"What IS your name?" "Susan Grant, Miss Loach." "Call me ma'am. I am Miss Loach only to my equals. Your age?" "Twenty-five, ma'am." "Do you know your work as parlor-maid thoroughly?" "Yes, ma'am. I was two years in one place and six months in another, ma'am. Here are my characters from both places, ma'am." As the girl spoke she laid two papers before the sharp old lady who questioned her. But Miss Loach did not look at them immediately. She examined the applicant with such close attention that a faint color tinted the girl ...
"What IS your name?" "Susan Grant, Miss Loach." "Call me ma'am. I am Miss Loach only to my equals. Your age?" "Twenty-five, ma'am." "Do you know your work as parlor-maid thoroughly?" "Yes, ma'am. I was two years in one place and six months in another, ma'am. Here are my characters from both places, ma'am." As the girl spoke she laid two papers before the sharp old lady who questioned her. But Miss Loach did not look at them immediately. She examined the applicant with such close attention that a faint color tinted the girl's cheeks and she dropped her eyes. But, in her turn, by stealthy glances, Susan Grant tactfully managed to acquaint herself with the looks of her possible mistress. The thoughts of each woman ran as follows, - Miss Loach to herself. "Humph! Plain-looking, sallow skin, rather fine eyes and a slack mouth. Not badly dressed for a servant, and displays some taste. She might turn my old dresses at a pinch. Sad expression, as though she had something on her mind. Honest-looking, but I think a trifle inquisitive, seeing how she examined the room and is stealing glances at me. Talks sufficiently, but in a low voice. Fairly intelligent, but not too much so. Might be secretive. Humph!" The thoughts of Susan Grant. "Handsome old lady, probably nearly sixty. Funny dress for ten o'clock in the morning. She must be rich, to wear purple silk and old lace and lovely rings at this hour. A hard mouth, thin nose, very white hair and very black eyebrows. Got a temper I should say, and is likely to prove an exacting mistress. But I want a quiet home, and the salary is good. I'll try it, if she'll take me." Had either mistress or maid known of each other's thoughts, a conclusion to do business might not have been arrived at. As it was, Miss Loach, after a few more questions, appeared satisfied. All the time she kept a pair of very black eyes piercingly fixed on the girl's face, as though she would read her very soul. But Susan had nothing to conceal, so far as Miss Loach could gather, so in the end she resolved to engage her. "I think you'll do," she said nodding, and poking up the fire, with a shiver, although the month was June. "The situation is a quiet one. I hope you have no followers." "No, ma'am," said Susan and flushed crimson. "Ha!" thought Miss Loach, "she has been in love-jilted probably. All the better, as she won't bring any young men about my quiet house." "Will you not read my characters, ma'am?" Miss Loach pushed the two papers towards the applicant. "I judge for myself," said she calmly. "Most characters I read are full of lies. Your looks are enough for me. Where were you last?" "With a Spanish lady, ma'am!" "A Spanish lady!" Miss Loach dropped the poker she was holding, with a clatter, and frowned so deeply that her black eyebrows met over her high nose. "And her name?" "Senora Gredos, ma'am!" The eyes of the old maid glittered, and she made a clutch at her breast as though the reply had taken away her breath. "Why did you leave?" she asked, regaining her composure. Susan looked uncomfortable. "I thought the house was too gay, ma'am." "What do you mean by that? Can any house be too gay for a girl of your years?" "I have been well brought up, ma'am," said Susan quietly; "and my religious principles are dear to me. Although she is an invalid, ma'am, Senora Gredos was very gay. Many people came to her house and played cards, even on Sunday," added Susan under her breath. But low as she spoke, Miss Loach heard. "I have whist parties here frequently," she said drily; "nearly every evening four friends of mine call to play. Have you any objection to enter my service on that account?" "Oh, no, ma'am. I don't mind a game of cards. I play 'Patience' myself when alone. I mean gambling-there was a lot of money lost and won at Senora Gredos' house!"
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