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NEVERMORE

BY ROLF BOLDREWOOD

AUTHOR OF 'ROBBERY UNDER ARMS,' 'THE SQUATTER'S DREAM,' 'THE MINER'S RIGHT,' ETC.

London MACMILLAN AND CO. AND NEW YORK 1892

All rights reserved

First Edition 1892 Second Edition July and December 1892

CHAPTER I

'Then, by Heaven! I'll leave the country. I won't stop here to be bullied for doing what scores of other fellows have done and nothing thought about it. It's unjust, it's intolerable '

Thus spoke impetuous Youth.

'I should say something would depend upon the family tradition of the "other fellows" to whom you refer. In ours gambling debts and shady transactions with turf robbers happen to be forbidden luxuries.'

Thus spoke philosophic Age, calm, cynical, unsparing.

No power of divination was needed to decide that the speakers were father and son; no prophet to discover, on one side, sullen defiance following a course of reckless folly; on the other, wounded family pride and long nursed consuming wrath.

As the rebellious son stood up and faced his sire, it was curious to mark the similarity of the inherited lineaments brought out more clearly in his moments of rage and defiance.

Both men were strong and sinewy, dark in complexion, and bearing the ineffaceable impress of gentle nurture, leisure, and assured position. The younger man was the taller, and of a frame which, when fully developed, promised unusual strength and activity. More often than the converse, does it obtain that the son, in outward appearance or mental constitution, reproduces his mother's attributes or those of her male relatives; the daughter, in complemental ratio, inheriting the paternal traits. But in this case Nature had strongly adhered to the old established formula 'like father like son,' for whoso looked on Mervyn Trevanion, of Wychwood the head of one of the oldest families in Cornwall could not doubt for one moment that Launcelot Trevanion was his son.

If all other features had been amissing or impaired, the eyes alone, which contributed the most striking and peculiar features in both faces, would have been sufficient to establish the relationship, not only because they were, in both faces, identical in colour and form, but because of the strange, almost unnatural lustre which glowed in them in that moment of excitement; neither large nor especially bright, they were scarcely remarkable under ordinary circumstances of the darkest gray in colour and deeply set under thick and overhanging eyebrows. A stranger might well overlook them, but, when turned suddenly in anger or surprise, a steady searching light commenced to glow in them which was discomposing, if not alarming. Even in a quick glance such as mere badinage might provoke, they were strange and weird of regard. Lighted up by the deeper passions, those who had been in the position to witness their effect spoke of it as unearthly and, in a sense, appalling.

In the family portraits, which for centuries had adorned the walls of the long gallery in Wychwood, the same feature could be distinctly traced. There was a legend, indeed, of the 'wicked' squire one of the hard drinking, duelling, dicing, dare devils of the second Charles' day who had so terrified his young wife a gentle girl whose wealth had been the fatal attraction in the alliance that she had fallen down before him in a fit, and never afterwards recovered health or reason.

All through Cornwall and the neighbouring counties they were known as the 'Trevanion eyes.' There was a hint of demoniacal possession in the first ancestor, who had brought them into the family from abroad, and a legendary compact with the Enemy of mankind, from whom the fiendish glare had been derived. Since the birth of the first Mervyn, 'the wicked squire,' the eldest son had inherited the same peculiar regard as regularly as to him had come the estate and most enviable rent roll.

A saying had long been current among the county people that when the lands went to a younger son, this remarkable and, as they held, unlucky feature would be removed from the family of Trevanion as suddenly as it had entered it... Continue reading book >>




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