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Allow me to open the door for you. I beg your
pardon, you are going into Mrs. Wragge's
workroom, instead of going to your own."

"I know I am," said Magdalen. "I wish to
remove Mrs. Wragge from the worst room in the
house, and to take her up-stairs with me."

"For the evening?"

"For the whole fortnight."

Captain Wragge followed her into the dining-room,
and wisely closed the door before he spoke

"Do you seriously mean to inflict my wife's
society on yourself, for a fortnight?" he asked,
in great surprise.

"Your wife is the only innocent creature in
this guilty house," she burst out vehemently.
"I must and will have her with me!"

"Pray don't agitate yourself," said the
captain. "Take Mrs. Wragge by all means. I
don't want her." Having resigned the partner
of his existence in those terms, he discreetly
returned to the parlour. "The weakness of the
sex!" thought the captain, tapping his sagacious
head. "Lay a strain on the female intellect
and the female temper gives way directly."

The strain to which the captain alluded, was
not confined, that evening, to the female intellect
at North Shingles: it extended to the female
intellect at Sea View. For nearly two hours, Mrs.
Lecount sat at her desk, writing, correcting, and
writing again, before she could produce a letter
to Miss Vanstone the elder, which exactly
accomplished the object she wanted to attain. At
last, the rough draft was completed to her
satisfaction; and she made a fair copy of it,
forthwith, to be posted the next day.

Her letter thus produced, was a masterpiece of
ingenuity. After the first preliminary sentences,
the housekeeper plainly informed Norah of the
appearance of the visitor in disguise at Vauxhall
Walk; of the conversation which passed at the
interview; and of her own suspicion that the person
claiming to be Miss Garth was, in all probability,
the younger Miss Vanstone herself. Having
told the truth, thus far, Mrs. Lecount next proceeded
to say, that her master was in possession of
evidence which would justify him in putting the
law in force; that he knew the conspiracy with
which he was threatened to be then in process of
direction against him at Aldborough; and that
he only hesitated to protect himself, in deference
to family considerations, and in the hope that
the elder Miss Vanstone might so influence her
sister, as to render it unnecessary to proceed to

Under these circumstances (the letter
continued) it was plainly necessary that the
disguised visitor to Vauxhall Walk should be
properly identifiedfor if Mrs. Lecount's guess
proved to be wrong, and if the person turned out
to be a stranger, Mr. Noel Vanstone was positively
resolved to prosecute in his own defence.
Events at Aldborough, on which it was not
necessary to dwell, would enable Mrs. Lecount
in a few days to gain sight of the suspected
person, in her own character. But as the
housekeeper was entirely unacquainted with the
younger Miss Vanstone, it was obviously desirable
that some better informed person should,
in this particular, take the matter in hand. If
the elder Miss Vanstone happened to be at
liberty to come to Aldborough herself, would she
kindly write and say so?—and Mrs. Lecount
would write back again to appoint a day. If, on
the other hand, Miss Vanstone was prevented
from taking the journey, Mrs. Lecount suggested
that her reply should contain the fullest
description of her sister's personal appearance
should mention any little peculiarities which
might exist in the way of marks on her face
or her handsand should state (in case she
had written lately) what the address was in her
last letter, and failing that, what the postmark
was on the envelope. With this information
to help her, Mrs. Lecount would, in the
interest of the misguided young lady herself,
accept the responsibility of privately identifying
her; and would write back immediately to
acquaint the elder Miss Vanstone with the result.

The difficulty of sending this letter to the right
address gave Mrs. Lecount very little trouble.
Remembering the name of the lawyer who had
pleaded the cause of the two sisters, in Michael
Vanstone's time, she directed her letter to
"Miss Vanstone, care of- Pendril, Esquire,
London." This she enclosed in a second envelope,
addressed to Mr. Noel Vanstone's solicitor,
with a line inside, requesting that gentleman to
send it at once to the office of Mr. Pendril.

"Now," thought Mrs. Lecount, as she locked
the letter up in her desk, preparatory to posting
it the next day, with her own hand; "now, I
have got her!"

The next morning, the servant from Sea View
came, with her master's compliments, to make
inquiries after Miss Bygrave's health. Captain
Wragge's bulletin was duly announcedMiss
Bygrave was so ill, as to be confined to her

On the reception of this intelligence, Mr. Noel
Vanstone's anxiety led him to call at North
Shingles himself, when he went out for his
afternoon walk. Miss Bygrave was no better. He
inquired, if he could see Mr. Bygrave. The wary
captain was prepared to meet this emergency.
He thought a little irritating suspense would do
Mr. Noel Vanstone no harm; and he had carefully
charged the servant, in case of necessity,
with her answer:—"Mr. Bygrave begged to be
excused; he was not able to see any one."

On the second day, inquiries were made as
before, by message in the morning, and by Mr. Noel
Vanstone himself in the afternoon. The morning
answer relating to Magdalen was, "A shade
better." The afternoon answer (relating to
Captain Wragge) was, "Mr. Bygrave has just
gone out." That evening, Mr. Noel Vanstone's
temper was very uncertain; and Mrs. Lecount's