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WHEN Magdalen appeared in the parlour,
shortly before seven o'clock, not a trace of
discomposure was visible in her manner. She looked
and spoke as quietly and unconcernedly as usual.

The lowering distrust on Captain Wragge's
face cleared away at the sight of her. There had
been moments during the afternoon, when he had
seriously doubted whether the pleasure of satisfying
the grudge he owed to Noel Vanstone, and
the prospect of earning the sum of two hundred
pounds, would not be dearly purchased, by
running the risk of discovery to which Magdalen's
uncertain temper might expose him at any hour
of the day. The plain proof now before him of
her powers of self-control, relieved his mind of
a serious anxiety. It mattered little to the
captain what she suffered in the privacy of her
own chamber, as long as she came out of it with
a face that would bear inspection, and a voice
that betrayed nothing.

On the way to Sea-View Cottage, Captain
Wragge expressed his intention of asking the
housekeeper a few sympathising questions on
the subject of her invalid brother, in Switzerland.
He was of opinion that the critical condition of
this gentleman's health might exercise an important
influence on the future progress of the
conspiracy. Any chance of a separation, he
remarked, between the housekeeper and her master
was, under existing circumstances, a chance
which merited the closest investigation. "If
we can only get Mrs. Lecount out of the way
at the right time," whispered the captain, as he
opened his host's garden gate, "our man is

In a minute more, Magdalen was again under
Noel Vanstone's roof; this time in the character
of his own invited guest.

The proceedings of the evening were for the
most part a repetition of the proceedings during
the morning walk. Mr. Noel Vanstone vibrated
between his admiration of Magdalen's beauty
and his glorification of his own possessions.
Captain Wragge's inexhaustible outbursts of
informationrelieved by delicately-indirect
inquiries relating to Mrs. Lecount's brother
perpetually diverted the housekeeper's jealous
vigilance from dwelling on the looks and language
of her master. So the evening passed, until ten
o'clock. By that time, the captain's ready-made
science was exhausted, and the housekeeper's
temper was forcing its way to the surface. Once
more, Captain Wragge warned Magdalen by a
look, and, in spite of Mr. Noel Vanstone's
hospitable protest, wisely rose to say good night.

"I have got my information," remarked the
captain, on his way back. "Mrs. Lecount's
brother lives at Zurich. He is a bachelor; he
possesses a little money; and his sister is his
nearest relation. If he will only be so obliging
as to break up altogether, he will save us a world
of trouble with Mrs. Lecount."

It was a fine moonlight night. He looked round
at Magdalen, as he said those words, to see if
her intractable depression of spirits had seized
on her again.

No! her variable humour had changed once
more. She looked about her with a flaunting,
feverish gaiety; she scoffed at the bare idea of
any serious difficulty with Mrs. Lecount; she
mimicked Noel Vanstone's high-pitched voice,
and repeated Noel Vanstone's high-flown
compliments, with a bitter enjoyment of turning him
into ridicule. Instead of running into the house
as before, she sauntered carelessly by her
companion's side, humming little snatches of song,
and kicking the loose pebbles right and left on
the garden walk. Captain Wragge hailed the
change in her as the best of good omens. He
thought he saw plain signs that the family spirit
was at last coming back again.

"Well," he said, as he lit her bedroom candle
for her, "when we all meet on the parade to-
morrow, we shall see, as our nautical friends
say, how the land lies. One thing I can tell you,
my dear girlI have used my eyes to very little
purpose, if there is not a storm brewing to-night
in Mr. Noel Vanstone's domestic atmosphere."

The captain's habitual penetration had not
misled him. As soon as the door of Sea-View
Cottage was closed on the parting guests, Mrs.
Lecount made an effort to assert the authority
which Magdalen's influence was threatening

She employed every artifice of which she was
mistress to ascertain Magdalen's true position in
Noel Vanstone's estimation. She tried again and