She loved her father, yes; but not, no, not better than all the world. And what had come after had marred her happiness and disturbed her love. Where lay her love—where?
Rotha stopped again, and as though to catch her breath. Nature within her seemed at war with itself. It was struggling to tear away a mask that hid its own face. That mask must soon be plucked aside.
Rotha thought of her betrothal to Willy, and then a cold chill passed over her.
She walked on until she came under the shadow of the trees beneath which Angus Ray had met his death. There she paused and looked down. She could almost conjure up the hour of the finding of the body.
At that moment the dog was snuffling at the very spot. Here it was that she herself had slipped; here that Ralph had caught her in his arms; here, again, that he had drawn her forward; here that they had heard noises from the court beyond.
Stop—what noise was that! It was the whinny of a horse! They had heard that too. Her dream of the past and the present reality were jumbling themselves together.
Again? No, no; that was the neigh—the real neigh—of a horse. Rotha hastened forward. The dog had run on. A minute later Laddie was barking furiously. Rotha reached the courtyard.
There stood the old mare, exactly as before!
Was it a dream? Had she gone mad? Rotha ran and caught the bridle.
Yes, yes! It was a reality. It was Betsy!
There was no coffin on her back; the straps that had bound it now dangled to the ground.
But it was the mare herself, and no dream.
Yes, Betsy had come home.
THE FATAL WITNESS.
Long before the hour appointed for the resumption of the trial of Ralph Ray, a great crowd filled the Market Place at Carlisle, and lined the steps of the old Town Hall, to await the opening of the doors. As the clock in the cupola was striking ten, three men inside the building walked along the corridor to unbar the public entrance.
“I half regret it,” said one; “you have forced me into it. I should never have touched it but for you.”
“Tut, man,” whispered another, “you saw how it was going. With yon man on the bench and yon other crafty waistrel at the bar, the chance was wellnigh gone. What hope was there of a conviction?”
“None, none; never make any more botherment about it, Master Lawson,” said the third.
“The little tailor is safe. He can do no harm as a witness.”
“I’m none so sure of that,” rejoined the first speaker.
The door was thrown open and the three men stepped aside to allow the crush to pass them. One of the first to enter was Mrs. Garth. The uncanny old crone cast a quick glance about her as she came in with the rest, hooded close against the cold. Her eyes fell on one of the three men who stood apart. For a moment she fixed her gaze steadfastly upon him, and then the press from behind swept her forward. But in that moment she had exchanged a swift and unmistakable glance of recognition. The man’s face twitched slightly. He looked relieved when the woman had passed on.