Mrs. Ellsworthy was enjoying some very fragrant tea in her little boudoir when a servant announced that a person of the name of Martin had come up from the country in a four-wheeler, and would be glad to see her as soon as possible.
“What kind of person, Henry?” asked the little lady. “I am very tired just now, and I must go out to dinner in less than two hours. A person from the country in a four-wheeler? What can she want with me?”
“She seems a respectable sort of body, ma’am,” answered the footman, “but nervous and shaky, and mortal afraid to step out of the cab; the cabby and me we had both to lend her a hand in alighting, ma’am. She’s sitting now in a chair in the hall, and I can see she’s upset with her journey, but respectable; there’s no word for the neatness of her person, ma’am.”
“She is probably poor, and wants me to help her,” replied Mrs. Ellsworthy. “I hate seeing beggars, for I find it absolutely impossible to say no to them. Show her up, Henry, and give her a hint that I’m going out to dinner, and can only spare her a very few moments.”
Hannah could not certainly be accused when she entered Mrs. Ellsworthy’s room, of any want of nerves. Her hands were shaking, her lips were tremulous, and her face, as she entered the room, became perfectly white.
“You’ll excuse me, ma’am,” she said. “I’m most sorry to trouble you, but I’m that anxious, I scarce know what I’m doing. I undertook a railway journey—which I don’t think right—and I came here through most crowded streets in a dreadful vehicle, for I just wanted to ask you a single question, ma’am.”
“Sit down, my poor woman,” said Mrs. Ellsworthy, who, the moment she looked at Hannah, began to have a dim sort of idea that she had seen her before, and also became full of pity for her. “Sit down. How you tremble! I am sorry to see you are so nervous.”
“Nervous, ma’am!” echoed Hannah. “That I should hear that said of me! No, ma’am, it ain’t nervous I am, but I’m rather worried with the tremblings during the last few hours. I’ve come to ask you a plain question, ma’am, plain and direct. It’s about the young man Mr. Noel. Have he, ma’am, or have he not, a mole on his left arm? I’d like yes or no, ma’am.”
“A mole on his left arm!” echoed Mrs. Ellsworthy. “My good woman, what a very extraordinary question; you really quite startle me. Has Arthur Noel a mole on his left arm? Yes, of course he has; I used to notice it when he was a child. I suppose people don’t outgrow moles, so he probably has it still. Why, Mrs. Martin—I am told your name is Martin—how very white you are. Would you—would you like a glass of wine?”
“Thank you, ma’am—no wine, thank you, ma’am. I’m a bit upset. Yes, I’m a bit upset, for I believe Mr. Arthur Noel is my long-lost baby.”