Uncle Loveday cleared his throat and looked at me again with professional pride in his diagnosis. There was a pause, broken only by Mrs. Busvargus splashing in the back kitchen.
“Good heavens!” said my uncle, “is that woman taking headers? Come, Jasper, what do you think?”
“I think,” I replied, “we had better look at the tin box.”
“Bless my soul! There’s something in the boy, after all. I had clean forgotten it.”
The box was about six inches by four, and some four inches in depth. The tin was tarnished by the sea, but the cover had been tightly fastened down and secured with a hasp and pin. Uncle Loveday drew out the pin, and with some difficulty raised the lid. Inside lay a tightly-rolled bundle of papers, seemingly uninjured. These he drew out, smoothed, and carefully opened.
As his eyes met the writing, his hand dropped, and he sank back—a very picture of amazement—in his chair.
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s your father’s handwriting!”
I looked at this last witness cast up by the sea and read, “The Journal of Ezekiel Trenoweth, of Lantrig.”
CONTAINS THE FIRST PART OF MY FATHER’S JOURNAL; SETTING FORTH HIS MEETING WITH MR. ELIHU SANDERSON, OF BOMBAY; AND MY GRANDFATHER’S MANUSCRIPT.
It was indeed my father’s Journal, thus miraculously preserved to us from the sea. As we sat and gazed at this inanimate witness, I doubt not the same awe of an all-seeing Providence possessed the hearts of both of us. Little more than twenty-four hours ago had my dead father crossed the threshold of his home, and now his voice had come from the silence of another world to declare the mystery of his death. It was some minutes before Uncle Loveday could so far control his speech as to read aloud this precious manuscript. And thus, in my father’s simple language, embellished with no art, and tricked out in no niceties of expression, the surprising story ran:—
“May 23rd, 1848.—Having, in obedience to the instructions of my father’s Will, waited upon Mr. Elihu Sanderson, of the East India Company’s Service, in their chief office at Bombay, and having from him received a somewhat singular communication in my father’s handwriting, I have thought fit briefly to put together some record of the same, as well as of the more important events of my voyage, not only to refresh my own memory hereafter, if I am spared to end my days in peace at Lantrig, but also being impelled thereto by certain strange hints conveyed in this same communication. These hints, though I myself can see no ground for them, would seem to point towards some grave bodily or spiritual peril; and therefore it is my plain duty, seeing that I leave a beloved wife and young son at home, to make such provision that, in case of misadventure or disaster, Divine Providence may at least have at my hands some