The footman downstairs had given Mrs. Martin careful directions not to occupy more than a moment or two of his mistress’s valuable time; but though he waited on the stairs and lingered about in the entrance-hall, no bell summoned him to show out this remarkable visitor. An hour passed away, an hour and a half, and still Mrs. Martin remained in close conversation with Mrs. Ellsworthy. At the end of the hour and a half Henry looked earnestly at the clock, sighed, and felt that it was his duty to go into the room to let Mrs. Ellsworthy know that she would be late for her dinner-party. He found that good lady sitting by her writing-table with very flushed cheeks and tearful eyes, and Hannah standing in quite a familiar attitude by her side.
“Give this note to Mr. Ellsworthy when he comes in, Henry, and order the carriage to be brought round directly. I am not going to dine out to-night. I will just go upstairs to change my bonnet. And Henry, take Mrs. Martin down to the servants’ hall, and give her some dinner. She is coming out with me in the carriage, so be quick, please.”
As Mrs. Ellsworthy stood before her glass re-arranging her toilet her maid saw her wiping some tears from her pretty eyes.
“Oh, my bonny Arthur,” she said under her breath. “Oh, what your poor, poor mother must have suffered.”
When the carriage came to the door Mrs. Ellsworthy gave the coachman Noel’s address, and the two women drove there at once. They were fortunate in finding the young man within. He too was engaged to dine out that night, but he did not go. Hannah, Mrs. Ellsworthy, and he had a long conference, which lasted until late in the evening, and when Mr. Ellsworthy joined them he was told a very wonderful story. Hannah returned to Devonshire on the following morning very well pleased with her successful expedition.
“If there had been any doubt,” she said to herself, as she was being whirled homewards in her third-class carriage, “if there had been any doubt after the sight of that mole on his dear, blessed arm, why, the little shirt which Mrs. Ellsworthy showed me, and which she took off his back herself after them horses had all but killed him, would prove that he’s my own boy. Could I ever forget marking that shirt in cross-stitch, and making such a bungle over the A, and thinking I’d put Mainwaring in full, and then getting lazy, and only making the mark A.M.? Well, I was served out for that piece of laziness, for my boy might have been brought back to his mother but for it. Dear, dear! Well, there’s no mistaking my own A.M., and when I peered close with my glasses on I could even see where I unpicked the A. and did it over again. Dear, dear, shall I ever forgive myself for not doing the surname in full—his poor, poor mother! Well, I mustn’t think of that—it’s a merciful Providence that has led me to him now, and he’s as darling and elegant a young man as ever I clapped eyes on, and as fond of the young ladies as can be even now.