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On returning to Sea View, Mr. Noel Vanstone
executed the instructions which prescribed his
line of conduct for the first of the five days, with
unimpeachable accuracy. A faint smile of
contempt hovered about Mrs. Lecount's lips, while
the story of Mr. Bygrave's attempt to pass off his
spurious pictures as originals was in progress, but
she did not trouble herself to utter a single word
of remark, when it had come to an end. "Just
what I said!" thought Mr. Noel Vanstone,
cunningly watching her face—" she doesn't believe a
word of it!"

The next day the meeting occurred on the
parade. Mr. Bygrave took off his hat; and Mr.
Noel Vanstone looked the other way. The
captain's start of surprise and scowl of indignation,
were executed to perfectionbut they plainly
failed to impose on Mrs. Lecount. " I am afraid,
sir, you have offended Mr. Bygrave to-day," she
ironically remarked. " Happily for you, he is an
excellent Christian; and I venture to predict
that he will forgive you to-morrow."

Mr. Noel Vanstone wisely refrained from
committing himself to an answer. Once more, he
privately applauded his own penetration; once
more, he triumphed over his ingenious friend.

Thus far, the captain's instructions had been
too clear and simple to be mistaken by any one.
But they advanced in complication with the
advance of time; and on the third day Mr.
Noel Vanstone fell confusedly into the commission
of a slight error. After expressing the necessary
weariness of Aldborough, and the consequent
anxiety for change of scene, he was met (as he
had anticipated) by an immediate suggestion
from the housekeeper, recommending a visit
to St. Crux. In giving his answer to the advice
thus tendered, he made his first mistake. Instead
of deferring his decision until the next day, he
accepted Mrs. Lecount's suggestion on the day
when it was offered to him.

The consequences of this error were of no great
importance. The housekeeper merely set herself
to watch her master, one day earlier than had
been calculated ona result which had been
already provided for by the wise precautionary
measures of forbidding Mr. Noel Vanstone all
communication with North Shingles. Doubting,
as Captain Wragge had foreseen, the sincerity of
her master's desire to break off his connexion
with the Bygraves by going to St. Crux, Mrs.
Lecount tested the truth or falsehood of the
impression produced on her own mind, by
vigilantly watching for signs of secret communication
on one side or on the other. The close attention
with which she had hitherto observed the
out-goings and in-comings at North Shingles, was now
entirely transferred to her master. For the rest of
that third day, she never let him out of her sight;
she never allowed any third person who came to
the house, on any pretence whatever, a minute's
chance of private communication with him. At
intervals, through the night, she stole to the
door of his room, to listen and assure herself
that he was in bed; and before sunrise the next
morning, the coast-guardsman going his rounds
was surprised to see a lady who had risen as
early as himself, engaged over her work at one
of the upper windows of Sea View.

On the fourth morning, Mr. Noel Vanstone
came down to breakfast, conscious of the mistake
that he had committed on the previous day. The
obvious course to take, for the purpose of gaining
time, was to declare that his mind was still
undecided. He made the assertion boldly, when
the housekeeper asked him if he meant to move
that day. Again, Mrs. Lecount offered no remark;
and again the signs and tokens of incredulity
showed themselves in her face. Vacillation
of purpose was not at all unusual in her
experience of her master. But, on this occasion,
she believed that his caprice of conduct was
assumed, for the purpose of gaining time to
communicate with North Shingles; and she accordingly
set her watch on him once more, with
doubled and trebled vigilance.

No letters came that morning. Towards noon
the weather changed for the worse, and all idea
of walking out as usual was abandoned. Hour
after hour, while her master sat in one of the
parlours, Mrs. Lecount kept watch in the other
with the door into the passage open, and with a
full view of North Shingles through the convenient
side-window at which she had established
herself. Not a sign that was suspicious appeared;
not a sound that was suspicious caught her ear.
As the evening closed in, her master's hesitation
came to an end. He was disgusted with the