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Treewoofe

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Treewoofe is the home Hugh Dark purchased for his bride, Joscelyn Penhallow.

"Thirty years ago old Cornelius Treverne owned Treewoofe. Craig was courting his daughter Clara. And one night Clara turned him down. Hard. Craig was furious. He flung himself out of the house and stormed down the lane. Poor old Cornelius had spent that whole day setting out a hedge of little spruce trees all along both sides of that long lane. A hard day's work, mind you. And what do you think Craig did by way of relieving his feelings? As he stalked along he would tear up a handful of old Cornelius' trees on the right hand--a few steps more--up would come a bunch on the left. He kept that up all the way down the lane. You can imagine what it looked like when he got to the end of it. And you can imagine what old Cornelius felt when he saw it next morning. He never got time to replant the trees--Cornelius was a great hand to put things off. He was a good man--painfully good. It was a blessing he didn't have any sons, or they'd certainly have gone to the bad by way of keeping up the family average. But he was no hustler. So the trees that were left grew up as they were."

"Treewoofe Farm at Three Hills... Treewoofe had been so named from some old place in Cornwall whence the Trevernes had come. The house was built on a hill overlooking the valley of Bay Silver, and Hugh bought the farm because of its magnificent view. Most of the clan thought the idea of buying a farm because it was beautiful very amusing and suspected Joscelyn of putting him up to it. Luckily, they thought, the soil was good, though run down, and the house practically new. Hugh had not made such a bad purchase, if the winter winds didn't make him wish he'd picked a more sheltered home. As for the view, of course it was very fine. None of the Darks or Penhallows were so insensitive to beauty as not to admit that. There was no doubt old Cornelius had tacked another hundred on his price because of that view. But it was a lonely spot and rather out of the world, and most of them thought Hugh had made a mistake.

Hugh and Joscelyn had no qualms about it. They both loved Treewoofe. The splendour of many sunsets had flooded that hill and the shadows of great clouds rolled over it. One evening after he had bought it, he and Joscelyn walked up to see it, going to it, not by the road but by a little crooked, ferny path through the Treewoofe beech woods, full of the surprises no straight path can ever give. They had run all over the house and orchard like children and then stood together at their front door and looked down--down--down--over the hill itself--over the farmsteads and groves in the valley below--over her own home, looking like a doll's house at that distance--over the mirror-like beauty of Bay Silver--over the harbour bar--out--out--out--to the great gulf--a grey sea, this evening, with streaks of silver--Joscelyn had drawn a breath of rapture. To live every day looking at that! And to know that glorious wind every day--sweeping up over the harbour, over the sheltered homesteads that hid from it--up--up--up--to their glorious free crest that welcomed it. And oh, what would dawn over those seaside meadows far below be like?

"We'll have three good neighbours up here," said Joscelyn. "The wind--and the rain--and the stars. They can come close to us here. All my life, Hugh, I've longed to live on a hill. I can't breathe in the valley."

Turning round she could see, past the other end of the hall that ran right through the house, the lovely old-fashioned garden behind--and behind it again the orchard in bloom. Their home, haunted by no ghosts of the past--only by wraiths of the future. Unborn eyes would look out of its windows--unborn voices sing in its rooms--unborn feet run lightly in the old orchard. Beautiful to-morrows--unknown lovely years were waiting there for them. Friends would come to them--hands of comrades would knock at their door--silken gowns would rustle through their chambers--there would be companionship and good smacking jests such as their clan loved. What a home they would make of Treewoofe! All the richness and ripeness of life would be theirs.

Joscelyn saw their faces reflected in the long mirror that was hanging over the fireplace in the corner. A mirror with an intriguing black cat a-top of it which had been brought out from Cornwall and sold with the house."

"There was no light in the house. His old housekeeper must be away. Hugh went in sullenly, not by the front door, though it was nearest. He knew that it was locked. He had locked it behind Joscelyn on their wedding-night and it had never been opened since. He went in by the kitchen door and lit a lamp. He was restless. He went all over the house--the dusty ill-kept house. It was lonely and unsatisfied. The chairs wanted to be sat upon. The mirrors wanted to reflect charming faces. The rooms wanted children to go singing through them. The walls wanted to re-echo to laughter. There had been no laughter in this house since that wedding-night--no real laughter. A house without remembered laughter is a pitiful thing. He came finally to the square front hall where the ashes of the bridal fire were still in the grate. His housekeeper had her orders never to meddle with anything in the front hall. The dust lay thick over everything. The mirror was turned to the wall. He hated it because it had once reflected her face and would reflect it no more forever. The clock on the mantelpiece was not going. It had stopped that night and had never been wound again. So time had stopped for Hugh Dark when he had looked at Joscelyn and realized that she was no longer his.

On the mantelpiece, just before the clock, a wedding-ring and a small diamond ring were lying. They had been there ever since Joscelyn had stripped them from her fingers."

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