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Trevethlan: A Cornish Story.   By:

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TREVETHLAN: A Cornish Story.




London: Printed by STEWART and MURRAY, Old Bailey.



"What, am I poor of late? 'Tis certain, greatness, once fallen out with fortune, Must fall out with men too. What the declined is, He shall as soon read in the eyes of others, As feel in his own fall: for men, like butterflies, Show not their mealy wings but to the summer; And not a man, for being simply man, Hath any honour; but honour for those honours That are without him, as place, riches, favour, Prizes of accident as oft as merit."


Late in September, some thirty years ago, Henry Trevethlan lay dying in the state bedchamber of Trevethlan Castle; in Cornwall. It was a large and lofty apartment, indifferently lighted by Gothic casements overlooking the sea, and wearing a gloomy and desolate aspect. Old hangings of tapestry, much faded and worn, covered the walls; the furniture was scanty and inconvenient; the floor was bare, and the dark oak had lost its polish; the very logs in the spacious chimney seemed damped by the cheerlessness of the room, and threw a dull red glare over the prodigious bed, where death was silently counting the few sands yet remaining in the upper half of his hour glass.

As soon as he found himself seriously ill, Mr. Trevethlan had solemnly charged his medical attendant to warn him of the first approach of danger; and immediately that the announcement was made, he caused himself to be removed from the smaller but more commodious apartment which he usually occupied, to the dreary greatness of the state chamber, taking no heed of the remonstrance that the change would probably hasten his dissolution.

"Pshaw!" said he. "What matter a few days? The Trevethlans always die in the state rooms."

Accordingly their present representative was duly observing the custom. Four days had elapsed since his removal, and he had sunk so rapidly, that it was now doubtful whether as many more hours remained to him; but his mental faculties were still clear and unclouded. His son and daughter watched mournfully by his bedside.

"Helen," he said, "Helen Trevethlan, I wish to speak with your brother. Leave us for a while."

The girl rose silently, and glided out of the room. As soon as she had closed the door, the dying man turned feebly upon his pillows, fixed his still bright eyes upon his son, and spoke in low but distinct accents:

"Randolph, I leave you a beggar and a Trevethlan! May my curse cling to you, if ever you suffer poverty to tamper with pride. Employment will be open to you: may your appointment be your death warrant. Ay, methinks it may raise my ghost, if Randolph Trevethlan accept a favour from Philip Pendarrel. Live, sir, here, as I have lived. Marry, sir, as I married. Rear an heir to the castle, as I have reared you. Bequeath him the same legacy, which I bequeath you. But there is my fear. How much of your mother's blood runs in your veins? What base leanings may you not have inherited from her? Feel you not a love for your peasant relatives? Gratifying my revenge by engrafting a wild bud on a noble stem, I forgot that the fruit might degenerate. Speak, sir, is it so? Do the honours of Trevethlan descend upon a dastard? Say it, that a father's curse may embitter the remainder of your days."

"Oh, my father," said the young man, in deep and earnest tones, "never shall our name be degraded while it belongs to me. But may I not strive to restore it to splendour? Must Trevethlan ever be desolate? Shall the successors of our race wander in these halls, only to mourn over their decay? And is the livery of office the sole passport to the means of renovation? Have I not hands, and a head, and heart?"

"What would you, sir?" exclaimed the father... Continue reading book >>

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