" You wonder, perhaps, why I call you a fool. It is
because you have lived for fourteen years with your
hand upon riches that would make a king* jealous, and
have never had the sense to grasp them ; it is because
you have shut your eyes when you might have seen,
have been a beggar when you might have ridden in a
carriage.- Upon my word, Mr. Jasper Trenoweth, when
I think of your folly I have half a mind to be dog-sick
with you myself.^^
What could the man mean ? What was this clue
which I had never found ?
"And all the time it was written upon this key
here, as large as life ; not only that, but, to leave you
no excuse, Amos Trenoweth actually told you that it
was written here.^^
"What do you mean?''^ stammered I, forced into
speech at last.
" Ah ! so you have found your voice, have you ?
What do I mean? Do you mean to say you do not
guess even now ? Upon my word, I am loth to kill so
fair a fool.^^ He regarded me for a moment with
pitying contempt, then stretched out his hand and took
up my grandfather's key.
" I read here," he said, " written very clearly and
distinctly, certain words. You must know those
words ; but I will repeat them to you to refresh your
memory : —
^^m €m^ m®^*i?^ ^^ a jB^nm mm"'
"dead man's rock!'' 319
" Well ? " I asked, for — fool that I was — even yet I
did not understand.
'' Mr, Jasper Trenoweth, did you ever hear tell of
such a place as Dead Man's Rock ? "
The truth, the whole horrible certainty of it, struck
nie as one great wave, and rushed over my bent head
as with the whirl and roar of many waters. " Dead
Man's Rock ! " '' Dead Man's Rock ! " it sang- in my
ears as it swept me off my feet for a moment and
passed, leaving me to sink and battle in the gulf of
bottomless despair. And then, as if I really drowned,
my past life with all its follies, mistakes, wrecked
hopes and baseless dreams, shot swiftly past in one
long train. Again I saw my mother's patient, anxious
smile, my father's drowned face with the salt drops
trickling from his golden hair, the struggle on the
rock, the inquest, the awful face at the window, the
corpses of my parents stretched side by side upon the
bed, the scene in the gambling-hell with all its white
and desperate faces, Claire, my lost love, the river, the
theatre, Tom's death, and that last dreadful scene, Fran-
cesca with the dark blood soaking her white dress and
trickling down upon the boards. I tried to put my
hands before my eyes, but the cords held and cut my
arms like burning steel. Then in a flash I seemed to be
striding madly up and down Oxford Street, while still
in front of me danced and flew the yellow woman, her
every diamond flashing in the gas-light, her cold black
eyes, as they turned and mocked me, blazing marsh-
320 DKAD man's rock.
liglits of doom. Then came the ririf^ing of many bells
in my cars, mingled witii silvery lau