“‘She—Margaret-will be happy,’ I said; ‘with her cousins, you know.’
“‘Oh yes, miss, she will be happy, sure enough,’ Mrs. Carkeek agreed.
“So when the time came I packed up my boxes, and tried to be cheerful. But on the last morning, when they stood corded in the hall, I sent Mrs. Carkeek upstairs upon some poor excuse, and stepped alone into the pantry.
“‘Margaret!’ I whispered.
“There was no answer at all. I had scarcely dared to hope for one. Yet I tried again, and, shutting my eyes this time, stretched out both hands and whispered:
“And I will swear to my dying day that two little hands stole and rested—for a moment only—in mine.”
[Or so much as is told of her by Paschal Tonkin, steward and major-domo to the lamented John Milliton, of Pengersick Castle, in Cornwall: of her coming in the Portugal Ship, anno 1526; her marriage with the said Milliton and alleged sorceries; with particulars of the Barbary men wrecked in Mount’s Bay and their entertainment in the town of Market Jew.]
My purpose is to clear the memory of my late and dear Master; and to this end I shall tell the truth and the truth only, so far as I know it, admitting his faults, which, since he has taken them before God, no man should now aggravate by guess-work. That he had traffic with secret arts is certain; but I believe with no purpose but to fight the Devil with his own armoury. He never was a robber as Mr. Thomas St. Aubyn and Mr. William Godolphin accused him; nor, as the vulgar pretended, a lustful and bloody man. What he did was done in effort to save a woman’s soul; as Jude tells us, “Of some have compassion, that are in doubt; and others save, having mercy with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh”—though this, alas! my dear Master could not. And so with Jude I would end, praying for all of us and ascribing praise to the only wise God, our Saviour, who is able to guard us from stumbling and set us faultless before His presence with exceeding joy.
It was in January, 1526, after a tempest lasting three days, that the ship called the Saint Andrew, belonging to the King of Portugal, drove ashore in Gunwallo Cove, a little to the southward of Pengersick. She was bound from Flanders to Lisbon with a freight extraordinary rich—as I know after a fashion by my own eyesight, as well as from the inventory drawn up by Master Francis Porson, an Englishman, travelling on board of her as the King of Portugal’s factor. I have a copy of it by me as I write, and here are some of Master Porson’s items:—