not have thought it possible that any of the boys had imagination enough to see a ghost. This is a new accession indeed to the hard labour of forming the youthful mind at Limmeridge—and I heartily wish you well through it, Mr. Dempster. In the mean time, let me explain why you see me here, and what it is I want."
She then put the same question to the schoolmaster which we had asked already of almost every one else in the village. It was met by the same discouraging answer Mr. Dempster had not set eyes on the stranger of whom we were in search.
"We may as well return to the house, Mr. Hartright," said Miss Halcombe; "the information we want is evidently not to be found."
She had bowed to Mr. Dempster, and was about to leave the schoolroom, when the forlorn position of Jacob Postlethwaite, piteously sniffing on the stool of penitence, attracted her attention as she passed him, and made her stop good-humouredly to speak a word to the little prisoner before she opened the door.
"You foolish boy," she said, "why don't you beg Mr. Dempster's pardon, and hold your tongue about the ghost?"
"Eh!—but I saw t' ghaist," persisted Jacob Postlethwaite, with a stare of terror and a burst of tears.
"Stuff and nonsense! You saw nothing of the kind. Ghost indeed! What ghost——"
"I beg your pardon, Miss Halcombe," interposed the schoolmaster a little uneasily—"but I think you had better not question the boy. The obstinate folly of his story is beyond all belief; and you might lead him into ignorantly——"
"Ignorantly what?" inquired Miss Halcombe sharply.
"Ignorantly shocking your feelings," said Mr. Dempster, looking very much discomposed.
"Upon my word, Mr. Dempster, you pay my feelings a great compliment in thinking them weak enough to be shocked by such an urchin as that!" She turned with an air of satirical defiance to little Jacob, and began to question him directly. "Come!" she said; "I mean to know all about this. You naughty boy, when did you see the ghost?"
"Yestere'en, at the gloaming," replied Jacob.
"Oh! you saw it yesterday evening, in the twilight? And what was it like?"
"Arl in white—as a ghaist should be," answered the ghost-seer, with a confidence beyond his years.
"And where was it?"
"Away yander, in t' kirkyard—where a ghaist ought to be."