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MAGDALEN'S first glance round the empty
room, showed her the letter on the table. The
address, as the doctor had predicted, broke the
news the moment she looked at it.

Not a word escaped her. She sat down by
the table, pale and silent, with the letter in her
lap. Twice she attempted to open it, and
twice she put it back again. The bygone time
was not alone in her mind, as she looked at her
sister's handwritingthe fear of Kirke was
there with it. "My past life!" she thought.
"What will he think of me, when he knows my
past life?"

She made another effort, and broke the seal.
A second letter dropped out of the enclosure,
addressed to her in a handwriting with which
she was not familiar. She put the second letter
aside, and read the lines which Norah had

"Ventnor, Isle of Wight,
" August 24th.

"My dearest Magdalen,—When you read
this letter, try to think we have only been parted
since yesterday; and dismiss from your mind
(as I have dismissed from mine) the past and
all that belongs to it.

"I am strictly forbidden to agitate you, or to
weary you by writing a long letter. Is it wrong
to tell you that I am the happiest woman living?
I hope not, for I can't keep the secret to

"My darling, prepare yourself for the greatest
surprise I have ever caused you. I am married.
It is only a week to-day, since I parted with my
old nameit is only a week, since I have been
the happy wife of George Bartram, of St.

"There were difficulties, at first, in the way
of our marriage; some of them, I am afraid, of
my making. Happily for me, my husband
knew, from the beginning, that I really loved
himhe gave me a second chance of telling
him so, after I had lost the firstand, as
you see, I was wise enough to take it. You
ought to be especially interested, my love, in
this marriage; for you are the cause of it. If
I had not gone to Aldborough to search for
the lost trace of youif George had not, been
brought there, at the same time, by
circumstances in which you were concerned
my husband and I might never have met. When we
look back to our first impressions of each other,
we look back to you.

"I must keep my promise not to weary you;
I must bring this letter (sorely against my will)
to an end. Patience! patience!—I shall see
you soon. George and I are both coming to
London to take you back with us to Ventnor.
This is my husband's invitation, mind,
as well as mine. Don't suppose I married him,
Magdalen, until I had taught him to think of
you as I thinkto wish with my wishes, and to
hope with my hopes. I could say so much more
about this, so much more about George, if I
might only give my thoughts and my pen their
own way. But I must leave Miss Garth (at her
own special request) a blank space to fill up on
the last page of this letter; and I must only
add one word more, before I say good-bya
word to warn you that I have another surprise
in store, which I am keeping in reserve until we
meet. Don't attempt to guess what it is. You
might guess for ages, and be no nearer than you
are now to a discovery of the truth.
"Your affectionate Sister,



"My dear Child,—  If I had ever lost my old
loving recollection of you, I should feel it in
my heart again now, when I know that it has
pleased God to restore you to us, from the brink
of the grave. I add these lines to your sister's
letter, because I am not sure that you are quite so
fit yet, as she thinks you, to accept her proposal.
She has not said a word of her husband, or
herself, which is not true. But Mr. Bartram is
a stranger to youand if you think you can
recover more easily and more pleasantly to yourself,
under the wing of your old governess, than
under the protection of your new brother-in-law,
come to me first, and trust to my reconciling
Norah to the change of plans. I have
secured the refusal of a little cottage at Shanklin
near enough to your sister to allow of your
seeing each other whenever you like, and far
enough away, at the same time, to secure you
the privilege, when you wish it, of being alone.
Send me one line, before we meet, to say Yes or