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Ellen Wood (author)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 609 pages of information about East Lynne.

“In London, and have never stirred out of it.  But it is hard work for me, and now I have an opportunity of doing better, if I can get a little money.  Perhaps my mother can let me have it; it is what I have come to ask for.”

“How are you working?  What at?”

“In a stable-yard.”

“A stable-yard!” she uttered, in a deeply shocked tone.  “Richard!”

“Did you expect it would be as a merchant, or a banker, or perhaps as secretary to one of her majesty’s ministers—­or that I was a gentleman at large, living on my fortune?” retorted Richard Hare, in a tone of chafed anguish, painful to hear.  “I get twelve shillings a week, and that has to find me in everything!”

“Poor Richard, poor Richard!” she wailed, caressing his hand and weeping over it.  “Oh, what a miserable night’s work that was!  Our only comfort is, Richard, that you must have committed the deed in madness.”

“I did not commit it at all,” he replied.

“What!” she exclaimed.

“Barbara, I swear that I am innocent; I swear I was not present when the man was murdered; I swear that from my own positive knowledge, my eyesight, I know no more who did it than you.  The guessing at it is enough for me; and my guess is as sure and true a one as that the moon is in the heavens.”

Barbara shivered as she drew close to him.  It was a shivering subject.  “You surely do not mean to throw the guilt on Bethel?”

“Bethel!” lightly returned Richard Hare.  “He had nothing to do with it.  He was after his gins and his snares, that night, though, poacher as he is!”

“Bethel is no poacher, Richard.”

“Is he not?” rejoined Richard Hare, significantly.  “The truth as to what he is may come out, some time.  Not that I wish it to come out; the man has done no harm to me, and he may go on poaching with impunity till doomsday for all I care.  He and Locksley—­”

“Richard,” interrupted his sister, in a hushed voice, “mamma entertains one fixed idea, which she cannot put from her.  She is certain that Bethel had something to do with the murder.”

“Then she is wrong.  Why should she think so?”

“How the conviction arose at first, I cannot tell you; I do not think she knows herself.  But you remember how weak and fanciful she is, and since that dreadful night she is always having what she calls ’dreams’—­meaning that she dreams of the murder.  In all these dreams Bethel is prominent; and she says she feels an absolute certainty that he was, in some way or other, mixed up in it.”

“Barbara, he was no more mixed up in it than you.”

“And—­you say that you were not?”

“I was not even at the cottage at the time; I swear it to you.  The man who did the deed was Thorn.”

“Thorn!” echoed Barbara, lifting her head.  “Who is Thorn?”

“I don’t know who.  I wish I did; I wish I could unearth him.  He was a friend of Afy’s.”

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