“Dear, dear,” she said to herself, “one would think I had some of those awful telegrams in me which Miss Primrose said was the nervous system. Why, I’m all upset from top to toe. I never had a good view of him before, for I didn’t pay no heed to nobody when my dear little Miss Daisy was so ill; but I do say that the cut of the hand and the turn of the head is as like—as like as two peas. Now I do wonder—no, no, it can’t be. Well, anyhow, my name ain’t Hannah Martin if I don’t find out where he comes from, and who he really is. Well, well, well—why this trembling won’t leave me, and I don’t dare go back into the room. I suppose I have got a few telegraphs, and I mustn’t never laugh at poor little Miss Daisy again when she says she’s nervous.”
Hannah sat and rested for about half an hour—then she drank off a glass of cold water—then she washed her face and hands—then she said aloud that the telegrams should not get the better of her, and then she prepared as nice a little dinner as she could for Noel and the two sisters.
That evening, after Daisy was in bed, she came into the room where Primrose was quietly reading.
“You haven’t never come across no one the least like that brother of yours in the London streets, Miss Primrose?” she asked. “London’s a big place, and strange things happen there—yes, very, very strange things.”
“Oh, Hannah, how you startle me!” said Primrose. “I come across my poor little brother Arthur? How could I? Why, he must be dead for many and many a year.”
“Not a bit of him,” said Hannah; “I don’t believe he’s dead. He was a fine, hearty, strong child, and nothing ever seemed to ail him. Oh, it rises up before me now what a beautiful picture he made when he stood in his little red velvet dress by your mamma’s knee, and she so proud of him! There’s no mistake, but he was the very light of her eyes. She took him up to London, and a nursemaid—not me, you may be quite sure—took him out. She went into a big shop, and the child was by her side. She kept him standing by her as she ordered some things across the counter, and, I suppose, she turned her head for a minute, for when she looked round again he was gone. From that day to this he was never heard of, though everything you can think of was done. Oh, my poor, poor mistress, what she did suffer!”
“Hannah, how excited you look!” said Primrose. “Why, you are all trembling. It is a terrible story, but as I say to Daisy about Mr. Dove, don’t let us think of it.”
“Right you are, honey,” said Hannah; “what can’t be cured, you know. If you don’t mind, Miss Primrose, I’ll just sit down for a minute. I’m not to say quite myself. Oh, it ain’t nothing, dearie; just a bit of the trembles, and to prove to old Hannah that she is getting on in years. I nursed you all, darling—him, my beautiful boy, and you three. Miss Primrose, dear, how old would you say that Mr. Noel was. I didn’t have a fair look at him until to-day, and he seems quite a young sort of man.”