I mean Joan or Joanna, whichever she is called, I cannot remember. I want a word with her.’
‘Please, sir,’ answered Emily, ‘she is gone.’
‘Gone!’ exclaimed father and son in a breath.
‘Yes, sir. She went by the first coach this morning, when you were asleep. She said as how the young master had given her notice to be off at once. She took her box out into the road herself. She was in a pretty take on too, sir, because, as she said—to use her very words—she was chiselled out of a dance. She’d set her heart on going to the tenants’ ball to-night. Her and I had a regular breeze because we could not both go, and it ended in the usual way. She got her way, and made me go last night just to look on and help. She was crying with vexation because she could not be at the dance. When she went away she said, What would Lady Grace think, who had been so kind to her, and Miss Lucy, who’d taught her to dance!’
‘I did not give her notice,’ said Beavis in a low tone to his father.
‘She has not had her wage,’ said the steward aloud to Beavis and Emily.
‘Well, now, that is queer,’ began the maid, when the young man cut her short with,
‘You may go.’
As soon as the girl was gone Beavis said, ‘This makes matters more suspicious. I told Joanna that I would examine her with you to-day, and rather than subject herself to interrogation she takes herself off without warning.’
‘She forfeits her wages,’ said Mr. Worthivale. ‘But I dare be bound she misunderstood you. Beavis, you speak rather sharp with servants. I dare say Emily would have talked on for half an hour if you had not cut her over the knuckles so sharp.’
‘I have no doubt whatever she would.’
‘She might have told us a good deal,’ said his father. ‘I have no doubt in my mind that a misapprehension lies at the bottom of this unfortunate affair. Of course, Joan had no right to be in the office, but perhaps she was dusting and tidying. You know yourself how neat she keeps that room, which of old was always in a litter. Once I never knew where to lay my hand on anything. I shall miss her; she had her good points. I dare say you snapped off her head when you came in and found the poor creature dozing over her work. No doubt she was tired. You are too hasty, Beavis, too hasty by