and peaceful, the old house so reassuring, that I half
wondered if I had not two lives, and were not coming
Ijack to the old cpiiet everyday experience again.
Suddenly I remembered the packet and the letter.
I put my hand into my pocket and drew them out. The
packet was a tin box, strapped around with a leathern
band : on the top, between the band and the box, was a
curious piece of yellow metal that looked like the half
of a waist-buckle, having a socket but without any
corresponding hook. On the metal were traced some
characters which I could not read. The tin box was
heavy and plain, and the strap soaking with salt water.
I turned to the letter ; it was all but a pulp, and in
its present state illegible. Carefully smoothing it out,
1 slipped it inside the strap and turned to hide my
prize ; for such was my fear of the man who called him-
self Apoll)'on, that I could know no peace of mind
whilst it remained about me. How should I hide it ?
After some thought, I remembered that a stone or two
in the now empty cuw-house had fallen loose. With a
54 DEAD MAN^S ROCK.
hasty glance over my shoulder, I crept around and into
the shed. The stones came away easily in my hand.
With another hiirried look^ I slij^ped the packet into the
opening, stole out of the shed, and entered the house by
the back door.
My mother had been up for some time — it was now
about nine o'clock — and had prepared our breakfast.
Pier face was still pale, but some of its anxiety left it
as I entered. She was evidently waiting for me to
speak. Something in my looks, however, must have
frightened her, for, as I said nothing, she began to
" Well, Jasper, is there any news ? "
" There was a ship wrecked on Dead Man's Rock
last night, but they've not found anything except "
" What was it called ? "
"The Mary Jane — that is — I don't quite know."
Up to this time I had forgotten that mother would
want to know about my doings that morning. As an
ordinary thing, of course I should have told her what-
ever I had seen or heard, but my terror of the Captain
and the awful consequences of saying too much now
flashed upon me with hideous force. I had heard about
the Maru Jane from the unhappy John. What if I
had already said too much ? I bent over my breakfast
After a dreadful pause^ during which I felt, though
I could not see, the astonishment in my mother's eyes,
she said —
MOTHER AND SON. 55
" You don't quite know ? "
'' No ; I think it must have been the Marij JcDie,
but there was a stranj^e sailor picked up. Uncle Love-
day found him, and he seemed to be a foreig-ner,
and he said — I mean — I thought — it was the name,
This was worse and worse. Again at my wits' end,
I tried to go on with my breakfast. After awhile I
looked up, and saw my mother watching me with a
look of mingled surprise and reproach.
" Was this sailor the only one saved ? "
"No — that is, I mean — yes; they only found one."
I had never lied to my mother before, and almost
broke down with the effort. Words seemed to choke
me, and her saddening eyes filled me with torment.
" Jasper dear, what is the matter with you ? Why
are you so strange ? "
I tried to look astonished, but broke down miserably.
Do what I would, my eyes seemed to be beyond my
control j they would not meet her steady gaze.
" Uncle Loveday is coming up later on. He's look-
ing after the Cap — I mean the sailor, and said he
would run in afterwai-ds.'^
" What is this sailor like ? "
This question fairly broke me down. Between my
dread of the Captain and her pained astonishment, I
could only sit stammering and longing for the earth to
gape and swallow me up. Suddenly a dreadful sus-
picion struck my mother.
56 DEAD man's rock.
" Jasper ! Jasper ! it cannot be — you cannot mean —
that it was hh ship ? "
" No, mother, no ! Father is all rig-ht. He said —
I mean — it was not his ship/'
" Oh ! thank God ! But you are hiding something
from me ! What is it ? Jasper dear, what are you
" Mother, I //iink it was the Marij Jane. ]^ut
it was not father's ship. Father's all right. And,
mother, don't ask me any more ; Uncle Loveday will
tell all alwut it. And — I'm not very well, mother. I
Want of sleep, indeed, and the excitement of the
morning, had broken me down. JNIy mother stifled her
desire to hear more, and tenderly saw me to bed, guess-
ing my fatigue, but only dimly apprehensive of any-
thing beyond. In bed I lay all that morning, but
could get no sleep. The vengeance of that dreadful
man seemed to fill the little room and charge the atmo-
sphere with horror. '' I come on them in bed some-
times, and sometimes from behind when they're not
looking " — the words rang in my ears, and could not be
muffled by the bed-clothes ; whilst, if I began to doze,
the dreadful burthen of his song —
" And tlio devil has got liis duo, my lads —
Siug Lo ! but lio waits fur you ! " —
with the peculiar catch of its lilt, would suddenly make
me start up, wide awake, with every nerve in my body
dancing to its grisly measure.
I DREAM. 57
At last^ towards noon, I dozed off into a restless
slumber, but only to see each sight and hear each sound
repeated with every grotesque and fantastic variation.
Dead INIan^s Rock rose out of a sea of blood, peopled
with hundreds of ghastly faces, each face the distorted
likeness of John or the Captain. Blood was every-
where — on their shirts, their hands, their faces, in
sj)l ashes across the rock itself, in vivid streaks across
the spume of the sea. The very sun peered through a
blood-red fog, and the waves, the mournful gulls, the
echoes from the cliff, took up the everlasting chorus,
led by one silvery demoniac voice —
" Siug lio ! but he waits for you ! "
Finally, as I lay tossing and tormented with this
phantom horror in my eyes and ears, the sound died
imperceptibly away iiito the soft hush of two well-
known voices, and I opened my eyes to see mother with
Uncle Loveday standing at my bedside.
" The boy's a bit feverish,^' said my uncle's voice ;
" he has not got over his fright just yet.''''
"Hush! he's waking ! ^^ replied my mother; and
as I opened my eyes she bent down and kissed me.
How inexpressibly sweet was that kiss after the night-
mare of my dream !
'' Jasper dear, are you better now ? Try to lie
down and get some more sleep.'''
But I was eager to know what news Uncle Love-
day had to tell, so I sat up .and questioned him. There
58 DEAD MAN^S ROCK.
was little enough ; though, delivered with much pomp,
it took some time iu telling. Roughly, it came to
this : —
A body had been discovered — the body of a small
infant — washed up on the Polkimbra Beach. This
would give an opportunity for an inquest ; and, in fact,
the coroner was to arrive that afternoon from Penzance
with an interpreter for the evidence of the strange
sailor, who, it seemed, was a Greek. Little enough
had been got from him, but he seemed to imply that
the vessel had struck upon Dead Man^s Eock from the
south-west, breaking her back upon its sunken base,
and then slipping out and subsiding in the deej) water.
It must have hai)pened at high tide, for much coffee
and basket-work was found u^jon high-water line. This
fixed the time of the disaster at about 4 a.m., and my
mother's eyes met mine, as we both remembered that it
was about that hour when we heard the wild despairing
cry. For the rest, it was hopeless to seek information
from the Greek sailor without an interpreter; nor
were there any clothes or identifying marks on the
child^s body. The stranger had been clothed and
fed at the Vicarage, and would give his evidence that
afternoon. Hitherto, the name of the vessel was un-
At this point my mother's eyes again sought mine,
and I feared fresh inquiries about the Mary Jane ; but,
luckily. Uncle Loveday had recurred to the question
of the Tower of Babel, on which he delivered several
AT THE " LUGGER." 59
profound reflections. Seeing me still disinclined to
explain, she merely sighed, and was silent.
But when Uncle Loveday had broken his fast and,
rising-, announced that he must drive down to be pre-
sent at the inquest, to our amazement, mother insisted
upon going with him. Having no suspicion of her
deadly fear, he laughed a little at first, and quoted
Solomon on the infirmities of women to an extent that
made me wonder what Aunt Loveday would have said
had he dared broach such a subject to that strong-
minded woman. Seeing, however, that my mother was
set upon going, he desisted at last, and put his cart at
her service. Somewhat to her astonishment, as I could
see, I asked to be allowed to go also, and, after some
entreaty, prevailed. So we all set out behind Uncle
Loveday ^s over-fed pony for Polkimbra.
There was a small crowd around the door of the
'' Lugger Inn '' when we drove up. It appeared that
the coroner had just arrived, and the inquest was to
begin at once. Meanwhile, the folk were busy with
conjecture. They made way, however, for my uncle,
who, being on such occasions a person of no little im-
portance, easily gained us entry into the Red Room
where the inquiry was about to be held. As we
stepped along the passage, the landlord's parrot, look-
ing more than ever like Aunt Elizabeth, almost
frightened me out of my wits by crying, '' All hands
lost ! All hands lost ! Lord ha^ mercy on us ! " Its
lioarse note still sounded in my cars, when the door
60 DEAD MAN^S ROCK.
opened, and we stood in presence of the " crowncr's
I sujipose the Red Room of the " Lug-ger " was
full; andj indeed, as the smallest inquest involves at
least twelve men and a coroner, to say nothing of wit-
nesses, it must have been very full. But for me, as
soon as my foot crossed the threshold, there was only
one face, only one pair of eyes, only one terrible pre-
sence, to be conscious of and fear. I saw him at once,
and he saw me ; but, unless it were that his cruel eye
glinted and his lips grew for the moment white and
fixed, he betrayed no consciousness of my presence
The coroner was speaking as we entered, but his
voice sounded as though far away and faint. Uncle
Loveday gave evidence, and I have a dim recollection
of two rows of gleaming buttons, but nothing more.
Then Jonathan, the coast-guardsman, was called. He
had seen, or fancied he saw, a ship in distress near
Gue Graze; had noticed no light nor heard any signal
of distress ; had given information at Lizard Town.
The rocket apparatus had been got out, and searchers
had scoured the clift's as far as Forth Pyg, but nothing
was to be seen. The search-party were returning, when
they found a shipwrecked sailor in company with a
small boy, one Jasper Trenoweth, in Ready-Money
At the sound of my own name I started, and for the
second time since our entry felt the eyes of the stranger
THE GREEK SAIfOIi. 61
quest idii me. At tlio same time I felt my mother's
elasp of my hand tig-hteii, and knew that she saw that
The air grew closer and the walls seemed to draw
nearer as Jonathan's voice continued its drowsy tale.
The afternoon sun poured in at the window until it
made the little wainscoted parlour like an oven, but
still for me it only lit up one pair of eyes. The voices
sounded more and more like those of a dream; the
scratcliing- of pens and shuffling- of feet were, to my
ears, as distant murmurs of the sea, until the coroner's
voice called — " Georgio Rhodojani.'^
Instantly I was wide awake, with every nerve on
the stretch. Ag-ain I felt his eyes question me, again
my mother's hand tightened upon mine, as the stranger
stood UJ1 and in softest, most musical tones gave his
evidence. And the evidence of Georgio Rhodojaui,
Greek sailor, as translated l>y Jacopo Rousapoulos,
inter2:>reter, of Penzance, was this : —
'' jNIy name is Georgio Rhodojani. I am a Greek
by birth, and have been a sailor all my life. I was sea-
man on board the ship which was wrecked last night on
your horrible coast. The ship belonged to Bristol, and
was homeward bound, Itut I know neither her name nor
the name of her captain."
At this strange opening, amazement fell upon all.
For myself, the wild incongruity of this foreign tongue
fiom lips which I had heard utter such fluent and
llute-likc English swallowed up all other wonder.
G:i DEAD 3IAN^S ROCK.
After a pause, seeing the marvelling looks of his
audience, the witness quietly explained —
'' You wonder at this ; but I am Greek, and cannot
master your hard names. I joined the ship at Colombo
as the ea])tain was short of hands. I was wrecked in
a Dutch vessel belonging to Dordrecht, off Java, and
worked my passage to Ceylon, seeking employment.
It is not, therefore, extraordinary that I am so ignorant,
and my mouth cannot pronounce your English language,
but show me your list of ships and I will point her
out to you.^^
There was a rustling of pajiers, and a list of East
Indiamen was handed up to him : he hastily ran liis
finger over the pages. Suddenly his face lighted up.
" Ah ! this is she ! — this is the shij^ that was
wrecked last night ! "
The coroner took the paper and slowly read out
— " The James and Elizaheth, of Bristol. Captain —
^' Ah, yes, that is she. The babe here was the cap-
tain's child, born on the voyage. There were eighteen
men on board, an English boy, and the captain's wife.
The child was born off the African coast. We sailed
from Colombo on the 22ud of July last, with a cargo
of coffee and sugar. Two days ago we were off a big
harbour, of which I do not know the name; but early
yesterday morning were abreast of what you call, I
think, the Lizard. The wind was S.W., and took ns
into your terrible bay. All yesterday we were tacking
STRANGE EVIDENCE. 6-^
to g"et out. Towards evening" it blew a gale. The
captain had been ill ever since we passed the Bay of
Biscay. We hoisted no signal^ and knew not what to
do, for the captain was sick, and the mate drunk. The
mate began to cry when we struck. I alone got on to
the jib-boom and jumped. What became of the others
I know not, but I jumped on to the rock by which you
found me this morning. The vessel broke up in a very
short time. I heard the men crying bitterly, but the
mate's voice was louder than any. The captain of
course was below, and so, when last I saw them, were
his wife and child, but she might have rushed upon
deck. I was almost sucked back twice, but managed
to scramble up. It was not until daylight that I knew
I was on the mainland, and climbed down to the
As this strange history proceeded, I know not who
in that little audience was most affected. The jury,
fascinated by the sweet voice of the speaker, as well
as the mystery about the vessel and its unwitnessed
disappearance, leant forward in their seats with strained
and breathless attention. My mother could not take
her eyes off the stranger's face. As he hesitated over
the name of the ship, her very lips grew white in
agonised suspense, but when the coroner read ''the James
and ElizahetJi/' she sank back in her seat with a low
" Thank God ! " that told me what she had dreaded, and
how terril)ly. I myself knew not what to think, nor if
my ears had heard aright. Part of the tale I knew to
64 DEAD man's rock.
Lea lie; Imt liow miu-li ? And what of the l][(tn/
Jane ? I looked round about. A hush had succeeded
the closing words of Rhodojani. Even the coroner was
puzzled for a moment ; hut improbable as the evidence
might seem, there was none to gainsay it. I alone,
had they but known it, could give this demon the lie —
I, an unnoticed child.
The coroner put a question or two and then summed
up. Again the old drowsy insensibility fell upon me.
I heard the jury return the usual verdict of " Acci-
dental Death/' and, as my mother led me from the
room, the voice of Joe Roscorla (who had been on the
jury) saying, '' Duni all foreigners ! I don't hold by
none of 'em." As the door slammed behind us,
shutting out at last those piercing eyes, a shrill screech
from the landlord's parrot echoed through the house —
'^ All hands lost ! Lord ha' mercy on us ! "
TELLS now A FACE LOOKED IN AT THE WINDOW OE
LANTE.IG; AND IN WHAT MANNER MY FATHER CAME
HOME TO US.
My mother and I walked homeward together by way of
the clijEfs, We were both silent. My heart ached to
tell the whole story, and prove that my tale of the
Mcuy Jane was no wanton liej but fear restrained me.
My mother was busy with her own thoughts. She had
seen, I knew, the g-lanee of intellig-ence which the
stranger gave me; she guessed that his story was a
lie and that I knew it. What she could not guess was
the horror that held my tongue fastened as with a
padlock. So, both busy with bitter thoughts, we walked
in silence to Lantrig.
The evening meal was no better. My food choked
me, and after a struggle I was forced to let it lie almost
untouched. But when the fire was stirred, the candles
lit, and I drew my footstool as usual to her feet by the
hearth, the old room looked so warm and cosy that my
pale fears began to vanish in its genial glow. I had
possessed myself of the *' Pilgrim^s Progress,"^ and the
volume, a dumpy octavo, lay on my knee. As I read