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NO NAME

BY THE AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE"

CHAPTER IV

CAPTAIN WRAGGE and Magdalen retraced their
steps until they were again within view of North
Shingles Villa, before any signs appeared of Mrs.
Lecount and her master. At that point, the
housekeeper's lavender-coloured dress, the
umbrella, and the feeble little figure in nankeen
walking under it, became visible in the distance.
The captain slackened his pace immediately;
and issued his directions to Magdalen for her
conduct at the coming interview, in these words:

"Don't forget your smile," he said. "In all
other respects you will do. The walk has improved
your complexion, and the hat becomes
you. Look Mrs. Lecount steadily in the face;
show no embarrassment when you speak; and if
Mr. Noel Vanstone pays you pointed attention,
don't take too much notice of him while his
housekeeper's eye is on you. Mind one thing! I
have been at Joyce's Scientific Dialogues all the
morning; and I am quite serious in meaning to
give Mrs. Lecount the full benefit of my studies.
If I can't contrive to divert her attention from
you and her master, I won't give sixpence for
our chance of success. Small-talk won't succeed
with that woman; compliments won't succeed;
jokes won't succeedready-made science may
recal the deceased Professor, and ready-made
science may do. We must establish a code of
signals to let you know what I am about. Observe
this camp-stool. When I shift it from my left
hand to my right, I am talking Joyce. When I
shift it from my right hand to my left, I am
talking Wragge. In the first case, don't interrupt
meI am leading up to my point. In the
second case, say anything you like; my remarks
are not of the slightest consequence. Would
you like a rehearsal? Are you sure you understand?
Very goodtake my arm, and look happy. Steady!
here they are."

The meeting took place nearly midway between
Sea-View Cottage and North Shingles.
Captain Wragge took off his tall white hat, and
opened the interview immediately on the friendliest
terms.

"Good morning, Mrs. Lecount," he said, with
the frank and cheerful politeness of a naturally
sociable man. "Good morning, Mr. Vanstone;
I am sorry to see you suffering to-day. Mrs.
Lecount, permit me to introduce my niecemy
niece, Miss Bygrave. My dear girl, this is Mr.
Noel Vanstone, our neighbour at Sea-View
Cottage. We must positively be sociable at
Aldborough, Mrs. Lecount. There is only one walk
in the place (as my niece remarked to me just
now, Mr. Vanstone); and on that walk we must
all meet every time we go out. And why not?
Are we formal people on either side? Nothing
of the sortwe are just the reverse. You possess
the continental facility of manner, Mr. Vanstone
I match you, with the blunt cordiality of
an old-fashioned Englishmanthe ladies mingle
together in harmonious variety, like flowers on
the same bedand the result is a mutual
interest in making our sojourn at the sea-side
agreeable to each other. Pardon my flow of
spirits; pardon my feeling so cheerful and so
young. The Iodine in the sea-air, Mrs. Lecount
the notorious effect of the Iodine in the sea-
air!"

"You arrived yesterday, Miss Bygrave, did
you not?" said the housekeeper, as soon as the
captain's deluge of language bad come to an end.

She addressed those words to Magdalen with
a gentle motherly interest in her youth and
beauty, chastened by the deferential amiability
which became her situation in Mr. Noel Vanstone's
household. Not the faintest token of
suspicion or surprise betrayed itself in her face,
her voice, or her manner, while she and
Magdalen now looked at each other. It was plain
at the outset that the true face and figure which
she now saw, recalled nothing to her mind of
the false face and figure which she had seen
in Vauxhall Walk. The disguise had evidently
been complete enough even to baffle the
penetration of Mrs. Lecount.

"My aunt and I came here yesterday evening,"
said Magdalen. " We found the latter part
of the journey very fatiguing. I dare say you
found it so too?"

She designedly made her answer longer than
was necessary, for the purpose of discovering,
at the earliest opportunity, the effect which the
sound of her voice produced on Mrs. Lecount.

The housekeeper's thin lips maintained their
motherly smile; the housekeeper's amiable
manner lost none of its modest deferencebut

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