"Wait a minute," Alban answered good-humoredly. "I am not quite a stranger to you."
"How do you make that out, if you please?"
"I know a young lady who has a sincere regard for you."
"Yes, I do. I respect and admire Miss Emily; and I have tried, in my poor way, to be of some little service to her."
Mrs. Ellmother's haggard face instantly softened. "Please to forgive me, sir, for forgetting my manners," she said simply. "I have had my health since the day I was born--and I don't like to be told, in my old age, that a new place doesn't agree with me."
Alban accepted this apology in a manner which at once won the heart of the North-countrywoman. He shook hands with her. "You're one of the right sort," she said; "there are not many of them in this house."
Was she alluding to Francine? Alban tried to make the discovery. Polite circumlocution would be evidently thrown away on Mrs. Ellmother. "Is your new mistress one of the right sort?" he asked bluntly.
The old servant's answer was expressed by a frowning look, followed by a plain question.