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- Michael's Crag - 19/19 -


of the precipice? What was THAT to such as he? He would spread his wings--for once--at last--thus! thus! and fly forward on full pinions to his expected triumph!

He raised both arms above his head, and spread them out as if for flight. His knees trembled fearfully. His fingers quivered. Then he launched himself on the air and fell. His eyes closed half-way. He lost consciousness. He fainted. Before he had reached the bottom he was wholly insensible.

Next day it was known before noon in London that a strange and inexplicable accident had befallen Mr. Michael Trevennack C.M.G., the well-known Admiralty official, on the moor near Ivybridge. Mr. Trevennack, it seemed, had started by the Cornish express for Falmouth, on official business; but the line being blocked between Ivybridge and Plymouth, he had changed his plans and set out to walk, as was conjectured, by a devious path across the moor to Tavistock. Deceased knew the neighborhood well, and was an enthusiastic admirer of its tors and uplands. But fog coming on, the unfortunate gentleman, it was believed, had lost his way, and tried to shelter himself for a time behind a tall peak of rock which he used frequently to visit during his summer holidays. There he was apparently attacked by a savage moorland ram--one of that wild breed of mountain sheep peculiar to Dartmoor, and famous for the strength and ferocity often displayed by the fathers of the flock. Mr. Trevennack was unarmed, and a terrible fight appeared to have taken place between these ill-matched antagonists on the summit of the rocks, full details of which, the Telegram said in its curt business-like way, were too ghastly for publication. After a long and exhausting struggle, however, the combatants must either have slipped on the wet surface and tumbled over the edge of the rocks together in a deadly grapple, or else, as seemed more probable from the positions in which the bodies were found, the unhappy gentleman had just succeeded in flinging his assailant over, and then, faint from loss of blood, had missed his footing and fallen beside his dead antagonist. At any rate, when the corpse was discovered life had been extinct for several hours; and it was the opinion of the medical authorities who conducted the post- mortem that death was due not so much to the injuries themselves as to asphyxiation in the act of falling.

* * *

The jury found it "Death from accidental circumstances." Cleer never knew more than that her father had met his end by walking over the edge of a cliff on Dartmoor.

* * *

But when the body came home for burial, Dr. Yate-Westbury looked in by Mrs. Trevennack's special request, and performed an informal and private examination of the brain and nervous system. At the close of the autopsy he came down to the drawing-room where the silver-haired lady sat pale and tearful, but courageous. "It is just as I thought," he said; "a clot of blood, due to external injury, has pressed for years above the left frontal region, causing hallucinations and irregularities of a functional character only. You needn't have the slightest fear of its proving hereditary. It's as purely accidental as a sprain or a wound. Your daughter, Mrs. Le Neve, couldn't possibly suffer for it."

And neither Cleer nor Le Neve nor anyone else ever shared that secret of Trevennack's delusions with his wife and the doctor.


Michael's Crag - 19/19

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