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"St. Crux, September 4th, 1847.

"My dear Noel,—Here are two plain
questions at starting. In the name of all that is
mysterious, what are you hiding for? And why
is everything relating to your marriage kept an
impenetrable secret from your oldest friends?

"I have been to Aldborough to try if I could
trace you from that place; and have come back
as wise as I went. I have applied to your lawyer
in London; and have been told in reply, that
you have forbidden him to disclose the place of
your retreat to any one, without first receiving
your permission to do so. All I could prevail on
him to say was that he would forward any letter
which might be sent to his care. I write
accordinglyand, mind this, I expect an answer.

"You may ask, in your ill-tempered way, what
business I have to meddle with affairs of yours,
which it is your pleasure to keep private? My
dear Noel, there is a serious reason for our
opening communications with you from this house.
You don't know what events have taken place at
St. Crux, since you ran away to get married; and
though I detest writing letters, I must lose an
hour's shooting to-day in trying to enlighten you.

"On the twenty-third of last month, the
admiral and I were disturbed over our wine after
dinner, by the announcement that a visitor had
unexpectedly arrived at St. Crux. Who do you
think the visitor was? Mrs. Lecount!

"My uncle, with that old-fashioned bachelor
gallantry of his, which pays equal respect to all
wearers of petticoats, left the table directly to
welcome Mrs. Lecount. While I was debating
whether I should follow him or not, my meditations
were suddenly brought to an end, by a loud
call from the admiral. I ran into the morning-
roomand there was your unfortunate housekeeper,
on the sofa, with all the women-servants
about her, more dead than alive. She had
travelled from England to Zurich, and from
Zurich back again to England, without stopping;
and she looked, seriously and literally, at death's
door. I immediately agreed with my uncle, that
the first thing to be done was to send for medical
help. We despatched a groom on the spot; and
at Mrs. Lecount's own request, sent all the
servants, in a body, out of the room.

"As soon as we were alone, Mrs. Lecount
surprised us by a singular question. She asked
if you had received a letter which she had
addressed to you, before leaving England, at this
house. When we told her that the letter had
been forwarded, under cover to your friend Mr.
Bygrave, by your own particular request, she
turned as pale as ashes; and when we added that
you had left us in company with this same Mr.
Bygrave, she clasped her hands and stared at us
as if she had taken leave of her senses. Her
next question was, 'Where is Mr. Noel now?'
We could only give her one replyMr. Noel had
not informed us. She looked perfectly thunderstruck
at that answer. 'He has gone to his
ruin!' she said. 'He has gone away in
company with the greatest villain in England. I
must find him! I tell you I must find Mr.
Noel! If I don't find him at once it will be too
late. He will be married!' she burst out quite
frantically'on my honour and my oath he will
be married!' The admiral, incautiously
perhaps, but with the best intentions, told her you
were married already. She gave a scream that
made the windows ring again, and dropped back
on the sofa in a fainting-fit. The doctor came
in the nick of time, and soon brought her to.
But she was taken ill the same nightshe has
grown worse and worse ever sinceand the last
medical report is, that the fever from which
she has been suffering is in a fair way to settle
on her brain.

"Now, my dear Noel, neither my uncle nor I
have any wish to intrude ourselves on your
confidence. We are naturally astonished at the
extraordinary mystery which hangs over you and
your marriage; and we cannot be blind to the
fact that your housekeeper has apparently some
strong reason of her own for viewing Mrs. Noel
Vanstone with an enmity and distrust, which we
are quite ready to believe that lady has done
nothing to deserve. Whatever strange misunderstanding
there may have been in your household,
is your business (if you choose to keep it to
yourself), and not ours. All we have any right to
do, is to tell you what the doctor says. His
patient has been delirious; he declines to answer