“It’s a lie! I beg your pardon, sir, but whoever told you that, told you a lie. Thorn had no more to do with it than I had; I’ll swear it.”
“I tell you, Afy, I believe Thorn to have been the man. You were not present; you cannot know who actually did it.”
“Yes, I can, and do know,” said Afy, bursting into sobs of hysterical passion. “Thorn was with me when it happened, so it could not have been Thorn. It was that wicked Richard Hare. Sir, have I not said that I’ll swear it?”
“Thorn was with you—at the moment of the murder?” repeated Mr. Carlyle.
“Yes, he was,” shrieked Afy, nearly beside herself with emotion. “Whoever has been trying to put it off Richard Hare, and on to him, is a wicked, false-hearted wretch. It was Richard Hare, and nobody else, and I hope he’ll be hung for it yet.”
“You are telling me the truth, Afy?” gravely spoke Mr. Carlyle.
“Truth!” echoed Afy, flinging up her hands. “Would I tell a lie over my father’s death? If Thorn had done it, would I screen him, or shuffle it off to Richard Hare? Not so.”
Mr. Carlyle felt uncertain and bewildered. That Afy was sincere in what she said, was but too apparent. He spoke again but Afy had risen from her chair to leave.
“Locksley was in the wood that evening. Otway Bethel was in it. Could either of them have been the culprit?”
“No, sir,” firmly retorted Afy; “the culprit was Richard Hare; and I’d say it with my latest breath—I’d say it because I know it—though I don’t choose to say how I know it; time enough when he gets taken.”
She quitted the room, leaving Mr. Carlyle in a state of puzzled bewilderment. Was he to believe Afy, or was he to believe the bygone assertion of Richard Hare?
A NIGHT INVASION OF EAST LYNNE.
In one of the comfortable sitting-rooms of East Lynne sat Mr. Carlyle and his sister, one inclement January night. The contrast within and without was great. The warm, blazing fire, the handsome carpet on which it flickered, the exceedingly comfortable arrangement of the furniture, of the room altogether, and the light of the chandelier, which fell on all, presented a picture of home peace, though it may not have deserved the name of luxury. Without, heavy flakes of snow were falling thickly, flakes as large and nearly as heavy as a crown piece, rendering the atmosphere so dense and obscure that a man could not see a yard before him. Mr. Carlyle had driven home in the pony carriage, and the snow had so settled upon him that Lucy, who happened to see him as he entered the hall, screamed out laughingly that her papa had turned into a white man. It was now later in the evening; the children were in bed; the governess was in her own sitting room—it was not often that Miss Carlyle invited her to theirs of an evening—and the house was quite. Mr. Carlyle was deep in the pages of one of the monthly periodicals, and Miss Carlyle sat on the other side of the fire, grumbling, and grunting, and sniffling, and choking.