“They said it, some of ’em, sir, and thought it, too. Old father thought it. I’m not sure but Mr. Jan thought it. I didn’t, bad as I was,” continued Robin, in a significant tone. “I had my oath to keep.”
“Sir, I have sworn—and you know I have sworn it—to have my revenge upon him that worked ill to Rachel. I can’t die till that oath has been kept.”
“There’s a certain sentence, Robin, given us for our guidance, amid many other such sentences, which runs somewhat after this fashion: ’Vengeance is mine,’” quietly spoke Lionel. “Have you forgotten who it is says that?”
“Why did he—the villain—forget them sentences? Why did he forget ’em and harm her?” retorted Robin. “Sir, it’s of no good for you to look at me in that way. I’ll never be baulked in this matter. Old father, now and again, he’ll talk about forgiveness; and when I say, ’weren’t you her father?’ ‘Ay,’ he’ll answer, ’but I’ve got one foot in the grave, Robin, and anger will not bring her back to life.’ No, it won’t,” doggedly went on Robin. “It won’t undo what was done, neither: but I’ll keep my oath—so far as it is in my power to keep it. Dead though he is, he shall be exposed to the world.”
The words “dead though he is” aroused the attention of Lionel. “To whom do you allude, Robin?” he asked. “Have you obtained any fresh clue?”
“Not much of a fresh one,” answered the man, with a stress upon the word “fresh.” “I have had it this six or seven months. When they heard he was dead, then they could speak out and tell me their suspicions of him.”
“Who could? What mystery are you talking?” reiterated Lionel.
“Never mind who, sir. It was one that kept the mouth shut, as long as there was any good in opening it. ‘Not to make ill-blood,’ was the excuse gave to me after. If I had but knowed at the time!” added the man, clenching his fist, “I’d have went out and killed him, if he had been double as far off!”
“Robin, what have you heard?”
“Well, sir, I’ll tell you—but I have not opened my lips to a living soul,-not even to old father—The villain that did the harm to Rachel was John Massingbird!”
Lionel remained silent from surprise.
“I don’t believe it,” he presently said, speaking emphatically. “Who has accused him?”
“Sir, I have said that I can’t tell you. I passed my word not to do it. It was one that had cause to suspect him at the time. And it was never told me—never told me—until John Massingbird was dead!”
Robin’s voice rose to a sound of wailing pain, and he raised his hands with a gesture of despair.
“Did your informant know that it was John Massingbird?” Lionel gravely asked.
“They had not got what is called positive proof, such as might avail in a Court of Justice; but they was morally certain,” replied Robin; “and so am I. I am only waiting for one thing, sir, to tell it out to all the world.”