with her, talk with her. They would
roam among the woods and pluck the wild flowers that should be mine,
while I--I was hiding from the men who held a whip to lash me.

These thoughts kept me from lying still any longer, so I got up and
walked along under the great trees until I came down to the river.
Perhaps the world can show more beauteous sights than the river which
runs between Truro and Falmouth, but I have my doubts. Nature here is at
the height of her loveliness and spreads her riches with no niggard
hand. For the clear water coils its way through a rich countryside,
where green woods and rich meadows slope down to the river's bank. Here
the flowers come early in the springtime, and scent the air through the
summer; and here, too, winter is tardy in making its appearance, as if
loth to shrivel the shining leaf, or to cause the gaily-painted flower
to wither and die.

Even I, as I stood by the river's bank at early sunrise, torn as my mind
and heart were with conflicting passions, was soothed by the blessedness
of the scene, for my heart lost something of its bitterness and love
became triumphant. But the feeling was not for long. As I stood by the
still water I saw the reflection of myself, and the sight made me more
hopeless than ever. I saw in the water a tall, wild-looking youth, with
bare head, save for a mass of unkempt hair; a face all scratched and
bruised, and made to look savage and repulsive by vindictiveness; the
clothes were dirty, bedraggled and torn, while the riding boots were
torn and muddy.

And Naomi Penryn had seen me thus--ay worse. I went to the river and
washed, and then looked at myself again. My face was still scratched and
bruised, but I had the Pennington features. After all, there was nothing
mean and cunning about them. The eyes were wild, and perhaps fierce, but
they were honest and frank still. The clothes were much worn and torn,
but the body they covered was strong and shapely. There was nothing weak
or shambling in those six feet three inches.

Then I remembered what I had been a year before, and what I had become
through injustice. Could I not make myself worthy? But how? I faced, or
tried to face, facts truthfully. I was without home or friends, if I
except the friendship of Eli Fraddam the gnome, who was at once despised
and feared on every hand. I had no money, I had no clothes. Moreover, I
had no means of getting any. I had no trade; I had no thorough knowledge
of anything save farming, and no farmer dared to hire me. It was true I
had some little experience of fishing, and could manage a boat fairly
well, but not well enough to gain a livelihood by such work.

And yet a love had come into my life for one who was tenderly nurtured,
one doubtless accustomed to abundant riches; I, who was an outcast, a
beggar. And I owed my poverty, my disgrace, to the Tresidders. Let God
who knows all hearts judge whether there was not an excuse for my
hatred. And yet, although the Tresidders had made my very love a seeming
madness, that same love made me see beauty, and led me to hope with a
great hope.

I turned my face toward Pennington, wondering all the while if I should
see Naomi again. For I called her Naomi in my own heart, and to me it
was the sweetest name on earth. I repeated it over to myself again and
again, and the birds, who sang to me overhead, sang to me songs about
her. And as I trudged along, I tried to think again how I should buy
back Pennington, not for revenge, but because of my love. But no ray of
light shone to reveal to me the way. I could see nothing for it but that
I, poor and friendless, must forever remain poor and friendless still.
And yet all the while birds sang love songs and told me of Naomi Penryn.

When I at length saw Elmwater Barton, I began to think of the steps I
must take for my immediate future. I had determined that I would live
within sight of Pennington, but how? Even Betsey Fraddam would be afraid
to give me shelter when she had heard the truth, for Betsey knew Richard
Tresidder's power. For let me tell here that while Betsey was much
sought after, she was hated by many. Betsey admitted to being a witch,
but claimed only to be a white witch. Now as all Cornish folks know,
there is a difference between a white witch and a black witch. A white
witch is one who is endowed by nature to cure by means of charms, and
passes and strange signs. She can also read the future, and find out
secrets about those who do evil. Thus a white witch is looked up to, and
her calling is regarded as lawful, even by the parsons, save of a very
few who are narrow in their notions. A black witch, on the other hand,
is said to have dealings with the evil one, and her power is only gained
by a signed compact with the king of darkness.

Now if Betsey were suspected of the evil eye, and of being a black
witch, her life might be in danger, and if Richard Tresidder as the
chief man in the parish were to turn against her, 'twould go hard with
her. Thus I knew that while Betsey did not love Tresidder she would do
nothing to offend him. Only her love for Eli caused her to give me a
home during the past months, and I knew that now she would not dare to
have me in her house.

Thus I made many plans as to what I should do, and presently I had made
up my mind. My plan was to go into a cave which I knew of, and spend my
days there, and by night I would go to Betsey's house and get food. I
should thus have shelter and food, and I should be near Pennington. I
should also have means of finding out whether Naomi Penryn stayed at
Pennington, as well as other matters which lay near to my heart. What I
should do when winter came on I knew not, neither could I tell how I
could make myself worthy of my love. I felt sure that Richard
Tresidder's great desire was to drive me from Cornwall, and thus be
freed from the sight of one who must always remind him of his fraud. As
for my getting back the home of my fathers, it was out of all question.

So I made my way to the cave. It was called Granfer Fraddam's Cave,
because he died there. Granfer Fraddam had been a smuggler, and it was
believed that he used it to store the things he had been able to obtain
through unlawful means. He was Betsey Fraddam's father, and was reported
to be a very bad man. Rumours had been afloat that at one time he had
sailed under a black flag, and had ordered men to walk a plank
blindfolded. But this was while he was a young man, and no one dared to
reproach him with it even when he grew old. When Granfer was alive the
cave was a secret one, and none of the revenue officers knew of its
existence. Only a few of Granfer's chosen friends knew how to find it.
It was said, too, that he died there while hiding from the Preventive
officers, and that ever since he had haunted the place, and that his
voice might be heard at night calling for food and water, and praying
for vengeance on the King's servants. Rumour also reported that he died
a terrible death, because no clergyman or man of God could get near to
help him from the clutches of the Evil One. As far as I was aware, its
whereabouts was a secret when I was young, although it was generally
supposed to be in what was known as Granfer's Cove, although some said
it fell in at Granfer's death. Anyhow, no one visited it--indeed, such
was my belief at the time, neither was it a pleasant place to reach.
When the tide was up it was difficult to reach by water because of the
great rocks which abounded; besides, you might be within six feet of it
and not see it, because its mouth was so curiously covered.

Eli Fraddam, who seemed to know everything, took me to it by the upper
way; by that I mean the way of the cliff. He also showed me how I might
know it from the beach, and by what rocks I could distinguish it. I did
not enter the cave at the time, at least very far; but I remember that
it was large, and that my voice echoed strangely when I spoke. I
remember, too, that a strange fear was upon me, especially as in the dim
light I saw Eli's strange form and face, and caught the gleams of his
wild cross eyes.

It was to this spot that I determined to go now, and for the time, at
least, rest free from Richard Tresidder's persecutions. I think I should
have gone away altogether at this time, and perchance have tried to
obtain a post as a common sailor, but I remembered Naomi Penryn; and the
yearning that was in my heart to see her again and, if possible, to
speak to her, was so strong, that I was willing to brave anything to be
near her.

Granfer Fraddam's Cave was very lonely. There was not a house within a
long distance of it, and, with the exception of two cottages, Pennington
was the nearest dwelling. I was, therefore, able to get there
unmolested. No one had seen me on my journey, because I had kept to the
woods and fields. I took with me some swede turnips to eat, and when I
had eaten, not thinking of the strange stories told about Granfer's
Cave, I lay down on the shingle and fell asleep and dreamt that I was
the owner of Pennington, and that I went to an old house on the cliffs
to woo Naomi Penryn.

When I awoke I knew not where I was. My mind was strangely confused, and
there was a sound like unto many thunders roaring in my ears. I had a
choking sensation, too, and felt it hard to breathe. Then I felt myself
to be covered with water, while pebbles pelted my face. I struggled to
my feet, and my senses coming to me, I understood the reason. I had not
thought of the tide, which was now rushing into the cave with terrific
force. A great fear got hold of me, and, as fast as I was able, I fled
into the interior of the cavern. It was very dark, but in the darkness I
fancied I saw strange, moving creatures; and at that moment all the
stories told about Granfer Fraddam's evil spirit were true to me. A mad
desire to escape possessed me, but how to do so I did not know. I heard
the waves thundering up the cave, while a terrible wind blew, which
drove me further into the darkness. I dared not venture to go seaward,
so, keeping my hand against the side of the cavern, I allowed myself to
follow the strong current of air. Presently the cave began to get
smaller; indeed, so narrow was it that I could feel both sides at the
same time by stretching out my hands. All the while the wind blew
tremendously. At this I wondered much, for it seemed strange to me that
I should feel the wind when I was so far away from the mouth of the
cave. As I became calmer, I began to understand this. I knew that the
waves as they rushed into the aperture must carry with them a great
force of wind, and that naturally they would force the air inward. Thus
the strong current which blew me further from the sea would indicate
that there was an outlet somewhere. So, unmindful of danger, I followed
the wind-current, and shortly I found myself ascending. The road was
slimy and hard to climb; but I struggled on, and erelong found myself in
a coppice. I looked around me, and remembered the place well. On one
side of the coppice was a meadow which belonged to a fisherman named
Ikey Trethewy--a strange, silent man who spoke but little, and who
possessed a fast-trotting horse. On the other side the coppice sloped up
to the spongy headland, where a curious kind of grass grew, and where
rabbits dug their holes, and frolicked on summer nights.

I had passed by the place often, and had never thought much of it. The
little patch of trees and thick undergrowth which grew in a kind of
sheltered gully seemed of no importance; but now the place possessed a
strong interest for me.

The coppice was much sheltered, but the wind, as it came up the hole
through which I had passed, made a wild, moaning sound, which explained
many of the stories I had heard. It was very dark by this time, and,
although it was summer, the sky was covered with black clouds, and I
heard the wind and sea roaring furiously. By the time I got to the
headland I knew that a storm of great violence was raging. For some time
a feeling of indecision possessed me; then I made my way toward Betsey
Fraddam's cottage.



CHAPTER V

I SEE NAOMI PENRYN ON ROCK CALLED THE SPANISH CAVALIER, AND RESCUE
HER--WE ESCAPE FROM THE TRESIDDERS


When I entered Betsey's cottage, she was sitting with her son beside the
open fireplace, watching a crock which steamed over a wood fire, and
from which came a strange smell.

"'Twas cowld and wet at Granfer's caave, I spoase?" was her first
greeting, after looking at me very carefully.

Now how she knew I had been in the cave I know not, neither will I
pretend to explain; at the same time, I felt rather fearful at the
thought that she should have been aware of the place where I had spent
the day, when no one had told her.

"How do you know where I have been?" I asked.

"How do I knaw?" sneered Betsey; "how do I knaw everything?"

So I said no more, but looked toward a loaf of bread which lay on the
table.

"Iss, you've 'ad nothin' but a swede turmut, and that ed'n rastlin'
mait," said Betsey. "You do look vine and faint, too. 'Ere's summin
that'll do 'ee good, my deear," and going to a cupboard, she took a
two-gallon jar, and poured out a tumbler full of liquor. "There, drink
that," she said, putting it before me.

It was raw spirits, and when I had swallowed one mouthful I could take
no more, it was too strong for me.

"Aw, aw!" laughed Betsey; "'tes nearly as strong as the broth I do make,
ed'n et, then? Here, Eli, put some milk in the pan, and het it for 'un.
He was in the pillory yesterday, and he seed Richard Trezidder and Neck
Trezidder and Emily Trezidder, and another maid, a very purty one. Then
'ee runned away, and after that he got to Granfer Fraddam's Cave. Make a
good quart of eggiot for 'un, Eli. That'll be better'n sperrits. He's
too waik for that."

Then Eli got the milk, and began to beat up eggs in a basin, grunting
strangely, while he watched me with his strange, wild-looking eyes. But
I did not speak, for Betsey made me afraid; besides, I felt cold and
ill.

"I knaw what you be thinking," said Betsey; "you be wonderin' how I got
so much sperrits. Well, p'raps I shall tell 'ee zoon. We sh'll zee,
Jasper, we sh'll zee." And with that the old crone chuckled.

Then Eli came to me, and felt me, and fondled me. He smoothed my wrists
where they had been bruised the day before, and got some ointment which
he rubbed around my neck. Then, when the milk and egg was ready, he
poured it in a huge basin, and put it before me.

"I'd 'a killed 'un ef you wos dead," he repeated many times, until I
wondered at his apparent love for me.

When I had drunk what Eli had prepared I felt better. My head began to
get clear again, and my strength came back to me.

"Naow," wheedled Betsey, when I had finished, "tell me oal about et.
Tell me, Jasper, my deear."

"You know everything," I replied.

"No, not everything; tell me, for ould Betsey'll ave to 'elp 'ee, my
deear."

So I told her everything, save my love for Naomi Penryn; of that I could
not speak to her, it was a secret for my own heart, and I vowed that I
would never tell of it until I poured the words in the sweet maid's own
ears. At that time I felt sure that the story of my love would remain
forever untold.

"Do 'ee knaw what this do main, Jasper?" said Betsey, when I had
finished.

"He bait 'em boath, boath!" laughed Eli, gleefully.

"Now, Eli," said Betsey, "hark to Jasper, and hark to me. Now tell me,
Jasper."

"I think I know," I said.

"He mustn't knaw that you've come back to St. Eve," said Betsey. "I tell
'ee, you musn't show yer faace. 'Ee'll never rest till you'm out ov the
way. You'll jist be found dead some day, tha's wot'll 'appen. Ef 'ee
caan't do et with the law 'ee'll do et wi'out."

"Yes," I said.

"Well, wot be 'ee goin' to do?"

"I'll go back to Granfer Fraddam's Cave. No one can find me there."

"Tha's true, but what 'bout yer mait?"

"I'll bring 'un mait," said Eli. "I'll bring 'un mait. I knaw, I knaw!"
And the poor gnome laughed joyfully.

"But that caan't last," said Betsey. "Two months more an' winter'll be
'ere. Besides, you caan't git back Pennington by stayin' in a cave. You
knaw what you promised your vather, Jasper; you zaid you wudden rest
night nor day 'till you got back Pennington."

"I remember," I said.

"Bezides," cried Betsey--then she stopped, and looked at me steadily.
She had keen, whitey-gray eyes, which shone very brightly. "Do'ee knaw
who thicky maid wos that you zeed in Fa'muth 'esterday?"

I shook my head.

"Purty, ed'n she?" sniggered Betsey. "She's for Nick Trezidder, my
deear, tha's wot she's for. Her vather an' mawther's dead, my deear, and
she've got piles o' money, an' Richard Trezidder es 'er guardian, an'
they main 'er to marry Nick. Her vather was Squire Penryn, my deear, an'
'ee was killed, an' 'er mawther died a bit agone, so the Trezidders 'ev
got 'er body and soul."

"How do you know?" I asked.

"'Ow do I knaw!" sneered Betsey. "'Ow do I knaw everything?" and this
was the way she always answered when I asked her such a question.

"Where is her home?" I asked.

"Where? Up the country somewhere on the north coast. A big 'ous cloas to
the say, my deear."

"But Penryn is close to Falmouth."

"'Nother branch ov the fam'ly, my deear; but ther', she nothin' to you.
She's good, she's purty, an' she's rich, but she's for Nick Trezidder.
Thews Trezidders do bait the Penningtons, don't 'em?" And Betsey laughed
again.

But I held my tongue. I determined that I would not tell the secret of
my heart, although Betsey's words hurt me like knife-stabs.

"Well, an' when winter do come, what be 'ee goin' to do then, Jasper,
an' 'ow be 'ee goin' to git 'nough to buy back Pennington?"

"I must think, Betsey," I said. "I must think. But I'll do it--I'll do
it!"

"Aisy spok, but not so aisy done. How?"

"I'll help 'un," said Eli.

"You! 'Ow can you 'elp 'un?"

But Eli only hugged himself and laughed, as though he were tickled.
After that but little was said that I can remember.

Before daylight came I went back to the cave. I was sure that neither
Betsey nor Eli would tell of my hiding-place. I was glad for this,
because I knew that if Dick Tresidder knew where I was I should be taken
back to the whipping-post, and perhaps imprisoned. Besides, I was sure
that he feared me, and that he would do everything in his power to make
me suffer. So I determined to stay in Granfer Fraddam's Cave as long as
I could, and I knew that Eli would find out everything about what went
on at Pennington and tell me. Looking back now, my conduct seems foolish
in the extreme. I could do no good by staying in the cave, I could not
get an inch nearer my purpose. It would have been far more sensible to
have sailed to some distant land and sought for fortune. And I will
admit that I was tempted to do this, and should have left St. Eve, but
for a strange longing to stay near Pennington, knowing as I did that
Naomi Penryn was there, and that, although I had never spoken to her, I
loved the dear maid every hour of my life more and more.

One day, I think it was about a week after I had taken up my abode in
the cave, I was sitting at its mouth and looking across the narrow bay,
and watching the tide come up, when I was strangely startled. I remember
that in dreaming of Naomi Penryn a feeling of despair had come into my
heart, for I saw no chance whatever of ever seeing her again, much less
speaking to her. Besides, even if it were possible for me to win her
love I had no right to do so. Pennington seemed further from my grasp
than ever, while Richard Tresidder's hold on it grew stronger day by
day. I was thinking of these things when I saw, two or three hundred
yards out at sea, standing on a rock, a woman's form. The rock was a
large one, and went by the name of "The Spanish Cavalier." It rose from
the beach to the height of fifteen feet, and was never covered save at
high tides. There was, moreover, a curious place in the rock, not unlike
an arm-chair, in which one might sit and watch the shining waves. All
around it was grouped a number of smaller rocks, which boatmen always
avoided, because driving on them was dangerous.

As I said, I saw on "The Spanish Cavalier" a woman's form, and above the
sound of the breakers I heard a cry for help. I did not hurry to the
rescue, for the delay of a few seconds could make no difference, the
rock was now several feet under water; besides, I was not sure what it
meant. At first I could not discern who the woman was, and fancied it
might be one of the Misses Archer, or perhaps Richard Tresidder's
daughter. But then, I thought, they would know the coast, and would not
allow themselves to be caught by the tide in such a way. On looking
again, however, my heart gave a great leap--the woman on the rock was
Naomi Penryn. A feeling of joy surged through me. At last I had my
chance, I should be able to speak to her without let or hindrance. As I
have before stated, the cave had but few houses near. Ikey Trethewy's
cottage stood at some little distance away from the coppice where the
land entrance to the cave had been made, but it was not visible from
"The Spanish Cavalier;" another cottage stood further along the coast,
but that was more than a mile away; while the other house was
Pennington, which was nearly two miles off. Seemingly, there was no
other help than my own near, and I rejoiced that it was so. There was no
real danger, but she needed my help, and that was all I cared for. So I
plunged into the water and was able to wade nearly all the way to the
rock. She saw me coming toward her, and I think my presence gave her
confidence.

"Do not be afraid," I said, as I came up; "there is no danger. I can
easily take you to the shore."

By this time, only my head was visible above the water, but she
recognised me. I saw that she shrank from me, too, as though she were
afraid. At this a coldness crept into my heart, for I remembered where I
stood at the only time she had seen me before.

"I will not hurt you," I said; "I know my way among the rocks, and I can
take you easily."

She looked at me again, doubtfully. Most likely she remembered what the
Tresidders had said about me.

"I will be very careful," I went on; "and you had better come quickly,
for the tide is rising every minute. I know you distrust me, for the
Tresidders hate me; but if I did not desire to help you I should not
have let you see me, for when they know where I am I shall be in
danger."

She lifted her head proudly as though I had angered her, then she looked
at me again steadily, and came toward me.

"Is the water very deep?" she asked.

"It is over five feet here," I replied, "but it is shallower a few
yards nearer the shore."

"You are sure you can swim with me to shore?" she said.

"I shall not try," I said. "If you will let me, I will hold you above my
head. You are not heavy and I--" Then I hesitated, for I did not want to
boast.

"Yes, I know you are very strong," she laughed, half fearfully I
thought; "but how can you do this?"

"Look," I said; "if you will stand on my shoulders so"--and I placed my
back against the rock. "I am afraid your feet will have to be wet, just
a little, for my shoulders are in the water. There, that is it; now hold
my hands," and I lifted my hands as high above my head as I could.

She did as I bade her; thus we both stood with our faces toward the
shore, she standing on my shoulders and stooping a little in order to
hold my hands tightly.

It was joy unspeakable to feel the little fingers in mine, for this was
the first time that my flesh touched hers, and with the touch a thrill
of gladness, the like of which I had never felt before, passed through
my whole being.

I carried her safely. At that time rocks and roaring breakers were
nothing to me, the buffeting of the waves against my body I felt not one
whit! I think she must have felt my great strength, for when I had
carried her a few yards she laughed, and the laugh had no fear.

"You feel quite safe?" I asked presently, when I had got away from the
rocks.

"Quite safe," she said, and so I carried her on until I stood on the
smooth yellow sands, and although the waves still broke, I felt their
force not at all, for the thought of her trusting me made my sinews
like willow thongs.

Right sorry was I when the water no longer touched my feet, and I must
confess that I lingered over the last part of the journey, so pleasant
was my burden, and so glad a thing was it to feel her fingers fastening
themselves around mine. Perhaps she regarded me as she might regard a
fisherman who might have rendered her a similar service, but it did not
matter. I, whom she had seen pilloried as a vagrant and a street
brawler, held her fast, and my love grew stronger minute by minute.

When I put her on the sands, only her feet were wet, and no one could
tell of the position in which she had been.

I shook myself after I had put her down, and I was almost sorry I had
done so immediately afterward, for I could see that my condition made
her sorry for me, and I did not want to be pitied.

"You must get dry clothes at once," she said.

"I have none," I said, unthinkingly, "save my jacket and waistcoat,
which lie on yon rock."

"But you will be very cold."

I laughed gaily. "It is nothing," I said, "the sun will not go down for
three hours yet, and before that time my rags will be dry."

"I am very thankful to you," she said; "I cannot swim, and but for you I
should have been drowned."

"Oh, no," I replied; "you could have climbed to the top of the rock, and
waited till the tide went out again."

"No, I should have been afraid. You have been very kind and very good to
me. I was very foolish to get there, but it was very tempting to climb
on the rock and sit and watch the sea. I must have fallen asleep in the
sun, for I remembered nothing until I felt the cold water beat on me."

"I was not kind or good," I said, roughly. "I thought first it was Emily
Tresidder. Had it been, I should not have gone."

"Yes, you would," she said; "you have a kind face. Besides, you should
not hate the Tresidders. Mr. Tresidder is my guardian."

"I am sorry for you," I said.

She looked at me steadily, but did not speak.

"I know what you are thinking about," I said. "I was pilloried at
Falmouth when you saw me before, and I just escaped being flogged before
the crowd. Even now, I suppose, I am being searched for."

"Indeed you are. Do you think you are safe in staying here?"

"It doesn't matter, I suppose; I shall soon be taken."

"Why do you think so?"

"You will, of course, tell Tresidder where I am, and then my liberty
must soon come to an end."

I hated myself for speaking so, for I saw her lips tremble, as though I
had pained her.

"Is not that unkind?" she said, presently, "and do you not judge the
Tresidders wrongly? Have you not provoked them to anger?"

"They have told you about me, then; they have told you that I am a
thief, a vagabond, a bully?"

She did not reply, but I knew from the look on her face that I had
spoken the truth.

For a second there was a silence between us, then she said, "I thank you
very much, and now I must go back to Pennington."

"Not until you hear my story," I said, eagerly.

"Why should you tell me?" she asked.

"Because I do not wish you to judge me wrongly," I said; "because you
have known me only as one who is evil and revengeful. Let me tell you
the truth."

She did not speak, but she looked at me as if expecting me to go on. So
I told her my story eagerly, told it truly, as I have tried to tell it
here, only in fewer words.

"And this is true?" she asked, eagerly. "That is," she said, correcting
herself, "you are sure you are not mistaken?"

"As God lives, it is true," I replied. "Is it any wonder, then, that I
hate the Tresidders, is it any wonder that I should thrash them as I
would thrash a yelping, biting cur?"

"Is it brave for a strong man to pounce upon a weaker one?" she asked.

"They were two to one," I replied; "besides, the street was full of
people, and he has everything on his side, and I am alone, an outcast, a
beggar in my own parish."

"But he has the law on his side."

"Yes; and he has twisted the law to serve his own ends. He and his
mother have used vile tools to cheat me."

"And if you could save up half the worth of Pennington you could buy it
back."

"I could demand to buy it back. Lawyer Trefry has the copy of the will.
I have seen it. That is why they have tried to ruin me."

"And do you say that Nick tried to stab you?" she asked, anxiously.

"I have the knife yet," I replied. "His name is on it. I trusted him to
wrestle fair, even though he sought to ruin me. Perhaps I was wrong to
hurt him, but I was mad with pain. The mark of the wound is on my chest
now. Look," and I showed her the scar.

She shuddered, then she said, "Hate always brings misery, and love
always brings joy. You should love your enemies."

"Yes; if a man will fight openly and fairly, I will not hate him. If I
wanted to touch an adder with my hand I would not catch him by the tail
so that it could curl around and sting my hand; I would catch it just
behind the head. It might writhe and wriggle, but I should know that it
could not bite me. That is how I want to treat the Tresidders. You
despise me," I went on; "you see me now a thing that has to hide like a
rabbit in burrow. Well, perhaps it is natural--you live with the
Tresidders."

"No, I do not despise you," she said. "I feel for you; I am an orphan
just as you are. Of course, Mr. Tresidder is very kind to me, but
Pennington is not like home--that is--" Then she stopped as though she
had said more than she had intended. "I felt sorry for you when I saw
you in Falmouth. Did--did you see me?"

"I saw you--I--I--look, there is Nick Tresidder and his father coming
now. I must away!"

We were only partially hidden by the rock, at the side of which we
stood. I could see them with sufficient clearness for me to recognise
them. They could see us, but I did not think it would be possible for
them to tell who we were.

"They are searching for me," she cried. "I have been away from the house
a long time."

"Well, go to them," I said.

"But they have seen that there are two of us. Do you think they know us
from this distance?"

"No, we have been partly hidden."

"But if I go, they will ask who has been with me."

"Do you not wish to tell them?"

"If I do you will be in danger. If they know you are near you will be
hunted down. They think you have left the country."

"You can save me if you will," I cried, eagerly.

"I will do what I can!"

"Come, then--there, keep behind these rocks until we get to the cliffs.
Go quickly."

She obeyed me eagerly, and a few seconds later we stood behind a great
jagged promontory.

"Did they see us, do you think?"

"Yes, they saw us, but they could not have recognised us; or I fancy
not," I added, for I had my fears; "but come, walk on the shingle so
that they cannot trace your footsteps. That is it."

We came close to the cave where my clothes lay. These I picked up with a
feeling of relief.

"We are safe now," I said.

"No," she cried; "they will soon come up, and can easily find us."

For she had not seen the mouth of Granfer Fraddam's Cave, although it
was close to her. I was glad of this, for it told me how safe my
hiding-place was, and showed that the opening was so curiously hidden
that a stranger might pass it a hundred times and not see it. So I
helped her to climb up the cliff until I got to a small platform, and
afterward passed along the fissure between the rocks and drew her after
me, and then, when she had followed me a few steps, she saw how
cunningly Nature had concealed the place, and fearful as she was, she
uttered a low exclamation of pleased surprise. For from this place we
could see without being seen, even although we were not inside the cave
itself.

Excited as I was, for my heart was beating fast and my head throbbed at
the same rate, I wondered at my good fortune in making her my friend.
For her willingness to come with me, rather than to expose me to the
Tresidders, showed that she was my friend, and my gladness at the
thought was beyond all words. At the same time I could not help fearing
for her. If either Nick Tresidder or his father had recognised her, she
would be exposed to many awkward questionings, which would be hard for
her to answer; neither did I desire that she should have to suffer for
me. I marvelled greatly, too, that she should have understood the
situation so easily, and that, in spite of all my enemies must have
said, she seemed to trust me so implicitly. I remembered, however, that
she would, perhaps, feel grateful to me for rescuing her from her
awkward position on "The Spanish Cavalier," and that she would be
anxious that my action should not bring any harm to me. And while this
thought did not bring me so much pleasure as it ought, it showed me that
the Tresidders had not altogether poisoned her mind against me.

Although it has taken me some minutes to write down these thoughts, they
passed through my mind very rapidly.

"They cannot see us here," she said, questioningly, "neither can they
find us?"

"Not unless they know the cave," I replied.

"Oh, I hope not," was her response, and although Tresidder was her
guardian and Pennington was her home, it did not feel strange at that
moment that she should be hiding with me, who was being sought for by
the minions of the law.

The sea was by this time getting nearer the foot of the cliff, and there
was now only twenty feet of shingle between water and land. So I stood
and watched, but I could not as yet see them, for the promontory, behind
which we had first hidden, stood between us and them.

"Do you see them?"

"Not yet," I replied, "they have had scarcely time to get here yet, but
I think they will soon be here."

As I spoke I looked on her face, the most beauteous I had ever seen, and
when I remembered what she had done to shield me my love grew more
fervent. For I had no claim on her, who was a stranger, save that I had
carried her to the shore, which of course was nothing. By that I mean to
say it was nothing for which she should serve me; rather it was I who
owed gratitude to her, for my joy at serving her made my heart leap in
my bosom, until I could even then have sung aloud for gladness.

"Are they coming?" she asked again, presently.

"Yes, they are close to us," I replied, for at that moment they had
passed the rock by which we had at first stood.



CHAPTER VI

I DISCOVER ANOTHER CAVE, AND HEAR A CONVERSATION BETWEEN RICHARD
TRESIDDER AND HIS SON


"I am sure I saw a man and woman," I heard Nick Tresidder say.

"I thought I did, too," replied his father; "but we must have been
mistaken, I suppose. Of course, they could have got behind Great Bear
and then kept along under the cliff."

"Then they must have gone past, for they are nowhere to be seen."

"Perhaps they wanted to hurry to be before the tide."

"Yes; I suppose that must be it," replied Nick, doubtfully.

"Still, I don't know that it matters. We should not have troubled at all
if we hadn't thought it might be Naomi."

"No; where can she be, I wonder?"

"She's a strange girl, Nick. She doesn't seem to feel happy at
Pennington, neither does she make friends with Emily. She's always
roaming among the woods or along the beach. I shouldn't wonder at all if
she hasn't lost herself among the woods. You must be careful, my lad."

"Oh, it's all right, there's no danger. I say, do you know that Jacob
Buddie told me he believed he saw Jasper Pennington in the lane outside
Betsey Fraddam's house last night?"

"I don't believe it; we've got rid of him effectually. But we must hurry
on, Nick, we've just time to get to Granfer Fraddam's path before the
tide gets in."

"Yes, it's a good way on. Isn't Granfer Fraddam's Cave here somewhere?"

"I've my doubts whether there is such a place. There may have been such
a cave in the old man's time, but lots of ground has fallen in during
the past fifty years. Anyhow, I've often searched along the coast and
could never find it."

"But it's around here that the noises have been heard. You know people
say it's haunted by the old man's ghost."

"Well, I've never been able to find it."

They hurried on, and I gave a sigh of relief.

"Are they gone?" asked Naomi.

"Yes, they are gone; they don't know anything. It will take them a long
while to get home. It's a long way to Pennington by Granfer Fraddam's
path. The cliff is steep, too."

"But I must go now," she said, anxiously.

"You shall get home before they can," I said, eagerly.

"I will take you through another opening. You will know another secret
of this cave then. You see, I trust you wholly, and you will know my
hiding-place almost as well as I know it myself."

"But do you live here?"

Then I told her what I had to do, and how Eli Fraddam brought food to
me, and how when winter came I should have to make other plans.

She listened quietly, and said no word, but allowed me to lead her up
the cave until we reached the copse of which I have spoken. We were
still hidden from sight, for the bushes grew thick, and the trees were
large and had abundant foliage. She held out her hand to say good-bye.

"I shall remember your kindness," she said.

"And do not think too hardly about me," I pleaded, "remember what I have
had to suffer."

"I shall think of you very kindly," was her response; "not that it
matters to you," she added. "We are strangers, most probably we shall
never meet again, and the opinion of a stranger cannot help you."

"It is more than you can think," I answered, eagerly. "When I saw that
look of sympathy on your face when I stood in the pillory at Falmouth it
made everything easier to bear. Besides, you say you will stay at
Pennington, and I look upon Pennington as my home."

"Yes; but surely you will not stay here. It cannot be right for a man to
idle away his time as you are idling it; besides, you can never win back
Pennington thus. If I were you I would find work, and I would honourably
make my way back to fortune."

"But the Tresidders will not allow me," I replied, stung into shame by
her words, "they have always put obstacles in my path."

"Then I would go where the Tresidders could not harm me," she cried, and
then she went away, as though I were the merest commonplace stranger, as
indeed I was.

I mused afterward that she did not even tell me her name, although she
had no means of knowing that I had found it out, neither did she tell me
that she would keep the secret of my hiding-place from my enemies. And
more than all this, she bade me leave St. Eve, where I should be away
from her, although my longings grew stronger to stay by her side. All
this made me very weary of life, and I went back to the mouth of the
cave and sat watching the sea as it rose higher and higher around "The
Spanish Cavalier," and wondered with a weary heart what I should do.

When night came on Eli Fraddam brought me food, and sat by me while I
ate it, looking all the while up into my face with his strange wild
eyes.

"Jasper missuble," he grunted, presently.

"Yes, Eli," I said, "everything and everybody is against me."

"I knaw! I knaw!" cried Eli, as though a new thought had struck him,
"I'll 'elp 'ee, Jasper; I'll vind out!"

"Find out what, Eli?"

But he would not answer. He hugged himself as though he were vastly
pleased, and laughed, in his low guttural way, and after a time took his
departure.

When I was left alone, I tried to think of my plans for the future, for
Naomi's words kept ringing in my ears, "If I were you I would find work,
and I would honourably make my way back to fortune." I saw now that for
a year I had acted like a madman. Instead of meeting my reverses
bravely, I had acted like a coward. I had sunk in the estimation of
others as well as in my own. I had loafed around the lanes, and had made
friends with the idle and the dissolute. Even my plans for vengeance
were those of a savage. I, Jasper Pennington, could think of no other
way of punishing my enemies than by mastering them with sheer brute
force. Besides, all the time I had made no step toward winning back my
home, and thus obeying my father's wishes. I felt this, too; I had
deservedly lost the esteem of the people. I had become what the
Tresidders said I was. I saw myself a vagrant and a savage, and although
my fate had been hard, I deserved the punishment I was then suffering. I
had forgotten that I was a Pennington, forgotten that I was a gentleman.

But what could I do? Houseless, homeless, friendless, except for the
friendship of Eli Fraddam and his mother, and practically outlawed, what
was there that I, Jasper Pennington, could put my hand to? I could not
tell. The possibility of honourably making my way back to fortune seemed
a dream impossible to be fulfilled.

For a long time I sat brooding, while the candle which Eli had brought
burnt lower and lower, and finally went out. The darkness stirred new
thoughts within me. Hitherto I had not troubled about Granfer Fraddam's
ghost haunting the cave. The wind which wailed its way up through the
cave till it found vent in the copse above explained the sounds which
had been heard. But now all the stories which I had heard came back to
me. Did Granfer Fraddam die there? and did his ghost haunt this dreary
cavern? Even then I might be sitting on the very spot where he had died.

I started up and lit another candle. I looked around me, and shuddered
at the black, forbidding sides of the cavern, then leaving the candle to
cast its ghostly light around I crept toward the entrance. I saw the sea
lapping the black rocks around, and heard its dismal surge. Then I heard
a rushing noise whir past me, and it seemed as though a ghostly hand had
struck my face. Directly afterward I heard a cry which made the blood
run cold in my veins. Most likely it was only a seagull which I had
frightened from its resting-place among the rocks, but to me it was the
shriek of a lost soul.

Trembling, I found my way back to the cave again, where the candle still
burnt, and cast its flickering light around. I was afraid to stay there
any longer, and determined to get out by way of the copse. I had gone
but a few steps in this direction, when I saw what had hitherto escaped
my notice. It was a hole in the side of the cave, large enough for
anybody to pass easily. For a moment curiosity overcame my fears, and I
made my way toward it. Holding my candle close to the hole, I found that
I was out of the current of air, and I saw that this was the entrance to
another cave. But it was different from the one in which I had been
hiding. It looked as though it had been hollowed out by the hands of man
rather than by nature. This fact lessened my ghostly fears, and I
entered it, and in doing so thought I detected a strange smell. A minute
later, and my astonishment knew no bounds. Lying at my feet in this
inner cave were casks of spirits and wines. There were, I afterward
discovered, many other things there too. There were great packages of
tobacco, and bales of stuff which at that time I did not understand. It
was evident that Granfer Fraddam's trade was not abandoned, although it
was thought that smuggling was not carried on to any extent in the
neighbourhood of St. Eve. It is true that many things were obtained in
the neighbourhood which the Preventive officers could not account for,
but that was understood to be owing to Jack Truscott's gang, who defied
the law, and did many wild deeds down by the Lizard and at Kynance. At
Polventor the Preventive men were very keen, so keen were they that the
dozen or two fishermen who lived there were not, as far as I knew, in
any way suspected of unlawful deeds. And Polventor was the only fishing
village within three miles of our parish where it seemed possible for
smuggling to be carried on.

Not that we thought hardly of the smugglers, even of Jack Truscott and
his men. We all regarded the law as very unjust, and owing to the fact
that many things were obtained in the parish very cheaply by them, we
winked at their doings, and looked sourly on the Preventive men and
their doings. At the same time, as far as I knew, no one dreamed of
smuggling being carried on near the coast of St. Eve. Thus it was that
Granfer Fraddam's Cave was a mere tradition, and many people thought
that the King's officers ought to be removed to some other part of the
coast, where there would be some necessity for their existence.

I thought long of these things, and presently came to the conclusion
that this cave was used as a kind of storage-place by some smuggler's
gang. Probably this was one of Jack Truscott's many hiding-places, and
would be used by him when the Government spies were busy watching
elsewhere.

Anyhow, my discovery made me think of the cave more as the home of the
living than the dead, and thus fears were dispelled. It is true my
solitude might at any time be broken by a gang of desperate men, but
that did not trouble me. So I fetched the blanket which old Betsey had
lent me and took it into this inner cave, and after a while went to
sleep.

Eli Fraddam brought some food to me again in the morning, but I did not
tell him what I had discovered through the night, neither did I
encourage him to stay. Usually he had sat with me for hours, and had
talked with me in his strange disconnected way, but this morning he saw
that I wanted to be alone, so, after patting and fondling my hands
lovingly, he left me. All through the day I tried to make up my mind
what to do, but no feasible plan came into my mind. I did not fear any
difficulty in getting food and clothes, but how to raise money to buy
back Pennington I knew not.

Toward evening I left the cave and clambered down the rocks until I got
to the beach. I had scarcely done so when a package lying by a rock
caught my eye. I tore off the wrapper, wondering what it was, and soon
discovered that it contained food. I eagerly examined it, and presently
saw a scrap of clean white paper. On it was written these words:


     "To stay where you are must be useless. Search has not been
     abandoned, for you have been seen. There can be no hope of success
     while you remain in St. Eve. You saved me, and I would help you.
     Good-bye."


Now this comforted me greatly, for it told me that Naomi Penryn had not
forgotten me, and that she felt friendly toward me. The food, delicate
as it was compared with what I had been eating, I cared not for, except
only because she had brought it. My excitement took away all desire to
eat, and again I went back to the cave to think of what I should do. For
this thought came constantly into my mind, the Tresidders intended her
for Nick, and my determination was that she should never marry a
Tresidder. Moreover, I fancied, from her own words, and from what I had
heard Richard Tresidder say to his son, she was not happy at Pennington.
If I went away I should be powerless to help her if she needed help.
She was but a girl of eighteen, and she was wholly under the control of
the Tresidders. Yet how could I help her by remaining where I was; nay,
rather, it was impossible for me to do this.

After some time I settled on a plan; I would leave my cave before it was
light, and would walk to Fowey. When there, I would try and get a place
as a sailor. I thought I knew enough of a sailor's duties to satisfy the
captain of a trading ship. Then, by the time the first voyage was over,
I should no longer be sought by the Tresidders, and the affair at
Falmouth would be forgotten. I would then come back and see if Naomi
Penryn needed help. I should not be away more than a few months, and I
did not think that Nick Tresidder or his father would seek to carry out
their plans concerning her for at least a year.

I had scarcely settled this in my mind when I heard voices outside the
cave. Wondering what it might mean I crept to the opening, and, looking
out, saw Richard Tresidder and his son, Nick, standing and talking with
two Preventive men. A great rock hid me from their sight, besides which
I was at least twelve feet above them.

"You say you've searched all around here for a cave?" asked Richard
Tresidder.

"All round, sur," replied one of the officers. "Ther's smugglin' done
'long 'ere right 'nough, but I've my doubts 'bout Granfer Fraddam's
Caave as et es called. Ther's not an inch 'long the coast here that we
'ain't a-seed; we've found lots of caaves, but nothin' like people do
talk about. As for this cove, where people say et es, why look for
yerself, sur, ther's no sign of it. We can see every yard of the little
bay here, but as fer Granfer Fraddam's Caave, well, that's all wind,
I'm a-thinkin'."

"I'm of the same opinion myself. Still, I thought we'd better come and
make sure, that was why I asked you to come."

"That's oal right, sur, glad are we to do anything to 'elp 'ee. But
ther's plaaces furder down, sur, and they must be watched."

"Do you not think you are mistaken?" I heard Richard Tresidder say;
"there has been no smuggling done here since Granfer Fraddam's days.
There is plenty of it done at the Lizard, and at Kynance, and right down
to St. Michael's Mount to Penzance Harbour, but there is none here."

"But there es, Maaster Tresidder. Not a week agone a boat-load of
sperits was landed at Polventor."

"At Polventor! Why, I thought you kept a sharp look-out there. Besides,
only fisher folk live there."

"'Iss, but tes they fishermen that do do et. Ye see, they go out so they
zay to catch fish, and then afore mornin' they do come across the big
smugglers' boats, and taake the things to the coves they do know 'bout.
They be all of a piece, Maaster Tresidder."

"Well, keep a sharp look-out, Grose, and bring them before me, and I'll
see that they don't do any more smuggling for a few months."

"I'm glad we've 'ad this 'ere talk, sur, you bein' a majistraate. But we
must be off, sur."

"Good-afternoon. By the way, if you call at Pennington to-night about
ten I shall be glad to see you. You will perhaps be able to report
progress by that time."

"Thank 'ee kindly, sur. Good afternoon."

Richard Tresidder and his son Nick then sat down on a rock near, and
both began to smoke, and then, when the Preventive officers were out of
sight, they laughed merrily.

"I wonder if they know that the grog they have drunk at Pennington was
made of smuggled brandy?" asked the father.

"Not they. Why, you are noted for your hardness on law-breakers."

"Just so. By the way, you have heard no more about Jasper, I suppose? I
heard last night he was hiding in Granfer Fraddam's Cave, that was why I
got those fellows to search for the place."

"Nothing definite. It's believed that he's around here somewhere, but
where I don't know. The fellow is mad, I think. It would be better for
him to clear off altogether. The sentence is a flogging and then another
trial, isn't it?"

"Yes; but nothing is being done. I believe if he were caught he would be
allowed to go free. I don't believe they want to catch him."

"You see, the people think he's been badly treated, and Lawyer Trefry
has blabbed about old Pennington's will. Everybody says now that you've
done your utmost to keep him poor. Why in the world didn't grandmother
get him to give it you out and out? If the beggar should have a stroke
of luck he might get it for a few thousands."

"But where can he get them now? His last chance is gone. What can a lad,
without money, home, or friends, do? That's settled all right."

"I don't know about that. He's clever and he's determined. Why did he
continue to stay around here? He must have something in his mind."

"He's a fool, that's all. He has a savage sort of idea that by watching
me he's taking care of his own interests. That shows what a
short-sighted fellow he is. If he'd brains he'd have acted otherwise.
You will see, he'll get himself in the clutches of the law again, and
then--I'll manage him."

"But if we can't find him? I tell you Jasper isn't a fool, and he knows
our purposes by this time."

"Well, Nick, you've got your chance. A rich wife and three years to win
her in, my boy. I'm her guardian till she's twenty-one, and I'll take
care no one else gets her. A pretty girl is Naomi, too; rather awkward
to manage, and a bit fiery, but all the better to suit you."

"And she doesn't like me," replied Nick.

"Make her like you, my boy. Be a bit diplomatic, and play to win.
Besides, you must win!"

"Did you notice how funny she was last night? I asked her where she had
been, and she seemed to regard my question as a liberty. And did you see
how eager she was when we were talking about Jasper afterward?"

"But she knows nothing about him. She never saw him."

"Yes, she saw him pilloried in Falmouth. She thinks him treated badly.
She has all sorts of funny ideas about justice."

"Of course, all silly girls have; that's nothing. At the same time,
Nick, this shows you must play carefully. I don't want any complications
in getting her money, and mind you, that money I must have, or we are
all in deep water."

"What do you mean?"

"This. We can't raise sixpence, that is legally, on Pennington. There
are simply the rents. Well, this split up into several parts is very
little. So--" he hesitated.

"So what?" asked Nick, eagerly.

"I've speculated."

"On what?"

"On mines. So far, they've turned out badly. I'm involved in a heavy
outlay. At first the affair seemed certain. It may turn out all right
now, I don't know, but I tell you I'm neck deep--neck deep. I can hold
on for a year or so, and you must get Naomi's money, or I'm done for."

"But you've got her money?"

"Yes, and, as her guardian, I'll have to give an account of it."

"Look here, father, tell me all about it. I don't like acting in the
dark. How and why did Naomi come to Pennington, and what is the true
condition of affairs? I want to know."

"Another time, Nick."

"No, now."

"Very well, I may as well tell you now."



CHAPTER VII

I HEAR RICHARD TRESIDDER TELL NAOMI PENRYN'S HISTORY, AND AM IN DANGER
OF BEING KILLED BY SMUGGLERS


Richard Tressider slowly filled his pipe again, and seemed to be
collecting his thoughts before telling his son what was in his mind.

"Her home, as you know, is at Trevose, not far from Trevose Head," he
said, presently. "The house is a funny old place--as lonely as a
churchyard and as bleak as a mountain peak. It seems a strange idea to
build a big house like that on a rocky eminence, but the Penryns have
always been a strange people. However, it is said that the Penryn who
built the house back in Oliver Cromwell's days kept ships for strange
purposes, and that he had curious dealings with 'gentlemen of fortune.'"

"Pirates do you mean?"

"Better let them be unnamed. Anyhow, from the tower of the house you can
see many miles up and down the coast--as far as Bude Harbour on the one
hand, and Gurnard's Head on the other. There is some very good land
belonging to the estate, too."

"Much?" asked Nick.

"More than belongs to Pennington by a long way, my boy. The rents are
handsome, I can assure you."

"Well, go on."

"The Penryns have always been a hot-tempered, impatient race, and
Naomi's father was no exception to the rule. He was the only child, too,
and from what I can gather spoiled. Well, he waited until he was over
thirty before he got married; indeed, both his parents were dead before
he saw Naomi's mother. By the time a man is thirty his habits are
settled, and he's generally unfit for marriage; people should marry at
twenty-five at latest."

"And who was Naomi's mother?"

"She was a widow of a cousin of mine, George Tresidder of Lelant."

"Well?"

"Well, she had what most women possess, a nasty, rasping, irritating
tongue, and a temper that would have done credit to Beelzebub's wife, if
there is such a lady. I know that, because I've had several interviews
with her. I've managed a good many women in my day, but never one who
was so difficult as she. Anyhow, John Penryn and she lived a cat-and-dog
life. John, I suppose, was a fine fellow in his way, but imperious,
impatient, and at times unreasonable. He couldn't bear being crossed,
and she was everlastingly crossing him. He was the soul of generosity,
and directly after his marriage made a most generous will. He left
everything unconditionally to his wife."

"Go on, you are awfully slow," cried Nick.

"They had been married about seven months when a terrible thing
happened. You were very young at the time, and would, of course, know
nothing about it. Penryn had a fearful quarrel with his wife. It was
simply terrible, and the servants were very much frightened, especially
as John's wife was expected to become a mother. Anyhow, she taunted him
with being unfaithful to her, and irritated him so with invective and
abuse that, forgetting everything, he tried to crush her by brute force.
Of course, in her state this was a mad thing to do, especially as she
was very weak and delicate; anyhow, she fell like one dead on the floor.
A doctor was sent for, and he declared that life was extinct. I suppose
the poor fellow's anguish was terrible; anyhow, when he heard of the
doctor's words, he seemed to lose his senses altogether. That night he
committed suicide."

"Suicide! Whew!" cried Nick.

"Yes; he threw himself over the cliffs at Trevose Head. When his body
was discovered it was much bruised and battered. Of course the affair
was hushed up, and it was made out to be an accident, but no one was
deceived."

"But about the woman?"

"Well, I suppose she lay like one in a trance for some considerable
time, and it is said that all arrangements were made for her funeral.
Presently, however, she gave signs of life, and in course of time Naomi
was born."

"And the mother lived?"

"My dear Nick, you'll find that it'll take a great deal to kill a woman.
Yes, she lived and enjoyed a fair amount of health. I suppose, too, that
her conduct improved, at least I was told so; still, as I said, I found
her difficult to manage."

"But you did manage her?"

"When I set my mind on a thing I generally do get my own way; but I
think it would have been impossible in this case but for mother."

"What, granny?"

"Yes, she took the matter in hand, and together we got on fairly well."

"Yes, but by what means did you establish a claim on her sympathies? She
had other relations!"

"It would take a long time to tell. Indeed, it has been a work of years.
I've had to visit Trevose many times, and have suffered more abuse than
I care to tell about. However, before she died the will was made all
right."

"How?" asked Nick, eagerly.

"Well, in this way. Everything is given to Naomi, and I am constituted
her sole guardian. She cannot marry until she's twenty-one without my
consent."

"I see."

"If she dies everything comes to me."

"What!"

"Yes, mother worked that. I despaired of reaching that point; but you
know what your granny is. She pleaded that I was a cousin, and a hundred
other things. Besides, mother has a strange power over people."

"Then it seems to me everything is safe."

"Yes, if matters go right. She is now eighteen; if you marry her before
she's twenty-one all's well, but if not, then when she arrives at that
age the lawyer who has to do with the estates will naturally want
everything accounted for. Naomi's a sharp girl, and I shall have to give
an account of my stewardship."

"Her mother was a Catholic, I suppose?"

"Yes, that was a difficult point. Still we promised that Naomi's
religious views should not be interfered with, and also that a priest
shall visit the house occasionally."

"He will want her to marry a Catholic."

"Undoubtedly; but, honestly, I don't believe Naomi troubles about the
fine distinction in religious beliefs. The priest wanted to persuade her
mother that the child ought to be placed in Mawgan Convent, and her
property given to the Church. I thought once the wily rascal would have
succeeded, but fortunately mother was in the house at the time."

They sat for some little time without speaking; then Richard Tresidder
spoke again.

"You are a bit in love with her, arn't you, Nick?"

"More than a little bit, and she knows it, too."

"Well, be careful, my boy, be very careful. If we can get Trevose--well,
it's a nice thing, isn't it? But we must be careful. You are no fool,
Nick; Naomi has her little weaknesses like other folks; find 'em out and
humour 'em. Now you know how things are, and we must be going or we
shall be caught by the tide. There'll be a high tide to-night, too."

Then they went away, leaving me to think over what they had said, and I
must confess that my mind was much disturbed by their words. I do not
pretend to have the lawyer-like power of seeing where many things lead
to, but I did see, or rather I fancied I saw, the meaning of the
conversation I had heard, and which, according to the best of my
ability, I have faithfully described. I saw that Naomi was brought to
this house because of her money. I saw, too, that every sort of pressure
would be brought to bear upon her to make her marry Nick Tresidder, and
I felt assured that did not fair means succeed, foul ones would be used.
And what troubled me most was that I could do nothing. Evidently the
Tresidders were still searching for me, and, if I were caught, they
would, in spite of the friends I still possessed, try to render me more
helpless than ever.

Besides, how would the poor, helpless maid be able to resist the
pleadings of Nick Tresidder, backed up as they would be by the cunning
and stratagem of the woman who had caused my grandfather to disinherit
his own son? These questions, as may be imagined, greatly exercised my
mind, so much so that I forgot all about my plans to travel through the
night to Fowey and to try and get a berth as a sailor on a trading
vessel.

Presently night came on, and I felt faint and weak. Then I remembered
that I had eaten nothing for many hours, and so I turned with great
gladness of heart to the food which I believe Naomi had brought with her
own hands to the rocks which stood at the foot of the cliff under the
mouth of my hiding-place. When I had eaten I went into the inner cave,
and lay a-thinking again and again of what I must do. I recalled to mind
the words that had passed between Naomi and me, of the joy I had felt
when she was by my side, and especially of the time when I held her
hands in mine; and then I thought of what I had heard spoken between
Tresidder and his son, and not being, as I have said, quick at thinking,
my mind presently became a blank, and I fell asleep.

How long I slept I know not, but I was awoke by the sound of voices, and
of footsteps near me, but the first thing of which I have a clear
recollection was a kick on the shin, and a voice saying, "Bless my soul
'n body, what es this?"

I jumped to my feet and saw two men before me in rough seamen's clothes,
and with high jack-boots. I did not know them at all, and so I concluded
that they were strangers to our part of the county. They were not
altogether ill-favoured men, although I could not help feeling that
there was a kind of reckless expression on their faces which was not
common among Cornish fisherfolk.

"And who might you be?" asked one presently, after staring at me for
some time as if in blank astonishment.

By this time I had mastered the amazement which for the moment had
overcome me, and had surmised who they were. Undoubtedly they were the
smugglers who infested the coast, and who knew the secret of Granfer
Fraddam's Cave. Probably they belonged to Jack Truscott's famous gang,
and had brought a cargo of goods that very night. I heard the swish of
the waves rushing up the cave, so I knew the tide was high.

I measured the men, too, from a wrestler's standpoint, and calculated
their strength from the size of their bare arms, and the breadth of
their chests. All the fear that had come into my heart left me. Living
men did not frighten me.

"I might as well ask who you are," I replied coolly.

"Oh, tha's yer soarts, es et? Well, I think we may, so we'll tell 'ee,
es you'll never go out of this 'ere place a livin' man."

"Never go out a living man. Why, pray?"

"Well, 'cos you do knaw too much, tha's why. This caave es wot you call
convainient. See, matey? Well, ef other people wos to knaw 'bout et,
twudden be convainient."

"I quite understand. You are smugglers, and wreckers most likely.
Perhaps even worse than that. Perhaps you belong to Jack Truscott's
gang. Ah, I see you do. Well, your idea is to kill me because I have
found your hiding-place."

"That's ev et. Generally we be'ant cruel men, we be'ant. But some things
must be done. You zee, dead men kip their saicrets well; livin' ones
do'ant. You be a curyus-looking cove, ragged 'nough for a vuss cutter,
but you be'ant owr soart."

"No," I said, coolly, "I'm not your sort."

"And you'd splet on us the fust fair chance you got, I spect?"

"Probably."

"Well, that settles et, and so--" He drew his finger across his throat
significantly.

I must confess that a curious sensation came into my heart; but I did
not betray any fear, and after a few seconds I was able to speak
steadily.

"You've done that kind of thing before, I expect?" I said, watching the
spokesman's face closely.

"Sam have done et a vew times," he said, looking significantly at his
companion, "I do'ant do et oftener than I can 'elp."

The man called Sam grinned, as though he was proud of his distinction.

"In cold blood?" I queried. I kept on asking these questions, because I
wanted to gain time. I had heard of many bloody deeds being done off the
Lizard, but, as I said, the coast of St. Eve had been regarded as quiet
and free from violent men and violent deeds ever since Granfer Fraddam
died.

"We'd ruther do et in hot fight," said the man, with a curious twitch of
his lips, "a good bit ruther. Et _do_ come aisier that way; but there,
we ca'ant allays pick and choose."

I have not inserted the epithets with which they garnished their words,
neither can I describe the careless way in which they spoke of murder.
But in my heart came a great loathing for them, and a desire to be even
with them.

Both of them stood between me and the outer cave, one of them holding a
smuggler's lantern in his hand, and the man called Sam whispered
something in the other's ear.

"Do you knaw what Sam's bin sayin'?" said the smuggler to me presently.

"No."

"He ses, 'Bill Lurgy,' ses 'ee, 'tha's a daicent fella, an' we do'ant
want to cut hes windpipe. Git 'im to jine us.'"

"To join you!" I said with a sneer, for I thought of Naomi just then.

"Oh, I zee. I thot zo. Well, then, that settles et."

"Settles what?"

"This business. You zee, we mus' be olf. I spoase you knaw oal 'bout
this caave?"

"Yes."

"Saicret way out?"

I nodded.

Sam took a huge knife which hung in a sheath by his side.

"I'm right sorry for this, matey," said Bill Lurgy. "If you'd a promist
to jine us, we cud a kipt 'ee ere till the Cap'n comed, an' then 'ee
might 'ave tooked 'ee on. Besides, ther's a special cargo comin' in
d'reckly, defferent to this," he added, looking at the ankers of spirits
in the cave; "in fact, it's a fortin to we pore chaps."

"And I'm to be killed?" I said.

"You mus' be. Sam Liddicoat 'll 'ave to do et," he said, as coolly as
though I were a chicken he intended to kill for a dinner.

"Then I tell you, I'm not," I said, quietly.

"How be 'ee goin' to git away, my sonny? It's 'bout wawn o'clock in the
mornin' now. Nobody 'll come 'ere but chaps like we."

I made a leap at Sam Liddicoat suddenly, and struck him a stunning blow,
which sent him with great force against the side of the cave. Then I
turned to Bill Lurgy. My idea was to master him before Sam should
recover, and then escape up the secret way to the copse. Bill leapt on
me like a mad bull. "Oa, tha's yer soarts, es et?" he cried. "Well, I
zed I'd ruther do et in 'ot fight."

I had not been struggling with Bill Lurgy more than a few seconds before
I had mastered him. As I said, the Penningtons are a large race, and
Bill Lurgy, strong man as he was, became but a child in my hands. He
went on the floor of the cave with a thud, and then I fastened my hands
around his throat. I felt mad at the moment, and, remembering that time,
I can quite understand how men, when driven to extremities, can forget
the sacredness of human life. But in mastering Bill I had forgotten Sam
Liddicoat, whom I had struck down before he was aware of my intentions.

Hearing a sound behind me, I turned, and saw Sam with his knife
uplifted. Whether I should have been able to save myself or no, I know
not; I have sometimes thought it would have been impossible. Anyhow, Sam
did not strike. He was startled, as I was, by a voice in the cave.

"No, Sam, no!"

We both turned and saw a man about fifty years of age. He was below the
medium height, and although hardy and agile, apparently possessed no
physical strength above the average. He had a large head, well shaped,
while his features were clearly cut and, I thought, pleasing. His face,
too, was cleanly shaved, and he was dressed with some amount of care.
The only thing that was strange about him was the curious colour of his
eyes. They were light gray, so light that sometimes they looked white.

He entered the inner cave as though he knew it well, and spoke very
quietly.

"What, Sam," he said, in a honeyed voice, "wud you 'ave done a thing
like that? Strick un down in a moment wethout givin' ev'n a chance to
say hes prayers and to make hes paice, so to spaik? No, Sam; that wud
never do!"

"He nearly killed me, cap'n," grunted Sam.

"Iss, an' what ef a did? Remember the Scripters, an' turn the other
cheek, so to spaik."

By this time Bill Lurgy had got up, and, seeming to understand the
situation, slunk to the entrance of the inner cave.

"An' wad'n you to blaame, too?" he said, turning to me. "Never be rash,
young man, an' remember that a soft answer turneth away wrath."

I must confess that I was at a loss to understand this mild-spoken man,
and had not Sam called him "Cap'n," I should have thought him one of
those foolish people converted by the Methodists.

"Are you Cap'n Jack Truscott?" I asked.

"Well, and what if I be, sonny? Law, I bean't pertikler, ye knaw.
Spoase some people do call me Cap'n Jack Truscott, or spoase others do
call me Jack Fraddam, what do I care? I'm a man as es friends weth
everybody, my deear--tha's what I be. An' you, you be Jasper Pennington,
who've been robbed of yer rights, my deear."

"How do you know?"

"How do I knaw? Oa, I pick up things goin' about. I do--lots ov things.
I knawed 'ee as soon as I zee'd 'ee tackle they two chaps. Why, 'twud
'a' gone to my 'art for Sam to 'ave knifed 'ee, my deear. You was born
to live a good ould age, and die in bed at Pennington, in the best room,
my deear, with yer cheldern and grancheldern cal around 'ee, ould an'
well stricken in eres. Tha's your lot, Maaster Jasper. Besides, I'm a
man of paice, I be: I love paice 'n' quietness; I like love an'
brotherly 'fection, I do!"

I looked at him again in amazement, for I had heard of deeds which
Captain Jack Truscott had done that were terrible enough to make one's
blood run cold. It was reported that he had a house in a gully which
runs up from Kynance Cove, which was the meeting-place for the wildest
outlaws of the county. Folks said, moreover, that he owned a vessel
which hoisted a black flag.

"Ah, I zee, my deear," said Captain Jack, pathetically; "people 'ave bin
'busin' me. I allays 'ave bin 'bused, my deear, but I do comfort myself,
I do, for what do the Scripters say?--'Blessed are they that are
abused.' I ain't a-got the words zackly, but the mainin', my deear, the
mainin' es right, and that's the chief thing, ed'n et, then?"

In spite of myself the man fascinated me. There was a mixture of mockery
and sincerity in his voice, as though he half believed in his pious
sayings; moreover, he was very cool and collected. His white eyes
wandered all over the cave, and exchanged meaning glances with the two
men with whom I had been struggling, but I knew that he was watching me
all the time. He must have known that he was in danger of being taken by
the Preventive men, but he spoke with the calm assurance of an innocent
man.

"Well," I said, "what do you intend doing with me? You are three to one,
and I am unarmed."

"There you be spaikin' vexed now. Wha's the use of that?"

"No wonder, when your men were trying to kill me, and would, perhaps, if
you hadn't come just then."

"No; they wouldn't, my deear. I was watching; I zeed the man they'd got
to dail weth--fresh as paint, my deear, and shinin' like a makerl's
back. Plenty of rail good fight; and I like that, though I be a man of
paice, Jasper Pennington, my deear."

I waited for him to go on, and although I was much excited, and scarcely
expected to live until morning, I managed to meet his white eyes without
shrinking.

"Spoasing you go out, Bill and Sam, my sonnies," said Cap'n Jack. "Don't
go fur away, my deears; we cudden bear that, could us, Jasper? Do 'ee
smok' then, Jasper? I zee you do. Lots of baccy 'ere, an' pipes too.
Well, this es oncommon lucky. Well, lev us load up, I zay."

Thinking it well to agree with him, I filled a pipe with tobacco and lit
it while Cap'n Jack, with evident satisfaction, smoked peacefully. He
sat opposite me, and I waited for him to speak.



CHAPTER VIII

I GO TO KYNANCE COVE WITH CAP'N JACK TRUSCOTT'S GANG, AND MEET HIS
DAUGHTER TAMSIN


"This ed'n bad bacca, es it, then?" remarked Cap'n Jack, after he had
smoked peacefully for a few seconds.

"No," I replied; "as far as I'm a judge, it's very good." I spoke as
coolly as I could, although to be truthful I might as well have been
smoking dried oak leaves. I could not help realising that my case might
be desperate. I had heard that Cap'n Jack's gang were governed by no
laws, legal or moral, save those which this man himself made. If I
failed, therefore, to fall in with his plans, in all probability Sam
Liddicoat and Bill Lurgy would be called in to complete the work which
they had attempted a little while before. I could not understand a
smuggler, a wrecker, and probably a pirate with pious words upon his
lips; the idea of a man whose hands were red with crime talking about
peace, mercy, and loving-kindness was, to say the least, strange, and I
could not repress a shudder.

After his remark about the quality of the tobacco Cap'n Jack continued
puffing away in silence, occasionally casting furtive glances at me. The
place was very silent, save for the swish of the waves, as they poured
into the outer cave, and rolled the pebbles as they came. It was now
past midnight, but the month being September, there would be no light
for several hours.

At length Cap'n Jack looked at a huge silver watch, which he had taken
from his pocket, and seemed to be making some mental calculations.

"Fine and loanly, ed'n et, Jasper?" he remarked.

"Very."

"This es a very loanly caave. I thot nobody knawed anything 'bout et,
'ciptin' our chaps and Betsey and Eli."

"Betsey?"

"Iss, aw Betsey do knaw everything. Besides, Granfer Fraddam was--you
zee et do run in the family!"

I said nothing, but I called to mind many things I had heard Betsey say.

"Anything might be done 'ere, an' nobody the wiser," he said with a
leer.

"Yes."

"But I'm a man of paice, I be. A stiddy, thinkin' sort ov man as you may
zay. I shudden like for nothin' to 'appen to you, Jasper. Tha's wy I
stopped 'em jist now. 'ow be 'ee thinkin' to git the money to buy back
Pennington, Jasper? 'T'll be a stiff job, I tell 'ee."

I did not reply.

"I've 'eerd oal 'bout et, Jasper. Ah, I've knowd they Tresidders for a
good long while. Deep, deep, sonny, you ca'an't git 'em nohow. Besides,
'twas 'ard that you shud zee thicky purty maid for the fust time when
you was covered with mud, and egg yuks, and fastened on to that gashly
thing, wad'n et then?"

I gave a start, and I felt my face crimson.

"I shud like to be a friend to 'ee, Jasper, I shud. Betsey 'ave told me
'bout 'ee, and I like 'ee, Jasper. Besides, I'm allays a friend to the
oppressed I be, allays. I shud like to put 'ee in the way of spitin'
they Tresidders, and buyin' back the 'ome that es rightfully yours,
that I shud. Now, Jasper, my sonny, I could put 'ee in the way of
gittin' 'nough in a year or two to get yer oan. A clain off chap like
you, with schullership, one as can read ritin' an' knows figures like,
why, you could, with a bit of tittivatin', git on anywhere, that is,
with the blessin' of Providence, so to spaik."

"How?" I asked.

"Put yerself in my 'ands, Jasper."

"You mean become a smuggler, a wrecker, and a general law-breaker."

"Law?" cried Cap'n Jack. "Now what's law, Jasper? Es et fair now? The
law 'ave put you in a nice pickle, and tho' Pennington ought to be
yours, an' the Barton ought to be yours, an' shud be yours ef I, a fair
an' honest man, cud 'ave the arrangin' ov things, they've been tooked
from 'ee by law. An' you might wait till you was black an' blue, and the
law wudden give et back. What 'ave you got to do with law? Well, dodgin'
the Preventive men is 'ginst the law, I know et, but what ov that? You
c'n make a bit ov money that way--a good bit, Jasper. In three year or
so, with me to 'elp 'ee, you cud git 'nough to buy back Pennington,
there now."

"And what do you offer?" I asked.

"I'll take 'ee on, tha's what I'll do. I'll taich 'ee a vew things. I'll
make a man ov 'ee, Jasper. You are a vine big man, sonny, a match for
two ord'nary men, with schullership, an' a knowledge of figgers thrawed
in. You'd zoon be my 'ead man, an' do a big traade."

"If smuggling were all," I stammered.

"Tha's oal I ask ov 'ee, Jasper. A bit ov smugglin'. But spoase you
doan't. Well, look at that now. Spoase you doan't now. Nick Tresidder
'll git that maid es sure as eggs--while you--"

"I shall be murdered, I suppose."

"Jasper, I never like violence on a eldest son. It do main bad luck, my
deear, es a rule; still we've got to go 'ginst bad luck, sometimes. But
for the fact of your bein' the third of the family of the same naame--"

"More than the third," I interrupted.

"More than the third ef you like, my deear, but you be the third, an'
oal the world do knaw it's a bad thing to kill a man who's the third of
the same naame. But for that I mightn't 'ave come in time. You zee,
Jasper, I'm a religious man, do send a present to the passon every year
for tithes, I do."

At that time I did not believe in Cap'n Jack's words, but afterward I
found that all his gang were afraid to do that which was considered
unlucky. All Cornish people, I suppose, have heard the rhyme about
killing an eldest son who is the third in succession to bear the same
christened name. I know, too, that Cap'n Jack believed implicitly in the
legend, and I have heard him repeat it very solemnly, as though he were
repeating a prayer at a funeral, while his gang became as solemn as
judges. And I have little doubt now that the jargon which I will write
down--for I who have had a fair lot of schooling do call it jargon--had
a great deal to do with saving me from Sam Liddicoat's knife.


     "For if a man shall strike him dead,
     His blood shall be on the striker's head,
     And while ever he draws his breath,
     His days shall be a fearful death;
     And after death to hell he'll go,
     With pain and everlasting woe."


"An' so, you zee," said Cap'n Jack, "I do'ant want no violence weth
'ee, being a merciful and religious man."

Now I must confess that I was in sore straits what to do; for be it
remembered all my plans seemed poor and almost worthless, and at the
same time I loathed the thought of accepting Cap'n Jack's offer. Had I
been sure I should have to do nothing but help in the smuggling I would
not have minded so much, for it is well known that smuggling is not
regarded by many as wrong, even the parsons at St. Mawes, and
Tresillian, and Mopus having bought smuggled goods. Besides, I knew that
many had gained wealth in this way, and were thought none the worse of
for doing it. But Cap'n Jack was known to be worse than a smuggler, and
almost desperate as I was this hindered me. For I remembered that in
spite of everything I was still a Pennington, and I thought of what
Naomi Penryn would think of me.

"Besides," went on Cap'n Jack, "you needn't 'ave nothin' to do with this
part of the country. I do a biggish traade down the coast, Jasper, my
deear. Ther's Kynance, now, or a cove over by Logan Rock, and another by
Gurnard's Head. Nobody 'ere need to knaw where you be."

"Let me have time!" I stammered.

"To be sure, Jasper, my deear," wheedled Cap'n Jack; "then it's settled.
You shall come to my plaace at Kynance this very night, you shall. The
boys 'll soon be 'ere now. A special cargo, Jasper, 'nough to make yer
lips water. Things I bot from a Injun marchant, my deear--cheap. And
this es a clain off plaace to put et for a vew days."

"Are you sure it's safe here, Cap'n Jack?" I said, for already I began
to be interested in the smuggler's plans.

"Saafe, who do knaw about this plaace?"

"Betsey Fraddam and Eli."

"Iss, for sure--I knaw they do, else _you_ wudden a knawed. But who
besides?"

"Do you think Ikey Trethewy hasn't found out, living where he has lived
all these years?"

"Ikey! Iss, Ikey do knaw. Aw, aw!"

I saw his meaning, and suspected then what I afterward found to be true.
Cap'n Jack's business was very extensive, and he employed people up and
down the coast on both sides of the county. Moreover, several pedlars
who carried jewelry, laces, and fine silks, obtained their supplies from
Cap'n Jack.

"The Preventive men are busy watching you," I said.

"The Preventive men, aw, my deear. Iss, they be watchin', but how do you
knaw?"

I told him what I had heard between them and Richard Tresidder.

"Iss, iss," said Cap'n Jack, with a grunt of satisfaction; "tha's all
right, and they'll never vind out, no, they'll never vind out, and now
you've zaid oal, my booy?"

"No, I haven't; there's another who knows."

"Who?"

He looked at me in such a way, that before I had time to think his white
eyes seemed to drag the words from me.

"Miss Naomi Penryn," I said.

Never did I see such a change in any one. He no longer had the
appearance of a mild and inoffensive man. The look of harmless
indecision was gone, and all his pious sentiments were flung to the
wind. He burst out with a string of oaths such as I had never heard
before, and which made my flesh creep.

"Tell me all you know of this, Jasper Pennington," he said, presently,
"everything."

I could not disobey him at that time, and I told him what I have written
here, save but for the story of my love--that I kept in my own heart.

"She came in here to keep you from bein' found, did she?"

"Yes."

Then he became a little mild-mannered man again. He had grasped the
situation in a minute, and he had seen more than had come into my mind.
He commenced smoking again and continued for a few minutes, then he
started up suddenly.

"Sam, Bill, sonnies, come in there."

Instantly the two men entered.

"They're comin', be'ant 'em?"

"Iss, Cap'n."

A few seconds later I heard the sound of voices, and presently I knew
that several men were entering the cave.

"All safe, sonnies?" asked Cap'n Jack.

"Iss, Cap'n."

"Ah, Providence es very good. It's a vallyable cargo ef I did buy et
cheap."

The men laughed.

A number of bales of goods were brought into the inner cave, but I could
not discover what they were. I could see that the men were eyeing me
keenly, and I thought unpleasantly; but no word was spoken until the
cargo was unloaded, and safely stowed away.

"Nobody seed, I spoase."

"A dark night, Cap'n. No moon, no stars."

"Ah, Providence es very good, sonnies," repeated Cap'n Jack, then,
turning to me, he said, "You'll be wantin' to know who this es?"

There was an expression of assent.

"Some ov 'ee do knaw un, I reckon. Ah, Ikey Trethewy, I see you do, and
so do you, Zacky Bunny. This, sonnies, is Maaster Jasper Pennington.
You've 'eerd me spaik about un. Well, 'ee's a-goin' to jine us,
laistways, 'ee's a-goin' to Kynance to-night jist to zee, ya knaw.
There, you'd better be off, 'cipt Ikey Trethewy. He's near 'ome, 'ee is.
Wait outside a minnit, my deears, we'll be out in a minnit."

All left the inner cave except Ikey Trethewy, who stood watching us as
if in wonder.

Cap'n Jack hunted around the cave for a few seconds until he found an
inkhorn and a pen. "I do like to kip things handy," he said; "nobody do
knaw what'll 'appen." Then, turning to Ikey Trethewy, he said, "You do
knaw of a young woman who do live up to Pennington--a young woman jist
come there, called Penryn, I speck, Ikey, my deear?"

Ikey nodded.

"Have 'ee got a bit ov paper, sonny?"

"No, Cap'n."

"Ah, tha's awkard. This 'll do, I 'spect--a bit of the prayer-book. I
allays like to carry a prayer-book weth me, 'tes oncommon lucky. There,
Jasper Pennington, write."

I dipped the pen into the inkhorn, and put the paper which he had torn
from the prayer-book on a flat, smooth piece of slatestone. "What?" I
asked.

"Write what I shall tell 'ee, now then:

"_To Miss Naomi Penryn. If you breathe one word about, or come near
Granfer Fraddam's Cave, I am a dead man!_"

I wrote the words as he spoke them. "Is that all?" I asked.

"Sign yer naame, sonny."

I did as he told me.

He took the paper from me and spelt out the words carefully. "Ah, 'tes a
grand thing to be a schullard," he said, admiringly. Then he turned to
Ikey Trethewy. "This must be put in that young woman's hands at once,
an' nobody must knaw 'bout et. Mind!"

"Iss, Cap'n," responded Ikey.

"Now we'll go," said Cap'n Jack. "Good-night, Ikey. Ah, 'tes a good
thing to be a man of paice, and full of love for one's fella cretters.
Now then, Jasper."

Two men waited for us in the outer cave, and a few seconds later I was
in a boat bound for Kynance Cove.

Morning was breaking as we passed the Lizard, and, strangely
circumstanced as I was, I could not help feeling awed as I looked upon
the great headland. Little wind blew, but the long lines of white
breakers thundered on the hard yellow sands, while the low-lying rocks
churned the sea into foam.

"Purty, ed'n et, Jasper?" remarked Cap'n Jack. "'Ave 'ee ever zeed the
Lizard afore, Jasper?"

"Never, Cap'n Jack."

"Ah, I'll make a man ov 'ee. I've a cutter ov my oan, sonny; not sa big,
but a purty thing. She do want a cap'n, Jasper; one as knaws figgers,
an' can larn navigation. I do want a gen'lman by birth, an' a great
lashin' chap like you, Jasper--wawn as can taake a couple ov andy-sized
men and knock their heads together. Oa, ther's providence in things,
Jasper."

I said nothing, but my heart felt sad. I felt as if I were drifting away
from Naomi, and that in spite of myself I was cutting the rope that held
me to her.

Meanwhile the boats skirted the headland, and I saw the rocky coves of
Kynance in the near distance.

"Well, we be near 'ome, sonnies," said the captain, "after a safe
journey. Spoasin' somebody stricks up a bit of song now. Fishermen
agoin' 'ome ov a mornin', we be. We've toiled oal night an' caught
nothin', as the scripters say. Strik up now, 'Lijah Lowry, you've a fine
and purty voice. Now, then, sweet and stiddy, my booy."

So Elijah Lowry started a song, and the rest joined in the chorus.

"Zing, Jasper," cried Cap'n Jack, when one verse was completed. "Jine in
the cheerful song; let the people zee wot a contented, 'appy,
law-abidin' lot we fishermen be. Now, then, chorus:


     "Thrice the thunderin' seas did roar,
       Thrice the thunderin' winds did blow,
     While the brave sailors were rockin' on the top,
       And the landlubbers layin' down below.
     Below, below, below, below, bel--o--o--o--w!
       And the landlubbers layin' down below!"


"Now, then, peart and stiddy oal," cried Cap'n Jack. "An' seein' as 'ow
Providence 'ave bin sa kind, I do want 'ee to come up to my 'ouse
to-night for supper. Ya knaw wot a good cook my maid Tamsin es. Well,
she'll do 'er best fur to-night. Hake an' conger pie, roast beef and
curney puddin', heave to an' come again, jist like kurl singers at
Crismas time, my deears. Now, then, Jasper, you come long wi' me."

I walked with Cap'n Jack up a deep gully. On either hand the sides of
the chasm shot up, steeper than the roof of a house, while in some
places they were perpendicular.

"Nice'n lew 'ere, Jasper, my deear. Zee 'ow the things do graw. See the
'sparagus twigs, my deear. Like little fir-trees, be'ant 'em then. Aw,
'tes a keenly plaace, this es. Do 'ee zee thicky 'ouse up there, Jasper.
Tha's mine--an' Tamsin 'll be waitin' for me. Providence took away 'er
mawther, but left Tamsin; an' Providence was kind, Jasper, for her
mawther _'ad_ a tongue, my deear. Jaw! ah, but Tamsin's mawther 'ad a
speshul gift for jawin'! I caan't zay as 'ow I liked et, but I caan't
deny that she was a gifted woman."

I could not but admit that Cap'n Jack spoke the truth about his house.
It was situated on the side of the gorge, well sheltered from the winds,
yet so placed that from the gable windows a broad expanse of sea could
be seen. It was a well-built house, too, substantial and roomy. In the
front was a garden, well stocked with flowers and vegetables. In this
garden were two figureheads, supposed to represent Admiral Blake and Sir
Walter Raleigh.

"Godly men, both of 'em," remarked Cap'n Jack; "an' both of 'em down on
Popery. I be oal for a sound, solid religion, I be. Sir Walter brought
baccy, and the Admiral, well 'ee polished off the Spaniards and took a
lot of treasure from the Spanish ships. Some would call 'im a pirate,
Jasper, my deear, but I be'ant that kind of a man. No, no, thews furrin
chaps ca'ant 'spect we to laive 'em go wethout payin' toll. 'Ere we be,
Tamsin, my deear!"

The latter remark was addressed to a stout, buxom girl of twenty, who
greeted her father warmly, looking at me curiously all the while.

"Now, Tamsin, my deear, we waant some breakfast. Wot'll 'ee 'ave,
Jasper? 'Am rasher, my deear, or a few pilchers? Or p'raps Tamsin 'ave
got some vowl pie? This es my maid, Tamsin, this es, by the blessin' of
Providence--my one yaw lamb, tha's wot she es. As spruce a maid as there
es in the country, my deear. An' I forgot, you dunnaw Jasper, do 'ee,
Tamsin? This es Jasper Pennington, a godly young man who, like Esau of
ould, 'ave bin rubbed of his birthright an' hes blessin'. He's a-goin'
to jine us, Tamsin, 'n' then 'ee'll git back the birthright, an' laive
Nick Trezidder 'ave the blessin'. Aw! Aw! Now, then, Jasper, haive too,
my deear."

We sat down to breakfast, and I must confess to eating with a good
appetite. When I lifted my eyes from my plate I saw that Tamsin was
watching me curiously, as though she could not quite make me out.
Certainly I was not very presentable. My clothes were stained and torn,
and my appearance altogether unkempt. I felt ill at ease, too, and did
not care to talk much. Besides, in spite of my strange position, I was
tired and sleepy. This Cap'n Jack presently noted.

"You'll want to slaip, Jasper. Well, Tamsin shall give 'ee a bed, oal
down, my deear--make 'ee sleep when you do'ant want to. I do veel like
that, too. After we've 'ad a slaip, Jasper, we'll talk a bit avore the
booys do come up to supper. A slap-bang supper now, Tamsin, mind that!"

Tamsin left the room to prepare a bed for me, while Cap'n Jack pulled
off his boots.

"A clain off maid, Jasper, clain off. Spruce as a new pin, an' fresh as
a new painted boat. Temper like a lamb, Jasper. Ah! she'll be a grand
wife fur somebody, an' not short of a fortin neither. I've been a savin'
man, sonny, an' 'ave bin oncommon lucky in traade. I spoase Israel
Barnicoat do want 'er, an' Israel's a braavish booy, but Tamsin doan't
take to 'im. No, she doan't. Ah, there she es. Es Jasper's bed ready?
That's yer soarts."

He gave his daughter a sounding kiss, and went upstairs singing:


     "Her eyes be as blue as the sea,
       Her 'air like goulden grain,
     An' she'll stick to me, and only me
       Till I come back again.
       Again, again, again,
       Till I come back again."


"There, Jasper, thicky's the room, and tha's the bed, oal clain an'
purty, my deear."

How long I slept I do not know, but it was a long time, for I was very
tired. It was a long time since I had slept in a soft clean bed, and I
did not fail to appreciate the one Tamsin had prepared. I awoke at
length, however, and heard a tap at the door.

"Your new clothes are at the door." It was Tamsin who spoke.

On getting up and opening the door, I found a pile of clothes lying, and
on examining them I found them to be well made, and of good material.
They fitted me, too, and I must confess that I looked at myself with
considerable satisfaction when I had dressed myself. I saw, too, on
entering the kitchen that Tamsin approved of my changed appearance.

"Father's gone down to the cove," she said.

She spoke correctly, and her voice was low and musical.

"He'll not be back for half an hour," she continued; "when he comes I
expect he'll bring the men back to supper. I want us to have a talk now.
I want you to tell me why you are here. I want to know if you realise
what you are doing. Father will tell me nothing; but I cannot believe
you know what joining his gang means."



CHAPTER IX

WHAT HAPPENED AT CAP'N JACK'S HOUSE--TAMSIN'S CONFESSION, AND THE
SMUGGLERS' PLANS


As I looked into Tamsin Truscott's eyes, I could not help thinking what
a good-looking maid she was. I was sure she spoke earnestly, too.
Evidently she regarded me as different from the gang of men of which her
father was captain, and wanted to know the reason of my coming among
them.

Now I have before said I have never regarded myself as a clever
man--none of my race have ever been. Honest men the Penningtons have
always been; brave men, too, although I, perhaps, am not the man to say
it, but not men who understand things quickly. Often after I have had
dealings with people, it has come to my mind what I might have said and
done, how I might have left some questions unanswered while others I
could have answered differently. Lawyer Trefry once told me I should
never get a living with my brains; I had too much body, he said. I am
not ashamed to say this. Nay, I have no faith in men who are clever
enough to give lying answers instead of true ones. Give me a man who
speaks out straight, and who knows nothing of crooked ways. The men that
the country wants are not clever, scheming men, who wriggle out of
difficulties by underhanded ways, but those who see only the truth, and
speak it, and fight for it if needs be. I am glad I had a fair amount of
schooling, as becomes one who ought to have been the squire of a parish,
but I am more thankful because I stand six feet four inches in my
stockings, and measured forty-six inches around the naked chest even at
twenty-one, and that I know next to nothing of sickness or bodily pain.
But more than everything, I am proud that although I have been badly
treated I have told no lies in order that truth may prevail, neither do
I remember striking an unfair blow. No doubt, I shall have many things
to answer for on the Judgment Day, but I believe God will reckon to my
account the fact that I tried to fight fairly when sorely tempted to do
otherwise.

I say this, because it may seem to many that I was foolish in telling
Tamsin Truscott the truth about myself. But as I said just now, I am not
clever at answering people, neither could I frame answers to her
questions which would hide the truth from her. Before we had been
talking ten minutes I had told her all about myself, except my love for
Naomi. I dared not speak about that, for I felt I was not worthy to
speak of her, whose life was far removed from unlawful men and their
ways. Moreover I could not bear that the secret of my heart should be
known. It should be first told to the one who only had a right to hear
it, even although she should refuse that which I offered her.

"And so," said Tamsin, "my father has promised that you shall win enough
money to buy Pennington if you will work with him."

"That he has," was my reply.

"And do you know the kind of life he lives?"

"I have heard," I replied.

"And would you feel happy, Jasper Pennington, if you bought back your
home, got by such means?"

"As for that," I replied, for I did not feel comfortable under her
words, "what harm is there in smuggling? I know of several parsons who
buy smuggled goods."

"If smuggling were all!" she said, significantly.

"But is it not all?" I queried. "Your father told me that this was all
he required."

"Do you think you could gain enough by smuggling? Bill Lurgy has been
with my father for years; does he look like one who could buy back
Pennington?"

"He is but a paid man," I replied. "Your father has promised that I
shall have shares in his profits."

A look of scorn flashed from her eyes, which I could not understand, and
she seemed to be about to say some words which caused her much feeling,
when her eyes looked straight into mine, and I saw the blood course up
into her face, until her very brow became crimson. Her hands trembled,
too, while her lips twitched so that she was unable to speak.

Now, I could not understand this, especially as a few seconds before she
had been so eager to talk.

"Would you advise me to ask your father to release me of my promise,
then?" I asked. "I cannot go at once without his consent, for I have
given my word I will stay with him for one month."

For answer she caught my hands eagerly. "No, no, stay!" she said. "I
will see to it that you are fairly treated. You must not go away!"

This puzzled me much, but I had no time to ask her what she meant, for
just then her father and several of his men came into the room.

There was great carousing that night at Cap'n Jack's house. A great
deal of grog was drunk, and many strange things said, and yet I could
not help feeling that a kind of reserve was upon the party. I noticed
that when some story was being told Cap'n Jack coughed, whereupon the
eyes of the story-teller were turned upon me, and the yarn remained
unfinished. I could see, too, that many of the men did not like me, and
I grew uneasy at the ugly looks they gave me. Moreover, I could not help
remembering that in spite of all I was a Pennington, and was no fit
company for such as they. And yet I could not escape, for I was hemmed
in on every side.

At the end of a month I began to feel more at home among my
surroundings, and up to that time was not asked to do anything
particularly objectionable. It is true I helped to bring several cargoes
of smuggled goods ashore, but that did not trouble me. Moreover, I
learnt many things about the coast of which I had hitherto been
ignorant. At the end of two months I knew the coast from Gurnard's Head
to Kynance Cove, and had also spent a good deal of time in learning
navigation, which Cap'n Jack assured me would be essential to my getting
back Pennington. I had no rupture with any of the men, and yet I saw
they did not like me. Especially did Israel Barnicoat regard me with a
great deal of disfavour. I thought at the time that he was jealous of
the favour which Cap'n Jack showed me, for I knew no other reason why he
should dislike me. It was true that until I came he was regarded as the
strongest man in Cap'n Jack's gang, and was angry when he heard some one
say that I could play with two such as he.

"I would like to try a hitch with you, Squire," he said one day, when
Cap'n Jack had been chaffing him.

We were standing on the little green outside the Cap'n's house, and
several of us were together. I did not want to wrestle with him, for it
is ill playing a game of strength with a man who cannot keep his temper.
So I told him I would rather let him be regarded as the strongest man
that Cap'n Jack had. Whereupon he swore loudly and called me a coward,
so that I was obliged to accept his challenge. I had no sooner thrown
off my coat than Tamsin came to the door, and when Israel saw her his
arms became hard, and a strange light shone from his eyes.

"Throw off your shoes, Israel," I said. "We won't go in for kicking like
the up-country fellows, let's play like true Cornish lads."

Then I took off my heavy boots, and he did likewise, although I could
see he was not pleased. After that I waited quietly and let him get his
hitch on me first. But he was no match for me; try as he would, he could
not throw me, although he could see I did not put forth my strength.
Then, when I had let him do his utmost, I slipped from his grasp, put my
loins under his body, and threw him on the sward.

"Bravo!" cried Tamsin. "Ah, Israel, you are but a baby in his hands,"
and she laughed gleefully.

"It was a coward's throw," shouted Israel. "He struck me in the wind
with his knee--a coward's kick!"

"Coward!" I cried. "Nay, Israel Barnicoat, I could play with two such as
you. Let your brother come with you, and I'll throw you both."

With that Micah Barnicoat came up, and both together they leaped upon
me; but I caught them like I have seen the schoolmaster at Tregorny
catch two boys, and knocked their heads together; then with a little
trick I laid them both on the sward.

I do not write this boastingly, because I had nothing to do but to use
the strength which God gave me. I could not help it that I came of a
large-boned, strong race. My forefathers had been mighty men, and
although I am told I am far smaller and weaker than they, Israel
Barnicoat and his brother seemed like children in my hands. Neither
would I have written this save that it has to do with the story of my
life, which I am trying to tell truthfully, although, I am afraid, with
but little skill.

Israel looked at me more evilly than ever as he rose to his feet, but he
said no word, even though the men laughed loudly, and Tamsin rejoiced at
my success. I liked it not, however, when that same evening I saw Israel
eagerly talking with a group of men, each of whom held their peace as I
came up. This set me thinking, and finally a conviction laid hold of me
that Israel was my enemy, and that he would do me evil if he had the
chance.

After I had gone to bed that night I heard the sound of voices in the
garden, and presently, as if by arrangement, Cap'n Jack went to them.

"Where's the Squire?" I heard Israel Barnicoat say--they had called me
Squire from the first.

"Been in bed more'n an hour," was the reply.

"Look 'ere, Cap'n Jack," said Israel; "we want to spaik plain. Why is he
to be put afore we? Here 'ee es, livin' at your 'ouse as ef 'ee was yer
son. He ain't got to do no dirty work. Oal we want es fair play. Laive
'ee do loustrin' jobs same as we do."

"Anything else?" asked Cap'n Jack.

"I do'ant bleeve in makin' fish o' waun and flesh of t'other. All
alike, I zay."

"Be I cap'n?" asked Cap'n Jack.

"Iss, you be; but we chaps 'ave got our rights, tha's wot I zay. Wot's
ee more'n we?"

"Be I a fool, Israel Barnicoat?" asked Cap'n Jack. "Caan't I zee wot's
good fur us oal? He's larnin' navigation--wot fur? Ain't us got a ship
that 'll need navigation? We want a man as knaws figgers an's got
schoolin'; 'ave you got et? We want somebody as can play the genleman;
can you do et? Billy Coad es too ould to taake command ov the _Flyin'
Swan_ much longer; well, wot then? Who's to do et? You knaw we caan't
'ford to 'ave outsiders. 'Sides, ef 'ee once gits in weth we--well,
we've got un, ain't us?"

"Well, wot then?"

"He'll buy back Pennington."

"Wot's the use o' that to we?"

"Be 'ee a fool, Israel Barnicoat? Caan't 'ee zee that eff he's one o'
we, and he gits back his rights, that we'm as safe as eggs, an' shell
allays have a squire an' a magistrate on our side? Tha's wot I be
humourin' 'im for. I do'ant want to drive un away fust thing."

A good deal of murmuring followed this, some of the men evidently
agreeing with their captain, others feeling with Israel that I had had
too many favours shown me. Then they talked too low for me to hear,
except now and then fragments of sentences about the "queer-coloured
flag on the _Flying Swan_," and "Billy Coad makin' many a man walk the
plank."

All this opened my eyes to many things which had not hitherto been plain
to me, and I listened more eagerly than ever, in order to understand
their plans concerning me; but I could make nothing out of the orders
which Cap'n Jack was giving. At last, just before they left him, one
asked a question in a low voice: "When is the _Flying Swan_ expected?"

"A couple ov months, sonny. We must humour un a bit, and git un in our
ways. We ca'ant 'ford to be fullish jist now."

Presently they all left with the exception of Israel Barnicoat, who
spoke to Cap'n Jack eagerly.

"'Tes oal very well to talk, Cap'n," he said, "but 'ee's stailin' away
Tamsin from me."

"Did you ever 'ave Tamsin to stail, sonny?" asked the Cap'n.

"Well, I 'ad a chance at wawn time, but now she's tooked on weth he.
Mind, Cap'n, ef he do git Tamsin ther'll be somebody missin'!"

"Doan't be a fool, Israel," replied Cap'n Jack. "Go away 'ome, sonny,
and be ready for yer work in the mornin'."

"But mind, Cap'n, the Squire must obey oarders saame as we, else ther'll
be mutiny."

"Well, 'ee shell, ther' now. Good-night, Israel; good-night, sonny, and
by the blessing of Providence you'll be a rich man yet."

I turned over all this many times in my mind, and, as may be imagined, I
was sore driven what to think. Up till now I had not been asked, beyond
smuggling, to do anything unlawful, but now I saw that I was intended
for wild work. Moreover, I knew not how to get out of it, for Cap'n Jack
had, in a way, got me in his power. I had heard of several who had once
belonged to his gang, and who had come to an untimely end, and this not
by means of the law, but by unknown ways. I also called to mind one of
his stories concerning one Moses Rowse, who, because he wanted to "turn
religious," was found on the beach one day with his head broken, while
another went away from home and never came back again.

All this, I say, wrought upon me strangely--so much so that I did not
sleep that night, and I formed many plans as to how I might escape,
until my brain was weary.

The next day I noticed that Cap'n Jack was eagerly looking at the sea,
as though he saw something of interest, although I, who looked in the
direction toward which his eyes were turned, could see nothing.

"I reckon ther'll be some work to-night, Jasper, my sonny," he remarked,
after looking steadily a long time. "It do come dark early thaise
November days, an' it'll be a baisly muggy night to-night, tha's wot
't'll be. I must go down to the cove and zee the booys."

When he was gone Tamsin came to me.

"What are you so stand-offish for?" she asked.

I did not reply, for my heart was sad.

"And what did you think of the talk between father and the men last
night?" she asked.

"What do you know about it?" I asked.

"I know you were listening," she replied; "but never mind, it's all safe
with me; and, Jasper, you mustn't think that I care about Israel
Barnicoat, I don't like un a bit."

"He's the strongest man in your father's gang," I said.

"No, Jasper, he's no man at all when you are near. How could I look on
Israel Barnicoat now I've seen you?" She said this with a sob, and then
I knew that Tamsin Truscott loved me. She caught my great brown hand
and kissed it. "Jasper," she cried, "I know where father keeps his
money, love me, and I will get it for you; more than enough to buy back
Pennington. No one knows how rich father is. I know, I know!"

The maid spoke like one demented, and, for the moment, I knew not how to
answer her. Not that I despised her for saying what always ought to be
said by the man, for I believe that her heart was as clean as a
wind-swept sky. For a moment, too, wild, unnatural thoughts came into my
mind which I will not here set down. But even as they came the picture
of Naomi's face came before me, and they departed with the swiftness of
lightning. For I have found this to be true: a true love ever destroys
baser and poorer loves. Let a man love truly a true, pure woman, and all
womanhood is sacred to him. And because I loved Naomi truly no other
love could come into my life.

So I did not reply to Tamsin's words, but walked away toward the cove
instead. Still her words had their effect--they determined me to leave
Cap'n Jack's gang as soon as possible. I saw now that it would be wrong
to stay at Kynance Cove, wrong to Tamsin, wrong to myself. It would be
unworthy of my love for Naomi. For two months I had not realised what
lay before me, now I understood. How could I go to her with words of
love upon my lips, when I sought to win back the home of my fathers by
such means as Cap'n Jack hinted in his talk with his followers the night
before? And so again and again I planned how I might get away.

Early in the afternoon Cap'n Jack came to me. "I want us to crake a bit,
sonny," he said. I did not reply, but I sat down near him in the open
chimney.

"It's time we come to bisness," he said. "You've bin loppin' 'bout for
two months, doin' nothin' much. Well, the booys be jillus, Jasper, and
they want things clear."

"I've done all you've asked me," I replied.

"Iss, so you 'ave, sonny, but I want to maake a man ov 'ee. I've got a
purty boat, Jasper, called _The Flying Swan_. She'll be 'ome soon from
what I 'ope will be a prosperous voyage. I want you to go on 'er as a
soart of maate, to taake command laater on."

"What do you mean?" I asked. "What is this _Flying Swan_ of which you
are the owner? Is she a trading vessel? What does she carry? Besides,
why choose me? I know nothing about sea life."

"I'll tell 'ee," he said. "The _Flyin' Swan_ is used for smugglin' on a
biggish scale. She's manned by as braave a lot of chaps as ever clained
the seams of a deck. Her cap'n es Billy Coad, a man you may 'ave 'eer'd
on, and wawn you would like to knaw. A man of rare piety, Jasper. He and
me be the main owners, by the blessin' of Providence. Ah, it would do
yer 'art good to hear 'im give his Christian experience."

"Smuggling on a biggish scale. What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"Well, dailin' direct weth the furrin' poarts, and at times, when Billy
do see a vessel in the open say, wot do carry the flag of a Papist
country, say the Spanish, well, I doan't deny--but there."

"You mean that the _Flying Swan_ is but little better than a pirate
ship."

"Never call things by ugly naames," replied Cap'n Jack; "besides, I do
look upon this as your main chance of buyin' back Pennington."

"Suppose I refuse?" I suggested.

"You wa'ant refuse, sonny."

"Why not?"

"Well, twudden pay 'ee. We doan't never have that sort wi' we. I'm a man
of paice, I be; but thaise be loanely paarts, my sonny. Nearer than
Lezard Town ther's 'ardly a 'ouse. You wudden be missed much."

"But suppose I were to leave you?"

"Laive us; no, sonny, you ca'ant do that now. You knaw too much."

"How can you keep me? Suppose I were to leave the house now, ay, leave
the county, who could stop me?"

"I could, sonny. Do you think I'm a cheeld? I've got the county
ringed--I've got men everywhere. Cap'n Jack Truscott's gang is a big
affair, my son, an' I telly this, ef you tried to git away to-night
you'd be a dead man afore to-morrow, for oal I'm a man of paice, and
send presents to the passon in place of tithes; I doan't stand no
nonsense, mind that, my son."

His white eyes shone with a strange light, and I knew he had his fears
about my loyalty.

"The truth es, Jasper," went on Cap'n Jack, "you've come wi' we, and wi'
we you must stay; that es, till you git 'nough to buy back Pennington.
Aw, aw!"

"And if I do?"

"I shell 'ave a squire for my friend, and--well, you'll still be one o'
we. You see, my sonny, we've got many ways o' doin' things, an' when I
once gits 'old ov a chap, well, I sticks. But theer, sonny, wot's the
use ov angry words. I'm a paicable man, and wen you knaw us better,
you'll knaw 'ow we stick to aich other through thick and thin. I like
'ee, Jasper, an' I've got need ov 'ee. A strong fella you be--Israel
Barnicoat and his brother Micah was just like little babbies to 'ee. A
schullard, too, and knaw figgers. Iss, a year on the _Flyin' Swan_ on an
expedishan I'm a thinkin' on will buy back Pennington, and then, well,
we shall see, Jasper. Why shudden I be the squire's father-in-law, eh,
sonny? An' Tamsin es a grand maid, ed'n she then?"

Slowly my mind grasped his meaning, but I did not speak.

"Still, tho' you be a fav'rite ov mine, Jasper, the booys be jillus,
that ev it. An' ther's a bit of work on to-night, sonny. There's a craft
a few miles out, an' to-night will be baisly and black. Well, the booys
insist on your takin' our ould mare, an' tyin' a lantern on to her neck,
an' leadin' 'er on the cliff toward the Lizard. It'll do thou'll mare
good, and be a light to the vessel."

"Such a light would lure her on to the rocks!" I cried.

"Wud et, Jasper? Well, some wud blaame Providence for these things. But
it must be done."

"And suppose the Preventive men see me?"

"Wot be a couple of sich chaps to you? You could knack their 'eads
together like you ded by Micah and Israel."

"And if I refuse?"

He looked at me steadily for a minute with his white eyes gleaming
strangely in the firelight; then he said, slowly, "Ef you refuse this
time, my sonny, you'll never refuse no more in this world."

All the same I made up my mind that I would escape from Cap'n Jack's
gang that very night, and that I would take no part in luring a vessel
on to destruction.



CHAPTER X

WHAT BECAME OF THE WRECKERS' LIGHT--HOW I ESCAPED AND ENTERED PENNINGTON


An hour later a number of men were in the kitchen of Cap'n Jack's house,
and from the way they talked I knew they meant that the vessel which
they had been watching should that night be destroyed. Never until then
did I realise the utter heartlessness of the gang. They seemed to care
nothing for the lives of those on the ship which they had decided to
wreck. In their lust for gain nothing was sacred to them. As far as I
could gather, their plan was that I should lead Cap'n Jack's horse along
the edge of the cliffs with a lantern fastened to its neck. This to a
ship at sea would seem like the light of another ship. The false light
would thus lead the captain to steer his vessel straight upon the rocks.
Outside was a wild, high sea, the clouds overhead were black as ink, and
not a star appeared, thus the doomed vessel would be at the mercy of the
wreckers. It was Cap'n Jack's plan to have his men in readiness to seize
upon all the valuables of the ship, and that the crew should be drowned.
They had made out that the vessel was bound for Falmouth, but that in
the blackness of the night the crew would lose their whereabouts, and
would eagerly steer toward what they would believe to be the light of
another vessel.

Why I had been chosen to show the false light I knew not, except that
such a deed, by exposing me to the vigilance of the Preventive men,
would bind me more securely. They did not seem to think that I should
fail in doing this. As Cap'n Jack had said, to fail to obey the commands
of the gang meant an untimely death, while to try and escape would bring
upon me the same punishment.

Every man was well primed with brandy, and Cap'n Jack saw that while
each one had enough to excite him to wild deeds, no man was allowed to
drink to such a degree that he became in any way incapacitated for the
work before him.

During the conversation, however, I noticed that Israel Barnicoat spoke
no word. Instead, he kept his eyes upon me. When the conference was
ended, however, and all their plans, which I have barely hinted at,
because in my ignorance and excitement I could only dimly understand
them, Israel spoke aloud.

"Cap'n," he said; "the Squire have never done a job like this afore,
he'll need somebody weth un."

"We ca'ant spare more'n one man for sich a job," was the response.

"It'll need another, I tell 'ee," replied Israel.

"Then thee c'n kip un company," was Cap'n Jack's reply.

"Oal right," cried Israel, but he kept his eyes away from me as he
spoke.

"Tell 'ee where we'll begin," continued Israel, still looking away from
me. "We'll take old Smiler right to the Lizard, jist off Carligga Rocks,
we'll kip on cloase by Polpeor, an' on to Bumble. I reckon by that time
she'll be on the rocks. You c'n board 'er there, ef needs be, and we'll
mit you in the saicret caave in Honsel Cove."

"Iss, that'll do very well, sonny," was Cap'n Jack's reply. "By coose we
mayn't git 'er afore she do git to the Devil's Fryin' Pan or Cadwith,
and ef you fail theer, you must git to Black Head as fast as yer legs
can car'ee. But kip away from Ruan Minor, Israel, my sonny. The
Preventive men be strong there."

"Trust me," laughed Israel.

Cap'n Jack went out and looked seaward, anxiously. "You must start in a
'our or a 'our and haalf, Israel, my sonny, and the rest of us must git
doun to the Cove to once," he said, when he came back.

"Oal right, Cap'n," replied Israel, "I jist want to go and spaik to
mauther, while the Squire do git the oull mare ready."

I went out as he spoke, and then acting on sudden impulse, determined to
follow him. A minute later I was glad I had done so, for I saw that he
was going away from his mother's house. He hurried rapidly along the
Helston road until he came to a little beer-house, or as the folks
called it a kiddleywink, which he entered. When I had arrived at the
door of this kiddleywink, I was at a loss what to do, neither could I
make out why he had come here. I had barely time to think, however,
before Israel came out again, and I saw that he was accompanied by a
Preventive man.

"I've got a job for 'ee," said Israel.

"What?"

"A chap showin' a false light to-night."

"But I'd arranged weth the Cap'n to kip away, an' to kip our chaps
away."

"Never mind that. I c'n maake et wuth yer while."

"Well, what es et?"

"Be jist off The Stags at twelve o'clock to-night. A young fella will be
laidin' an ould gray mare."

"But wot about the Cap'n?"

"I tell 'ee 't'll be for your good. You do as I tell 'ee, Ellic, or,
well, you'll knaw what!"

"But et'll spoil yer plans!"

"Never mind. Look 'ere--" Then he talked earnestly in low tones so that
I could not hear. Evidently, however, he satisfied the officer, for I
heard him say, "Clain off. A reglar feather in my cap, and the Cap'n
wa'ant knaw."

When Israel returned to Cap'n Jack's house I had the mare all ready.

"We'll go stright to Carn Barrow," he said, shortly.

"That wasn't Cap'n Jack's plan," was my reply.

"Look 'ere, Squire, I'm to work this. You'm new to this work. I tell 'ee
we must git to the Devil's Fryin' Pan by ten o'clock, and then git back
to The Stags 'bout twelve."

"Very well," I replied, "I'm ready."

"'Tes a good two mile by road to the Fryin' Pan," he remarked. "And 'tes
oppen downs nearly oal the way to The Stags." He seemed to think a
minute, then he said, "No, we wa'ant go so far as that, we'll jist go to
Bumble Rock, and then kip on the top by Poltream Cove. That'll taake us
oal our time."

He led the horse and I carried the lantern, which he said should not be
lit until we came to Bumble Rock, which stands by a gully in the
headland, where the seas roar with a terrible noise as they break upon
the coast.

Not a word was spoken as we went along in the darkness. As well as I
could I kept watch on him, for I knew he hated me. He was jealous of me
for several reasons. For one thing, since I had come, Tamsin Truscott
had ceased to notice him, and for another, he was no longer regarded as
the strongest man in the gang. For years he had been proud of this, and
now the men laughed at him because I was able to play with both him and
his brother. Perhaps the wrestling match at which I had mastered him so
easily had more to do with his enmity than the fact that Tamsin no
longer smiled on him. For his pride in his strength was greater than his
love.

As I have said, it was a wild dark night. A great sea hurled itself on
the coast, although ordinarily it could not be called dangerous. As we
drew near the rocks, however, we could hear the waves roaring like a
thousand angry beasts. Bumble Rock rose up like a great giant, and
seemed to laugh at the black waves which it churned into foam. The rocks
which we could dimly see, for our eyes had become used to the darkness,
seemed like the teeth of a hideous monster, which would cruelly tear any
ship that the waves should dash upon them. The thought of the vessel,
evidently bound for Falmouth Harbour, being lured to destruction, with
all hands on board, was horrible to me, and at that moment a great anger
rose in my heart toward the gang among whom I had lived for two months.
Hitherto, however, my hands had been unstained by crime, and I
determined that for the future, even although I should be hunted down by
the men into whose hands I had fallen, I would escape from them that
night.

"I've got the tinder and the flint and steel," remarked Israel, "we must
git to a lew plaace an' light the candle. Come over 'ere. Ther's a
'ollow behind the rocks, it'll do zackly."

I followed him without a word until we reached a spot that was sheltered
from the sea, although we could still hear the waves surging and
moaning, while flecks of foam often beat upon our faces.

Perhaps there is no more lonely place on God's earth than this. That
night the genius of desolation seemed to reign, while the roaring sea
told me of mad spirits playing with the angry waters. In the dim light I
could see the long line of foam, while above the dark cliffs loomed;
landward nothing was visible, save a suggestion of the outline of the
hills.

"'Tes a gashly night and this es a gashly job to be done," said Israel.
"By agor, 'ow the waaves do roar," he continued, after a minute.

"Yes, 'tis a wild night," I responded, and as if in confirmation of my
words, a great wave broke on Bumble Rock with a mighty roar, while a
shower of spray and flecks of foam fell upon us.

"Well, 'tes as lew 'ere as we can git it anywhere," he said; "ther now,
you hould the lantern while I strick the light."

"No," I replied.

"Wot do 'ee main?" he queried.

"Simply this," I answered; "no false light shall shine on this cliff
to-night." As I spoke I took the lantern and threw it over the cliffs.
Then I sprang upon him and caught his hands in mine.

"Look you, Israel Barnicoat," I said, "I know what your plans are. I
followed you as you went to the Preventive man to-night; but it is no
use. The wreckers' light will not shine to-night, neither will I be off
The Stags at twelve o'clock."

He struggled to be free, but I held him tight.

"You'll suffer for this," he screamed; "when Cap'n Jack knaws you'll
die."

"I must take chance of that," I said. Then I threw him heavily on the
sward. Taking some cord from my pocket, with which I had provided myself
before starting, I bound his hands securely behind him. Then I bound his
legs.

"Wot be 'ee goin' to do weth me now?" he shrieked.

"Nothing more."

"But you bean't goin' to laive me lie 'ere oal night, be 'ee? Why, I
sh'll die ov the cowld."

"No, you won't," I said; "as you mentioned, this is a lew place, and you
are not one who will die so easily. You may be a bit cramped by the
morning, and perhaps you may get a twinge of rheumatics, but that'll be
all. Besides, it's far better for you to suffer a bit than that yon
vessel shall be wrecked. Now I'll leave you to your sins; I'm off."

"Off where?"

"Off where you'll never see me again. You'll have company to-night,
perhaps. It's said that Peter Crowle's ghost comes here on windy nights.
I wish you pleasant company."

"Oh, doan't 'ee go," he screamed; "I'm 'fraid of sperrits, I be. Let me
free, Squire, 'n I'll never tell where you'm gone; I'll zay you'm
drowned, or tumbled ovver the cleffs or anything, onnly do cut the
ropes, and lev me be free."

"No," I said; "while you are here Cap'n Jack will think the false
lights are showing, and perhaps the vessel will be safe. As for the
spirits, you are the strongest, bravest man in the gang, and, of course,
you are not afraid of spirits."

"But you bean't agoin' to take th'oull mare?"

"Yes; Smiler will come with me. Good luck to you, Israel Barnicoat."

I sprang upon Smiler's back and rode away, leaving him in the sheltered
hollow. The night was cold and threatened rain, but I was sure that,
hardy and used to exposure as he was, he would not be hurt. When morning
came he would be searched for and found. Of course he would tell his
story to Cap'n Jack, but by that time I hoped to be out of harm's way.

At first I rode slowly, especially until I got to Ruan Major. Arrived
there, however, and having struck into the road over Goonhilly Downs, I
went faster. I felt strangely happy, for it seemed as though a weight
were rolled from my shoulders. Once more I was a free man, and I
imagined that for some hours I should not be pursued. Besides, all the
time I had been with Cap'n Jack's gang I felt that I was doing what was
unworthy of a Pennington, and worse still, what was unworthy of my love
for Naomi. But more than all, a wild scheme had come into my mind; I
would that night go to Pennington and try to see Naomi. The thought
acted upon me like some strange elixir; to hear Naomi's voice, to feel
her hand in mine, were a joy beyond all words. How I was to do this I
did not know; what difficulties I should meet I did not consider. The
thought that I should see her was enough for me, and I shouted for very
joy. The hour was not yet late, and I calculated that by hard riding I
could get to Pennington by midnight. Thus at the very hour when Israel
Barnicoat had planned for me to be taken by the Preventive men, I hoped
to be speaking to my love.

In looking back I can see that my hopes were very unreasonable. How
could I get Naomi to speak to me? At best she could only regard me as a
landless outcast, whom she had once seen pilloried in Falmouth town and
pelted by hooting boys. It is true I had told her my story in Granfer
Fraddam's Cave, and she had shown a desire to shield me from Richard
Tresidder, but she must probably have forgotten all about it. Besides,
if she had not forgotten me, she would think me either dead or far away.
The letter which I had written at Cap'n Jack's dictation would tell her
that I was in his power. During my two months' stay at Kynance Cove, I
had asked Cap'n Jack concerning Granfer Fraddam's Cave, but he always
evaded my questions, and I did not know whether she had received the
letter I had written.

At the same time my heart beat high with hope, and I was happy. For a
true love, even although difficulties beset it, is always beautiful and
joyous. As I rode along through the night, even the wild winds sang love
songs to me, while I could see the light of Naomi's eyes shining in the
darkness, revealing her face to me, pure and beautiful.

I am told that my days of romance are over, that I have reached that
stage in life when the foolishness of young lovers is impossible to me.
And yet even now I cannot see a boy and a maid together without my heart
beating faster; for there is nothing more beautiful on God's green earth
than the love of lovers, and I know that when a lad feels a girl's first
kisses on his lips, he lives in heaven, if he loves her as I loved
Naomi. There are those, even in this parish, who sneer at the bliss of
boy and girl sweethearts, but I, who remember the night when I rode from
Bumble Rock to Pennington, cannot sneer; nay, rather, the tears start to
my eyes, and I find myself fighting my battles again and dreaming of
love, even as I dreamed then.

Smiler was a better steed than I had hoped. Saddle I had none, nor
bridle, but the halter which had been placed on her head was sufficient
for me to guide her. Moreover, I had been used to horses all my life,
and felt as much at ease on a horse's back as on my feet. Thus it came
about that before midnight I had reached the parish of St. Eve, and was
making my way toward Pennington. When within sight of the house,
however, I was in a dilemma, and never until then did I realise how
difficult was the task I had set myself. The whole family was a-bed, at
least I imagined so, neither did I know the part of the house where
Naomi Penryn was. Most likely, too, dogs would be prowling around, and I
did not wish to place myself in the power of Richard Tresidder or his
son Nick. At the same time I vowed that I would see Naomi, even though I
waited there until morning.

So, tying Smiler to a tree, I crept quietly up to the house and looked
anxiously around. At first all seemed to be in darkness, but presently I
saw a light shining from one of the windows in the back part of the
house. Wondering what it might mean, I went toward it and looked through
the window. A blind had been drawn, but it did not fit the window well,
and there was an inch of glass between the window-frame and the blind
that was not covered. At first I could only see the room in a blurred
sort of way, for the leaded panes of glass were small, but presently I
saw more clearly. The room into which I looked was the kitchen, and by
the table sat a man and a woman. The man was Ikey Trethewy, whom I had
last seen in Granfer Fraddam's Cave, and who had promised to take my
letter to Naomi; the woman was the Pennington cook. The latter was a
sour and rather hard-featured woman of forty years of age. It had been a
joke of the parish that Tryphena Rowse never had a sweetheart in her
life, that she was too ugly, too cross-tempered. It was also rumoured,
however, that this was not Tryphena's fault, and that her great desire
was to get married and settle down. I soon saw that Ikey Trethewy was
there as Tryphena's sweetheart. The table was covered with tempting
eatables, of which Ikey partook freely, stopping between sups of ale and
mouthfuls of chicken pie to salute the object of his affections. I saw,
too, that these attentions were by no means disagreeable to the cook,
although she gave Ikey several admonitory taps. It was evident, too,
that Ikey's visit was clandestine. I knew that, except on special
occasions, it was the rule for Pennington doors to be closed at ten
o'clock, while it was now past midnight. Probably Ikey, who had the
reputation of being a woman-hater, did not care for his courtship to be
known, for I knew that he did not like being laughed at or joked in any
way.

I had not waited long when Ikey began to make preparations for his
departure, while Tryphena seemed to be trying to persuade him to stay a
little longer. No sound reached me, however, and I imagined that all
their conversation was carried on in whispers for fear the noise thereof
might reach the master or mistress of the establishment. He succeeded at
length, however, in breaking away from the embraces of the fair cook,
while two huge dogs which lay by the kitchen fire watched them solemnly.
Presently the door opened, and Ikey and Tryphena stood together outside.
They were quite close to me, so that I could hear their every word.

"You wa'ant be long afore you come again, Ikey?" asked Tryphena.

"Not long, my buty. P'raps you c'n git a bit a pigin pie next time."

"That I will, Ikey. But doan't 'ee think, Ikey, 'tes time for 'ee to be
puttin' in th' baans? We've bin a-courtin' like this now for more'n vive
yer."

"Well, tha's nothin', Tryphena. Jim Jory ded court Mary Hicks thirteen
yer afore they wur spliced."

"Iss; but I ca'ant kip comp'ny weth 'ee like other maids. An' ted'n
vitty fur we to be mittin' every week like this 'ere."

"Well, Tryphena, my buty, you do knaw I do love 'ee deerly. An' you be a
clain off cook, too. I niver taasted sich a vowl pie in my life, ther
now. An' yer zay 't shell be a pigin pie next week."

"Iss, Ikey; but 'twud be purty to 'ave a 'ome of our oan."

"Mawther wa'ant 'eer of et it, nor Cap'n Jack nuther. 'Nother yer or
two, Tryphena, and then I'll go to the passen. Ther, I mus' be goin'."

Another sounding kiss, and Ikey crept away very quietly, while Tryphena
began to put away the supper things. In a minute my mind was made up. I
had heard enough to settle me on my plan of action. I thought I saw the
means whereby I could see Naomi.

I waited until Tryphena had cleared away the remains of Ikey's repast,
and was evidently preparing to go to her room, and then I gave the
kitchen door a slight knock, and, imitating Ikey's voice as well as I
could, I said, "Tryphena, my buty, laive me in a minait."

She came and opened the door quickly.

"'Ave 'ee forgot summin', Ikey, deear?" she said; and then before she
recognised me I slipped in.

The dogs rose up with a low, suppressed growl, as though they were in
doubt what to do; but Tryphena, who was as anxious as I that the
household might not be disturbed, quieted them.

"Maaster Jasper Pennington!" she gasped as she looked into my face.

"That's right, Tryphena," I said. "Sit down, I want to talk with you,
and I want you to do something for me."

"No, I mustn't, I daren't. They do oal hate 'ee 'ere, Maaster Jasper. Ef
they wos to knaw you was 'ere, I dunnaw wot wud 'appen."

For a moment a great bitterness came into my heart, for I remembered
that this was the first time I had ever entered the home of my fathers.
And it galled me beyond measure that I should have to enter at midnight
at the kitchen door like a servant who came courting the servant maids.
I quickly realised my position, however, and acted accordingly.

"Yes, you must do what I ask you, Tryphena," I said.

"I tell 'ee I ca'ant."

"Then Ikey Trethewy will be in the hands of the Preventive men by
to-morrow," I replied, "and Richard Tresidder will know that a man has
come to his house for years at midnight on the sly."

I did not want to frighten the poor woman, but it had to be done. I
saw, too, that I had said sufficient to make Tryphena afraid to thwart
me.

"What do 'ee want me to do?" she asked.

"I suppose no one can hear us?" I said.

"No, oal the family, 'ciptin' Miss Naomi, do slaip in another paart ov
the 'ouse."

I listened intently, but could hear no sound; evidently all the family
was asleep.

"You remember about two months ago that Ikey brought a letter to Miss
Naomi Penryn?" I said.

"Iss."

"Well, I wrote that letter."

"I knaw; Ikey tould me."

"Well, I want to see Miss Naomi."

"When?"

"To-night. I want you to go to her room now, and tell her that I want to
see her."



CHAPTER XI

I SEE NAOMI PENRYN, AND AM GREATLY ENCOURAGED, BUT SOON AFTER AM TAKEN
PRISONER


Tryphena looked at me like one dazed. "No, Maaster Jasper," she replied,
"it caan't be done."

"It must be done."

"And what if I do?"

"I will leave the house in an hour," I replied, "and no one shall know
of what you have done, not even Ikey."

"No, Ikey musn't knaw you've been 'ere."

"Why?"

"Why, e'ed be jillus as cud be. E'ed be afraid you'd come to try and cut
un out. You zee, you be a 'andsome young man, Master Jasper."

"Well, you must do as I ask you, or Ikey will know," I said, for I saw
that Tryphena needed a good deal of pressure. At the same time I could
not help smiling at the thought of Ikey being jealous, for surely one
look at her face were enough to dispel such a thought. "You see," I went
on, "a fine-looking woman like you must be careful, if you wish to keep
such a man as Ikey. However, you do as I ask you, and some day you'll be
glad."

I believe my flattery had more to do with making Tryphena my friend than
any threats I might offer, for a smile of satisfaction came on her
lips, and she asked me how she was to do what I asked her.

"What I want," I said, "is for you to go quietly to Miss Naomi, and tell
her that Jasper Pennington is in great danger, and that he must see her
before he leaves this part of the world."

"Wot, be 'ee goin' away, then?" cried Tryphena.

"I must," I said; "now go quickly."

When she had gone I saw how unreasonable my request was. Would not Naomi
be justified in arousing the house, and would she not at the least
refuse to come and see me? And yet all the while I waited with a great
hope in my heart, for love gives hope, and I loved Naomi like my own
life. For all this, I worried myself by thinking that I did not tell
Tryphena anything whereby she could induce Naomi to come to me. For what
should she care about my danger, save as she might care about the danger
of a thousand more for whom she could do nothing?

And so I waited with an anxious heart, and when at length I heard
footsteps my bosom seemed too small for the mighty beating of my heart.
But it was not my love's footsteps that I heard, but Tryphena's. Perhaps
fellow-feeling had made her kind, for she told me in a kind, sympathetic
way that "Miss Naomi would be down d'reckly."

Now this was more than I had seriously dared to hope. No sooner did I
hear her telling me this joyful news than I felt amazed that I had ever
dreamed of asking for such a thing, while my heart grew heavy at the
thought that I had no sufficient reason for asking to see Naomi.

In less than five minutes later Naomi came into the kitchen. She looked
pale, and thin, I thought, but she was beauteous beyond all words. I am
not going to try and describe her. I am not gifted in writing fine
things, for the pen was nearly a stranger to my hands until I began to
write this history, besides I doubt if any man, great as he may be,
could do justice to Naomi's beauty. I think my heart ceased to beat for
a while, and I know that I stood looking at her stupidly, my tongue
refusing to move.

As for Tryphena, I am sure she understood my feelings, for she went into
the dairy, for the which I determined even then that I would some day
reward her.

"You said you were in danger," said Naomi, speaking first, "and that you
wanted to see me. You have asked a hard thing, but I have come."

"Miss Naomi," I said, in a low, hoarse voice, "forgive my forwardness,
for truly I am unworthy this honour, yet believe me I could not help it.
Will you sit down, so that I may try and tell you what is in my heart?"

She sat down on the old kitchen settle, and I could not help noticing
how beautifully her dark dress fitted her graceful form. At the same
time I knew not what to say. I had come because my heart hungered for
her, and because love knows no laws. Yet no words came to me, except to
say, "Naomi Penryn, I love you more than life," and those I dared not
utter, so much was I afraid of her as she sat there.

"Are you in great danger?" she asked. "I have breathed no word about
that cave, no word to any one. What did it mean?"

This gave me an opening, and then I rapidly told her what I have written
in these pages.

"And will they try and find you?" she asked when I had told my story.

"They will hunt me like dogs hunt a fox!" I replied, "so I must find my
way to Falmouth, and try and get to sea."

Her face was full of sympathy, and my heart rejoiced because she did not
seem to think it strange that I should come to her.

"And will you have to go soon?"

"I must go now," I replied, and then my sorrow and despair, at the
thought, dragged my confession from my tongue.

"But before I go," I said, "I must tell you that I love you, Naomi
Penryn. It is madness, I know; but I loved you when I was in the pillory
at Falmouth, and I have loved you ever since, and my love has been
growing stronger each day. That is why I have come here, to-night. My
heart is hungry for you, and my eyes have been aching for a sight of
your face, and I felt I could not go away without telling you, even
though I shall never see you again."

Her face seemed to grow paler than ever as I spoke, but her eyes grew
soft.

"I know I am wrong, I ought not to have come in this way," I went on,
for my tongue was unloosed now, "but I could not help it; and I am glad
I have come, for your eyes will nerve me, and the thought that you do
not scorn me will be a help to me in the unknown paths which I have to
tread. For you do not scorn me, do you?"

"Scorn you?" she asked. "Why should I scorn you?"

And then a great hope came into my heart, greater than I had ever dared
to dream of before, the hope that she might care for me! Wild I know it
was, but my own love filled me with the hope. If I loved her, might she
not, even although I were unworthy, love me? Yet I dared not ask her if
it was so; only I longed with a longing which cannot be uttered that she
should tell me, by word or look.

"And must you go soon, go now to Falmouth?" she said like one dazed.

"Yes; I must e'en go now," I said. "It is like heaven to be near you,
better than any heaven preached about by parsons, but I must go. Can you
give me no word of encouragement before I leave?"

But she made no reply, and then my heart became heavy again, so I held
out my hand, trying to appear brave.

Without hesitation, she put her hand in mine, and I felt it tremble,
just as I have felt little chicks not a week old tremble when I have
caught them. I fancied that she was afraid of me, so I said, "Thank you
for speaking to me. This meeting will help me for many a long day, and I
am afraid I have a dreary future before me."

"I hope you will come to no harm," she said, "and I hope you will obtain
what is justly yours."

"Can you say nothing else?" I cried, "not just one word?"

But just then Tryphena came in from the dairy. "Ther's a noise in
Maaster Nick's bedroom," she cried. "Git out, Maaster Jasper. Miss
Naomi, we must go up by the back stairs. Maake 'aaste, Maaster Jasper!"
And then she blew out the light, leaving us in darkness.

And then I could contain my feelings no longer, and I caught Naomi's
fingers to my mouth, and kissed them. She drew her hand away, but not as
I thought then, angrily.

"You'll be careful to let no one hurt you, will you?" she said, and I
heard a tremor in her voice, and then, before I could answer, she had
gone.

And that was all we said to each other at Pennington, and although I
hungered to keep her near me longer, and although the night into which I
went was black and stormy, my heart thumped aloud for joy. Her words
rung in my ears as I found my way among the trees, and they were sweeter
to me than the singing of birds on a summer morning. The winds blew
wildly, while in the near distance I heard the roar of the waves. The
rain fell heavily, too, but I did not care. What heeded I wind and
weather! Neither did I fear danger. I knew that I could play with men
even as others play with children, for hope stirred in my heart, hope
made the black sky as beautiful as a rainbow.

There be many joys that come into a man's life, the joy of possession,
the joy of fame, the joy of victory in battle; but I know of no joy as
great as that which comes because of the hope that his love loves him,
unless it be that which never comes to us but once, the joy of the first
kiss of love. And this to me seems the will of God, and thus love should
always be regarded as sacred, and never be spoken of save with
reverence. For I know that, although Naomi had spoken but few words to
me, and that I had only a hope of her loving me in some far-off time,
yet the thought that she cared for me ever so little made me rich in
spite of my poverty, and caused the wailing winds to sing glad songs to
me. No man is poor while his love loves him, and even a hope of that
love is the life of God surging in the heart of a man.

And so I came up to the spot where I had fastened my horse, glad at
heart, although I knew not where to go or what to do. I rode a mile or
two, and then I remembered that if I were discovered with Cap'n Jack's
mare I should be in danger of being hanged for horse stealing. So I
jumped from her back, tied the halter around her neck, and told her to
go home. She sniffed around for two or three minutes, and then started
to trot steadily along the road toward Kynance, and over which I had
rode her hours before.

This done, I started to walk to Falmouth; as I trudged along I had to
pass close to Elmwater Barton, but my heart felt no bitterness, for it
was filled with love. When I came to Betsey Fraddam's cottage I stopped,
intending to go in; but thinking better of it I made no sound, and a few
minutes later was on the main road to Falmouth Town.

I did not walk rapidly, for a great peace was in my heart. I did not
fear Cap'n Jack's gang, although I felt sure they would follow me, and I
knew that Israel Barnicoat would do all in his power to embitter Cap'n
Jack against me. I felt strong enough to overcome everything, so great
is the power of hope.

So slowly did I walk that I did not get near Falmouth Harbour until the
gray morning began to dawn. I looked eagerly among the vessels, thinking
of the fate of the craft Cap'n Jack's gang had intended to wreck. I
wondered, too, whether Israel Barnicoat had been discovered, and if
Cap'n Jack knew of what I had done. As I drew nearer I determined that I
would speak to the first person I should meet, and ask what vessels had
arrived, but scarcely had the thought formed itself in my mind when I
felt my arms pinioned.

I struggled like a mad man for my liberty, because I saw that two
Preventive men had attacked me, and I believe I should have freed myself
from them had not a third come to the help of the other two.

"What is the meaning of this?" I said, when they had tied my hands.

"Hanging," was the reply.

"What for?"

"Showing a false light by the Lizard."

"It's a lie."

"Why have we got you, then?"

I was almost dazed by astonishment. Presently, however, I saw that one
of the men was the officer to whom Israel Barnicoat had spoken in the
kiddleywink. This set me thinking. These men would be the tools of Cap'n
Jack. This was the step he had taken to accomplish his purposes
concerning me. If I were convicted of showing a false light on the
headland, I should be punished by death; at least, I imagined so.

"Anyhow," continued the man, "you must go along wi' me."

"Where?"

"To the lockup."

Now, if there was anything I desired it was to keep clear of the
magistrates. I knew that Richard Tresidder would be among my judges, and
that I should receive no mercy. But more than all this, while smuggling
was lightly regarded, there was a strong feeling against the wrecker. It
is true people were glad of a wreck along the coast, and many a valuable
thing had been obtained thereby, but the whole countryside cried out
against those who sought to lure a vessel on to destruction, even while
they did not object to share in the wreckage.

"But why must I go?"

"Because we seed you carr'in' a false light along the coast."

"When?"

"Laast night."

There were three to one, and I could do nothing. So I let them lead me
to the lockup, where I had to wait until the magistrates were ready to
try me.

What happened while I was there I know not. I was too dazed, too
bewildered to tell. While I had been with Naomi Penryn I seemed to be
lifted into heaven, and then within a few hours of our parting all my
hopes were destroyed. I saw nothing before me but cruel imprisonment or
possible death, for I knew that Richard Tresidder would do his worst.

When the time of my trial came on and I entered the court-house, I saw
that several justices sat upon the bench, and among them was Richard
Tresidder, who looked at me triumphantly, as though he rejoiced to see
me there, which I have no doubt he did.

Old Admiral Trefry was the one who spoke to me, however. "It is not long
since you were here, Jasper Pennington," he said, "and I am grieved to
see you."

Then the Clerk read out the charge against me, which was a string of
lies from beginning to end, for, as I have told in these pages, I threw
the lantern over the cliff, and thus kept the light from being shown. I
discovered afterward, too, that the vessel Cap'n Jack had intended to
wreck had landed safe in Falmouth Harbour.

I cannot remember very distinctly what took place at the trial, or
rather the first part of it is to me a very confused memory. I know,
however, that things looked very black against me, for each of the
Preventive men swore that he had seen me at eleven o'clock on the
previous night showing the false light on the coast.

I declared this to be a lie with very great vehemence, and swore that I
had shown no false light.

Presently Richard Tresidder spoke, and his voice made my blood gallop
through my veins, and my heart full of bitterness.

"Will the prisoner give an account of his actions since he escaped from
the whipping-post more than two months ago?" he asked.

Now if I did this I should indeed criminate myself, for a confession
that I had been with Cap'n Jack's gang would be to ally myself with the
sturdiest set of rogues on the coast, and would enable Richard Tresidder
to get me hanged at the next assizes.

"You hear the question, Jasper Pennington," said Admiral Trefry; "will
you tell what you have been doing these last two months and more?"

But I held my peace, and seeing this the justices conversed one with
another. Had they all been of Richard Tresidder's way of thinking I
should have been sent to Bodmin Gaol to wait the next assizes without
further ado; but Admiral Trefry, who was uncle to Lawyer Trefry, wanted
to befriend me, and so I was allowed opportunities for befriending
myself which would not have been given to me had my enemy been allowed
his way.

Presently a thought struck me which at the time seemed very feasible,
and I wondered that I had not thought of it in the earlier part of the
trial.

"May I be allowed to ask the Preventive men a few questions?" I asked.

"You may," replied the Admiral. "You can ask them questions as to their
evidence by which you are accused of attempting to lure a vessel on to
destruction."

"I would like to ask, first of all, what I should gain by doing this?
What would it profit me to wreck a vessel?"

The Preventive man who had been the chief spokesman seemed a little
confused, then he said, with a great deal of assurance, "I believe, your
worship, that he is one of a gang of desperadoes and wreckers who live
over by Kynance."

"May I ask," I said, "what reason he has for believing this?"

"Your worship," said the officer, "we know that there is a gang of men
who infest the coast. For a long time we have tried to lay hands on them
in vain. They are very cunning, and, although we have suspicions, we as
yet have not been able to bring any positive evidence against them, and
we believe that he is associated with them."

"But we cannot condemn Jasper Pennington without evidence," said Admiral
Trefry.

"At the same time I submit," said the magistrate's clerk, after Richard
Tresidder had spoken to him, "that the fact of his carrying a false
light goes to prove that he is associated with some gang of wreckers."

"But there is no proof," remarked the Admiral.

On this there was a stir in the room, and I heard a voice with which I
was familiar claiming to give evidence.

A minute later Israel Barnicoat was sworn.

"Do you know this man?" asked the Admiral of the Preventive men.

"Very well," was the reply, "a most respectable, well-behaved
fisherman."

Then Israel gave his evidence. He said that he had seen me in company
with two men at Kynance who were well-known free-traders. These two men
went by the name of "Brandy Bill" and "Fire the Poker." They had on
several occasions been punished, but were still a terror to honest
fishermen who wanted to get a living in a lawful way.

After this a great many questions were asked and answered, and I saw
that my case looked blacker than ever. I could see that Cap'n Jack had
used this means of getting rid of me, and that Israel Barnicoat had
volunteered, for reasons that were apparent, to try and get me hanged.

Then I asked another question.

"What time do you say it was that you saw me showing the false light?" I
asked.

"Half-past eleven," was the reply.

"I should say that it was nearer twelve," replied another. "It was a
most desperate affair, your worship. He throwed the lantern over the
cliff and took to his heels. We followed a goodish bit afore we could
catch un, and when we ded lay hould ov un he ded fight like a mazed
dragon. It was as much as three ov us could do to maaster un."

Now this put another thought in my mind. I was in Pennington kitchen at
the very time they said they were struggling with me, and I was about to
say so, when I remembered what it would mean. If I told them where I was
I should have most likely to mention Naomi Penryn's name, and that I
did not like to do. Still I did not want to be sent to Bodmin Gaol
without a struggle.

"You say you followed me some distance?" I said.

"Yes; we ded."

"How far before you caught me?"

"Nigh pon an hour."

"It was very dark that night."

"Iss, it was."

"Did you ever lose sight of me?"

"Iss; once or twice."

"Then how can you be sure that I, the man you captured, was the same man
you say you saw showing the light on the headland?"

At this the man looked confused, and then I wished that I had tried to
get a lawyer to defend me, for I saw how much better he could have done
it than I could defend myself. For my mind was in a very confused state
all the while, so confused that my remembrance of it now is by no means
clear. Indeed, I know I have described my trial with anything but
clearness as to the order of events, although I have set down,
truthfully, the general facts of the whole business.

I do remember, however, that Admiral Trefry asked the Preventive men
some questions upon this very point which upset them very considerably;
and I also remember, seeing that for the moment things looked a little
brighter for me, I said to the Admiral that I was a good many miles from
the Lizard at the very time these men had declared they were pursuing
me.

"Where were you, then?" asked the Admiral.

"I was in St. Eve."

"Where there?"

"At Pennington."

At this Richard Tresidder started up in astonishment.

"Did any one see you at Pennington?" asked the Admiral.

"Yes."

"Who saw you?"

At this I was silent, and I was wishing I had not said so much, when I
heard a voice that thrilled me asking to give evidence.



CHAPTER XII

HOW MY LOVE SAVED ME--WHEN FREE I GO TO SEA, AND MONTHS LATER COME BACK
TO BETSEY'S COTTAGE AND HEAR BAD NEWS


As I turned my heart seemed to stand still, for I saw Naomi Penryn, but
when for a moment her eyes met mine it started thumping against my side
as though it had been set at liberty from bondage. I saw, too, that
Richard Tresidder was as surprised as I, and I was afraid lest my love
should be taken to task for what she had done. For a few minutes
everything seemed to swim before my eyes, and my head whirled so that I
thought I was going to faint; but presently as I heard Naomi in sweet,
steady tones answering questions my strength came back to me again.

"You say," said Admiral Trefry, "that Jasper Pennington was in
Pennington kitchen at midnight last Wednesday?"

"He was," replied Naomi, clearly.

After that a lawyer asked her concerning many things. So impudent was he
that I had a difficulty in keeping myself from jumping from the place
where I stood and throttling him on the spot.

"Were you alone in the kitchen?" asked this lawyer.

"I was not."

"Who was with you?"

"Tryphena, the cook."

"How do you know it was midnight?"

"I heard the kitchen clock strike."

"What did Jasper Pennington say to you?"

"You need not answer that question," remarked Admiral Trefry.

"Why did Jasper Pennington come into the house that night?" again
queried the lawyer.

"Need I answer that?" asked Naomi.

"No," answered the Admiral, and I saw that he was anxious to save Naomi
from awkward questions, for which I blessed him. "All we want to know is
whether you are sure Jasper Pennington was at Pennington on the night in
question at the time you state. We have nothing to do as to why he was
there or what was said."

I saw, too, that Richard Tresidder did not wish the lawyer to ask any
more questions, although I was sure the poor girl would suffer when she
returned to Pennington, and I wondered then how I could save her from
pain.

And so very few questions were asked after that, and a little later I
was a free man; for it was clear that if I was at Pennington I could not
be rushing along the headland by the Lizard, and so it must have been
some other man that the Preventive men had chased, and I had been
captured by mistake.

It all seemed so wonderful to me that I could hardly believe that my
danger was past; at the same time I longed greatly to speak to Naomi and
thank her for what she had done. But nowhere could I see her.

As I walked down Falmouth Street I seemed to be treading on air. If I
had loved my love before, it seemed to have increased a thousandfold
now; besides, I knew that she must care for me, or she would not have
braved so much to save me from danger. I had difficulty in keeping from
shouting aloud, so great was my joy. I felt that my strength had come
back to me, and I cared no more for the threats of Cap'n Jack than for
the anger of a puling child. I knew that Israel Barnicoat was somewhere
lying in wait to do me harm, but I was not afraid. I saw this, too:
Richard Tresidder would desire to have as little as possible said about
my visit to Pennington, especially as he hoped that Naomi Penryn would
be his son's wife. I was sure he would seek other means to harm me, but
not in a public way; if I was struck it would be in the dark; but, as I
said, I was not afraid, for had not my love come boldly to my aid, and
saved me from the enmity of evil men?

I had got nearly to the end of the crooked street which makes Falmouth
town, when I felt a hand laid upon my shoulder.

"Well, Jasper," I heard a familiar voice say, and, turning, I saw Lawyer
Trefry.

"If I were you, Jasper, I would get out of this part of the country. You
have escaped this time, but, as I have told you, the Tresidders are
hungry dogs. They will never leave a bone till it's clean picked."

I told him I knew this, but I did so with a laugh.

"I tell you they'll make you laugh on the other side of your mouth, my
lad. I know more than you think--more than I can tell you just now. Get
out of Falmouth as soon as you can, my lad. Cap'n Jack Truscott hasn't
done with you yet--yes, I know about him--neither has Nick Tresidder.
I'll let you have a few pounds, my boy; a vessel will leave the harbour
for Plymouth, and then on to London within twenty-four hours. Get on
board now in the daylight and don't leave her. When once you land at
London Bridge you'll be safe."

Now I must confess that the thought of seeing London was very dear to
me, but I remembered Naomi, and as I thought of the way her eyes flashed
upon me I could not make up my mind to go far away.

"Come and have some dinner with me for old acquaintance' sake, Jasper,"
he said, "and let's talk about things."

So I went with him, for I felt he was my true friend, although all the
time I longed to be trying to find Naomi, longed to tell her how I
thanked her for doing what she had done.

Lawyer Trefry asked me many questions when we were together, and when I
had told him my story he persuaded me to take some money, which he told
me he was sure I should repay, and I promised him that I would do as he
had bidden me, and would go to Plymouth and, if possible, to London. I
did this sorely against my will, for it grieved me exceedingly to be
away from Cornwall at a time when hope filled my heart. Besides, I could
not help thinking that Richard Tresidder would take steps to render
Naomi's life miserable. She would be asked many questions as to my
visit, while Tryphena would be severely catechised. At first I did not
think of the sacrifice my love would have to make in order to serve me,
but as I thought more and more of what I had escaped I realised that she
would probably have to suffer much persecution. For she had no friends
other than those who sought her wealth, and she was in their power until
she was twenty-one. Besides, as I recalled to memory the conversation I
had heard between Richard Tresidder and his son, I knew that no stone
would be left unturned in order to make her comply with their wishes.
All this made me long to stay near her; but I also realised that there
was another side to the question. How could I help her by staying in the
district? Moreover, was I not in great danger myself? Was not Cap'n
Jack's gang on the look-out for me? They would know that I should be a
danger to them, and would seek to serve me as they had served others who
they had thought were unfaithful to them. In addition to this Richard
Tresidder would do his utmost to harm me; especially was this apparent
in the light of what Naomi had done. Moreover, I could do nothing to
help her; indeed, she would probably suffer less persecution from the
Tresidders if they knew I had left that part of the country.

So I kept my promise to Lawyer Trefry, and went on board the _White
Swan_ which lay in Falmouth Harbour, and a few hours later was on my way
to Plymouth.

While we were sailing along the coast I tried to think of my future, for
never had it looked so black and hopeless as now. It is true I rejoiced
at the thought of Naomi Penryn's kindness, and dreamed glad things of
the days to come; but when I began to face facts, and saw my condition
as it really was, my case looked hopeless indeed.

On our way to Plymouth I proved to Captain Maynard that I was not
altogether ignorant of the duties of a sailor, and so pleased was he
with me that he offered me a berth on the _White Swan_. Knowing of
nothing better that I could do I accepted, and for the next few months
worked as a common sailor. During that time we visited several ports on
the coast. I saw Weymouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Dover and London,
but I will not write of my experiences at this time. Nothing of
importance happened, neither does that time affect the history I am
trying to write.

Of course, I was greatly moved with what I saw in London; at the same
time, even as I mingled with the throng of people who threaded London
streets, I longed for the quiet of St. Eve, and thought much of the maid
to whom I had given my heart. At the same time, I saw no means whereby I
could get back to Pennington, although I thought long and earnestly of
many plans.

I stayed with Captain Maynard seven months, and then made up my mind to
go back to Cornwall again. I felt sure that Cap'n Jack and his gang must
have practically forgotten me, and I could not help thinking that Naomi
Penryn needed me. I dreamed often that she was persecuted by the
Tresidders, and that they were using many cruel means to make her marry
Nick. I was afraid, too, that she, friendless and alone as she was,
would at length be forced to yield to their wishes. And so although I
had not moved one inch forward in the direction of winning back what was
rightly my own, and although I could seemingly do no good by so doing, I
determined that I would go back to Pennington again, and if possible
obtain another interview with Naomi. My heart was very sad, for every
day my love seemed to grow more hopeless. I had told her the desire of
my heart, but although she had been kind to me, and had sacrificed much,
she had not told me with her own lips that she cared for me more than
she might care for any man who she thought was unjustly treated.

And thus the old proverb that "actions speak louder than words" is not
true. For actions may be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Often I tried
to comfort myself with the thought that had she not cared for me more
than she cared for any other, she would not have granted me an interview
that night when I escaped from Cap'n Jack's gang. Again I told myself
many hundreds of times that did her heart not beat for me she would
never have braved her uncle's anger, braved the cruel questions at
Falmouth, and bore what must be hard for a shrinking maiden to bear. But
for all this I could not believe that her heart was mine. How could it
be? Who was I that I should be so blessed? A landless wanderer, who had
been pilloried as a vagabond, and hooted at by the scum of the earth.
No, actions did not speak loud enough for me. Nothing but the words from
her own dear lips, saying, "Jasper, I love you," could convince me,
unworthy as I was, that I could be aught to her.

All the same I determined to go to her, I determined to see her, for my
heart ached in my hunger to be near her, and my eyes would not be
satisfied until they again feasted on her beauty.

It was early in July when I landed in Falmouth Harbour. I think it was
on the first of the month. It was late in the afternoon when I set foot
on solid earth, but I did not stay in the town. Like one possessed I
hurried toward St. Eve, and about half past nine at night I stood in
front of Betsey Fraddam's cottage.

"Come in, Maaster Jasper," said the old woman; "supper es zet fur three.
I knawed you wos a-comin', and zo ded Eli."

So I entered the hut, and there surely I saw three plates placed on the
little table.

The old woman seemed to regard my coming as a matter of course, and made
no more ado than if I had left her cottage that morning. Eli, on the
other hand, made much of me. He caught my hands and fondled them, he
rubbed them against his poor distorted face, and looked up into my eyes
as though he were overjoyed at my coming.

"Jasper, I love 'ee--love 'ee!" he cried. "Eli zo glad you'm back. Eli
do knaw, Eli got a lot to tell 'ee!"

"I think we'll shut the door," crooned Betsey as she looked anxiously
around the cottage. "Nobody do knaw who's 'bout. Ah, Maaster Jasper, you
ded a bad thing when you made an enemy of Jack Fraddam. But ther, you be
'ungry, and you aan't 'ad nothin' to ait for a long time. When I knawed
you wos a-comin' I maade a conger pie. I knaw you like that. Conger,
baaked in milk and parsley, Jasper, my deear. That ed'n bad fur a
witches' supper, es et?"

"How did you know I was coming?" I asked. "I had not made up my mind to
come here to-night until I landed in Falmouth. And no one knew I was
coming to Falmouth. How did you know?"

"How ded I knaw?" asked Betsey, scornfully. "How do I knaw everything?
Ef you'd a traited me vitty, Jasper, I'd a done more fur 'ee. You'd be
in Pennington now ef you'd come and axed me; but you wudden. 'Ow ded 'ee
git on at Jack Fraddam's then?"

"Who's Jack Fraddam?"

"Oa, Cap'n Jack Truscott, seein' you're so partikler. The Fraddam family
es a big wawn, my deear."

"What relation is Cap'n Jack to the Fraddams and to you?" I asked.

"Ef I was to tell 'ee you'd knaw, wudden 'ee. But I bean't a-goin' to
tell 'ee, cheeldrean. No, I bean't, but zet up to supper. Then I've got
sum things to tell 'ee 'bout somebody at Penninton, and arterwards I'll
tell yer fortin, my deear. I bean't a gipsy, but I c'n do that."

As I sat at the table with Eli opposite me on the little window-seat,
and Betsey near me, it seemed as though I had not been away at all.
Neither did the old woman show any interest in what I had been doing.

"Why 'ave 'ee come back, Jasper?" she asked, presently, looking at me
with her light, piercing eyes, while she kept on munching with her
toothless gums, until the white stiff hairs which grew on the tip of her
nose almost touched those on her chin.

I did not speak.

"No, you caan't tell," said she; "you dunnaw why yerzelf. You've cum
'cause you caan't 'elp et, my deear. Yer 'art kipt achin' and longin' so
that you cudden stay away."

I continued silent, for I knew she told the truth.

"But 'tes no use, Jasper, my deear. You aa'nt a got the money to buy
back Penninton, and besides the job's done."

"What job's done?" I asked, eagerly.

"Neck Trezidder, and thicky purty maid."

"How? What do you mean? Tell me?" I cried, starting from the seat.

"Ther' was no Penninton ever born that's a match for a Trezidder,"
chuckled Betsey.

"Tell me!"

"Th' baans (banns) 'll be cried in the church next Sunday," said Betsey.

"Whose?" I cried.

"Neck Trezidder's an' the young laady called Penryn," laughed the old
dame.

"How do you know?" I asked, feeling my knees tremble and my heart grow
cold.

"It doan't need a white witch to know that," cried Betsey. "'Tes in
everybody's mouth. Ef you stayed a month longer, they'd 'a bin married
by now."

I did not stop to consider how Betsey knew of my love for Naomi Penryn.
It was evident she did know as she seemed to know everything else.
Besides, I was in a state of torment at the news she had told me.

"Have the banns been called in church?" I asked.

"Iss," cried Betsey.

"No," said Eli; "I went ther' laast Zunday to heer fur myzelf, but the
passon ded'n zay nothin' 'bout et."

"Aw," grunted Betsey, angry that she had been discovered to have made a
mistake, yet looking lovingly toward her son. "Then they'll be cried
nex' Zunday."

"No they won't," I cried.

"Tell 'ee ther's no chance fur 'ee, Jasper. Ther'v bin oal soarts ov
taales 'bout you. She's awful vexed now that she saaved 'ee from
'angin'."

By this time I had somewhat mastered my excitement, and I knew that the
best way to learn all Betsey knew was to be silent.

"'Tes like this," said Betsey. "Tryphena, Penninton's cook, 'ev got the
sack for laivin' you git into the kitchin."

"And what's become of her?"

"She's livin' in Fammuth. Where she do git 'er money I dunnaw. I aan't a
took the trouble to vind out. As fur the purty maid she've 'ad a offul
life. And she've promised to marry young Maaster Nick. Es fur you,
Jasper, my deear, why Israel Barnicoat, who do live ovver to Kynance, do
zay that 'ee zeed you in Plemmouth weth a maid thet you wos a-goin' to
marry. Others 'ave zeed 'ee, too. Anyhow, the purty maid es a-goin' to
marry Nick."

I tried to understand what this meant. And in spite of everything my
heart grew light. Why should Israel Barnicoat concoct a story about my
being married in Plymouth, and tell it at Pennington? Why should the
story be used as a reason why Naomi should marry Nick?

"It shall never be," I cried, gladly.

"We sh'll zee," grunted Betsey, "we sh'll zee this very minnit. Ould
Betsey 'll tell 'ee yer fortin, Jasper Penninton, and Eli sh'll git the
broth. Ther, Eli, my deear, taake out the brandis."

Now a brandis, as all Cornish folk know, is a three-legged stand made of
iron. It is generally placed on the ground over a fire, and supports
crocks, frying-pans, boilers, or anything that may be used.

Eli put this brandis in the middle of the kitchen on the stone floor.

"Now bring the crock," crooned Betsey, and Eli brought the crock and
placed it on the brandis.

"Put in the broth," commanded Betsey, and Eli obeyed her. I thought he
grew smaller and uglier as he did her bidding, while his eyes grew
larger and shone with a more unearthly light than ever.

"What time es et?" asked Betsey.

"Elev'n a'clock."

"In twenty minuits the moon 'll be vull," muttered the old dame.

Betsey made nine circles around the brandis, then she made nine passes
over the crock, and all the time she munched and munched with her
toothless jaws. Presently she began to repeat words, which to me had no
meaning,


     "A first born son, a first born son,
     Is this young Jasper Pennington,
     And he is here on a moonlit night
     To see the spirits of the light.
     And I have made my potions fine,
     And traced my circles nine times nine.
     So mists depart, Tregeagle come
     And show the lad his own true home.
     Spirits black and spirits white,
     Spirits bad and spirits bright,
     Come to Betsey's house to-night,
     And we shall see the things of light."


All this time she kept blowing on the liquid in the crock, while Eli set
up the most unearthly cries as though he were in pain.

A great terror seized me, for to me Betsey's form seemed to dilate.

"No, Betsey," I cried, "I'll have nothing to do with this wickedness."

"Stop yer noise!" she snarled. "There they come:


                  "'Join all hands
                     Might and main,
                   Weave the sands,
                     Form a chain.
                   Spirits black
                     And spirits white,
     Let the first-born know the truth to-night.'"


Now whether I was carried away by superstitious fear or no I will not
say. I simply put down in simple words that which I saw and heard. For a
few seconds all was still, and then the room seemed full of strange,
wailing sounds, while Betsey continued to blow the liquid in the crock
and utter meaningless words.

"Look in the crock, Jasper Pennington," she said.

[Illustration: "'LOOK IN THE CROCK, JASPER PENNINGTON,' SHE SAID."]

I looked on the dark liquid, but I could see nothing.

She blew again. "Now look," she repeated.

As I looked something dark and formless seemed to rise in the crock, but
I saw nothing distinctly.

"Git away," she snarled; "I'll look."

"A rollin' say, Jasper. Waves like mountains; then a black hole, black
as pitch, and great high walls. After that--I'll tell 'ee dreckly. As
for the maid, laive me zee.


           'Priests all shaved
           Clothed in black.
           Convent walls,
           Screws and rack.
     Women walkin' in procession,
     Cravin' for a dead man's blessin'.
     Weepin' eyes, wailing cries,
     Lonely, lonely, oal alone,
     A heart as cold as any stone
     Cryin' for a hopeless love.
     Helpless, harmless as a dove,
     Others spend the damsel's gold,
     And only half the taale is told.'"


Now, as I said when I commenced writing this history, there are many
things which happened to me that I cannot understand. For my own part, I
have tried to explain away what Betsey told me even in the light of
after events, which I shall tell presently. I have tried again and again
to show that her words were very vague, and could have no definite
meaning. I maintained this to Mr. John Wesley when I told him the story,
but he shook his head, and said something about dreaming dreams and
seeing visions. Not that I attach any undue weight to Mr. Wesley's
words. I have nothing against this man; but, for my own part, the old
religion of the parish church and the Prayer-book is good enough for me.
These Methodists, who have grown very mighty these last few years, who
claim a sort of superior religion, and tell a man he's going to hell
because he's fond of wrestling, are nothing in my way. The Penningtons
have been wrestlers for generations, and never threw a man unfairly;
besides, they always shook hands before and after the hitch as honest,
kindly men should, and when I'm told that they were on the wrong road
because of this I say the new religion does not suit me. At the same
time, Mr. John Wesley, who is doubtless a good man, although some folks
call him a Papist and others a madman, did believe Betsey Fraddam had
powers which the common run of folks do not possess. Not that he
believed that those powers were good; concerning that the great man was
very reserved.

But I am going away from my story, and that I must not do, for I have
many things to tell, so many that it will not be well for me to stray
away from the track of the tale.

I must confess that the words which I heard Betsey say impressed me very
much, so much that they were engraved on my memory. Besides, I had
become more and more interested in what she was doing, and was now eager
to hear more.

"What is the half of the tale which is not told?" I asked, eagerly.

But she did not reply.

"Eli, Eli, you hear?" she cried.

"Iss, iss," grunted Eli. "'Tes the smugglin' gang."

"'Tes Jack! Jasper, you mus'n be seed. Git out in the gar'n."

"He caan't," laughed Eli. "The spence, Jasper. Run to the spence."

I entered a door which opened into a small compartment, in the which
Betsey's firewood, a box of tools, and many household utensils were
hidden.

I had scarcely closed the door when I heard the voices of Cap'n Jack
Truscott and others of his gang.

I kept very quiet, for I knew that if I were discovered my life would
not be worth an hour's purchase. I was very anxious, too, for I was not
quite sure of Betsey's feelings toward me. All the same I listened very
intently.



CHAPTER XIII

BETSEY FRADDAM AND CAP'N JACK MEET--I GO TO FALMOUTH AND MEET
NAOMI--AFTERWARD I SEE MR. JOHN WESLEY


"Well, Betsey, my deear," I heard Cap'n Jack say, "still on yer ould
gaame. I hop' we've brok' the spell, my deear. Ted'n vitty, I tell 'ee.
A pious man like me do nat'rally grieve over the sins of the flesh. But
'ere's Cap'n Billy Coad; you ain't a spoke to 'ee 'et."

I wished that there had been a hole in the door, for I had a great
desire to see Billy Coad, of whom I had heard Cap'n Jack speak so often.
I heard his voice, however. It was softer even than Cap'n Jack's, and
was of a wheedling tone, as though he wanted to get on comfortably with
every one.

"Hope you be braave, Cap'n Billy," croaked Betsey. "Eli, put away this
broth; thews booys doan't want none of that soort."

"No, Betsey, it do grieve me, yer nearest blood relation, to zee 'ee
follin' in such ways."

"You've bin glad ov me, though," retorted Betsey.

"Iss, you be a gifted woman. You got et from Granfer. He tould 'ee a lot
ov things, ded'na then?"

"Mor'n I shell tell."

"Come now, Betsey, laive us be oal comfortable like. You've got your
gifts, and I've got mine. I doan't care 'bout sperrits to-night, Betsey;
but you've got some good wine--that I knaw. Ah! Cap'n Billy ded some
good trade on his laast voyage."

"Good traade," sneered Betsey. "What's your traade nowadays? Zee wot
Granfer ded."

"Iss, I've wanted to talk to 'ee 'bout et, Betsey, my deear. I've bin
very good to you."

I heard some clinking of glass, and I knew they were drinking. I had
heard only two voices, but by the footsteps I judged that more than two
might have entered the cottage. In this, however, I was mistaken, for
the others who had come with him left at the door.

"Iss, I've bin very good to you and Eli," repeated Cap'n Jack. "You've
never wanted summin' warm to drink."

"A fat lot I've 'ad from 'ee," retorted Betsey, "and I ain't a wanted
nothin' nuther. I've got my 'ouse, and I've got summin' to ait, so've
Eli."

"Iss. I sh'll make a man o' Eli."

I heard Eli laugh in his strange, gurgling way.

"I've made money, more'n Tamsin 'll want; well, and why sha'ant Eli 'ave
some ov it?"

"What 'ee'll git from you'll be good for sore eyes," snarled the old
woman. "Ugh, ef I wanted money--aw, aw!--well, I knaw!"

"You'm thinkin' 'bout the treasure. But you caan't git et, Betsey. Ef
ould Granfer ded bury it some where out to say--well, you caan't git et.
But ded a bury a treasure, Betsey, ef 'ee ded, why ded a die so poor?"

Betsey did not reply.

"Doan't you think 'tes oal lies, Betsey? Where's the paper weth the
dreckshuns? I knaw 'ee sailed weth Cap'n Blackbeard, everybody do knaw
that, and it's zed that the Cap'n was very rich--took oal soarts of
things from the Spaniards and the Portugeese; but then where ded a put
et? Zum zay on Lundy Island, others that he found a caave in Annette
Island, and others that he found a place on the South Says; but ed'n et
oal a taale, Betsey, my deear?"

Betsey remained silent, while Eli grunted.

"Granfer zaid that he stailed the dreckshuns," continued Cap'n Jack; "ef
a ded, where be um?"

"'Spoase I was to tell 'ee?" sneered Betsey. "Well, you'd git et. As fur
Eli, 'ee cud go a-beggin'."

"Eli shud 'ave aaf," said Cap'n Jack, with a most terrible oath, "and
Billy and we'd 'ave the other aaf far our share. Tha's fair, Betsey."

"No, no, no!" cried Eli, "it's oal lies, oal lies!" And there was, I
thought, a note of fear in his voice.

"Mind, Betsey," cried Cap'n Jack, "whether you tell me or no, we'll vind
out. Ef you've eed away they dreckshuns, we'll vind um, mind that!"

"You've zaid zo afore," sneered Betsey.

"'Ave us? Zo we 'ave," replied Cap'n Jack, "but I be a religious man. I
want to trait my relaashuns fair, I do; everybody that do knaw me, do
knaw that, doan't 'em, Cap'n Billy? An' Billy is a religious man, too;
hes religious experience es a powerful sermon. Well, I've talked oal
soarts of ways 'bout that treasure, Betsey--I 'ave. I've zaid I doan't
bleeve in et, zo I 'ave. But wot then? Well, I'm a-goin' to vind et!"

"Aw, aw!" chuckled Betsey.

"I'm a man to my word, zo's Billy. Whenever I've zaid a thing I've done
it."

"Aw, tha's ev et es et. I've 'eerd you zay that any man who runned away
from your gang you'd kill. I've 'eerd you zay you'd do fur Jasper
Penninton. 'Ave 'ee, Jack Fraddam? Why, 'ee got off bootiful--jist
through a maid--iss, and went to say, and no one stopped un!"

"And why, Betsey, why? 'Cos I am a fond and lovin' vather, that's why.
Tamsin made a vool ov me, tha's why. I maade a mistake in takin' Jasper
to Kynance, 'cos Tamsin got to like un. Well, I lowed un to git away. I
promist Tamsin that while he kipt his tongue 'atween hes teeth I'd laive
un go. But laive un tell things, laive un tell anybody where our caaves
be, laive un split 'bout other things he do know--well!" and Cap'n Jack
grunted significantly.

"Aw, aw," sneered Betsey, "he strangled Israel Barnicoat, and thrawed
the lantern ovver the cliff. An' ther' was no wreck that night. Aw, aw!
You be a man, you be!"

"A merciful, pious man, tha's wot I be. But doan't 'ee laugh, Betsey. Do
'ee think I dunnaw that Jasper landed in Fammuth to-day? He's watched, I
tell 'ee."

At this the sweat streamed out over every part of my body, and I
hardened my muscles to fight for dear life. I felt that Cap'n Jack's was
no vain threat, and that I owed my life to Tamsin.

"Where es a now, then?" queried Betsey.

"He's lyin' luff in Fammuth town, my deear; but 'ee must be very
careful."

At this I breathed more freely again.

"I'm a kind man," continued Cap'n Jack; "I've bin kind to you, Betsey. I
knaw that ef you've got they dreckshuns you've kipt 'em for Eli. But,
Betsey, my deear, 'ee caan't do nothin' by hisself. We'll share fair,
Betsey; I'll give my Bible oath to that."

"I taake no noatice ov yur Bible oaths," snarled Betsey, "but I knaw
you'd kipt to what yer promised. Ef you ded'n, I'd make yer flesh drop
off yer boans bit by bit; I'd make yer joints twist wrong way 'bout; I'd
make 'ee suffer pains wuss'n the fires ov the bottomless pit; I'd raise
the sperrits of--"

"Doan't 'ee, Betsey," cried Cap'n Jack, and his voice trembled with
fear. "I knaw you be a gifted woman; I knaw you can do terrible things.
Ef there's a treasure, Betsey, laive me vind et, and Eli sh'll live in
the finest state o' land in this blessed county."

"I'll think 'bout it. I caan't raid, that you knaw--but, but come out
'ere in the gar'n, Jack."

With that, Billy Coad, Cap'n Jack, and Betsey went into the garden,
while Eli sat by the chimney and chuckled as though a great joy had come
into his heart.

They did not stay long, and I suspected that Betsey told them something
she did not wish me to know. When they came back again I heard Betsey
tell Eli to fetch the crock and brandis into the middle of the room.

After that Betsey blew on the pot again, as I had seen her blow, and she
made the two men repeat things after her which I did not hear
distinctly, and all the time I heard Eli chuckling and grunting as
though he enjoyed himself vastly.

After this all the four went into the garden, and they stayed there a
long while, leaving me to muse over the strange things I had heard. Not
that it came altogether as a surprise to me, for I had often heard of
Granfer Fraddam knowing something about a treasure. I do not think any
one had taken much notice of it, for there were scores of meaningless
stories about lost treasures that passed from lip to lip among the
gossips in the days when I was young.

Now, however, that which I had heard caused me much food for thought,
and I wondered whether there was any truth in the story. I determined,
too, that I would ask Eli, for I believed that what Betsey knew he would
know. I saw, too, that he loved me, and I was sure that he was anxious
to serve me.

When Betsey and Eli came back the two men had gone, and then I came from
my hiding-place, and began to ply them with questions. But neither of
them would give me answers. Betsey seemed very thoughtful, while Eli
pulled some sacks from under the settle, so that I might have a bed.

Before Betsey climbed the creaky stairs which led to the room where she
slept, she fixed her whitey, shining eyes upon me, and, holding up her
hand, she bade me be silent about what I had seen and heard.

"Ef you tell, Jasper Penninton," she croaked, "ef you tell--you've eerd
ov fallin' flesh a'ant 'ee? Well, think ov it."

"I shall say nothing," I replied.

"No," she said, continuing to look steadily on me, "no, you wa'ant. I
c'n zee you wa'ant."

Then she left me, while I lay down on the sacks fearing nothing living,
but fearing the dead terribly. For it seemed to me as though Betsey had
been doing that which was unlawful, and that I was a party to her plans.
And so I could not sleep for a long time; not, indeed, until the light
of morning began to stream through the cottage window, and then I felt
to laugh at it all. Betsey's signs and Betsey's words were so much
foolery, while the conversation about the buried treasure was no more
true than the stories which were believed in superstitious days.
Besides, thoughts of Naomi drove away all else, although everything came
back to me afterward. When my fears went, however, sleep came to my
eyes, and I did not awake until I felt Eli fondling my hands, and heard
him telling me that breakfast was ready.

Then I arose, upbraiding myself for having slept so long, for I had
intended finding my way to Pennington in the early morning. I know this
seemed very foolish, for if the Tresidders found me on the land they
called theirs all my purposes would be frustrated.

"Breakfas', breakfas', Jasper," said Eli.

"No, I'm going out," I replied.

"Ted'n no use, ted'n no use," grunted the poor dwarf, "she ed'n there."

"Where is she, then?"

"Jist agone by, ridin' to Fammuth town."

"How do you know?"

"I zeed um. She and Maaster Tresidder, and Maaster Nick Tresidder, and
Miss Em'ly."

"Are you sure, Eli?"

"Iss."

Then I quickly ate what had been prepared for me, and when I had given
Betsey a guinea out of the few I had been able to earn during the time I
had been away, I tramped to Falmouth. I arrived there in less than two
hours from the time I had left Betsey's cottage, trying to make plans as
I went. I walked up and down Falmouth street several times, all the time
looking around in the hopes of finding her, not because I could do
anything if I found her, but because I longed greatly to see her, longed
more than words can tell. At length noonday came and still my eyes
continued to ache for a sight of her, while my heart grew heavy. I
found, too, that the streets became more and more crowded every minute,
until I asked myself if it were a fair. But such was not the case. The
reason of the crowd was that Mr. John Wesley had come to Falmouth, and
his coming had caused a great uproar. I heard all sorts of stories about
him, and many were the threats that were made. Some said he was a
Papist, who wanted to bring back Popery to the country, while others
declared that he wanted to raise a rebellion against the king and crown.
Several clergymen from distant parishes had come into the town, and
these, almost without exception, were very bitter toward him; while the
publicans, who did a very big trade that day because of his coming,
cried out against him very loudly. On the other hand, I heard that many
people had come because of the great good he had done, and because
through him they had been led, to use their own language, to become new
creatures. This I will say, those who befriended Mr. Wesley seemed very
steady folks. They used no bad language, neither were they mad with
drink as many of the others were.

I did not pay as much heed to the state of the town as I might have paid
under other circumstances, for I cared for little but the sight of
Naomi's face, while to hear her voice I felt I would give anything.

Now as I walked disconsolately along the street, finding my way among
the crowd that grew greater and greater, I stopped outside a
linen-draper's shop, which was kept by one Humphry Bolitho, and to my
great joy I saw Naomi coming therefrom. By her side was Emily Tresidder,
and I was wondering how I could speak to my love, when the woman in the
shop called Richard Tresidder's daughter back just as Naomi's eyes met
mine.

She gave no start of surprise at seeing me, so that even then I was sure
that the Tresidders knew of my return, but she seemed, I thought, in
doubt as to whether she should speak to me. But I had found my
opportunity, and I determined not to be baulked in my purpose,
especially as Emily Tresidder had gone back into the shop again. And yet
at that moment I knew not what was fitting to say, for my heart seemed
in my mouth, and every inch of my body quivered with a strange joy.

"Miss Naomi," I stammered, hardly knowing the words that came from my
mouth, "thank you for what you did months ago. I loved you then, I love
you a thousand times more now."

I saw the blood mount to her brow, and for a moment I could not tell
whether she was angry or no. She looked anxiously back into the shop,
then up and down the street.

"You are in danger here," she said.

"I care not, now I see you," I cried. "I have done nothing wrong, except
that I am doing wrong in loving you. I have not won back Pennington yet,
but I will do it, God helping, I will, if--if you will give me just one
word of promise."

I spoke in a low tone so that no one could hear, and indeed the crowd
seemed too much bent on other things to notice me.

"It is no use," she said--"it is no use. Do not try any more, it is
hopeless."

"I shall never give up hope," I said.

"Even now my guardian is seeking to do you harm," she cried. "This I
know."

"I am not afraid of him," I cried. "You know what I told you--that
night--last November. You did not scorn me then. I hoped then that some
day you might care for me; it is my hope still."

"It is no use," she cried again, looking anxiously around her--"it is
no use. I am to be married to Nick Tresidder; at least they all want me
to marry him."

"No!" I cried. "No!"

"I cannot help myself," she said, piteously.

"Do you love him?" I asked.

"No," she said, again looking eagerly around.

"Then!" I cried, "you shall not marry him. I will keep you from that,
even if I found you by his side at the church communion-rails."

Then my heart jumped for joy, for I saw a look of gladness flash into
her eyes.

"Come with me," I continued; "come away where it is quiet. No one will
notice us among all this crowd."

"No, no, I dare not; I am watched everywhere, and you are watched. We
may be safe here for a few minutes longer, for when Emily is talking
about finery she is forgetful of all else, but I must not leave here."

"Look here," I cried, "Betsey Fraddam told me last night that all sorts
of lying stories have been told about me."

"I have believed none of them," she cried.

"Also that Nick Tresidder has told the parson to have your banns called
at the parish church."

"But not with my consent," she said, eagerly, and again my heart thumped
aloud because of my joy.

"Naomi Penryn," I cried, "I know I seem a worthless, thriftless sort of
fellow, for as yet I have done nothing to get back Pennington, but if
you could love me just a little"--and I looked toward her appealingly.
"Anyhow, trust me," I continued, "and be not afraid. Remember I shall
love you till I die, and I will be always near you to be your friend."

I said this in the heat of my love and youth, for nothing seemed
impossible to me then. Somehow, I knew not how, a greater strength had
seemed to come into my life, and I laughed at difficulty and danger.

"Go!" she cried--"go; Emily Tresidder is coming. Go!"

"Not yet, the woman is showing her something else," and I felt thankful
because of this girl's love for finery. "Promise me," I continued, "that
you will not yield to those Tresidders. Stand firm, and they will be
afraid to force you. Remember, I will be always near, if I can, and that
they dare not harm you. Besides--oh, if you knew all you are to me!"

She looked at me eagerly while a film seemed to come over her eyes, and
I thought she was about to say something. Then a look of terror flashed
across her face. "Go!" she cried--"go! There is my guardian! Oh, take
care of yourself!" and then she rushed into the shop, leaving me
standing by the door, and only partially hidden from the crowd by some
things which had been placed by the door.

I quickly got among the crowd, but I know that both Nick Tresidder and
his father saw me, and I knew, too, that if they went into Humphry
Bolitho's shop they would find out that Naomi had spoken to me. And yet
I felt very joyous. I knew, although Naomi had not told me she loved me,
that she thought of me with more than passing kindness, while the flash
of her eyes told me that she could not be moulded at will, even by such
men as the Tresidders and such a woman as Richard Tresidder's mother.
Naturally I felt afraid for her, and for all she would have to suffer,
and yet the remembrance of the fact that she would speak to me kindly,
and had told me to take care of myself, as though she were anxious for
my welfare, filled me with a great hope, and hope giveth wings of
strength to those who are weighted with great burdens.

I had not been in the crowd above a minute before I felt myself carried
along the street, as if by the force of a mighty torrent. I was hemmed
in on every side by a seething mass of men and women, some of whom were
praying and singing, while others used many profane words, and uttered
threats which would not be seemly for me to write down. I quickly
learned that the people were making their way toward the house of a lady
who, I was told, was called Mrs. Bennetto, although I am not sure that
this was the correct name. I asked why they wanted to get there, and was
told that Mr. John Wesley was there, and that many were determined to
kill him. Most of the crowd, as I have said before, seemed exceedingly
bitter toward him, but others were loud in their praises of the great
man, and although they were severely buffeted they kept singing the
hymns he had composed, some of which seemed very fine in their
sentiment, although I must confess that the meaning of some of the
verses I could not understand.

When we arrived at the house where he was there was a great amount of
shouting, so great that had a storm been raging at sea close by I do not
think we could have heard it.

"Laive us git to un, laive us git to un!" shouted the crowd, eagerly and
angrily.

Now I have always loved fair play, and so I asked why they wanted to get
to Mr. Wesley, and at that moment there being a lull, and my voice being
deep and strong, my question was heard.

"He's a Canorum," they shouted; "he's a Papist, he drives men and women
maazed, he keeps 'em from goin' to church, he destroys honest trade!"
These among other things I heard as I struggled to get to the door.

There was no law or order in the place. Not a single constable seemed to
be near, and for the moment the friends of the preacher seemed to be
afraid to act in his defence.

Presently I got to the door of the house, and I think my great
proportions frightened some of them.

"Look you," I said, "he is one and you are many. I do not know this man,
but I have heard up and down the country that he hath done much good. If
any man dares molest him, I will strike him down as I would strike down
a yelping cur."

For a moment there was a quiet, and the friends of Mr. Wesley took
heart, for although it seems like boasting to say so, I think the sight
of one strong, courageous man, as I thank God I have ever been, always
has a tendency to quell the anger of an unreasoning mob.

"He's not a friend to the people," they cried. "He's destroyed the trade
of Jemmy Crowle, who do kip a kiddleywink over to Zennor. Ted'n no use
kippin' a public 'ouse after he've bin to a plaace. He do turn people
maazed. He do convert 'em, and then they waan't zing songs, nor git
drunk, nor do a bit of smugglin', nor nothin'."

This was said not as I have written it down, but came to me in confused,
excited ejaculations from many quarters.

"If that is all he has done," I said, "there is no reason for anger."

For a moment there was a silence among the crowd, and I heard voices
from within the house.

Said a woman, "Oh, sir, what must we do?"

"We must pray," was the reply. This was in a man's voice, and was
strangely sweet and strong, and even then it thrilled me greatly.

I believe that many, angry as they had been, would have turned away at
that moment, but some drunken privateers were among the mob, and one of
them came and pushed me savagely. I caught the man up and lifted him
above my head and threw him from me. This angered the privateers
greatly, and they smashed down the door while others swore great oaths
at me.

"What will em do weth the Canorum?" I heard the people cry, and then
there was a silence again. I think they were subdued, as I was subdued,
by the sound of a man's voice.

"Here I am," I heard Mr. Wesley say, "which of you has anything to say
to me? To whom have I done wrong? To you, to you?"

At this the people seemed eager beyond measure to catch sight of him,
and they shouted, "Come out, come out. Lev us zee 'ee."

Others again shouted, "Ef we can git to un, we'll kill un. We doan't
want no Canorums, we doan't want no new sort ov religion. We like our
beer and wrastlin', we do."

"Look," I shouted, "give every man fair play. Let him speak for himself.
If he has anything to tell us, let him tell it."

"Iss, iss," shouted the crowd; "lev un spaik."

With that I heard the same voice speaking which I had heard inside the
house, only this time it was louder. It was not panic-stricken, it was
perfectly calm and fearless. It was strangely sweet, too, and it
reached, I should think, to the very outskirts of the crowd. A strange
hush fell upon the people as they heard it. It was like a stormy sea
which had suddenly become calm.

"Neighbours and countrymen," said the voice, "do you desire me to
speak?"

"No, no," shouted some; "put un in stocks, throw un in the say."

Then I spoke again. "Fair play, Cornishmen," I said, "give the stranger
fair play, let him speak."

"Iss, iss," cried the larger part of the crowd; "he sh'll 'ave fair
play, he sh'll spaik."

With that a gangway was made, and then I turned and saw the man who had
created such a great commotion in the country come bareheaded into the
middle of the street, while the surging crowd hustled each other, some
eager to do him injury, but many more anxious to hear what he had to
say.

As for myself, I was silent, for the sight of him impressed me greatly.



CHAPTER XIV

I AM TAKEN PRISONER, AND AFTERWARD EXPERIENCE MANY STRANGE THINGS--I AT
LENGTH FIND MYSELF IN A DUNGEON


There was nothing at first sight very striking about Mr. John Wesley's
appearance. He was, I thought, rather undersized, and I at that moment
failed to see what there was about him to cause so much commotion. And
yet as I looked again I could not help being impressed with the calm
strength which shone from his eyes. He seemed to possess a power unknown
to most men. Had I, Jasper Pennington, been brought face to face with
such a crowd, I should have challenged the strongest man there to come
out and let us fight a fair battle, but Mr. Wesley seemed only desirous
to do good. He spoke calmly and with much assurance about our being
sinners, and being children of hell, but that we could be saved from
everlasting perdition by believing in Christ, who had appeased God's
anger toward us.

Now, I am not a critical man, but even at that moment I could not quite
see his meaning, for it seemed as though God were divided against
Himself, and that God the Son felt differently toward us from what God
the Father felt, and this, to an unlearned man like myself, brought only
confusion. Moreover, as he spoke, while I could not help admiring his
courage, and vowing in my heart that all one man could do to defend him
I would do, I felt that he was not altogether a lovable man. He spoke
with a sort of superiority which I did not admire, while he seemed to
think greatly of himself. I know it sounds like presumption for me, an
obscure, ignorant man, to write this, especially when I think of the
good he has done; nevertheless, such thoughts came into my mind as I
watched him. Perhaps his consciousness of his power over the multitudes
merely gave him a confidence which I did not understand, or perhaps the
fact that he was one of the principal men of the age made him feel his
importance, for I think a man must be more than human if, talked about
as Mr. Wesley has been, he does not become possessed of great esteem for
himself.

After he had been talking a few minutes, however, I forgot all this. His
little form seemed to dilate with a strange life, and many evil men
groaned, as if with anguish. His voice became more and more resonant,
and presently a touch of tenderness, which was at first absent, mingled
with his tones.

Before long that great crowd became subdued, and then I realised the
power of the human voice, of true courage, and of a good life; for I
believe that the mob realised, although they might not be able to put
their thoughts into words, that this man was gifted with an influence
which can only come by means known to those who live with God.

After he had been speaking some time a clergyman, accompanied by some of
the principal people of the town, spoke to the people, and he so angered
them that I believe injury would have been done had not the town
officials been present. Even with their presence Mr. Wesley seemed in
great danger, and so, in my anxiety to help him, for he had stirred my
heart greatly during the latter part of his address, I came to his side.

"No man shall touch Master Wesley," said I.

He looked up at me, for I think I was about a foot taller than he, and
he said, "Thank you, young man."

"Whither would you go?" I said. "I will walk by your side, and will let
no man harm you."

"I thank you," he repeated. "God hath evidently gifted you with great
strength. Use it for His glory. I will accept your escort to Mrs.
Maddern's house, but I have a strength which is omnipotent on my side. I
will trust and not be afraid."

Even as he spoke I felt how true were his words, and then we walked down
the street toward the sea, he continuing to preach most of the time.

When we reached the door of Mrs. Maddern's he said, "What is your name,
young man?"

"Jasper Pennington," I replied.

"It is an old Cornish name," he replied, and then, looking into my eyes,
he said, "Is your heart at peace with God and man--especially with man?"
This he asked meaningly.

I did not answer him, for it occurred to me that the town officials who
walked with him had told him who I was, although I had not heard.

"Trust in the Lord and do good, Jasper Pennington," he said, quietly,
"_so_ shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of
thine heart."

Then he went into the house, and I felt as though a benediction rested
upon me.

I waited outside with the crowd, expecting him to come out again, but
after a time they heard that he had got into a boat from the back of the
house, for the sea came up close to the back of the house, and by this
means he was able to escape, mingling with the crowd again.

It was now well on to six o'clock in the evening, but being summertime
the light was still bright; indeed, the sun was yet high in the heavens.
So I left the people who wanted to have a last look at Mr. Wesley, and
who found their way to the seashore in great numbers. I went slowly
toward Humphry Bolitho's shop, musing upon what the great man had said
to me, but thinking far more of my meeting with Naomi. It is true I was
too excited to understand its real significance, but the impression left
upon me was gladsome, and, although my prospects seemed dark, my heart
beat high with hope. Perhaps the peaceful words that Mr. Wesley had
spoken to me made me rejoice, but the fact that Naomi had spoken kindly
to me was that upon which my mind rested most fondly.

When I got to Humphry Bolitho's shop I looked eagerly inside, as though
I expected to see Naomi there, but only strangers were within the
building, and then I came to the spot where, a year before, I had been
publicly degraded, and where I had first seen my love. Then my mind and
heart were full of bitterness, and yet perhaps the piteousness of my
condition had caused her to think kindly of me. And so, even at the
place of my degradation, I hoped that my enemies' deeds might work out
for me an exceeding great reward. Neither did I feel so bitterly toward
the Tresidder family. I still determined to win back my own and to
fulfil my promise to my father, but I wished my enemies no harm. Even
then I wondered whether John Wesley's words were not a prophecy,
providing I would fulfil the conditions.

But this feeling did not last long. I began to picture the danger Naomi
was in; I thought of Nick Tresidder trying to persuade her to marry him;
I thought of the threats that might be used; I called to mind the power
of the woman who had persuaded my grandfather to be unkind to his only
son, and then I was afraid, for if Naomi married Nick, what joy should I
have in life; ay, what would Pennington be to me? It would seem only an
empty tomb, while my heart would be eaten out with vain longings even to
the end of my days; for such is the mystery of life, and such is the
value of a woman's life to the man who loves her. I had seen Naomi only
a few times, while I had had but little intercourse with her, and yet
she was more to me than aught else. But for her I think I should have
given up hope, and when hope is gone all is gone.

I went back toward the sea again, musing over my hopes and my
difficulties, when I saw Israel Barnicoat stumbling along the street,
seemingly intoxicated. Not wishing to be seen by him, I went into an inn
to escape him and to get some refreshments, for I remembered that I had
eaten nothing since morning. The landlord of the inn, John Snell by
name, had known me in my more prosperous days, and he asked me to come
into the parlour, which he assured me was empty. So, desiring quiet, I
accepted his invitation. I had been there perhaps an hour, and I was
planning what I should do that night when John Snell came into the room
and brought me a letter.

"A booy 'ave jist brought it, Maaster Jasper," he said.

"A letter for me!" I cried, in astonishment.

"Iss; ther's your naame top of it, edn't et?"

I read the inscription--"Jasper Pennington, Esquire."

Now the word "Esquire" set me wondering; moreover, it set my heart
a-beating hard, for I thought I recognised the writing, and yet I was
not sure.

I did not break the seal because, although John Snell seemed friendly
toward me, I did not wish him to be present when I read the missive, for
I hoped that Naomi was the writer.

Presently John left me alone, and then I anxiously read and re-read the
words which had been written. They were very few, but they made my heart
burn with great joy, for they told me that I might soon see my love
again. This is what was written:


     "If you would help me, meet me to-night at Pendennis Castle gates
     at the hour of ten. I would then tell you what was impossible for
     me to say at Humphry Bolitho's shop. If you love me, do not fail; I
     am in greater danger than you think. If you fail our only hope is
     gone."


Now, as I said, I read this letter many times, and pondered greatly over
its contents. I made up my mind I would not fail, for the letter told me
of Naomi's love and Naomi's danger. The thought of speaking to her
without hindrance was joy beyond all words; so much joy did I feel,
indeed, that I thought not of where Naomi was when she wrote it, or how
she was to escape her guardian while she spoke to me. Enough that her
own hands had penned these lines to me, while the joy coming from the
thought that she sought my help made me incapable of thinking clearly. I
was sure that her hands had traced these lines, for I compared them
with the other letter I had received from her, and which I carried with
me wherever I went; and so long before the hour of ten I made my way
toward Pendennis Castle. The little town was nearly asleep. No sounds
reached me save those of revellers in some kiddleywinks near the shore.
As I walked along many doubts came to me. By what means would Naomi
reach the castle gates? Who would accompany her? for I could not think
she would come alone. What was the reason she was staying in Falmouth
over night? And, above all, how would she elude the vigilance of those
who guarded her?

Had I long to wait I have no doubt that many more questions would have
arisen in my mind, for in spite of my joyful anticipations my mind began
to clear, and I thought of many things which did not come to me as I
read the letter. Besides, try as I might to throw off the feeling, a
great dread laid hold of me, and I began to look anxiously around me, as
if fearful of my surroundings.

Below me, in the near distance, the waves swished on the shore, while
out at sea, perhaps a mile, I could see the lights of a ship twinkling.
But for the musical sound of the waves all was silent; the night was
clear and bright; the moon's beams played with the sea, making the waves
shine like diamonds. Even although my mind was filled with many doubts,
I felt that I had seldom seen a fairer night, and I dreamed of leading
Naomi to the lanes outside the town and telling her again of my love.

Presently I came to the drawbridge near the castle gates. I knew it was
nearly ten o'clock, but it might want a few minutes to the hour, so I
went and leaned against the castle walls.

I thought I heard a whisper, for my ears were eager to catch the sound
of my love's footsteps; so I went back to the gates again; then I heard
a quick shuffling of feet, and before I could turn around my arms were
pinioned, my eyes were bandaged, and some woollen substance was thrust
into my mouth.

I saw now what the letter meant. It was not written by Naomi at all, and
in my heart I cursed myself as a blockhead for being so easily duped. I
heard the gruff voices of men, and among others I felt sure I heard that
of Israel Barnicoat. For some few minutes, although my hands were
pinioned, I struggled fiercely, but it was of no use; besides, I heard a
threatening voice near me saying, "You be quiet, Jasper Pennington, or
you'll be thrawed over the cliff. Doan't 'ee make no mistake now!"

I could not speak, neither could I see, so I became passive, and they
led me along a road which I knew descended. The sound of the waves
became nearer and nearer, so I judged we were going to the sea. In this
I was correct. A few seconds later I heard the sound of paddles, and
then I was half led, half lifted into a boat.

I tried to get the woollen material with which I had been gagged out of
my mouth, for it made me sick; moreover, I found it hard to breathe, but
I tried in vain. So I bore up as well as I could, wondering where I was
to be taken and what was to become of me. I did not think they meant to
kill me, or they would have thrown me over the cliff at Pendennis Point,
so I came to the conclusion that Cap'n Jack Truscott's gang had got hold
of me, and that they would take me to Kynance. I listened eagerly to
hear the sound of his voice, but could not; but I felt sure I had heard
Israel Barnicoat's, and this confirmed me in my opinion.

I was angry at this, not so much for myself as for Naomi. Never until
then did I feel how much she was in Richard Tresidder's power; never did
I feel so certain as then that every means would be used to marry her to
his son. And I had vainly thought that I would stay near to help her,
and that I would save her from the power of my enemies. Now, however, a
few hours after I had come back to Cornwall, I was taken a prisoner.

I sat upright in the boat. On each side of me sat a man holding me,
while two men rowed. There were others near me, as I knew by the sound
of their voices; how many I did not know. After I had sat thus for
perhaps half an hour the rowing ceased, and I felt our boat thump
against some hard substance, and by the movement of the men I knew that
some new steps were to be taken.

A few seconds later I heard sounds above me; then my hands were loosed,
but the bandage was not taken away from my eyes.

"Stand upright," said a voice.

I stood upright.

"Lay 'old ov this."

A piece of rope was put in my hand.

"You've got 'old of a rope ladder. Now climb."

I felt with my hands, and discovered that the man had spoken truly. I
knew it was useless to disobey, so I started to climb. In a few seconds
I felt my arms grasped by hard hands, and I was dragged on to the deck
of a vessel.

I made no sound; I could not, for I was still gagged.

"Come weth wee."

I knew by the dialect that Cornishmen still spoke, and a few seconds
later I felt myself descending a stairway with two men holding me.

By the motion I judged that I was on a pretty large vessel, and this
caused me to wonder greatly, for a large vessel would not be needed to
take me to Kynance, neither would Cap'n Jack use one for such a purpose.
I then thought I must be in the hands of the press-gang, and this was
not altogether unpleasant, for I thought I might be able to escape, or
use means whereby I should be able to communicate with Naomi.

A few seconds later I knew that I was enclosed in some sort of a cabin,
and then I felt a great relief, for my gag was pulled from my mouth. I
tried to speak, but I could not; my tongue seemed swollen and my throat
was parched, but it was pleasant to me to be able to breathe freely.

At length I made a great effort.

"Why am I taken here?" I asked.

No one spoke.

"What have I done that I should be treated thus?" I asked. "I have
harmed no man. I arrived in Falmouth only yesterday. What is your will
with me?"

Still no one spoke.

"Pull the bandage from my eyes and let me see, I cried. I said this
because two men still held my arms firmly, but no one moved to do my
bidding.

"Then give me something to drink," I cried--"water; my throat is
parched, and burns like fire."

"Yes, you shall drink," said a voice.

A few seconds later I heard the sound of bottles clinking, and then the
gurgle of something being poured therefrom.

"Here is something to cool your mouth. Here it is--fine stuff. Drink it
quickly, drink it all."

I felt a goblet placed against my lips, and a strange odour rise to my
nostrils. I thought it smelt like rum, and a sickly feeling came over
me.

"Drink quickly," said the same man who had spoken before; "it will do
you good."

I feared to drink, and I shut my teeth firmly, but a great sickness came
over me, and I could not keep my mouth closed, and some of the liquid
was poured on my tongue. It was pleasant to the taste and delightfully
cooling to my tongue, and so thirsty was I that I drank the contents of
the goblet, thankful for such a refreshing beverage.

"You feel better now, don't you?"

"Yes," I said; "take away the bandage, and I shall be all right."

No sooner had I spoken than I staggered, and should have fallen had not
I been kept up by the men who still held my arms.

"You are not so well, after all," I heard some one say. "You had better
lie down."

I yielded to the pressure upon my body, and felt myself falling; a great
roaring sound came into my ears, and then I realised that I was lying on
some sort of couch.

My senses, I was sure, were departing from me, and I had a vague idea
that I was falling through unlimited space, while wild winds and loud
thunders were all around me; then all became a great blank.

How long I remained unconscious I do not know, neither can I tell
whether the experiences through which I thought I went had any objective
reality.

This was what I thought or dreamed happened to me. For a long time all
was a perfect blank, except that I was left alone in darkness and
allowed to rest in peace. Even now I have a vague remembrance of a
delicious restfulness that came to me; every particle of my body seemed
to be in repose, while all desire departed. By-and-by light seemed to
come to me--a strange, weird light. I was moving, not by any action of
my own, but unknown forces were carrying me through balmy air. Strange,
shadowy creatures flitted around me, while I thought I heard the sound
of distant music, as though ten thousand voices were singing.

This, I said, is death.

My eyes, I knew, were closed, and yet I could see. By an inward power of
sight I could plainly discern the shadowy creatures around, and I
remember interesting myself in trying to discern their faces. Presently
one more than all the rest became plain. At first I thought it was
Naomi's, so fair was it, but I soon discovered that I was mistaken. The
woman was cast in a larger mould than Naomi, and looked more matronly.

She looked at me with infinite tenderness, and kept close to my side all
the time.

"Speak," I said to her; "tell me who you are."

But she shook her head.

Then it seemed to me as though dark, evil forms came near, and a man
with a face like Richard Tresidder's said, "Let him die; we shall never
be safe while he is alive." But the woman seemed to surround me like a
mantle of light, and lo! my enemies were powerless to touch me. Time
after time did murderous weapons seem to come close to me, but the form
of the woman received every blow, and yet they did not harm her.

"This woman bears a charmed life," was the thought that came into my
mind, and I longed greatly to know who she was.

Then another form came near. I saw my father.

"Jasper," he said, "this is your mother. She is always near you. This is
a mother's joy, ever to be near her loved ones. She will protect you."

"Mother," I cried, "kiss me."

Her face came closer and closer to mine, and then for the first time I
knew of a mother's love and felt a mother's kiss.

"Be brave, and pure and true, Jasper, my son," she said; "fear not even
in the valley of the shadow of death. Delight thyself in the Lord, and
He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

After that a great darkness fell upon me again, yet through the darkness
I could see the luminous form of my mother, with love shining from her
eyes, and her hand pointing upward.

After that I felt as though I were on a stormy sea. The ship in which we
sailed tossed like a cork, while the waves, foam-crested, hurled
themselves furiously on our bark. A great panic seized the ship's crew,
and they gave themselves up for lost. But for myself I had no fear. A
great benign influence was around me, and I felt as safe as a babe
rocked on its mother's breast, while the wild winds that roared seemed
as sweet as the lullaby of a mother to a tired child.

For a long time the darkness continued, and then, when all hope seemed
to have departed from the ship's crew, I saw a twinkling light. Then I
felt rough hands around my body, while evil eyes gleamed; but I still
saw the love-light shining from my mother's eyes, and I heard a voice
saying, "He must not suffer harm."

Then all was a perfect blank.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I awoke to consciousness I found myself in a small room. It was
dimly lighted, and the air seemed cold and clammy. As my eyes became
accustomed to my surroundings I saw that the walls were rough and
unplastered. Above my head were huge beams, covered with thick, unplaned
boards. Only one window was in the room. It was very small, and through
the glass I could see iron bars. The window, I judged, was eighteen
inches wide, and perhaps two feet high.

I was lying on a bed which was made of rough deal, and had evidently
been knocked together hurriedly. But the clothes were clean and dry.
Beside me was a table on which was a basin and some cups.

"Where am I, and how did I get here?" I asked myself.

For some time I had no remembrance of the past. Then events came to me
in a dim, vague way. I remembered the letter which I thought was written
by Naomi, and my journey to Pendennis Castle. But it seemed a long way
off. It might have been years; I could not tell.

I tried to lift myself from my bed, but I could not, I was too weak. I
looked at my hands; they were white like a woman's, and very thin.

"I must have been ill," I said; "but why am I here, and where am I?"

I listened intently, but all was silent as death. I longed for human
voices, but I could hear none. No sound reached me but the roar of
distant surf, but it was a strangely muffled sound.

"I am by the sea somewhere," I muttered; "but where?"

Then my heart gave a bound, for I heard the echo of distant footsteps.
They sounded strangely, just as one's footsteps sound at night when
walking through an empty church. They came nearer and nearer, until they
came close to where I lay. Then I was sure that some one was coming to
me.



CHAPTER XV

MY EXPERIENCE IN MY PRISON--I AM TOLD TERRIBLE NEWS ABOUT NAOMI


I looked eagerly toward the direction from which I had heard the sound,
and saw a door opening. A little old man entered. Evidently he was a
serving-man, just as one sees in most old houses. Even then I concluded
that he was one who had spent most of his life in some well-ordered
house. His clothes were spotlessly clean, the buckles on his shoes
shone, his stockings were without blemish. His wig, too, was powdered
carefully, and all his linen was faultless.

All this made me wonder the more greatly as to where I was.

He met my questioning look calmly, and looked at me critically.

"Ah, you are better," he remarked, quietly.

"Would you tell me where I am?" I asked.

"You are safe from harm," he replied, vaguely.

"And why am I here?" I asked.

"To be kept from harm."

"And how long have I been here?"

"It is not for me to tell you. You have been very ill."

"What has been the matter with me?"

"You have had fever. Once I thought you would have died; but you have
been nursed safely through it, and I have doctored you successfully."

"Are you a doctor, then?"

"I have some knowledge of the human system and of medicines. It is well,
otherwise you would never have lived through your sickness."

His face showed no emotion whatever, neither did it in the slightest
degree indicate his thoughts. He spoke in perfectly measured tones, and
each word was enunciated clearly. Many thoughts flashed through my mind,
and many questions rose to my lips, but the old man's presence seemed to
check them. Moreover, I felt very weak.

"I shall be well and strong soon," I said.

He came to me, felt my pulse, examined me in various ways, and said,
quietly, "Yes, I think you will soon be well. You are a very strong
man."

"What will become of me then?"

"You will stay here."

"How long?"

"I do not know."

"But why was I brought here?"

"To be kept from harm."

"What harm?"

"It is not for me to say."

"By whose command was I brought here?"

"I shall not tell you."

"But you can tell me where I am. This seems a part of a big house, an
old house. Whose is it, and where is it?"

"I shall not tell you. You will receive nothing but kindness while you
behave seemingly, if not, means will be used to check you."

"I am a prisoner, then?"

"Yes, you are a prisoner, if you are pleased to call it so."

"But am I to have no liberty? Am I not to leave this room? I cannot live
penned up here."

"I shall speak no further to you. Food will be brought, and no harm will
happen to you."

With that he left the room as quietly as he came, and I heard his
footsteps echoing again as I had heard them when he came to me. For a
time my brain seemed to grow weak again, and in spite of my anxiety I
dropped into a fitful sleep, from which I was aroused by the chinking of
crockery near me.

My sleep made me feel stronger; I felt far better than when the old man
had visited me. I looked around the room again, and saw a hard-featured
woman. She, too, was elderly, fast beating on toward sixty. She placed a
basin of gruel at my side.

"'Ere," she said, "ait this."

"Ah," I thought, "I am still in Cornwall. Anyhow, the woman speaks with
a Cornish accent."

I thought I might fare better with her than with the old man, so I tried
to gain some information from her.

"Let's see," I said, "what part of Cornwall are we in?"

"Ait yer mait, an' ax no questions," was her response.

I ate the gruel with a good appetite. It was carefully made, and seemed
to be seasoned with some pleasant-tasting cordial. When I had finished
the old woman grunted with satisfaction.

"It is very nice," I said--"very nice. Whoever made it knows her work.
Did you make it?"

"Who es ther' that knaweth how to make sich stuff as that but me?" she
said.

Her answer set me thinking, and I drew two conclusions. One was that the
old woman was vulnerable to flattery, the other was that she did not
hail from that part of the county in which I was reared. The word
"knaweth" told me that she belonged to the northern part of the county.

I put another question in order to test the truth of both these
conclusions.

"You look too much of a lady to be the cook," I said, "and yet I thought
the cook would naturally make such things."

"Ther's no cook. Her's gone. I'm in charge."

She said this proudly, but although her answer was brief, it confirmed
me in my suspicions. People in the western part of the county would say
"She's gone," so when she said, "Her's gone," I was sure that she hailed
from either Devon or from somewhere in the region of Tintagel and
Boscastle.

"It must be a place of importance," I said. "Have you lived here long?"

"I was born in this parish."

"Let's see, this is near St. Minver, isn't it?"

"Ax me no questions and I'll tell 'ee no lies," was the reply.

But she had let me know more than she imagined. She had told me that she
was born in the parish where my prison was situated, and I knew by her
brogue that the parish was situated a good many miles north of St. Eve.

I asked her many more questions, but she would answer none that gave me
any further information concerning my whereabouts. As to why I was
there she seemed as ignorant as myself.

After this I lay many days on my bed--how many I do not know. The
mornings dawned and the daylight departed by; I did not pay much heed.
From the remarks of the little man, who constantly visited me, I judged
that some complication had arisen in my case, and so my recovery was
delayed. At length, however, I felt myself grow stronger again, and then
daily health came to my blood and vitality to my being.

By and by I was able to rise from my bed, and a suit of clothes of
antiquated cut was given me to wear.

"What month is this?" I asked one day of the old man when he came to see
me.

"It would do you no good to know," he replied.

"Yes it would," I replied; "I should have got better before this if I
had not been harassed by so many doubts and questionings."

"Well, then, it is October."

"October! What part of the month?"

"Yes, October. To-day is the fifteenth of the month."

"Then I have been here three months."

He was silent.

"What is the year?" I asked, eagerly.

The little man smiled. "Oh, you need not fear. This is the year 1745.
You have been here three months. I see you wish to ask more questions,
but I shall not answer them."

For several days after that I asked no questions, for a great despair
laid hold of me. Although I had not been told, I was sure I knew why I
had been kidnapped and made a prisoner. I believed, too, that my illness
was not a natural one, and I could have sworn that I was kept out of
the way because Richard Tresidder feared me. This thought was not
altogether unpleasant. It could not be because of the Pennington
estates--there was no immediate danger concerning that--it was because
of Naomi. He had discovered that she and I had met, and I believed that
he had concluded what I fondly hoped, although the foundation seemed
poor, that Naomi loved me. If this were so, I could understand why he
should want to keep me away from Pennington, for if Naomi loved me, and
was willing to wed me, even although she could not marry until she was
twenty-one, the position was a constant menace to Richard Tresidder; for
if, when she came of age, she became my wife, Trevose Estate would at
once be wrested from his hands, while I should be able to buy back
Pennington.

I considered these matters many times as I lay there. They came to me
not clearly, but in a vague way; not quickly, but slowly and at rare
intervals, while my strength came gradually back to me.

All this time I knew not where I was, for I was not allowed to go
outside the room in which I had been imprisoned. Neither had my strength
been sufficient to climb to the little window I have mentioned in order
to look out. I was kindly treated, my food was good, and brought
regularly; my room was kept clean, and I was carefully attended to. But
not one of my attendants would tell me anything. Moreover, as I became
stronger they seemed to watch me more closely.

One morning after breakfast, I judged that the sky was bright by the
light which streamed into my room, and as I felt very much better, and
knowing that no one would come to my prison for an hour or two, I
decided to try and climb to the window, so that I might see what my
surroundings were. This proved to be a harder task than I anticipated,
but after many vain endeavours I at length reached the little aperture
and looked out.

My head became almost dizzy as I looked. Outside a great sea was
running. I saw the breakers lash themselves into foam upon the rocks,
and I saw a bold, ragged cliff stretching, as I judged, southward as far
as my eyes could reach. Then I looked beneath me, and I saw that my
prison had been built on the edge of the cliff. So high was I above the
beach beneath that at first I could not measure the distance, but
presently, as my eyes became accustomed to the sight, I was able to make
my calculation. As far as I could judge I was at least two hundred feet
above the roaring, rushing torrent beneath--probably the distance was
greater. Escape by that means, then, was an impossibility.

I looked long and eagerly at the boiling surf and the weather-beaten
cliffs which stretched far away in each direction. I watched the
breakers as they hurled themselves on the rocks far, far down beneath
me. The sight filled me with dull despair.

I tried to open the window, but it was fastened firmly. After repeated
efforts, however, I managed to remove it about three inches from the
frame, but I could not move it more owing to the iron bars that had been
placed across. The fresh air blew in from the sea, which gave me great
pleasure; it also cleared my mind somewhat, and acting on the impulse of
the moment I tied my handkerchief to the iron bar. I did not see how it
could do any good, but it could do no harm, and might possibly attract
attention.

I looked again at the great waste of water, and marked the tumultuous
tossing of the waves, and then I closed the window again, feeling that I
could do nothing to effect my liberty.

I went back to my bed again and began to consider my condition. My mind
for the moment seemed clear, and I was able to understand my position,
and all the events I have related came back to my memory. Then I
remembered that I always became dazed and drowsy after drinking the
medicine which was given me. A torpor always crept over me, and I was
incapable of definite action. This made me wonder still more.

I heard the sound of footsteps echoing along a passage, and a minute
later the little old man I have mentioned came to me.

"It is time for you to have your medicine," he said.

Hitherto I had drunk it without demur; now I determined to avoid taking
it.

"I will attend to it presently," I said, "but for the present I want us
to talk together. I suppose you know you are placing yourself in great
danger by keeping me here?"

He was silent.

"Of course," I went on, "I know that you are only the tool of others. My
enemy's name begins with T, doesn't it?"

He gave a start, but did not speak.

"This cannot last much longer," I said; "I have friends who will be
searching for me. Hanging's a serious matter. I shall take serious steps
when I get away from here."

"When you do," he replied, significantly.

"Do you think I shall stay here always?" I retorted.

"How can you get away? This morning you climbed up and looked out of
that window. You did not know I saw you, but I did. Well, what did you
see? You know you are on the top of a cliff, and it is nearly three
hundred feet to the beach. Well, you cannot escape that way; if you
tried you would break your neck. Very well; the only other way to escape
is to try and escape through that door. Well, what would happen then?
You would not get up the passage a dozen steps before you would be
shot."

"By whom?"

"By those who guard a dangerous madman."

"Oh, I see. I'm mad, am I?"

"Certainly."

"And is this an asylum?"

"It's not for you to know."

"Still it would go hard with Richard Tresidder if his perfidy should
come out."

"It can never come out. Yes, I know what is in your mind. Well,
supposing you get well enough to be set at liberty? You would be taken
to Pendennis Castle as mysteriously as you have been taken here. But
where are you? You cannot tell. Are you in England, Ireland, or
Scotland? You do not know."

"How long shall I be kept here, then?"

"Not, I should think, more than a week. You seem to be very much
improved in your health."

Now this set me wondering greatly, for I did not expect such a
revelation. Still I managed to remain calm.

"You know why I am here, then?"

"Certainly. You have been a madman; as such you have been a constant
menace to Miss Naomi Penryn. She has been much afraid of you, and has
dreaded the thought of your being at liberty."

"Little man," I said, "you know this is a lie."

"I wish it were. I have nothing whatever against you; on the contrary, I
rather like you."

He spoke this kindly, and I detected, as I thought, a friendly look in
his face, so acting on the impulse of the moment I said to him, "Will
you listen to what I have to tell you?"

"Yes," he said, "I will listen."

Then I told him briefly all I thought necessary to tell, and yet I felt
that I had not the power to tell the truth well.

"Your history seems very plausible, young man," he said, "but I have
been warned against you."

"But Miss Naomi Penryn knows that I am not a madman, neither have I
annoyed her in any way."

"You lie. I myself received a letter from her before you were brought
here."

"Let me see that letter."

"No. Enough that I have told the truth. She fears you; she pleaded that
you might be guarded until such time as it should be safe for you to be
at liberty."

"Are you sure the letter was written by her own hand? Do you know her
handwriting?"

"Know her handwriting! Why?" Then he added, quietly, "Yes, I know her
handwriting."

"But why do you think I shall be set at liberty in a week?"

"Because she will have a protector."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that to-day she is being married to Master Nicholas Tresidder."

"To-day?"

"Yes, to-day."

"Go away," I said--"go away, for the sake of God. I want to be alone to
think."

He looked at me I thought pitifully and kindly; then he heaved a sigh
and went away.

When he was gone I lay for hours like one stunned. Food was brought to
me, but I took no notice. Had poison been left in the room I believe I
should have taken it, so weary of life was I. They had worked their
will, then, and Naomi had been forced into an unholy marriage with the
man who I was sure she did not love.

I thought of trying to climb to the window, of breaking the glass,
wrenching the iron bars from the wall, and falling headlong upon the
rocks below, but I was too weak. I made a score of futile plans, each
madder than the other.

Presently I became more calm. Might not this be all lies? Or, again,
even if it were true, ought I not, instead of contemplating suicide, to
be brave and watchful, so that I might be able to protect her? Would she
not as Nick Tresidder's wife need a friend? Besides--and then a score of
conflicting thoughts seethed in my brain.

Presently I began to try and understand the meaning of the old man's
words about being set at liberty in a week. What did it mean? If she was
to be married that day, why was I not set at liberty at once? Then I
came to the conclusion that the man who was my gaoler would have to wait
for orders. Richard Tresidder would wait until the marriage was
consummated before he would communicate with him.

But I will not try and recount all my thoughts. Many of them were
doubtless wild and foolish, neither would they interest those who may
chance read this narrative.

For the next week, in spite of my despairing thoughts, I looked forward
to my being set at liberty. I counted the days eagerly, and daily did I
ask questions of the little old man who came to see me when my captivity
should be ended. But he always shook his head, neither could I get from
him any other answer.

When the week ended I expected something to happen. I should be probably
blindfolded, pinioned, and conveyed to the walls of Pendennis Castle.
But I was disappointed. A fortnight passed away, and still there was no
change in my condition.

"What is the meaning of this?" I asked. "Why am I not liberated as you
promised?"

But he gave no reply. Once I thought he would have spoken, for he seemed
strangely moved, as though his mind were filled with doubts, but he left
me without telling me the doubts which were in his mind.

Another week passed away, and in spite of myself I began to hope. If my
captivity were to continue until Naomi was wedded to Nick Tresidder, did
not my continued imprisonment show that the marriage had not taken
place? I remembered Naomi's words. I thought of the look she gave me
when she bade me good-bye. Yes, I felt sure she loved me, and that she
had refused to wed my enemy! I still fretted and fumed at my
imprisonment; I longed with a longing beyond words to be free, but this
thought was like a beacon light to a shipwrecked sailor. It gave me
strength, too. In spite of everything health surged back into my being.

But my release did not come.

The days began to grow very cold, and I asked for a fire, but none was
given me, and my captivity was hard to bear. I think I should have gone
mad but for a Bible that had been given me. I read again and again the
Book of Job; especially did my mind rest upon his latter days when the
sun shone upon him again.

One day the little man, who had told me to call him Jonathan, came into
my cell weeping.

"What ails you, Jonathan?" I said.

"Alas!" was his reply.

"What?" I cried eagerly.

"My little Naomi is dead!" he said.

"Your little Naomi--dead!" I repeated, like one dazed. "What do you
mean?"

He started as though he had told me too much.

But I was not to be trifled with. I caught him and held him fast.

"You have made me desperate," I said; "I must know all now. Who told you
that she was dead? What do you mean by calling her your Naomi? I must
know everything."

"I dare not!" he cried, distractedly--"I dare not, I am afraid."

"Afraid of whom?"

"Richard Tresidder. He will be master of--" He stopped, and then he wept
bitterly.

My hands dropped from him, for my strength had gone.

"Tell me," I said--"tell me, Jonathan, all you know."

He kept sobbing, and this made me pity him, but no tears came to my own
eyes. My heart became cold and seemed as hard as a stone.

"She did not wed Master Nicholas Tresidder," he said; "and--and, oh,
God forgive me, but since then she has died."

For a time I could not collect my thoughts, the news seemed to have
unhinged my mind, but presently I remembered. I thought of what I had
heard Richard Tresidder say, and many wild thoughts came into my mind.

"If she is dead," I said at length, "you can set me free."

"No, no, I--" He got up from the stool on which he had been sitting and
left the room. I heard him lock the door behind him, and I had no
strength to hinder him. At that moment I cared for nothing.



CHAPTER XVI

I HEAR A STRANGE NOISE IN MY PRISON--THE SECRET PASSAGE WHICH I FOUND--A
WILD STRUGGLE, AND A HAIRBREADTH ESCAPE


I have said many times that I am not a man of quick understanding,
neither was I ever clever at explaining puzzles. At that time, however,
my brain seemed more than ordinarily active, and I saw things with a
clearness that I had never seen before. Besides, I was sure that in the
past I had been rendered partially incapable by the drugs which had been
given me. Anyhow, the sudden shock seemed to have given me greater
clearness of vision, so that I was able to comprehend things far more
clearly than in the past. Hitherto, with the exception of occasional
flashes of light, all had been dull, now I seemed to see the truth
plainly. That which had come to me as vague conjectures now appeared as
certainties, and in spite of the old man's dread news, I had more hope
than in the past. I felt sure there were many things as yet unexplained.
With my greater mental activity came also more physical vigour. I felt
myself capable of trying to escape. I wondered at myself, Jasper
Pennington, being kept so long a prisoner without making any attempt at
escaping, and I determined that very day to take some definite steps to
obtain my liberty. I therefore ate my dinner eagerly when it was
brought, for I felt that I should need all my strength, but within half
an hour from the time the meal was ended a feeling of torpor again crept
over me, and I fell asleep, neither did I wake for several hours. After
I awoke some two or three hours passed before my vision was again clear.
I saw then that if I were to take any definite action, I must refrain
from the food provided for me, and this also placed me in a dilemma, for
if I ate no food how could I retain my strength? What was done must be
done quickly. Not only had my medicine contained a powerful narcotic,
but my food also was drugged.

Consequently I did not partake of my night meal, but instead I feigned
illness when it was brought, and afterward thought of many things which
I hoped to do.

Presently, by the great silence which prevailed, I concluded that the
inhabitants of my prison house had gone to rest, so I got up and tried
the door. It was built strongly, but I believed it could be wrenched
open if I had something in the shape of a crowbar. I thought of every
article in the room, but could fasten on nothing suitable for the
purpose, when I remembered the iron bars which had been placed outside
the window. I climbed to the little opening in the wall, and opened the
window as far as I was able. The cold air came rushing in, giving
strength to my resolution. I seized one of the bars, but it did not
move. Then I put forth my strength, which had been slowly coming back to
me, and in a few minutes had torn it from the wall.

"It will act as a weapon as well as a crowbar," I mused; then I got back
to the door and began to try and place the iron between the door and the
hinges. I had no light, and so I had to find out the crevice with my
fingers. While trying to do this I gave a start. I was sure I heard a
noise under my feet. At first it sounded like footsteps, then I heard a
scraping against the floor. I listened intently, and presently I was
able to locate the sound. It was just under the bed on which I had been
lying.

As quickly as I was able I removed the bed, and then listened again. For
a time all was silent, then I heard a sound again, only this time it was
different. Three knocks followed each other in quick succession, and I
heard the boards vibrate under my feet.

"Is it a friend or enemy, I wonder?" I asked myself, and I grasped the
iron bar more firmly.

I heard the boards creak as though something were pressed against them,
but I could see nothing. Only a very faint light crept through the
window which I had partially opened. Presently the boards began to give
way. I knew this by a light which streamed into the room. Then I saw the
floor move, and I heard a voice say, "Maaster Jasper."

I knew the voice immediately. There was only one person in the world who
could speak in such a tone.

"Eli!" I cried, joyfully.

"Doan't 'ee holla, Maaster Jasper," said Eli, in his hoarse, croaking
voice, "but come to once."

"Where?"

"Away from 'ere. Ther's some steps down to the say. Come on."

I needed no second bidding. I knew that Eli was thoroughly trustworthy,
and so I lifted the boards, which proved to be a trap-door, and then,
putting one foot through, I realised that I stood on a stone step.

"Come after me, Maaster Jasper," said Eli; "maake 'aste, they may come
after us."

So I squeezed my body through the trap-doorway, and prepared to follow
him.

"Cloase thickey trap, Maaster Jasper," said Eli, and I saw his strange
eyes shining in the dim light.

In my eagerness to do this I made the thing drop heavily, and the noise
echoed and re-echoed through the building.

"That'll waake 'em up," cried Eli. "Come on, come vast, Maaster Jasper!"

With an agility of which no man would have thought him capable, he
hurried down the steps, mumbling fiercely to himself all the time. I
soon found that this stairway was very crooked and often small. I
imagined then, what I have since found to be true, that the house in
which I had been imprisoned had been used as a place of storage for
smuggled goods, while the way by which I was trying to escape was a
secret way to it.

We had not descended many yards before I heard voices above, while I
knew that feet were tramping on the floor of my late prison. Evidently
the noise I had made in closing the trap-door had aroused my warders,
and they would now do their utmost to capture me.

My senses were now fully alive, and I determined that it should go hard
with those who tried to hinder my escape. To my dismay I discovered that
I had left my iron bar behind, and that I had no weapons, save my two
hands, which had naturally been weakened by my long imprisonment.
However, there was no time for despair, so I followed close on Eli's
heels, who wriggled his way down the crooked and often difficult
descent.

We must have got down perhaps one hundred feet, when, turning a corner,
a current of air came up, blowing out Eli's light and leaving us in
darkness.

"Can 'ee zee, Maaster Jasper?" cried Eli.

"Just a little. Can you?"

"I cud allays zee in the dark," he grunted, but his statement was not
altogether borne out, for his speed was much lessened. Still we managed
to get on fairly well, for Eli could see in places which to most people
would be impenetrable darkness, and I had been so much accustomed to the
dark that I was not altogether helpless.

After all I suppose it is difficult to find perfect darkness. Light is
only a relative term, and depends very much on the nature of our eyes.
Thus it was that while we could not go nearly so fast as we had been
going, we could still with difficulty find our way.

Presently we heard the sound of footsteps, and I knew by their rapid
movement that our pursuers would gain upon us. Eagerly we hurried on,
and each minute the sound of the footsteps behind us became plainer.

"How much farther, Eli?" I panted.

"A long way yet, and a hard job when we git to the end," he replied.

"How?"

"The mouth of this 'ere addit es fathoms above the say," he replied.

"How did you get here?" then I asked.

"I'll tell 'ee when we git away," he said, impatiently.

Then I chided myself for asking so much, for even these few words must
have somewhat lessened our speed.

Meanwhile, the steps came nearer and nearer.

"Stop!" cried Eli, presently.

We stopped suddenly, while we both listened eagerly.

"There be three on 'em," he grunted.

"Yes, or more."

"No, only three--we caan't git away--"

"We must, we will!" I cried.

"Only by fightin' 'em."

"Well, then, we'll fight them," I cried.

"Come on then--there es a big place down 'ere. Furder down tes awful to
git along, and we caan't go wi'out a light."

A few seconds later we stood in an open place. It was almost round, and
might have been twenty feet across. I saw this by the light which Eli
managed to fit as soon as we got there. It took him some few seconds to
fit it, however, and by that time our pursuers were upon us.

I saw in a second that two of them looked like serving-men, the third
was dressed as a gentleman. I could not see his face, however, but I
thought he looked a strong man. To my joy none appeared to be armed. Eli
stood by my side, but his head was no higher than my loins. Thus I and
the dwarf had to battle with the three. I did not wait a second. I dared
not, for my liberty, perhaps my life, were at stake. Besides, I
believed, in spite of what I had heard, that Naomi was not dead. Had she
been I should have been removed from my prison, if not set at liberty;
at least, such was my belief.

Without hesitation, therefore, before a word could be spoken, I struck
one of the serving-men a tremendous blow. He staggered against the side
of the cave with a thud, and fell like a lump of lead. For a little
while at all events we should be two to two, for Eli, insignificant as
he seemed, was a formidable opponent, although at that time I did not
believe him to be a match for a well-grown man.

Encouraged by the success of my blow, I made a leap on the man I took to
be a gentleman. My blow was, however, warded off, and I received a
stunning blow behind the ear.

Now during the time I had been imprisoned I had, as I have stated, been
kept in a half-dazed condition, and although my strength had been slowly
coming back to me, I was weak compared with the time when I had been
taken a prisoner at Pendennis Castle. My food had been drugged, and my
enforced inactivity had made my sinews soft like a woman's. Besides, I
felt I had met with a skilled fighter, and I knew by the blow he gave me
that he was a strong man. Moreover, I doubted Eli's ability to engage
with the other serving-man, and this made me doubtful about the result
of our struggle.

All this passed through my mind in a second, but I did not yield, for
while the want of hope takes away strength, despair makes men desperate,
and I was desperate. Somehow, although I could not tell why, I felt I
was fighting for Naomi as well as myself. So, reckless of consequences,
I made a second leap on my opponent and caught him by the collar, and
then some wrappings which had partially obscured his face fell off, and
I saw Nick Tresidder.

He writhed and struggled in my hands, but I held him fast.

"Ah, Nick Tresidder," I cried, "we meet face to face, then. Well, I've
got an adder by the throat, and I mean to hold him there."

"Yes," he said, "we meet face to face." Then with a sudden twist he made
himself free.

For a second I looked hastily around the cave. A torch was lying on the
floor which lit up our strange meeting-place, and near it I saw Eli
struggling with the serving-man.

He looked at me scornfully, while I, panting and partially exhausted,
tried to harden my sinews for a second attack. I determined to be
careful, however. I knew Nick Tresidder of old; I knew he would fight
with all the cunning of a serpent, and that he had as many tricks as a
monkey, so that, while he would be no match for me had my strength been
normal, he would now possibly be my master in my comparative weakness.

He took no notice of Eli, who struggled with the serving-man, but kept
his eyes on me.

"You fool, Jasper Pennington," he said. "I had come here to set you
free; now you will never leave this place alive."

"Why?" I panted, for want of better words.

"Because you know now who imprisoned you, and if you escaped you would
tell it to the world. I dare not let the world know this, so you and Eli
will have to die."

I felt sure there was some trick in this, although I could not tell what
it was.

"But if I had been set free the world would have known," I replied.

"No, you would have been taken to a far-off spot, and you would never
have known where your prison was, nor could you have sworn who
imprisoned you."

"But I am going to escape," I said, still keeping my eyes on him, while
I could hear Eli grunting as he struggled with the serving-man.

"No," he said, "you are as weak as a baby. Your strength even now has
gone. You thought bodily strength everything; I, on the other hand, know
that brains is more than bodily strength. Do you think I did not know
who I was dealing with? You are a fool. Every mouthful of food you have
been eating while you have been here has kept you weak. Now you are no
match for me. And I am going to kill you! Shall I tell you where you
are? You are at Trevose, the house that was Naomi's. Shall I tell you
something else?" and he laughed mockingly. "Naomi Penryn loved you--but
she's dead; and now Trevose House and lands belong to the Tresidders, do
you see?"

Then, I know not how, but a great strength came to me, an unnatural
strength. My heart grew cold, but my hands and arms felt like steel. His
bitter, mocking words seemed to dry up all the milk of human kindness in
my nature. At that moment I ceased to be a man. I was simply an
instrument of vengeance. His words gave me a great joy on the one hand,
for I knew he would not have told me she loved me, did he not believe it
to be true, but this only intensified my feeling of utter despair caused
by those terrible words, "But she's dead." I felt sure, too, that she
had been persecuted; I knew instinctively of all that she had had to
contend with, how they brought argument after argument to persuade her
to marry Nick, and how, because she had refused, they had slowly but
surely killed her.

And Nick gloated over the fact that Trevose lands belonged to him as
though that were the result of good luck rather than as the outcome of
systematic cruelty and murder.

I was very calm I remember, but it was an unnatural calm. I looked
around me, and Eli was still struggling with the serving-man, and to my
delight he was slowly mastering him.

"Nick Tresidder," I said, "you and your brood robbed my father, you have
robbed me, robbed me of everything I hold dear. I am going to kill you
now with these hands."

He laughed scornfully, as though I had spoken vain words; but he knew
not that there is a passion which overcomes physical weakness.

"I know it is to be a duel to the death," he laughed, "for I could not
afford to allow you to leave here alive."

"God Almighty is tired of you," I said; "He has given me the power to
crush the life out of you," and all the time I spoke I felt as though my
sinews were like steel bands.

He leapt upon me as quickly as a flash of light, but it did not matter.
In a minute I caught him in what the wrestlers call the cross-hitch. I
put forth my strength, and his right arm cracked like a rotten stick,
but he did not cry out. Then I put my arm around him and slowly crushed
the breath out of his body. I think he felt the meaning of my words
then.

"Stop, Jasper," he gasped, "she's not dead--she's--"

"What?" I asked.

But he did not speak. I do not think he could. I relaxed my hold, but he
lay limp in my arms like a sick child. Never in my life could I hurt an
unresisting man, so I let him fall, and he lay like a log of wood. But
he was still breathing, and I knew that he would live. But my passion
had died away, and so had my strength.

I turned around and I saw that Eli had mastered the serving-man. He had
placed his hands around his neck, and had I not pulled the dwarf away
the man would have died.

"Eli," I said, picking up the torch, "they will not follow us now.
Come."

But Eli did not want to come. He looked at the men we had mastered, and
his eyes glared with an unearthly light, and like a lion who has tasted
blood he did not seem satisfied.

"An eye for an eye," he said; "tha's what mawther do zay. Iss, an' a
tooth for a tooth."

"Lead the way to the sea, Eli," I said, and like a dog he obeyed. Taking
the torch from me he crawled down the passage, laughing in a strange
guttural way as he went. All the time my mind was resting on Nick
Tresidder's words, "She's not dead. She's--" and in spite of myself hope
came into my heart again, while a thousand wild thoughts flashed through
my mind.

A few minutes later we felt the sea-spray dashing against our faces,
while the winds beat furiously upon us. Below us, perhaps twenty feet
down, the sea thundered on the rocky cliff.

"What are we to do now, Eli?" I asked.

He looked anxiously around him like one in doubt; then he put his
fingers in his mouth, and gave a long piercing whistle.

"Who are you whistling to?"

"He's coming," he answered, looking out over the wild waters.

"Who's coming?"

"The man that told me."

"Who is he?"

"I'll tell 'ee, Maaster Jasper. I've bin 'ere fer days, I have. I was
loppin 'round 'cawse I knawed you was 'ere."

"How did you know?"

"I'll tell 'ee as zoon as we git away, Maaster Jasper. Well, as I was
loppin' round I zeed a man, he looked oal maazed. He spoked to me, and I
spoked to 'ee. Then we got a talkin' 'bout lots o' things. He seemed
afraid to meet anybody, but axed scores ov questions. Oal he tould me
about hisself was that he was an ould smuggler that used to land cargoes
round 'ere. One day I seed a hankerchuff 'angin' from thickey winder,
an' I knawed 'twas yours. I was wonderin' 'ow I cud git to 'ee, and I
axed the man ef he knawed anything 'bout the 'ouse. After a bit he tould
me that there was a sacret passage a-goin' from the cliff to the room
where the winder was. Tha's 'ow 'twas. I'll tell 'ee more zoon. There he
es, look."

I saw something dark moving on the water, and presently discerned a man
in a boat.

Eli whistled again, and the whistle was answered.

"How did you get from the sea up here?" I asked.

"I climbed up, Maaster Jasper, but I can't go down that way."

The boat came nearer.

"Es et saafe to plunge?" shouted Eli.

"Yes," was the reply underneath.

"No rocks?"

"Dive as far out to sea as you can, and you'll go into twenty feet of
water."

"All right," shouted Eli, then turning to me, he said, "I'll dive first,
Maaster Jasper."

"Can you swim?" I asked.

"Swem!" he sneered; "ed'n my mawther a witch?"

He plunged into the sea, and I heard the splash of his body as it fell
into the water, then I saw him get into the boat, which was rocked to
and fro with the great waves.

"All right," I heard a voice from beneath say, "now then!"

I gathered myself together for the dive, and I think my heart failed me.
My strength seemed to have entirely left me, and it looked an awful
distance between me and the frothy waves beneath. Besides, might I not
strike against a rock? Then I think my senses left me, although I am not
sure. It seemed as though the sea became calm, and a great silence fell
upon everything. After that I heard a voice which seemed like Naomi's.

"Help, Jasper!" it said.

Then all fear, all hesitation left me, and I plunged into the sea
beneath. I felt my body cutting the air, then an icy feeling gripped me
as I sunk in the waters. When I rose to the surface I saw the boat a few
yards from me rising on the crest of a wave.

I could hear nothing, however, save a roar which seemed like ten
thousand thunders. I struck out boldly for the boat, but Eli and the
other man seemed to mock me with jeering menaces. I struggled hard and
long, but the boat seemed to get no nearer, and presently I thought I
heard unearthly laughter above the wild roar of the breakers.

"Ha, ha," I thought I heard them saying, "now we've got you; this is
Granfer Fraddam's phantom boat, this is. Swim, Jasper Pennington, swim!"

I tried to swim, but my legs seemed to be weighted, while around me
floated thousands of hideous jabbering things which I thought tried to
lure me on to the rocks.

I looked landward and the house in which I had been imprisoned appeared
to shine in a strange ruddy light, until it looked like one of those
enchanted houses which one sees in dreams.

Then I thought I heard Naomi's voice again, "Help, Jasper, help!"

But all my struggles seemed of no avail. I fancied I was being carried
by the force of the waves farther and farther out to sea, while all the
time Eli and the other man beckoned me onward, their boat rising and
falling on the bosom of the ever-heaving waters.

Then I felt cold hands grip me, and I was dragged I knew not whither,
while everything was engulfed in impenetrable darkness.



CHAPTER XVII

TELLS OF THE MANNER OF MY ESCAPE, OF THE STRANGE MAN I MET, AND OF ELI'S
STORY OF A BURIED TREASURE


The next thing I can remember was a sensation of choking, of trying in
vain to get my breath; then a weight seemed to be slowly rolled from me,
and I felt myself free.

I opened my eyes and found myself in a cave. At first I thought it was
the one in which I had fought with Nick Tresidder, but I soon found
myself to be mistaken. I lay upon coarse, dry sand, while close to me a
fire burned. Its grateful light and warmth caused a pleasant sensation;
then I realised that my wet clothes had been taken from me, and that I
was rolled in a warm, dry blanket.

"You be better now, Maaster Jasper, be'ant 'ee, then?" I looked up and
saw Eli Fraddam bending over me.

"How did I get here?" I asked, in a dazed kind of way, "and where am I?"

"You be cloase to Bedruthan Steps, an tha's where you be, Maaster
Jasper; you be in one of the caaves. 'Tes oal lew and coasy 'ere, and
you'll be oal right again. But you've bin as sick as a shag, and as
cowld as a coddle."

I tried to call to memory what had passed. Then I said, "But how did I
get here, Eli, and how long is it since we came?"

"We brought 'ee 'ere, Maaster Jasper, in the booat, ya knaw. You tumbled
in the say, and we was a goodish bit afore we cud git 'ee on boaard. We
was feard for a long time that you was dead, but you're oal right now.
Yer things 'll zoon be dry, and then you c'n dress up oal spruce and
purty."

Slowly my mind became clear; then I remembered the man who had been in
the boat while Eli and I had been together in the secret passage.

"Where is the man who helped you with the boat?" I asked.

"Here 'ee es. Come 'ere, maaster."

Then I saw a strange-looking man who, as far as I could judge, might be
any age between fifty and seventy. I looked at him steadily for some
time. Somehow his face seemed familiar. I could not call to mind where I
had seen it, however. He had a long gray beard, while his hair was also
long and unkempt. His eyes shone with a wild brilliancy, and he seemed
to be always eagerly watching.

"Thank you for helping me," I said; "it was very good of you."

"Was it?" he replied. "Do you really think it was good of me?"

"It was, indeed," I responded. "I wish I could repay you somehow. Some
time I hope to have the power."

He looked at me eagerly.

"I'm glad you think it was good of me," he said; "so very glad. Will you
tell me something?"

"If I can I will," I replied.

"Do you think it possible that many good deeds--many, many, many--can
atone for wild, bad, murderous actions?"

"God takes everything into account," I replied.

"Do you think He does--do you? I'll tell you something," and he drew
closer to me. "Years ago--long years ago--oh! so long, so long!--well,
say I was a smuggler, a wrecker--oh, what you like! Well, say in
self-defence, in passion, in frenzy, I killed a King's officer--do you
think God will forgive me? And say, too, that since then I've roamed and
roamed, all over the world, always trying to do good deeds, kind
deeds--do you think God takes them into account?"

"I'm sure He does," I answered.

"I only wanted to know your opinion," he replied, as though trying to
speak carelessly. "Of course I only imagined a case, only imagined
it--that's all."

Now this kind of talk set me wondering about the man, and imagining who
he might be. Wildly as he looked, strangely as he spoke, curiously as he
was dressed, he still spoke like an educated man. I watched him as he
continued to cast glances around the cave, and I came to the conclusion
that he was mad. I opened my mouth to ask him questions, but the
remembrance that Eli might be able to tell me what I wanted to know
about the Tresidders restrained me.

"How did you know how to find me?" I asked of Eli. "Tell me everything
that happened since I left you that morning."

Eli, who had continued to look at me all the time I had been speaking to
the stranger, gave a start as I asked the question.

"Wondered why you did'n come back from Fammuth," he grunted, "so I went
and axed 'bout 'ee. Cudden vind out nothin'. Then I beginned to worm
around. I vound out that Neck Trezidder 'ad tould the passon not to cry
the banns at church. Then I got the new cook at Pennington to come to
mawther and 'ave 'er fortin tould; then mawther an' me wormed out oal
she knawed 'bout the things up to Pennington."

"What?" I asked, while all the time the strange man seemed to be eagerly
devouring Eli's words.

"The Trezidders and the purty maid ev quaruled about you."

"Are you sure?"

"Iss. Neck wanted the purty maid to marry un, and she wudden, and they
axed 'er 'bout you, and she wudden tell nothin'."

"How did the new cook know this?"

"She 'arkened at the door."

I did not feel then, neither do I feel now, that I did wrong in trying
to find out the actions of the Tresidders even by such means as this. My
heart was torn by a great anxiety, and my love for Naomi seemed to grow
every hour.

"Well, what then?"

"The cook cudden maake it oal out, but the purty maid axed to go to some
plaace called a convent."

"Ah! a convent--yes," I cried, my mind reverting back to the
conversation I had heard between Richard Tresidder and his son.

"Well, she went; tha's oal I do knaw 'bout she."

"You are sure?" I asked, eagerly.

Eli hung his head.

"Tell me is that all?" I gasped. "Tell me all you know--everything."

"Poor Jasper, deear Jasper!" crooned Eli, patting my hands. "Eli loves
Jasper."

"But tell me everything, Eli."

"You wa'ant go maazed?"

"No."

"Then I heerd she was dead; but I dunnaw. There, do'ant 'ee give way,
Maaster Jasper."

For a few seconds I was stunned, but I called to mind Nick's words, and
I was comforted; at any rate, there was hope.

"And the rest, Eli?" I asked. "How did you find out where I was?"

"It took me a long time. I went to Kynance, and I 'arkened round
Pennington, but I cudden 'eer nothin'. Then wawn day I seed Israel
Barnicoat talkin' with Maaster Trezidder, then I beginned to wonder."

"Yes; what then?"

"I tried to pump un, but I cudden."

"Well?"

"Then wawn day I got'n home to mawther's, and we maade un nearly drunk,
and then I vound out. He'd bin 'ired by Maaster Trezidder to taake 'ee
to Trevawse 'Ouse. Little by little I vound out where it was, then I
comed to 'ee."

I did not ask him any more questions. I knew nearly all he could tell me
now; besides, the presence of the stranger kept me from entering into
further details. My imagination filled up what was not related.

"Eli got summin to tell Maaster Jasper when we git aloane," grunted Eli
presently.

The man with whom I had been speaking walked out of the cave, and I
could not but think he had been brought up as a gentleman in spite of
his wild, unkempt appearance.

"What is it?" I asked. "Where is the convent to which Miss Penryn was
taken? Can you tell me that?"

"No, I ca'ant; ted'n 'bout that."

"What then?"

"You reckleck thicky night when you comed 'ome from say--that night when
mawther brought out the crock and brandis, and tould yer fortin?"

"Yes."

"And you do mind to that Cap'n Jack and Cap'n Billy Coad comed to 'ee?"

"I remember."

"Well, you eerd 'em axin mawther 'bout the saicret paaper that tould 'em
'bout a treasure?"

"Yes."

"Well"--and Eli put his mouth close to my ear--"I do knaw where thicky
paaper es. I've vound un out, an' saved un for Maaster Jasper."

"What do you mean?"

"Eli do love Maaster Jasper"--and again the poor gnome began fondling
and caressing my hands--"so Eli have wormed around and around, and ev
vound out where et es. Aw, aw, when Cap'n Jack an' Cap'n Billy cudden
vind et they ded swear they ded, but Eli do knaw, an' Eli'll give ut to
Maaster Jasper, 'ee will, then Maaster Jasper c'n pay 'em oal out. Turn
out Maaster Trezidder, my deear, and live at Pennington."

"Tell me more about it, Eli?" I cried.

"Hush, we mus'n tell nobody. Aw, aw!" and again the dwarf laughed
gleefully.

"There's no witchcraft, no wizard's charms about the treasure, is
there? It wasn't made in hell, was it?"

"No, no; tes oal right. Granfer Fraddam was once a pirut on the 'igh
says."

"Yes; I know he was once a pirate on the high seas, but what of that?"

"Well, he got the paaper from another pirut. Some do zay he ded kill un,
but that ed'n true. Well, 'ee got et."

"Yes; but if he got a paper telling where the treasure was, why did he
not take it away?"

"Well, Granfer cudden raid, fur wawn thing, and fur another, 'ee wos
feared."

"Afraid of what?"

"Several things. For wawn thing, he was tould that 'twas onlucky to git
a treasure that was got through killin' people; but that wudden stop
Granfer, I do knaw."

"Then what was it?"

"Well, Granfer cudden raid the direckshuns, and 'ee cud never maake up
his mind to shaw et to anybody that cud. Now, they do zay that when 'ee
talked 'bout et 'ee was awful feared. He zed ef 'ee shawed et to anybody
they'd kill un. I spoase Granfer was a wisht ould man after 'ee 'ad a
accident, and was too ould to live out to say. He repented and turned
religious. That was why 'ee ded'n do nothin' but smugglin'. Well, so 'ee
did eed away the paper wot 'ee got from the man, and waited till 'ee cud
vind somebody to trust. But he cudden vind nobody--nobody toal. Besides,
everybody was frad to 'ave anything to do wi' Granfer. People did
believe 'ee was a wizard, and 'ad dailins weth the devil. Mawther do
zay that nobody would go out mor'n seven mile out to say weth Granfer."

"And where is this paper?"

"Aw, aw. I vound out I did. Granfer tould mawther, and mawther did tell
me. I vound et, and did eed it in another plaace. Aw, aw, you shud a
eerd Cap'n Jack and Cap'n Billy swear when they cudden vind et. Aw, aw.
But I did love Maaster Jasper, and I'll take 'ee to et, Maaster Jasper,
my deear."

All the time Eli was speaking he kept fondling my hands and caressing
me, just as a man would caress a maid whom he loves.

"But does your mother know what you have done?"

"No, she doan't. She do believe it have been sperrited away."

"Spirited away; what do you mean?"

"Mawther do knaw. Aw, aw. But she ed'n right this time, and yet she is
oal the time."

As I have before mentioned, it was no uncommon thing to hear about
hidden treasures along our coast. Indeed, from earliest childhood I have
heard of gangs of pirates burying treasures in many of our secret
hiding-places; so common were such stories that we had ceased to pay
attention to them. Consequently I had given but little attention to the
conversation I had heard between Cap'n Jack and Betsey, neither did I
attach much value to what Eli had been telling me. If such a treasure
existed, and if Granfer Fraddam knew of it, he would have found means to
have obtained it. I knew that during Granfer Fraddam's later years he
was said to have tried to get religion, and wanted very hard to break
away from a compact he made with the evil one in his young days. There
were also stories telling how he pleaded with Betsey to give up all
connection with witchcraft, and that because she would not agree to this
he died in his secret cave rather than have her near him. But all these
were stories to which I, who had had a fair amount of schooling, had
paid but little attention.

Besides, at this time I was thinking about the sweet maid that I loved
rather than the treasure that Eli spoke about. What were treasures to me
if she were dead? What was Pennington, the home of my fathers even, if
she had been slowly killed by the Tresidder brood? I asked myself many
times what Nick Tresidder had meant by his words; I wondered, too, where
the convent was in which she had been placed, and as I wondered my heart
was torn with anguish, for all the world was nothing to me without
Naomi.

And so for a long time I did not talk to Eli concerning that about which
he had spoken. I seemed rather to be eating my heart away, and almost
wished that I had died when I had plunged into the sea a few hours
before, for what could I do? Where was the convent in which she was
placed? How could I get to her? And if I tried, what steps would the
Tresidders take to hinder me? From the fact that Nick Tresidder had come
to Trevose, would it not suggest that he had come to claim the land as
his? And would he not take steps even now to get me out of the way?

These and a hundred other questions I asked myself, until my brain
became weary again, and my heart was sick with disappointment, sorrow,
and despair.

"Will Maaster Jasper go with poor little Eli?" grunted my companion
presently. "I knaw where the paper es, Maaster Jasper. 'Tes covered weth
ritin' and funny lines; but Maaster Jasper es clever, he can vind et
out. Spanish money, Maaster Jasper--'eaps and 'eaps ov et. You could buy
back Pennington, Maaster Jasper, and pay out the Trezidders--pay 'em
out; iss, an' turn 'em out, neck and crop!"

Why is it, I wonder, that the human heart turns so naturally to revenge?
In my despair it came to me as a comfort, this thought of driving the
Tresidders from Pennington. For the moment I became eager about Eli's
story of the treasure, and asked many questions--foolish as the whole
business might be--as to what Granfer Fraddam had told his mother, and
what she had told him.

After a while I remembered the man who had been our companion, and I
sent Eli to try and find him.

When Eli had gone I examined my clothes and found them dry. So I put
them on, wondering all the time as to whose they might be, and who had
worn them prior to the time the man had given them to me.

No sooner had I finished dressing than Eli and the man came in. I
thought the latter looked more calm and self-possessed. He brought some
bread, too, and some salted fish. Then for the first time I saw some
simple cooking utensils in the cave.

"Have you been living in this cave?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied; "I have been living here for a month. But you are
welcome. I want to do good deeds if I may. I want to atone."

"Have you done anything so bad, then," I asked, "else why do you wish to
atone?"

He looked at me eagerly for a few seconds; then, without speaking, he
put two pans on the fire, first of all filling them with water. After
this he placed the fish in one of the pans, and waited while the water
boiled.

"What is your name, young man?" he asked presently.

"Jasper Pennington."

"Of Pennington?"

"Yes; what do you know about it?"

"I knew of a family of that name long years ago. Pennington of
Pennington. Why are you in this plight?"

"Because I have been robbed of my birthright," I replied, bitterly.

"By whom?"

"The Tresidder family."

"The Tresidder family--ah!" He said this with great bitterness and
passion. After a few seconds he grew calm again. "And have you sought to
be revenged?"

"I have sought rather to win back my own. But what do you know of the
Tresidders?"

"Nothing--oh, nothing, nothing, nothing! What could I, a poor
shipwrecked sailor, know about a great family?" This he said hurriedly,
almost fearfully, I thought. Presently he continued, "And you have done
no rash deeds, Jasper Pennington?"

"No."

"You have not killed any of their men, their women?"

"No; not yet."

"Oh, be careful. Do you know"--and he heaped some driftwood on the
fire--"that one moment of madness drives a man to hell? I've been in
hell now for--oh, nigh upon twenty years. Hell, Jasper Pennington, a
burning hell! Suffer anything, anything rather than--than--oh, it's
nothing. I'm only imagining still; but there--" And he became silent
again.

In spite of my many doubts and fears I became interested in the man, and
I watched him closely.

"Look, Jasper Pennington," he said presently, "anything got through
evil, through bloodshed, through murder carries a curse with it. I've
had the curse of Cain upon me now for many a year. I have been a
wanderer on the face of the earth, but I have kept my eyes open.
Everywhere it has been the same. Blood money, hate money, money evilly
got, always carries a curse. Don't touch it, don't touch it! It does not
burn the hands--oh, but it burns the heart, the soul! Oh, I have seen! I
know!"

"But supposing your father had his home stolen from him by lies,
treachery, fraud--suppose your father said to you with his dying breath,
'Get back that land; it is yours, it is your birthright, your true
possession,' what would you do?"

"Jasper Pennington, there be other birthrights than those of law--there
be those of God. There is the birthright of clean, bloodless hands and a
pure heart; there is the birthright of an easy conscience, and the power
to pray! It is more than money."

"You do not know everything," I said, "or you would speak differently."

"I not know!" he cried; "I not know! My God! my God!"

For a few seconds I thought him mad again, but presently he became calm.
"The food is ready," he said; "we will eat of it. I got it from a
cottage yonder. After we have eaten you may like to tell me all about
yourself. Perchance I could help you; perchance, too, I am not what I
seem."

Something about the man charmed me. As I have mentioned, he spoke
correctly, and in spite of his strange attire he looked like a
gentleman. So when I had eaten I told him my story.

"Is that all?" he said, when I had finished. "There is something else.
Your eyes would never shine so at the thought of being robbed of lands."

"Yes, there is more," I cried, for I had not told him of my love; and
then--and I wondered at myself as I did so--I told him of my love for
Naomi, but only in barest outline. I did not tell her name, I did not
speak of her as coming from Trevose, I did not relate how Richard
Tresidder hoped through her to gain Trevose.

When I had finished he sat for many minutes looking steadfastly into the
fire, while his eyes grew as red as the red coals into which he looked.

"You have not told me all yet, Jasper Pennington," he said; "there is
much behind. Why do you think they have ill-treated if not killed the
fair maid you love? Why should they seek to put her into the convent?
Ay, more, how and by what right were you taken to yon house on the
cliffs? Tell me that, Jasper Pennington."

He spoke slowly, but with terrible intensity, and for a moment a feeling
which I cannot describe passed through my heart.

"There is something else, Jasper Pennington," he continued. "What is the
name of the fair maid you love, and whose child is she?"

On saying this he caught my hand with a hard, tight grasp, and looked
eagerly into my eyes.



CHAPTER XVIII

HOW I LEFT BEDRUTHEN STEPS AND, AFTER MEETING TAMSIN TRUSCOTT, SOUGHT
FOR NAOMI


I know not why, but when the stranger acted in this way he seemed to put
a bridle on my tongue. The name of my love was on my lips, but I could
not utter it.

"Are you afraid to tell, Jasper Pennington?" he asked, eagerly.

"It is not for you to know," I replied; "besides, she may be dead. I
have been told that she--" Then I stopped, for my heart seemed to grow
too big for my bosom.

"Died of a broken 'art," mumbled Eli. "The Trezidders killed 'er."

"Tell me more!" cried the stranger, excitedly. Then he added, in calmer
tones, "I may be able to help you."

But I did not speak, whereupon he walked to and fro the cave, making all
sorts of ejaculations, and at times looking savagely at me, as though I
were his enemy.

Presently, however, he grew calm and thoughtful; he seemed to be musing
over what I had told him, as though he had an interest in it. This
surprised me greatly, and set me thinking who he could be, until plans
of action for myself began to form themselves in my brain.

After I had thought awhile I went out of the cave and stood in the bay
called Bedruthen Steps. Accustomed as I had been all my life to the
sight of a fine rock-bound coast, I could not help being awed at the
scene. The great rocks which lift their mighty heads in Kynance Cove
were not equal to these. Often while living at Cap'n Jack's house I had
wandered along the many-coloured cliffs which stretch from Kynance to
the Lizard, and had seen the waves leap on them, sometimes playfully,
sometimes in mad anger, while thousands of streamlets ran down their
rugged sides afterward, as if to laugh at the anger of the sea; but
never had I seen anything so fine, so awe-inspiring as this. For a
moment it made me forget the objects dearest to my heart. The tide was
not high enough to reach the mouth of the cave at which I stood; at the
same time the angry seas rolled madly along the sand, and were churned
into foam by the great rocks along the beach. I had heard about rocks
standing as sentinels, but never until then did I realise the meaning of
the words. That day, however, the meaning of such language was quite
plain. The cliffs stood from three to four hundred feet high, almost
perpendicular, save here and there where some narrow gully sloped
somewhat. These cliffs were dark gray, rough, jagged and forbidding, and
seemed to quietly mock the roving, rushing sea which beat upon them.

Along the beach, perhaps a hundred yards or more from the cliffs, a
number of huge rocks stood alone. I suppose at some time they must have
slipped from the mainland, but that was undoubtedly in the far-back
past. One of them, I remember, was shaped like a spire, and seemed to
look with derision on the foaming waters that sometimes nearly covered
it, and at others left it standing ill all its majesty on the white,
hard sand.

"Surely," I thought, "God has been lavish of His grandeur here," and
even as this came into my mind the relentlessness and the cruelty of the
sea impressed me. Everything made me feel my littleness, my impotence. A
strong man would be but as a bit of rotten wood if he were thrown into
it; those cliffs would beat the life out of him, while the white foam,
which looked so soft and inviting, covered that which would smash the
sides of a boat as easily as a man snaps a piece of wood across his
knee.

A feeling of despair possessed me again, for I was utterly lonely. It is
true Eli stood by my side saying loving words and fondling me, while the
stranger walked to and fro the cave; but no one felt my grief or
understood it. By-and-by, however, my mood began to change; the roaring
sea, the gray, leaden sky, the mighty cliffs inspired me, they urged me
to action. I must find out the truth about Naomi; ay, I must find her,
for, standing there that morning, I could not believe that she was dead.

A few minutes later I had made preparations to leave the cave and go
away from the neighbourhood of Bedruthen Steps.

"Where do you go, Jasper Pennington, and what are your plans?" asked the
stranger.

"That is a matter which concerns myself," I replied, not very
graciously. A moment later, however, I felt I had acted like a cur, for
this man had endangered his life to save mine, and but for him I might
not have been alive. "Forgive me," I continued; "my mind is much
distracted, and I scarcely know what I say."

"Perchance I could help you, if you would trust me," he said.

"I can scarcely trust myself," I replied, "much less a stranger."

"Am I stranger?" he cried, with an hysterical laugh, just as though he
were a madman.

"If you are not, who and what are you?" I asked. "What is your name?"

"Name!" he said, wildly. "Esau is my name, my true name."

"Why your true name?"

"Because I have sold my birthright."

"Your birthright! To whom did you sell it?"

"To the devil!" he cried, his eyes glittering. "My birthright was my
manhood; it was a clear conscience, it was the power to fearlessly think
of the past, and to--" He stopped suddenly, then he went on again:
"Perhaps Cain is the truer name, but I know not; call me Esau."

"Yes, he's mad," I said to myself. "I can trust him with
nothing--nothing." Still, I humoured him. "You have been very good to
me," I said. "Some time, if I live and gain my own, I will repay you."

He came to me again, his eyes still shining brightly, and he looked
eagerly into mine, as though, too, he had decided to impart something to
me; but a second later an expression of doubt rested on his face. "No,"
I heard him say; "I must do it myself, and alone, if I can--if I can."

We parted then. I made my way up the side of a sloping place along the
cliff, while Eli followed close at my heels. When we reached the grassy
headland I looked back, and saw the stranger still standing at the
mouth of the cave. I looked around me. Not a house of any sort was to be
seen; only a rugged, bleak coastline was visible. I saw, however, that
some of the land was cultivated, and so I knew that there must be some
farmhouses in the near distance.

After walking for about a quarter of an hour we came to a lane, but it
was grass-grown, and was evidently but seldom used. I looked around me
and espied a gray church tower. This gladdened my heart, for it was
pleasant to think of the House of God situated in a bleak, barren
countryside. I was about to make my way toward it when I heard the click
of a labourer's pick. I jumped on a fence and saw a man hedging.

"What is the name of that church?" I asked.

"St. Eval, sur."

I looked at the man more closely. He looked far more intelligent than
the ordinary labourer. "Do you know much about this neighbourhood?" I
asked.

"I've lived 'ere oal my life, sur."

"Do you know of any convent in this neighbourhood?"

"Convent, convent?" he repeated, questioningly.

"Yes," I replied; "a place that belongs to the Catholics--a place where
priests and nuns live."

He looked at me suspiciously, as though he suspected that I had evil
motives in asking such a question. "No, sur," he said presently. Then he
gave a start, and I turned and saw that Eli had come to my side. "Is
he--is he the devil?" he gasped.

"No; only a dwarf."

"You'm sa big and 'ee sa small, it do seem funny," he laughed,
nervously.

"What is the nearest town?" I asked.

"St. Columb, sur."

I made up my mind to go to St. Columb, and was asking the man how far it
was, when another thought struck me. "There's a parson at St. Eval, I
suppose?"

"Aw, iss, sur; hes 'ouse ed'n fur from the church."

"Is he a man that you like?"

"Aw, iss, sur; everybody do like the passon."

I made my way toward St. Eval, and after half an hour's walking found a
church and perhaps a dozen houses. I was not long in finding the
vicarage, for it was the only house of importance in the neighbourhood.

Parson Thomas received me very kindly. He was a little man, well fed,
and apparently on good terms with every one. I don't think he knew much
about religion as Mr. John Wesley taught it, but he was kind-hearted and
full of merriment. Moreover, if he neglected people's souls, he did not
neglect their bodies. He insisted on giving me refreshments, and
although he looked very curiously at Eli, he sent him into the kitchen
and gave instructions that he must be looked after.

"I am a bachelor," laughed the jolly vicar. "So much the better all
around. I've no one to bother me. I've got my dogs and my horses. At St.
Ervan there is a pack of hounds, and I've the best hunter within six
parishes. I have a service every Sunday afternoon in the church, and so
far we have no Methodists. I've some good wine, good home-brewed ale,
and plenty of cider. I rear most of the flesh eaten in the house, and am
happy--ha, ha! Now, what can I do for you?"

I asked if he knew of any religious house belonging to the Catholics in
the neighbourhood.

"There are a few Catholic families," he said.

"Who are they?"

"Well, there was a Catholic family at Trevose House--an old house built
on the cliff not far from Trevose Head. At least, Mrs. Penryn was a
Catholic, and the girl was brought up a Catholic. A priest from Padstow
used to visit the house."

"Do you know anything about them?" I asked.

"Mrs. Penryn is dead; her husband--well, it's a sad story. Poor fellow,
he committed suicide well upon twenty years ago. Everything was left to
the daughter. She has gone to the West to stay till she's of age, or
married, under the guardianship of a Richard Tresidder. I think I heard
something about Tresidder's son marrying Naomi, but I'm not sure."

"Did the priest who visited Trevose belong to any religious
community?--I mean, is there a convent or nunnery at Padstow?"

"No. Let me see--oh, yes, I remember now; my friend Page, from Mawgan,
was telling me about it. Close to Mawgan Church is the Manor House of
Lord Arundell. I daresay you will have heard of it--Lanksome. It is a
delightful spot. Well, the Arundell family has always remained Catholic,
and were terribly bitter against the Reformation. The present Arundells
came into possession about thirty-five or forty years ago, and it is
quite a home for priests and Catholics generally. Some of the priests, I
believe, visited Trevose from there."

"But it is not a convent or nunnery?"

"Oh, no; not that I am aware of. It is simply the headquarters of the
Catholics in this district. I have heard it said that some young
Catholic girls, religiously inclined, have been taken there as
novitiates, but I doubt its truth; not that the place is not admirably
suited for such a purpose. It is surrounded by a high wall, over which
no one can see, and in one of the walls is a secret chamber in which it
is said a priest was concealed for eighteen months in the reign of
Elizabeth. At present, however, it is not recognised as a convent."[1]

"But it is a Catholic centre?"

"Oh, bless you, yes; the place is full of Catholic priests, nuns from
France, and what not. I should not like to say what is done within those
walls. That house is full of secrets, and the people who go to Mawgan
Church, which is adjoining it, look upon Lanherne as a home of mystery.
The servants are silent, the priests are silent, the very atmosphere
seems full of secrets."

I did not stay long with Parson Thomas after this, although his
hospitality seemed to know no bounds. I had heard enough to set me
thinking, and I determined to go to Mawgan that very evening. The time
was now three in the afternoon, and soon night would be upon us. Still,
there would be another hour of daylight, and I started to walk in the
direction of Mawgan Forth, while Eli trudged close by my heels.

We had been walking, perhaps, half an hour, when I saw, as I was passing
by a farmhouse close to which the road ran, a woman on horseback. Below
us we saw the sands of Mawgan Forth, but no house was near save the
farmhouse to which I have referred.

"It is some woman riding home from St. Columb Market, I suppose," I
said as her horse climbed the hill.

"No," said Eli; "no, Maaster Jasper. 'Tes Tamsin Triscott, Tamsin
Fraddam; that's who et es."

"Tamsin!" I cried; "surely no!"

A few seconds later, however, I saw that Eli was right.

"Master Jasper Pennington!" she cried, as she saw me, and the blood
mounted violently to her face. "You are free, then?"

This she said in a tone of disappointment almost amounting to anger.

"Yes, Tamsin," I replied. "What do you know about my imprisonment?"

"I suppose you got him away?" she said to Eli, angrily, without noticing
my question.

"Iss," grunted Eli; "I ded, ded'n I, Jasper?" and the dwarf laughed
gleefully.

"And I meant to have done it," she said, as if musing to herself. "I
have travelled a long way."

"What do you mean, Tamsin?" I asked.

She hesitated a minute, then she spoke like one in pain.

"I did my best, Jasper--believe that. But for me you would have been
killed. Israel Barnicoat and others vowed it, but I persuaded father. I
heard about your coming back, and I tried to find out where you had been
taken. As soon as I knew I started to come. I would have set you free; I
would, Jasper, I would."

My slow-thinking mind was trying to find its way to Tamsin's motives for
acting thus, when she went on if possible more earnestly than before.

"She didn't care for you, Jasper; if she did, why were you imprisoned in
her house?"

"Tamsin," I said, for I began to see her meaning, "do you know what is
become of Naomi Penryn?"

"No," she said, sullenly.

"Tamsin," I went on, "I thank you for your goodness to me; I am glad I
had a friend willing to travel so far to help me. But I am in great
sorrow, Tamsin. I may tell you about it, I know; I love Naomi
Penryn--love her like my own life. I have heard strange rumours about
her, and my heart is very sad. I can trust you, Tamsin, I know that.
Have you heard anything about her?"

She became very pale as I spoke, and I thought she would have fallen
from her horse, but she recovered herself presently.

"Israel Barnicoat told me that she would not marry young Tresidder," she
replied, "and that she asked to be taken to a convent until she came of
age."

"Yes," I said, eagerly, "and what then?"

"I heard that she died there."

"And do you know where the convent is?"

"No; I know nothing! She is dead, that's all."

"Tamsin," I replied, "something tells me she is not dead. I have heard
this again and again, and I cannot believe it. I am going to search for
her until I find her."

"Why do you not believe she's dead?" she asked, like one in anger.

"I have reasons," I answered. "They are real to me, although they might
not be real to you. Besides, I cannot think of her as dead. Tamsin,
suppose you loved a man, would you rest upon hearsay in such a case?"

"I would search until I died," she cried. "If he were alive I would
find him; if he were dead I would die too."

"Then you can feel for me," I said, "for I love Naomi Penryn. I shall
love her till I die, and if she be dead, I shall want to die, too."

Then the girl gave a heartrending cry. "Don't, Jasper Pennington," she
said, "don't!"

I looked around me and saw that Eli had wandered toward the Porth. I was
glad for this, for I realised what her words meant.

"Tamsin Truscott," I said, "I never had a sister; will you be one to me?
For I love you as truly as ever brother loved sister. Can you care for
me as a sister cares for a brother?"

I said this because I wanted to be true to Naomi, and because I
determined to dispel from Tamsin's mind all thoughts of me as one who
could ever love her. I wanted to appeal to all that was best and truest
in her, too, believing, as I have always believed, that by this means
alone can we get the best that people are capable of giving.

For some minutes she seemed like one fighting a great battle, then she
said quietly, "Yes, Jasper Pennington, I will do for you all that a
sister would do."

"Then, Tamsin," I said, "if it should please God to let me find my love,
would you befriend her?"

"Yes," she gasped.

"It seems as though she hath many enemies," I went on, "and there be
many who plot against her. If I find her among friends all may be well,
but if I were to find her among enemies and rescue her, I know of no
place to take her where she would be safe."

For a little while Tamsin sobbed as though her heart would break; and
at that time I thought it was because she pitied both me and Naomi.

Presently she said, quietly, "If you should ever find the one you mean
alive, and she needs a home, take her to my aunt's at Porth Mullion. She
is a good woman, my mother's sister, and hates my father's ways. She
will do anything I ask her."

"What is her name?" I asked, "and how shall I find her?"

"Her name is Mary Crantock, and there are but three houses at Porth
Mullion. Hers is a white house, with a wooden porch painted green. The
other houses have no porches."

"And how will she know about me?"

"I will ride there to-morrow and tell her."

"And where will you go to-night?"

"I will ride to St. Columb. I have another aunt who lives there."

Then a great fear came into my heart, and, almost without thinking, I
had caught hold of Tamsin's hand.

"Tamsin Truscott," I said, "you once told me you loved me. I may trust
you, may I not? As God is above us, you will be true if ever I need
you?"

"As surely as what I once told you is true, as surely as God is above
us, you may trust me."

Then she turned her horse's head, and rode rapidly toward the St. Columb
road.

Now, in describing my meeting with Tamsin, I have failed to record many
things. I have not told of the many questions she asked regarding my
imprisonment or my escape, nor of the answers I gave, because they do
not bear directly on the history I am writing. Besides, it is difficult
to remember many things after the lapse of long years. So many things
were said, however, that it was nearly dark when she rode away from me.

From Mawgan Porth it is about two miles to Mawgan Church, and I was
anxious to get there before night had quite come upon us. So, calling
Eli to my side, we hurried across the Porth, and then went up a narrow
lane, where we met a man who directed us to Mawgan Church.

A quarter of an hour later we were descending into the vale of Lanherne,
and in the light of the departing day I could see the tower of the
church rising from the trees among which it nestled. The sight seemed to
give wings to my feet, and so fast did I go that Eli had great
difficulty in keeping close to me. Eagerly did I jump across the brook
that ran down the valley, after which I ran along by the churchyard
wall, and a few seconds later I stood before the gray walls of Lanherne
Manor House.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] Lanherne Manor House, in the parish of Mawgan, Cornwall,
while being a centre of Catholic influence for several centuries, did
not become a recognised convent until the beginning of the present
century. At that time a sisterhood of Carmelite nuns was driven from
France to Antwerp. When the French entered Belgium they emigrated to
England, and Lord Arundell of Wardour assigned the house to them. The
inmates are at present an abbess and twenty nuns. J. H.



CHAPTER XIX

TELLS HOW I CLIMBED THE WALL OF THE MANOR HOUSE GARDEN, AND WHAT I SAW


My first impulse on seeing the house was to go boldly up to the door and
ask for Naomi Penryn, but a second's reflection told me that such an act
would be madness. I remembered the words of Parson Thomas. This house
was the property of a man widely known and respected, and while it was
given over to Papist ways and usages, I could not ask questions as
though it were a public institution. My brain, slow to work as it was,
told me that I must act warily, and in such a way as to arouse as little
suspicion as possible. On looking back over my plan of action, however,
I can see how foolish I was, and how, but for the kind providence of
God, I did that which was calculated to frustrate the dearest desire of
my heart.

This, however, is what I did. I waited for some few minutes in a state
of indecision, then it occurred to me that I had better find an inn, so
that I might leave Eli in a place of safety, and on looking round I
quickly found a kiddleywink. Here I left Eli, and after telling the
landlady to cook some supper, I again went back to the front of the old
Manor House. Fearing to be seen, I wandered around the place, and saw
that the walls around the garden were over fifteen feet high, and that
from no position could I look over, except by climbing one of the huge
trees that grew in the near distance. Never in my life had I realised
the meaning of silence as I realised it then. Not a breath of wind
stirred, and beyond the sound of the brook as it rippled down the
valley, nothing was to be heard. To me it seemed like the home of the
dead. "How can I discover what is behind those walls?" I asked myself,
but no answer was forthcoming.

Twice did I walk around the house and gardens, and was about to go back
to the inn again, when I heard the sound of singing. I listened
intently, and discovered that the singers were within the Manor House,
and from the number of voices and the nature of the singing, I concluded
that the inmates were taking part in some religious service. I stood
like one entranced, for the music was very sweet, and it seemed to my
excited imagination that Naomi's voice mingled with the rest. Presently
it died away, and I heard the sound of footsteps. But there was no loud
voices or confusion, neither was there any laughter; all was quiet,
orderly, and subdued.

The night was not dark, for the clouds which hung so heavily in the sky
during the morning had been swept away, and innumerable stars shone
brightly.

As I watched, I saw a man, who, from his garb, I took to be a priest. I
went up to him and saw that I was right in my surmise.

"I am a stranger to these parts," I said, "and have travelled far
to-day. May I ask if this is a monastery or religious house?"

"No, young man, it is not a monastery, but the house of a Catholic
gentleman."

"I heard the sound of many voices just now. I thought I heard a mass
being sung," I said.

"You are right, young man."

"If it had been a monastery I should have asked for shelter to-night," I
said; "and from the number of voices singing mass, I concluded that it
was a religious institution."

"Souls that are weary are admitted here for rest and guidance and help,"
he replied, "and some have passed from here to some religious home. This
is by the kindness of the owner of this house. But why do you ask? Are
you a Catholic? Are you, amid so much heresy, a member of the true
fold?"

At this time I wished that I had prepared for a meeting with a priest,
so that I might have been in a better position to have fulfilled my
desires. I wished, too, that, instead of being slow to think, I had been
clever to make plans, and quick to act upon them. Still, I determined to
do the best I could.

"I am but a wanderer, father," I said, "and my mind hath been torn by
many doubts. I have been troubled, too, about one who is very dear to
me, who is of the Catholic faith, and who, I am told, found her way to a
convent or a religious home, to find rest and peace. I know not where
she is, and whether she has found the peace that she hoped for. I have
heard that it was in this neighbourhood that she sought to find what she
desired."

"Is she young or old, young man?" said the priest, looking keenly at me.

"She is young," I replied, "scarcely twenty, I should think."

"And her name?"

"Her name is Naomi Penryn," I replied; "she once lived at Trevose,
close by the great headland."

I thought he gave a start, and he seemed to measure me, as though he
thought of trying whether he or I was the stronger man.

"Alas!" he said, presently, "she is dead."

"Dead!" I repeated, and my heart became cold.

"Yes. She came here some time ago. She was very pale and fragile when
she came. She was in sore distress, too. But she received the
consolation of the Church, and died in the faith."

At this all my strength seemed to ebb away from me, and my hands became
nerveless.

"How long is it since she died?" I asked.

"About three weeks ago," he replied.

"And where was she buried?"

"I would show you her grave," he replied, "but the house is not mine. I
grieve to see your sorrow, but there is consolation, young man. Trouble
for our young sister no longer, for she is with the blessed. I am sorry
I cannot offer you food and shelter; but it is only four miles to St.
Columb, and you will find accommodation there."

"But surely there is an inn here?" I suggested.

"Yes; but it is not a place you would care to stay at, and you will fare
far better at St. Columb. Good-night."

Then he left me, and I went away toward the kiddleywink like one dazed.
I made no pretence of eating the supper which had been prepared, neither
did I speak to Eli, who looked at me pityingly; and I saw that tears
dropped from his strange-looking, cross eyes, and rolled down his ugly,
misshapen face.

All hope had now gone from me; I felt I had no desire to win back my
own, or even to live. My life had more and more become bound up in that
of Naomi Penryn, until now, when I could no longer comfort myself with
the hope that she lived, nothing was of value to me.

"Eli," I said, presently, "you had better go to bed. You will need all
your strength."

"Why, Maaster Jasper?"

"Because to-morrow I shall go with you back to St. Eve."

"And what then, Maaster Jasper?"

"I do not know," I said; "it does not matter what becomes of me now."

"And why, Maaster Jasper? Poor little Eli do love 'ee, love 'ee
deearly."

"But my love is dead," I answered; and then I told him what the priest
had told me.

His cross eyes shone brightly, and his mouth began to move just as I had
seen his mother's move many times.

"I've found out things," he said, cunningly; "mawther 'ave tould me, I
c'n vind out ef she's dead; ef she es, I c'n bring 'er back. Zay I
shall, Maaster Jasper, 'n little Eli 'll do et."

"No," I cried, with a shudder; "Naomi, who is as pure as the angels of
God, shall never be influenced by the powers of darkness."

At first I thought he was going to say some angry words, but he only
fondled my hands and murmured loving words to me just as a mother
murmurs to a tired or sick child.

"Poor Maaster Jasper, dear Maaster Jasper," then he went to bed,
leaving me alone.

The landlady of the kiddleywink was a kind and motherly soul, and
treated me with much sympathy, for she saw I was in trouble, and when I
told her that I should not go to the bedroom with Eli, she prepared a
bed for me on the window-seat, and left a candle burning for me.

But I could not sleep; when all the inn was quiet I went out into the
night, and wandered around the old Manor House like a man bereft of his
senses, as indeed I was. I found my way into the churchyard, and roamed
among the grave-stones, wondering all the time where Naomi's grave was,
and why the death of one who possessed so much property was so little
thought of. Perhaps I stayed here two hours, and all the time I grew
more and more fearful. It seemed to me that the dead were arising from
their graves and denouncing me for disturbing them, while all around me
evil things crawled, and mocked me in my sorrow. I thought I saw men and
women, long dead, haunting the graves in which other bodies lay, and I
fancied I heard them pleading to God to hasten the resurrection day.
These and many more phantoms appeared to me until, with a cry of
anguish, I rushed back to the kiddleywink again. The night had become
clear, and the moon, which was half full, caused the church-tower and
the Manor House to appear very plainly, and as I lay on the window-seat
I could see both.

Toward morning I began to grow less fearful, although a great pain still
gnawed at my heart. I remember, too, that I was making up my mind that
when daylight came I would seek the priest to whom I had spoken, and
ask him to show me Naomi's grave, when I heard a sobbing wail that
seemed to come from a heart as broken and bleeding as my own.

I started up and listened for some seconds, but all was silent.

"Was I dreaming?" I asked myself, "or are the spirits of the dead come
back?"

Scarcely had the thought passed my mind when I heard another cry, more
piteous, if possible, than the other.

"Jasper, Jasper, my love, Jasper!" I heard. "Can you not deliver me?"

The cry was very real, and it had no suggestion of the grave. It was the
voice of some one living.

"My God!" I cried; "it is Naomi!"

I looked at my watch; it was six o'clock, and thus wanted two hours to
daybreak. Hurriedly I left the inn and went out again. A rimy frost had
come upon every twig and bush and tree, and in the light of the moon the
ice crystals sparkled as though the spirits had scattered myriads of
precious stones everywhere. But I thought not of this. I made my way
toward the spot from which I thought I had heard the sound come, and
then listened intently. All was silent as death.

Near me was a tall tree. I made a leap at its lowest branches, and a few
seconds later was fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. From this
position I saw the whole garden. I looked long and steadily, but could
discern nothing of importance. I continued to strain my ears to listen,
but all was silent save the rippling of the brook that wended its way
down the valley, and which seemed to deride me in my helplessness.

"It was all fancy," I said, bitterly--"all fancy; or perhaps I am mad."

I prepared to get down from the tree when I heard a sound like sobbing
not thirty yards from me.

My heart thumped so loud that I could detect no words, but not so loud
as to keep me from locating the sound. Yes, it came from a little house
used as a summer bower. Instantly my mind was made up. I had no patience
to consider whether my determination was wise or foolish. I madly
dreamed that Naomi was near crying for my help. Else why should I hear
my own name, or why should I think it was the voice of my love?

In another second I had leapt from the tree, and then ran along by the
wall until I came close to the place where the bower had been placed.

I listened again. Yes, I heard sobs--sobs which came from a breaking
heart!

The wall was, as I said, from fifteen to twenty feet high, but this did
not deter me. I caught hold of an ivy branch, and by its aid sought to
climb, but at the first pull I had torn it away. So there was nothing
for me but to stick my fingers into the masonry and climb as best I
could. How I managed I know not, but in a few seconds I had accomplished
my purpose.

"Naomi!" I whispered, but I heard no answer.

I waited a few seconds and spoke again: "Naomi, my love," I said, "it is
Jasper."

At that I heard a movement from within the bower, and then I saw some
one come into the garden. It was a woman. I saw her look eagerly around,
like one afraid. Then her face was turned toward me. It was my love!

"Naomi," I said, "do not be afraid; it is Jasper--Jasper Pennington
comes to set you free."

Then she saw me and gave a glad cry.

"Jasper, Jasper!" she cried; "not dead!"

[Illustration: "'JASPER, JASPER!' SHE CRIED."]

A few seconds later I had descended and stood in the garden, my heart
swelling with joy until it seemed too large for my bosom. I came close
to her, and then my confidence departed. All my old doubts came back to
me. Joyful as I was at the thought that she was alive, I could not
believe that she cared for me. How could she when I was so unworthy?

The moon shone brightly on the garden, while the rimy frost, reflecting
its light, dispelled the darkness, and thus I was able to see the face
of my love and the flash of her eyes. I seemed close to the gates of
heaven, and yet I felt as though they were closed against me.

I stood still. "Naomi," I said, "forgive me. You know who I am--Jasper
Pennington."

Then she came toward me, and I heard her sobbing again. Then I, anxious
not to frighten her, went on talking.

"Naomi," I continued, "you are in trouble, and I fear that you have
enemies. I have tried to make you feel my protection in the past, but I
have been unable. But I have come to help you now, if you will let me."

All this I said like one repeating a lesson, and I said it badly, too,
for I am not one who can speak easily. But when I had spoken so far a
weight seemed removed from me, and my heart burned as though great fires
were within my bosom.

"My love, my life!" I cried, "will you not come to me? I will give my
life for yours."

Then I opened my arms, and she came to me, not slowly and timidly, but
with a glad bound, and, as though leaning her head upon me, she found
joy and rest and safety.

Ay, and she did find safety, too, for it would have gone ill with any
man, ay, with many men, if they had come to harm her then. The lifeblood
of ten strong men surged within me, and the touch of her little hand
gave me more strength than the touch of magic wands which we are told
were potent in far-off times. I felt as though I could do battle with an
army, and come off more than conqueror. Besides, the first words she
spoke to me, telling as they did of her helplessness and her dependence
on me, were sweeter than the music of many waters.

"Jasper," she said, "I have many enemies--I who never harmed any
one--and I have no one to help me but you."

Ah! but she had me--she had me! I know this seems like boasting,
especially when I remember that I had been the easy dupe of the
Tresidders, and that they had foiled me in every attempt I had made
against them in the past. But her love made me wiser, and though, thank
God, I have never been a coward, her presence made me many times braver.
Besides, I felt I could protect her, that I could save her from the fear
of her enemies, for I loved her--loved her a thousand times more than
can be expressed in cold words on paper; and let who will say otherwise,
the unsullied love of an honest heart is of more value than great
riches.

All the time I longed to ask her many questions. I wanted her to tell me
all her trouble, but there were other things I wanted to know more. I
wanted her to tell me what I had told her.

But she did not speak further; she only sobbed as though her heart were
breaking, until I, awkward and fearful, and knowing nothing of the ways
of women, was afraid lest I had frightened her, or had in some way
caused her pain.

"Naomi, my little maid," I said, "have I done anything to frighten you?
I could not help coming to find you, for I could not believe what I have
heard. I have not angered you, have I?"

"No, no," she said with a sob, "only they made me believe you were
dead!"

"And did you care?--you who were so coy, and who, when you knew my heart
was hungering for you, would tell me nothing!"

I will not tell you what she said. Only God and myself heard her words,
and they are sacred to me. They have been my inspiration and my joy in
lonely hours, they have nerved my arm in time of peril and danger. They
opened the gates of heaven to me, and filled my life with sunshine. So
great is the power which God hath given to woman!

She nestled her head on my bosom as she told me what my heart had been
hungering to know, and for the time we forgot our surroundings--forgot
everything save our own happiness. The morning, which slowly dawned, we
did not heed, neither did we notice that the silvery light of the moon
died away. The cold was nothing to us, the bower in which we sat was
indeed a place of warmth and beauty and sunshine. No sadness was there,
for each welcomed the other as one come back from the gates of death. We
rejoiced in life and youth and love.

And yet we said nothing to each other with regard to our experiences in
the past, or our fears for the future. In those blissful minutes we only
lived in the present, regardless of all things, save that we were near
each other.

Thus it was that Naomi Penryn and I, Jasper Pennington, became
betrothed.

I think the realisation of our position came to each of us at the same
moment, for just as the thought of our danger flashed through my mind
Naomi tore herself from me.

"Jasper, Jasper," she cried, "you must not stay here longer. You are in
danger here, and if we are seen together--" She did not finish the
sentence, but looked eagerly, anxiously around.

Then I blamed myself for not acting differently, but only for a moment.
We had been only a few minutes together, and even if the direst calamity
befell us, I should rejoice that we had spent that blissful time
together, living only in the joy of love.

"I must go back to the house now," she said, hurriedly. "I shall soon be
missed, and searched for."

"No; do not go back," I said. "I can climb the wall and take you away.
Let us leave now."

"It would be no use now, Jasper," she said. "I should be followed and
brought back."

"Why?" I asked.

"There is not time to tell you now," she said; "if you were known to be
here you would never escape alive. Oh, Jasper, I am beset with danger; I
have almost died in my sorrow."

"What time will your absence be discovered?" I asked.

"We are supposed to attend mass at seven o'clock," she said.

I looked at my watch, it only wanted a few minutes to that time.

"Tell me how you came here, and why you are surrounded by dangers?" I
asked.

"I would not marry Nick Tresidder--I could not, Jasper; you know why
now. He tried to force me, and when I refused, he told me you were dead.
At first I did not believe him, and then one of my old servants from
Trevose came and said you had died there." She told me this in a
trembling voice, as though she were frightened, told me in broken
sentences, which revealed to me more than the mere words could express.

"Yes; what then?" asked I, eagerly.

"I became distracted, and knew not what I did. I had no friend, no one
to whom I could go. Then a priest came, and persuaded me to become a
nun. He also brought certain papers which he wanted me to sign."

"And did you sign them?"

"I scarcely knew what I did. I know that I consented to come here. That
was several weeks ago. Oh, Jasper, I have been in sore straits."

I set my teeth together and vowed vengeance on the Tresidder brood, and
then told her to go on with her story.

"I hardly know how to tell you, Jasper. About three weeks ago a young
woman died. The priests told me it was I who died; they also tell me
that I am Gertrude Narcoe, and that I am to be removed to a convent in
France in a day or two. I have not known what to do. Last night I could
not rest, I seemed to be going mad, and after tossing for hours on my
bed without sleeping I came here in the garden, and all the time my
heart was crying out for you."

"And did you not cry out to me?"

"No; only in my heart." And at this I wondered greatly.

A bell began to ring.

"There, I must go, Jasper!" she cried.

"Not yet," I said, folding her more closely to me; and I should have
held her so if the lord of the manor were walking toward us through the
garden.

"Be brave," I continued, "and be here to-night as soon as you can after
the inmates of the house have retired to rest. I shall wait until you
come, and I shall be ready to take you to a place of safety. You can
come, can you not?"

"Yes, I think so, if I am not suspected of anything now. And can you
take me away, Jasper? You will not allow them to harm you, will you? Oh,
I will not be taken away now I know you are alive."

"Do not fear, my little maid," I said, "I will take you away. You shall
not be carried off by any priests to a convent. There, go now." And I
held her to me more closely.

But I let her go at length with many warning words and many expressions
of my love. It was like pulling my heart out to see her walk away from
me, but I comforted myself that I would take her away when the next
night came. Then I climbed the wall again, and made my way toward the
inn, strangely glad, yet with many misgivings, for I was sore afraid
lest I had acted foolishly in not taking her with me even then.

As I passed the front of the Manor House I caught a glimpse of a frocked
priest, and from the look on his face I fancied he suspected me of
something. But I paid little heed to him. I went back to the inn to
make my plans for rescuing Naomi. I did not know then that Naomi and I
had been watched all the time we had been together by a wily priest.



CHAPTER XX

HOW I FELLED A HORSE WITH MY FIST, AND CARRIED NAOMI SOUTHWARD


When I got back to the inn I found Eli anxiously awaiting me.

"Jasper better?" he said, looking at me questioningly.

"Yes, better, Eli."

"Jasper 'eard 'bout the purty maid?"

"Yes, Eli."

He chuckled joyously, and then gave several expressive grunts. After
this he asked me some questions, which showed me that he understood more
than I had thought, and had formed correct reasons why my love had been
taken away.

"Neck Trezidder's awful deep; all the Trezidders be," he grunted. "Made
et up with the priests--go shares. I zee, I zee!"

"Eli," I said, "we must take her away to-night; take her to a place of
safety."

"Iss, iss," he chuckled. "Where?"

"I must decide that after we have got her away from yon prison," I said.

"Can Jasper trust little Eli?" he asked.

"Yes, Eli, what do you want me to do?"

"Will 'ee tell little Eli what the purty maid tould 'ee--'bout 'erzelf?"
he added.

So I told him all that I cared to tell him--everything I knew, in fact,
save the story of our love.

He sat very still for some time, save that he contorted his face more
than usual, and rolled his cross eyes around like one demented.

"And what be yer plans, Maaster Jasper?"

"We must get horses, Eli," I said; "from where I do not know yet, but we
must get them by to-night. One must have a lady's saddle--for her."

"Is Maaster Jasper going to git 'em?"

"Yes. I shall have plenty of time through the day, and nothing can be
done while we are away."

"No, Maaster Jasper, no," he grunted. "You mus' stay 'ere oal day and
watch. You mus' eed out ov sight, but you mus' watch. Cos they be oal
deep. They knaw, they knaw!"

I understood his meaning, and saw that he was right; at the same time, I
felt I would have to risk being away, else how could I get the horses
without attracting attention?

"Little Eli 'll git the hosses," he grunted; "little Eli that everybody
do laugh at. But 'ee'll 'elp Maaster Jasper, 'ee will."

"But if you are caught stealing horses you'll be hanged," I said.

He laughed gleefully.

"Who'll catch little Eli?" he chuckled, "priest or knave? No, no! Is
little Eli a vool? Ef 'ee es, then mawther es too. But es she? es she?"

"But where will you get the horses?" I asked, anxiously. "Anything will
do for me or you; but she must have one easy to ride, for she is weak
and ill."

"I knaw, I knaw," he laughed. "Maaster Jasper 'appy again, Maaster
Jasper git his own. But he must watch, watch.


         "Priests all shaved,
           Clothed in black,
         Convent walls,
           Screws and rack.
     Women walkin' in procession,
     Cravin' for a dead man's blessin',
     Weepin' eyes, wailin' cries,
     Lonely, lonely, oal alone."


"Stop," I cried; "stop, I'll have none of that here."

"Aw, aw," chuckled Eli; "mawther ded zee, mawther ded zee. Never mind,
little Eli 'll git the hosses then--aw, we sh'll 'ave braave times, we
shall!" And he burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

I must confess that he made me shudder, especially as I remembered how
much depended on our actions during the next twenty-four hours.

Presently he became more grave, more cautious, and when he had had his
breakfast, started to get horses.

"You'll be careful, very careful," I said anxiously.

"Iss."

"And what time may I expect you?"

"'T'll be dark at vive o'clock," he said, like one musing, "little
Eli'll be 'ere by seven. Eli c'n zee, aw, iss, iss," and then he went on
talking to himself, uttering all sorts of wild ejaculations.

"What do you mean by talking so strangely?" I said, but he gave me no
answer.

"You watch, Maaster Jasper," he said, significantly--"watch. The
Trezidders be'ant a-bait yet. Besides, there's the


     "Priests all shaved,
       Clothed in black,
     Convent walls,
       Screws and rack."


Then, as he leapt across the stream, he gave a curious cry, like the
cry of a wild beast in pain.

All through the day I kept out of sight, but nothing escaped my notice.
I determined to be very careful, for Eli had caused me to have many
suspicions. Twice only did I see any priests, and then I noticed that
they talked eagerly to each other, as if they had something important
engaging their attention. In the Manor House, however, all was silent as
the grave. No words can say how I longed to gain admission and see my
loved one again, especially when I thought of the history of the house,
and the many secret places it possessed. Still I had done the best I had
been able, and it was for me to follow out the plans I had made.

When five 'clock came my heart began to beat high with hope. I should
soon see my loved one again, and take her to a place of safety. My many
fears began to depart, too. I felt certain that no one suspected my
plans, and that Naomi would be able to find her way to the bower in
which I had seen her.

My hiding-place was in the sexton's tool-house at the back of the
church, and from here I could see the entrances to the house, so unless
there was some subterranean way leading to Lanherne Manor, no one could
come or go away without my notice.

After the clock had struck five I went back to the inn. It was now dark,
for the moon had not yet appeared, and the clouds hung heavily in the
sky. While I was eating the beef and potato pasty which the landlady had
provided for me, I thought I heard the sound of wheels, so I went to the
door and listened intently, but all seemed silent. I could not be quite
sure, however, for the wind had risen and wailed dismally among the
trees which grew so plentifully in the valley. I went back and finished
my meal, knowing that if I would be strong I must not neglect my food. I
was hungry, too, for we Penningtons have always been a hearty race, and
have ever insisted on keeping a good table.

When I had appeased my hunger I went to the door again. Feeling in my
pocket for the rope-ladder I had been making through the day, I prepared
to make a detour of the house again. I fancied that Naomi might have
some communication to make now darkness had come, and so, eager for
something to do, I wandered through the churchyard, and then walked up
the road at the back of the house, near which another and smaller
building had been reared. Still listening intently, I came to the tree
which I had climbed in the early morning, then I went to the place near
which the bower had been built. I threw my rope-ladder on the wall, and
climbed sufficiently high to have a view of the garden. Nothing rewarded
my efforts, however, for I could neither see nor hear anything worthy of
attention.

I was about to get down again, when I heard the neigh of a horse,
followed by a man's angry exclamation. I had scarcely time to consider
what this meant, when I heard a woman's cry.

With one leap I descended from the ladder, and then, instinctively
freeing it from the masonry and stuffing it in my pocket, I ran toward
the spot from whence the sound came. I reached the front of the old
mansion, but could see nothing; then, like one demented, I ran to the
entrance which I had noticed through the day, and which evidently was
seldom used. Here I saw flickering lights, and here, also, I heard the
voice of the priest to whom I had spoken on the previous evening.

"Neatly and safely done," he said. "The fellow is evidently a blockhead
after all. I was afraid that the neigh of the horse would give us
trouble."

Excited beyond measure, I was about to cry out when I heard the sound of
horses' hoofs splashing in water, followed by a rumbling noise.

"They are crossing the brook!" I cried, and then, scarcely realising
what I did, I hurried thitherward.

Now, Mawgan Church and Lanherne Manor House, as every one knows who has
visited that part of Cornwall, are situated in a fine wooded glen. On
every hand are hills, so that no one can get away from the spot without
hard climbing. It is true that one of the roads which runs northwest is
less steep than the rest, but even that is difficult of ascent,
especially for carriages. I comforted myself with this as I ran eagerly
on. A few seconds later I saw the dark outline of what looked like an
old family chariot. I did not consider the number of men that might be
accompanying the conveyance, neither did I remember that they would
probably be armed, while I had no weapon of any sort save my own strong
arms.

The driver was urging the horses greatly, but, as I said, the hill was
steep and the carriage was heavy. I came up to the carriage-door, and,
listening, I heard the sobbing of a woman's voice and the stern tones of
men. I was about to try and force open the carriage-door, but
instinctively felt that even if I could do so, it would be useless while
the carriage was in motion, for in spite of the hill the horses had been
urged into a frantic gallop. Still, with the heavy chariot behind them
their steps were naturally short, and their speed comparatively slow. So
I hurried on, and looking up saw two men sitting on the box, the
coachman and another.

It would have been possible to have caught the horses' heads, and thus
bring them to a standstill, but the sound of Naomi's voice pleading for
help--for I felt sure it was hers--made me careful not to render myself
powerless. I remembered, then, that doubtless the man beside the driver
would carry horse pistols, and the moment I caught the reins would shoot
me down like a farmer shoots vermin.

So I determined to try another measure, more difficult perhaps to
execute, but more effective if I were successful. Bending low by the
horse's side I came up on what farmers call the "further side." Then,
hardening the muscles of my right arm and clenching my fist, I aimed a
blow at the horse's head close below the ear. The animal was protected
somewhat by the headgearing, and my strength had been lessened by my
imprisonment and by the drugs which had been placed in my food, still
the blow I gave was heavy, and the aim was sure. He stopped for a moment
stunned, then he fell heavily, snapping the pole that was placed between
him and the other horse as though it had been a match.

Instantly the men jumped down to see what was the matter, while I
hurried to the carriage-door. I had no need to open it; this was done
for me, and a man from within asked angrily what the trouble was. Before
he could be answered I caught him and hurled him against the hedgeside
as though he had been a child, and never did I feel so thankful as then
that, although God had not given me a clever head, He had bestowed upon
me a body stronger than that which is common among men.

"Naomi, my love!" I gasped.

"Jasper! Oh, thank God!" It was Naomi's voice, and my strength seemed
trebled as I heard it. God pity the man who had dared to oppose me then,
for I would have showed no mercy!

There was another man in the carriage, a priest, I think, but he seemed
too frightened to offer any resistance. So I took her in my arms, and
lifted her as though she were a baby, then I ran down the hill, carrying
my love.

"Don't trouble about the horses, follow that fellow!" I heard a voice
say. "I will give twenty guineas for the man who brings him back, alive
or dead."

As I rushed on I heard a bullet whizz by me, but it did no harm, at the
same time it made me fearful. For myself I did not care, but my great
strength could not protect my darling against firearms, besides if I
were smitten down what would become of her?

"You are not harmed, my little maid?" I said.

"No, Jasper."

"And you are not afraid?"

"Not now, Jasper."

Then I held her more tightly, and vowed that I would crush the man who
sought to take her away from me, as I have often crushed an egg in the
palm of my hand by bringing my fingers together.

I heard footsteps behind me, and then I realised that I should soon be
between two fires, for I was running in the direction of Mawgan Church.
The footsteps came closer to me, while angry voices with many oaths bade
me stop, but the black clouds which covered the sky kept them from
taking anything like accurate aim. Besides, the lane was darker than the
open countryside, owing to the high hedges which had been built on
either side. Still my position was dangerous, and I was about to leap
over a gate which I saw close beside me, when I heard the sound of
horses' hoofs, and evidently they were coming from another direction.

"Can it be Eli?" I thought. But I dared not shout, as by so doing I
should assist my pursuers. There were four of them I knew, possibly
there might have been more.

I was in sore straits, for by this time my strength was becoming spent;
and although I could not bear the thought of dropping my precious
burden, her weight was a sore strain upon my already overtaxed muscles.
Still I never lost heart, and I know that had I stood face to face with
the men who sought me, God would be with me in my battle.

My heart gave a joyful leap, for I heard Eli's whistle. It was a weird,
unearthly sound, and was suggestive of spirits of darkness rather than
of a human being. I ran in the direction of the sound, however.

"Eli, quick!" I gasped; then I heard the welcome click of horses' feet
again.

"Maaster Jasper, got purty maid?" he grunted.

"Yes; her horse, Eli, her horse."

"'Tes a fiery wawn. Be careful now!"

"I can ride any horse," said Naomi, eagerly; "don't fear for me now."

We were now under the trees close to Mawgan Church. It was so dark that
I could scarcely see my hand, and the rain began to fall heavily.

I heard the voices of the men near me again. "Which way are they gone?"
one said, for there was a branch road near us.

"Down to the left, past the kiddleywink," came an answering cry.

"No, up the hill, toward Mawgan Cross," said some one else.

By this time Naomi and Eli had mounted their horses.

Then I heard a man's shout. "Help! quick! the girl has been taken from
us!"

"Who by? Where?" This voice came from the direction of Lanherne House.

"That big fool Pennington. Where's Tresidder? Quick, we shall get them."

"Are the horses good, Eli?" I asked.

"Beauties," grunted Eli; "reg'lar beauties. The purty maid shud knaw
'em, they come from Trevause."

"Is this my Nero?" cried Naomi.

The horse whinnied as she spoke; evidently he recognised her voice.

"Are you right, Eli?"

"Iss."

"Ride quietly up the hill," I said; "make no noise, if you can help it."

But the horses could not help making a noise, and the click of their
ironed hoofs rang out plainly.

"There, they've got horses. Fetch out ours, quick!"

"Which way are they going?"

"Towards Carnanton Woods. Make haste."

Rapidly we rode up the hill toward Mawgan Cross, where there are four
crossways.

"Naomi," I said, "shall I take you to Trevose, or shall I take you to a
place of safety, many miles from here?"

"She mustn't go to Trevause," grunted Eli.

"Why?"

"Richard Trezidder is there, so es thou'll laady."

"Tresidder's mother?"

"Iss."

"How do you know?"

"I zeed 'er--zeed 'em both," and Eli chuckled as though he vastly
enjoyed himself.

"He's squire there," continued Eli. "People zay that the purty maid es
dead, and everything do come to he."

"Who told you this?"

"No time to tell 'ee now. They'll be foll'in' we soon. Neck Trezidder es
down to Mawgan."

"No, Jasper, let us not go where the Tresidders are. Anywhere but
there."

I turned my horse's head southward.

"Then we'll go to Mullion," I said. "We can get to Truro by the morning;
we can get refreshment there."

At that time another difficulty presented itself. I remembered that I
had no money. Eli had that morning paid the landlady at the kiddleywink
at Mawgan for our food and lodgings. I said nothing about it, but Eli,
by that strange intuition which divined men's thoughts, knew what was
passing in my mind.

"Plenty ov money, Maaster Jasper, plenty ov money."

"How did you get it?" I asked.

"How ded I git the hosses?"

"I do not know. How?"

"Old man called Jonathan. Aw, aw!"

"Did he give it to you?"

"Iss, iss! He do 'ate the Trezidders. I tould un purty maid wad'n dead;
tould un Maaster Jasper takin' 'er 'way--aw, aw!" and again the gnome
laughed gleefully.

"Jonathan!" repeated Naomi. "Did you see him?"

"Iss, I ded."

"Tell me all about it, Eli--tell me."

"Wait till we git vew miles vurder on, then I tell 'ee everything."

So we rode on for several miles in silence, save that Naomi asked me
many times if I were sure I were not hurt, and assured me that she was
perfectly well and happy. And this filled my heart with gladness, for I
knew by her questions that the dear maid loved me, and felt no fear when
I was with her. This to me was wonderful, for who was I that she should
love me? Was I not homeless and penniless? And had not the Tresidders
beaten me again and again? Ah! but no one can describe the joy that
surged within me, for the greater my unworthiness, the more happiness
did the knowledge of her love give. In many respects we were strangers,
for we had met only a few times, as all readers of this story know; but
love laughs at the ways of men, and as she told me afterward, although
she dared not tell me so when I saw her in Pennington kitchen or in
Falmouth Town, she loved me even in my degradation and poverty.

That long ride through the dark night, even although I had not slept the
night before, did not fatigue me at all. I was strengthened by her
presence; I was inspired by the object I had in view. Sometimes as I
rode along I had to reach forth my hand and take hers in mine to assure
myself that I was not dreaming. Everything seemed too good to be true.
For many weary weeks my mind and heart had been torn with anxiety
concerning her, and during my days in prison I was like a lion in his
cage. I had thought of her as loving Nick Tresidder and as marrying him;
then I had imagined her as being persecuted by them because she would
not yield to their wishes. I had seen the Tresidders planning to get her
property, and using every cunning device to make her their tool. Then I
had seen her pleading to be sent to a convent, and afterward dying of a
broken heart. Ay, I had heard a priest only the previous day telling me
of her death, while my heart had seemed to turn to ice covered with
lead, so heavy and cold was it. And now to see my loved one by my side;
ay, to remember that while we had sat in the bower she had confessed her
love for me, while her lips had joyfully pressed mine, was joy beyond
words.

Presently, however, I began to see many difficulties, for I determined
that Naomi should have her rights, and that she should not be robbed as
I had been robbed. Besides, I still remembered my promise to my father,
and vowed that I, Jasper Pennington, would possess my own, if only for
my dear love's sake. Then as I remembered my past impotence, my heart
grew heavy again in spite of my joy.

I saw, too, that I must begin to act at once, and I determined to go to
my old friend. Lawyer Trefry, when I got to Truro, and to consult him as
to my future plans.

Then I remembered that Eli had not told his story, neither had Naomi
told me hers; so as soon as we got two miles past Summercourt, and were
on the turnpike road, where we could ride three abreast, I asked them to
tell me all there was to tell, so that I might be able to fight my
enemies fairly.



CHAPTER XXI

HOW I TOOK NAOMI TO MULLION PORTH AND THEN STARTED WITH ELI TO FIND THE
TREASURE


Eli told his story first. With many strange ejaculations and
gesticulations he related how he had sought out Jonathan Cowling, the
old man who had so often visited me while I had been a prisoner at
Trevose, and how, after much difficulty, he had persuaded him to be
communicative. Then Jonathan told him that a messenger had brought a
letter in Naomi's writing asking him to protect her from me by taking me
prisoner, and that he would serve her greatly by guarding me. He told
Eli, too, how his suspicions had been aroused, especially when, after
the news came of Naomi's death, the Tresidders came and seemed anxious
to say as little as possible. Richard Tresidder told him that Naomi had
died of a disease that necessitated her immediate burial, and that no
doctor had been able to visit her. This set the old man a-wondering
greatly, and thus it came about that when Eli told his story he was
anxious to render him what assistance lay in his power. Especially was
Jonathan delighted at the news of my safety, for he did not see how I
could have escaped from Trevose alive, even although Nick Tresidder had
failed to overcome me in the smugglers' cave. He assured him, moreover,
that Richard Tresidder had taken up his abode at Trevose, and claimed
to be the owner of the estate according to the conditions of Mrs.
Penryn's will.

All this Eli told me with many other things which need not be mentioned
here, and after this Naomi related her experiences. Her story confirmed
in almost every detail what I had surmised. Her life at Pennington had
been one long series of persecutions after the time she had borne
witness before my judges that I was innocent of carrying a false light
along the coast. She told me, too, that after she had absolutely refused
to marry Nick Tresidder, their one desire seemed to be to induce her to
take the veil. She was sorely tempted to yield to their wishes,
especially after the man from Trevose came, telling her that I was dead;
and presently when a priest came, she lent a willing ear to his
persuasions, and promised to go to a house which was in many ways
regarded as an institution for novitiates. Some papers were brought to
her, but although she was much distracted, she did not think she had
signed any which were of importance. She understood from the priest that
on taking the veil her property would pass into the possession of the
Church, although she gathered from scraps of conversation which she had
heard, that Tresidder and the priests were arranging the matter between
them.

With regard to her experiences at Lanherne, she assured me that she had
been treated with great kindness, and while not allowed outside the
grounds, she had comparative liberty within them. She believed that
while the lord of the manor was an ardent Catholic, and had practically
given up the house to the use of the Catholic clergy, he would not be a
party to anything wrong. The priests had told her that they had seen
the meeting between her and myself in the garden, and this had
determined them to take her to a convent on the Continent immediately.
For the rest, she had been treated with kindness and consideration.

It was early in the morning when we arrived at Truro, and we determined
to stay at a good inn there, which, if I remember aright, went under the
name of "The Royal." The owner looked at us somewhat suspiciously, but
when he saw that we were well mounted asked no questions. It was now two
nights since I had had any sleep, while Naomi was much fatigued; so
after breakfast we lay down for a few hours, and then I paid a visit to
Lawyer Trefry.

Keen lawyer as he was, and doubtless used to many strange stories, Mr.
Trefry was much startled at what I told him, and seemed much interested
in my own experiences as well as in Naomi's.

"They are a clever lot, these Tresidders," he said, approvingly. "As I
told you long ago, they never leave a bone until it is picked dry."

"But have they not put themselves within reach of the law?" I asked.

"Not they."

"Not in imprisoning me?"

"Who's to prove it was they? You do not know who took you away from
Falmouth, and naturally they will not witness against themselves."

"And what about Miss Penryn?" I asked.

"There is no case there, Jasper Pennington. Richard Tresidder is the
young woman's guardian until she is twenty one, and as far as I can see,
you can prove nothing illegal against him. Indeed, he has a case against
you, for you have forcibly taken her from those under whose protection
she had been placed by his and her own consent. Mind, I do not think he
will proceed against you publicly, because he would not care for the
matter to be discussed openly, but if you sought to prosecute, he would
be able to answer all your accusations easily."

"But what about him saying that she was dead? What of him taking
possession of Trevose? What of the priest's trying to destroy her
identity?"

"Trust Tresidder and the priest to get out of that. Besides, for that
matter, we must remember that the man is her guardian still, that he has
the right to place her practically where he will. If he were to come to
the inn where she is staying and demand that she shall go with him, he
would have the law on his side."

I was silent, for I saw that he was speaking the truth.

"Your plan, as far as I can see, is to place her in seclusion and safety
until she is twenty-one, then she can claim her own. Meanwhile, my lad,
you keep out of sight, for you are not safe. If I were you I would leave
the county, while the further Miss Penryn is removed from the Tresidders
the better, for no doubt you are right in all your surmises about them."

His words made me for the moment feel helpless, and I cursed the family
who had been my enemies.

"There is no need of all that, Jasper, my lad," said the lawyer, grimly.
"Neither Richard Tresidder nor his son are much worse than many others
who might be in their place. It was natural for the woman who married
your grandfather to seek to do well for her son; it was natural, too,
that they should seek to maintain the position which they secured. You
are the one man they have to fear, consequently it is reasonable to
suppose that they should protect themselves against you. It is
generally understood that Tresidder is in a sad way financially; he is
therefore trying, and naturally, too, to save himself through his ward.
If she had fallen in love with Nick, all would have been well with him;
but she hasn't. Instead, she falls in love with you. Oh, you needn't
blush, my lad, I can see how things stand. Very well; Tresidder sees
that if she marries you, you will be owner of Trevose, and will thus be
able, under your grandfather's curious will, to oust him from
Pennington. He is naturally fighting for his hand; ay, and will to the
end. You may call him a villain if you like, but his course is almost
natural. The fact is, the old lady was, and is, ambitious for her
family, and all of them love money, dearly love it. This explains their
actions. Mark, I will admit that the whole lot of them have stained
their honour to get their way, but not more than most others would have
done had they been similarly circumstanced."

Lawyer Trefry walked up and down his office as he said this, and seemed
to be speaking partly to himself, partly to me.

"But I have no money," I said, "neither has Naomi. How can I do as you
suggest?"

"That shall be forthcoming if you will do as I suggest," he replied. "I
will find a safe retreat for the young lady, at least I will try,
although my name must not appear in the matter. Of course, it will take
a week or two; in the meantime, you could, perhaps, arrange for a safe
hiding-place, for I dare not let her stay at my house, much as I would
like."

"And until Naomi is twenty-one?" I asked.

"Tresidder will be the nominal owner of Trevose. It cannot be helped. I
don't think he will do anything very rash; in any case it seems to be
the only arrangement for the present. In the meanwhile I will consider
the matter more carefully, and what can be done shall be done."

I suggested many other things, but I did not succeed in altering Mr.
Trefry's opinions.

Now when I had left him, while I could not help seeing that he had
uttered many wise words, I was far from satisfied with his plans. True,
Naomi had promised to be my wife, but my whole nature revolted at the
thought of becoming entirely dependent on her income, while my rightful
possessions had been robbed from me. Thus, although the lawyer had told
me to leave the county, so as to ensure my safety until Naomi came of
age, I determined that I would stay and seek to get back my own. True, I
had been entirely unsuccessful in the past, and had played into the
hands of those who had wronged me. At the same time I had been learning
wisdom, and I pondered over the schemes which had come into my mind.

It was dark when we left Truro, for I did not think it wise to travel in
the day. I took the precaution, however, to buy a brace of pistols in
the town. This I was able to do by means of the money which Eli had
obtained from Jonathan Cowling, the old serving-man at Trevose.

By the following morning we had reached Mullion Porth, and without
difficulty found the house of Mrs. Mary Crantock. Indeed, we found
Tamsin standing in the little green-painted porch as if she expected us.

Now I must confess that I felt uneasy at being obliged to resort to this
means of finding a temporary home for my love. I did not know Mrs. Mary
Crantock, and I was afraid lest Tamsin Truscott should betray me. At the
same time I did not see what else I could do. To take her to Trevose was
altogether impracticable; Pennington was just as bad, even worse, while
Lawyer Trefry expressly stated that he could not consent for her to be
taken to his house. Moreover, I trusted that Naomi by her kindness and
winsomeness would make both Mrs. Crantock and Tamsin her friends.

I found Mrs. Crantock to be an exceedingly pious woman. She had been
very religiously inclined previous to Mr. Wesley's visit to Cornwall,
and since then her religion had become more pronounced. Her great aim in
life seemed to be to make people believe in the Methodist doctrines, and
to become converted according to the ideas of those wonderful people.
She had found out through Tamsin that the young lady I was seeking to
rescue was brought up a Papist, and this caused her to be eager to give
her a home. First, because she was anxious to know the distinctive
doctrines of the Papists; and, second, because she would have an
opportunity of, to use her own terms, "snatching a brand from the
burning."

The great thing that comforted me, however, was the fact that she seemed
desirous of making my love safe and comfortable, for I determined that I
would not stay at Mullion Porth, but take immediate steps to see if what
Eli had told me about the buried treasure was true.

Two hours after she had been welcomed at Mrs. Crantock's, therefore, I
left the house. It was terribly hard for me to tear myself away from my
love, especially as she clung fondly to me as her only protector. How
gladly I would have stayed with her, God only knows, but for the sake of
my little maid's good name, as well as for many other reasons, I dared
not.

When I bade her good-bye, however, I saw Tamsin watching us, and the
look on her face almost made me shudder, and at that moment I repented
bringing Naomi to Mullion Cove. It was too late to draw back now,
however; besides, I was powerless.

One of the difficulties which confronted me after I had left was what to
do with the horses, and Eli and I had a long conversation as to the
course we should pursue concerning them. While we talked Tamsin came to
us.

"Mr. Jasper," she said, "can I help you?"

"You are very good, Tamsin," I said; "I am afraid you could not. I want
to send these horses back to Trevose, and I know not how it is to be
done."

"Even a sister may be useful," she said, in tones which I could not
understand.

I looked at her questioningly.

"I will see that the horses are taken to Trevose," she said, quietly.

"How, Tamsin?"

"I have many means. My father has many men who will do anything for me."

"Could it be done without letting the Tresidders know?" I asked,
eagerly.

"Why not? They could be taken to an inn at St. Columb or Padstow, and
then the man who goes with them could take a note to the Jonathan
Cowling you told us about, telling him what he had done."

I thought over this plan very carefully, and then I congratulated Tamsin
on being such a clever girl. She did not reply to my words, however,
but instead kept her eyes on the ground as though she were thinking
deeply.

"Will you arrange this, Tamsin?" I said, presently.

"Yes, I will arrange it."

"So that neither your father nor the Tresidders shall suspect anything?"

"Yes, it shall be done."

Then I went away, pondering at Tamsin's behaviour, for although she
seemed to be kind I could not understand her.

Now, Mullion Forth is only a few miles from Kynance Cove, and as I was
anxious not to meet with any of Cap'n Jack's gang, I suggested to Eli
that we should keep as far inland as possible.

"No," grunted Eli.

"Why?"

"You said that we must vind the dreckshuns for Granfer's treasure."

"Yes, but they are at St. Eve, are they not?"

"No, no! Aw, aw!" and he laughed like one tickled.

"Tell me what you mean, Eli."

"Cap'n Jack do think 'ee's awful clever, 'ee do. 'Ee do zay 'ee can vind
out everything. But 'ee ded'n reckon 'pon poor little Eli. Little Eli
knawed he'd be allays at mawther. He ded think the dreckshuns was cloase
to Granfer's Caave. Zo they wos, but Eli took 'em to a plaace ovver by
Kynance Cove. Aw, aw!"

"Then they are near Cap'n Jack's house?"

"Iss, iss. Cloase by. Mawther was purtly frightened when she cudden vind
the paper. But little Eli knawed, an' ded'n zay nothin'."

"And what are we to do?"

"Git cloase to the Cove, then lop round till dark, after that little
Eli'll tell 'ee."

"But why did you take the papers there?"

"People do look everywhere cipt cloase by their own doors. Little Eli
ed'n a fool!"

Now I must confess that all this talk about the buried treasure became
very foolish to me at this time. As I have said, there were many tales
when I was a boy about such things until no one took any heed. Still I
determined to make the most of Eli's knowledge, for if what he suspected
were true, I should be able to buy back Pennington at once, and have the
Tresidders in my power. All the same, I built very little upon it, and
through the day tried to make plans which should be more feasible.

When darkness came on we made our way across Goonhilly Downs and came
down to the cove when the tide was at its ebb. I saw Cap'n Jack's house
in the distance, by means of a light which shone from the window, and
could not help thinking of the morning when I first saw it, and of the
circumstances under which I came thither. Only a little more than a year
had passed away since then, and yet it seemed ages.

"We must be very careful, Eli," I said; "if I am caught by Cap'n Jack's
gang I am a dead man."

"All right," grunted Eli. "You'll not be seed. I'll take care o' that.
Come after me."

He led the way down a beaten track until we came to a deep gorge, by
which we were completely hidden.

When we had reached the bottom of the gorge I stopped suddenly.

"I heard a noise, Eli," I whispered. "Stop, listen!"

We stopped, but all was silent. No wind blew, and so every sound was
easily heard. I ran up the path again, and looked around. The moon had
not yet risen, but the night was clear. Still I could see nothing.

"Maaster Jasper es feartened," grunted Eli; "come on."

I followed him again, and had scarcely reached the beach when a sound
like the crack of a musket reached our ears.

"The devil es blawin' hes billies (bellows) to-night," laughed Eli.

Now, as all the world knows, the devil is supposed to wander much among
the caves in Kynance Cove. Perhaps this is owing to many of the strange
sounds heard there. In one of the caves a terrible hissing sound may be
heard, which is called the "Devil's Frying-Pan;" in another is a deep
hole, from which a vapour like steam comes forth, and this is called the
"Devil's Punch-Bowl." It is also said that he walks in bodily form among
the rocks, and makes great noises with his bellows.

"We need'n fear Cap'n Jack's gang to-night," laughed Eli.

"Why?"

"They never come near 'ere when th'oull Sir Nick is blowin' hes billies
by night."

I remembered the stories I had heard when I lived among them, and
believed he told the truth.

"I shudden like to zee th'oull chap hisself," grunted Eli, with a laugh,
"I shudden mind, though. We cud git our way ef he wos to come. We cud
jist sell ourselves to un, and then you'd bait the Trezidders aisy."

I did not reply, for a great dread laid hold of me. Besides, the sight
of Eli, as he made his way between the rocks, grunting and making all
sorts of weird noises, was enough to make one's blood run cold.

"Remember, Eli," I said, "everything must be clear and right. I'll have
no dealings with darkness, mind that."

But Eli made no answer, except to go jabbering as though he were mad.

"'Tes a good job the tide es out," he grunted, presently.

"Why?"

"We cudden git in the Devil's Church else."

"What have we to do with the Devil's Church?"

"The dreckshuns be there," and he laughed in his strange, guttural way.

As I have said, being better educated than most of the Cornish folk, I
had been led to disbelieve in many of the foolish stories told, but I
shuddered at the idea of going there. For, first of all, it was very
difficult to get into, and could only be reached when the tide was out,
and it was, moreover, reputed to be accursed ground. Here shipwrecked
sailors had been lured by inviting lights and welcome sounds, and here
they had met their doom.

"I'll not go there, Eli," I gasped.

"Don't be a vool, Jasper Pennington," snarled Eli. "We sh'll be saafe
there. Nobody will disturb us. I put it there, I did. Come on,
Pennington; and yer love is there, you boobah."

I saw that the dwarf was much excited, and, like one under a spell, I
followed him without another word. We climbed over many slippery,
dangerous rocks, and then walked over the grass-grown summits of a
small island. Then we slowly descended on the south side of the island.
Neither of us spoke, for we were in great danger. Below us, many feet
down, were great jagged rocks, at whose feet the frothy waves leaped.

"How much farther?" I asked.

"Here we be," grunted Eli, and he disappeared.

The next minute I found myself in a roomy cavern.

"Wait, and I'll get a light," cried Eli, feeling in his pockets.

I heard a strange whizzing noise, and then something struck against my
face, and I heard a screech in the darkness outside.

"This is the Devil's Church," grunted Eli, "and 'tes 'ere I've put the
dreckshuns."



CHAPTER XXII

HOW I FOUND THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE, AND WENT TO THE SCILLY ISLES


The cave called the Devil's Church is little known, and yet it is larger
than any of the caverns in Kynance Cove. Strangely enough, too, it is
shaped like a church; even the entrance looks as though it might have
been fashioned by the hands of men. It was perfectly dry, for the sea
never entered it except at very high tides, and even when it entered the
water was never known to reach the roof. It was, moreover, seldom
visited, for, as I have before stated, in addition to its evil name, it
was extremely difficult to reach.

"You say you've put the papers here?" I said to Eli.

"Iss; 'ere, stoop down and laive me git top yer back."

I stooped down, and the dwarf climbed on my shoulders. I had no idea he
was so heavy, and when he placed his shoes on my shoulders I gave a cry
of pain.

"Aw," laughed Eli, "I be'ant no wizard, be I? I be 'eavier than the
church Bible, I be. Ther' now, hold yerself stiddy, and I'll take et
out."

He felt along the roof of the cavern, and presently gave a grunt of
satisfaction.

"I've got et, Jasper, I've got et. 'Tes oal 'ere. Pennington and the
purty maid. Aw, aw!"

With that I let him down on the floor, and saw that he held something
in his hand.

"Now, then, let's see it," I cried, for in my eagerness I had forgotten
all about my ghostly fears.

"Come 'ere to a lew place," said Eli; "this'll do. I'll hould the candle
while you raid."

The packet which he had taken from a hole in the cave was covered with
some kind of skin, and was carefully sewn with strong twine. I took my
knife from my pocket, and was about to cut it open when I looked around.
The candle which Eli held partially lit up the cave, sufficient, indeed,
to enable me to see nearly every part of it. A moment later I had
started to my feet and seized the pistol which I had bought at Truro,
but my hand became nerveless.

Close to me, not ten feet away, I saw that which turned my blood to ice.
It seemed to my excited imagination a creature fashioned in the likeness
of a man, and yet its eyes shone as I had never seen human eyes shine,
and the face was terrible to look upon. The thing held up its hands, and
I saw that they were long and lean. He uttered a cry. "No, no, no!" he
said.

A mist came before my eyes, and my senses seemed to depart from me. For
a minute or more I was ignorant of what passed.

"You be a vool, Jasper!" I heard Eli say.

"What is it?" I asked. "Where is it gone?"

"Dunnaw, dunnaw. We'll go out."

I hurried out of the cave, forgetful of the purpose for which we came,
and I did not rest until I reached the mainland.

"This is terrible, Eli!" I said.

The dwarf laughed.

"I 'spect it was Granfer's ghost," he grunted; "but what of that? He
ed'n goin' to stop we."

"He has stopped us."

"Not a bit of it. I've got the dreckshuns 'ere. I bean't no vool ef you
be."

I hurried on, for I was terribly afraid, and yet at each step I felt
more glad that Eli had taken the papers. All the time Eli kept close to
my heels, sometimes laughing at my fears, and at others grumbling with
me. Presently I seemed to see things in a new light. Wasn't this
apparition merely the creature of my own imaginations? Had I not
conjured up the spectre myself?

"Eli," I said presently, trying to be brave, "you are right, I am a
fool. That thing was nothing but my fancy."

"Aw, aw!" laughed Eli.

"Come," I said, "there's a furze-cutter's hut somewhere, I saw it as we
crossed the downs to-day. Let us go and read the papers."

"Tha's yer soarts," replied Eli. "'Ere we be."

With that we found our way to a hut which some one had built as a
temporary shelter, and a few minutes later Eli had lit another candle.
The wind which had risen howled across Goonhilly Downs, on which the hut
was built, but the place was sufficiently sheltered to allow the candle
to burn steadily.

"Here 'tes," cried Eli, safely; "raid, Maaster Jasper, raid."

A nervous dread again laid hold of me as I took the thing in my hands,
but mastering my weakness, I cut the threads, and a few minutes later I
had smoothed out the piece of paper on which the directions, of which
Eli had so often spoken, were written.

The following is a copy, as nearly as I can make it, although it is
impossible for me to reproduce the peculiar characters in which it was
written.


           CILLYILES
     ANNETT NOBODELIVIN
           KAMSAY.
       LAWTID _Be sur ov this_
       DOO SOTH. VURS
       KUNGIT.
       SOTH AGIN _Lik thiky_
     DEVILS POINT

[Illustration: Diagram]

         BLAKPLAS
     ELLS MOTH S W.
       BILYSED N. W.
       PIK BAR SHOWL
         IREBOX JAMTITE
     _Loard be marciful to we_.


I pored over the directions for a long time, while Eli looked over my
shoulder, as if trying to decipher the characters.

"Eli bea'nt no schullard," he grunted at length; "Jasper be, Jasper raid
et to Eli."

"Wait a bit, Eli," I said, trying to remember some of the things I had
learnt at school, "it's beginning to get plain to me."

"Wish I was schullard," he cried excitedly.

Again I pored over the paper, and presently I translated it to mean as
follows:


                  _Scilly Isles._

         _Name of Island: Annette. Uninhabited._

              _Calm sea. (Be sure of this.)_

     _Due south of the island. Go as far as possible.
     Here southward still is a rock, of which a
     rough sketch is given. The treasure is laid at
     the point indicated by the black spot, called the
     Devil's Point._

       _Hell's Mouth S.W. Billy's Head N.W.
     An iron box jammed tight. Take pick, crowbar,
     and shovel._


The longer I looked at the paper the more certain I was that I had given
the correct meaning to it, and yet the whole idea of a buried treasure
became absurd.

"Eli," I said, "are you sure this is intended to tell where a treasure
is?"

"Iss."

"Look, Eli, tell me the history of this paper. Tell me who wrote it, and
what Granfer Fraddam had to do with it. Tell me how it came into your
mother's hands and into yours."

"Shaan't tell 'ee nothin' more," grunted Eli. "'Tes there. Give et to me
ef you doan't want et."

I sat for a long time in deep thought, for I scarcely knew what step to
take. Presently, however, my mind was made up. I would, at any rate, see
if these rudely drawn characters had any meaning. By this means I might
get back Pennington, and I should not take Naomi to the altar a
penniless outcast.

If these directions had no meaning I should be none the worse; if there
were a treasure, I had as much right to it as any other man; nay, more.
Eli was Granfer Fraddam's descendant, and he had given the paper to me.

Besides, the longer I thought of it, the more I was convinced that there
was a meaning in what I had been reading. Why should it have been
written at all? Why was Granfer Fraddam so particular to preserve it?
And, above all, why should Cap'n Jack Truscott be so eager to obtain it?

I had heard of _Annette_ as forming one of a group of islands lying
about thirty miles from the Land's End, but beyond that I knew nothing.
It was evidently uninhabited, and regarded by the pirates, if pirates
they were, as a safe place to bury their treasure.

Anyhow I determined to follow the directions given. So far I had done
nothing to get back my own. I had been driven from pillar to post
without making a single step forward. At worst I could but fail, while
it might be possible that by this step I might be revenged on my
enemies.

"Yes, Eli," I said, "we'll go, you and I."

"Tha's yer soarts," grunted Eli.

"We shall want a boat, and we shall want tools, Eli. How are we to get
them?"

"Aisy, aisy," cried Eli.

"Come on, we must be off."

"We must walk to Land's End," cried Eli, "and git a boat there. Another
say voyage, aw, aw!"

I did not altogether like this arrangement, and yet I knew no better
plan, so we started on our journey. We had not gone more than a few
yards when I turned and looked around.

"I heard a footstep," I said.

"You be feartened," grunted Eli.

"There is some one following us, I'm sure."

"How can there be? We be 'ere in the oppen downs, and can zee oal
around."

He spoke the truth. Around us was a vast stretch of open country upon
which nothing grew save stunted furze bushes. It seemed impossible that
any one could hide from us.

I took heart, therefore, and trudged forward. I feared nothing
living--it was the departed dead, the powers of darkness that held me in
awe. But for Naomi I would not have ventured to go to the Scilly Isles;
the remembrance of her, however, nerved me, for my Pennington pride
mixed largely with my love. I knew that if the desires of my heart were
fulfilled and she became my wife, I could easily obtain the means to buy
back Pennington, but the thought was repugnant to me. Somehow I felt as
though I should be disgraced in my own eyes if I did such a thing,
natural as some people might regard it, for we Penningtons have always
been regarded as an independent race, desiring nothing but that which we
could obtain by our own hands and brains. And thus, although I loved
Naomi very dearly, I could not bear the thought of asking her to link
her life to a penniless outcast.

Besides another fear possessed me. From what Lawyer Trefry had hinted
when we parted, and from what Naomi had said to me, it was possible that
the Tresidders had become possessed of her property. I pondered long
over what she had said concerning the conversation held between the
priests and Richard Tresidder. I tried to discover why they desired to
have her regarded as dead. To my dull mind everything was enshrouded in
mystery, but the very mystery urged me forward to find out the truth
concerning Granfer Fraddam's treasure.

When we reached Penzance I bought a compass and a chart containing many
particulars about the Scilly Isles. This done we trudged on to the
Land's End, and, arrived there, the real difficulties of our adventure
presented themselves. First of all we had to possess a boat, and to do
this without causing suspicion seemed difficult. Then we had to obtain
tools and start on our journey without being seen. Eli, however, laughed
at my fears.

"'Tes arternoon now, Jasper Pennington," he said; "I'll git the boat,
you git the other things."

I asked him many questions as to how the boat was to be obtained, but he
made no answer save to tell me to be in Gamper Bay, close by a rock
called the Irish Lady, at ten o'clock that night, when the moon would
rise. I knew I could trust him; so walking to the village of St. Bunyan,
which is about three miles from Land's End, I obtained at a blacksmith's
shop a pick, a crowbar, and a shovel, according to the directions given.
This done I found my way back to the coast again. I had plenty of time,
so putting the tools in a safe place I wandered along the edge of the
cliffs. The moon had not yet risen, but for the time of the year the
weather was very calm and pleasant. The waves leaped pleasantly on the
great rock called the Armed Knight, and even the breakers on Whicksand
Bay were not angry, as is usually the case on this wild coast. A few
clouds swept along the sky, but mostly the heavens were clear. Presently
I looked at my watch, and after some trouble discovered that it was
nearly nine o'clock. As I was nearly a mile from the Irish Lady I
determined to start, and was just going to the place where I had laid
the pick and shovel when I heard the sound of voices in the near
distance. I immediately fell flat on the ground, for I did not wish to
be seen. A minute later I knew that two men were coming toward me, and I
judged would pass close beside me. However, I lay still. I was partly
covered by the heather which grew abundantly just there, and in the dim
light could not be distinguished by the ordinary passer-by from the many
great gray rocks which were scattered along the headland.

"I heard the dwarf say," said a voice which I could not recognise, and
yet which seemed very familiar to me, "that they would start from the
Irish Lady at ten o'clock."

"Iss, sur," was the reply.

"They cannot get a boat nearer than Sennen Cove, can they?"

"'Tes the only place a booat can be got to-night."

"And it could not be got without your knowledge?"

"No, sur."

"You are quite sure?"

"Iss."

"And you have given orders as I directed?"

"Iss, that I 'ave for sure."

"Very good; but keep a sharp look-out. I shall be at the Ship Inn at
Sennen. If by any means they launch a boat let me know."

"I've put six men to watch, sur."

"That's all right."

They passed within six feet of me, but they did not see me. A few
seconds later they were out of sight. So far I was safe, then, but what
did this conversation mean? Who was this man who had been watching my
actions, and what could be his purpose? He spoke like an educated man,
and I could not imagine why he should place six men to watch the coast.
Was he a creature of Richard Tresidder, or did he belong to Cap'n Jack
Truscott's gang?

"I must go and find Eli," I thought, so I made my way toward the Irish
Lady as fast as I was able. I had just reached a part of the cliff where
it was safe to descend to the beach when I saw a dark object creeping
toward me. I was about to rush toward it and grapple with it when I
heard Eli's voice.

"Summin in the wind, Maaster Jasper. Somebody 'ave hired all the
booats."

I was not surprised at his words; what I had heard previously prepared
me for them.

"I tried to stall one, but 'twas no use. All the cove is watched."

"What have you done, then?"

"Nothin'. I did'n want nobody to take notice of me."

For once my slow-thinking mind was able to hit upon a plan. I remembered
when I was with Cap'n Jack's gang hearing of a cave in Gramper Bay, not
far from the Irish Lady, where smugglers landed their goods. One of
Cap'n Jack's men had pointed it out to me, and had told me that a gang
who worked with them sometimes often kept a boat in it.

This I told to Eli, who immediately suggested our trying to find it.

"What we do we must do dreckly, Maaster Jasper," he said; "they be
watchin' for we."

I felt the truth of his words, and a few minutes later we had
accomplished a precipitous and dangerous descent to the shore beneath.
We should have got down more quickly but for the tools which I carried.

We searched very quietly, very cautiously, for I remembered what I had
heard, and were not long in finding out the cave I have mentioned.

I may say here that I visited the Land's End only last week, and I find
that the place is now quite open to view. A great mass of cliff which
formerly hid its mouth has during the last few years fallen away, so
that it can be no longer regarded as secret. Then, however, the opening
was fairly well hidden.

On entering the place I was delighted to find two fairly large boats. I
discovered, too, that oars were lying in them, also a small mast and
sails.

"Good, good!" cried Eli, in a hoarse whisper. "Lev us be off right
away."

"The moon has not yet risen, Eli," I said; "it'll be dangerous to go out
among so many rocks."

"All the better, they waant zee us."

I saw there was much truth in this, especially as they did not expect us
to start until ten o'clock. So together we pulled out what seemed to be
the best boat, and a few minutes later we were rocking on the heaving
waves.

It was, perhaps, a foolish adventure. As all the world knows, there are
no wilder seas than those off Land's End. Here two mighty currents meet,
and often when the waters are smooth elsewhere they are wild and
troubled here. Besides, to undertake a long journey of more than thirty
miles in the open sea in a rowing-boat, and to visit a group of islands
noted for the treachery of their coasts, seemed harebrained and
senseless, especially so when we were watched by people who were, as I
judged, far from friendly toward us. And yet this fact added zest to the
adventure; it made me feel that I was not chasing a phantom, else why
should precautions be taken to hinder us, why were we the objects of so
much suspicion?

Nothing happened to us during our sail across the waters, and yet more
than once I almost regretted undertaking the journey in such a way, for
with the rising of the moon came also the turbulence of the waves.
Indeed, when we had accomplished only half our journey I feared we
should never reach the Scilly Isles at all. Our boat was tossed on the
waves like a cork, and so rough was the sea that I was almost unable to
row. Matters became better presently, however, and as morning came on I
was able to hoist our little sail, and thus the latter part of our
journey was far more pleasant than the first.

As soon as daylight came we looked eagerly to see if we were followed,
but a light mist had fallen upon the sea, and thus all vision was
obscured. Still I imagined that we were safe, and I eagerly made plans
whereby we should visit Annette Island, and formed many a wild
conjecture as to what the treasure would be.

It was not without considerable difficulty that we effected a landing.
At first I determined to make straight for the place we had come to
seek, but presently I felt hungry, which led me to remember that we had
no food on board, and that we should surely need some before we reached
the object of our search. So after much haggling with Eli, we at length
decided to land at St. Mary's, where there was a safe harbour, which we
did after much hard struggling. Indeed, so much had the journey
fatigued us that, supposing that we found what we desired, I almost
despaired of ever taking it to the mainland, unless the sea were much
becalmed. Still I imagined that we might on returning commence our
journey in the morning, and if the wind were favourable accomplish a
great part of the distance before the night came on.

Our appearance at Hugh Town, St. Mary's, seemed to call forth no special
comment. Accustomed as were the islanders to all sorts of sea
excursions, they apparently regarded our voyage as natural. At the same
time they were curious as to our visit, and in a kindly way asked our
business.

I left all the questions for Eli to answer, who was far more adept at
such matters than I, and who seemed to satisfy the curiosity of the
fisher people without trouble. Perhaps they thought we were smugglers
like themselves, for I suppose that almost all the men on the islands
were in some way interested in deceiving the king's officers. They were
very hospitable, however, and would charge nothing for the hearty meal
of which we partook.

Late in the afternoon we boarded our little boat again, and without
apparently attracting any attention we rowed for Annette Island. It was
well it was calm, for the place was surrounded with low-lying rocks,
which might any moment destroy our craft. Never shall I forget the reef
off Annette Head, for even on that calm day the innumerable "dogs"
churned the waters into foam as they roared around them, as if to tell
us that if we came near them they would surely destroy us. And we were
near becoming wrecked, too, for there were many cross currents, which,
had we not been very watchful, would surely have drawn us to
destruction. One especially was dragging us to the reef of the
_Hellweathers_, and but for my great strength we should never have
landed.

As the day was closing, however, we saw a small cove, and toward this we
made our way, and finally succeeded in landing. I saw now why this
island had been chosen for the burial of the treasure, if, indeed, one
was buried. Even the islanders themselves seldom visited it because of
its dangerous coast, and because there seemed nothing on it to tempt
them to go thither.

Once on land, however, we climbed Annette Head and looked cautiously
around. No one was, as far as I could see, in sight. We were alone on a
tract of land about forty acres big, entirely surrounded by treacherous
waves and rocks.

"Come, Eli," I said, "we are safe so far. Now we will see if this paper
has any meaning."

I saw that he was nearly as excited as I, for his eyes shone strangely,
and he uttered many wild ejaculations as we wended our way southward.



CHAPTER XXIII

HOW WE FOUND THE IRON BOX ON ANNETTE ISLAND, AND THE TERRIBLE ENDING TO
OUR ADVENTURE


There can, I think, be few drearier prospects than the one which
presented itself to us as we made our way toward the south of Annette.
Above was a gray sky, all around was a sullen sea. True, the waters were
calm, but they looked as though at any moment they might rouse
themselves to fury. East of us we could see the Island of St. Agnes, but
beyond this no land was visible, except the rocky islets which lifted
their heads from out the dark sea.

On the Island of Annette we could see nothing of interest. No human
being lived there, neither was any cattle to be seen. Possibly there
might be enough verdure to keep a few alive, but I think that even they
would have died of loneliness. The people at Hugh Town said that
scarcely any one ever thought of going to Annette. Why should they?
there was nothing to induce them there.

Since then I have seen the whole group of islands bathed in the sunlight
of summer, I have seen them covered with rich vegetation, I have seen
the waves shine bright as they leaped on the many-coloured cliffs, and
make sweet music as they played around the innumerable rocks. Seen in
this way they are pleasing to all who can enjoy a strange and lovely
beauty, but on the day of which I am writing they were gloomy beyond all
the power of words to tell.

Even the wind, little as there was of it, wailed and sobbed as it moved
along the waters, while birds, the like of which I had never seen
before, cried as though they were in bitter pain.

"Eli," I said, "surely we are on the devil's mission, and God is
forbidding us to go further."

Eli made no answer save to grunt savagely.

"Let us row back to St. Mary's again," I said, "this place is given over
to Satan."

"Then you'll go by yourself, Jasper Pennington!" snarled Eli. "I ded'n
come 'ere to go away without gittin' what I wanted. Besides, 'tes nearly
dark. I be'ant goin' to go 'way from here till daylight. Ef we tried we
should both be drowned."

I saw that he spoke the truth. None but a madman would put out to sea
off Annette in the dark, and I saw by the gathering darkness that in a
few minutes night would be upon us.

"Cheer up," continued Eli, "Pennington es 'ere, so es the purty maid.
Eli do love Jasper, Eli do," and the dwarf caught my hands and fondled
them.

In spite of myself I was cheered by his words, and throwing off my
superstitious fears, I made my way southward to the spot where the great
rock was supposed to lie.

When we had walked a few minutes we saw that the island tapered down to
a narrow point; we saw, too, that the strip of land was about three
quarters of a mile long, perhaps a quarter of a mile broad, and lay
pretty well north and south. Arriving at the southern extremity, we
looked eagerly around. As I said, day was fast departing, but there was
sufficient light to see the general features of the coast.

I gave a start. Yes, there was the rock mentioned in the paper which I
have described.

"Wurrah!" cried Eli excitedly, "we be rich as Jews, Maaster Jasper."

"Come, Eli," I said, as excited as he, "give me the tools. I'll get
there at once."

"We cannot do et yet," replied Eli. "In five minutes more 't'll be
dark."

"What fools we were not to come before!" I said, angrily.

"No," grunted Eli; "ef people was to zee us diggin' they'd begin to
'spect summin. We mus' do et in the dark."

"How, Eli? You must be mad."

The dwarf looked anxiously at the sky.

"'T'll clear up dreckly," he replied complacently, "and the moon'll rise
earlier to-night than he did last night. Ef 'tes clear moonlight we c'n
zee. Ef tes'n, we must be up as zoon as ther's any light and find et
afore anybody can be about."

"Spend the night here?" I cried.

"We sh'll 'ave to do that anyhow," he said. "We mus'n stay 'ere now,"
continued the dwarf, "we must git away. Tell 'ee, I b'leeve we be
watched as et es."

"What makes you think so?"

"Never mind," and he looked anxiously toward St. Agnes. "Tell 'ee,
Jasper, 't'll be a rough night's work."

I, too, looked toward St. Agnes, but could see nothing.

"Come on, come on!" he cried excitedly; "we've got the dreckshuns; we
knaw," and he walked northward as fast as he was able, carrying the
spade under his arm. Presently we reached a deep pool not far from
Annette Head, and near here we found some huge overhanging rocks.
Underneath these we both crept, and here we sat for a considerable time.
We had brought food with us, and of this we partook, after which we
tried to pass away the time by smoking some prime tobacco which I had
bought at Penzance. It was just after six o'clock when we finished our
meal, and we sat there in the darkness for two hours. I rejoiced to see
the clouds depart and the stars begin to shine, for the genius of
loneliness seemed to govern the place. We could see nothing but the sea,
which in the night looked as black as ink as it surged among the rocks.
Even "Great Smith," a huge black rock which lay about half a mile from
us, was almost hidden from view, and no sound of anything living reached
us save the weird, unnatural cry of the sea birds which now and then
fluttered among the rocks on the coast.

When eight o'clock came Eli crawled out from our hiding-place and crept
to the headland. Here he stayed for some minutes.

"We be saafe, I reckon," he grunted when he came back; "ther's nobody
here, nobody 'toal. We'll go back to the rock again. We musn't talk,
jist go quiet."

I followed him, for somehow I felt that he was more capable of leading
than I. He kept perfectly cool, I was excited and irritable. Moreover, a
nameless dread had laid hold of me. We kept close by the northeast coast
of the island, while at frequent intervals Eli would hide behind a rock
or lie flat on the ground, listening intently all the while.

"Are you anxious, Eli?" I asked. "Who could come here without our
knowledge? while, as you say, it would mean death for any one to come in
the dark."

"Cap'n Jack and Cap'n Billy Coad be'ant like other people," he grunted.
"I've bin thinkin', thinkin'."

"What about?"

"Sha'ant tell 'ee!" he snarled; "but I reckon we be oal right. Come on."

Presently we reached the southern extremity of the little tract of land
again, and as I made my way to the rock I became possessed of a feverish
desire to get the treasure. All ghostly fears departed, I felt strong
and capable again, and it was with great impatience that I waited for
the moon to rise.

The wind had gone to rest, while the sea was settling down to dead calm.

"'Nother aaf an hour, Jasper," grunted Eli.

"Yes," I cried, and I grasped my crowbar.

But we had to wait for more than half an hour, for with the rising of
the moon came also a black cloud which obscured its light until it had
risen some distance in the heavens. By and by, however, the moon shot
above the cloud, and that which before had been obscured by darkness
became plain. There was the great rugged rock which bore a resemblance
to the rude scratching on the paper. By the side of the rock ran a deep
gulf filled with black water. Near by, perhaps twenty feet away, was
another and larger mass of cliff. I looked at the water which lay
between the two, and saw that it whirled and eddied, as though there
were some terrible forces underneath which moved it at will.

I picked up a bit of stick and threw it into the middle of the gulf,
which ran perhaps forty feet into the island. I saw the water take it
and carry it a little way seaward, and then it came back again. After
that it started whirling around, and in a minute or so later it seemed
to be drawn downward, for it disappeared from our sight.

"Ef a man was to git in there 'ee'd never git out again," grunted Eli.

"No, never," was my reply, and I shuddered as I spoke.

"Well, then, be careful, Jasper Pennington."

Seizing the pick and crowbar, I crept along the rock until I had reached
the extreme point.

I remembered the words written on the piece of paper: "_Hell's Mouth, S.
W._" Yes, that was the gulf into which I had thrown the stick.

"_Billy's Head N. W._" I looked to the right of me and saw a rock shaped
something like a man's head.

The night became lighter. The moon was rising higher and higher in the
heavens and sailing in a cloudless sky.

I examined the Devil's Point carefully, but I could see no sign of place
into which an iron box could be placed.

"Can 'ee find et?" I heard Eli say, in a low, rasping voice.

"No; there's nothing here. From here it is perpendicular to the sea, a
dozen feet down."

Eli swore a terrible oath.

"For God's sake, don't," I cried; "this place is true to its name.
That's Hell's Mouth, and this is the Devil's Point right enough."

He crept by me, grunting savagely, and began to feel around the edge of
the rock.

"Be careful, Eli," I said, "if you slip you are lost."

"I sha'ant slip," he cried savagely, "I sha'ant!"

Then I saw him lift a stone several pounds weight and throw it into the
sea. This was quickly followed by another.

"Pick, Jasper!" he cried.

He placed the pick between two stones and began to heave at the handle.

"Ca'ant move um!" he snarled. "'Ere, you do et."

I caught the handle of the pick and lifted. I felt it begin to break in
my hands.

"It's no use," I said; "I must use the bar."

I inserted the point of the bar into the crevice and lifted. I felt a
rock move. I put forth my strength, and a great slat several
hundredweight fell into the sea with sullen splash.

Eli got on his knees beside the hole we had made.

"We'm right," he gasped, and I felt he had spoken the truth. After this
we took away several stones from the fissure which nature had formed at
the Devil's Point.

I put my bar into the hole we had made and let it slip through my hands.
Its point struck a piece of iron.

"Iron box. Jammed tight!" grunted Eli savagely. "We've got um!"

We were terribly excited. For my own part, I had forgotten everything,
save that a treasure lay at my feet. The treacherous waters in Hell's
Mouth troubled me not one whit; all my superstitious fears had fled.

As well as I was able I crept into the fissure and felt one foot on a
piece of iron. Then I put my hand down and felt carefully. Yes, an iron
box had been put there. It lay edgeways, at least I judged so. The part
I could feel seemed about a foot wide and three feet long.

"Got et?" gasped Eli.

"Yes," I cried; "my God, here's a handle!"

"Heave um up, then, you who be sa strong."

I tried to lift the thing out, but could not.

"I can't move it, Eli."

"Jammed tight," he grunted.

He was right. Many hard stones were driven in at its sides.

How long it took me to move these stones I know not, but at length I
succeeded in unloosing many until I was able to rock the box from side
to side.

"It'll come now!" cried Eli. "Heave agin!"

Never was my strength put to such a test as at that time. I saw sparks
of fire flash before my eyes, while the muscles of my arms seemed as
though they would snap. It was all in vain, however.

"Let me rest a bit, Eli," I said, "then I'll try again."

"No time to rest," snarled Eli.

He seized the crowbar, and after much manoeuvring he passed it through
the iron handle of the box, and rested the point against the side of the
fissure.

"Haive now, Jasper," he grunted.

I did as he bade me. The box freed itself from the sides of its
resting-place.

I had nothing but the weight of the casket to lift now, so I caught the
handle again. The thing was ponderously heavy, but I drew it to the top
of the fissure, and laid it on the rock called the Devil's Point.

"Ho! ho! ho!" yelled Eli, like one frenzied.

As for me, I was nearly mad with joy.

"My beauty," I said, fondling the box, "I see Pennington in you, I see
Naomi's joy on you. You make me free, you make me independent. I love
you, I do--I love you!"

"Laive us drag un away from the Devil's Point," cried Eli; "Hell's Mouth
is too close to plaise me."

So I placed my arms around it and prepared to carry it from the rock,
and away from the inky waters that curled and hissed in the "Devil's
Mouth." No sooner had I lifted it from the ground, however, than I let
it fall again.

"No! no!" screamed a voice near me. It was not Eli's guttural cry, it
was a repetition of the words we had heard in the "Devil's Church" at
Kynance Cove.

On starting up I saw the same ghastly-looking creature, the same long
beard, the same wild eyes, the same long, lean hands.

"No! no! no! I tell you no!" cried the thing again.

"Why?" I asked, half in anger, half in terror, for I could but realise
what such an apparition meant to us.

"Because the thing is accursed!" he cried--"because it is red with the
blood of innocence, black with sin, heavy with the cries of orphans'
tears and widows' moans. It is the price of crime, red crime, black
crime! Come away."

I jumped from the rock and caught the strange thing in my hands. It was
flesh and blood, and all fear departed. I turned his face to the light,
then I burst into a loud laugh.

"Ho! ho!" I cried, "the madman of Bedruthan Steps. Well, well, you saved
my life, you fed me when I was hungry, you clothed me when I was naked.
I forgive you. But let me be now. I must take this away."

"No, no, Jasper Pennington," he cried again, "your hands are yet
unstained with blood. The moment you were to use such gains the curse of
a hundred Cains would be upon you. I know, I have felt."

"Why?" I said; "I do no harm in getting it; I hurt no man. It is mine as
much as any other man's--nay, it is more. Eli Fraddam really owns it,
and he has given it to me."

"Look you, Jasper Pennington," he cried, "you would get back your
birthright. If you got it back in such a way you would lose the better
birthright, the birthright of God. I know of this treasure, I have heard
its history. It is red with blood, I tell you, and black with crime."

In spite of myself the man's vehemence affected me.

"But," I said, "I love. I cannot go to her empty-handed. A Pennington
does not do that. Besides, I am afraid that my love is also penniless,
afraid that she has been robbed."

"Look, Jasper Pennington," he said, "I have heard strange things. I have
been afraid to ask questions, because--because--but tell me, who is the
maiden you love?"

"Naomi Penryn," I replied.

"Yes, yes; I know that, but who is Naomi Penryn? whose child is she?
Does she come from Penryn? Who is her mother? who her father? where was
she born? Tell me."

"He is mad, stark, staring mad," I said to myself, yet I humoured him.
True, the treasure lay at my feet, and I wanted to take it away, while
Eli kept grumbling at my delay, but the man seemed to drag an answer
from me.

"She was born at Trevose House, close by Trevose Head," I replied.
"Indeed, she should be the owner of the estate."

"And her mother?" he cried.

"Was some relative of the Tresidders."

"And her father? Tell me, man, tell me quickly."

"Her father was called Penryn--John Penryn, I think his name was."

"But how can that be? Did he not kill his wife before--that is, did she
not die?"

"No," I said, "he did not. He thought he killed her, and because of it
committed suicide, but his wife was not dead. She got better soon
after--indeed, she died only a year or two ago."

"And Penryn committed suicide, you say?"

"Yes."

"And the girl you love is his child?"

"Yes. But what is all this to you? Why have you followed me? What are my
affairs to you?"

"Everything, Jasper Pennington. Stop, let me think."

"I cannot stop, I must get this away! Look you, man," and I caught his
arm, "this is nothing to you, I have found it," and I kicked the iron
box. "It's mine, mine!"

"No, no; it's not yours, I tell you." He stopped and looked around him,
then clenched his hands as though he were passing through a terrible
crisis.

"Do you say the Tresidders have taken Trevose from the--the maid you
love?"

"I am afraid they have. I believe they have."

"But where is she?"

"It is naught to you. She is away from all danger. When I have taken
this treasure to a place of safety I shall go to her. I shall buy back
Pennington and take her to my home."

"No, Jasper Pennington, this must not be. Naomi Penryn must never live
in a home bought with the price of crime. But you are sure she is safe?"

He spoke like a man demented, and yet his earnestness, his evident
hatred of crime made me patient. Moreover, he had come upon me at a
critical time, and was to an extent a sharer in my secret.

"Look you, Esau, or Cain, or whatever else you may call yourself," I
said, "these are but idle words of yours--idle words. I have committed
no crime, I hurt no man, I am poor, I have been robbed of my rights, my
home. Here, I trust, is my power to win back my home and give it to my
love, who is dearer to me than my life."

"There is no need, Jasper Pennington, I tell you there is no need! Throw
this thing to the Hell's Mouth, by which it has been lying. Take me to
your love; let me see her face, and then--well, I will not promise what,
but it shall be well with you," and he laughed like a man from whose
life a great fear had gone.

I looked at him, and he presented a strange appearance in the light of
the moon on that lonely island. I could not let the treasure slip from
my hands at his bidding, for what was the promise of such as he, whose
every action told me he was mad?

"Look you," he continued, "I have followed you for your good. I tried to
keep you from leaving Land's End last night, I followed you to the cave
in Kynance Cove. Come, there is more danger around than you think."

"What danger?" I asked.

The words had scarcely escaped my lips when I heard the sound of voices,
and Eli gave a shriek as though some one had given him a deadly blow.

I turned and saw several men standing close by me. A moment later one
spoke.

"Oa, Jasper Pennington, this _es_ kind of 'ee to come 'ere like this.
You knawed I wanted to vind out Granfer Fraddam's secret, did'n 'ee,
then? An' you was a goin' to make a present of et to me, wad'n 'ee,
then? Well, you be kind, Jasper."

"Cap'n Jack!" I cried.

"Iss, Cap'n Jack. Allays a friend to 'ee, Jasper, a stiddy, pious man I
be. So es Billy Coad 'ere. Ther's few people c'n give sich a religious
experience as Billy. Well, we vound out wot you was up to, so we be cum
to help 'ee, my deear boy."

I saw that all was lost. The treasure, if treasure there was, could
never be mine.

"You told them this!" I cried, turning to the madman, to whom I had been
talking.

"No, Jasper Pennington, I have told nothing. But I heard they were
coming, and I came to warn you."

He spoke quietly and with dignity. His madness was gone, he seemed a new
man.

"Ded 'ee think that we wos vools, Jasper, my deear? Aw, iss, Eli es a
clever boy, but law, Cap'n Jack's gang 'ave got eyes everywhere. And we
cudden find the dreckshuns, and we bea'nt no schullards, but we do knaw
that two and two do maake vower. That's how we vound out. Aw, aw,
Jasper, my deear, you bea'nt a-goin' to buy back Pennington in that way.
No, no; and I have my doubts ef the weather 'll laive 'ee git back to
the caave in Gamper Bay again, for oal you stailed my boat from there."

His words drove me to madness, especially when they roused a laugh from
Israel Barnicoat, who stood close by him.

"Then I'm not to have this," I cried, pointing to the box.

"No, you bea'nt, my deear. I be a generous man, but I cudden afford
that."

"Then you shan't!" I cried.

With a strength that was unnatural I seized the heavy iron box, and
before they could prevent me I threw it into the black waters of the
gulf.

"There," I said, "if I cannot have it neither shall you, or if you get
it, you shall go into Hell's Mouth after it."

Cap'n Jack gave a terrible oath. "Send him after it, Israel Barnicoat!"
he cried.

I stooped to seize the crowbar in order to defend myself, but before I
could use it as a weapon Israel Barnicoat threw himself upon me. My foot
slipped upon the rock, and before I could regain my footing I received a
stunning blow. A moment later I felt myself sinking in the black waters
from which Eli Fraddam had said there was no escape. And all this
happened in a few seconds--so quickly, indeed, did it take place that I
had not even time to call upon God to have mercy upon my poor, sinful
soul.



CHAPTER XXIV

TELLS OF THE STRANGE REVELATION MADE BY THE MADMAN OF BEDRUTHEN STEPS,
AND OF TAMSIN TRUSCOTT'S TREACHERY


For a moment I gave myself up as lost. I remembered how the black waters
of the gulf coiled and circled, and knew that there must be some strong
current underneath. I remembered, too, how the stick I had thrown into
it had disappeared from sight, and felt that there could be no hope for
me. But this was only for a moment. I was a strong swimmer, and had been
accustomed to the water all my life. After all, "Hell's Mouth" was not
very wide, and I hoped I should be able to grasp the edge of the rocks
and thus save myself. Then I remembered that Cap'n Jack and his
followers would, if possible, keep me from ever escaping if it were in
their power so to do. I had in a moment destroyed their hopes of ever
getting Granfer Fraddam's treasure, for not one of them would dare to
descend into the treacherous depths of the waters where I had thrown it.

All this passed through my mind like a flash, and then I felt myself
drawn by a terrible current down and down into the depths.

"It's all over," I thought. "I shall have to go to my Maker without ever
saying good-bye to my darling," and then death seemed terrible to me; so
terrible, indeed, was the thought of it, that I determined I would not
die, and I held my breath as well as I could while I was carried along
by the force of the current.

How long I was under water I cannot say. It could not have been long,
for one cannot live long without air, but it seemed ages to me. As I
look back now it seems as though those few seconds were long years. I
will not try and tell the thoughts that passed through my mind, or of
the terrible things through which I thought I went. It is not a part of
this story, neither do I expect I should be believed if I related it.

God in His infinite mercy, however, did not wish me to die, for
presently my head shot above the water, and that without any effort of
my own, and then instinctively I started swimming, after drawing a deep
breath. As soon as I was able I looked around me, but the surroundings
were entirely strange. Above me rose a cliff a good many feet high, and
toward this I swam, being very careful, however, to save myself from
striking against any of the countless rocks, some of which were only
partially covered.

The sea was very calm, and this was my salvation, for presently I was
able to get a footing on one of the rocks without being hurt. This done,
I again looked around me, but all in vain. On the one hand was the sea,
on the other rose the black cliff.

As I said, the night was very calm, only now and then the sobbing,
moaning wind swept along the waters, and it was through this fact that I
ascertained my whereabouts. On listening I thought I heard the sound of
voices, loud, angry voices, but I was so bewildered that at first I knew
not what they meant, but I fancied they were not far away; then I fell
to thinking of the direction from which the sound came, and I imagined
that the current must have carried me to the east side of the island,
not far from the southern extremity where I had been.

This brought back to my mind the reason why I had been thrust into the
water, for those terrible feelings which possessed me as I was sucked
down into the depths of Hell's Mouth had driven from my mind all
thoughts of the purpose which had brought me on the island. And here I
must confess, to my shame, that my first definite thought on realising
my condition was not thankfulness to God for having saved me from
manifold danger, but one of anger and impatience because I had been
foiled in my purpose. It seemed to me as though defeat tracked my steps
everywhere. Ever and always I was outwitted by more clever brains than
my own, and now when I fancied I had wealth and power within my grasp,
it was snatched from me in a moment. I did not remember the probability
that the supposed treasure was no treasure at all, for the improbability
of any one hiding a box of great value at such a place had never
occurred to me. To my mind the whole business had been plain enough.
Granfer Fraddam knew of such a thing, and had kept its whereabouts a
profound secret, and only through the cleverness and affection of Eli
had I become possessed of its secret. Evidently, too, Cap'n Jack
Truscott's anxiety to possess the directions showed his belief in the
reality of hidden riches. Since then, however, I have much doubted it.
It seems to me next to impossible that such a place should be chosen to
hide great riches. Moreover, what was the reason for hiding it? Why had
it not been taken away before? And yet, on the other hand, why had the
box been placed there with so much care, and in such a wild,
unfrequented place, if it did not contain something of great value?
These questions, I suppose, will never be answered now. The box lies at
the bottom of "Hell's Mouth," and all the riches of the world would not
tempt me to try and drag it from its resting-place. I was saved by the
infinite mercy of God, and strong man as I am, I cannot help shuddering
even now at the thought of what I felt as I was dragged by unknown
powers through the depths of that awful place. I write this that any who
may read these lines may not be tempted to venture life and reason to
obtain that iron chest. Not even Cap'n Jack Truscott or any of his gang
dared to do this, and what they dared not attempt is not for flesh and
blood to regard as possible.

At that time, however, I did not think of these things. To me it
contained untold riches; in that grim iron casket lay love, riches,
happiness, home. I had failed to obtain it, even although I had dragged
it from its resting-place, because of the subtlety of Cap'n Jack's gang.
And yet I rejoiced that I had thrown it into the gulf. If they had
foiled me, I had also foiled them. All the same, I was enraged because
of my failure, especially as I saw no means of getting back Pennington.

Then I thought of Naomi at Mullion Cove, and wondered how she fared. I
had told her that when I came to her again I should bring the means
whereby all her difficulties would be removed, and the intensity of my
love for her made my disappointment the greater. I thought how sorrowful
she would be, and yet I rejoiced with a great joy because of her love
for me. Ay, even there, clinging to a rock close to that lonely island,
with enemies near me, I could have shouted with joy at the memory of
her words to me as I left her by the cottage to which I had taken her.

For love overcometh all things.

All these things passed quickly through my slow-working brain; indeed,
they were an impression rather than a series of thoughts. Presently,
too, I was able to distinguish the words that were spoken. I could hear
Eli pouring forth curses, which I will not here write down, while the
stranger seemed to be speaking in my praise. As for Cap'n Jack, he
seemed anxious to appease Eli's anger.

"Come now, Soas," I heard him say, "'tes a pity for sure. I be as zorry
as can be. I be all for paice, I be. I wos a bit vexed when Jasper
thrawed un into the say; who wudden be? But I ded'n main to kill un.
There now, it ca'ant be 'elped now; and Jasper Pennington ed'n the first
good man that's gone to the bottom of the say."

"He's at the bottom of ''Ell's Mouth'!" shrieked Eli. "You thrawed un
there; but you shall suffer, Jack Fraddam. Ef mawther es a witch, I be a
wizard, and you shall suffer wuss than the darkness of thicky plaace. I
ded love Jasper, he was kind to me, he was. He loved me, he ded. He
tooked little Eli round with un, he ded." And then followed words which
I will not write, for, indeed, they were very terrible.

After this many things were said until Cap'n Jack got angry.

"Gab on, you little varmin," he cried, "gab on. You thought you could
outwit Jack, ded 'ee? Well, you be quiet now, or you'll folla Jasper."

"You dar'nt tich me!" shrieked Eli--"you dar'nt. I'd maake your flesh
shrink up ef you ded. I'd make your eyeballs burn like coals of vire, I
wud. Begone from me 'ere now, or I'll summon the devil, I will. He ed'n
vur far from 'ere, I tell 'ee." And then he said things which he must
have borrowed from his mother, for I know of no other who could think of
them.

Anyhow he frightened Cap'n Jack and his gang, for they cried out to
their leader to leave Eli and the madman, because they were afraid. This
they did with many terrible oaths and threats. All the same they left,
although they tried to seem to try and do so in a brave way.

"Iss," I heard Israel Barnicoat say, "Jasper be out of the way now, sure
enough. Ef you can rise un from the dead, Eli, tell un what I knaw 'bout
the maid that he took to Mullion, but she ed'n there now, she ed'n.
She's where he would never git to 'er ef he was livin'." And he laughed
brutally, and yet fearfully I thought.

I believe I should have cried out at this had I not heard a moan of
agony, such as I trust I may never hear again. It was the stranger, I
was sure, whom I had heard.

"Tell me where she is," he cried, and I knew he had followed them. Then
I heard the sound of blows followed by groans.

"Lev us do for thicky little imp, too," I heard a voice say, "and then
nobody 'll know nothin'."

"No," cried Cap'n Jack, "Betsey 'll vind out ef we do." And then I heard
their footsteps going northward.

All this time I had been lying against the rock, and half of my body
being under water, I was chilled to the bone. When I tried to move I
found that all my limbs were numb, and again I began to fear of escaping
from where I was. But this did not remain long. The words Israel
Barnicoat had spoken about Naomi made despair impossible, and quickened
my mind and body to action.

I waited until I judged Cap'n Jack's gang to be out of hearing, then I
gave a low whistle, the nature of which was known only to Eli and
myself. In an instant I heard an answering cry, and a few seconds later
I heard his hoarse, guttural voice overhead.

"Jasper, Jasper, es et you? Thank the Lord!"

"Yes, Eli, that rope you brought."

"Iss, iss, my deear, in a minute."

A few seconds later I saw a rope descending. The cliff was perhaps
thirty feet in height just here. I could not judge exactly, but it was
about perpendicular, so I could not climb it. After much struggling,
however, I reached a point where ascent was possible, and aided by Eli,
who pulled like a madman at the rope I had fastened around my body, I at
length reached a place of safety.

"Oa, Maaster Jasper, Maaster Jasper!" sobbed Eli, "how glad I be! How I
do love 'ee!" And he fondled my wet, clammy hands tenderly.

"Is the madman dead?" I asked.

"I dunnaw. Never mind 'bout he; be you all right? You'n sure et's you?"

"Sure, Eli, safe and sound. Let us go to him."

By the aid of the bright moonlight we found him lying seemingly stark
and dead on the ground. I soon discovered to my joy, however, that he
was only stunned, and a few minutes later he sat up and spoke to us.

"Jasper Pennington not dead!" he cried.

"No," I said, telling him how I had escaped; "but come, can you walk?
Have you any bones broken?"

"No; the fellow tried to stab me, but he failed; I was only stunned."

"Then let us go."

"Go where?" he said, in a dazed kind of way.

"I must go to Naomi," I said.

"Yes, yes," he cried eagerly, "how could I forget? Yes, we must go this
moment, this very moment. I am quite well and strong. Come at once."

He spoke with a kind of dignity, and I looked at him again to assure
myself that he was the madman who had saved me by Trevose Head.

"We ca'ant go to-night, ted'n saafe," said Eli, who continued to fondle
my hands and to utter all sorts of endearing terms.

"We must," he cried, "we must. There's not a second to lose. We must go
straight to the house where you left her, and find her if she is there;
if not we must not rest till she is in a place of safety."

He spoke in a tone of authority, and was so peremptory that I wondered.

"Who are you?" I asked; "what is my love's safety to you?"

"Everything, Jasper Pennington," he replied; "I am Naomi Penryn's
father."

"What!" I said aghast.

"Yes," he repeated, "I am Naomi Penryn's father. Come hither, Jasper
Pennington, and let me tell you."

He led me away from Eli, who uttered strange, low sounds, as he always
did when he was excited, and then the man whom I had thought mad spoke
to me in low, earnest tones.

"You have heard my story, Jasper Pennington," he said--"heard how I
struck my wife when she was in a perilous condition. It is true. I
thought I had killed her, and since then I have never had an hour's
peace. I will not tell you what I have done since or where I have been,
except that I have been in hell. You thought me mad--perhaps I have
been; I think I have. A little while ago I was drawn to come back to
Trevose, but I was afraid to ask any questions. I seemed to be followed
by the powers of darkness, who forbade me to speak. And yet I was
fascinated to the spot. You can guess why. I need not tell you anything
else now, you know what I would say. The thought that I have a daughter
alive and that I did not kill my wife has made the world new."

"And you did not commit suicide, then?" I said, in an unmeaning, foolish
sort of way.

"No. Coward that I was, I ran away, and for years, years--nearly twenty
now--I have been followed by--but never mind, it is gone--all gone. Only
let us go! You love my child, Jasper Pennington. Come, let us find her."

"Yes, yes," I replied; "but why did you follow me here?"

"Why? In my madness I felt sure that you had the secret of my life's
joy, and because my life has been such that I could not bear you to
obtain that which is the price of lost souls. I--I have been--where I
have heard the history of that thing which lies under water. It is not a
treasure, Jasper Pennington, it is damnation. Perhaps I will tell you
more some day, but not now. Let us leave the island."

"But it is not safe to leave it by night."

"Yes; I know the way. I have been here many times--I mean among the
islands, I will take you to the sailing-boat which brought me to St.
Agnes. Come, I will tell you all that needs telling as we go back."

"But Cap'n Jack's gang?"

"Their boat is at St. Mary's."

"How do you know?"

"Enough that I have found out their plans."

After this Eli and I followed him to a little cove where a boat rocked,
and ere long we were landed at St. Agnes. Here we found a good-sized
sailing-boat, and here, too, I dried my clothes in a fisherman's
cottage, wondering all the while at the strange things which had
befallen me.

As soon as morning came we started for St. Ives, for thither Naomi's
father determined to go, for Naomi's father I believed him to be.

He said that we should thus escape Cap'n Jack's gang, and be almost as
near Mullion as if we landed at Penzance. We did not, however, land at
St. Ives. The men who owned the boat consented to take us on to Hayle,
which was five miles nearer Mullion than St. Ives.

During our sail across I reproached myself greatly for placing Naomi in
the care of Tamsin Truscott, for I believed that she had been led to be
unfaithful, and had told Israel Barnicoat of her whereabouts. I talked
much with Mr. Penryn about these things, over whom a very great change
had come. He was no longer violent in language or in deed, rather he
seemed subdued and very thoughtful. He spoke very calmly and
thoughtfully, and suggested many things which would never have occurred
to me. Such was the power of what I had told him that all his fears
seemed to have gone, the wild, haunted look had passed away from his
eyes, while his actions were those of a refined gentleman.

On arriving at Hayle we, after much delay and difficulty, obtained
horses, and rode rapidly toward Mullion, my heart sometimes beating high
with hope, and at others lying in my bosom as though all joy were gone;
for be it known the revelations of the last few hours had made
everything appear in a new light. If this man was Naomi's father, and,
as I said, I believed he was, I could no longer assume the position of
her guardian and protector. She would no longer look to me as her sole
helper and friend. Her father would claim to be first. This led to many
other surmises, not many of which were pleasant, and which made me
ofttimes gloomy and dejected.

But these were not the matters concerning which I troubled the most. I
worried about the words of Israel Barnicoat. What did he mean by saying
that Naomi was where I should never be able to get her?

I had had but little sleep for many hours, but I felt no weariness. My
strength seemed to increase with my difficulties, and I did not once
droop in my saddle or rub my eyes like a drowsy man. It must have been
near a twenty miles' ride from Hayle to Mullion, but we were not long in
covering it; indeed, after we had reached Helston, we rode as fast as
the horses could carry us.

On coming in sight of Mrs. Crantock's house I left my companions, so
eager was I, and thus reached the white house with a green porch some
minutes before they came up. Opening the door without knocking I
entered, and found Mrs. Crantock, looking pale and anxious, but I could
nowhere see Naomi.

"Thank God you have come!" cried the woman.

"Why? Where is she?" I asked.

"She's gone, I know not where."

"How is that?" I cried angrily. "You promised you would care for her,
that you would guard her as if she were your own child."

"Yes, yes. Oh, young man, it is wrong to trust to an arm of flesh."

"Look you," I cried, catching her roughly by the arm, "I want no
religious talk! I left a lonesome, helpless maid with you whom you
promised to protect. Where is she now?" I said this like one demented,
as, indeed, I was.

I heard Eli and Naomi's father enter the room, but I took no heed,
neither did I listen carefully to the story the woman told. I had some
vague remembrance about her saying she went to hear Mr. Charles Wesley,
leaving Naomi with Tamsin, and that on her return that morning both had
gone. She had inquired of her neighbours, and had been told that three
men had come to the house at daybreak, and that when they went away
Tamsin and Naomi rode with them in the carriage they had brought.

It was well Naomi's father was with me, for my mind was too confused to
ask the necessary questions. I reproached myself for trusting Tamsin and
for not taking better precautions. I felt I had by my own foolishness
lost my love and again allowed her to be in the power of my enemies. I
thought of a score of things I ought to have done, while Mr. Penryn
asked many pointed questions.

We were about to take to the saddle again when Tamsin Truscott rushed
into the house. The poor girl's face was as pale as that of a ghost, and
she trembled from head to foot.

"Forgive me, Jasper," she cried.

I did not speak, for I knew not how to control my words.

"Oh, Jasper, I--I could not help it. It was so hard, so terribly hard.
I--I loved you, and I thought that when she was gone you would forget
her, and then--"

She did not finish her sentence, but sobbed bitterly, as though she was
in sore straits and truly contrite, as, indeed, I thought she was.

She went on to utter many words of self-accusation. She confessed that
she had betrayed Naomi's hiding-place, with many other things which I
need not here write down.

"Where is she now?" I cried angrily.

"She is being taken to Padstow," she said. "You know why."

"Is it the priest?" I asked.

"Yes," she answered, "and the Tresidders."

"Let us get to our saddles," I cried, "we may get there before they."

"Yes, you can if you ride hard."

"What about horses?" said Mr. Penryn; "these are poor nags; they were
the best I could get, but they are spent with a twenty miles' ride."

"They will last to Falmouth," I cried, "we must get fresh ones there."

"God forgive me, but I have no more money," he said, and at this I, too,
hung my head, for I was penniless.

I looked to Eli, but before the dwarf could speak Tamsin had caught my
hands.

"I have plenty, Jasper," she cried. "Oh, let me help you! It was all my
fault, let me do what I can now."

"Where is your money, girl?" asked Mr. Penryn.

"It is at Kynance, Jasper," she said, not noticing him; "father is not
yet home, and we can get there before he returns."

"It is scarcely out of our way," I said to Mr. Penryn, and it seemed our
only hope. And so we went thitherward, although I had grave doubts as to
whether Cap'n Jack had not returned.



CHAPTER XXV

HOW WE WENT TO PENNINGTON, AND HOW THE TRESIDDERS WON THE VICTORY


On looking over what I have just written, it has struck me that I have
told this part of my story hastily, scarcely relating enough to tell how
matters stood. I ought to have said that it took us fifteen hours to
sail from St. Agnes Island to Hayle. Thus having left the island at
daybreak--that is, about eight o'clock in the morning--we did not arrive
at Hayle till the following midnight, and such was our difficulty in
getting horses at Hayle, that we did not leave there until morning, thus
arriving at Mullion just before noon. We were there, I should imagine,
something over an hour, and as Porth Mullion is only some seven or eight
miles from Kynance, I had hopes of getting to Captain Jack's house an
hour or two before dark. I discovered, too, that Tamsin had ridden from
Kynance to Mullion on horseback. She had, in a fit of jealousy, betrayed
our secret to Israel Barnicoat, and this had led to Naomi being taken
away; and anxious, so she said, to atone, she had come to Mullion to
tell her story.

It may seem foolish in me to have trusted her again after she had once
betrayed me, but I have always been one who yielded to the promptings of
the heart rather than to the conclusions of reason, so I rode toward
Kynance without demur, and even Mr. Penryn made no objection. Eli,
however, grumbled greatly, and said we were going to a nest of adders;
but indeed our horses were useless, and I knew not how we could get
fresh ones, except through Tamsin's offer of money.

There was no sign of life at Captain Jack's house when we came to it, so
I concluded that he had not yet returned from the Scilly Isles. I was
very thankful for this, because I knew his presence would mean great
danger to me. He fancied that I was dead, and but for the mercy of God I
should have been--murdered, as it were, by his hand, and by that of
Israel Barnicoat. I knew he was as cunning as Satan himself, and when he
found out that I was alive would, I believed, stop at no means to end my
life. And thus nothing but sore necessity would have taken me to Kynance
at that time. But as Mr. Penryn had said, the horses we rode, which were
but little better than farm beasts, were sore spent with a ride of
twenty miles or so, and as it was fully fifty to Padstow--nay, nearer
sixty, taking into consideration the nature of the road--it was useless
to think of trying to ride them thither.

"This way, Jasper," cried Tamsin; "this way to father's chest. No one
knows where it is but him and me. Oh, you do forgive me, don't you? I
did it because I wanted you so! You believe me, don't you, Jasper?" and
the poor girl sobbed piteously.

I did not speak, for my heart felt very bitter, even though I thought
she was trying to atone for what she had done.

She had led me to a little outhouse, cunningly hidden among the rocks,
and which could not be reached save by going through the kitchen, owing
to a precipice behind. Arrived here she opened a box, and took from it a
bag heavy with gold.

"Here's money enough, Jasper," she said eagerly. "Oh, Jasper, if you
only knew!"

"Knew what, Tamsin?" I said, for the girl's sorrow made me gentle toward
her, even although my heart was torn with anxiety about Naomi.

"Knew how hard it is," she cried. "Oh, Jasper, are you sure you love
that maid so? She does not care for you as I do. Could you not think of
me and forget her?" and the girl held my hand tightly in hers.

Now I am, and always shall be awkward in my ways toward women. A woman's
tears always unman me, and make me soft-hearted. So I knew not what to
say to her, and for the life of me I could not be angry. In the
providence of God all men love all women, only there must be one
especially to stir the depths of each man's heart. And, verily, had not
mine heart been taken captive, I should have taken Tamsin in my arms and
kissed her, so piteous was her cry, and so full of love was the light
which shone from her eyes.

"Look you, Tamsin," I said, "I cannot help it, but that maid hath taken
all my love. But for her I might have been different; now I can only
love you as a brother should love a sister."

Then her eyes became hard, and I knew I had spoken wrongly.

"I must go now," I continued, "for she is in danger; and if we ride not
hard, I may not see her again."

"Yes, go," she said with an angry laugh; "overtake her, rescue her, if
you can."

This aroused my suspicions. "Tamsin," I said, "have you told me truly?
Are these men taking her to Padstow? I am trusting you implicitly. It is
hard for a man to threaten a woman, but if you have told me wrongly, may
God have mercy upon you, for I will not."

"I have spoken the truth, Jasper; only be careful to inquire at Penryn
if the _Golden Cross_ has been seen in the harbour. I know they talked
about it being there. If it has been seen, they have gone on to
Padstow."

"How do you know?"

"I heard the priest say so," said Tamsin. "He said if the _Golden Cross_
is lying at Penryn, we can get to Bristol without going to Padstow; if
it isn't, we ride to Padstow."

"You swear this, Tamsin? My heart is very sore," I cried.

"Yes; this is truth, Jasper, this is what they said;" but she did not
look me in the face as she spoke.

I pushed the bag of money in my pocket and turned to go, but she caught
my arm again.

"Won't you kiss me, Jasper?" she said, "just to show you forgive me.
Just kiss me once; it will be the only time in this world."

So I kissed her as a brother might kiss a sister, and not as a lover
kisses a maid. This I swear by my love for the only maid I ever loved,
and by my faith as a Christian man. But she clung to me, and would not
let me go, and even as she did so I heard the sound of many voices in
the house adjoining, and then Captain Jack and Israel Barnicoat came to
the little hut in which we were.

"Jasper Pennington!" they both cried together with terrible oaths, and
then both of them sprang upon me. I had thrown off Tamsin as I heard
their cry, and so in a degree was able to defend myself; at the same
time I was greatly at a disadvantage, so much so that they mastered me,
and held me so that I could not put forth my strength. Then I saw Israel
Barnicoat lift a knife to strike me, and for the life of me I could make
no defence, and could only hold my breath and await his blow.

It fell, but not on me, for Tamsin had thrown herself between us and had
received it.

"My God," cried Israel, "I have killed Tamsin!" and the thought so
frightened them both that they loosened their hold on me, and so in a
moment I was free. I knew, too, at that moment that few men are loved as
Tamsin loved me, for she herself had voluntarily received the blow that
would perchance have killed me.

But so great was their evident hatred for me, that for the moment
neither took notice of Tamsin, but sprung upon me again. This time,
however, I was ready for them, so I met Israel with a blow so heavy that
he fell to the floor like a log of wood. I would have spared Captain
Jack if I could, for he was past his prime, but he came upon me so
savagely that I dared not.

"Go, Jasper, go!" gasped Tamsin. "They will kill you. Don't wait; go,
only--"

"Are you much hurt, Tamsin?" I said. "Tell me if I can help you."

"No, no; you cannot help me. Go--go to Pennington; go to Pennington!"

"Why?" I cried; "you said Penryn."

"Pennington!" she repeated. "Go at once."

I grieved at leaving her there, but it seemed my duty; besides, I could
not help her.

So I went to her. "Good-bye, Tamsin; I will send Betsy Fraddam to you.
She knows more than any doctor. Good-bye. You have told me the truth
this time. God bless you; you have saved my life."

"Forgive my telling you lies. Oh, I wanted you so, but I think I am
dying now. Go quickly to Pennington, and forgive me, Jasper."

I left her then, much bewildered and troubled, for I felt it hard to
leave her there without knowing whether she would live or die, and
remembering all the time that if she died, she died for love of me.

When I got to the front of the house I found Mr. Penryn and Eli in the
custody of Billy Coad and another man, but they let them free as I came.
Then I told Billy to go to a doctor who lived at Lizard Town.

I told Mr. Penryn many of the things which I have here written down, and
then we rode rapidly away toward Pennington, Eli also coming with us.

"Eli, are you afraid of Captain Jack's gang?" I said presently.

"No, I be'ant."

"Would they hurt you?"

"No, they wudden; not waun ov 'em."

"Then go to Lizard Town yourself, and take the doctor to Tamsin, then
come back to your mother's house and tell me how Tamsin is."

"No," said Naomi's father; "you will come to Pennington and ask for him
there." This he said looking at me steadily.

"You do not know Richard Tresidder," I said.

"He will have me to deal with," he said quietly. "Jasper, that girl told
you the truth at the last. My child is taken there."

"I believe she is," I replied.

"I have felt it might be so all the day," he continued, "only the girl
seemed so sincere. Truly the heart of a woman is a strange thing."

Then we both fell to silence as we rode along, for I had much to think
about, and so, indeed, had he. At the time I did not think how eager he
must be to see his daughter, so filled was my own heart with longing,
but as I look back now I feel how little I understood his heart at that
time.

Just as daylight was dying we arrived at Pennington Gates. I must
confess to a strange feeling as I rode through them, for many things had
happened since I last rode to Pennington. Then I had come from Kynance,
and then, too, I had come to see my love.

"I will go first, Jasper," said Naomi's father quickly. "I would we were
more presentable, but up to a few days ago I had no hope of--but never
mind that. Our errand must explain the nature of our attire. You stand
behind me, and the servant may admit us."

He seemed to have forgotten all about the past, and spoke as though he
had a right to enter the house from which my father had been ejected.

On coming to the door I could hear that something of importance was
going on within. I heard the noise of many footsteps and the sound of
many voices. When the servant came to the door he did not seem to regard
us with surprise; nay, rather, he seemed to expect us. I afterward
discovered that he mistook us for some one else. The day had now nearly
gone, and thus in the shades of evening he did not see who we were.

"Will you come this way?" he said. "Mr. Tresidder is in the library, and
is expecting you."

Had I been alone I should have acted foolishly, so great was my surprise
at his words. But Mr. Penryn saw in a moment how things stood.

"Is she safe?" he asked the servant in a whisper, which I thought a very
foolish question, but a second later I saw how wise it was.

"The escaped nun?" said the man. "Yes, sir. She was carried from the
carriage to the snuggery. She's there now."

"Is she ill?"

"No, sir. She's kept quiet, that is all, sir."

"Thank you. Take us to your master."

The servant led the way without a word, and a few seconds later we stood
in the library, the servant closing the door behind us.

There were six people in the room. Richard Tresidder's mother was there,
the woman whom my grandfather had married, and who had been the cause of
all our trouble. She was an old woman, but evidently strong and agile. I
could not help noticing even then how brightly her eyes shone, and how
grimly her lips were pressed together. Richard Tresidder was there, too,
looking, I thought, much worried and careworn, while young Nick stood by
his side, his face very pale, and his arm in a sling. The other three
men I did not know, although I fancied I had seen one of them before.
Richard Tresidder turned to us as if to tell us something, then seeing
me, he cried out angrily, and with great astonishment.

Now, not until that moment did I realise that we had come into a place
of danger. Instinctively I measured the men who stood before us. Leaving
out Nick Tresidder, we were but two to four, besides which we were in
the house of a man who had servants to do his bidding. Still I feared
nothing; nay, rather a great joy came into my heart that at last I
should meet the Tresidders in this way face to face.

"Jasper Pennington!" cried Richard Tresidder, and then both Nick and his
grandmother started up as though they had been attacked by a great evil.

"And John Penryn." This Naomi's father said.

"What?"

"John Penryn. Do you remember me, Dick Tresidder?"

"No, no. John Penryn committed suicide. He killed his wife and committed
suicide." It was my grandfather's second wife who spoke.

"He did not kill his wife, he did not commit suicide," replied John
Penryn quietly. "True, I struck my wife in a fit of madness. Of the
provocation I will say nothing. I thought I had killed her, and then,
like a coward, I ran away from my home, afraid to face what would
follow. But in the mercy of God I did not kill her. In the mercy of God,
too, a child was born to us; and you became her guardian, Richard
Tresidder. Where is she now?"

For a moment silence fell upon the company. All awaited the outcome of
the strange scene. I watched Richard Tresidder's face, and saw how
frightened he was. I was sure, too, that his mind was seeking some way
out of the difficulty in which he was placed.

"You are an impostor. We cannot speak to you. Leave the house!" Again
it was my grandfather's second wife who spoke.

"If you wish," replied Naomi's father, "it shall be taken to a court of
law. It would be painful for me to have the past recalled, but it shall
be so if you will. You are my daughter's legal guardian, and until my
identity is established you can exercise a certain amount of control.
But remember this, if my past is made public, so will yours be. I shall
want many things explained which will not be creditable to you, neither
will you be free from the law's just punishment. My child will be placed
in the witness-box, and she will have to tell many things which, I
should judge, will not be pleasant to you."

In saying this he never raised his voice, although I knew his excitement
was great, and that he had much difficulty in restraining his passion.

For a few seconds there was a deathly silence, for neither Richard
Tresidder nor his mother spoke a word. Both seemed stunned by what was
said. I saw, however, that presently they looked at the men who stood
near, and who as yet had not spoken a word.

"I do not think you will find physical force of much use," went on Mr.
Penryn quietly, "for even if Jasper Pennington could not fell an ox with
one blow of his arm, and you could get rid of us by the means you are
considering, it would be of no use. Think you we have come here without
precautions? I knew better than that."

Then I remembered that he had spoken to Eli Fraddam when I had sent him
away. I saw what he meant now, although at the time I wondered what he
had to say to the dwarf.

Then Richard Tresidder's mother rose to her feet, and came up close to
where we stood.

"Let me look at you, and see if you be John Penryn," she said, and he
stood still while the woman gazed steadily at him, as though she would
read the secrets of his heart.

Presently her eyes flashed as though she had come to a decision.

"There is no doubt, Richard," she said, "this is John Penryn. I remember
his face, I can recall his voice now. You must give up your ward, my
son. We have guarded her in many trying times, we have shielded her from
great danger. But now it is at an end. Of course there must be many
formalities to go through, but there need be no trouble, no publicity.
All our actions can be explained. All we have done has been for the
child's good. You are welcome, John, and Pennington must be your home
until your claim to Trevose is made good, as it will be, for we shall
raise no barriers."

This she said with many other things which I will not here write down.
She spoke pleasantly and plausibly, too, until for a moment I forgot who
she was, and thought her to be truly a lovable and motherly old lady.

But this was only for a moment, and I must confess I was not at all
pleased at the turn things were taking, especially as she seemed to
impress Mr. Penryn favourably.

"Where is my child now?" he asked eagerly.

"She is here, John; here in this very house. You shall see her anon. We
have been obliged to be careful for her, for she has had an enemy in
that man by your side. He, a penniless scoundrel, has dogged her
footsteps, and sought to ruin her life, and out of love for her we have
been obliged to take steps that may have seemed harsh, but which,
believe me, John, were for the good of the child whom we thought an
orphan, and wholly dependent on us."

"And who is this enemy?" asked Naomi's father.

"It is Jasper Pennington," she cried, "the man by your side, a cowardly
ruffian, a drunken swaggerer, and the companion of the vilest people in
the country. We have sought to save her from him, John Penryn; and now,
thank God, our work is done."

This she said with a tremor in her voice, as though she had been an
injured woman.

"You know it is a lie!" I cried vehemently. "You know it to be a base
lie!"

And this was all I could say, for the wily woman seemed to take all
words from my mouth, save those of a blank denial to her wicked lies.
Besides my heart sunk like lead as I saw how her words weighed with
Naomi's father, and as though he saw everything in a new light.

"Let me see my child," he said at length, and after both Richard
Tresidder and his mother had made themselves out to be the guardian
angels of Naomi's life, while I had been plotting her destruction.

"You shall see her when he is gone," she said, pointing to me. "I can
never consent for her to come here while that wretch is in the room."
Whereupon John Penryn asked many questions, which they answered so
cunningly that I was tongue-tied, and could say nothing except foolish,
wild ejaculations.

"Go, Jasper Pennington," he said at length, "leave me here."

"No," I said; "I came to find Naomi, my love. I will see her before I
go. She has promised to be my wife."

"His wife!" cried Richard Tresidder's mother. "Think of it. He possesses
not one stick. He is a wild vagabond, a terror wherever he goes. How can
Naomi Penryn become his wife?"

"Pennington should be mine!" I cried, like one demented. "You robbed it
from my father."

"You know the history of Pennington, John," cried the old woman; "it is
held in trust for my son. It should have been given to him outright, but
my poor husband was mad at the time, and he made a madman's will. But
can this fellow buy it back? Has he wealth sufficient to pay half the
worth of the estate?"

"Go, Jasper Pennington," said Naomi's father again; "I will do what is
right. This woman says you are an evildoer. Well, it shall be my work to
guard my child against evildoers."

Then all the heart went out of me, and I, who had hoped so much, left
the house of my fathers without so much as seeing Naomi or knowing
whether I should ever behold her again. Ay, I left it a beaten man,
without a hope, without one bright spot in the sky of my life.

I saw that Naomi's father had been dragged into the Tresidders' net, and
that he would be the creature of their wills, the tool to help them to
fulfil their purposes.

Except for this my mind was a perfect blank. Slow as I always was to
think, I saw no way out of my difficulties. That which I had hoped for
came not, and my worst fears were realised.

In this state of mind I, forgetful of the horse on which I rode to the
house, walked until I came to the gates, where, in the light moonlight,
I thought I saw Eli Fraddam coming toward me.



CHAPTER XXVI

TELLS OF MY FORTUNES IN WINNING BACK MY BIRTHRIGHT, AND FINISHES THE
TALE


"She ed'n killed," was his first greeting. "She'll get better." Then I
remembered that he had come from Kynance Cove, and spoke of Tamsin
Truscott.

"I did ride vast," he grunted again presently, but I spoke not.

"What's the matter?" he continued presently. "Tell poor little Eli; he
do love Jasper."

So while we walked to his mother's cottage I told him all that had been
said at Pennington. I told it in more fulness than I have related it
here, for it was then fresh in my memory. The dwarf chuckled much as
though he vastly enjoyed the cleverness of the Tresidders, but he made
no remark for a long time after I had finished my story; then he said
quietly:

"We must watch thicky maazed man, Jasper."

"Why?" I asked.

"To zee no 'arm do come to un. Iss, and we must keep our peepers oppen
fur the purty maid, too. Watch night and day."

"You think they are in danger?" I said.

"They Tresidders be slippery," he grunted.

"But how can we watch?"

"Little Eli will zee to that. Fust thing in the morning you must go to
Lawyer Trefy into Turo, and tell 'im everything. And I must watch--iss,
as I will, too. Little Eli ed'n a vool."

Presently we came to Betsy Fraddam's cottage, and the old dame welcomed
her son warmly, but she said little to me, although she prepared food
for me. For a long time I sat quietly in the chimney corner, and watched
the flames leap upward and tried to think of my position. By and by,
however, nature asserted herself, and, in spite of my anxiety, I felt
myself going to sleep. So I lay down on the couch which Eli prepared for
me, and slept long and soundly. The next day I walked to Truro, and told
my story to Lawyer Trefy, but he gave me little or no satisfaction,
neither would he give me his opinion concerning the behaviour of Naomi's
father. He asked many questions--keen, searching questions, such as only
a lawyer can ask, but he left me entirely in the dark concerning his own
thoughts. And so I came back to St. Eve, having made no step forward;
and only one piece of advice did Lawyer Trefy give me, and that was to
go to a tailor and get some new clothes, also to a barber and let him
dress my hair. This I did, and, in spite of the dreariness of my
prospect, I must confess I was pleased at the change made in my
appearance; for youth, I suppose, always loves finery; and thus,
although I could see no meaning in his advice, I was glad the lawyer had
given it.

The next day I tried to get admission into Pennington House, but in this
I was unsuccessful. The servant told me I could not be admitted,
although I thought he spoke respectfully to me. This fact I attributed
to my fine attire. As for Eli, he was constantly watching the house,
and although I asked him many questions concerning his investigations,
he was silent as the Sphinx, neither would he communicate to me his
thoughts. Indeed, at this time I began to doubt the loyalty of Eli. He
knew that my heart was almost breaking with disappointment, and yet he
was cheerful and gay. He did not sympathise with me in my sorrows,
neither did he speak one helpful word.

Altogether at this time my condition was deplorable. My love was cut off
from me, and my sky was black from horizon to horizon.

This went on for several days, and then I found that Naomi's father had
made his home at Pennington, and that he had been visited by lawyers and
others interested in the Trevose Estate. I learnt, too, that no
objections whatever had been raised as to his assuming the
proprietorship, and that all legal forms had been satisfactorily
complied with. And yet neither he nor Naomi sent me one word of cheer;
nay, they did not even recognise my existence, which, it must be
admitted, was hard to bear. Then, as if to add another drop to the
filled goblet of my sorrow, I one day met the Pennington carriage, in
which was seated Richard Tresidder and Nick, together with John Penryn
and my love, but none of them noticed me; nay, not even Naomi gave me as
much as a nod. This, as may be imagined, made my prospects darker than
ever, for I felt that my love's father had taken the Tresidders' part
against me.

And yet I could not drive away from my heart the feeling that my love
loved me. I remembered our meeting in the summer-house in Lanherne
Garden, I remembered the words she spoke; nay, more, I felt the joy of
her kisses, and so I could not wholly despair. On the other hand,
however, I felt that she was now under the control of her father, and if
his mind had been poisoned against me my case was indeed hopeless.

Indeed, within a week from the time when I took Mr. Penryn to
Pennington, it was rumoured that Naomi had overcome her objection to
Nick Tresidder, and that, owing to her father's wishes, she had
consented to be his wife.

There seemed nothing that I could do, yet I would not go away; nay, I
could not. I was chained to St. Eve; and although I knew I was in danger
from Captain Jack and his gang, I heeded not. Tamsin Truscott, I
discovered, was slowly recovering, and it was to her, I suspect, that I
owed my safety.

I tried many times to gain an audience with Naomi's father, and in this
also I was unsuccessful. He refused to hold any intercourse with me, and
this embittered me all the more, because, even if he regarded me as the
merest stranger, I had tried to be a friend to him and his. I tried to
excuse him, and thus gain hope by saying that he was busily engaged in
the affairs of his estate; but all the same my heart was very weary and
sad in those days, especially as every one seemed to shun me. No one
would befriend me; no one gave me a kind or helpful word.

At that time all hopes of getting back Pennington died out of my heart.
Up to now I had comforted myself with the idea that I should at some
time obtain the means to fulfil the conditions of my grandfather's will.
Pennington was a valuable estate, and ignorant as I was, there seemed no
way of getting the money; for be it known, in those days money was
scarce in the country, none of the families for many miles around had
more than they needed, and even had I many friends among the so-called
wealthy, and had they been willing to advance the necessary money, I
doubt whether they could have done so. But I had no friends. Richard
Tresidder had poisoned the minds of all against me, so that the
possibility of my raising many thousands of pounds was out of the
question.

And what almost maddened me was the thought that John Penryn should have
so willingly played into the hands of my enemies, that he should so
easily have been deceived by those who were using him only as a means to
their own safety and aggrandisement.

Then one day a light came into my sky in the shape of a message from
Naomi's father, asking me to meet him in the copse above Granfer
Fraddam's cave. At first I suspected treachery, but I determined to go.
If any one had wanted to do me bodily harm plenty of chances had been
offered since I returned from my perilous adventure to the Scilly Isles.
Indeed, I did not much care what became of me, for when hope is gone all
is gone.

So I went to the copse before the time mentioned, and this was at ten
o'clock in the morning. As I have before stated, this was a lonely
place, only one cottage being near, and altogether shielded from the
gaze of men. As I said, I was early at the meeting-place, and I looked
eagerly around for Naomi's father, but no one was there. I waited until
after ten o'clock, and still no one came.

"This is but a ruse," I said bitterly; "this message came only to mock
me as others have come;" but even as this thought flashed through my
mind I heard the sound of footsteps on the frozen leaves, and turning I
saw, not John Penryn, but my love.

At first I was almost overcome at the sight of her, for I feared lest
something terrible should have happened to bring her instead of her
father, so I stood looking at her like one bereft of his senses.

"Won't you speak to me, Jasper?" she said, and then my heart jumped so
that I was less able to speak than before; but I opened my arms,
wondering all the time if I were not dreaming a beautiful dream.

Yes, she came to me, my darling, whom I despaired of ever seeing
again--she came shy and coy, I thought, but love was shining from her
eyes for all that.

"My little love!" I cried; "and so you have come at last," and I took
her in my great arms, my Naomi, the only maiden I ever did love, or ever
can love. For love comes but once--that is, such a love as mine. And her
head was nestled on my heart, just as a mother nestles the babe she
loves, and a joy, such as even I had never felt before, came to me that
wintry morning as the sun shone on the ice crystals.

There be men in these days who laugh at such a love as mine, but they
who do this have never entered into the secret of life's joy. I do not
expect to be understood by such, and my words to them will be but as a
sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal; but to those whose hearts have been
filled with a great absorbing love, I know that my tale will have a
meaning, simple as it may be, and badly, as I am afraid, it has been
told.

For some seconds my heart was too full to speak. After the weary days of
hopeless waiting, thus to enter into joy seemed to make words too poor
to tell what was in my heart.

Presently, however, I asked her questions as to what had happened since
I parted with her at the cottage by Mullion Sands, and she told me her
story. There was but little to tell however--that is, from the time she
had been left alone with Tamsin and Mrs. Crantock. She had been taken
from the cottage to the carriage, and although to a degree forced, she
had been treated kindly. Indeed, she had not been long there before I
came with her father. Then I asked her concerning him, what she thought
of him, and whether he had not brought her great joy.

"Everything seems so strange, Jasper," she said. "I had never dreamed of
such a thing, you know; and sometimes I can hardly believe it is true."

"And is he not kind to you?"

"Oh, very kind, and he has made me love him. He has had so much sorrow,
such a terrible past, you know; and he is now so gentle, so loving, that
I cannot help pitying him and loving him. And yet I cannot understand
him. He must know that the Tresidders are my enemies, and yet he insists
on my staying at Pennington; he knows I hate Nick Tresidder, and yet he
encourages him in the thought that I shall wed him."

"But you never will?" I cried.

"How can I, Jasper?" she answered.

"And if the worst comes to the worst," I said, "you will come to me, and
we will fly together."

She did not speak, but she lifted her eyes to mine, and I saw them
become dim with tears.

Then she told me that her father had spent days with men of business,
but he had never told her one word as to what he had done. Indeed, the
Tresidders had seemed to be disappointed at his having so many private
interviews with lawyers, although they made much of him, especially
Richard Tresidder's mother, who seemed to mould him at her will.

"If he is in her power, all hope is gone," I said sadly; and yet hope
was not gone, for had she not told me that she would never go to the
altar with Nick Tresidder?

Then I asked her how she had come to me that day instead of her father,
for up to now my joy had been so great at being with her, that I had
forgotten that it was not her that I had expected to see.

"That, too, is strange," she answered. "He gave this letter to a servant
in my hearing, and bade him take it to you; so I asked the man to give
it to me, and he made no objection."

I puzzled greatly at this, and I could think of no answer to the puzzle,
save that Naomi must have won the servant's heart, as she won all
hearts. Or, perhaps, he knew what it was to love, and had guessed her
secret.

I opened the letter, and this was what I read:

"_Will Jasper Pennington meet John Penryn, Lawyer Trefy, and the family
of Tresidders at Pennington on Thursday at six o'clock in the evening?_"

"That must mean to-day," I said. "What can they want of me at
Pennington?"

But I did not trouble much about the matter then, for was not Naomi with
me? Neither did she seem in a hurry to return to Pennington. Her father
was in Truro, she said, and had given no orders as to her conduct. So we
left the copse and wandered away into Pennington Woods, my love and I.

I shall never forget that day. How can I when I think of the days that
followed? It was one of those glorious winter days, when the air was
crisp and frosty, and when the blood of healthy people surges through
their veins with richness and fulness of life. The merle and the mavis
sung their love-songs, even although it was winter, the squirrels
climbed the bare branches of the trees, while even the rabbits besported
themselves gaily. And Naomi and I, because we loved each other, were as
gay as any lambs that frolic on the warm days of May. Ay, we were young;
and I, even although I was almost penniless, was happy in my strength
and my youth. Thus is God kind to His children. As for Naomi, I, who am
but poor at stringing words together, can never tell how beautiful she
was. Ay, even Mr. William Shakespeare, great man as he was, could never
have done justice to such beauty as that of my love.

She was proud of me, too, although I was poor and friendless. She
admired my finery greatly, and told me that I looked all a man should
look. "Whenever I have seen you before," she said, "you have been
strangely attired; and sometimes I have been almost afraid of you, you
have looked so fierce and strong."

"But you are glad I am strong, my little one?"

"Glad, ay; but I am not little," and indeed she was not little as
maidens go, but she seemed little to me.

"Yes; but you are little," I said laughingly. "You are but a feather's
weight."

At this she pretended to be offended, so I caught her up and held her at
arm's length, just as I have seen mothers hold their children, and I
laughed all the time in my joy.

Then she called me names, although I could see she rejoiced in my
strength--the strength which had saved her when she was in peril.

I will write no more concerning that joyful morning, much as I love to
think about it, for it was the sunshine of summer which precedes the
black night of winter.

I was not late that night at Pennington, you may be sure, for if I was
puzzled as to why I should be asked to be there, I was also eager to
know the reason; besides, hope came into my life that day--hope of the
great unknown future.

Besides, I should be near my Naomi, for such I felt she was whatever
might happen.

I was admitted without a word, and ushered into the library, where a
great many people were. I saw that the Tresidders were greatly puzzled,
especially Richard Tresidder's mother, whose bright old eyes went
searchingly from face to face. Although I had kept my time to the
minute, I was the last to arrive. The Tresidders did not speak to me,
and seemed to regard my presence as an unpardonable intrusion, and yet
they said nothing. Lawyer Trefy nodded to me, but his face revealed no
more than a sealed book. There were many strange men there, too, and
among them was Jonathan Cowling, the old man who had acted as my gaoler
at Trevose. Naomi stood by her father's side, and seemed to wonder much
at the strange scene. John Penryn's eyes shone brightly, but he was
perfectly self-possessed, and so great was the change in his appearance,
that none would have thought him to have been the man who had been with
me at the cave by Bedruthen Steps, unless they had looked at him
closely.

There was a great silence in the room, as though every one was on the
tiptoe of expectation, as, indeed, we all were; and when Naomi's father
rose to speak we all held our breath. He spoke very quietly and very
collectedly, yet I saw he had difficulty in restraining himself. I saw
then, too, how great was his resemblance to Naomi, and carefully as he
was dressed at that time, he looked the picture of what a gentleman
ought to look.

"I have taken the liberty to arrange this meeting in the house of
Richard Tresidder, because he has acted as my daughter's guardian," he
said, "and because of certain family connections which naturally link us
together, and which he hopes may link us together in the future."

At this my heart sank, for I remembered that he had spoken no word to
me; nay, he had not noticed me in any way.

"If this is so," said Richard Tresidder, who looked nervously toward
Naomi's father, "I should like to know why Jasper Pennington is here. It
is, to say the least, strange in a family meeting like this that an
outsider is admitted."

"I have arranged for Jasper Pennington to be here because he has been
associated with my child under peculiar circumstances. When you
consented--gladly consented, Richard Tresidder, for certain family
matters to be settled to-night, you did not mention any one to whose
presence you might object. Besides, you will presently see that I have
not asked him to come without a purpose."

After this many things were said which confused me greatly, but which
the men of law who were present seemed to understand perfectly, and so
did the Tresidders, for that matter.

Then Naomi's father spoke again: "You have asked me, Richard Tresidder,"
he said, "that I should give your son my daughter in marriage, and have,
moreover, told me that the marriage settlements can easily be arranged."

At this all the Tresidders nodded eagerly, although they seemed sadly
puzzled.

"I have also told you," he went on, "that I did not believe Jasper
Pennington to be so evilly disposed as you thought, and that on one or
two occasions he exposed himself to danger in seeking to render service
to my child."

"Naomi was never in danger," was the reply. "All that he has done has
been for evil purposes."

"Be that as it may, I have come to the conclusion that he deserves some
kind of recognition for his services. Besides, I was at one time
acquainted with his father, and so I do not wish to forget him. Mr.
Trefy, will you state what I am prepared to do?"

Then Lawyer Trefy read something which he had evidently carefully
prepared, and yet which I was too excited to properly understand; yet I
know it was to the effect that he had placed in his hands an order to
arrange with five representatives of county families to value the
Pennington estates, and to pay the said amount to Richard Tresidder,
according to the conditions of the will made by Jasper Pennington in the
year 17--.

"What!" cried Richard Tresidder, like one mad, while his son Nick moved
the arm which I had broken, and still hung in a sling, and cried out
with pain.

"I give this to Jasper Pennington," said Naomi's father, "as the dowry
of my child, who will, I trust, shortly become his wife."

Now at this my heart seemed to stop, but when I saw the light shining in
my love's eyes, it beat again so joyously, and swelled so with joy, that
my bosom seemed too small to contain it. Then, unable to restrain
myself, I rushed to her side and caught her hands.

As I did so, however, I heard a great noise of angry voices, and then
my darling cried so fearfully that I turned my head, only to see Richard
Tresidder leap upon me, and by the murderous gleam in his eyes I knew
that he would do me harm. But I felt to laugh at this, for at that
moment I seemed to have the strength of ten, and I flung him from me as
I would have flung a yelping cur who sought to bite me. So quickly,
indeed, did I throw him from me that no one in the room sought to
interfere, and even when, with the yell of a wild beast, he came upon me
again, I think no one thought it worth while to stop him; but even as he
came I saw my grandfather's second wife speaking to Nick, and then I
beheld, as it were, a thousand points of light flash before my eyes, and
felt as though a piece of burning steel were thrust into my side. This
was followed by wild cries of confusion, among which I thought I heard
the voice of my love saying, "Oh, Jasper, my love, speak to me!" and
then I seemed to sink away into the silence and gloom of night.


When next I opened my eyes to the light of reason and of day, I lay in a
large, old-fashioned room which I had never seen before. The bed was
soft and easy, and a delicious languor seemed to possess me. I felt no
pain, but I was as helpless as a baby. Perfect stillness prevailed, and,
like a tired child, I dropped off into a deep sleep. How long I lay thus
I know not, but presently, when I woke to consciousness again, the air
seemed to be soft and balmy, and much of the weariness seemed to have
left me. I moved my limbs, and again looked around the room.

"Where am I, I wonder?" I said to myself.

Just then the door opened and I saw old Betsy Fraddam enter.

Without knowing why, I closed my eyes, while the old dame felt my hands
and my forehead.

"He's better," she chuckled; "ould Betsy is better than the doctors.
'Ee'll git better now. Jasper Pennington ed'n a-goin' to die so aisy for
oal the Tezidders."

She moved my pillow and made my bed comfortable, then she left the room
again.

When she had gone I recalled the incidents which I have recorded--the
meeting in the copse, the walk through the woods, then the scene in
Pennington library, which ended in silence and darkness. What did it all
mean? My mind was not very clear, but presently I was able to explain
everything. But where was I? Why was everything so quiet? And why had
Betsy Fraddam come to me?

I listened, and heard the cawing of rooks, the neighing of horses, and
the lowing of cattle. If I only possessed sufficient strength I would
make my way to the window, but I was not able to do this.

Then I heard a voice which set every nerve in my body a-quivering. It
was the voice of my Naomi outside the door.

She entered all alone. She looked pale and thin; this I saw dimly, for
my eyes were partly closed. She looked at me long and tenderly, as
though she wanted, by looking, to see if I were better. Then she sat
down by my bedside.

"Are you ill, my little one?" I asked.

She started up like one frightened.

"Oh, Jasper!" she cried; "do you know me? Are you so much better? Oh, my
love, my love!"

Somehow, I know not how it was, but strength came back to me then, so I
lifted my arms, and my little maid nestled her head on me and sobbed her
joy.

"You are sure you will get better, Jasper?"

"Yes, sure."

Presently we fell to talking, for I wanted to know what had taken place,
and she told me little by little, as I could take it in.

"Where am I?" I asked.

"Where? why, at Pennington, your home."

"Yes; and the Tresidders?"

A cloud came over her face. "Richard Tresidder's mother is dead," she
said. "That night when you were shot there was a great commotion. She
had what the folks call a seizure, and she never spoke again. In her
hand she held a pistol, but it is not believed that she shot you. My
father thinks it was Nick, and that she pulled the pistol from him. She
only lived a few hours, and was buried three days later."

I heaved a sigh of relief. Thank God I had been saved from this. All the
same, I felt sad that my little maid suffered it all.

"And Nick?" I asked presently.

"He left Pennington that night. No one knows where he is now, except his
father."

"And he?"

"My father knows where he is. I do not."

"And so I am at Pennington all alone?"

"My father is here. I would not leave you; I could not, you know,
Jasper."

Thus while the rooks cawed in their joy and the dogs barked I lay, while
my little maid sat by my side, and told me the things which my heart
yearned to know.

Presently her father came, and when he knew how well I was, he said he
must return to Trevose as soon as possible and take my Naomi with him.

"But what am I to do without her?" I asked woefully.

"You must get well, Jasper, and come to Trevose to see her."

After that he told me many things which I need not write here concerning
the Tresidders, and of the way they had acted--told me why he had
behaved so strangely to me; and how to deceive them, and thus gain his
rights without difficulty, he had pretended to fall in with their
wishes.

A little later he went with my Naomi to Trevose, and my love made me
promise to come to her quickly. I did this, as you may be sure;
nevertheless, springtime had come and the leaves were bursting forth
from the trees ere I was strong enough to go to Trevose. But I did not
go in vain, neither did I return to Pennington again without the sweet
maid for whom I would willingly have laid down my life.

We were wedded at St. Eval by the jolly parson who had told me about
Lanherne House, and that very same day we posted to Pennington, the home
of the Penningtons for long generations.

And now I have told my tale, told it truly in spite of evil reports and
foul lies. Let Richard Tresidder and his son Nick, who are both alive,
and who, I trust, will read what I have written, point to one wrong
statement. This they cannot do.

It may be that I have acted foolishly, but let God be the judge whether
I have ever struck an unfair blow. I have written these things that the
truth might be known, and that no shadow should rest on her who is near
me even now; ay, and who is more beautiful than when I first saw her in
Truro: she the pure maid with pity shining from her eyes, and I the
outcast, the vagabond.

I sit in the library at Pennington as I write this, while my love is
romping with the grandest lad in the world, save my eldest son Jasper,
whom I hear shouting to his sister Naomi in the garden, while Eli, the
dwarf, watches over them as tenderly as if they were his own.


THE END.





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