Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/202

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The Devil's Tools

which those emeralds would bring in order to clear his lands of debt."

The girl clenched her hands and drew them in against her heart.

"But you don't think he stole them?" And again her voice was in that shuddering whisper.

I lay trembling.

"No," replied Abner, "I do not think that Edward Duncan stole these emeralds, because I know that they were never stolen at all."

He put out his hand and drew the girl down beside him.

"My child," he continued, "we must always credit the poorest thief with some glimmering of intelligence. When I first saw this cross in your hand, I knew that this was not the work of a thief, because no thief would have painfully pried the emeralds out, in order to leave the cross behind as an evidence of his guilt. Now, there is a reason why this cross was left behind, but it is not the reason of a thief—two reasons, in fact: because some one wished to keep it, and because they were not afraid to do so.

"Now, my child," and Abner put his arm tenderly around the girl's shoulders, "who could that person be who treasured this cross and was not afraid to keep it?"

She clung to my uncle then, and I heard the confession among her sobbings. Edward Duncan was making every sacrifice for her, and she had made