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MRS. LECOUNT returned to the parlour, with
the fragment of Magdalen's dress in one hand,
and with Captain Wragge's letter in the other.

"Have you got rid of her?" asked Mr. Noel
Vanstone. "Have you shut the door at last on
Miss Garth?"

"Don't call her Miss Garth, sir," said Mrs.
Lecount, smiling contemptuously. "She is as
much Miss Garth as you are. We have been
favoured by the performance of a clever
masquerade; and if we had taken the disguise off our
visitor, I think we should have found under it,
Miss Vanstone herself.— Here is a letter for you,
sir, which the postman has just left."

She put the letter on the table, within her
master's reach. Mr. Noel Vanstone's amazement,
at the discovery just communicated to
him, kept his whole attention concentrated on
the housekeeper's face. He never so much as
looked at the letter when she placed it before

"Take my word for it, sir," proceeded Mrs.
Lecount, composedly taking a chair. "When
our visitor gets home, she will put her grey hair
away in a box, and will cure that sad affliction in
her eyes with warm water and a sponge. If she
had painted the marks on her face, as well as she
painted the inflammation in her eyes, the light
would have shown me nothing, and I should
certainly have been deceived. But I saw the marks;
I saw a young woman's skin under that dirty
complexion of hers; I heard, in this room, a
true voice in a passion, as well as a false voice
talking with an accent,—and I don't believe in
one morsel of that lady's personal appearance,
from top to toe. The girl herself, in my opinion,
Mr. Noeland a bold girl too."

"Why didn't you lock the door, and send for
the police?" asked Mr. Noel. "My father would
have sent for the police. You know, as well as I
do, Lecount, my father would have sent for the

"Pardon me, sir," said Mrs. Lecount, "I
think your father would have waited until he
had got something more for the police to do
than we have got for them yet. We shall see
this lady again, sir. Perhaps, she will come here
next time, with her own face and her own voice.
I am curious to see what her own face is like;
I am curious to know whether what I have
heard of her voice in a passion, is enough to
make me recognise her voice when she is calm.
I possess a little memorial of her visit of which
she is not aware; and she will not escape me so
easily as she thinks. If it turns out a useful
memorial, you shall know what it is. If not, I
will abstain from troubling you on so trifling a
subject.—Allow me to remind you, sir, of the
letter under your hand. You have not looked at
it yet."

Mr. Noel Vanstone opened the letter. He
started as his eye fell on the first lines
hesitatedand then hurriedly read it through. The
paper dropped from his hand, and he sank back
in his chair. Mrs. Lecount sprang to her feet
with the alacrity of a young woman, and picked
up the letter.

"What has happened, sir?" she asked. Her
face altered, as she put the question; and her
large black eyes hardened fiercely, in genuine
astonishment and alarm.

"Send for the police," exclaimed her master.
"Lecount, I insist on being protected. Send
for the police!"

"May I read the letter, sir?"

He feebly waved his hand. Mrs. Lecount
read the letter attentively, and put it aside on
the table, without a word, when she had done.

"Have you nothing to say to me?" asked
Mr. Noel Vanstone, staring at his housekeeper
in blank dismay. "Lecount, I'm to be robbed!
The scoundrel who wrote that letter knows all
about it, and won't tell me anything unless I pay
him. I'm to be robbed! Here's property on
this table worth thousands of pounds-property
that can never be replacedproperty that all
the crowned heads in Europe could not produce
if they tried. Lock me in, Lecountand send
for the police!"

Instead of sending for the police, Mrs.
Lecount took a large green-paper fan from the
chimney-piece, and seated herself opposite her

"You are agitated, Mr. Noel," she said;
"you are heated. Let me cool you."

With her face as hard as everwith less