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for her life if she goes on as she is going on
now; and he thinksfinding that she is
perpetually talking of her masterthat your
presence would be useful in quieting her, if you
could come here at once, and exert your influence
before it is too late.

"What do you say? Will you emerge from
the darkness that surrounds you, and come to St.
Crux? If this was the case of an ordinary
servant, I could understand your hesitating to
leave the delights of your honeymoon for any
such object as is here proposed to you. But, my
dear fellow, Mrs. Lecount is not an ordinary
servant. You are under obligations to her fidelity
and attachment, in your father's time, as well as
in your own; and if you can quiet the anxieties
which seem to be driving this unfortunate woman
mad, I really think you ought to come here and do
so. Your leaving Mrs. Noel Vanstone is of course
out of the question. There is no necessity for any
such hard-hearted proceeding. The admiral
desires me to remind you that he is your oldest
friend living, and that his house is at your wife's
disposal, as it has always been at yours. In
this great rambling place she need dread no near
association with the sick-room; and, with all my
uncle's oddities, I am sure she will not think the
offer of his friendship an offer to be despised.

"Have I told you already that I went to
Aldborough to try and find a clue to your
whereabouts? I can't be at the trouble of looking
back to see; so, if I have told you, I tell you
again. The truth is, I made an acquaintance at
Aldborough of whom you know somethingat
least, by report.

"After applying vainly at Sea View, I went to
the hotel to inquire about you. The landlady
could give me no information; but the moment
I mentioned your name, she asked if I was
related to youand when I told her I was your
cousin, she said there was a young lady then at
the hotel, whose name was Vanstone also; who
was in great distress about a missing relative;
and who might prove of some use to meor I to
herif we knew of each other's errand at
Aldborough. I had not the least idea who she was;
but I sent in my card at a venture; and, in five
minutes afterwards, I found myself in the
presence of one of the most charming women these
eyes ever looked on.

"Our first words of explanation informed me
that my family name was known to her by repute.
Who do you think she was? The eldest daughter
of my uncle and yoursAndrew Vanstone. I
had often heard my poor mother, in past years,
speak of her brother Andrew; and I knew of
that sad story at Combe-Raven. But our families,
as you are aware, had always been estranged;
and I had never seen my charming cousin before.
She has the dark eyes and hair, and the gentle
retiring manners that I always admire in a
woman. I don't want to renew our old disagreement
about your father's conduct to those two
sisters, or to deny that his brother Andrew may
have behaved badly to himI am willing to admit
that the high moral position he took in the matter,
is quite unassailable by such a miserable sinner
as I amand I will not dispute that my own
spendthrift habits incapacitate me from offering
any opinion on the conduct of other people's
pecuniary affairs. But, with all these allowances
and drawbacks, I can tell you one thing, Noel.
If you ever see the elder Miss Vanstone, I
venture to prophesy that, for the first time in your
life, you will doubt the propriety of following
your father's example.

"She told me her little story, poor thing, most
simply and unaffectedly. She is now occupying
her second situation as a governessand, as
usual, I, who know everybody, know the family.
They are friends of my uncle's, whom he has lost
sight of, latterlythe Tyrrels of Portland-place
and they treat Miss Vanstone with as much
kindness and consideration as if she was a member
of the family. One of their old servants accompanied
her to Aldborough; her object in travelling
to that place being what the landlady of the
hotel had stated it to be. The family reverses
have, it seems, had a serious effect on Miss
Vanstone's younger sister, who has left her friends,
and who has been missing from home for some
time. She had been last heard of at Aldborough;
and her elder sister, on her return from the
Continent with the Tyrrels, had instantly set out to
make inquiries at that place.

"This was all Miss Vanstone told me. She asked
whether you had seen anything of her sister, or
whether Mrs. Lecount knew anything of her sister
I suppose because she was aware you had been
at Aldborough . Of course I could tell her nothing.
She entered into no details on the subject, and I
could not presume to ask her for any. All I did
was to set to work with might and main to assist
her inquiries. The attempt was an utter failure
nobody could give us any information. We
tried personal description, of course; and, strange
to say, the only young lady formerly staying at
Aldborough, who answered the description, was,
of all the people in the world, the lady you have
married! If she had not had an uncle and aunt
(both of whom have left the place), I should have
begun to suspect that you had married your
cousin without knowing it! Is this the clue to
the mystery? Don't be angry; I must have my
little joke, and I can't help writing as carelessly
as I talk. The end of it was, our inquiries were
all baffled, and I travelled back with Miss
Vanstone and her attendant, as far as our station
here. I think I shall call on the Tyrrels, when I
am next in London. I have certainly treated
that family with the most inexcusable neglect.

"Here I am at the end of my third sheet of
note-paper! I don't often take the pen in hand;
but when I do, you will agree with me, that I
am in no hurry to lay it aside again. Treat the
rest of my letter as you likebut consider what
I have told you about Mrs. Lecount; and
remember that time is of consequence.

"Ever yours,