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tenderness of look and manner than most women
would have shown if they had been rescuing a
half-drowned fly from a milk-jugshe silently
and patiently fanned him for five minutes or
more. No practised eye observing the peculiar
bluish pallor of his complexion, and the marked
difficulty with which he drew his breath, could
have failed to perceive that the great organ of
life was, in this man, what the housekeeper had
stated it to be, too weak for the function which
it was called on to perform. The heart laboured
over its work, as if it had been the heart of a
worn-out old man.

"Are you relieved, sir?" asked Mrs.
Lecount. "Can you think a little? Can you
exercise your better judgment?"

She rose, and put her hand over his heart, with
as much mechanical attention and as little genuine
interest, as if she had been feeling the plates at
dinner to ascertain if they were properly warmed.
"Yes," she went on, seating herself again, and
resuming the exercise of the fan; "you are
getting better already, Mr. Noel.—Don't ask me
about this anonymous letter, until you have
thought for yourself, and have given your own
opinion first." She went on with the fanning, and
looked him hard in the face all the time. "Think,"
she said; "think, sir, without troubling yourself
to express your thoughts. Trust to my intimate
sympathy with you to read them. Yes, Mr.
Noel, this letter is a paltry attempt to frighten
you. What does it say? It says you are the
object of a conspiracy, directed by Miss
Vanstone. We know that alreadythe lady of the
inflamed eyes has told us. We snap our fingers
at the conspiracy. What does the letter say
next? It says the writer has valuable information
to give you, if you will pay for it. What
did you call this person yourself, just now, sir?"

"I called him a scoundrel," said Mr. Noel
Vanstone, recovering his self-importance, and
raising himself gradually in his chair.

"I agree with you in that, sir, as I agree in
everything else," proceeded Mrs. Lecount. "He
is a scoundrel who really has this information,
and who means what he saysor, he is a mouthpiece
of Miss Vanstone's; and she has caused
this letter to be written for the purpose of
puzzling us by another form of disguise. Whether
the letter is true, or whether the letter is false
am I not reading your own wiser thoughts now,
Mr. Noel?—you know better than to put your
enemies on their guard by employing the police
in this matter, too soon. I quite agree with
youno police just yet. You will allow this
anonymous man, or anonymous woman, to
suppose you are easily frightened; you will lay a
trap for the information in return for the trap
laid for your money; you will answer the letter,
and see what comes of the answer; and you will
only pay the expense of employing the police,
when you know the expense is necessary. I
agree with you again- no expense, if we can
help it. In every particular, Mr. Noel, my mind
and your mind in this matter, are one."

"It strikes you in that light, Lecountdoes
it?" said Mr. Noel Vanstone. "I think so,
myself; I certainly think so. I won't pay the
police a farthing if I can possibly help it." He
took up the letter again, and became fretfully
perplexed over a second reading of it. "But
the man wants money!" he broke out,
impatiently. "You seem to forget, Lecount, that the
man wants money."

"Money which you offer him, sir," rejoined
Mrs. Lecount; "butas your thoughts have
already anticipatedmoney which you don't
give him. No! no! you say to this man, 'Hold
out your hand, sir;' and, when he has held it
you give him a smack for his pains, and put your
own hand back in your pocket.—I am so glad to
see you laughing, Mr. Noel! so glad to see you
getting back your good spirits. We will answer
the letter by advertisement, as the writer directs
advertisement is so cheap! Your poor hand is
trembling a little- shall I hold the pen for you?
I am not fit to do more; but I can always
promise to hold the pen."

Without waiting for his reply, she went into
the back parlour, and returned with pen, ink,
and paper. Arranging a blotting-book on her
knees, and looking a model of cheerful submission,
she placed herself once more in front of her
master's chair.

"Shall I write from your dictation, sir?" she
inquired. "Or, shall I make a little sketch,
and will you correct it afterwards? I will make
a little sketch. Let me see the letter. We are
to advertise in the Times, and we are to address,
'An Unknown Friend.' What shall I say, Mr.
Noel? Stay; I will write it, and then you can
see for yourself: 'An Unknown Friend is
requested to mention (by advertisement) an address
at which a letter can reach him. The receipt of
the information which he offers will be acknowledged
by a reward of——' What sum of money
do you wish me to set down, sir?"

"Set down nothing," said Mr. Noel Vanstone,
with a sudden outbreak of impatience.
"Money-matters are my businessI say, money-
matters are my business, Lecount. Leave it to

"Certainly, sir," replied Mrs. Lecount, handing
her master the blotting-book. "You will not
forget to be liberal in offering money, when you
know beforehand you don't mean to part with

"Don't dictate, Lecount! I won't submit to
dictation!" said Mr. Noel Vanstone, asserting
his own independence more and more
impatiently. "I mean to conduct this business for
myself. I am master, Lecount!"

"You are master, sir."

"My father was master before me. And I
am my father's son. I tell you, Lecount, I am
my father's son!"

Mrs. Lecount bowed submissively.

"I mean to set down any sum of money I
think right," pursued Mr. Noel Vanstone,
nodding his little flaxen head vehemently. "I