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LATE that evening, when Magdalen and Mrs.
Wragge came back from their walk in the dark,
the captain stopped Magdalen on her way
upstairs, to inform her of the proceedings of the
day. He added the expression of his opinion,
that the time had come for bringing Mr. Noel
Vanstone, with the least possible delay, to the
point of making a proposal. She merely answered
that she understood him, and that she would
do what was required of her. Captain Wragge
requested her, in that case, to oblige him
by joining a walking excursion in Mr. Noel
Vanstone's company, at seven o'clock the next
morning. "I will be ready," she replied. "Is
there anything more?" There was nothing
more. Magdalen bade him good night, and
returned to her own room.

She had shown the same disinclination to remain
any longer than was necessary in the captain's
company, throughout the three days of her seclusion
in the house.

During all that time, instead of appearing to
weary of Mrs. Wragge's society, she had patiently,
almost eagerly, associated herself with her
companion's one absorbing pursuit. She, who had
often chafed and fretted in past days, under the
monotony of her life in the freedom of Combe-Raven,
now accepted, without a murmur, the
monotony of her life at Mrs. Wragge's work-table.
She, who had hated the sight of a needle
and thread, in old timeswho had never yet
worn an article of dress of her own makingnow
toiled as anxiously over the making of Mrs.
Wragge's gown, and bore as patiently with Mrs.
Wragge's blunders, as if the sole object of her
existence had been the successful completion of
that one dress. Anything was welcome to her
the trivial difficulties of fitting a gown; the
small ceaseless chatter of the poor half-witted
creature who was so proud of her assistance, and
so happy in her companyanything was welcome
that shut her out from the coming future,
from the destiny to which she stood self-
condemned. That sorely-wounded nature was
soothed by such a trifle now as the grasp of her
companion's rough and friendly handthat
desolate heart was cheered, when night parted them,
by Mrs. Wragge's kiss.

The captain's isolated position in the house,
produced no depressing effect on the
captain's easy and equal spirits. Instead of
resenting Magdalen's systematic avoidance of
his society, he looked to results, and highly
approved of it. The more she neglected him for
his wife, the more directly useful she became in
the character of Mrs. Wragge's self-appointed
guardian. He had more than once seriously
contemplated revoking the concession which had
been extorted from him, and removing his wife at
his own sole responsibility, out of harm's way;
and he had only abandoned the idea, on discovering
that Magdalen's resolution to keep Mrs.
Wragge in her own company was really serious.
While the two were together, his main anxiety
was set at rest. They kept their door locked,
by his own desire, while he was out of the house,
and, whatever Mrs. Wragge might do, Magdalen
was to be trusted not to open it until he came
back. That night, Captain Wragge enjoyed his
cigar with a mind at ease; and sipped his brandy-
and-water in happy ignorance of the pitfal which
Mrs. Lecount had prepared for him in the

Punctually at seven o'clock Mr. Noel Vanstone
made his appearance. The moment he entered
the room, Captain Wragge detected a change in
his visitor's look and manner. "Something
wrong!" thought the captain. "We have not
done with Mrs. Lecount yet."

"How is Miss Bygrave this morning?" asked
Mr. Noel Vanstone. "Well enough, I hope, for
our early walk?" His half-closed eyes, weak
and watery with the morning light and the
morning air, looked about the room furtively, and
he shifted his place in a restless manner from one
chair to another, as he made those polite

"My niece is bettershe is dressing for the
walk," replied the captain, steadily observing his
restless little friend while he spoke. "Mr.
Vanstone!" he added, on a sudden, "I am a plain
Englishmanexcuse my blunt way of speaking
my mind. You don't meet me this morning as
cordially as you met me yesterday. There is
something unsettled in your face. I distrust that
housekeeper of yours, sir! Has she been
presuming on your forbearance? Has she been