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overthrew the attempt to prove an alibi. She
stated that she had watched until dark, in the
garden, for Wilfred's return from Leeford, and
had not seen him go by. The prisoner never
looked towards her, but murmured that he
had gone home by the bridle-road and Low
Lane to avoid passing the Glebe Farm. The
former witnesses, on being recalled, said that
it was on the highway, nearly a mile from
the place where the lower road branched off,
and nearer to the Ings, that they encountered
the accused. These two decent men,
being strictly cross-examined, never swerved
from their first story an iota, and agreed in
every particular. They were individuals
of decent character; both had worked on the
prisoner's farm, and acknowledged him to be
a liberal and kind master. Their evidence
was not to be shaken. As a final and damning
proof of guilt, the watch of which the
murdered man had been robbed was produced;
it had been found concealed under the thatch
of an out-house at the Ings. At this point of
the evidence the prisoner was observed to
draw himself up and look round defiantly,—
despair gave him a fictitious strength,
perhaps, or, was it conscious innocence!

Wilfred spoke in his own defence, briefly,
but strongly. His life, he said, was sworn
away, but he was as guiltless of the crime
laid to his charge as any of those gentlemen
who sat in judgment upon him. His mother,
who had remained in court all the time and
had never spoken except when called upon
for her evidence, had preserved a stoical
calmness throughout. When he ceased to speak
however, she cried out in a quivering voice:

"My lad, thy mother believes thee!"

Some friend would have led her out, but
she refused to go. The jury gave their
verdict of guilty without any recommendation
to mercy, and the sentence of death was
pronounced. Then it was that Hester rose
on her feet and faltered that formula of words
with which she had startled me in the

"He is not guilty, my lord judge. God
will right him yet. It will all come out
some day. I can wait; yes, I can wait. I
am more patient than death. I am more
patient than injustice."

Wilfred died stubborn and unconfessing;
on the scaffold, with his last breath, he
persisted in asserting his innocence. His mother
bade him farewell, and was carried to this inn,
where she had stayed, raving in a frenzy-fit.
For many months she was subject to restraint,
but, recovering in some measure, she was at
length set at liberty. Her mind was still
distraught, however; she wandered back to
the dales and to her old home, but the new
owner had taken possession, and after enduring
her intrusions for some time, he was
compelled to apply for her removal.

After this, her money being lost or
exhausted, she strayed about the country in
a purposeless way; begging or doing day's
work in the field, until she strayed here
again, and became the Pensioner of the
Holly Tree. The poor demented creature
is always treated kindly, but her son's
sentence has not yet been reversed in men's
judgment. Every morning during the time
the judges are in the neighbouring Assize
town she waits in one of the streets through
which they must pass to reach the court; and
as the gilt coach, the noisy trumpets, and the
decrepit halberdiers, go by, she scowls at them
from beneath her shaggy brows, and mutters
her formula of defiance. She will die saying
it: comforting her poor, worn, wounded heart
with its smarting balm.

Will she find, when she comes before the
Tribunal of Eternal Decrees that she has
leaned thus long upon a broken reed, or will
she find her son there, free from the guilt of

The Great Judge only knows.


I COULD scarcely believe, when I came to
the last word of the foregoing recital and
finished it off with a flourish, as I am apt to
do when I make an end of any writing, that
I had been snowed up a whole week. The
time had hung so lightly on my hands, and
the Holly-Tree, so bare at first, had borne so
many berries for me, that I should have
been in great doubt of the fact but for a piece
of documentary evidence that lay upon my

The road had been dug out of the snow, on
the previous day, and the document in question
was my Bill. It testified, emphatically,
to my having eaten and drunk, and warmed
myself, and slept, among the sheltering
branches of the Holly-Tree, seven days and

I had yesterday allowed the road twenty-
four hours to improve itself, finding that I
required that additional margin of time for the
completion of my task. I had ordered my
Bill to be upon the table, and a chaise to be
at the door, "at eight o'clock to-morrow
evening." It was eight o'clock to-morrow |
evening, when I buckled up my travelling
writing-desk in its leather case, paid my
Bill, and got on my warm coats and
wrappers. Of course, no time now
remained for my travelling on, to add a frozen
tear to the icicles which were doubtless hanging
plentifully about the farm-house where I
had first seen Angela. What I had to do,
was, to get across to Liverpool by the shortest
open road, there to meet my heavy baggage
and embark. It was quite enough to do, and
I had not an hour too much time to do it in.

I had taken leave of all my Holly-Tree
friendsalmost, for the time being, of
my bashfulness tooand was standing for
half a minute at the Inn-door, watching the
ostler as he took another turn at the cord
which tied my portmanteau on the chaise,