“Poor Hallijohn himself knew him as Thorn. He said to Afy one day, in my presence, that he would not have that confounded dandy, Thorn, coming there.”
“Were those the words he used?”
“They were; ‘that confounded dandy Thorn.’ I remember Afy’s reply—it was rather insolent. She said Thorn was as free to come there as anybody else, and she would not be found fault with, as though she was not fit to take care of herself.”
“That is nothing to the purpose. Were any others acquainted with this Thorn?”
“I should imagine the elder sister, Joyce, was. And the one who knew him best of all of us was young Richard Hare.”
Old Richard Hare, from his place on the bench, frowned menacingly at an imaginary Richard.
“What took Thorn into the wood so often?”
“He was courting Afy.”
“With an intention of marrying her?”
“Well—no,” cried Mr. Ebenezer, with a twist of the mouth; “I should not suppose he entertained any intention of the sort. He used to come over from Swainson, or its neighborhood, riding a splendid horse.”
“Whom did you suppose him to be?”
“I supposed him to be moving in the upper ranks of life. There was no doubt of it. His dress, his manners, his tone, all proclaimed it. He appeared to wish to shun observation, and evidently did not care to be seen by any of us. He rarely arrived until twilight.”
“Did you see him there on the night of Hallijohn’s murder?”
“No. I was not there myself that evening, so could not have seen him.”
“Did a suspicion cross your mind at any time that he may have been guilty of the murder?”
“Never. Richard Hare was accused of it by universal belief, and it never occurred to me to suppose he had not done it.”
“Pray, how many years is this ago?” sharply interrupted Mr. Rubiny, perceiving that the witness was done with.
“Let’s see!” responded Mr. Ebenezer. “I can’t be sure as to a year without reckoning up. A dozen, if not more.”
“And you mean to say that you can swear to Sir Francis Levison being that man, with all these years intervening?”
“I swear that he is the man. I am as positive of his identity as I am of my own.”
“Without having seen him from that time to this?” derisively returned the lawyer. “Nonsense, witness.”
“I did not say that,” returned Mr. Ebenezer.
The court pricked up its ears. “Have you seen him between then and now?” asked one of them.
“Where and when?”
“It was in London, about eighteen months after the period of the trial!”
“What communication had you with him?”
“None at all. I only saw him—quite by chance.”
“And whom did you suppose him to be then—Thorn or Levison?”
“Thorn, certainly. I never dreamt of his being Levison until he appeared here, now, to oppose Mr. Carlyle.”