"What part of the country did she live in?"
Even Francine could insist no longer: Mrs. Ellmother's reserve had beaten her--for that day at least. "Go into the hall," she said, "and see if there are any letters for me in the rack."
There was a letter bearing the Swiss postmark. Simple Cecilia was flattered and delighted by the charming manner in which Francine had written to her. She looked forward with impatience to the time when their present acquaintance might ripen into friendship. Would "Dear Miss de Sor" waive all ceremony, and consent to be a guest (later in the autumn) at her father's house? Circumstances connected with her sister's health would delay their return to England for a little while. By the end of the month she hoped to be at home again, and to hear if Francine was disengaged. Her address, in England, was Monksmoor Park, Hants.
Having read the letter, Francine drew a moral from it: "There is great use in a fool, when one knows how to manage her."
Having little appetite for her breakfast, she tried the experiment of a walk on the terrace. Alban Morris was right; the air at Netherwoods, in the summer time, _was_ relaxing. The morning mist still hung over the lowest part of the valley, between the village and the hills beyond. A little exercise produced a feeling of fatigue. Francine returned to her room, and trifled with her tea and toast.
Her next proceeding was to open her writing-desk, and look into the old account-book once more. While it lay open on her lap, she recalled what had passed that morning, between Mrs. Ellmother and herself.
The old woman had been born and bred in the North, on an open moor. She had been removed to the keen air of Canada when she left her birthplace. She had been in service after that, on the breezy eastward coast of Kent. Would the change to the climate of Netherwoods produce any effect on Mrs. Ellmother? At her age, and with her seasoned constitution, would she feel it as those school-girls had felt it--especially that one among them, who lived in the bracing air of the North, the air of Yorkshire?
Weary of solitary thinking on one subject, Francine returned to the terrace with a vague idea of finding something to amuse her--that is to say, something she could turn into ridicule--if she joined the girls.