“We wish to know where your nephew Adam is, mistress,” now broke in de Chavasse roughly, “the squire and I would wish to ask him a few questions.”
Then as the Quakeress did not reply, he added almost savagely:
“Why don’t you answer, woman? Are ye still hard of hearing?”
“Your pardon, Sir Marmaduke,” interposed Lambert firmly, “my aunt is old and feeble. She hath been much upset and over anxious ... seeing that my brother Adam is still from home.”
Sir Marmaduke broke into a loud and prolonged laugh.
“Ha! ha! ha! good master ... so I understand ... your brother is from home ... whilst the wallet containing her ladyship’s fortune has disappeared along with him, eh?”
“What are they saying, lad?” queried the old woman in her trembling voice, “what are they saying? I am fearful lest there’s something wrong with Adam....”
“Nay, nay, dear ... there’s naught amiss,” said Lambert soothingly, “there’s naught amiss....”
Instinctively now Sue had risen. Sir Marmaduke’s cruel laugh had grated horribly on her ear, rousing an echo in her memory which she could not understand but which caused her to encircle the trembling figure of the old Quakeress with young, protecting arms.
“Are Squire Boatfield and I to understand, Lambert,” continued Sir Marmaduke, speaking to the young man, “that your brother Adam has unaccountably disappeared since the night on which the foreigner met with his tragic fate? Nay, Boatfield,” he added, turning to the squire, as Lambert had remained silent, “methinks you, as chief magistrate, should see your duty clearly. ’Tis a warrant you should sign and quickly, too, ere a scoundrel slip through the noose of justice. I can on the morrow to Dover, there to see the chief constable, but Pyot and his men should not be idle the while.”
“What is he saying, my dear?” murmured Mistress Lambert, timorously, as she clung with pathetic fervor to the young girl beside her, “what is the trouble?”
“Where is your nephew Adam?” said de Chavasse roughly.
“I do not know,” she retorted with amazing strength of voice, as she gently but firmly disengaged herself from the restraining arms that would have kept her back. “I do not know,” she repeated, “what is it to thee, where he is? Art accusing him perchance of doing away with that foreign devil?”
Her voice rose shrill and resonant, echoing in the low-ceilinged room; her pale eyes, dimmed with many tears, with hard work, and harder piety were fixed upon the man who had dared to accuse her lad.
He tried not to flinch before that gaze, to keep up the air of mockery, the sound of a sneer. Outside the murmur of voices had become somewhat louder, the shuffling of bare feet on the flag-stones could now be distinctly heard.
THE VOICE OF THE DEAD