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A Blue Pantomime
by [?]

As I sat down I caught sight of my reflection in the mirror above the fireplace. It was an unflattering glass, with a wave across the surface that divided my face into two ill-fitting halves, and a film upon it, due, I suppose, to the smoke of the wood-fire below. But the setting of this mirror and the fireplace itself were by far the most noteworthy objects in the whole room. I set myself idly to examine them.

It was an open hearth, and the blazing faggot lay on the stone itself. The andirons were of indifferently polished steel, and on either side of the fireplace two Ionic pilasters of dark oak supported a narrow mantel-ledge. Above this rested the mirror, flanked by a couple of naked, flat-cheeked boys, who appeared to be lowering it over the fire by a complicated system of pulleys, festoons, and flowers. These flowers and festoons, as well as the frame of the mirror, were of some light wood–lime, I fancy–and reminded me of Grinling Gibbons’ work; and the glass tilted forward at a surprising angle, as if about to tumble on the hearth-rug. The carving was exceedingly delicate. I rose to examine it more narrowly. As I did so, my eyes fell on three letters, cut in flowing italic capitals upon a plain boss of wood immediately over the frame, and I spelt out the word FVI.

Fui–the word was simple enough; but what of its associations? Why should it begin to stir up again those memories which were memories of nothing? Fui–“I have been”; but what the dickens have I been?

The landlord came in with my dinner.

“Ah!” said he, “you’re looking at our masterpiece, I see.”

“Tell me,” I asked; “do you know why this word is written here, over the mirror?”

“I’ve heard my wife say, sir, it was the motto of the Cardinnocks that used to own this house. Ralph Cardinnock, father to the last squire, built it. You’ll see his initials up there, in the top corners of the frame–R. C.–one letter in each corner.”

As he spoke it, I knew this name–Cardinnock–for that which had been haunting me. I seated myself at table, saying–

“They lived at Tremenhuel, I suppose. Is the family gone?–died out?”

“Why yes; and the way of it was a bit curious, too.”

“You might sit down and tell me about it,” I said, “while I begin my dinner.”

“There’s not much to tell,” he answered, taking a chair; “and I’m not the man to tell it properly. My wife is a better hand at it, but”– here he looked at me doubtfully–“it always makes her cry.”

“Then I’d rather hear it from you. How did Tremenhuel come into the hands of the Parkyns?–that’s the present owner’s name, is it not?”

The landlord nodded. “The answer to that is part of the story. Old Parkyn, great-great-grandfather to the one that lives there now, took Tremenhuel on lease from the last Cardinnock–Squire Philip Cardinnock, as he was called. Squire Philip came into the property when he was twenty-three: and before he reached twenty-seven, he was forced to let the old place. He was wild, they say–thundering wild; a drinking, dicing, cock-fighting, horse-racing young man; poured out his money like water through a sieve. That was bad enough: but when it came to carrying off a young lady and putting a sword through her father and running the country, I put it to you it’s worse.”

“Did he disappear?”

“That’s part of the story, too. When matters got desperate and he was forced to let Tremenhuel, he took what money he could raise and cleared out of the neighbourhood for a time; went off to Tregarrick when the militia was embodied, he being an officer; and there he cast his affections upon old Sir Felix Williams’s daughter. Miss Cicely–“

I was expecting it: nevertheless I dropped my fork clumsily as I heard the name, and for a few seconds the landlord’s voice sounded like that of a distant river as it ran on–