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NO NAME

BY THE AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE," &c.

CHAPTER XV.

ON the next morning but one, news was
received from Mr. Pendril. The place of Michael
Vanstone's residence on the Continent had been
discovered. He was living at Zurich; and a
letter had been despatched to him, at that place,
on the day when the information was obtained.
In the course of the coming week an answer
might be expected, and the purport of it should
be communicated forthwith to the ladies at
Combe-Raven.

Short as it was, the interval of delay passed
wearily. Ten days elapsed before the
expected answer was received; and when it
came at last, it proved to be, strictly speaking,
no answer at all. Mr. Pendril had been merely
referred to an agent in London who was in
possession of Michael Vanstone's instructions.
Certain difficulties had been discovered in
connexion with those instructions, which had
produced the necessity of once more writing to
Zurich. And there "the negotiations" rested
again, for the present.

A second paragraph in Mr. Pendril's letter
contained another piece of intelligence
entirely new. Mr. Michael Vanstone's son (and
only child), Mr. Noel Vanstone, had recently
arrived in London, and was then staying in
lodgings occupied by his cousin, Mr. George
Bartram. Professional considerations had
induced Mr. Pendril to pay a visit to the lodgings.
He had been very kindly received by Mr.
Bartram; but had been informed by that gentleman
that his cousin was not then in a condition
to see visitors. Mr. Noel Vanstone had been
suffering for some years past, from a wearing
and obstinate malady; he had come to England
expressly to obtain the best medical advice, and
he still felt the fatigue of the journey so severely
as to be confined to his bed. Under these
circumstances, Mr. Pendril had no alternative but
to take his leave. An interview with Mr. Noel
Vanstone might have cleared up some of the
difficulties in connexion with his father's
instructions. As events had turned out, there was
no help for it but to wait for a few days more.

The days passed, the empty days of solitude
and suspense. At last, a third letter from the
lawyer announced the long-delayed conclusion
of the correspondence. The final answer had
been received from Zurich; and Mr. Pendril
would personally communicate it, at Combe-
Raven, on the afternoon of the next day.

That next day was Wednesday, the twelfth of
August. The weather had changed in the night:
and the sun rose watery through mist and cloud.
By noon, the sky was overcast at all points;
the temperature was sensibly colder; and the
rain poured down, straight and soft and steady,
on the thirsty earth. Towards three o'clock,
Miss Garth and Norah entered the morning-
room, to await Mr. Pendril's arrival. They
were joined, shortly afterwards, by Magdalen.
In half an hour more, the familiar fall of the
iron latch in the socket, reached their ears from
the fence beyond the shrubbery. Mr. Pendril
and Mr. Clare advanced into view along the
garden-path, walking arm in arm through the
rain, sheltered by the same umbrella. The
lawyer bowed as they passed the windows: Mr.
Clare walked straight on, deep in his own
thoughts; noticing nothing.

After a delay which seemed interminable;
after a weary scraping of wet feet on the hall
mat; after a mysterious, muttered interchange
of question and answer outside the door, the
two came inMr. Clare leading the way. The
old man walked straight up to the table, without
any preliminary greeting; and looked across it
at the three women, with a stern pity for them,
in his rugged wrinkled face.

"Bad news," he said. "I am an enemy to
all unnecessary suspense. Plainness is kindness,
in such a case as this. I mean to be
kind; and I tell you plainlybad news."

Mr. Pendril followed him. He shook hands,
in silence, with Miss Garth and the two sisters;
and took a seat near them. Mr. Clare placed
himself apart on a chair by the window. The
grey rainy light fell soft and sad on the faces of
Norah and Magdalen, who sat together opposite
to him. Miss Garth had placed herself a little
behind them, in partial shadow; and the
lawyer's quiet face was seen in profile, close beside
her. So the four occupants of the room
appeared to Mr. Clare, as he sat apart in his
corner; his long claw-like fingers interlaced on
his knee; his dark vigilant eyes fixed searchingly
now on one face, now on another. The
dripping rustle of the rain among the leaves,
and the clear ceaseless tick of the clock on the
mantelpiece, made the minute of silence which

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