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sense that she was openly excluded, for the first
time, from the confidence of her parents. Norah's
customary reserve strengthened into sullen
silenceshe sat down in one of the hall chairs,
and looked out frowningly through the open
house-door. Magdalen, as usual when her
temper was ruffled, expressed her dissatisfaction
in the plainest terms. "I don't care who knows
itI think we are both of us shamefully ill-
used!" With those words, the young lady
followed her sister's example, by seating herself
on a hall chair, and looking aimlessly out
through the open house-door.

Almost at the same moment, Miss Garth
entered the hall, from the morning-room. Her
quick observation showed her the necessity
for interfering to some practical purpose; and
her ready good sense at once pointed the

"Look up, both of you, if you please, and
listen to me," said Miss Garth. "If we are all
three to be comfortable and happy together, now
we are alone, we must stick to our usual habits
and go on in our regular way. There is the state
of things in plain words. Accept the situation
as the French say. Here am I to set you the
example. I have just ordered an excellent dinner
at the customary hour. I am going to the medicine-
chest, next, to physic the kitchen-maid; an
unwholesome girl, whose face-ache is all stomach.
In the mean time, Norah, my dear, you will find
your work and your books, as usual, in the
library. Magdalen, suppose you leave off tying
your handkerchief into knots, and use your
fingers on the keys of the piano instead? We'll
lunch at one, and take the dogs out afterwards.
Be as brisk and cheerful, both of you, as I am.
Come! rouse up directly. If I see those gloomy
faces any longer, as sure as my name's Garth,
I'll give your mother written warning, and go
back to my friends by the mixed train at twelve-

Concluding her address of expostulation in
those terms, Miss Garth led Norah to the library
door, pushed Magdalen into the morning-room,
and went on her own way sternly to the regions
of the medicine-chest.

In this half-jesting, half-earnest manner, she
was accustomed to maintain a sort of friendly
authority over Mr. Vanstone's daughters, after
her proper functions as governess had
necessarily come to an end. Norah, it is needless to
say, had long since ceased to be her pupil; and
Magdalen had, by this time, completed her
education. But Miss Garth had lived too long and
too intimately under Mr. Vanstone's roof to be
parted with, for any purely formal considerations;
and the first hint at going away which
she had thought it her duty to drop, was
dismissed with such affectionate warmth of protest,
that she never repeated it again, except in jest.
The entire management of the household was,
from that time forth, left in her hands; and to
those duties she was free to add what
companionable assistance she could render to Norah's
reading, and what friendly superintendence she
could still exercise over Magdalen's music. Such
were the terms on which Miss Garth was now a
resident in Mr. Vanstone's family.

Towards the afternoon the weather improved.
At half-past one the sun was shining brightly;
and the ladies left the house, accompanied by
the dogs, to set forth on their walk.

They crossed the stream, and ascended by
the little rocky pass to the hills beyond; then
diverged to the left, and returned by a cross-
road which led through the village of Combe-

As they came in sight of the first cottages,
they passed a man, hanging about the road,
who looked attentively, first at Magdalen, then
at Norah. They merely observed that he was
short, that he was dressed in black, and that he
was a total stranger to themand continued
their homeward walk, without thinking more
about the loitering foot-passenger whom they
had met on their way back.

After they had left the village, and had
entered the road which led straight to the house,
Magdalen surprised Miss Garth by announcing
that the stranger in black had turned, after
they had passed him, and was now following
them. "He keeps on Norah's side of the road,"
she added, mischievously. "I'm not the
attractiondon't blame me."

Whether the man was really following them,
or not, made little difference, for they were now
close to the house. As they passed through the
lodge-gates, Miss Garth looked round, and saw
that the stranger was quickening his pace,
apparently with the purpose of entering into
conversation. Seeing this, she at once directed
the young ladies to go on to the house with the
dogs, while she herself waited for events at the

There was just time to complete this discreet
arrangement, before the stranger reached the
lodge. He took off his hat to Miss Garth
politely, as she turned round. What did he look
like, on the face of him? He looked like a
clergyman in difficulties.

Taking his portrait, from top to toe, the
picture of him began with a tall hat, broadly
encircled by a mourning band of crumpled crape.
Below the hat was a lean, long, sallow face,
deeply pitted with the small-pox, and
characterised, very remarkably, by eyes of two
different coloursone bilious green, one bilious
brown, both sharply intelligent. His hair was
iron-grey, carefully brushed round at the
temples. His cheeks and chin were in the bluest
bloom of smooth shaving; his nose was short
Roman; his lips long, thin, and supple, curled
up at the corners with a mildly-humorous smile.
His white cravat was high, stiff, and dingy;
the collar, higher, stiffer, and dingier, projected
its rigid points on either side beyond his chin.
Lower down, the lithe little figure of the man
was arrayed throughout in sober-shabby black.
His frock-coat was buttoned tight round the
waist, and left to bulge open majestically at the
chest. His hands were covered with black cotton
gloves, neatly darned at the fingers; his