CHAPTER I. TELLS OF THE STRANGE WILL OF MY GRANDFATHER, AMOS TRENOWETH.
Whatever claims this story may have upon the notice of the world, they will rest on no niceties of style or aptness of illustration. It is a plain tale, plainly told: nor, as I conceive, does its native horror need any ingenious embellishment. There are many books that I, though a man of no great erudition, can remember, which gain much of interest from the pertinent and appropriate comments with which the writer has seen fit to illustrate any striking situation. From such books an observing man may often draw the exactest rules for the regulation of life and conduct, and their authors may therefore be esteemed public benefactors. Among these I, Jasper Trenoweth, can claim no place; yet I venture to think my history will not altogether lack interest—and this for two reasons. It deals with the last chapter (I pray Heaven it be the last) in the adventures of a very remarkable gem—none other, in fact, than the Great Ruby of Ceylon; and it lifts, at least in part, the veil which for some years has hidden a certain mystery of the sea. For the moral, it must be sought by the reader himself in the following pages.
To make all clear, I must go back half a century, and begin with the strange and unaccountable Will made in the year of Grace 1837 by my grandfather, Amos Trenoweth, of Lantrig in the County of Cornwall. The old farm-house of Lantrig, heritage and home of the Trenoweths as far as tradition can reach, and Heaven knows how much longer, stands some few miles N.W. of the Lizard, facing the Atlantic gales from behind a scanty veil of tamarisks, on Pedn-glas, the northern point of a small sandy cove, much haunted of old by smugglers, but now left to the peaceful boats of the Polkimbra fishermen. In my grandfather's time however, if tales be true, Ready-Money Cove saw many a midnight cargo run, and many a prize of cognac and lace found its way to the cellars and store-room of Lantrig. Nay, there is a story (but for its truth I will not vouch) of a struggle between my grandfather's lugger, the Pride of Heart, and a certain Revenue cutter, and of an unowned shot that found a Preventive Officer's heart. But the whole tale remains to this day full of mystery, nor would I mention it save that it may be held to throw some light on my grandfather's sudden disappearance no long time after. Whither he went, none clearly knew. Folks said, to fight the French; but when he returned suddenly some twenty years later, he said little about sea-fights, or indeed on any other subject; nor did many care to question him, for he came back a stern, taciturn man, apparently with no great wealth, but also without seeming to want for much, and at any rate indisposed to take the world into his confidence. His father had died meanwhile, so he quietly assumed the mastership at Lantrig, nursed his failing mother tenderly until her death, and then married one of the Triggs of Mullyon, of whom was born my father, Ezekiel Trenoweth....