But Mrs. Dinneford heard the “yes” which flushed into the voice that said “no.” She was not deceived.
A rapid change passed over Mrs. Bray on the instant her visitor left the room. Her first act was to lock the door; her next, to take the roll of bank-bills from the table and put it into her pocket. Over her face a gleam of evil satisfaction had swept.
“Got you all right now, my lady!” fell with a chuckle from her lips. “A vampire, ha!” The chuckle was changed for a kind of hiss. “Well, have it so. There is rich blood in your veins, and it will be no fault of mine if I do not fatten upon it. As for pity, you shall have as much of it as you gave to that helpless baby. Saints don’t work in this kind of business, and I’m not a saint.”
And she chuckled and hissed and muttered to herself, with many signs of evil satisfaction.
FOR an hour Mrs. Bray waited the reappearance of Pinky Swett, but the girl did not come back. At the end of this time a package which had been left at the door was brought to her room. It came from Mrs. Dinneford, and contained two hundred dollars. A note that accompanied the package read as follows:
“Forgive my little fault of temper. It is your interest to be my friend. The woman must not, on any account, be suffered to come near me.”
Of course there was no signature. Mrs. Bray’s countenance was radiant as she fingered the money.
“Good luck for me, but bad for the baby,” she said, in a low, pleased murmur, talking to herself. “Poor baby! I must see better to its comfort. It deserves to be looked after. I wonder why Pinky doesn’t come?”
Mrs. Bray listened, but no sound of feet from the stairs or entries, no opening or shutting of doors, broke the silence that reigned through the house.
“Pinky’s getting too low down—drinks too much; can’t count on her any more.” Mrs. Bray went on talking to herself. “No rest; no quiet; never satisfied; for ever knocking round, and for ever getting the worst of it. She was a real nice girl once, and I always liked her. But she doesn’t take any care of herself.”
As Pinky went out, an hour before, she met a fresh-looking girl, not over seventeen, and evidently from the country. She was standing on the pavement, not far from the house in which Mrs. Bray lived, and had a traveling-bag in her hand. Her perplexed face and uncertain manner attracted Pinky’s attention.
“Are you looking for anybody?” she asked.
“I’m trying to find a Mrs. Bray,” the girl answered. “I’m a stranger from the country.”
“Oh, you are?” said Pinky, drawing her veil more tightly so that her disfigured face could not be seen.
“Yes I’m from L——.”
“Indeed? I used to know some people there.”
“Then you’ve been in L——?” said the girl, with a pleased, trustful manner, as of one who had met a friend at the right time.