Billeder på siden

advanced, lest he himself should also offend in that manner, just when he was most anxious to conciliate. And, for fear of getting into a scrape by moving rashly in any direction, he stood stock still where he was.

This was the very thing he ought not to have done, for the shouts were in truth meant for him.

A freshly molten ingot of steel, just taken from the furnace where it had been run out, had been placed upon a trolly for conveyance to the great hammer which was to beat it into shape before the metal had had time to grow cool and hard. The men appointed to convey it were shoving the trolly before them at full speed towards its destination, when through the mist they suddenly perceived someone just ahead of them moving slowly along in the midst of their path. Seeing him to be dressed as a workman they took it for granted that he was one of their mates who would know the ways of the place and spring aside at the first sound of warning; so they merely shouted to caution him, and made no attempt to slacken their speed.

To their horror, however, they saw that the individual before them stood perfectly still, instead of getting out of the way as they expected.

All realised that if they did not instantly stop themselves he would inevitably be run down; and with one consent they strove to check the trolly at once, flinging themselves backwards so that their weight might aid their muscles the sooner to effect their purpose. By almost superhuman efforts they managed to stop the vehicle before yet it had reached the man in front of them; but in throwing back their bodies they had unconsciously raised their hands, and the handle they grasped, so as to give a slight downwards tilt to the foremost part of the trolly. The burden laying thereon, being still influenced by the speed at which it had been hitherto propelled, shot forward when its conveyance stopped. And of course the aforesaid depression of the front edge materially facilitated the ingot's flight.

There was a sound of a heavy body hurtling through the air, a shriek of sudden pain and terror, a crash, and then Reginald lay writhing and screaming on the ground, with his legs crushed beneath the weight of more than a ton of steel at nearly white heat.

Then ensued a ghastly scene, whose recollection haunted those who witnessed it for many a long day afterwards.

The first necessity was to procure long iron bars as levers, wherewith people could prize up the superincumbent mass of burning metal from off him, without approaching nearer to its fiery heat than flesh and blood could endure. Helpers were plenty and eager to assist, but bars of the requisite length and

strength were not to be found at a moment's notice. And whilst they were being hunted for and dragged to the spot, the sufferer had to lie in agony, with crushed limbs, and exposed defenceless to a heat that scorched and blistered him cruelly, and yet did not destroy consciousness. Raving, moaning, blaspheming, he was a spectacle of pain, despair, and fear which was awful to behold. Once the onlookers saw him stretch out his hand and make a vain attempt to get hold of some small object which lay on the ground just beyond his reach. Not being able to distinguish what the thing was, they did not understand at the time why he seemed so anxious to have it, and why the failure made him more frantic than ever. But later on, after he had been removed from thence, they discovered that the unknown object he had struggled after was a loaded pistol; and then they comprehended that it must have fallen out of his pocket when he was struck down, and that he had striven for it in order to put an end to his misery by suicide.

At last the ingot that pinned him to the earth was raised so that he could be drawn from beneath it, and delivered to the doctor's care. But when that individual had examined him he shook his head. Medical skill was powerless to aid one so frightfully injured; and Reginald Marshall, after lingering through long hours of excruciating pain, finally died shortly after the arrival of the officers of justice who had tracked him out and come to arrest him.

[ocr errors]

Of course no philosophy can be expected to pilot its adherents safely unless they are faithful to all its principles. And as Reginald's impatient nature kept him from paying due heed to the clause of pig-philosophy which stipulates that each individual's share of the trough is limited to "whatever I can contrive to get without being hanged or sent to the hulks, therefore it would obviously be most unjust to lay the blame of his shipwreck upon a philosophy which-to judge from the number of its disciples both in private and public matters, and when both nations and individuals are concerned-seems to be very widely accepted as a safe and satisfactory rule of life.


John Jones's intense mortification may be imagined when he learnt the true history of the change of clothes and how easily he had allowed himself to be humbugged. With that, however, we have here nothing to do, but only with something which was

found in the smoking-suit left with him, and which threw light on the possible origin of the fire in which Gladys so nearly perished.

Her step-father had a fad about the keys of the rooms in his house, and had them all made in a particular pattern and each one numbered according to the door to which it belonged, so that if at any time it chanced to go astray from its own keyhole it could be restored without difficulty. When, therefore, there was discovered in a pocket of Reginald's discarded costume a recently-oiled key of peculiar shape and marked with a number, it was easily identified as having belonged to the tower-room, because its pattern showed it to be a Llysderw key, and a reference to the numbered list of rooms in that house showed that the number it bore corresponded with that of the tower-room.

This discovery set people to work trying to explain how the key could have got into the pocket of Reginald's smoking-suit; and in endeavouring to account for that mysterious fact, several things came to be recollected and spoken of which would otherwise have been considered too trivial to be worth mentioning. It became known that when he was being shown over the house he had dropped his handkerchief in the tower-room, and gone back alone to fetch it; that there had then ensued a sufficiently audible fumbling at the door-handle to make Mr. Morgan fear it had got out of order somehow; and that after his guest had rejoined him he had noticed that there was oil on the recovered handkerchief.

Also it became known that on the night of the fire Gladys had had suspicions of hearing someone moving outside her bedroom door, and that she had been unable either to open it or to discover the key which had now turned up in such a very unlikely place as Reginald's pocket.

When all these things were put together and regarded in conjunction with the recent revelations as to Reginald's character, the conclusion arrived at was as follows:

It was supposed that the dropped handkerchief had been a pretext to enable him to return alone to his cousin's room, and that he had then removed the key from the inside hole, oiled it to ensure its turning noiselessly, and replaced it on the outside. Having thus prepared the ground (or, to speak more correctly, the door)-he had crept upstairs after everyone else had gone to bed that night, locked her safely into her room, carried off the key in his pocket so as to prevent the possibility of anyone's releasing her by unlocking the door, and finally set fire to the lower part of the tower in hopes of her being killed and her property descending to him as next heir.

Diabolical as the scheme appeared, yet the known facts went far to prove that he must really have contrived and executed

it. And the few people to whom the whole history of the matter was ever imparted were of opinion that, however horrible might have been the fate of such a scoundrel, it could not well have been worse than he deserved.

The separation between Gladys and Percy had caused grievous heart-ache to both, and now that they had come together again with no mischief-making enemy to keep them apart, the opening chords of a peace overture were speedily vibrating in the air. An explanation ab ovo soon took place and showed clearly that the mountain erected between the lovers had not had so much foundation even as the proverbial mole-hill--nay, that not even the tiniest rabbit-scratch had ever really existed out of which to construct the barrier. Naturally, therefore, the broken-off engagement was quickly re-made; and was followed in due course by a marriage, whence has sprung a sufficient number of olive-branches, both male and female, for there to be no apparent likelihood of the Nant Olchfa succession being diverted from the direct line of the Ivors, who have reigned there from time immemorial.

The eldest boy, who is named after his uncle David, will be an enormously wealthy man some day or other, for the value of the estate has been greatly increased by the advent of the railroad which was in progress at the time of that uncle's fatal coming-of-age.

One curious circumstance in connection with that railroad is, that the accidental instrument of retribution for Reginald's crimes subsequently had a share in enhancing the value of the property for whose sake those crimes were committed. For as the steel-works where he was killed supplied the rails for the railway in question, it happened-not unnaturally-that the very ingot by which he had been crushed was, after being rolled into a rail, sent amongst a lot of others to be laid down near Nant Olchfa. Certainly that was a grimly ironical retort to the scornful remark he had once uttered, to the effect that David ought to have been ready to give his heart's blood to the iron way that would improve his property!



Tradition states that Walter Vaughan, Lord of Dunraven, having wasted his substance in riotous living, sought to mend his fallen fortunes by the horrible practice of alluring vessels on to the rocky coast near his castle, by means of false signal lights. On one occasion, when he had succeeded in decoying a large vessel on to the rocks, and was engaged, with his infamous companions, in securing the wreckage washed up by the waves, a mangled corpse floated to his feet. Perceiving a valuable ring on the dead man's hand, he was about to seize it, when, to his horror, he recognised in that ghastly corpse the body of his only son.

(See Tales and Sketches of Wales by CHAS. WILKINS.)

Dunraven Castle, grim and gray,

Frowns darkly o'er Dunraven Bay.
The flowing sea

Rolls roughly, and the closing day
Shadows the lea.

Wintry winds whistle o'er the plain
With wanton force. Thick blinding rain
Descendeth fast.

With cordage snapped and canvas torn,
A helpless schooner's landward borne
Afront the blast.

Mad legions of th' impetuous deep
Assail the castle's rocky steep.

Resistance meet,

And in their baffled anger leap
Full fifty feet.

In mountain masses fleetly fly
Funereal clouds o'er lowering sky,
Dunraven's lord, with glittering eye
And trembling lip,

Doth to the loftiest turret hie,
Whence he more clearly may espy

The doomed ship.

He glanceth oft and eagerly
Athwart the wildly waving sea,
Rejoiceth with unholy glee,

Crieth "A respite brief,

By heaven! Scarce escapeth she
The deadly Tuskar Reef."*

A dangerous rock in the Bristol Channel, near the mouth of the River Ogmore, the scene of many disastrous wrecks.

« ForrigeFortsæt »