Even poor Hiram White did not escape the suspicions of having had dealings with them. Of course the examiners were not slow in discovering that Levi West had been deeply concerned with Blueskin’s doings.
Old Dinah and black Bob were examined, and not only did the story of Levi’s two visitors come to light, but also the fact that Hiram was present and with them while they were in the house disposing of the captured goods to their agent.
Of all that he had endured, nothing seemed to cut poor Hiram so deeply and keenly as these unjust suspicions. They seemed to bring the last bitter pang, hardest of all to bear.
Levi had taken from him his father’s love; he had driven him, if not to ruin, at least perilously close to it. He had run away with the girl he loved, and now, through him, even Hiram’s good name was gone.
Neither did the suspicions against him remain passive; they became active.
Goldsmiths’ bills, to the amount of several thousand pounds, had been taken in the packet and Hiram was examined with an almost inquisitorial closeness and strictness as to whether he had or had not knowledge of their whereabouts.
Under his accumulated misfortunes, he grew not only more dull, more taciturn, than ever, but gloomy, moody, brooding as well. For hours he would sit staring straight before him into the fire, without moving so much as a hair.
One night—it was a bitterly cold night in February, with three inches of dry and gritty snow upon the ground—while Hiram sat thus brooding, there came, of a sudden, a soft tap upon the door.
Low and hesitating as it was, Hiram started violently at the sound. He sat for a while, looking from right to left. Then suddenly pushing back his chair, he arose, strode to the door, and flung it wide open.
It was Sally Martin.