For it was the face she had sighed for, day-time and night time—it was the man she loved. It was Hugh Ingelow.
MRS. SHARPE DOES HER DUTY.
“You know that man, miss?” Mrs. Sharpe said, ineffably calm, stooping to pick up the glass.
Mollie turned to her with eyes wild and wide.
“I know him—yes. And you—Oh, for pity’s sake, say you know him, too!”
“How on earth can I say so until I’ve seen him?” said Mrs. Sharpe, poising her glass and clapping her eye to it, one hand over the other, after the fashion of the sex.
She took a long look.
“Well?” Mollie panted.
Mrs. Susan Sharpe turned to her with a singular smile—a smile that made luminous the sallow face and glorified the green spectacles.
Just then the stairs creaked under a cautious, ascending tread.
“It’s Sally,” said Mrs. Sharpe, not moving a muscle. “Eat your supper, and keep your eyes off the window if she comes in. Keep up heart, and think of the word on the blue banner—hope.”
She turned away and abruptly opened the door as she spoke. There stood old Sally, with the eyes of a watching cat.
“Oh, dear me!” exclaimed the ancient handmaiden of Mrs. Oleander, very much discomposed by this abrupt proceeding. “How you do startle a body with your quick ways! Is Mrs. Oleander in here?”
“No,” said Susan. “How could Mrs. Oleander be here when I left her, five minutes ago, half crazy with toothache?”
“Well, she left the kitchen after you, and came up, and I thought she might have dropped in to see the young woman,” fibbed Sally. “How is she?”
“Suppose you drop in and see for yourself,” responded the nurse, provoked into being pert to her elders. “Miss Dane, here’s a visitor for you.”
Mollie turned round from the table, where she sat taking her evening meal.
“I don’t want you or your visitors, Mrs. Sharpe, if that be your name,” said the irascible patient. “You’re all a set of old tabby cats together, and if you don’t clear out, I’ll fling something at your head!”
She bounced from her chair as she spoke and brandished the tea-pot.
With a howl of dismay, old Sally turned tail and fled incontinently. Just waiting to exchange one approving glance with her patient, the nurse thought it prudent to follow her example.
This little incident had one salutary effect. It frightened Sally out of her feeble old wits, confirming, as it did, Dr. Guy’s fable of the periodical fits of madness to which the young lady was prone. She related to her mistress, in shrill falsetto, what had occurred.
“And if ever I go near the crazy little hussy again, as long as she’s under this roof,” concluded Sally, wildly, “I’m a Dutchman!”
“Weren’t you frightened?” Mrs. Oleander asked, turning to the nurse.