"An' what'll yo' say to his mither when yo meet her, as yo' must soon noo, and she asks yo', 'An what o' David? What o' th' lad I left wi' yo', Adam, to guard and keep for me, faithful and true, till this Day?' And then yo'll ha' to speak the truth, God's truth; and yo'll ha' to answer, 'Sin' the day yo' left me I niver said a kind word to the lad. I niver bore wi' him, and niver tried to. And in the end I drove him by persecution to try and murder me.' Then maybe she'll look at yo'--yo' best ken hoo--and she'll say, 'Adam, Adam! is this what I deserved fra yo'?'
The gentle, implacable voice ceased. The girl turned and slipped softly out of the room; and M'Adam was left alone to his thoughts and his dead wife's memory.
"Mither and father, baith! Mither and father, baith!" rang remorselessly in his ears.
THE Black Killer still cursed the land. Sometimes there would be a cessation in the crimes; then a shepherd, going his rounds, would notice his sheep herding together, packing in unaccustomed squares; a raven, gorged to the crop, would rise before him and flap wearily away, and he would come upon the murderer's latest victim.
The Dalesmen were in despair, so utterly futile had their efforts been. There was no proof; no hope, no apparent probability that the end was near. As for the Tailless Tyke, the only piece of evidence against him had flown with David, who, as it chanced, had divulged what he had seen to no man.
The 100 pound reward offered had brought no issue. The police had done nothing. The Special Commissioner had been equally successful. After the affair in the Scoop the Killer never ran a risk, yet never missed a chance.
Then, as a last resource, Jim Mason made his attempt. He took a holiday from his duties and disappeared into the wilderness. Three days and three nights no man saw him.
On the morning of the fourth he reappeared, haggard, unkempt, a furtive look haunting his eyes, sullen for once, irritable, who had never been irritable before--to confess his failure. Cross-examined further, he answered with unaccustomed fierceness: "I seed nowt, I tell ye. Who's the liar as said I did?"