Stopping, she pulled out her watch and looked at it, while he, faltering up to the verge which she had pointed out, followed her movements with strange intensity as she went on to say in explanation of her act:
“The time is important, on account of a certain demonstration I am anxious to make. You will remember that I was expecting to see John, having heard his voice in the ravine. Now if you will lean a little forward and look where I am pointing, you will notice at the turn of the stream, a spot of ground more open than the rest. Please keep your eyes on that spot, for it was there I saw at this very hour twelve years ago the shadow of an approaching figure; and it is there you will presently see one similar, if the boy I have tried to interest in this experiment does not fail me. Now, now, sir! We should see his shadow before we see him. Oh, I hope the underbrush and trees have not grown up too thick! I tried to thin them out to-day. Are you watching, sir?”
He seemed to be, but she dared not turn to look. Both figures leaned, intent, and in another moment she had gripped his arm and clung there.
“Did you see?” she whispered, “Don’t mind the boy; it’s the shadow I wanted you to notice. Did you observe anything marked about it?”
She had drawn him back into the ruins. They were standing in that one secluded corner under the ruinous gable, and she was gazing up at him very earnestly. “Tell me, judge,” she entreated as he made no effort to answer.
With a hurried moistening of his lips, he met her look and responded, with a slight emphasis:
“The boy held a stick. I should say that he was whittling it.”
“Ah!” Her tone was triumphant. “That was what I told him to do. Did you see anything else?”
“No. I do not understand this experiment or what you hope from it.”
“I will tell you. The shadow which I saw at a moment very like this, twelve years ago, showed a man whittling a stick and wearing a cap with a decided peak in front. My husband wore such a cap— the only one I knew of in town. What more did I need as proof that it was his shadow I saw?”
“And wasn’t it?”
“Judge Ostrander, I never thought differently fill after the trial—till after the earth closed over my poor husband’s remains. That was why I could say nothing in his defence—why I did not believe him when he declared that he had left his stick behind him when he ran up the bluff after Reuther. The tree he pointed out as the one against which he had stood it, was far behind the place where I saw this advancing shadow. Even the oath he made to me of his innocence at the last interview we held in prison did not impress me at the time as truthful. But later, when it was all over, when the disgrace of his death and the necessity of seeking a home elsewhere drove me into selling the tavern and all its effects, I found something which changed my mind in this regard, and made me confident that I had done my husband a great injustice.”