Bred in the Bone
Part 3 out of 8
to pass in. He did not look toward the bar window, but, as though he had
heard nothing, walked quickly past it into the sitting-room, which had
been allotted to him. It was strange, since what he had just heard only
confirmed the suspicions which he had already entertained, that the
words should give him annoyance; but they certainly did so. What was
more natural than that this inn-keeper's daughter should be engaged to
marry her father's friend--a man apparently well-to-do, and with a
prospect of doing better? What could be more unreasonable than for Mr.
Richard Yorke, a young gentleman whose only hope in life was to marry a
girl--or an old woman, for that matter--with a good fortune, to be
irritated at such intelligence, especially after an acquaintance with
this "Miss Harry" of about three hours at most? After a minute or two of
reflection the idea seemed to strike even himself in the same light; for
he gave a short sharp laugh, and said what a fool he was, and then lit
his pipe. Even tobacco, however, that balm of hurt minds, did not
altogether soothe him. He could think of nothing but this young girl,
whose beauty had bewitched him, and to whose courage and presence of
mind he owed his life. He had sworn to himself--and there was no
necessity to repeat it--that he meant her no harm. Indeed, it would not
be less than she deserved to ask her to be his wife. Perhaps, if this
mine, in which her father had a share, should turn out well, she would
not be so bad a match, even in point of money; but to this he did not
attach much importance. He was indulging in a dream, which he fondly
imagined was unselfish and honorable to himself in a high degree. Quite
a virtuous glow seemed to mingle with his ardent passion; though the
fact simply was (as it often is in such cases) that, for a personal
gratification, he was prepared to barter his future prospects. He did
not doubt but that what he contemplated would be for the benefit of this
young girl; he must seem like an angel to her (for love does not always
touch us with the sense of unworthiness); as, indeed, by comparison with
this man Coe, he was. His mother would be a good deal "put out," it was
true, but then she was too fond of him to be angry with him for long,
far less to break with him. He was his own master, for some time to
come, at all events, for he had two hundred pounds in his pocket.
What nonsense do the greatest philosophers sometimes discourse, when
their topic is Self-interest! It is likely enough that self-interest
actuates _them_, and in a supreme degree. When folks are by nature wise
and prudent--or if their tastes are studious, and their vices few--or
when, above all, the brain is seasoned, and the blood moves sluggishly
in the veins, then men do act for their own advantage, and keep their
eyes fixed on the main chance. But with most of us, especially when
young, self-interest, properly so called, is often but a feather's
weight in the balance of Motive. Revenge makes it kick the beam; and
Passion; and even momentary Whim. It was one of the arguments advanced
by Christian men in favor of slavery, that no man would ill-use his
slave, because it was his own property; as though the lust of cruelty in
a brutal nature were, while it lasted, not ten times as strong as the
lust of gain. There are moments when a man is ready to part with not
only his earthly prospects, but his hopes of heaven, rather than be
balked of an immediate satisfaction: that of striking his brother to the
heart, or growing rich by one stroke of fraud, or ruining forever the
woman that loves him best; and there are many men, in no such desperate
case, whose only guide is Impulse, and whose care for the morrow is
dwarfed to nothing matched with the gratification of to-day. These are
said to have no enemies but themselves, but they have victims; and,
though not apt for plots, are often more dangerous than the most
Pipe after pipe smoked Richard Yorke as he sat over the fire in the
deepening twilight, so deep in thought that it quite startled him, when,
suddenly looking up, he found that all was dark. Then he rang the bell,
and Hannah entered with the wished-for candles.
"Is your master in?"
"I'll see, Sir. Do you wish to see him?"
"Yes. First bring me a bottle of sherry and two glasses, then ask him to
The serving-maid obeyed; and presently there was a heavy step in the
passage, and in strode John Trevethick, a man of sixty years or so, but
straight as a pine, and strong as an oak.
"Your servant, Sir," said he, in a gruff voice, and with no such
inclination of the head as landlords use.
"Good-evening, Mr. Trevethick. I am afraid I'm putting you to some
inconvenience by coming to Gethin so many weeks before the usual time."
"Nay, Sir; my house is open summer and winter."
"Now I wonder is this the natural manner of this boor," thought Richard,
"or has he been already prejudiced against me by the other?--And an
excellent house it is, Mr. Trevethick; I little expected to find so good
a one down here, I promise you."
"Well, I built it myself, Sir," said the landlord; "so it don't become
me to say much of that. It cost me a good bit of money, however; and
it's hard to get it back, when one's season only lasts for a month or
"Ah! I'm the first swallow that you've seen this year, I dare say. Well,
I hope I herald a lucky summer. Take a glass of your own sherry, will
The landlord looked suspiciously at his guest: perhaps the phrase "your
own sherry" smote his conscience, knowing the price he paid for it, and
what it was, and what he meant to charge; but grunting: "Here's to you,
Sir," he filled his glass, and smacked his lips over it slowly.
"Solomon has not set him against me," was Richard's conclusion. "The
graceful manner of this Cornish giant is natural to him.--You have a
fine castle here, Mr. Trevethick, and nobly placed. Indeed, I never saw
the like before."
"So most folks say," answered the landlord.
"There is not much left of it, however," said Richard, smiling.
"Well, it'll last my time, at all events, and I dare say yours," was the
"Indeed it will, and that of many a generation to come. It is seldom one
sees such massive walls. A good deal of trouble, however, seems to have
been taken to prevent people from running away with them, to judge by
this;" and he held up the key.
"Well, the castle is mine, Sir--or, at least, I pay my rent for it; and,
I suppose, I can do what I like with my own. If there was no gate there,
do you think any body would pay me for viewing the place? Not they. Why,
there's some parties ain't even content with the key, but must have a
guide too, or else they buttons up their pockets."
It was so impossible to misunderstand the bearing of this remark that
Richard burst out into a good-humored laugh; he was really pleased
because the landlord's hint assured him that he was in ignorance that he
had had a guide. "I shall certainly pay my footing, Mr. Trevethick, the
same as if I had had an attendant--of which, however, I should have been
glad at one or two places; the wind did take my hat, and very nearly the
rest of me. But what I meant by the trouble that was taken to secure
your ruins from intruders was with reference not to the door, but to the
key of it. Why, if it were a real castle, full of furniture, it could
not be more effectually guarded. You must have good lock-smiths
hereabout, if that's a specimen of their work."
The icy landlord thawed again.
"Well, Sir, the fact is, I made that key with my own hands."
"You?" cried Richard, in affected astonishment. "Why, you must be a
mechanical genius. Look at the work! look at the wards!" and he
scrutinized them admiringly close to the candle. "Do take another glass,
"Nay, Sir; I've a friend in the parlor waiting for me," rejoined the
landlord, dryly. He appeared already to regret having given way to that
momentary feeling of self-esteem.
"I wish _I_ had," observed Richard, smiling. "It's lonely work coming
down here by one's self, and finding nobody to speak to."
There was a short pause, during which Richard was rapt in admiration of
"Now, if his thick skin prove impervious to flattery," thought he, "then
will I fly my last shaft into his very gizzard."
Mr. Trevethick's skin was quite compliment-proof, if an invitation into
the bar parlor was to be the evidence of its having been pierced.
"You should come down in the summer-time, Sir," said he, coolly; "then
you will find lots of folks to talk with. At present I am afraid you
must put up with your own company." And the huge frame of the landlord
was already moving toward the door.
"I am afraid so, indeed," said Richard, carelessly. "Parson Whymper
ought to have known better than to send me down here at such a time as
John Trevethick stopped at once, and Richard saw reflected in the glass
above the fire-place a look of intense interest. He could not have
supposed so phlegmatic a face was capable of so much expression.
"Parson who, did you say, Sir? Whymper?"
"Yes; an excellent friend of me and mine; the chaplain of Mr. Carew, of
Crompton. It was he who told me how I might fill my sketch-book with the
beauties of Gethin; and added, that I should have a hearty welcome from
one John Trevethick, if I gave his name."
"And that you shall, Sir," cried the landlord, returning to the table,
and striking his broad palm upon it, to give emphasis to his words. "A
friend of Mr. Whymper's should be always welcome here. How is he, Sir?
And how is Mr. Carew?"
"I have seen neither of them since I was staying at Crompton three
months ago or so," said Richard, coolly. "They were well enough then,
though the Squire was doing his best, as usual, to exhaust his
constitution and his purse; and the chaplain, as usual, also, was making
things as straight as he could, and putting the skid on where he dared.
But you know all about that, Mr. Trevethick, I dare say, almost as well
as I do. I am sorry you won't take another glass of wine."
"I think I will, if you permit me to change my mind, Sir," said the
other, suiting the action to the word. "Now, the idea of your being so
intimate with Parson Whymper, and having staid at Squire Carew's! Why,
the Squire's my landlord, and owns all about here--leastway, short of
Dunloppel. It's unlucky that this copper should have cropped out just
beyond him, as it were."
"There is no mine here belonging to him then, eh?"
"Well, no, Sir; not, properly speaking, a mine, there ain't;" and the
well-practiced hand of the landlord shook as he put down the glass, so
that it clanked against the bottle.
Richard Yorke laughed a short dry laugh, apparently at some reflection
of his own.
"Well, I'm sorry you've got your friend, landlord, and therefore can not
have a chat with me; for it is evident we should find something to talk
"And I'm sorry too, Sir. Though, if you wouldn't be too proud to come
into our bar parlor--but then I can scarcely ask a gentleman as has been
used to Crompton to do that."
"Indeed, I shall be very pleased to come," said Richard, frankly. "I
have nothing to be proud of, I assure you; and if I had, why should I
not accept the company of an honest man?"
"Very good, Sir. There's only me, and my daughter Harry, and this friend
of mine, Solomon Coe. If you'll please to walk this way."
"Let's take the bottle with us, and then, perhaps, Mr. Coe will help us
to finish it."
And bearing that token of amity in his hand, John Trevethick led the way
into the bar parlor.
THE BAR PARLOR.
The bar parlor of the _Gethin Castle_ was a small snug apartment in the
rear of the house, and therefore exposed to the full fury of the
Atlantic winds, which were now roaring without, and enhanced, by their
idle menace, the comfort of its closely drawn red curtains, and its
ample fire, the gleam of which was cast back from a goodly array of
glasses and vessels of burnished pewter. Upon a well-polished oak
chest--the pride of the house, for oak was almost as rare at Gethin as
among the Esquimaux--stood a mighty punch-bowl; and on the mantel-piece
was a grotesque piece of earthen-ware, used for holding tobacco, about
which some long clay pipes and peacocks' feathers were artistically
arranged. A smell of nutmeg and lemons pervaded this apartment, and
pleasantly accorded with its almost tropical temperature; and the
contrast it altogether afforded to his own more stately but desolate
"private sitting-room," with its disused air and comfortless
surroundings, struck Richard very agreeably. On a chintz-covered sofa,
in the most retired corner of this parlor, sat Solomon Coe and Harry
Trevethick, and it was difficult to say in which of their countenances
the most astonishment appeared when the young painter presented himself
at the door. Harry's cheeks, which were not pale before, became crimson,
though she neither moved nor spoke. But Solomon rose, and, with a frown,
seemed to be asking of Trevethick the reason of this unexpected
"This is a friend of Mr. Whymper's," said the landlord, setting down the
sherry on the table; "and therefore, I am sure, the friend of all of us.
That's my daughter Harry, Sir; and that" (and here he grinned) "is
Solomon Coe, a very intimate friend of hers--as you may see. We are a
family party, in fact, or shall be some day; so, pray, make yourself at
"I have seen Mr. Coe before," said Richard, frankly, and shaking that
gentleman's unwilling hand; "and, though he took me for a bagman, I bear
him no malice on that account."
"A bagman! Lor, Sol, what could you ha' been thinking about?" laughed
Trevethick, grimly. "Why, this here gentleman has been stopping at
Crompton with the Squire! But you mustn't mind Sol, Sir; his mind ain't
free just Well, Harry, lass, why don't you get up and shake hands with
"I have seen this young lady before, also," explained Richard. "It was
she who was good enough to get me the key of the castle, which I have
just returned, by-the-by, to your father," he added.
Harry gave him a look which showed him that his second pilgrimage up the
rock was not unappreciated.
"Did you see the chapel, Sir, and the tombs?" inquired she.
"I hardly know, indeed," said Richard. "It was the climb itself that I
enjoyed the most, and shall never forget as long as I live."
"Oh, but you must go properly over our ruins, young gentleman," said
Trevethick, with the air of a proprietor. "My girl here, or Solomon,
must show you them to-morrow, for they need a bit of explanation. Sol
knows all about them. Don't you, Sol?"
"Oh yes; _I_ know," answered Solomon, doggedly; "but nobody won't go up
to the castle to-morrow, I reckon, with this sou'wester a-blowing."
"It is a wild night, indeed," said Richard, putting aside the curtain,
and looking out through the shutterless window. "The clouds are driving
by at a frightful speed."
"Ay, and it ain't only the clouds," said Trevethick, filling his pipe,
and speaking with great gravity; "the Flying Dutchman was seen off the
point not two hours ago."
"By old Madge, I suppose?" observed Solomon, derisively.
"Yes, by old Madge," retorted the landlord, sturdily. "She as knew our
life-boat was lost last year with all hands long before she drove into
Turlock Bay, bottom upward."
"But how was that?" inquired Richard, with interest.
"Well, Sir, it was this way," said Trevethick. "It was a stormy night,
though not so bad a one as this is like to be, and the life-boat had
gone out to a disabled Indiaman. She had been away three hours or more,
when, as I was sitting in this very parlor, in came Madge, looking
scared enough. She had been to Turlock on an errand for me. So, 'Sit
down,' says I, 'and take a glass, for you look as though the wind had
blown your wits away, old woman.' 'Tain't that, John Trevethick,' says
she; 'but I'm near frightened to death. I've seen a sight as I shall
never forget to my dying day. I have just seen our life-boat men--all
nine of 'em. The Lord have mercy on their souls!' 'Well, why not?' says
I. 'Why shouldn't you ha' seen 'em? They've got back sooner than we
hoped for--that's all.' 'Nay,' said she; 'but I met 'em coming out of
Gethin--away from home--the home they will never see again--all wet and
white like corpses. They're drowned men, as sure as you stand there,
John Trevethick.' And so it turned out, poor fellows!"
"And did you tell any body of this before you knew that they were
drowned?" inquired Richard.
"Ay, that's the point," muttered Solomon, approvingly.
"No," said Trevethick. "I didn't believe the old woman, and I thought
her story would be very ill taken; so I kept it to myself. But it turned
out true for all that; the thing happened just as I say. John Trevethick
ain't no liar."
"Of course you are stating what you believe to be the fact," said
Richard, in a conciliating tone; "I don't doubt that."
"Just so; he's told it so often that he really does behave it," said
Solomon, laughing. "But what seems curious is, that it is always
Madge--purblind old woman, as wants to be thought a witch--as sees these
things--drowned sailors, and Flying Dutchmen, and so forth. I should
like to know who else has ever had the chance?"
"Lots of folks," said the landlord, doggedly.
"Well, _you_ been here these forty years," said Solomon, "have _you_
seen 'em? And Harry here has been at Gethin all her life, has _she_ seen
There was an awkward silence. Harry had turned very pale--in terror, as
Richard thought, of the dispute between her father and Solomon becoming
"That's naught to do with it," said Trevethick, sharply. "You're no
Gethin man, Solomon, or you wouldn't talk so. Why, didn't Madge describe
the very ship as was lost off Castle Rock, the night before we ever set
eyes on her? and wasn't it printed in the paper?"
"In the next Saturday's paper: yes," replied Solomon, curtly.
"Nay, I heard the old woman with my own ears," said Harry, gravely.
"There had been no wreck when she told me she had seen the schooner.
'The _Firefly_,' said she, 'will never come nearer home than Gethin Bay:
you mark my words.' That was twelve hours, ay, and more, before she
"Forgive me for interrupting," said Richard; "but I don't understand
this matter. Is it supposed that a vessel announces her own destruction
"Sometimes," said Trevethick, gravely. "A ship is as well known here--if
she belongs to this part of the coast--as a house is known in the
Midlands. Well, if she's doomed, Madge--and it ain't only Madge
neither--will see her days before she comes to her end. This _Firefly,_
for example, belonged to Polwheel, and had been away for weeks."
"But still she was expected home?" interrogated Richard.
"Ay, that's it," said Solomon, once more nodding approval. "The old
woman had that in her mind."
"Why so?" argued Trevethick. "What was the _Firefly_ to her that she
should think she saw her drive into the bay, and break to pieces against
the rock out yonder? And why should she tell her vision to Harry?"
"That certainly seems strange, indeed," said Richard, "as showing she
attached importance to the affair herself. It was a most curious
coincidence, to say the least of it. But what is this Flying Dutchman,
of which you also spoke? I did not know he ever came so far out of his
proper latitude as this."
"He's seen before great storms, however," said Trevethick; "you ask the
coast-guard men, and hear what _they_ say. There's many a craft has put
out to her from Gethin, and come quite close, so that a man might almost
reach her with a boat-hook, and then, all of a sudden, there is nothing
to be seen but the big waves."
John Trevethick had more to say to the same effect, to which Richard
listened with attentive courtesy; while at the same time he held to the
same skeptical view entertained by Solomon. Thus he won the good opinion
of both men; and of that of the girl he felt already assured. He
scarcely ever addressed himself to Harry, and as much as possible
avoided gazing at her. If the idea of his paying any serious attention
to her had ever been put into her father's mind, the intelligence that
he had been the friend and guest of Carew's had been probably sufficient
to dissipate it: the social position which that fact implied seemed to
make it out of the question that he should be Harry's suitor. It only
remained for him to disabuse Solomon of the same notion. This was at
first no easy task; but the stubbornness with which his rival resisted
his attempts at conciliation gave way by degrees, and at last vanished.
To have been able to make common cause with him upon this question of
local superstition was a great point gained. Solomon had a hard head,
and prided himself upon his freedom from such weaknesses; and he hailed
an ally in a battle-field on which he had contended at odds, five nights
out of every seven, for years. Harry, as we have seen, shared her
father's sentiments in the matter; and it was a great stroke of policy
in Richard to have espoused the other side. He would, of course, have
much preferred to agree with her--to have embraced any view which had
the attraction of her advocacy; but it now gave him genuine pleasure to
find his opposition exciting her to petulance. She was not petulant with
Solomon, but left her father to tilt with him after his own fashion.
From the superstitions of the coast they fought their way to those of
the mines. Old Trevethick believed in "Knockers" and "Buccas," spirits
who indicate the position of good lodes by blows with invisible picks;
and, as these had more immediate connection with his own affairs than
the nautical phenomena, he clung to his creed with even greater tenacity
than before. So fierce was their contention that it was with difficulty
that Richard could put in an inquiry as to whence these spirits came who
thus interested themselves in the success of human ventures.
"I know nothing of that," said Trevethick, frankly, "any more than I
know where that wind comes from that is shaking yonder pane; I only know
that it is there."
"Nay, father, but _I_ know," said Harry, with a little blush at her own
erudition: "the Buccas are the ghosts of the old Jews who crucified our
Lord, and were sent as slaves by the Roman emperor to work the Cornish
"Very like," said Trevethick, approvingly, although probably without any
clear conception of the historical picture thus presented to him. "It's
the least they could do in the spirit, after having done so much
mischief in the flesh."
The contradiction involved in this exemplary remark, combined with the
absurdity of repentance taking the form of interest in mining
speculations, was almost too much for Richard's sense of humor; but he
only nodded with gravity, as became a man who was imbibing information,
and inquired further, whether, in addition to these favorers of
industry, there were any spirits who worked ill to miners.
"Well, I can't say as there are," said the landlord, with the air of a
man who can afford to give a point in an argument; "but there's a many
things not of this world that happen underground, leastway in _our_
mines, for Sol there is from the north, and it mayn't be the same in
"It certainly is not," interrupted Solomon, taking his pipe out of his
mouth to intensify the positiveness of his position.
"I say," continued Trevethick, reddening, "that down in Cornwall here
there is scarce a mine without its spirit o' some sort. At Wheal Vor,
for example, a man and his son were once blown to pieces while blasting;
and, nothing being left of them but fragments of flesh, the engine-man
put 'em into the furnace with his shovel; and now the pit is full of
little black dogs. I've seen one of 'em myself."
Solomon laughed aloud.
Richard was expecting an explosion of wrath. The old man turned toward
him quietly, and observed with tender gravity: "And in a certain mine,
which Sol and I are both acquainted with, a white rabbit always shows
itself before any accident which proves fatal to man. It was seen on the
day that Sol's father sacrificed his life for mine." Then he told the
story which Richard had already heard from Harry's lips, while Solomon
smoked in silence, and Harry looked hard at the fire, as though--as
Richard thought--to avoid meeting the glance of her father's hereditary
"You are right to remember such a noble deed as long as you live," said
Richard, when the old man had done. "My own life," added he, in a lower
tone, "was once preserved by one whom I shall love and honor as long as
I have breath."
He saw the color glow on the young girl's cheek, and the fire-light
shine with a new brilliance in her eyes. Neither Trevethick nor Solomon
had caught his observation; at the moment it was made the former was
stretching out his great hand to the latter, moved by that memory of
twenty years ago, and, perhaps, in token of forgiveness for his recent
"Then there's the Dead Hand at Wheal Danes, father," observed Harry, in
somewhat hasty resumption of the general subject. "That's as curious as
any, and more terrible."
"Wheal Danes!" said Solomon. "Why, how comes that about, when nobody can
never have been killed there? It's been disused ever since the Roman
time, I thought?"
"Yes, yes; so it has," answered Trevethick, impatiently.
"But I thought you told me about it yourself, father?" persisted Harry.
"How you saw the Thing, with a flame at the finger-tops, going up and
down where the ladders used to be, and heard voices calling from the
"Not I, wench--not I. That was only what was told me by other
folks.--Take another glass of your own sherry before supper, Sir; and
after that we will have a bowl of punch."
The hospitalities of Mr. Trevethick were, in fact, profuse, and his
manner toward Richard most conciliatory.
"We'll be glad to see you, Sol and I, in our little parlor, whenever you
feel in want of company," were his last words at parting for the night.
And, "Ay, ay, that's so," had been Solomon's indorsement.
Harry had said nothing; but the tender pressure of his hand, when he
wished her good-night, had not gone unreturned, and was an invitation
more welcome than words. The events of the day, the conversation of the
evening, had given him plenty of matter for reflection; but the touch of
those soft fingers was more potent, and the dreams evoked by it
swallowed up all soberer thoughts. He sat up for hours that night,
picturing to himself a future altogether new to his imagination; and
when he went to bed it was not to rest. His excited brain was fed with a
nightmare vision. He thought that he was once more with Harry on the
castled rock; his lips were pressed to hers; his arm was around her
waist, just as they had been; but, instead of his slipping alone over
the precipice, they fell together; and as they did so--not without a
wild delight mingling with his despair--she was suddenly plucked away
from him, and, as he sank headlong down, down, he saw that Solomon Coe
had caught her in his arms, and, with her father, was looking down upon
him with savage and relentless glee!
There are wild places yet in the world, and primitive folk. Even in
England there are localities of which the phrase, "It is a hundred years
behindhand," still holds good; and so it was with Gethin. Its wind-swept
moors, its rock-bound coast, had inhabitants altogether differing from
the men of fields and farms; to Richard, a man of pleasure from the
town, they seemed a foreign race. They were rough in externals, but
kindly and genial at heart; given to hospitality, and, though good at a
bargain, by no means greedy of gain. Above all there were no beggars.
The poorest Gethin man would open a gate for you, or walk a hundred
yards out of his way to show you your road, without asking for, or even
expecting, a coin. They were, however, as delighted as surprised to get
it; and before the open-handed young artist had been a week in the place
he had demoralized it by his largesses. As, however, his smile and his
thanks always accompanied these presents, he was served more for love's
sake than the money's, and enjoyed a popularity which can not be
purchased, and which yet is impossible to be won by one who has nothing
to give. He had the reputation among these simple folks, who knew how to
be frugal themselves, of having a superfluity of wealth; his air and
manner showed he had been always used to be lavish (as indeed he had),
and nourished this delusion, which extended, though upon other grounds,
to the tenants of the little inn.
John Trevethick and his friend Solomon would not have been much
impressed with the expenditure of a few pounds by an improvident youth;
but the former was well aware that the guests of Carew of Crompton were
almost without exception very wealthy men, and he judged of Richard's
social position accordingly. He had no idea that his landscape-painting
was any thing else than an amusement--as it was practiced by half the
young ladies and gentlemen who visited Gethin in the summer months; he
took him for an amateur; and if he had seen his sketches, and been a
judge of art, he would have been only fortified in his conclusion. He
liked the young fellow upon his own account, though not so much as his
handsome face and pleasant manners, combined with his desire to please,
caused others to do; for Mr. Trevethick was not at all impressionable in
such matters. Richard hated him in his heart for the scanty crop of
regard he seemed to get out of him, notwithstanding all his pains; he
had never made so continued an effort to make himself agreeable and with
so small a result; but his self-love would have been more deeply wounded
had he known that his own exertions would not have even gained him what
they did, had they not been seconded by a hidden ally in the landlord's
breast. Richard's desire to conciliate was fully reciprocated by
Trevethick, who wished above all things to make friends with the friend
of Parson Whymper; only conciliation was so much out of his line. The
old man and the young had absolutely nothing in common except their love
Upon the other hand, John Trevethick and Solomon Coe were cast almost in
the same mould. Notwithstanding the former's superstition he was
intelligent and shrewd enough in practical matters, and had, indeed,
quite a genius for mechanics. Deprived of his underground occupation by
the catastrophe with which we are acquainted, he had set his wits to
work at home on the matters with which he had hitherto but physically
concerned himself; and the labor of his head had proved more lucrative
than that of his hand. He had invented several improvements in the
working machinery of the mine which had so nearly proved his tomb; these
had been adopted, with considerable profit to himself, in other places;
and the money thus acquired he had not frittered away (as is usual in
such cases) in speculative investments. In the interim between his
giving up his trade and his reaping the fruits of his inventions he had
tasted the bitterness of poverty, and that had made him very cautious.
But he had a small share in Dunloppel, which seemed likely to turn out
very profitable; and he had built the inn, the returns from which were
more than sufficient to support him--indeed, it was rumored that John
Trevethick had been laying by a pretty penny, and could hold his head
much higher if he pleased. His pleasures were certainly not expensive,
for they consisted in fancy iron-working, the results of which brought
him in a considerable sum; and in occasionally getting drunk, which,
being a publican, he could accomplish at the most reasonable figure. He
was a hard unlovable man, and interesting only as statistics may be said
to be as compared with literature--in a hard, practical way. If
superstitious, he was by no means religious; and, though honest, he was
grasping. He took time to resolve upon a matter; but, when once his
resolution was fixed, his will was iron, and his heart was stone. It was
certainly curious that one of Trevethick's character should have
entertained so long and freshly his sentiment of gratitude even to a man
that had saved his life at the expense of his own; but even this may
have had its roots in egotism. Had the person saved been his wife or his
daughter the feeling would not perhaps have been so enduring; and in
carrying it out, as he fully purposed to do, by bestowing Harry's hand
upon Solomon, he was certainly not uninfluenced by the fact that the
latter was, pecuniarily speaking, an excellent match.
Like himself, his intended son-in-law was the architect of his own
fortunes; but he had built them up in a different way. His youth had
been spent in the coal-mines of the north; and, though no lucky stroke
of the pick can there make one rich, as it can in other underground
localities, his strength and skill had met with their full reward. And
what he had gained he had not wasted. Pound after pound he had laid by,
until enough had been saved for investment; and it was Solomon's boast
in after-years that he had never got less than ten per cent. for any of
it. It was all ventured on underground speculations, some of them
hazardous enough--but all had prospered; and here John Trevethick's
judgment, though the old man himself had not the courage to follow it,
had been of great advantage to him. Every thing he touched turned, if
not to gold, at least to tin or copper; and before the lode ceased to
yield Solomon had sold his shares at a good premium, and placed the
proceeds in another pit. He had sown, as it were, his money in the
earth, and reaped a golden harvest. And now Dunloppel, his last
venture, seemed likely to prove his best: and it was another strand in
the strong bond between himself and Trevethick that the latter had also
a share in that undertaking. There are some men with whom a common
pecuniary interest is the most binding tie of sympathy of which their
nature is capable; and never had the landlord of the _Gethin Castle_
been more closely attached to his guest and son-in-law elect than at
this time, when Richard Yorke proposed to himself to part them; as
though a gilded summer skiff should thrust itself between two laden
coal-barges, and bid them budge.
It was at least a week before Solomon Coe could be induced to open his
lips before Richard, beyond the utterance of a few pithy sentences; not
that the smouldering embers of jealousy had been fanned in the mean
time--for Richard had been prudence itself in his behavior to Harry--but
because the miner could not comprehend the young fellow, and therefore
distrusted him. The light and airy manners, which were as natural to
Richard as was John Trevethick's ponderous cunning or his own
self-satisfied reticence, seemed to Solomon mere affectation, and even
his appearance effeminate and dandified; but when he saw that he wore no
other air when conversing with the pitmen of Dunloppel--an expedition
undertaken with himself at Richard's special invitation--and marked how
actively he climbed the tall, steep ladders, and how fearlessly he
trusted himself to the rope, he acquitted him of such artful fopperies.
Of Richard's intelligence he had formed a good opinion from the time
when the latter had enlisted himself upon his side in the argument
concerning superstition; and it flattered his vanity to find so sensible
and accomplished a young fellow deferring to his opinion upon all
practical points, and apparently desirous of obtaining his views upon
There was one subject, the experience of his early years, upon which
Solomon was never averse to descant, could he once be got to talk at
all; and it was a certain token--as one, at least, of the company well
knew--that his prejudice against Richard was quite surmounted when
Solomon began to unfold to him, over their punch in the bar parlor, the
annals of his underground career. Often had he done so to Harry--like
another Othello (and almost as swarthy) narrating his adventures to his
Desdemona--but never had she been so pleased to listen as now, when she
needed but to seem to hear, and, without the penalty of reply, could
feed her eyes upon young Richard's listening face. It is hard when, in
the race for woman's favor, one has to waste one's breath in making the
running for one's rival.
And yet the talk of Solomon Coe was well worth listening to. He told of
the great war which is always being waged by man beneath the earth
against the powers of Water, and Fire, and Foul Air, and of the daring
deeds he had seen wrought against them. He told of coal-pits that had
been on fire from time immemorial, above which no snow would lie, by
reason of the heat beneath, and where the grass of the meadows was
always green. He told of others which had been suddenly inundated by a
neighboring river, or by the waters from old workings, let in by a
single unlucky blow, whereby scores and scores of strong men were
overwhelmed, whose corpses floated about for months in the dark drowned
pit before their fellows above-ground could get at them.
His speech was somewhat sullen and hesitating, and what he said was
interrupted by whiffs of smoke and sips of liquor; but the nature of the
subject was so absorbing that it needed no gifts of eloquence. It
interested Richard in spite of himself; and Solomon was not indifferent
to the flattery which the young artist's attention conveyed, and
scarcely needed the entreaties of Trevethick to persuade him to throw
off his native reticence. What he forgot, and had mentioned in former
narrations, the landlord supplemented; and when "Sol" became technical
and obscure the other performed the part of chorus or explainer. If the
former had been some gifted animal, and the latter its proprietor, he
could not have taken a greater pride in the exhibition of its talent
than did the landlord in these narrations. Now he would look at Richard,
and nod and wink, as though to bespeak his special attention to what was
coming; and now he would wave his pipe, like a dumb orchestra playing
slow music, to express the tremendous nature of a situation. Perhaps he
was genuinely impressed by these thrice-told tales--perhaps he was
endeavoring, by a feigned admiration for Sol's experiences and exploits,
to justify his choice of a son-in-law not altogether suited to his
Harry. To do the _raconteur_ justice, he was by no means so egotistic as
his aider and abettor, and Trevethick would express his regrets to
Richard that it was so hard to get Sol to dismiss generalities and talk
about himself. "It's on account of Harry being here, you see," explained
he behind his horny hand, but in a tone perfectly audible to the other
tenants of the bar parlor; "or else he would tell you how the timbering
of the pit once fell upon him, so as nothing was free but his head and
his left hand; and yet he never lost his wits in all his agony, but told
the men where to saw and what to do; but he don't like to boast before
Then Richard, taking the hint, inquired of Solomon whether any incident
particularly striking had ever happened to himself during his
underground experience; and Solomon replied, with affected carelessness;
"No, not as I know on; nothing particular."
Then Trevethick broke in with, "What! not when you was shut up in the
seam at Dunston?"
"Oh yes, to be sure," said Sol, as though the recollection of the
circumstance had only just occurred to him; "there was _that_,
certainly; but it was when I was quite a boy. I was not quite seventeen
when Dunston Colliery was drowned. The Gatton poured right in upon it,
and they have not got the water out of it in places to this day. It was
always said that the pit was being worked too near the river; but that
was little thought about by those as was most concerned, and it never
disturbed the head of a lad like me, of course. It was in the afternoon
of the 12th of December, a date as I am not likely to forget, when the
thing happened. Two mates--one old man and a middle-aged one--and myself
were at work in a heading together, when suddenly we heard a noise like
thunder. 'That's never blasting,' says one. 'The Lord have mercy on us,'
cries the other; 'it's the river come in at last!' For, as I say, the
risk was quite well known, though it was considered small, and made a
frequent jest of. Nothing that ever I heard was equal to that noise; the
waves in Gethin caverns here, during storm, are a whisper to it; the
whole pit seemed to be roaring in upon us. We all ran up the gallery,
which, fortunately for us, had a great slope, and crouched down at the
end of it. We heard the water pouring in and filling all the workings
beneath us, and then pouring in and filling ours. It reached our feet,
and left us but a very limited space, in which the air was compressed,
when the noise of the inundation ceased. There was a singing in our
ears, so that we could scarcely hear one another speak. We knew that the
whole mine had become a lake by that time, and that it would take months
to drain her, if she was ever drained. We knew that we were buried alive
hundreds of feet beneath the earth; and yet we did not quite lose heart.
There was this gleam of hope: supposing that the next gallery, which was
on a higher level than our own, was not also flooded, we could be got at
through the seam. We did not know the fact that it was more than sixty
feet of solid coal, and would have taken under ordinary circumstances at
least four weeks to dig through; we only knew that, if a door of escape
was to open any where, it must open there. We kept tapping with the
heels of our boots at equal intervals against this wall."
"The miner's signal," explained the landlord, with a wave of his pipe.
"We felt that if we were once heard, and if hard work could do it, that
our mates would save us yet; and we encouraged one another as well as we
could. But presently the oil in our lamps gave out, and we were left in
darkness; and then our hope grew faint indeed. We had knocked for
four-and-twenty hours unintermittingly without any reply. We did not
cease, however, to discuss the possibilities of escape. We knew that all
was being done for us above-ground that could be done; that the surveys
of the mine were well executed; and that it was known exactly where we
were, if we were alive at all. There were more than a hundred men
employed in the lower workings, and it was a certainty that not one of
them could have escaped death; the attention, therefore, of the
engineers would be concentrated upon those parts of the mine that might
possibly be left above water."
"On the second night of our imprisonment we heard a distinct reply to
our signal; the old man who was of our company began to weep for joy,
though he was doomed, as it turned out, poor soul! never to see the
light. 'We shall be saved,' he said; 'do not fear.' We knocked again,
and again the reply was heard--they had found us out, and would never
relax their efforts to save us. 'God bless them!' said we all. We laid
our ears close to the rock, and presently heard the strokes of the pick,
but not very distinctly. When the other said he was afraid the rock was
thick, the old man cried out: 'No, it was not that; it was because we
were dull of hearing.' The fact was, that the seam was not only thick,
but very hard. It was strange, indeed, though sounds are easily
transmitted through rocks of considerable thickness, how our feeble taps
had been heard at all. Day after day, and each day a black night, went
on; every hour was to be the last of our captivity, according to the old
man; as for me, I was almost worn out, and heavy with sleep, but he was
in constant motion, knocking and listening. Then suddenly we heard a
splash in the water beneath us--he had lost his balance, slid down the
inclined plane, and been drowned. He never stirred a limb nor uttered a
cry. His fate discouraged and alarmed us two survivors exceedingly. If
help was coming, we now felt it would never come in time. We dug into
the shale with the handles of our lamps and with our fingers, to make
our position more secure. We did not venture to speak of our late
companion's fate to one another. Horror overwhelmed us, so enfeebled had
we become through famine and fatigue. We had devoured our leather belts,
and even crumbled the rotten wood of the timber-props in water, and
eaten that; but we were now consumed by thirst, which we dared no longer
quench. We were afraid to venture down as before for the water in which
the old man had sunk to death; and it was that which had kept us alive."
"Don't forget about how you made a bucket of your boots, Sol," suggested
"Yes, at last we tied a string to a boot, and got the water up that
way," continued Solomon; "but our stomachs turned against it."
"It was not so good as my punch," observed the landlord,
parenthetically, and emptying his steaming glass.
"More dark days came and went, though, of course, we could not tell how
many; then, all of a sudden, we heard a human voice, inquiring: 'How
many are you?' 'We are three,' was our reply. We had not the courage
even then to own that one of us had already been taken; death seemed
still so near to us. The aperture which had thus let in the world upon
us was also very small."
"And what was it you asked for first?" interrupted the landlord, with a
nod at Richard, as much as to say: "Listen now; this is curious."
"What we wanted was light. 'Light above all things!' was our cry. But
our deliverers could give us but little of that, for they had scarcely
any themselves. They had been working in a narrow gallery, by means of
five inclined driftways, at each of which only one man could ply his
pick at a time, and where light and air could only be procured
artificially. The coal was carried out in baskets as fast as it was hewn
out: the atmosphere in which they thus toiled like giants, naked to the
waist, was almost suffocating; yet, under these conditions, they had
literally effected in four days, to save our lives, what it would have
taken them four weeks to do, had they been working by the piece for
wages. They had even been compelled to put up ventilators, and their
lamps would only burn when close to these. They gave us broth through a
tin pipe; but almost another day elapsed before the hole was large
enough for them to carry us through it in their arms."
"And there was nobody else saved, was there?" inquired the landlord,
with a triumphant look.
"There was not," said Solomon, expressing his tobacco smoke very slowly.
"Out of a hundred and thirteen men who had been caught by the flood in
Dunston, we two were the sole survivors."
Many other stories of the like sort had Solomon to tell, and for not
one of them, was he indebted to his imagination. His experience of life
had been remarkable, and it had impressed itself upon his character. His
will was as strong as that of Trevethick, but he had less of caution;
and he was at the same time both plodding and audacious.
It would not be well, thought Richard occasionally, to have either of
these men for an enemy; and he was right. Unhappily, it was impossible
to win Harry without a quarrel with, at least, one of them, and rather
than lose her he was prepared to defy them both. If he could but have
lifted a corner of the curtain that veils the future--well, even then,
so mad was he by this time with the love of her, that he would almost
have defied them still.
There is a beauty in woman that takes the stranger, and another the
changeful charm of which wins its way deeper and deeper daily into the
heart of man; but in the person of Harry Trevethick these two beauties
were combined. Richard thought he had never seen any face half so fair
as that which shone upon him through the mist on the first day when he
came to Gethin; and when he had dwelt there for weeks he was of the same
opinion still. Harry was innocent, tender-hearted, and gay, and so far
the expression of her features told you truth; but it also told you more
than that, which you must needs believe, though it was not the fact. Her
face was not the index of her mind in all respects; it was rather like
the exquisite and costly dial-plate of a time-piece the works of which
are indifferent. Her air was spiritual; her voice thrilled your being
with its sweet tone; her eyes were full of earnest tenderness; but she
was weak of purpose, vacillating rather than impulsive, credulous, and
given (not from choice, but fear) to dissimulation. That last fault
Richard willingly forgave her, since it worked to his advantage; and to
the others he would have been more than human had he not been blind. For
Harry loved him. She had never said so; he had never asked her to say
so; but it was taken for granted on both sides. They were thrown much
together, for Dunloppel--a treasure-house, which proved richer and
richer the more it yielded--monopolized the attention of both Trevethick
and Solomon; they were in high good-humor, and not at all disposed for
quarrel or suspicion. Harry had always been the mistress of her own
movements, and she went, as usual, whither she liked, and Richard went
The spring was advancing, and brought its soft hues even to the barren
moors of Gethin, and bathed its gray rocks in sunshine. There was much
to see that was worth seeing, and who so fit as Harry to point out these
objects of attraction with which she had been familiar from her
childhood? They strolled along the beach to Polwheel, and she snowed him
how the harbor there had been silted up through the wrath of the
mermaids, or "merry maids," as she called them, still (under favorable
circumstances) sometimes seen sitting on the slate cliff ledges beneath
the clear blue sea. Far from ridiculing her superstitions, he led her on
to talk of them; he did not much mind what she talked about so long as
he could look at her and listen.
"But why were the Polwheel mermaids so cruel, Harry? I always imagine
them bright and beautiful beings, with golden hair almost as long as
yours, and with nothing to do but to comb it."
"That is so, when they are let alone," said Harry, simply; "but even the
weakest creatures love revenge, and will get it if they can."
"And quite right too," interrupted Richard; "but for fear of that the
strong would be more uncivil even than they are."
"Well, a mermaid was once cruelly treated by a Polwheel man--he fell in
love with her, and deserted her--and then her sisters choked up the
"But how did he come to court the mermaid? That must have been
difficult; though, if I saw you sitting under water yonder, I should
certainly dive, and try."
"You would have no breath to make me pretty speeches then," said Harry,
demurely. "This mermaid was, however, a changed child. A Polwheel woman
was bathing her infant in the pool yonder beneath that arched rock, when
it suddenly gave a cry of joy, and leaped from her arms into the sea.
She thought it was drowned, but it came up the next instant more
beautiful and bright than ever. She did not herself know but that it was
her own child, but there were old folks in the town who knew that it was
in reality a mermaid's changeling. She grew up to be a lovely woman, and
the Squire of Polwheel at that time--for his race has died out
since--fell in love with her; he treated her very ill, and she died
broken-hearted, at Gethin, and was buried in our church-yard, where I
can show you the tomb."
"And did no punishment overtake the scoundrel Squire?"
"Yes. After a great revel one night, he was returning home by the sands,
and in the moonlight beheld a beautiful lady sitting by this same pool.
She was so like his dead love to look at that he was frightened at
first, but she smiled and beckoned to him, and then, clasping him in her
arms, leaped into the sea, and drowned him; and in the storm that arose
that night the merry maids filled up the harbor."
"That was hard upon Polwheel," observed Richard, "though the Squire only
got what he deserved. He must have been a bad lot."
"But the mermaid was very foolish to believe him," added Harry--"very."
They visited the Fairy Bower, did these young people--the only spot
about Gethin where trees grew; a beautiful ravine, with a fall of water,
and a caverned cell beside it, where a solitary hermit was said to have
dwelt. Notwithstanding which celibate association, it had a wishing-well
besides, into which a maiden had but to drop a pin, and wish her wish,
and straightway the face of her future husband was mirrored in the
water. Through its clear depths you might see the bottom of the pool
quite paved with pins.
"And does the charm always work?" asked Richard, laughing. "Try it
"No, no," answered Harry, gravely; "one must be quite alone for that,
and beneath the moonlight."
On Morven Point, a grand old promontory, which pushed out many a yard to
meet the encroaching waves, and battled with long before they reached
the main land, they sat and watched the sunsets; looked down upon the
busy hive of men that worked upon the slate quarry beneath, or gazed
upon the ships that tacked and wore to make Turlock Haven. There was a
tower on this place, half ruined and with broken steps, up which they
climbed together on one occasion, and stood supporting one another upon
its dizzy top. There lay around them a splendid prospect of sea and
land, but they were looking into one another's eyes, and yet they did
not speak of that which was nearest to their hearts. It was a topic to
be avoided as long as possible. They only enjoyed these blissful
opportunities--they had only been permitted to thus stroll out together
alone and unsuspected--upon the tacit understanding that no such thing
as love could exist between them. If Harry had not plighted faith to
Solomon, her engagement to him tacitly existed nevertheless, and it was
under its aegis alone that they had been protected and indulged. It was
a part of the character of the young girl to persuade herself that she
was doing no harm so long as it was possible to entertain that delusion;
and it was all one to Richard what their love was called so long as it
_was_ love. Else, as they stood alone together in the noonday stillness,
his arm around her waist, as it had not been since that first afternoon
upon the castled rock, he must needs have told her why the heart that
pressed so close against her side was beating high. Just then, however,
he dared not. Suppose that, by any possibility, he had mistaken her
sentiments; suppose, that is, an extorted promise, or fear of her
father's anger, or what not, should compel her to deny his suit, and
cleave to Solomon; suppose even that her simplicity was such--and it was
in some things marvelously great--that she had accepted his affection as
that of a brother--a friend of her father's and of "Sol's"--but no; he
felt certain that she loved him; suppose, at all events, for whatever
reason, she was once again to reprove him for yielding to the temptation
of her lips, he felt that such a rebuke must of necessity finish all.
She could not forgive him twice, unless she gave him license to offend
forever. He dared not, therefore, speak directly of that which both were
thinking of; and yet he could not altogether ignore so sweet a subject.
"That is the moor yonder, Harry, over which I first came to Gethin--how
"Has the time, then, hung so very heavy on your hands?" asked she,
"No, Harry, no; on the contrary, I have never been so happy; but when
one has a new experience, however charming it may be, it seems to
dwindle down one's past to nothing. I have had two lifetimes, as it
seems to me--one elsewhere, and one here; and yet it is but six weeks
since I met you first, Harry, out yonder, gleaming like a sunbeam
through the fog."
"I remember it well," said Harry, with a slight shiver.
"But not to sigh about it, dear, I trust? You are not afraid of me
_now_, as you were then? Do you recollect how scared you were when I
called you back that day?"
"Yes, well," answered the young girl, earnestly. "I had a reason for
being scared, though you would laugh at me if I told you what it was."
"Do I ever laugh at you, Harry, when you would have me serious?" asked
Richard, reproachfully. "Come, tell me why you shrank from me--as you
can not to-day, dear, for, see, I have got you close--and why your large
eyes looked so wild and strange that I half thought you mad? Did you
take me for a ghost?"
"No; but I had just seen what is far worse than any ghost. Did you not
mark how pale I got that same night? I thought I should have fainted
when I was asked" (it was Solomon who had put the question, but
Solomon's name was never mentioned between these two young people) "if I
had ever seen a spectre ship. I had seen one that very day--only a few
minutes before I met _you_--and on this very cliff."
"Well, and what then?" said Richard, smiling. "Neither your father, nor
any one in whom you have an interest, goes to sea. The Flying Dutchman
did not concern you, I reckon, even if he did pay you a call."
"You do not understand," said Harry, seriously; "it was not that at all.
But when the mists rise over Turlock sands, as they did that day, a
black, square-rigged vessel glides across them, which bodes ill to those
who see her; and _I_ saw her as plain as I see _you_."
"But not so near," said Richard, fondly.
"She was coming from Turlock to the quarry yonder--"
"To fetch slates," interrupted the other--"nothing more likely."
"Nay, not she; no craft would have attempted that in such weather; and,
besides, there was not a soul on board of her. She was sailing against
what little wind there was, and against the tide."
"But even if this was so, Harry, what of it? What harm has come of it?"
"Nothing as yet; nor was I greatly frightened at the time. That omen
bodes unhappiness to him or her who sees it, and I was already unhappy."
"Because I was not here to comfort you, Harry. Well, that is remedied."
She shook her head, and did not return the reassuring pressure of his
hand. "Listen!" she said. "This misery comes through the person whom he
who has seen the vision shall next meet; and I thought I knew who I
should meet on my way home--one from whom"--she sank her voice to a
whisper--"I already expected misery."
"You mean--" began Richard, eagerly.
"No matter whom I mean. It was not he who met me; that was _you_."
The hand which he held in his was cold as ice; her face was pale; and
her limbs trembled under her.
"This is folly, Harry dear. Am I likely to do you harm, to make you
"I do not know," said she. "I sometimes think you are."
He put the long hair back from her forehead, and gazed into her eyes,
which were now fast filling with tears. "I love you, Harry, with all my
heart," sighed he--"you know I do. And, though you are sometimes cold,
and at others seem as though you purposely avoided me, I think you love
_me_--just a little--too. Better, at all events, than the man with whom
you yourself have just confessed you expect nothing but misery."
"Hush, hush!" moaned she. "If I said that, it was very wrong."
"It was the truth, Harry. How could it be otherwise? He is not a lover
meet for such as you; he is twice your age, and rough and rude of speech
even as a suitor. Do you think he will be more tender when he is a
husband? He is no mate for you, Harry, nor you for him."
Again she shook her head, with a slow mournful movement, as though less
in dissent from his statement than in despair of remedy.
"What!" cried he, "because his father was your father's friend, does
that give him the right to be your husband?"
The young girl answered only with her sobs.
"Now tell me, darling--did you ever promise to be this man's wife in
"Yes--no--I am not sure. Oh yes, I must be his; my father has set his
mind upon it. Nay, do not smile at that; you don't know what my father
is. He is not one to cross;" and, as if at the very thought of her stern
parent's wrath, she lifted up her head from Richard's breast, and looked
around in fear.
"But suppose I win him to my side, sweet Harry?"
"That you could never do," sighed she. "I tell you you don't know him."
"Nay; but I think I do, dear; and, if I could show him that it was to
his own advantage to have me for his son-in-law, in place of--"
"You would not persuade him," interrupted the young girl, firmly--"not
even if you were Carew of Crompton's heir."
The words she had used were meant to express exhaustless wealth--for
with such was the owner of Gethin still credited in that far-away corner
of his possession--but they startled and offended Richard. "I may not be
Carew's heir," said he, haughtily; "but I have some power at Crompton,
and I can exert it in your father's favor."
Harry shook her head. "He wants for nothing," she said, "that you can
give him. He is wealthier than you imagine. He has two thousand pounds
in notes, for which he has no use; they lie in the strong-box in my
room. But there, I promised not to speak of that."
"I am not a burglar in disguise," said Richard, smiling, "and would make
your father richer rather than rob him. But why should he keep so large
a sum by him?"
"I do not know; but there it is, locked with a letter padlock which he
made himself. No human being can open it, he says, who does not know the
Richard was silent. Something else than love was occupying his thoughts,
though his fingers were making marriage rings for themselves of Harry's
golden hair. It is like entertaining angels unawares to find after one
has fallen in love that it is with an heiress.
"Dear Harry," said he at last, "I think I shall take you from your
father's willing hands; I have good hope of it, and better since I have
heard you so despairing; but, at all events, you will be mine. Let me
hear those sweet lips say so. Promise me, promise me, my darling, that
you will be my wife."
He caught and clasped her close, and she did not repulse him.
"I dare not, Richard--I dare not promise you," she murmured.
"But if your father gives me leave?" whispered he, his lips to her warm
She uttered a soft cry of passionate joy that told him more than a
hundred phrases of assent how dear he was to her, and hid her face upon
Oh happy hour, so bright, and yet so brief! Oh golden noon, already on
the verge of eve and blackest night!
How often in the after-time did that fair and sunny scene recur to them,
a bitter memory; how often was that first kiss of love renewed by cruel
fancy and in mocking dreams, its sweetness changed to gall!
Better for one--better, perhaps, for both--if, clasped in one another's
arms, they had fallen from that tall tower's top, and then and there had
ended life and love together!
WORKING ON A PIVOT.
Never had Richard been in such high spirits as on the evening of that
day on which Harry had made confession to him of her love, and had
promised to be his wife should her father's consent be gained. It was
true that she had been far from sanguine upon the latter point; but
Richard had his reasons for being of a different opinion. It would be
better, every way, if he could obtain Trevethick's good-will; not that
he at all shared in the girl's dread of his anger, but because it really
seemed that if he married her from her father's roof he should be
fulfilling his mother's injunctions in making alliance with an heiress.
What with his two thousand pounds in gold, and his inn, and his lucky
mine, it was plain that the old man would have no despicable sum to
leave behind him; and yet, to do Richard justice, this only formed an
additional incentive to a project upon which, at all events, he had long
set his heart. He had resolved at all hazards to make the girl his wife.
His love for her was as deep as it was passionate; and now that he was
assured from her own lips of its being returned, his heart was filled
with joy, and spoke out of its abundance. It had been hitherto his habit
in that family circle round the bar-parlor fire to play the part of
listener rather than of talker. He had mainly confined himself to the
exhibition of an attentive interest in Solomon's stories, or in his
host's sagacious observations with respect to the investment of capital,
such as: "One couldn't be too cautious where one put one's money;" and,
"Where the interest was high the risk was great, and where it was low it
was not worth while to let it leave one's hand." Next to the subject of
local superstition, "investment" was the favorite subject of debate
between Trevethick and "Sol;" and Richard, whose ignorance insured his
impartiality, had been the judicious scale-holder between them. But
upon the present occasion it was the young artist who led the talk and
chose the matter. He told them of the splendors of Crompton and of the
marvelous prodigality of its owner, and they listened with greedy ears.
To vulgar natures, the topic of mere wealth is ever an attractive one,
and in the present instance there was an additional whet to appetite in
the connection of Carew with Gethin. He was naturally an object of
curiosity to his tenant Trevethick, and never before had the old man had
the opportunity of hearing at first hand of the eccentricities of the
Squire. In relating them Richard took good care to show by implication
on what intimate terms he stood with him, and hinted at the obligation
under which he had put him by throwing his park gate open so
opportunely. The impression which he left upon his audience, and desired
to leave, was, that Carew was indebted to him for having saved his life.
"Then it is likely the Squire would do any thing for you that you chose
to ask him?" observed Trevethick, with the thought of his own debt to
Solomon's father doubtless in his mind.
"Well, he certainly ought to do so," answered Richard, carelessly; "but,
on the other hand, it is not very probable that I shall put him to the
"Just so," returned Trevethick, sucking at his pipe; "you're independent
of the likes of him."
"Altogether," was Richard's reply.
The old man spoke no more, but sat in a cloud of smoke and thought for
the rest of the evening. Even when "Sol" rose up to go--Harry having
retired long since, for they kept very early hours at the Gethin
Castle--the landlord did not, as usual, accompany him, but mixed himself
another glass of his favorite liquor. As for Richard, it was not his
custom to seek his bed until after midnight; so Trevethick and he were
left to one another's company. It was an opportunity to which the latter
had been looking forward for many a day, but which he had never desired
so keenly as at that moment.
"Are you likely to be at Crompton soon again?" inquired the landlord,
pursuing the subject of the evening's talk.
"I have no intention of going there at present," returned Richard. "The
fact is, Mr. Trevethick, between ourselves, I am but a poor man in
comparison with many of those I meet there, and their ways and habits
are too expensive for me."
"Ay! gambling and such like, I suppose?" observed the landlord,
cunningly. "It is 'Light come light go' with the money of that sort of
folk, I reckon."
"Just so; and though my money comes light enough--that is, I have not to
earn it, since my mother makes me an allowance--I don't choose to risk
it at the card-table."
"Quite right, quite right, young gentleman," answered the other,
approvingly. "But there are some prudent gentry even at Crompton, I
suppose. Parson Whymper, for instance, he don't gamble, do he?"
"Certainly not; he is much too sagacious a man, even if he were rich
enough, to play; but for him, indeed, some say the Squire would have
come to the end of his tether before this. He manages every thing at
Crompton, as you know."
"And yet Carew don't want money?" said the landlord, musing.
"Well, I have been his guest," returned Richard, smiling; "and it is
scarcely fair of me to speak of his embarrassments. He does not
certainly want it so much but that he can still afford to indulge his
whims, Mr. Trevethick, if that's what you mean."
"That's just what I did mean," said the old man, frankly. "Six months
ago or so I made a certain proposition to the Squire, which would have
been exceedingly to his advantage to accept--"
"And not to yours?" interrupted Richard, slyly.
"Nay, I don't say that, Sir," answered the other. "But it was one that
he ought to have been glad to accept in any case, and which it was
downright madness in him to refuse, if he wanted cash. It was a chance,
too, I will venture to say, that will never offer itself from any other
quarter. Mr. Whymper acknowledged that himself."
"I know all about the matter, Mr. Trevethick: the Squire behaved like
the dog in the manger to you. He won't work the mine himself, nor yet
let you work it."
"For mercy's sake, be quiet!" cried the landlord, earnestly, and looking
cautiously about him. "If you know all about it, you need not let others
know. What mine are you talking about? Give it a name--but speak it
under your breath, man." The old man leaned forward with a white moist
face, and peered into Richard's eyes as though he would read his soul.
"Wheal Danes was the name of the place, if I remember right," said
Richard. "Carew has a notion that the Romans did not use it up, and that
it only wants capital to make it a paying concern. It is one of his mad
Mr. John Trevethick was not by nature a quick appreciator of sarcasm,
but he could not misunderstand the irony expressed in Richard's words.
"And is that what you came down to Gethin about?" inquired he, with a
sort of grim despair, which had nevertheless a comical effect.
Richard could only trust himself to nod his head assentingly.
"Well," cried the other, striking the table with his fist, "if I didn't
think you was as deep as the devil the very first day that I set eyes on
you! So you are Parson Whymper's man, are you?" And here, in default of
language to express his sense of the deception that, as he supposed, had
been practiced on him, Mr. Trevethick uttered an execration terrible
enough for a Cornish giant.
"I am not Mr. Whymper's man at all," observed Richard, coolly. "Mr.
Whymper is my man--or at least he will be one day or another."
"How so?" inquired the landlord, his eyes at their full stretch, his
mouth agape, and his neglected pipe in his right hand. "Who, in the
Fiend's name, are you?"
"I am the only son and heir of Carew of Crompton," answered the young
"You? Why, Carew never had a son," exclaimed Trevethick, incredulously;
"leastways, not a lawful one. He was married once to a wench of the name
of Hardcastle, 'tis true; but that was put aside."
"I tell you I am Carew's lawful son, nevertheless," persisted Richard.
"My mother was privately married to him. Ask Parson Whymper, and he
will tell you the same. It is true that my father has not acknowledged
me, but I shall have my rights some day--and Wheal Danes along with the
The news of the young man's paternity must have been sufficiently
startling to him who thus received it for the first time, and would,
under any other circumstances, have doubtless excited his phlegmatic
nature to the utmost; but what concerns ourselves in even a slight
degree is, with some of us, more absorbing than the most vital interests
of another; and thus it was with Trevethick. The ambitious pretensions
of his lodger sank into insignificance--notwithstanding that, for the
moment, he believed in them; for how, unless he was what he professed to
be, could he know so much?--before the disappointment which had befallen
himself in the overthrow of a long-cherished scheme.
"Why, Mr. Whymper wrote me with his own hand," growled he, "that in his
judgment the mine was worthless, and that he had done all he could to
persuade the Squire to sell. And yet you come down here to gauge and
"All stratagems are fair in war and business," answered the young man,
smiling. "Come, Mr. Trevethick; whatever reasons may have brought me
here, I assure you, upon my honor, that they do not weigh with me now,
in comparison with the great regard I feel for you and yours. If you
will be frank with me, I will also be so with you; and let me say this
at the outset, that nothing which may drop from your lips shall be made
use of to prejudice your interests. I have gathered this much for
myself, that Wheal--"
"Hush, Sir! for any sake, hush!" implored the landlord, earnestly, and
holding up his huge hand for silence. "Do not give it a name again;
there is some one moving above stairs."
"It is only Solomon," observed Richard, quietly.
"I don't want Sol nor any other man alive to hear what we are talking
about, Mr. Yorke," answered Trevethick, hoarsely. "You have gathered for
yourself, you were about to say, that the mine is rich, and well worth
what I have offered for it."
"And a good deal more," interrupted Richard. "Perhaps a hundred times,
perhaps a thousand times as much. We don't make so close a secret of a
matter without our reasons. We don't see Dead Hands, with flames of fire
at the finger-tips, going up and down ladders that don't exist, without
the most excellent reasons, Mr. Trevethick. What we wish no eye to see,
nay, no ear to hear spoken of, is probably a subject of considerable
private importance to ourselves. Come, we are friends here together; I
say again, let us be frank."
Trevethick was silent for a little; he felt a lump rise in his throat,
as though nature itself forbade him to disclose the secret he had kept
so long and so jealously guarded. "I have known it for these fifty
years," he began, in a half-choking voice. "I found it out as a mere
lad, when I went down into the old mine one day for sport, with some
schoolmates. The vein lies in the lowest part of the old workings, at a
depth that we think nothing of nowadays, though it was too deep for the
old masters of the pit. I remember, as though it was yesterday, how my
heart leaped within me when my torch shone upon it, and how I fled away,
lest my school-fellows should see it also. I came back the next day
alone, to certify my great discovery. It is a good vein, if ever there
was one. The copper there may be worth tens of thousands, hundreds of
thousands, millions!" Never had the numeration table been invested with
such significance. Trevethick's giant frame shook with emotion; his eyes
literally glared with greed.
"You have been there since?" observed Richard, interrogatively.
"Often, often," answered the other, hoarsely; "I could not keep away.
But nobody else has been there. The place is dark and perilous; there
are rats, and bats, and eerie creatures all about it. And folks are
afraid, because of the Dead Hand and the Flame."
"Your hand and torch?"
"Yes. I did my best to keep the place my own; my thoughts were never
absent from it for a day. And when I had earned a little money I put it
by, and more to that, and more to that again, till I had got enough to
make a bid for the lease of the old mine. But Carew was under age; so
that fell through. I bided my time, and bid again; not much--not enough,
as I fondly thought, to excite suspicion--but still what would seem a
good price for a disused pit. Then I bid more and more; but Carew will
neither sell nor let; and my money grows and grows in vain. I tell you I
have laid by a fortune only to pour into his hand. It is ready for him
to-night; there would be no haggling, no asking for time--it would be
paid him in hard cash. How long, thought I, will this madman balk me
with his whim? He will die some day in his cups, or break his neck in
hunting, and I shall surely come in with my offer to his heir, and have
my way at last, and win my prize. But now, after all my patience and my
pains, I am overmatched by a Parson and a Boy." He spoke with uncommon
heat and passion--not complainingly. His face was dark, and his tone
violent, and even menacing. There was no mistake about his having
accepted his companion's invitation to be frank.
"Mr. Trevethick," said Richard, gravely, "your disappointment would be
natural enough, if your long-cherished plan had really failed; but you
have misunderstood me altogether. I am grateful to you for confiding to
me the whole of what I had already guessed in part; and you shall have
no reason to repent your confidence. Your secret is safer now than it
has ever been; for from my lips Mr. Whymper shall never have his
suspicions with respect to Wheal Danes confirmed. I have been too long
your guest, I feel myself too much the friend of you and yours, to act
in any way to your disadvantage."
Trevethick looked at him inquiringly, suspicion and disfavor glowing in
his dusky face. "But if your story is true, young gentleman, this mine
will be your own some day?"
"It may, or it may not be, Mr. Trevethick. My father's intentions are
not to be counted upon, as you must be well aware, for twenty-four
hours. But if ever Wheal Danes is mine--" Richard hesitated a moment,
while the landlord devoured him with his eyes.
"Well," cried he, impatiently, "what then?"
"I am willing to make over to you, as soon as I come of age, by deed,
all interest that I may have in it--on one condition."
"Make over Wheal Danes to me by deed! What! at my own price?"
"For nothing; you shall have it for a free gift."
"But the condition? What is it that you want of me that is not money?"
"I want permission from you, Mr. Trevethick, to wed, that is--for I
would not speak of love without your leave--to woo your daughter."
"To wed my daughter!" cried Trevethick, starting from his seat; "my
"I say provided that my suit is not displeasing to her," answered
Richard, not without a tremor in his voice, for the old man's face was
terrible to look upon. Hatred and Wrath were struggling there with
Avarice, and had the upper hand.
He rocked himself to and fro, then answered, in a stifled voice, "My
daughter's hand is already promised, young man."
"It may be so, Mr. Trevethick, but not by her, I think; and that her
heart has not been given to the man you have designed for her is
certain. You may see that for yourself."
"I tell you I have passed my word to Solomon Coe that she shall be his
wife," returned the other, gloomily, "and I am not one to go back from a
"One can only promise what is in one's power," urged Richard; "your
daughter's heart is not yours to give. In backing this man's suit you
have already redeemed your word to him. If he has failed to win her
affections--and I think he has--let me try my chance. I am a fitter
match for her in years; I am a gentleman, and therefore fitter for her,
for she is a true lady. I love her a thousand times as much as he. As
for Wheal Danes, I would give you twenty such, if I had them, for the
leave I ask for, and the end I hope for."
It was curious to mark how the mere mention of the mine by name affected
the old man; his wrath, which seemed on the very point of explosion, was
checked and smoothed at once, like raging waves by oil; his brow,
indeed, was still dark and frowning, but he resumed his seat, and
listened, or seemed to listen, to Richard's impassioned pleading. His
genuine feeling made the young fellow eloquent, and gave a tender charm
to his always handsome face and winning tones.
Perhaps even the unsympathetic Trevethick was really somewhat touched;
at all events, he did not interrupt him, but when he had quite finished
took out his watch, and said, in a softened tone: "The hour is late, Mr.
Yorke, and you have given me much to think about, to which I can not
reply just now. Your communication has taken me altogether by surprise.
I will answer neither 'Yes' nor 'No' at present. Good-night, Sir." He
nodded, which was his usual salute at parting; but upon the young man's
eagerly stretching out his hand, he took it readily enough, and gave it
such a squeeze with his giant fingers as made Richard wince. Then,
smiling grimly, he retired.
As his heavy step toiled up stairs Richard perceived a slip of paper on
the floor, which had apparently fluttered out of the old man's
watch-case. Upon it were written the three letters, B, N, Z. As he held
it in his hand he heard the landlord's tread returning with unusual
haste, and had only just time to replace the paper, face downward, on
the sanded floor, before the other reappeared.
"I have dropped a memorandum, somewhere," said he. "It is of no great
consequence, but--Oh, here it is!" He picked it up, and replaced it in
the hollow of his great silver watch.
Richard, who was sitting where he had left him, looked up with a glance
of careless inquiry. "Good-night again, Mr. Trevethick."
"Good-night, Sir." And again the landlord smiled in his grim fashion.
Richard sat over the fire, revolving his late conversation with
Trevethick in his mind, and picturing to himself what would probably
come of it. Although the declaration of his love for Harry had been thus
suddenly made, it had not been made unadvisedly. Though he had not
expected the opportunity for stating it would have offered itself so
soon, he had planned his whole argument out beforehand, with Wheal Danes
for its pivot. And, upon the whole, he felt satisfied with its effect
upon his host. The latter had not surprised him (except by his
frankness) in his disclosure respecting the rich promise of the mine.
Richard's own observation, aided by the clew which Parson Whymper's few
chance sentences had given him, had convinced him that Wheal Danes was a
most coveted object in the landlord's eyes; and had it happened to have
fallen into his own hands, he did really suspect enough to have had it
searched for ore from top to bottom. Trevethick had therefore lost
nothing by his revelation (as his sagacity had doubtless foreseen),
while he had made a very favorable impression upon Richard by his
candor. Cornish giants, thought the latter, might be rude and brutal,
but duplicity was foreign to their character; it was not Blunderbore,
but Jack the Giant-killer, who dug pitfalls, and pretended to swallow
what he only put in a bag.
Trevethick had certainly shown strong disfavor to the young man's suit,
backed though it was by such great pretensions; and it was evident that
but for his hold upon him with respect to the mine, Richard would not
have been listened to so patiently. However, his mouth had not been
peremptorily closed at once (as he had expected it would have been),
which was a great point gained, and the longer the old man took to think
about the matter the more likely was self-interest to gain the day with
him. Supposing Richard's representations to have been correct, he was
certainly "a better match" for Harry than Solomon was; and he had no
apprehension of their being refuted. Trevethick would in all probability
write to Mr. Whymper to inquire into the truth of them--but what then?
He would certainly make no reference to the mine; and as to Richard
being Carew's lawful son, had not the chaplain himself (whom he could
count on as a friend to say all that was to his advantage besides)
admitted that, in his eyes, he was born in honest wedlock? At all
events, there would be ample excuse for his having taken such a view of
the case; while, as to his prospects, he had frankly confessed that he
was, for the present, unacknowledged by the Squire. So long, in fact, as
he could keep up the pretense of influence, either present or
contingent, at Crompton, he felt his position with Trevethick tolerably
secure. In all this scheme of dark deceit his love for Harry was
interwoven like a golden thread, and amidst all his plots and plans her
glorious face would suddenly rise unbidden, and charm him from them. He
had long since resolved to win her, but the late avowal of her love for
him, and now his partial success to gain her father's favor, seemed to
have made her his own already. How beautiful she had looked that day
upon the tower, with the sunlight on her hair! How fresh and guileless
were her ways! Her very weaknesses were lovable, and the cause of love.
How touching was her simple faith in omens, and how pleasant to combat
it, his arm about her dainty waist, as though to protect her from the
shadow of harm! How pitiful her fear of her gruff father, and of this
Cornish Solomon; and how sweet to calm it, kissing her tears away! Once
more his loving arms embraced her--once more his lips touched her warm
cheeks--when a sudden noise awakened him from his dream of bliss.
The parlor fire had long gone out. It was warm for the time of year; but
had it been otherwise he would not have replenished it. The candles,
too, had burned out, and the moon-beams were streaming through the
window; but had it been dark he would scarce have been aware of it. The
house had long ago been hushed in repose, and yet Richard felt certain
that he had heard a movement in the passage.
A stealthy step, yet not that of thief or burglar; a fairy footfall,
rather, which was music to his ear. His heart leaped up to tell him that
on the other side of the door was Harry Trevethick. He held his breath,
and trembled--not for fear. Was it possible that, knowing he was sitting
there alone, she had come down of her own choice to bear him company?
Had her father told her something--some glad tidings which she could not
keep from her lover even for a night? Or, filled with sweet dreams of
him, as he of her, had she risen in her sleep, and been drawn
involuntarily toward him by the loadstone of love? But--hark! The bolt
that fastened the house-door was softly drawn, and the latch gently
lifted. What _could_ that mean? Why was she thus going forth alone, and
clandestinely, at midnight? His heart beat faster than ever. For an
instant all that he had read or heard from his wild companions, and what
he had himself believed until he came to Gethin, of the wiles and
inconstancy of woman, flashed upon his mind. Had he, bred in the town,
and familiar with all the ways of vice, been flattered and hoodwinked by
a country wanton? Impossible. For, though there were no virtue in the
world, he felt assured that Harry loved him, and him alone. She must be
walking in her sleep. Softly, but very swiftly, he left the parlor, and
hurried to the front-door. It was closed, but unfastened. He opened it,
and looked out. All was as light as day, and yet so different. Every
object in the street, every stone in the cottage opposite, stood out
distinct and clear, but bathed in a pale and ghostly atmosphere. The
distant murmur of the sea came to him like the sigh of one just freed
from pain. Nothing else was to be heard; no human tread disturbed the
midnight stillness; but along the winding road that led to Turlock he
caught the far-off flutter of a woman's dress. She was going at rapid
speed, and the next moment had turned the corner, but not before he had
recognized his Harry; and, closing the inn door softly behind him, he
started after her like an arrow from the bow.
The scene of this pursuit was strange and weird enough, had Richard
possessed eyes for any thing but the object of it. The sky was without a
cloud, and the sea--which showed on its cold blue surface a broad and
shining path where the moon-beams lay--without a ripple. On shore there
was even less of motion. The bramble that threw its slender shadow on
the road moved not a twig. Nature, green and pale, seemed to be cast in
an enchanted sleep, and even to suspend her breathing. From the point
Richard had reached he could see the road stretching for a full mile,
like a white ribbon, save in the middle, where it dipped between high
banks. It led to Turlock only, but at this place a foot-path struck
across the fields to the Fairies' Bower. To his astonishment, though
indeed he had scarcely capacity enough for further wonder, Harry took
this path; he saw her climb the stile, and then for the first time look
round; he sank under the hedge, to hide himself; and when he cautiously
looked forth again the girl had vanished. But he knew whither she was
going now. He had assisted her across that very stile but a few days
ago; he had walked with her through the hazel copse, and skirted the
clear trout-stream by her side; and he could follow her now at utmost
speed, and with less caution, for the path was green and noiseless. He
could hear his heart beat--not from want of breath--as though in accord
with the silver treble of the stream, as he sped along. Through the
scanty foliage of the dell he saw her light dress gleam across the
wooden bridge, but he himself stopped beside it, peering through the
lattice of the branches upon her as she stood on the green bank of the
Never had moon-beams shone upon a sight more fair. Harry was attired as
she had been on the previous evening, except that she wore a shawl,
which also served her as head-gear, like a hood. This she now
unfastened, and taking out the pin that had joined it together, held it
above the well, which showed, as in a mirror, her leaning face and
curving form, her wealth of hair, her frightened yet hopeful eyes, and
the rise and fall of her bosom, filled with anxiety and superstitious
awe. She had come to test her future--to foresee her fate--at Gethin
Wishing-Well. For an instant she poised the pin, her lips at the same
time murmuring some simple charm--then dropped it into the well's clear
depths, and watched it fall. As she did so, another figure seemed to
glide upon the liquid mirror, at the sight of which she clasped her
hands and trembled. Superstitious as she was, Harry had only half
expected that her foolish curiosity would be actually gratified. Moved
by the avowal of Richard's love that morning, the obstacles to which
seemed to her so formidable, she had wished to see her future husband,
to know how fate would decide between him she loved and him whom her
father had chosen for her, and yet she was terrified now that that
which she had desired was vouchsafed her. She scarcely dared to look
upon yonder shadowy form, although its presence seemed to assure her of
the fulfillment of her dearest wish. It was the counterfeit presentment
of Richard Yorke himself; bareheaded, just as she had seen him last in
the bar parlor, but with heightened color, an eager smile, and a loving
gratitude in his eyes, which seemed to thank her for having thus
summoned him before her. The figure was at right angles from her own,
but the face was turned toward her. She gazed upon it intently, looking
for it to faint and fade, since its mission had been accomplished. She
even drew back a little, as though to express content, yet there was the
vision still, a glorious picture in its fair round frame of moss and
greenery. Supposing it should remain there (her pale face flushed at the
thought) indelibly and forever, to tell the secret of her heart to all
the world! Then a whisper, that seemed to tremble beneath its freight of
love, whispered, "Harry! Harry!" and she looked up, and saw the
substance of the shadow, her lover, standing upon the little wooden
Though Folly be near kin to Vice, she does not acknowledge the
relationship, and, to do Harry Trevethick justice, she would never have
made a midnight assignation with Richard in the Fairies' Bower. She was
more alarmed and shocked at the too literal fulfillment of her wish than
pleased to see him there. She shed tears for very shame. Whatever
reserve she had hitherto maintained, with respect to her affection for
him, had now, she perceived, been swept away by her own act. The scene
to which he had just been an unsuspected witness was more than
equivalent to a mere declaration of love: it was a leap-year offer of
her hand and heart. She had no strong-hold of Duty left to which to
betake herself, nor even a halting-place, such as coy maidens love to
linger at a little before they murmur, "I am yours."
There was nothing left her but revilings. She poured upon him a torrent
of contumely, reproaching him for his baseness, his cowardice, his
treachery in tracking her hither, like a spy, to overhear a confession
that should have been sacred with him of all men. Whatever that
confession might have been--and, to say truth, so utterly possessed had
she been by her passionate hopes, her loving yearnings, that she knew
not what she had merely felt, what uttered aloud--she now retracted it;
she had no tenderness for eaves-droppers, for deceivers, for--she did
not know what she was saying--for wicked young men. Above all things it
seemed necessary to be in a passion; to be as irritated and bitter
against him as possible. The copiousness of her vocabulary of abuse
surprised herself, and she did not shrink from tautology. She only
stopped at last for want of breath, and even then, as though she knew
how dangerous was silence, she bemoaned herself with sobs and sighs.
Then Richard, all tenderness and submission, explained his presence
there; showed how little he was to blame in the matter, and, indeed, how
there was neither blame nor shame to be attached to either of them;
spoke of his late interview with her father, gilding it with brightest
hopes, and cited the marvelous attributes of the Wishing-Well itself in
support of his position. He felt himself already her affianced husband;
the question of their union had become only one of time. She was
listening to him now, and had suffered him to kiss her tears away, when
suddenly she started from his embrace with a muffled cry of terror. Some
movement of beast or bird in the copse had made a rustling in the
underwood, but her fears gave it a human shape. What if Sol should have
followed them thither, as Richard had followed _her!_ What if her father
should have heard her leave his roof, as Richard had, or should miss her
from it--and--oh shame!--_miss him!_ "Home! home!" she cried. "Let me
go home." And she looked so wild with fright that he durst not hinder
her. Hardly could he keep pace with her along the winding path, with
such frantic speed she ran. At the stile she forbade him to accompany
"What! leave you to walk alone, and at such an hour, my darling?" It was
nearly two o'clock.
"Why not?" she cried, turning upon him fiercely. "I am afraid of none
but you, and of those whom I should love, but of whom you make me
afraid." Then up the white road she glided like a ghost.
Richard watched her with anxious eyes as long as he could, then sat upon
the stile, a prey to apprehensions. To what dangers might he not have
already exposed her by his inconsiderate pursuit! Suppose some eye had
seen them on their way, or should meet her now on her return! Suppose
her own fears should prove true, and her father had already discovered
their absence! His thoughts were loyally occupied with Harry alone; but
the peril to himself was considerable. It was impossible that he could
satisfactorily explain his companionship with the inn-keeper's daughter
at such a place and hour. The truth would never be believed, even if it
could be related. She had got home by this time; but had she done so
unobserved? Otherwise, it was more than probable that he should find two
Cornish giants waiting, if not "to grind his bones to make their bread,"
at least to break them with their cudgels. In their eyes he would seem
to have been guilty of a deliberate seduction, the one of his daughter,
the other of his destined bride. Yet, not to return to Gethin in such a
case would be worse than cowardice, since his absence would be sure to
be associated with Harry's midnight expedition. He had hitherto only
despised this Trevethick and his friend, but now, since he feared them,
he began to hate them. Bodily discomfort combined with his mental
disquietude. For the first time he felt the keenness of the moonlit air,
and shivered in it, notwithstanding the hasty strides which he now was
taking homeward. Upon the hill-top he paused, and glanced about him. All
was as it had been when he set out; there was no sign of change nor
movement. The inn, with its drawn-down blinds, seemed itself asleep. The
front-door had been left ajar, doubtless by Harry; he pushed his way in,
and silently shut it to, and shot the bolt; then he took off his boots,
and walked softly up stairs in his stockinged feet. He knew that there
was at least one person in that house who was listening with beating
heart for every noise.
The ways of clandestine love have been justly described as "full of
cares and troubles, of fears and jealousies, of impatient waiting,
tediousness of delay, and sufferance of affronts, and amazements of
discovery;" and though Richard Yorke had never read those words of our
great English divine, he had already begun to exemplify them, and was
doomed to prove them to the uttermost.
RICHARD BURNS HIS BOATS.
It was strange enough that day after day and week after week went by
without John Trevethick making any reference to the application his
guest had made for his daughter's hand. His silence certainly seemed to
favor it; and the more so since, notwithstanding what he knew, he put no
obstacles in the way of the young people's meeting and enjoying each
other's society as heretofore. Perhaps he had too strong a confidence in
Harry's sense of duty, or in the somewhat more than filial fear in which
she stood of him. Perhaps Richard's prudent and undemonstrative behavior
toward the girl in the presence of others deceived him. But, at all
events, the summer came and still found Richard under the same roof with
Harry, and more like one of the family than ever. Tourists of the young
man's own position in life, and even of the same profession, began to
visit Gethin, and of course "put up" at the _Castle_, but he found
nothing so attractive in their company as to withdraw him from that
homely coterie in the bar parlor for a single evening. He was always
made welcome there by both his host and Solomon; and without doubt, so
far as the former was concerned, a less sanguine man than the young
landscape-painter might have considered that his suit was tacitly
Even Harry herself--to whom her father's conduct was surprising
enough--had come at last to this conclusion. Only one thing militated
against this pleasant view of affairs--it was certain that the old man
had not yet opened his lips to "Sol" upon the matter. It was clear that
the miner still considered himself in the light of Harry's accepted
suitor. As a lover, he was fortunately phlegmatic, and did not demand
those little tributes of affection in the shape of smiles and whispers,
secret glances, silent pressures, which his position might have exacted;
but he would now and then pay her a blundering compliment in a manner
that could not be misinterpreted, or even make some direct allusion to
their future settlement in life, which embarrassed her still more. The
young girl, as we have hinted, was by no means incapable of
dissimulation, but she naturally revolted against having to support such
a _role_ as this, and would have even run the risk of precipitating what
might have been a catastrophe by undeceiving him. But Richard bade her
have patience. He had strong reasons, if they were not good ones, for
being well satisfied with the present state of affairs. In love,
notwithstanding much savage writing to the contrary, it is the woman who
suffers; it is she who is the small trader, who can least afford to
wait, while man is the capitalist. Richard saw no immediate necessity
for pressing the matter of his marriage, upon which his heart was,
nevertheless, as deeply set as ever. He would not (to do him justice)
have been parted from his Harry now for all the wealth of Carew. But he
was not parted from her, and he did not wish to risk even a temporary
separation by any act of impetuosity. Living was cheap as well as
pleasant at the _Gethin Castle_, and it was of importance to husband his
funds--to reserve as much of his resources as he could for the expenses
of his honey-moon. So far, and no farther, went his plans for the
future. He knew that his mother would not refuse to offer them a home,
even if his wife should come to him empty-handed; and the more he
humored the old man, and abstained from demanding a decision, when it
was clear the other preferred to procrastinate, the better favor he
would have with him, and consequently the better chance of gaining a
dowry with his daughter. Even if he should press matters, it was
probable, he reasoned, that Trevethick had no decisive reply to give
him. He had doubtless written to Mr. Whymper, and learned all that
Richard had already divulged to him--and no more; that is to say, that
he was, though an unacknowledged offspring of the Squire, in a very
different position, at all events, toward him than that of a mere
natural son. Trevethick could not have heard less--that is, less to his
advantage--or he certainly would not have kept silence for so long.
Such was the state of affairs at Gethin. Harry with her two suitors; her
father with his two expectant sons-in-law, each of whom had more or less
of reason for his expectation. Though Richard might be satisfied with
it, it was clear it could not last forever--nor for long. The day on
which the change took place, though it was in no wise remarkable in
other respects, he never forgot: every incident connected with it,
though disregarded at the time, impressed itself upon his mind, to be
subsequently dwelt upon a thousand times. It might have been marked in
the hitherto sunny calendar of his life as the "Last day of Thoughtless
Gayety. Here Love and Pleasure end."
It was fine weather, and there were more tourists at the inn than could
be accommodated, so Richard had given up his private sitting-room to
their temporary use. This, however, did not throw him more in Harry's
society than usual, since their presence naturally much occupied her
time. He had not, indeed, seen her since the mid-day meal which he had
taken in the bar parlor; but she had promised, if she could get away, to
call for him at a certain spot where he had gone to sketch--the
church-yard on the hill. The attraction of the castled rock was such
that few visitors sought the former spot, notwithstanding its
picturesque and wild position. How the church maintained itself on that
elevated and unsheltered hill, despite such winds as swept it in the
winter, was almost a miracle: but there it stood--as it had done for
centuries--gray, solitary, sublime. It was of considerable size, but
small in comparison with its God's-acre, which was of vast extent, and
only sparsely occupied by graves. The bare and rocky moor was almost
valueless; it is as easy for one duly qualified to consecrate a square
mile as an acre; and the materials of the low stone wall that marked its
limits had been close at hand. In one or two spots only did the dead lie
thickly; where shipwrecked mariners--the very names of whom were unknown
to those who buried them--were interred; and where the victims of the
Plague reposed by scores. Even Gethin had not escaped the ravages of
that fell scourge; and, what was very singular, had suffered from it
twice over; for, on the occasion of an ordinary burial having taken
place many generations after the first calamity, in the same spot, the
disease had broken forth afresh, and scattered broadcast in the little
hamlet ancient death. The particulars of the catastrophe, so
characteristic of this home of antique legend and hoary ruin, were
engraven on a stone above the spot, which had never since been
In a lone corner, as though seeking in its humility to be as distant
from the sacred edifice as possible, was a quaint old cross. It was
probably not so old by half a dozen centuries as the grave-mounds on the
rock where the ruined castle stood, but it seemed even older, because
there were words cut in its stone in a tongue that was no longer known
to man. Seated on the low wall beside it, Richard was transferring to
his sketch-book this relic of the past in his usual intermittent
manner--now gazing out upon the far-stretching sea, here blue and
bright, there shadowed by a passing cloud; now down into the village,
which stood on a lower hill, with a ravine between. He had seen the
post-cart come and go--for it came in and went out simultaneously at
that out-of-the-way hamlet, where there was no one to write
complainingly to the papers concerning the inefficiency of the mail
service--and it was almost time for Harry to come and fetch him, as she
had appointed. But presently the reason for her absence made itself
apparent in the person of her father. It was not unusual for old
Trevethick, at the close of the day, to call at the cottage in the
ravine, which the guide to the ruin inhabited in the summer months, and
see how business was doing in that quarter. If he had no eye for the
picturesque, he had a very sharp one for the shillings which were made
out of it; and Richard was not surprised to see the landlord descending
the opposite hill. "This will keep Harry at home; confound him!"
muttered the young man to himself, and then resumed his occupation. As
there was now no one to watch for, he worked with more assiduity, and
with such engrossment in his subject that he was first made conscious
that he was not alone by the sudden presence of a shadow on his
sketch-book. He looked up, not a little startled, and there was John
Trevethick standing beside him, his huge form black against the sun.
"You may well be frightened, young gentleman," were his first ominous
words; "it is only a guilty conscience that starts at a shadow."
Richard _had_ a guilty conscience; and yet the remark that was thus
addressed to him, unconciliatory, if not directly hostile, as it was,
rather reassured him than otherwise.
Trevethick's presence there, for he had never made pretense of seeking
Richard's society for its own sake--was of evil augury; his tone and
manner were morose and threatening; his swarthy face was full of pent-up
wrath; and yet it was obvious to the other that the secret was yet safe,
the divulging of which he had most cause to fear. Had it been otherwise
there would have been no mere thunder-cloud, but a tornado. "The post
has brought some ill news from Crompton," was what flashed across the
young man's brain; and the thought, though sufficiently uncomfortable,
was a relief compared with that he had first entertained, and which had
driven the color from his cheeks.
"I have no cause to be frightened, that I know of, either of you or any
other man, Mr. Trevethick," observed Richard, haughtily.
"I hear you say so," was the other's grim reply; "but I shall be better
pleased to hear you prove it."
"Two things--that you are not a bastard, nor a pauper."
Richard leaped down from the wall with a fierce oath; and for a moment
it really seemed that he would have flung himself against his gigantic
opponent, like a fretful wave against a rock of granite.
Trevethick uttered an exclamation of contempt. "Pick up your
sketch-book, young man, or one of those pretty pictures will be spoiled
by which you gain your bread. You've acted the fine gentleman at Gethin
very well, but the play is over now."
"I don't understand you, Mr. Trevethick. If you must needs be insolent,
at all events, be explicit. You have miscalled me by two names--Bastard
and Pauper. Who has put those lies into your mouth, the taste of which
you seem to relish so?"
Trevethick reached forth his huge hand, and seized the other's shoulder
with a gripe of steel. It seemed to compress bone and sinew as in a
vice; the arm between them was as a bar of iron. Richard felt powerless
as a child, and could have cried like a child--not from pain, though he
was in great pain, but from vexation and rage. It was maddening to find
himself thus physically subjugated by one whom he so utterly despised.
"Keep a civil tongue in your head, cock-sparrow," growled the giant,
"lest I wring your neck. You're a nice one to talk of lying; you, with
your tales of son and heirship to the Squire, and your offers of
copper-mines for the asking! Who told me how I had been fooled? Why,
Carew himself! You thought I should write to the parson, eh?"
Richard certainly had thought that he would have written to the parson,
but he strove to look as calm and free from disappointment as he could,
as he replied: "It was quite indifferent to me to whom you wrote, Mr.
Trevethick. There was only one account to give of my affairs; and it was
the same I had already given to you. I told you that my father did not
choose to acknowledge me for the present, and I have no doubt that your
questioning him upon the matter has made him very bitter against me; the
more so because he is well aware that he is fighting against the truth;
he knows that he was married to my mother in a lawful way, and that I am
the issue of that marriage. It is true that technical objections have
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