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umbrella, worn down at the ferule to the last quarter
of an inch, was carefully preserved, nevertheless,
in an oilskin case. The front view of him was the
view in which he looked oldest; meeting him face
to face, he might have been estimated at fifty
or more. Walking behind him, his back and
shoulders were almost young enough to have
passed for five-and-thirty. His manners were
distinguished by a grave serenity. When he
opened his lips, he spoke in a rich bass voice,
with an easy flow of language, and a strict
attention to the elocutionary claims of words in
more than one syllable. Persuasion distilled
from his mildly-curling lips; and, shabby as he
was, perennial flowers of courtesy bloomed all
over him from head to foot.

"This is the residence of Mr. Vanstone, I
believe?" he began, with a circular wave of his
hand in the direction of the house. "Have I
the honour of addressing a member of Mr.
Vanstone's family?"

"Yes," said the plain-spoken Miss Garth.
"You are addressing Mr. Vanstone's governess."

The persuasive man fell back a stepadmired
Mr. Vanstone's governessadvanced a step
againand continued the conversation.

"And the two young ladies," he went on,
"the two young ladies who were walking with
you, are doubtless Mr. Vanstone's daughters?
I recognised the darker of the two, and the
elder as I apprehend, by her likeness to her
handsome mother. The younger lady——"

"You are acquainted with Mrs. Vanstone, I
suppose?" said Miss Garth, interrupting the
stranger's flow of language, which, all things
considered, was beginning, in her opinion, to
flow rather freely. The stranger acknowledged
the interruption by one of his polite bows, and
submerged Miss Garth in his next sentence as
if nothing had happened.

"The younger lady," he proceeded, "takes
after her father, I presume? I assure you,
her face struck me. Looking at it with my
friendly interest in the family, I thought it very
remarkable. I said to myselfCharming,
Characteristic, Memorable. Not like her sister,
not like her mother. No doubt, the image of
her father?"

Once more Miss Garth attempted to stem
the man's flow of words. It was plain that he
did not know Mr. Vanstone, even by sight
otherwise, he would never have committed the
error of supposing that Magdalen took after her
father. Did he know Mrs. Vanstone any better?
He had left Miss Garth's question on that point
unanswered. In the name of wonder, who was
he? Powers of impudence! what did he

"You may be a friend of the family, though
I don't remember your face," said Miss Garth.
"What may your commands be, if you please?
Did you come here to pay Mrs. Vanstone a

"I had anticipated the pleasure of
communicating with Mrs. Vanstone," answered this
inveterately evasive and inveterately civil man.
"How is she?"

"Much as usual," said Miss Garth, feeling
her resources of politeness fast failing her.

"Is she at home?"


"Out for long?"

"Gone to London with Mr. Vanstone."

The man's long face suddenly grew longer.
His bilious brown eye looked disconcerted, and
his bilious green eye followed its example. His
manner became palpably anxious; and his choice
of words was more carefully selected than

"Is Mrs. Vanstone's absence likely to extend
over any very lengthened period?" he inquired.

"It will extend over three weeks," replied
Miss Garth. "I think you have now asked me
questions enough," she went on, beginning to
let her temper get the better of her at last.
"Be so good, if you please, as to mention your
business and your name. If you have any
message to leave for Mrs. Vanstone, I shall be
writing to her by to-night's post, and I can take
charge of it."

"A thousand thanks! A most valuable
suggestion. Permit me to take advantage of it

He was not in the least affected by the
severity of Miss Garth's looks and languagehe
was simply relieved by her proposal, and he
showed it with the most engaging sincerity.
This time, his bilious green eye took the initiative,
and set his bilious brown eye the example
of recovered serenity. His curling lips took a
new twist upwards; he tucked his umbrella
briskly under his arm; and produced from the
breast of his coat a large old-fashioned black
pocket-book. From this he took a pencil and a
cardhesitated and considered for a moment
wrote rapidly on the cardand placed it, with
the politest alacrity, in Miss Garth's hand.

"I shall feel personally obliged, if you will
honour me by enclosing that card in your
letter," he said. "There is no necessity for
my troubling you additionally with a message.
My name will be quite sufficient to recal a little
family matter to Mrs. Vanstone, which has no
doubt escaped her memory. Accept my best
thanks. This has been a day of agreeable
surprises to me. I have found the country
hereabouts remarkably pretty; I have seen Mrs.
Vanstone's two charming daughters; I have
become acquainted with an honoured preceptress
in Mr. Vanstone's family. I congratulate
myselfI apologise for occupying your valuable
timeI beg my renewed acknowledgmentsI
wish you good morning."

He raised his tall hat. His brown eye
twinkled, his green eye twinkled, his curly lips
smiled sweetly. In a moment, he turned on his
heel. His youthful back appeared to the best
advantage; his active little legs took him away
trippingly in the direction of the village. One,
two, threeand he reached the turn in the
road. Four, five, sixand he was gone.

Miss Garth looked down at the card in her
hand, and looked up again in blank astonishment.
The name and address of the clerical-