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The trivial noises in the neighbouring street,
gathering in number as the morning advanced,
forced her back to the hard realities of the passing
time. She raised her head with a heavy
sigh, and opened her eyes once more on the mean
and miserable little room.

The extracts from the will and the letterthose
last memorials of her father, now so closely
associated with the purpose which had possession of
her mindstill lay before her. The transient
colour faded from her face, as she spread the
little manuscript open on her lap. The extracts
from the will stood highest on the page; they
were limited to those few touching words, in
which the dead father begged his children's
forgiveness for the stain on their birth, and implored
them to remember the untiring love and care by
which he had striven to atone for it. The extract
from the letter to Mr. Pendril came next. She
read the last melancholy sentences aloud to
herself:— "For God's sake, come on the day when
you receive thiscome and relieve me from the
dreadful thought that my two darling girls are
at this moment unprovided for. If anything
happened to me, and if my desire to do their
mother justice, ended (through my miserable
ignorance of the law) in leaving Norah and
Magdalen disinherited, I should not rest in my
grave!" Under these lines again, and close at
the bottom of the page, was written the terrible
commentary on that letter which had fallen from
Mr. Pendril's lips:—"Mr. Vanstone's daughters
are Nobody's Children, and the law leaves them
helpless at their uncle's mercy."

Helpless when those words were spoken
helpless still, after all that she had resolved,
after all that she had sacrificed. The assertion
of her natural rights, and her sister's, sanctioned
by the direct expression of her father's last
wishes; the recal of Frank from China; the
justification of her desertion of Norahall hung
on her desperate purpose of recovering the lost
inheritance, at any risk, from the man who had
beggared and insulted his brother's children.
And that man was still a shadow to her! So
little did she know of him that she was even
ignorant, at that moment, of his place of abode.

She rose and paced the room, with the noiseless,
negligent grace of a wild creature of the
forest in its cage. "How can I reach him, in the
dark?" she said to herself. "How can I find
out——?" She stopped suddenly. Before the
question had shaped itself to an end in her
thoughts, Captain Wragge was back in her mind

A man well used to working in the dark; a man
with endless resources of audacity and cunning;
a man who would hesitate at no mean employment
that could be offered to him, if it was employment
that filled his pocketswas this the
instrument for which, in its present need, her
hand was waiting? Two of the necessities to be
met, before she could take a single step in
advance, were plainly present to herthe necessity
of knowing more of her father's brother than
she knew now; and the necessity of throwing
him off his guard by concealing herself personally,
during the process of inquiry. Resolutely self-
dependent as she was, the inevitable spy's
work at the outset must be work delegated to
another. In her position, was there any ready
human creature within reach, but the vagabond
down stairs? Not one. She thought of it
anxiously, she thought of it long. Not one!
There the choice was, steadily confronting her:
the choice of taking the Rogue, or of turning her
back on the Purpose.

She paused in the middle of the room. "What
can he do at his worst?" she said to herself.
"Cheat me. Well! if my money governs him
for me, what then? Let him have my money!"
She returned mechanically to her place by the
window. A moment more decided her. A
moment more, and she took the first fatal step
downwardsshe determined to face the risk, and try
Captain Wragge.

At nine o'clock the landlady knocked at
Magdalen's door, and informed her (with the
captain's kind compliments) that breakfast was

She found Mrs. Wragge alone; attired in a
voluminous brown holland wrapper, with a limp
cape, and a trimming of dingy pink ribbon.
The ex-waitress at Darch's Dining Rooms was
absorbed in the contemplation of a large dish,
containing a leathery-looking substance of a
mottled yellow colour, profusely sprinked with little
black spots.

"There it is!" said Mrs. Wragge. "Omelette
with herbs. The landlady helped me. And that's
what we've made of it. Don't you ask the captain
for any when he comes indon't, there's a good
soul. It isn't nice. We had some accidents with
it. It's been under the grate. It's been spilt on the
stairs. It's scalded the landlady's youngest boy
he went and sat on it. Bless you, it isn't half
as nice as it looks! Don't you ask for any.
Perhaps he won't notice if you say nothing about it.
What do you think of my wrapper? I should
so like to have a white one. Have you got a
white one? How is it trimmed? Do tell me!"

The formidable entrance of the captain
suspended the next question on her lips.
Fortunately for Mrs. Wragge, her husband was far
too anxious for the promised expression of
Magdalen's decision, to pay his customary attention
to questions of cookery. When breakfast was
over, he dismissed Mrs. Wragge, and merely
referred to the omelette by telling her that she had
his full permission to "give it to the dog."

"How does my little proposal look by
daylight?" he asked, placing chairs for Magdalen
and himself. "Which is it to be: 'Captain
Wragge, take charge of me?' or, 'Captain
Wragge, good morning?'"

"You shall hear directly," replied Magdalen.
"I have something to say first. I told you, last
night, that I had another object in view, besides
the object of earning my living on the stage——"