“Please, sir, I dun know which. The clothes looked dark, and the man were as tall as the gentlemen, or as Calves.”
“Calves?” echoed Mr. Verner, puzzled.
John Massingbird broke into an involuntary smile. He knew that their tall footman, Bennet, was universally styled “Calves” in the village. Dan Duff probably believed it to be his registered name.
But Frederick Massingbird was looking dark and threatening. The suspicion hinted at—if you can call it a suspicion—angered him. The villagers were wont to say that Mr. Frederick had ten times more pride than Mr. John. They were not far wrong—Mr. John had none at all.
“Boy!” Frederick sternly said, “what grounds have you for saying it was like one of the gentlemen?”
Dan Duff began to sob. “I dun know who it were,” he said; “indeed I don’t. But he were tall, and his clothes looked dark. Please, sir, if you basted me, I couldn’t tell no more.”
It was believed that he could not. Mr. Verner dismissed him, and John Massingbird, according to order, went to bring in Mrs. Roy.
He was some little time before he found her. She was discovered at last in a corner of the steward’s room, seated on a low stool, her head bent down on her knees.
“Now, ma’am,” said John, with unwonted politeness, “you are being waited for.”
She looked up, startled. She rose from her low seat, and began to tremble, her lips moving, her teeth chattering. But no sound came forth.
“You are not going to your hanging, Dinah Roy,” said John Massingbird, by way of consolation. “Mr. Verner is gathering the evidence about this unfortunate business, and it is your turn to go in and state what you know, or saw.”
She staggered back a step or two, and fell against the wall, her face changing to one of livid terror.
“I—I—saw nothing!” she gasped.
“Oh, yes, you did! Come along!”
She put up her hands in a supplicating attitude; she was on the point of sinking on her knees in her abject fear, when at that moment the stern face of her husband was pushed in at the door. She sprang up as if electrified, and meekly followed John Massingbird.
DINAH ROY’S “GHOST.”
The moon, high in the heavens, shone down brightly, lighting up the fair domain of Verner’s Pride, lighting up the broad terrace, and one who was hasting along it; all looking as peaceful as if a deed of dark mystery had not that night been committed.
He, skimming the terrace with a fleet foot, was that domain’s recognised heir, Lionel Verner. Tynn and others were standing in the hall, talking in groups, as is the custom with dependents when something unusual and exciting is going on. Lionel appeared full of emotion when he burst in upon them.
“Is it true?” he demanded, speaking impulsively. “Is Rachel really dead?”