And drawing it, I raised my head and looked over the coffin’s edge. Still drawing it, I tumbled back.
White, cold, with the last struggle fixed on its features and open eyes, it was my own dead face that stared up at me!
WHAT I HAVE SINCE LEARNT.
They found me, next morning, lying on the brink of the tarn, and carried me back to the inn. There I lay for weeks in a brain fever and talked— as they assure me—the wildest nonsense. The landlord had first guessed that something was amiss on finding the front door open when he came down at five o’clock. I must have turned to the left on leaving the house, travelled up the road for a hundred yards, and then struck almost at right angles across the moor. One of my shoes was found a furlong from the highway, and this had guided them. Of course they found no coffin beside me, and I was prudent enough to hold my tongue when I became convalescent. But the effect of that night was to shatter my health for a year and more, and force me to throw up my post of School Inspector. To this day I have never examined the school at Pitt’s Scawens. But somebody else has; and last winter I received a letter, which I will give in full:—
Chesterham Road, KENSINGTON, W.
December 3rd, 1891.
It is a long time since we have corresponded, but I have just returned from Cornwall, and while visiting Pitt’s Scawens professionally, was reminded of you. I put up at the inn where you had your long illness. The people there were delighted to find that I knew you, and desired me to send “their duty” when next I wrote. By the way, I suppose you were introduced to their state apartment—the Blue Room—and its wonderful chimney carving. I made a bid to the landlord for it, panels, mirror, and all, but he referred me to Squire Parkyn, the landlord. I think I may get it, as the Squire loves hard coin. When I have it up over my mantel-piece here you must run over and give me your opinion on it. By the way, clay has been discovered on the Tremenhuel Estate, just at the back of the “Indian Queens”: at least, I hear that Squire Parkyn is running a Company, and is sanguine. You remember the tarn behind the inn? They made an odd discovery there when draining it for the new works. In the mud at the bottom was imbedded the perfect skeleton of a man. The bones were quite clean and white. Close beside the body they afterwards turned up a silver snuff-box, with the word “Fui” on the lid. “Fui” was the motto of the Cardinnocks, who held Tremenhuel before it passed to the Parkyns. There seems to be no doubt that these are the bones of the last Squire, who disappeared mysteriously more than a hundred years ago, in consequence of a love affair, I’m told. It looks like foul play; but, if so, the account has long since passed out of the hands of man.
Yours ever, David E. Mainwaring.