Emily followed the departing visitor out to the hall. She had seen and heard enough to decide her on trying to break off the proposed negotiation--with the one kind purpose of protecting Mrs. Ellmother against the pitiless curiosity of Francine.
"Do you think you and that young lady are likely to get on well together?" she asked.
"I have told you already, Miss Emily, I want to get away from my own home and my own thoughts; I don't care where I go, so long as I do that." Having answered in those words, Mrs. Ellmother opened the door, and waited a while, thinking. "I wonder whether the dead know what is going on in the world they have left?" she said, looking at Emily. "If they do, there's one among them knows my thoughts, and feels for me. Good-by, miss--and don't think worse of me than I deserve."
Emily went back to the parlor. The only resource left was to plead with Francine for mercy to Mrs. Ellmother.
"Do you really mean to give it up?" she asked.
"To give up--what? 'Pumping,' as that obstinate old creature calls it?"
Emily persisted. "Don't worry the poor old soul! However strangely she may have left my aunt and me her motives are kind and good--I am sure of that. Will you let her keep her harmless little secret?"
"I don't believe you, Francine!"