Hartford decided to essay his Kansan. He practiced his question: "Is Yamamura far from here?" mentally, moving his lips, until he was sure he'd mastered the phrasing. Then he addressed Old Kiwa. "Yamamura wa koko kara toi desu ka?"
"I've seen 'em. They camp in goat-skin tents, gallop around on animal-back, wear dresses down to their ankles—"
Enigmatical, but apparently satisfactory.
The old man at the time was living quite alone. His wife was268 dead, and his only son was away in a distant part of the country. But on news of the murder the son returned, and a close investigation was made. Suspicion finally fell on the housekeeper and a lover she used to bring to the house. They were arrested in consequence and brought to trial. The housekeeper, Sheela-na-Skean, or Sheela of the Knife, as she was called afterwards, was a dark, fierce, powerful woman, noted for her violent and vindictive temper. The lover was a weak, cowardly fellow, who at the last turned evidence to save his life. He had taken no part, he said, in the actual murder, though he had helped Sheela to remove and bury the gold. According to his story, Sheela entered the old man’s room at night, and taking a sharp short sword that always hung at the head of his bed, she stabbed him fiercely over and over till not a breath of life was left. Then, calling her lover, they ransacked the room, and found quantities of golden guineas, which they put in a bag and carried out to the field, where they buried it in a safe spot, known only to themselves; but this place neither Sheela nor the lover would reveal unless they received a pardon.
"Now," he said, "we can settle about Jenny Hobbs."
“What is it?” returned Markham, chiefly with his eyebrows, with a comic affectation of silence and secrecy which tempted her to laugh in spite of herself. Then he nodded his head, took her hand in his, and led her up-stairs to the drawing-room again. “What is it you want to ask me? Is it a state secret? The palace is full of spies, and the walls of ears,” said Markham with mock solemnity, “and I may risk my head by following you. Fair conspirator, what do you want to ask?”
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