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sleeve of your cloak! Excuse me, you nearly
knocked down that silver candlestick. Pray
don't suppose it's a common candlestick. It's
nothing of the sortit's a Peruvian candlestick.
There are only three of that pattern
in the world. One is in the possession of the
President of Peru; one is locked up in the
Vatican; and one is on My table. It cost ten
pounds; it's worth fifty. One of my father's
bargains, ma'am. All these things are my father's
bargains. There is not another house in
England which has such curiosities as these. Sit
down, Lecount; I beg you will make yourself
comfortable. Mrs. Lecount is like the curiosities,
Miss Garthshe is one of my father's
bargains. You are one of my father's bargains, are
you not, Lecount? My father was a remarkable
man, ma'am. You will be reminded of him here,
at every turn. I have got his dressing-gown on
at this moment. No such linen as this is made
nowyou can't get it for love or money. Would
you like to feel the texture? Perhaps you're no
judge of texture? Perhaps you would prefer
talking to me about these two pupils of yours?
They are two, are they not? Are they fine girls?
Plump, fresh, full-blown, English beauties?"

"Excuse me, sir," interposed Mrs. Lecount,
sorrowfully. "I must really beg permission to
retire if you speak of the poor things in that
way. I can't sit by, sir, and hear them turned
into ridicule. Consider their position; consider
Miss Garth."

"You good creature!" said Mr. Noel
Vanstone, surveying the housekeeper through his
half-closed eyelids. "You excellent Lecount!
I assure you, ma'am, Mrs. Lecount is a worthy
creature. You will observe that she pities the
two girls. I don't go so far as that myselfbut
I can make allowances for them. I am a large-
minded man. I can make allowances for them
and for you." He smiled with the most cordial
politeness, and helped himself to a strawberry
from the dish on his lap.

"You shock Miss Garth; indeed, sir, without
meaning it, you shock Miss Garth," remonstrated
Mrs. Lecount. "She is not accustomed to you
as I am. Consider Miss Garth, sir. As a favour
to me, consider Miss Garth."

Thus far, Magdalen had resolutely kept
silence. The burning anger which would have
betrayed her in an instant if she had let it flash
its way to the surface, throbbed fast and fiercely
at her heart, and warned her, while Noel
Vanstone was speaking, to close her lips. She would
have allowed him to talk on uninterruptedly for
some minutes more, if Mrs. Lecount had not
interfered for the second time. The refined
insolence of the housekeeper's pity, was a woman's
insolence; and it stung her into instantly
controlling herself. She had never more admirably
imitated Miss Garth's voice and manner, than
when she spoke her next words.

"You are very good," she said to Mrs. Lecount.
"I make no claim to be treated with any extraordinary
consideration. I am a governess, and
I don't expect it. I have only one favour to
ask. I beg Mr. Noel Vanstone, for his own sake,
to hear what I have to say to him."

"You understand, sir?" observed Mrs.
Lecount. "It appears that Miss Garth has some
serious warning to give you. She says you are
to hear her, for your own sake."

Mr. Noel Vanstone's fair complexion suddenly
turned white. He put away the plate of
strawberries among his father's bargains. His hand
shook, and his little figure twisted itself uneasily
in the chair. Magdalen observed him attentively.
"One discovery already," she thought; "he is a

"What do you mean, ma'am?" asked Mr.
Noel Vanstone, with visible trepidation of look
and manner. "What do you mean by telling
me I must listen to you for my own sake? If
you come here to intimidate me, you come to the
wrong man. My strength of character was
universally noticed in our circle at Zurichwasn't
it, Lecount?"

"Universally, sir," said Mrs. Lecount. "But
let us hear Miss Garth. Perhaps I have
misinterpreted her meaning?"

"On the contrary," replied Magdalen, "you
have exactly expressed my meaning. My object
in coming here is to warn Mr. Noel Vanstone
against the course which he is now taking."

"Don't!" pleaded Mrs. Lecount. "Oh, if
you want to help these poor girls, don't talk in
that way! Soften his resolution, ma'am, by
entreaties; don't strengthen it by threats!" She
a little overstrained the tone of humility in which
she spoke those wordsa little overacted the
look of apprehension which accompanied them.
If Magdalen had not seen plainly enough already
that it was Mrs. Lecount's habitual practice to
decide everything for her master in the first
instance, and then to persuade him that he was
not acting under his housekeeper's resolution,
but under his ownshe would have seen it

"You hear what Lecount has just said?"
remarked Mr. Noel Vanstone. "You hear the
unsolicited testimony of a person who has known
me from childhood? Take care, Miss Garth
take care!" He complacently arranged the
tails of his white dressing-gown over his knees,
and took the plate of strawberries back on his

"I have no wish to offend you," said
Magdalen. "I am only anxious to open your eyes to
the truth. You are not acquainted with the
characters of the two sisters whose fortunes
have fallen into your possession. I have known
them from childhood; and I come to give you
the benefit of my experience in their interests
and in yours. You have nothing to dread from
the elder of the two; she patiently accepts the
hard lot which you, and your father before you,
have forced on her. The younger sister's
conduct is the very opposite of this. She has
already declined to submit to your father's decision;
and she now refuses to be silenced by Mrs.