“Is he a myth?” said Barbara, in a low voice.
“Are you and I myths?” retorted Richard. “So, even you doubt me?”
“Richard,” she suddenly exclaimed, “why not tell the whole circumstances to Archibald Carlyle? If any one can help you, or take measures to establish your innocence, he can. And you know that he is true as steel.”
“There’s no other man living should be trusted with the secret that I am here, except Carlyle. Where is it they suppose that I am, Barbara?”
“Some think that you are dead; some that you are in Australia; the very uncertainty has nearly killed mamma. A report arose that you had been seen at Liverpool, in an Australian-bound ship, but we could not trace it to any foundation.”
“It had none. I dodged my way to London, and there I have been.”
“Working in a stable-yard?”
“I could not do better. I was not brought up to anything, and I did understand horses. Besides, a man that the police-runners were after could be more safe in obscurity, considering that he was a gentleman, than—”
Barbara turned suddenly, and placed her hand upon her brother’s mouth. “Be silent for your life,” she whispered, “here’s papa.”
Voices were heard approaching the gate—those of Justice Hare and Squire Pinner. The latter walked on; the former came in. The brother and sister cowered together, scarcely daring to breathe; you might have heard Barbara’s heart beating. Mr. Hare closed the gate and walked on up the path.
“I must go, Richard,” said Barbara, hastily; “I dare not stay another minute. Be here again to-morrow night, and meanwhile I will see what can be done.”
She was speeding away, but Richard held her back. “You did not seem to believe my assertion of innocence. Barbara, we are here alone in the still night, with God above us; as truly as that you and I must sometime meet Him face to face, I told you the truth. It was Thorn murdered Hallijohn, and I had nothing whatever to do with it.”
Barbara broke out of the trees and flew along, but Mr. Hare was already in, locking and barring the door. “Let me in, papa,” she called out.
The justice opened the door again, and thrusting forth his flaxen wig, his aquiline nose, and his amazed eyes, gazed at Barbara.
“Halloo! What brings you out at this time of night, young lady?”
“I went down to the gate to look for you,” she panted, “and had—had—strolled over to the side path. Did you not see me?”
Barbara was truthful by nature and habit; but in such a cause, how could she avoid dissimulation?
“Thank you, papa,” she said, as she went in.
“You ought to have been in bed an hour ago,” angrily responded Mr. Justice Hare.
MR. CARLYLE’S OFFICE.