"Ah! I thought as much!" said the judge, handing her a chair, and sitting down himself. He tried to compose his mind to business, but in spite of his strength of character, and his present efforts, the remembrance of old times would come back at the sound of her voice. He wondered if he was as much changed in appearance as she struck him as being in that first look of recognition; after that first glance he rather avoided meeting her eyes.
"I knew how much you would feel it. Some one at Hellingford told me you were abroad, in Rome, I think. But you must not distress yourself unnecessarily; the sentence is sure to be commuted to transportation, or something equivalent. I was talking to the Home Secretary about it only last night. Lapse of time and subsequent good character quite preclude any idea of capital punishment." All the time that he said this he had other thoughts at the back of his mind--some curiosity, a little regret, a touch of remorse, a wonder how the meeting (which, of course, would have to be some time) between Lady Corbet and Ellinor would go off; but he spoke clearly enough on the subject in hand, and no outward mark of distraction from it appeared.
"I came to tell you, what I suppose may be told to any judge, in confidence and full reliance on his secrecy, that Abraham Dixon was not the murderer." She stopped short, and choked a little.
The judge looked sharply at her.
"Then you know who was?" said he.
"Yes," she replied, with a low, steady voice, looking him full in the face, with sad, solemn eyes.
The truth flashed into his mind. He shaded his face, and did not speak for a minute or two. Then he said, not looking up, a little hoarsely, "This, then, was the shame you told me of long ago?"
Both sat quite still; quite silent for some time. Through the silence a sharp, clear voice was heard speaking through the folding- doors.