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EARLY the next morning Miss Garth and
Norah met in the garden, and spoke together
privately. The only noticeable result of the
interview, when they presented themselves at
the breakfast-table, appeared in the marked
silence which they both maintained on the topic
of the theatrical performance. Mrs. Vanstone
was entirely indebted to her husband and to her
youngest daughter for all that she heard of the
evening's entertainment. The governess and
the elder daughter had evidently determined on
letting the subject drop.

After breakfast was over, Magdalen proved to
be missing, when the ladies assembled as usual
in the morning-room. Her habits were so little
regular that Mrs. Vanstone felt neither surprise
nor uneasiness at her absence. Miss Garth and
Norah looked at one another significantly, and
waited in silence. Two hours passedand there
were no signs of Magdalen. Norah rose, as the
clock struck twelve; and quietly left the room to
look for her.

She was not up-stairs, dusting her jewellery
and disarranging her dresses. She was not in
the conservatory, not in the flower-garden; not
in the kitchen, teasing the cook; not in the
yard, playing with the dogs. Had she, by any
chance, gone out with her father? Mr. Vanstone
had announced his intention, at the breakfast-
table, of paying a morning visit to his old ally,
Mr. Clare, and of rousing the philosopher's
sarcastic indignation by an account of the dramatic
performance. None of the other ladies at Combe-
Raven ever ventured themselves inside the
cottage. But Magdalen was reckless enough
for anythingand Magdalen might have gone
there. As the idea occurred to her, Norah entered
the shrubbery.

At the second turning, where the path among
the trees wound away out of sight of the house,
she came suddenly face to face with Magdalen
and Frank: they were sauntering towards her,
arm-in-arm; their heads close together, their
conversation apparently proceeding in whispers.
They looked suspiciously handsome and happy.
At the sight of Norah, both started, and both
stopped. Frank confusedly raised his hat, and
turned back in the direction of his father's
cottage. Magdalen advanced to meet her sister,
carelessly swinging her closed parasol from side
to side, carelessly humming an air from the overture
which had preceded the rising of the curtain
on the previous night.

"Luncheon time already!" she said, looking
at her watch. "Surely not?"

"Have you and Mr. Francis Clare been alone
in the shrubbery since ten o'clock?" asked

"Mr. Francis Clare! How ridiculously formal
you are. Why don't you call him Frank?"

"I asked you a question, Magdalen."

"Dear me, how black you look this morning!
I'm in disgrace, I suppose. Haven't you forgiven
me yet for my acting last night? I couldn't
help it, love; I should have made nothing of
Julia, if I hadn't taken you for my model. It's
quite a question of Art. In your place, I should
have felt flattered by the selection."

"In your place, Magdalen, I should have
thought twice before I mimicked my sister to an
audience of strangers."

"That's exactly why I did itan audience of
strangers. How were they to know? Come!
come! don't be angry. You are eight years
older than I amyou ought to set me an example
of good humour."

"I will set you an example of plain-speaking.
I am more sorry than I can say, Magdalen, to
meet you, as I met you here just now!"

"What next, I wonder? You meet me in the
shrubbery at home, talking over the private
theatricals with my old playfellow, whom I knew
when I was no taller than this parasol. And
that is a glaring impropriety, is it? Honi soit
qui mal y pense. You wanted an answer a minute
agothere it is for you, my dear, in the
choicest Norman-French."

"I am in earnest about this, Magdalen-"

"Not a doubt of it. Nobody can accuse you
of ever making jokes."

"I am seriously sorry-"

"Oh dear!"

"It is quite useless to interrupt me. I have
it on my conscience to tell youand I will tell,
youthat I am sorry to see how this intimacy is
growing. I am sorry to see a secret understanding
established already between you and Mr.
Francis Clare."

"Poor Frank! How you do hate him to be