“So must I,” said Tynn. “Roy, are you sure there’s no mistake?” he added. “It seems a tale next to impossible.”
“Well, now,” said Roy, “I see you don’t half believe me. You must wait a few days, and see what them days ’ll bring forth. That Mr. Massingbird’s back from Australia, I’ll take my oath to. I didn’t believe it at first; and when young Duff was a-going on about the porkypine, I shook him, I did, for a little lying rascal. I know better now.”
“But how do you know it?” debated Tynn.
“Now, never you mind. It’s my business, I say, and nobody else’s. You just wait a day or two, that’s all, Mr. Tynn. I declare I am as glad to have met with you to-night, and exchanged this intercourse of opinions, as if anybody had counted me out a bag o’ gold.”
“Well, good-night, Roy,” concluded Tynn, turning his steps towards Verner’s Pride. “I wish I had been a hundred miles off, I know, before I had heard it.”
Roy slipped over the gate; and there, out of sight, he executed a kind of triumphant dance.
“Then there is no codicil!” cried he. “I thought I could wile it out of him! That Tynn’s as easy to be run out as is glass when it’s hot.”
And, putting his best leg forward, he made his way as fast as he could make it towards his home.
Tynn made his way towards Verner’s Pride. But not fast. The information he had received filled his mind with the saddest trouble, and reduced his steps to slowness. When any great calamity falls suddenly upon us, or the dread of any great calamity, our first natural thought is, how it may be mitigated or averted. It was the thought that occurred to Tynn. The first shock over, digested, as may be said, Tynn began to deliberate whether he could do anything to help his master in the strait; and he went along, turning all sorts of suggestions over in his mind. Much as Sibylla was disliked by the old servant—and she had contrived to make herself very much disliked by them all—Tynn could not help feeling warmly the blow that was about to burst upon her head. Was there anything earthly he could do to avert it?—to help her or his master?
He did not doubt the information. Roy was not a particularly reliable person; but Tynn could not doubt that this was true. It was the most feasible solution of the ghost story agitating Deerham; the only solution of it, Tynn grew to think. If Frederick Massingbird——
Tynn’s reflections came to a halt. Vaulting over a gate on the other side the road—the very gate through which poor Rachel Frost had glided the night of her death, to avoid meeting Frederick Massingbird and Sibylla West—was a tall man. He came, straight across the road, in front of Tynn, and passed through a gap of the hedge, on to the grounds of Verner’s Pride.
But what made Tynn stand transfixed, as if he had been changed into a statue? What brought a cold chill to his heart, a heat to his brow? Why, as the man passed him, he turned his face full on Tynn; disclosing the features, the white, whiskerless cheek, with the black mark upon it, of Frederick Massingbird. Recovering himself as best he could, Tynn walked on, and gained the house.