"You may believe me or not, as you like--I know of a man who is in love with her. He has had his opportunities; and he has made good use of them. Would you like to know who he is?"
"I should like to know anything which you may wish to tell me." He did his best to make the reply in a tone of commonplace politeness--and he might have succeeded in deceiving a man. The woman's quicker ear told her that he was angry. Francine took the full advantage of that change in her favor.
"I am afraid your good opinion of Emily will be shaken," she quietly resumed, "when I tell you that she has encouraged a man who is only drawing-master at a school. At the same time, a person in her circumstances--I mean she has no money--ought not to be very hard to please. Of course she has never spoken to you of Mr. Alban Morris?"
Only four words--but they satisfied Francine.
The one thing wanting to complete the obstacle which she had now placed in Emily's way, was that Alban Morris should enter on the scene. He might hesitate; but, if he was really fond of Emily, the anonymous letter would sooner or later bring him to Monksmoor. In the meantime, her object was gained. She dropped Mirabel's arm.
"Here is the lodge," she said gayly--"I declare Cecilia has got an apron on already! Come, and cook."
Mirabel left Francine to enter the lodge by herself. His mind was disturbed: he felt the importance of gaining time for reflection before he and Emily met again.
The keeper's garden was at the back of the lodge. Passing through the wicket-gate, he found a little summer-house at a turn in the path. Nobody was there: he went in and sat down.