Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 312 pages of information about Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts.

“But they do not know—­and you are to be one of the four persons in the world who know—­that John Emmet was no other than John Murchison, the captain who lost the ’Nerbuddha’! He had come ashore in the darkness some five minutes before I had surprised him on the beach:  had come ashore clinging to the keg which I saw floating just beyond the breakers.  Then and there, stunned and confounded by the consequences of his carelessness, he had played the coward for the first and last time in his life.  He had run away—­and Heaven knows if in his shoes I should not have done the same.  For two nights and a day a hideous fascination tied him to the spot.  It was his face Dick had seen at the window.  The man had been hiding all day in the trench by the north wall of the churchyard; as Dick ran out with a lantern he slipped behind a gravestone, and when Dick gave up the search, he broke cover and fled inland.  He changed his name:  let this be his excuse, he had neither wife nor child.  The man knew something of gardening:  he had a couple of pounds and some odd shillings in his pocket—­enough to take him to one of the big midland towns—­Wolverhampton, I think—­where he found work as a jobbing gardener.  But something of the fascination which had held him lurking about Lansulyan, drove him to Cressingham, which—­he learned from the newspaper accounts of the wreck—­was Colonel Stanhope’s country seat.  Or perhaps he had some vague idea that Heaven would grant him a chance to make amends.  You understand now how the little Felicia became his idol.

“At Lansulyan he had but two desires.  The first was to live until he had saved as many lives as his carelessness had lost in the Nerbuddha.  For it was nothing worse, but mere forgetfulness to change the course:  one of those dreadful lapses of memory which baffle all Board of Trade inquiry.  You may light, and buoy, and beacon every danger along the coast, and still you leave that small kink in the skipper’s brain which will cast away a ship for all your care.  The second of his desires you have helped me to fulfil.  He wished in death to be John Murchison again, and lie where his ship lies:  lie with his grand error atoned for.  John Emmet needs no gravestone:  for John Emmet lived but to earn John Murchison’s right to a half-forgotten tablet describing him as a brave man.  And I believe that Heaven, which does not count by tally, has granted his wish.”

[1] Pilchard store.


A rough track—­something between a footpath and a water course—­led down the mountain-side through groves of evergreen oak, and reached the Plain of Jezreel at the point where the road from Samaria and the south divided into two—­its main stem still climbing due north towards Nazareth, while the branch bent back eastward and by south across the flat, arable country to join the Carmel road at Megiddo.

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Old Fires and Profitable Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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