Vacation was approaching. The schoolmaster, always severe, grew severer and more exacting than ever, for he wanted the school to make a good showing on “Examination” day.
The dreadful secret of the murder was a chronic misery. It was a very cancer for permanency and pain . . . Then came the measles . . . During two whole weeks Tom lay a prisoner, dead to the world and its happenings.
At last the sleepy atmosphere was stirred—and vigorously: the murder trial came on in the court. It became the absorbing topic of village talk immediately. Tom could not get away from it.
Tom began—hesitatingly at first, but as he warmed up to his subject, his words flowed more and more easily; in a little while every sound ceased but his own voice; every eye fixed itself upon him; with parted lips and bated breath the audience hung upon his words, taking no note of time, rapt in the ghastly fascinations of the tale.
Tom was a glittering hero once more—the pet of the old, the envy of the young. His name even went into immortal print for the village paper magnified him . . . As usual, the fickle, unreasoning world took Muff Potter to its bosom and fondled him as lavishly as it had abused him before.