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"Why did you ask my wife that?" demanded Lambert, much astonished.

"Hai, she was no wife of yours then, sir. Why did I ask her? Because I saw the shooting—"

"Of Pine—of Hearne—of your son?"

"Of who else? of who else?" cried Mother Cockleshell, clapping her skinny hand and paddling on the floor with her feet. "Says Ishmael to me, 'Bebee,' says he, 'my romi is false and would run away with the golden rye this very night as ever was.' And says I to him, 'It's not so, son of my son, for your romi is as true as the stars and purer than gold.' But says he, 'There's a letter,' he says, and shows it to me. 'Lies, son of my son,' says I, and calls on him to play the trustful rom. But he pitches down the letter, and says he, 'I go this night to stop them from paddling the hoof,' and says I to him, 'No! No!' says I. 'She's a true one.' But he goes, when all in the camp are sleeping death-like, and I watches, and I follers, and I hides."

"Where did you hide?"

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"Never mind, dearie. I hides securely, and sees him walking up and down biting the lips of him and swinging his arms. Then I sees—for Oliver was bright, and Oliver's the moon, lovey—the big Gentile woman come round and hide in the bushes. Says I to myself, says I, 'And what's your game?' I says, not knowing the same till she shoots and my child's child falls dead as a hedgehog. Then she runs and I run, and all is over."

"Why didn't you denounce her, Gentilla?"

"And for why, my precious heart? Who would believe the old gypsy? Rather would the Poknees say as I'd killed my dear one. No! no! Artful am I and patient in abiding my time. But the hour strikes, as I said when I spoke to your romi in Devonshire no less, and the foxy moll shall hang. You see, my dear, I waited for some Gentile to speak what I could speak, to say as what I saw was truth for sure. You speak, and now I can tell my tale to the big policeman at Wanbury so that my son's son may sleep quiet, knowing that the evil has come home to her as laid him low. But, lovey, oh, lovey, and my precious one!" cried the old woman darting forward to caress Lambert's hand in a fondling way, "tell me how you know and what you learned. At the cottage you were, and maybe out in the open watching the winder of her you loved."

"No," said Lambert sharply, "I was at the cottage certainly, but in bed and asleep. I did not hear of the crime until I was in London. In this way I found out the truth, Mother!" and he related rapidly all that had been discovered, bringing the narrative right up to the confession of Silver, which he detailed at length.

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The old woman kept her sharp eyes on his expressive face and hugged his hand every now and then, as various points in the narrative struck her. At the end she dropped his hand and returned back to her chair chuckling. "It's a sad dukkerin for the foxy lady," said Gentilla, grinning like the witch she was. "Hanged she will be, and rightful it is to be so!"

"I agree with you," replied Lambert relentlessly. "Your evidence and that of Silver can hang her, certainly. Yet, if she is arrested, and the whole tale comes out in the newspapers, think of the disgrace to my family."

Mother Cockleshell nodded. "That's as true as true, my golden rye," she said pondering. "And I wish not to hurt you and the rani, who was kind to me. I go away," she rose to her feet briskly, "and I think. What will you do?"

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"I can't say," said Lambert, doubtfully and irresolutely. "I must consult my wife. Miss Greeby should certainly suffer for her crime, and yet—"

"Aye! Aye! Aye! The boro rye," she meant Garvington, "is a bad one for sure, as we know. Shame to him is shame to you, and I wouldn't have the rani miserable—the good kind one that she is. Wait! aye, wait, my precious gentleman, and we shall see."

"You will say nothing in the meantime," said Lambert, stopping her at the door, and anxious to know exactly what were her intentions.

"I have waited long for vengeance and I can wait longer, sir," said Mother Cockleshell, becoming less the gypsy and more the respectable almshouse widow. "Depend upon my keeping quiet until—"

"Until what? Until when?"

"Never you mind," said the woman mysteriously. "Them as sins must suffer for the sin. But not you and her as is innocent."

"No violence, Gentilla," said the young man, alarmed less the lawless gypsy nature should punish Miss Greeby privately.