‘I did not see it. Joanna knocked the candle over, as I am convinced, deliberately, and in the dark secreted the notes and put away the ledgers. I heard her do the latter, and when she returned with the candle, everything was in place, and the account-book nowhere that I could see.’
‘We will overhaul the cabinet.’
‘I should like to overhaul her room.’
‘I will call Emily.’
The maid conducted Beavis upstairs.
He looked round. The bed had not been slept in. Some scraps of paper lay scattered on the floor; a saucer with water in it stood in the window.
‘Ah!’ said Emily, ‘never was nobody so stuck up as Joanna over nothing as she was over the pot of lily of the valley her ladyship gave her. She went off on the top of the coach, hugging it like a baby, and I seed her kiss her hand and wave it, right away over the woods towards Court Royal; and she was crying. I reckon she was sorry to go. She was so taken with Lady Grace, she nigh worshipped the ground she trod on; and the last thing I heard her say was, “Oh, what will Lady Grace think!” Why, sir, I reckon her ladyship won’t cast a thought after her.’
Beavis shook his head.
‘Joanna has not left a pin that was her own. She looked about the room a score of times to make sure she had everything. She carried away her pink silk as she minded to have worn at the tenants’ ball, had it not been spoiled with mineral water.’
‘Did she give you her address?’
‘No, sir, her and me wasn’t over-good friends. She was one that would have all her own way, she was that over-bearing. I did think it was not fair that she should go to the dance to-night and not I, who am the longest in the place, but she was that set on it, I reckon there was no withstanding her. Lady Grace and Miss Lucy had taught her to dance for the purpose—she brought this up on me, and what was I to say?’
‘That will do,’ said Beavis. ‘I asked a simple question and required a simple answer.’
‘And after all, sir,’ said the unabashed Emily, ‘she won’t go to the ball neither. That’s sweet comfort.’
The tenants’ ball began at seven, and by tacit understanding was to be over at two in the morning. The hours were