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                      NO NAME.

                   CHAPTER VI.

ALL human penetration has its limits.
Accurately as Captain Wragg had seen his way
hitherto, even his sharp insight was now at fault.
He finished his cigar with the mortifying conviction
that he was totally unprepared for Mrs. Lecount's
next proceeding.

In this emergency, his experience warned him
that there was one safe course, and one only,
which he could take. He resolved to try the
confusing effect on the housekeeper of a complete
change of tactics, before she had time to press
her advantage, and attack him in the dark. With
this view he sent the servant up-stairs to request
that Miss Bygrave would come down and speak
to him.

"I hope I don't disturb you," said the captain,
when Magdalen entered the room. "Allow
me to apologise for the smell of tobacco, and to
say two words on the subject of our next
proceedings. To put it with my customary frankness,
Mrs. Lecount puzzles me, and I propose
to return the compliment by puzzling her. The
course of action which I have to suggest is a
very simple one. I have had the honour of giving
you a severe neuralgic attack already, and I beg
your permission (when Mr. Noel Vanstone sends
to inquire to-morrow morning) to take the further
liberty of laying you up altogether. Question
from Sea-View Cottage: 'How is Miss Bygrave
this morning?' Answer from North Shingles:
'Much worse; Miss Bygrave is confined to her
room.' Question repeated every day, say for a
fortnight: 'How is Miss Bygrave?' Answer
repeated, if necessary, for the same time:
'No better.' Can you bear the imprisonment?
I see no objection to your getting a
breath of fresh air the first thing in the morning,
or the last thing at night. But for the whole
of the day, there is no disguising it, you must
put yourself in the same category with Mrs.
Wraggeyou must keep your room."

"What is your object in wishing me to do
this?" inquired Magdalen.

"My object is twofold," replied the captain.
"I blush for my own stupidity; but the fact is,
I can't see my way plainly to Mrs. Lecount's
next move. All I feel sure of is, that she
means to make another attempt at opening her
master's eyes to the truth. Whatever means she
may employ to discover your identity, personal
communication with you must be necessary to the
accomplishment of her object. Very good. If
I stop that communication, I put an obstacle in
her way at startingor, as we say at cards, I
force her hand. Do you see the point?"

Magdalen saw it plainly. The captain went

"My second reason for shutting you up," he
said, "refers entirely to Mrs. Lecount's master.
The growth of love, my dear girl, is, in one
respect, unlike all other growthsit flourishes
under adverse circumstances. Our first course
of action is to make Mr. Noel Vanstone feel the
charm of your society. Our next, is to drive him
distracted by the loss of it. I should have
proposed a few more meetings, with a view to
furthering this end, but for our present critical
position towards Mrs. Lecount. As it is, we
must trust to the effect you produced yesterday,
and try the experiment of a sudden separation
rather sooner than I could have otherwise wished.
I shall see Mr. Noel Vanstone, though you don't
and if there is a raw place established anywhere
about the region of that gentleman's heart, trust
me to hit him on it! You are now in full
possession of my views. Take your time to consider,
and give me your answerYes or No."

"Any change is for the better," said Magdalen,
"which keeps me out of the company of Mrs.
Lecount and her master! Let it be as you wish."

She had hitherto answered faintly and wearily;
but she spoke those last words with a heightened
tone, and a rising coloursigns which warned
Captain Wragge not to press her farther.

"Very good," said the captain. "As usual,
we understand each other. I see you are tired;
and I won't detain you any longer."

He rose to open the door, stopped half way to
it, and came back again. "Leave me to arrange
matters with the servant down stairs," he
continued. "You can't absolutely keep your bed;
and we must purchase the girl's discretion when
she answers the doorwithout taking her into
our confidence, of course. I will make her
understand that she is to say you are ill, just as she
might say you are not at home, as a way of keeping
unwelcome acquaintances out of the house.