“And with the exception of that registered letter we’ve heard of, he never had a letter delivered to him all the time he lodged with you?” he said.
“Not one,” said I. “From first to last, not one.”
He was silent again for a time, and all the folk staring at him and me; and for the life of me I could not think what other questions he could get out of his brain to throw at me. But he found one, and put it with a sharp cast of his eye.
“Now, did this man ever give you, while he was in your house, any reason at all for his coming to Berwick?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered; “he did that when he came asking for lodgings. He said he had folk of his own buried in the neighbourhood, and he was minded to take a look at their graves and at the old places where they’d lived.”
“Giving you, in fact, an impression that he was either a native of these parts, or had lived here at some time, or had kindred that had?” he asked.
“Just that,” I replied.
“Did he tell you the names of such folk, or where they were buried, or anything of that sort?” he suggested.
“No—never,” said I. “He never mentioned the matter again.”
“And you don’t know that he ever went to any particular place to look at any particular grave or house?” he inquired.
“No,” I replied; “but we knew that he took his walks into the country on both sides Tweed.”
He hesitated a bit, looked at me and back at his papers, and then, with a glance at the coroner, sat down. And the coroner, nodding at him as if there was some understanding between them, turned to the jury.
“It may seem without the scope of this inquiry, gentlemen,” he said, “but the presence of this man Gilverthwaite in the neighbourhood has evidently so much to do with the death of the other man, whom we know as John Phillips, that we must not neglect any pertinent evidence. There is a gentleman present that can tell us something. Call the Reverend Septimus Ridley.”
THE PARISH REGISTERS
I had noticed the Reverend Mr. Ridley sitting in the room with some other gentlemen of the neighbourhood, and had wondered what had brought him, a clergyman, there. I knew him well enough by sight. He was a vicar of a lonely parish away up in the hills—a tall, thin, student-looking man that you might occasionally see in the Berwick streets, walking very fast with his eyes on the ground, as if, as the youngsters say, he was seeking sixpences; and I should not have thought him likely to be attracted to an affair of that sort by mere curiosity. And, whatever he might be in his pulpit, he looked very nervous and shy as he stood up between the coroner and the jury to give his evidence.
“Whatever are we going to hear now?” whispered Mr. Lindsey in my ear. “Didn’t I tell you there’d be revelations about Gilverthwaite, Hugh, my lad? Well, there’s something coming out! But what can this parson know?”