“How should walking by Verner’s Pride overcome you?” demanded Tynn.
“Well,” said Roy, “it was the thoughts of poor Mr. and Mrs. Verner did it. He didn’t behave to me over liberal in turning me from the place I’d held so long under his uncle, but I’ve overgot that smart; it’s past and gone. My heart bleeds for him now, and that’s the truth.”
For Roy’s heart to “bleed” for any fellow-creature was a marvel that even Tynn, unsuspicious as he was, could not take in. Mrs. Tynn repeatedly assured him that he had been born into the world with one sole quality—credulity. Certainly Tynn was unusually inclined to put faith in fair outsides. Not that Roy could boast much of the latter advantage.
“What’s the matter with Mr. Verner?” he asked of Roy.
Roy groaned dismally. “It’s a thing that is come to my knowledge,” said he—“a awful misfortin that is a-going to drop upon him. I’d not say a word to another soul but you, Mr. Tynn; but you be his friend if anybody be, and I feel that I must either speak or bust.”
Tynn peered at Roy’s face. As much as he could see of it, for the night was not a very clear one.
“It seems quite a providence that I happened to meet you,” went on Roy, as if any meeting with the butler had been as far from his thoughts as an encounter with somebody at the North Pole. “Things does turn out lucky sometimes.”
“I must be getting home,” interposed Tynn. “If you have anything to say to me, Roy, you had better say it. I may be wanted.”
Roy—who was standing now, his elbow leaning on the gate—brought his face nearer to Tynn’s. Tynn was also leaning on the gate.
“Have you heered of this ghost that’s said to be walking about Deerham?” he asked, lowering his voice to a whisper. “Have you heered whose they say it is?”
Now, Tynn had heard. All the retainers, male and female, at Verner’s Pride had heard. And Tynn, though not much inclined to give credence to ghosts in a general way, had felt somewhat uneasy at the ale. More on his mistress’s account than on any other score; for Tynn had the sense to know that such a report could not be pleasing to Mrs. Verner, should it reach her ears.
“I can’t think why they do say it,” replied Tynn, answering the man’s concluding question. “For my own part, I don’t believe there’s anything in it. I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“Neither didn’t a good many more, till now that they have got orakelar demonstration of it,” returned Roy. “Dan Duff see it, and a’most lost his senses; that girl of Hook’s see it, and you know, I suppose, what it did for her; Broom see it; the parson see it; old Frost see it; and lots more. Not one on ’em but ’ud take their Bible oath, if put to it, that it is Fred Massingbird’s ghost.”
“But it is not,” said Tynn. “It can’t be. Leastways I’ll never believe it till I see it with my own eyes. There’d be no reason in its coming now. If it wanted to come at all, why didn’t it come when it was first buried, and not wait till over two years had gone by?”