THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR, TWICE WED... ,|1878-01-26|The Cardigan Observer and General Advertiser for the Counties of Cardigan Carmarthen and Pembroke - Welsh Newspapers Online
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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR,…

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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; OR, TWICE WED. CHAPTER V. f DEEPGANG. „' OUT upon the jutting cliffs and desolate coast, where Saul Meghorn had taken up his solitary abode, the storm raged even more fiercely, seeming to revel in total abandonment to its fury. The howling winds sent the huge, foam-crested waves dooming in succession against the rocks, upon whose sullen fronts they broke, and were scattered high into mid-air, descending in a shower of heavy spray or fell back, as if cowed by repula~, to join their fellow-waters. Then, again, the blustering winds, with a roar of discomfiture, seemed to gather all their forces, and drove on the towering billows that came in from afar, swelling as they rolled, till in triumph they leapt the rocky walls, and cast them- selves with a thunder-clap upon the shore. One upon another they came, dashing to the very doors of the lone house, beating at the casements, hissing down the wide chimneys while in swift succession the blue lightning flashed, and the crash of the thunder shook the building from the foundation to the roof. God help all poor souls at sea this night I" cried the old dame, as she shivered, and heaped more wood upon the fire, and swept in the ashes scattered by the blast. Many a storm I ha' seen in these parts, she buttered to herself, "but ne'er such a one as this- ne'er such a one as this." She turned some clothes, that were airing at the fire, in apparent expectation of some out-door wan- derer's return, and was in the act of putting a pair of shoes upon the hearth, when the whole room was lighted up by the vivid flash that blazed around it, AND was followed by a crash so appalling, it seemed as if the rocks were split asunder, and the whole Universe were tumbling into the abyss. The Lord be good to all us sinners!" cried the Poor, terrified creature, as she dropped into a chair and hid her face in her hands. She sat so till the echoes died and rolled away amid the rocks and for a minute there was silence, as if all Nature lay panic- stricken under that last fearful visitation. The wind fell to a moan, the very pattering of the rain made itself heard. Eh! and me all alone-a poor old body like me," Whined the crone. Where be the master this while, Wonder ? one would say he liked such awful nights best; and he'll be back in awhile, wet through, and-" She stopped short in her mumbling soliloquy, as a door in the rear of the house slammed to violently, and a heavy footstep passed rapidly along a passage and up the stairs. The eld woman had taken up a candle, and was hastening to show a light; but, as with a sudden thought, aha stayed, and shutting to the door gently, busied herself at the hearth as before. Meanwhile, Overhead, tI-fe hasty footstep passed heavily to and fro; thi r was a pause of some minutes then a Window opened on that side the building where the cliff jell abruptly to the sea, and the wind came pushing in, howling as if it grappled with something *t had been looking for and found at last, shrieking down the broad staira and through empty chambers On its way. There was a pause, and, very faintly, came the Plash of something falling into the waters below; then all was still: the casement was closed and made fast. Whether at the keenness of the penetrating blast, Or that, deaf as she was, she had distinguished the sound, the old woman gave herself a nervous shake, and then, busying herself about the room, now and a2ain muttering toJher?elf aloud, in her querulous Way, and after the habit of persons whs are accus tomed to bn much alone. r "Dorcus!" She did not hear till the call had been repeated twice from the stairs, then she hurried to the door 4zd opened it. Show a light here," said the deep, stern voice of Saul Meghorn. She did as desired, and he entered. He had evidently been cbanging his wet clothes up-stairs, for the linen he bad on was fresh he wore no coat, the sleeve of the shirt was turned back to the shoulder, the arm had been hurriedly bound in a silk handker- chief, which was stained through with blood, and he held it supported in the other hand. Here, bring your needles and thread, and doctor- stuffs •, I got a scratch on the rocks down below, and want botching up a bit. Quick, now! I must be going." Off again, master ? He made no reply; bat J^hile she get together what she needed, he, with little tenderness to himself, pulled off the bandage from his arm. "Eh! dear heart, dear heart! what a place! what place!" cried old Dorcas, as she beheld the raw, Jigged wound, that all but laid bare the bone; ye'd best have a real doctor to this here, master; llJdeed," she said, hesitatingly, "it be a bad place, sureZy." Stuff! he exclaimed, with an .oath; it'll heal In a week! I've had worse marks than that before and never a doctor but sea-water. Take and *nd it up and that sharp, too, or I shall be off with- out." The old woman uttered a low sound, half in com- miseration of her patient's hurt, half deprecatory of ^impatience, and set herself adroitly to her task. Meghorn knelt upon one knee, extending the arm to her. His eyes were fixed upon the five, his face Was paler even than was its wont; and now and again uis lipg were tightly compressed and his nostrils dated; the ghastly wound must have pained him orribly, but he never winced as the edges were drawn £ nor stirred a nerve of the limb. His long, black hair was thrust back from his °rows; the rain had drenched it, and the moisture ,ripped down upon his shoulders and on to the floor behind him. Has Yawmans been in ? he asked abruptly. replied in the negative. ««Tff°r from the Peep-o'-day ?" a *J,ay no one's been anigh the whole blessed night; 1 ld like to be skeered out o' what little wits I left, what wi' the thunder and the wind." *o 8 £ °ne Pa8t n°w. the worst of it," he said, as he from his knee, and she broke off her thread from e bandage. bj *\fc' ere the words had passed his lips, another to and swiftly-following peal gave a denial «< k0.8aid- break"3 w*nc* *3 changing, it will be clear at day- he said, confidently, as he threw on a rough <, V^.t&rpauhn, and hat, seaworthy. Hie >> the light, Dorcas, and bolt this door behind 6 followed him, but at the stair foot he stopped ^Ptly the Vr6^ at mess off," pointing with his finger to enjn r> where a bright red stain or two was deep- bleed ln^° wood this confounded scratch was °ncft 9,3 cam0« I could not stop it; wipe it off at Br* UuPe!iW.ent ouk *a*° ^he ground—half garden, half di8a,Lai,r:e^ down—which skirted the dwelling, and iar the old woman had shut to the fast, C °ae uPon his exit, and barred and bolted it tlae stai/k? 8a' ah°ut scrubbing out the eyesores on r. riiCln £ them at intervals to the door of Tk Cn.amber. strength ^es3ened in frequency and a°d the' aw°ke the echoes more'rarely, *!wea still .aTf j fallen to a growl. The vexed Sea wall lit (land beat at the base of the rocky Pacified • h,,f 4.? 1 na £ &ing woman, who will not be Deary r>,« ? tempest was evidently dispersing. e" deary me! it's an awsome life this!" grumbled the old woman, as she crept back to hei kitchen. "Eh! that be a bad place, in truth, and it's more than a scratch on the rock. They'll ha.bool1 falling in wi' the coast-guard, surely—well, well; ] do hope yon fellows got the worst on't. I oWe ]?eul no blessing. They took my lad from me—and if Saul do go lengths—well, well; what can a body do ? I mun lay the old bones somewhere." So she nodaed and grumbled in her chair, while the wood fire flickered and glowed, and the storm rolled down the horizon. From the front of Meghorn's dwelling place the down. or grass-grown rock, sloped off gradually to a platform or terrace below, where were erecteda.rustic seat or two, and which, thoroughly sheltered by the wall of rock, which hid it, too, from view of the house, and favoured by the warm sun and soft, south breeze, was as pleasant a resort as any hereabouts. This terrace or promenade was skirted 90(47 a mixture of woody shrubcery, hazel, ac £ berry, and wild cherry, interspersed with fern, clock, and flowering parasites. This verdant garwen. > 'air enough to look upon, did but cover the huge Jagged boulders of black rock which had dropped from the towering heights above, and which time and nature had united to robe in beauty. Beyond these the cliff fell suddenly off to the beach, two hundred and fifty feet below. The wide terra<.e continued, for some quarter of a mile, to the J* then narrowed, and, by a sudden sweep up*8* s> led to the open space or downs, crossing whicbi aI1 a8ain descending, jou reached the village; th?u £ the nearest, but less safe, road was by descending a ppe. cipitous natural path among the rocks. To the left the terrace continued some distance further, the sunny path becomipg greener, more extensive, till one came to the Chine- Imagination might here well have tempted a to fancy that, in the days when there S1&nts ift the land, some herculean majesty, in a capriciOu8 moment, had cleft the black rock asunder, and gather- ing up handfuls of earth's sweetest and fallest bloe- soms, scattered them broadcast over the jagged IDa*, set flowing the silver stream from above,. en !^U*d her majesty, the queen of giants, to ftnc* tafce her pleasure in the titan bower. High rocks towering on either side, as it seemed, to the clouds, were hung with verdure that» sea8«n, glowed with blossoms of a thousand hues ana Varied odours—the clematis, wild rose, hydrangea, and honjy. suckle; the strawberry, blackberry, and milky WObd nut; in the crevices hid the sweet flolet and p,,Ie primrose and waxen ivy draped the trunks of the sumachs which hung sideways over the torrtnt, quenching their blood-red foliage in it*, c.(? Waters. The willow, the ash, and silvery beech leB j^r shade and beauty to the charms of this lovel/ 5 While, from far up among the rocks out of & the never-failing cascade, that rolled, dasb11^ dark- ling, away incessantly; nourishing the '^ssoms and the thickening trees, taking its c0'ir8e n0lsily to the bottom of the Chine, and there glid1D8 Peacefully out upon the salt watefa. r bn In summer, it purled and danced down, scattering its diamond spray lavishly, around; but, when swollen by snows or heavy r*10? this season—it foamed ana roared, and ho1* J.86" head- long, adding its full share to the coØmotIon of the elements. Side by side with this sweet spot was th« dark gang or way, which gave its name t° P'ace. You had but to cross the Chine by the na ^al bridge at its head, or descending into It, mOUnt the other side, and you came upon a øéene so black, so j desolate and forbidding, that not the beauty of that which you had just passed could compete nor even, by contrast, augment the aspect of its natural horrors.. From the ridge of bare rock on which ypu atood- I emerging from the Chine—far as UP rose—dark, jagged, and threatening^™? a**6n of that sombre blackness which profiled on this por- tion of the coast. Abave, behind, on the opposite curve of \he wide bay that here fell deep inland, the eye rested only on the dark granite, which here, close at the feek fell off abruptly to the sea, hundreds of feet helot, whose breakers seem to dissolve noiselessly, tlj6 beach, even their thunder failing to attain a heiffht. Overhead the cliff projected man/ a°d,in former times, samphire had been abjysdW1^ gathe^ there, till, in the perilous pursuit, so øany had perished miserably, the place get an evil name, and Was aban- doned even by those daring trader0, i On many of the black, sharp P^^ o&fl, tfhich bristled out from the cliff, still A ^s of rags, which the villagers would point ? U^t*etiug, as the melancholy tokens of fearful co^ j,y; and the hardy ferns and heaths which %r°*, her0 and there, gained a horrible interest as one h^d tell of how the poor dead hand of the 8 a corpses picked up below, mostly held On UP °rft portion of ( such plant, grasped in the lastd08Pe,l"a clutehat life. However still the day and br, £ «e 8kiea» the wind never ceased about DeeP0ft^°' ^t kept UP a low, desolate moan, in and out and crevices, of which' the place was full 5 • „ „ 11 ^ever could wholly penetrate, but fell slant"13, tha cliffs beetle brow, filling it with *8 even at June noonday. «.+«;*„>. No wonder the place was l0* nor that the villagers would rather make anf,r.„ by the head ( ol the Chine than pass D00^, •f.'Kfcer dark; nor that the blackberries, which P1 overhung the cliffs between it and the to ripen and decay in peace. ;f Though the view from the stt • ,^aa the finest on the coast, though the 'ities of the sea- shore had boon found upon cov. » though its bay was smooth as glass, and as secluded as a bathing-room, Deepgang waS deserted, and the lovely Chine a desert. Deepgang was haunted •' _i, >i,nl The storm peopled it enO^ « night. With deep echoes, out fr°|7- vt ^ery bowels of the rock, as if, far within, so^e .u^^ ogre were forging the vast thunderbolts, aD? PfU (1-'a8 he opened his forge's mouth to cast them » £ r Jhe red flame leaped out, and lighted up sea, eft wa l. a hun- dred weird shadows—and howling, and pitiless beating of the 8t°rm» that night the Deep- gang was peopled, and as ^ith its own proper inhabitants. The while, in thb of the bay, where the overhanging cliff thrO'jf a perpetual shade of midnight—from between tb0 ^Uiks 0f some, masses of fallen rock—glimmered a light, faint, bnt steady. "Such folly a-shadin' of it, as if one mightn't make a bonfire %'> urch upon the Point, and not a creetur'd heed lC» ^bled a man, as he nevertheless placed the lan3p behind an inner niche of the cavern, where ho sat ^.otl,panion. As well to be safe, long as you stick to orders, all's fair sailing, it goes. Orders r' grumbled «J* W replacing in hjs mouth the pipe he had rfT; *t the lamp. Ye ha' said order* f lthat s not what I calls am calls it all just I Iglow He puffed his pipe J in cheerful con- trast to himself, for ^l^tly put out. The place where Were seated was a natural cavern in T,° f' w^h had,,apparently been adapted for a wat<!h, or resprt, or even an occasional d weIli"g-place. From some small projections hung seferal coats. tapeS, and leggings, such as seafaring wear it basket or two, and some nets, of the fi0hermen-j)toperty styIe, were there; some oars and 'ftaned in a. corner— cooking utensils, with brazier of ignited charcoal, were in a recess that g £ T? crevices upon the sea on another niched sneu the lamp; and, resting each an elbOW" upon the shelf, their feet stretched towards the PrMier, eat the men, with pipe in mouth. They were dressed ? °*dinarf attire of fisher- men, but, in addition* *0re a broad, thick, belt about his loins, to wb»clj_wa« afctacbed a short cut- lass their coats their brawny shoul- ders, in red woollen cOv6red by a loose rug. of shaggy blue; a ,afticle half, hung from a hammock Both were weU-b"1"' aWe-bodied men; one, some twelve years the senIor the younger, lesa weather- beaten and wild i» buthe wore an air of careless, selfish, a°d aDaad^ed recklessness, though his language and i»a.n."era» in that company, re- tained signs of educa, n and culture. You said ord0f ^ulated the man who had first spoken ;-be ^fjhepipe from his mouth, laid it slowly on the taWe beaide a°d, leaning his hands upon his knees, bent forward, as he addressed hW,,S3o"ll[e3't!jj0u could remember, as I do, the times when WfJoft a deck of our own-ay, of as fine a bit of as ever were afloat—if you'd seen her, colours and set sails spanking along, like a cloud afore t e Wind — five-and-twenty fine as fellows as ever stepped ashore, or boarded a enemy 9f His voice gr0* lou,der and his eleamed» ^hile he continued rapidly- Her decks like a bit 0' driven snow, not a rope's end awry-taut and trim as a maid, on her wedding day why, her Suns shone againj I 8f7' m60n Foulkes, if yon d kn°wn what it was to walk the seas aboard that brig, and second only in command to him—we 11, y<>u I do, o' this here milk-and- watery, bide-aIid-feek, 8ta at-home business, foolery, you'd /ay •' and that's all about it. He returned to hi8 former attitude, took up his pipe, and mto silence. «« i» said bis matej j have heard all that before —it's a pity ■^e°^e *hat him give up such a stirring course ot thmg8 ? I dort know, no more 'n you. It come over l him whenfirst he took to coming ashore too much, that's whit I always said it were. Spoilt me too, for that water, he did. I couldn't make out to leave him, or Ii a stuck to the old brig; but I must take my shareand set up tebacco-trade inland. But it Wouldn't^0 I give in, found my w»v back to salt Water, fj" in with the capt'n again, and here we are here. Weli and not so bad a stroke have we done this 8ix montf8 past." Ohi^ s play, Simeon. What d'ye say to board- ing of « Spaniard ? cut down three with my own hand-Pod hard metal, nigh a ship-load 'atween some ttfrty on us—not to talk o' precious stones and \Vhat nj,. liRa! and the liquors first-class," cried the other, exultinfv- II TdUse, Simeon Foulkes, as the capt'n says; to use, L4t not abuse. Never a drop would we dare touch'ong as work were to be done that wanted Bteady hands and clear heads but afterwards—oh! ay, afIt, my lads, and make the most of your time, -the boys loved him, too, to a man they did. • Tbe/e s the head-piece as should rule a nation,' I oftenfsaid to my mates. Think of him the other day a baling the life-boats, and a carrying of the poor droned wretches to bis place yon', and us a working to d<aw em on the rocks, and laying hands on all, abot0 and below, of whatsomever value might be." Tte younger man laughed a heartless, reckless laugh. "rj 8 the way with more in the world than Siul he dId at least save the lives of the poor devils, if he OTtibked em first. You'd have helped them to the bottom, eh, Mat ? Hi that's about it—though look yê, now, don't yoØ- Judge me too harsh. I have done the Christian thing by a fellow-critter afore now, though I say it. Now, ye see this watch ? He took out a massive silver-watch, attached to a b«aY' °^d-fashioned chain about his breast. "Ay, often, have wished it was mine," replied lazily the other, between puffs of his pipe. Well, it was a Dutchman—in a calm, too—the rummest go it was; we'd laid hold upon her all like unawares, and took 'em off their guard, settled the business of some half-dozen or so, and had the vessel and cargo all in our hands in no time. I heerd it as I was going below—a sort of moan --and somebody calls Jem.' I answered for Jem, seeing, as I expect, Jem was done in that line for good and all. 11 In his berth he was, a young Englishman, bad wi fever; I give him some water-he asked for it, for be took me for Jem all along, ye eee-aud he said he was dyillg-he know'd it. Now I might ha' finished the lad] in a minute with my cuMass; but, instead, I stood for Jem, and heerd all he had to say. He put this here watch into my hands with a letter, and he asked me, when I got home to a village that he named on the Devon coast, to take it to her- the young woman as the letter was writ to. Some more he said I forgot, then he died in peace. Now will ye say I was hard ?" Well, but the watch i" Ay, ay; it were a while afore things squared for me to get into those parts; but the time did come, and we laid by a bit. French colours I mind we carried as we rode off that very coast, and I minded me of the watch. So I went, and I feund the wench; a well-favoured lass she wur she had a leaning like to sailor men, thinking of him, and I wur made welcome. I let on I was a mate of his; then I showed her the watch—she knew it-told her he'd sent it as a token, his ship was there, but he couldn't get leave ashore, but would meet her if she would come in the boat so far with me. "She jumped at it-simple thing she was; of course I took her aboard our craft; the capt'n was ashore, and most o' the hands—only me, and the cook, and a lad." "Well!" Of course she blubbered, and raised a shindy when she found the cheat, but she didn't go back." What became of her ?" Well, I never could mnke out whether it were o' purpose or that she fell overboard; but three days after she was missing. Yes, that's the 'dentical watch." He coolly passed his huge, rough hand over the watcb, which had lain on his knee during the recital, wid replaced it in his breast, then smoked compla- Bently; the other took his pipe from his lips, spat into the charcoal, and drew a> long breath. You're about the deepest-dyed villain I ever did come across," he said, and that's saying a good deal. I've been bad enough myself, but hang me Don't say that," said the other, hastily. No, it should be you first," grimly laughed the atfcer. "Well, I don't know it's a matter of opinion, Simeon Foulkes. Now I can't, for my part, make out & man born to one fortun', and coming into another, running through 'em both, and breaking of his old mother's heart, and bringing her and his sisters to beggary, and to cursing him. I never had a mother to love, but if I had, villain as I am, she shouldn't ha' wanted, I'm thinkin'; I never chucked away some- wheres about ten or twelve thousand, and down my throat neither." Hold your tongue!" roared the other. "Yon might keep civil, Simeon Foulkes; there mayn't be much to choose." Hark!" cried the other, as he sprang to his feet and held up his hand. I heard a cry A gull blown again the rock." "No, no! I know There! there it was again! 3on't you hear ?" "Not I—it's mayhap one o' them darned coast guards; they're as skeered as gals, the young uns, of » black night." I wish to the blazes I was a coast guard, or any mortal thing alive, to have some pction this rotting in a hole don't suit me. A short life and a merry one!" He turned half rounds as if for a glass at his elbow. Confound it! andlno grog. It'd be as much as my life or yours is worth, to brew it afore orders. Why, he shot 'a man dead for that very thing once; he'd done it and was warned, and the next time it wor the bullet." How it comes down," said Foulkes, after a long pause; I don't remember ever such a storm—we'll run nothing, Yawmans, to-night." Not afore daybreak—storm! oh, ay, I been in worse-" He stopped short, as a long, shrill whistle came wmding up, apparently from the centre of the rock. "There's the capt'n said Yawmans, in a subdued whisper, and springing to his feet, he drew aside the coats, Ac., which hung upon the walls, and applying his mouth to a crevice, uttered a long, low, peculiar cry. There was a sound of a bar let drop, and then a long slip of the solid rock revolved, slowly disclosing a long, dark passage, out of which stepped Saul Meg- horn, a shaded lantern in his hand. (To be continued.)

MARRIED TO HER SCHOOL,'MASTER.…

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LADIES' COLUMN.

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