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mean to send this advertisement myself. The
servant shall take it to the stationer's to be put
into the Times. When I ring the bell twice,
send the servant. You understand, Lecount?
Send the servant."

Mrs. Lecount bowed again, and walked slowly
to the door. She knew to a nicety when to lead
her master, and when to let him go alone.
Experience had taught her to govern him in all
essential points, by giving way to him afterwards
on all points of minor detail. It was a
characteristic of his weak natureas it is of all weak
naturesto assert itself obstinately on trifles.
The filling in of the blank in the advertisement,
was the trifle in this case; and Mrs. Lecount
quieted her master's suspicions that she was
leading him, by instantly conceding it. "My
mule has kicked," she thought to herself, in her
own language, as she opened the door. "I can
do no more with him to-day.''

"Lecount!" cried her master, as she stepped
into the passage. "Come back."

Mrs. Lecount came back.

"You're not offended with me, are you?" asked
Mr. Noel Vanstone, uneasily.

"Certainly not, sir," replied Mrs. Lecount.
"As you said just nowyou are master."

"Good creature! Give me your hand." He
kissed her hand, and smiled in high approval of
his own affectionate proceeding. "Lecount,
you are a worthy creature!"

"Thank you, sir," said Mrs. Lecount. She
curtseyed and went out. "If he had any brains
in that monkey-head of his," she said to herself
in the passage, "what a rascal he would be!"

Left by himself, Mr. Noel Vanstone became
absorbed in anxious reflection over the blank
space in the advertisement. Mrs. Lecount's
apparently superfluous hint to him, to be liberal
in offering money when he knew he had no
intention of parting with it, had been founded on
an intimate knowledge of his character. He had
inherited his father's sordid love of money, without
inheriting his father's hard-headed capacity
for seeing the uses to which money can be put.
His one idea in connexion with his wealth, was
the idea of keeping it. He was such an inborn
miser, that the bare prospect of being liberal, in
theory only, daunted him. He took up the pen;
laid it down again; and read the anonymous
letter for the third time, shaking his head over it
suspiciously. "If I offer this man a large sum
of money," he thought, on a sudden; "how do I
know he may not find a means of making me
actually pay it? Women are always in a hurry.
Lecount is always in a hurry. I have got the
afternoon before me I'll take the afternoon to
consider it."

He fretfully put away the blotting-book, and
the sketch of the advertisement, on the chair
which Mrs. Lecount had just left. As he
returned to his own seat, he shook his little head
solemnly, and arranged his white dressing-gown
over his knees, with the air of a man absorbed in
anxious thought. Minute after minute passed
away; the quarters and the half-hours succeeded
each other on the dial of Mrs. Lecount's watch
and still Mr. Noel Vanstone remained lost in
doubt; still no summons for the servant disturbed
the tranquillity of the parlour bell.

* * * *

Meanwhile, after parting with Mrs. Lecount,
Magdalen had cautiously abstained from crossing
the road to her lodgings, and had only
ventured to return after making a circuit in the
neighbourhood. When she found herself once
more in Vauxhall Walk, the first object which
attracted her attention, was a cab drawn up
before the door of the lodgings. A few steps
more in advance showed her the landlady's
daughter, standing at the cab-door, engaged in a
dispute with the driver on the subject of his fare.
Noticing that the girl's back was turned towards
her, Magdalen instantly profited by that circumstance,
and slipped unobserved into the house.

She glided along the passage; ascended the
stairs; and found herself, on the first landing
face to face with her travelling companion!
There stood Mrs. Wragge, with a pile of small
parcels hugged up in her arms, anxiously waiting
the issue of the dispute with the cabman in
the street. To return was impossiblethe sound
of the angry voices below, was advancing into
the passage. To hesitate was worse than
useless. But one choice was leftthe choice of
going onand Magdalen desperately took it.
She pushed by Mrs. Wragge, without a word;
ran into her own room; tore off her cloak,
bonnet, and wig; and threw them down out of
sight, in the blank space between the sofa-
bedstead and the wall.

For the first few moments, astonishment bereft
Mrs. Wragge of the power of speech, and rooted
her to the spot where she stood. Two out of the
collection of parcels in her arms fell from them
on the stairs. The sight of that catastrophe
roused her. "Thieves!" cried Mrs. Wragge,
suddenly struck by an idea. "Thieves!"

Magdalen heard her through the room door,
which she had not had time to close completely.
"Is that you, Mrs. Wragge?" she called out in
her own voice. "What is the matter?" She
snatched up a towel, while she spoke; dipped it
in water; and passed it rapidly over the lower
part of her face. At the sound of the familiar
voice, Mrs. Wragge turned rounddropped a
third parcel andforgetting it in her astonishment,
ascended the second flight of stairs.
Magdalen stepped out on the first-floor landing, with
the towel held over her forehead as if she was
suffering from headache. Her false eyebrows
required time for their removal, and a headache
assumed for the occasion, suggested the most
convenient pretext she could devise for hiding
them as they were hidden now.

"What are you disturbing the house for?"
she asked. "Pray be quiet. I am half blind
with the headache."

"Anything wrong, ma'am?" inquired the landlady,
from the passage.