She felt that after a step or two he had stood still in front of her. She knew that her face was crimson. Her eyes, too, were growing dim.
“Rotha, my darling!” She heard no more.
The spinning-wheel had been pushed hastily aside. She was on her feet, and Willy’s arms were about her.
“FOOL, OF THYSELF SPEAK WELL.”
As the parson left Shoulthwaite that morning he encountered Joe Garth at the turning of the lonnin. The; blacksmith was swinging along the road, with a hoop over his shoulder. He lifted his cap as the Reverend Nicholas came abreast of him. That worthy was usually too much absorbed to return such salutations, but he stopped on this occasion.
“Would any mortal think it?” he said; “the man Simeon Stagg is here housed at the home of my old friend and esteemed parishioner, Angus Ray!”
Mr. Garth appeared to be puzzled to catch the relevancy of the remark. He made no reply.
“The audacity of the man is past belief,” continued the parson. “Think of his effrontery! Does he imagine that God or man has forgotten the mystery of that night in Martinmas?”
The blacksmith realized that some response was expected from him. With eyes bent on the ground, he muttered, “He’s getting above with himself, sir.”
“Getting above himself! I should think so, forsooth. But verily a reckoning day is at hand. Woe to him who carries a load of guilt at his heart and thinks that no man knows of it. Better a millstone were about his neck, and he were swallowed up in the great deep.”
The parson turned away. Garth stood for a moment without perceiving that he was alone, his eyes still bent on the ground. Then he walked moodily in the other direction.
When he reached his home, Joe threw down the hoop in the smithy and went into the house. His mother was there.
“Sim, he’s at Shoulthwaite,” he said. “It’s like enough his daughter is there, too.”
A sneer crossed Mrs. Garth’s face.
“Tut, she’s yan as wad wed the midden for sake of the muck.”
“You mean she’s setting herself at one of the Rays?”
Mrs. Garth snorted, but gave no more explicit reply.
“Ey, she’s none so daft, is yon lass,” observed the blacksmith.
This was not quite the trace he had meant to follow. After a pause he said, “What came of his papers—in the trunk?”
Mrs. Garth gave her son a quick glance.
“It’s like they’re still at Fornside. I must see to ’em again.”
The blacksmith responded eagerly,—
“Do, mother, do.”
There was another pause. Joe made some pretence of scraping a file which he had picked up from a bench.
“Thou hasn’t found out if old Angus made a will?” said Mrs. Garth.