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ON returning to the house, Captain Wragge
received a significant message from the servant.
"Mr. Noel Vanstone would call again at two
o'clock, that afternoon: when he hoped to have
the pleasure of finding Mr. Bygrave at home."

The captain's first inquiry, after hearing this
message, referred to Magdalen. "Where was
Miss Bygrave?" " In her own room." " Where
was Mrs. Bygrave?" "In the back parlour."
Captain Wragge turned his steps at once in the
latter direction; and found his wife, for the
second time, in tears. She had been sent out of
Magdalen's room, for the whole day; and she
was at her wits' end to know what she had done
to deserve it. Shortening her lamentations
without ceremony, her husband sent her up-stairs on
the spot; with instructions to knock at the
door, and to inquire whether Magdalen could
give five minutes' attention to a question of
importance, which must be settled before two

The answer returned was in the negative.
Magdalen requested that the subject on which
she was asked to decide might be mentioned to
her in writing. She engaged to reply in the same
wayon the understanding that Mrs. Wragge,
and not the servant, should be employed to
deliver the note, and to take back the answer.

Captain Wragge forthwith opened his
papercase, and wrote these lines:— " Accept my
warmest congratulations on the result of your
interview with Mr. N. V. He is coming again
at two o'clock; no doubt to make his proposals
in due form. The question to decide is, whether
I shall press him or not on the subject of
settlements. The considerations for your own mind
are two in number. First, whether the said
pressure (without at all underrating your
influence over him) may not squeeze for a long
time, before it squeezes money out of Mr. N. V.
Secondly, whether we are altogether justified
considering our present position towards a
certain sharp practitioner in petticoatsin running
the risk of delay. Consider these points, and let
me have your decision, as soon as convenient."

The answer returned to this note was written
in crooked blotted characters, strangely unlike
Magdalen's usually firm and clear handwriting.
It only contained these words:—" Give yourself
no trouble about settlements. Leave the use to
which he is to put his money for the future, in
my hands."

"Did you see her?" asked the captain, when
his wife had delivered the answer.

"I tried," said Mrs. Wragge, with a fresh
burst of tears—"but she only opened the door
far enough to put out her hand. I took and gave
it a little squeezeand, oh poor soul, it felt so
cold in mine!"

When Mrs. Lecount's master made his
appearance at two o'clock, he stood alarmingly in
need of an anodyne application from Mrs.
Lecount's green fan. The agitation of making his
avowal to Magdalen; the terror of finding
himself discovered by the housekeeper; the
tormenting suspicion of the hard pecuniary conditions
which Magdalen's relative and guardian might
impose on himall these emotions, stirring in
conflict together, had overpowered his feebly-
working heart with a trial that strained it sorely.
He gasped for breath, as he sat down in the
parlour at North Shingles; and that ominous
bluish pallor which always overspread his face
in moments of agitation, now made its warning
appearance again. Captain Wragge seized the
brandy bottle, in genuine alarm; and forced his
visitor to drink a wine-glassful of the spirit,
before a word was said between them, on either

Restored by the stimulant, and encouraged by
the readiness with which the captain anticipated
everything that he had to say, Mr. Noel
Vanstone contrived to state the serious object of his
visit, in tolerably plain terms. All the
conventional preliminaries proper to the occasion
were easily disposed of. The suitor's family was
respectable; his position in life was undeniably
satisfactory; his attachment, though hasty, was
evidently disinterested and sincere. All that
Captain Wragge had to do was to refer to these
various considerations with a happy choice of
language, in a voice that trembled with manly
emotionand this he did to perfection. For the
first half-hour of the interview, no allusion
whatever was made to the delicate and dangerous
part of the subject. The captain waited, until
he had composed his visitor; and when that
result was achieved, came smoothly to the point
in these terms: