"MISS GARTH, sir, said Mrs. Lecount, opening the parlo r door, and announcing the visitor's appearance with the tone and manner of a well-bred servant.
Magdalen found herself in a long, narrow room, consisting of a back parlor and a front parlor, which had been thrown into one by opening the folding-doors between them. Seated not far from the front window, with his back to the light, she saw a frail, flaxen-haired, self-satisfied little man, clothed in a fair white dressing-gown many sizes too large for him, with a nosegay of violets drawn neatly through the button-hole over his breast. He looked from thirty to five-and-thirty years old. His complexion was as delicate as a young girl's, his eyes were of the lightest blue, his upper lip was adorned by a weak little white mustache, waxed and twisted at either end into a thin spiral curl. When any object specially attracted his attention he half closed his eyelids to look at it. When he smiled, the skin at his temples crumpled itself up into a nest of wicked little wrinkles. He had a plate of strawberries on his lap, with a napkin under them to preserve the purity of his white dressing-gown. At his right hand stood a large round table, covered with a collection of foreign curiosities, which seemed to have been brought together from the four quarters of the globe. Stuffed birds from Africa, porcelain monsters from China, silver ornaments and utensils from India and Peru, mosaic work from Italy, and bronzes from France, were all heaped together pell-mell with the coarse deal boxes and dingy leather cases which served to pack them for traveling. The little man apologized, with a cheerful and simpering conceit, for his litter of curiosities, his dressing-gown, and his delicate health; and, waving his hand toward a chair, placed his attention, with pragmatical politeness, at the visitor's disposal. Magdalen looked at him with a momentary doubt whether Mrs. Lecount had not deceived her. Was this the man who mercilessly followed the path on which his merciless father had walked before him? She could hardly believe it. "Take a seat, Miss Garth," he repeated, observing her hesitation, and announcing his own name in a high, thin, fretfully-consequential voice: "I am Mr. Noel Vanstone. You wished to see me -- here I am!"
"May I be permitted to retire, sir?" inquired Mrs. Lecount.
"Certainly not!" replied her master. "Stay here, Lecount, and keep us company. Mrs. Lecount has my fullest confidence," he continued, addressing Magdalen. "Whatever you say to me, ma'am, you say to her. She is a domestic treasure. There is not another house in England has such a treasure as Mrs. Lecount."
The housekeeper listened to the praise of her domestic virtues with eyes immovably fixed on her elegant chemisette. But Magdalen's quick penetration had previously detected a look that passed between Mrs. Lecount and her master, which suggested that Noel Vanstone had been instructed beforehand what to say and do in his visitor's presence. The suspicion of this, and the obstacles which the room presented to arranging her position in it so as to keep her face from the light, warned Magdalen to be on her guard.
She had taken her chair at first nearly midway in the room. An instant's after-reflection induced her to move her seat toward the left hand, so as to place herself just inside, and close against, the left post of the folding-door. In this position she dexterously barred the only passage by which Mrs. Lecount could have skirted round the large table and contrived to front Magdalen by taking a chair at her master's side. On the right hand of the table the empty space was well occupied by the fireplace and fender, by some traveling-trunks, and a large packing-case. There was no alternative left for Mrs. Lecount but to place herself on a line with Magdalen against the opposite post of the folding-door, or to push rudely past the visitor with the obvious intention of getting in front of her. With an expressive little cough, and with one steady look at her master, the housekeeper conceded the point, and took her seat against the right-hand door-post. "Wait a little," thought Mrs. Lecount; "my turn next!"
"Mind what you are about, ma'am!" cried Noel Vanstone, as Magdalen accidentally approached the table in moving her chair. "Mind the sleeve of your cloak! Excuse me, you nearly knocked down that silver candlestick. Pray don't suppose it's a common candlestick. It's nothing of the sort -- it's a Peruvian candlestick. There are only three of that pattern in the world. One is in the possession of the President of Peru; one is locked up in the Vatican; and one is on My table. It cost ten pounds; it's worth fifty. One of my father's bargains, ma'am. All these things are my father's bargains. There is not another house in England which has such curiosities as these. Sit down, Lecount; I beg you will make yourself comfortable. Mrs. Lecount is like the curiosities, Miss Garth -- she is one of my father's bargains. You are one of my father's bargains, are you not, Lecount? My father was a remarkable man, ma'am. You will be reminded of him here at every turn. I have got his dressing-gown on at this moment. No such linen as this is made now -- you can't get it for love or money. Would you like to feel the texture? Perhaps you're no judge of texture? Perhaps you would prefer talking to me about these two pupils of yours? They are two, are they not? Are they fine girls? Plump, fresh, full-blown English beauties?"
"Excuse me, sir," interposed Mrs. Lecount, sorrowfully. "I must really beg permission to retire if you speak of the poor things in that way. I can't sit by, sir, and hear them turned into ridicule. Consider their position; consider Miss Garth."
"You good creature!" said Noel Vanstone, surveying the housekeeper through his half-closed eyelids. "You excellent Lecount! I assure you, ma'am, Mrs. Lecount is a worthy creature. You will observe that she pities the two girls. I don't go so far as that myself, but I can make allowances for them. I am a large-minded man. I can make allowances for them and for you." He smiled with the most cordial politeness, and helped himself to a strawberry from the dish on his lap.
"You shock Miss Garth; indeed, sir, without meaning it, you shock Miss Garth," remonstrated Mrs. Lecount. "She is not accustomed to you as I am. Consider Miss Garth, sir. As a favor to me, consider Miss Garth."
Thus far Magdalen had resolutely kept silence. The burning anger, which would have betrayed her in an instant if she had let it flash its way to the surface, throbbed fast and fiercely at her heart, and warned her, while Noel Vanstone was speaking, to close her lips. She would have allowed him to talk on uninterruptedly for some minutes more if Mrs. Lecount had not interfered for the second time. The refined insolence of the housekeeper's pity was a woman's insolence; and it stung her into instantly controlling herself. She had never more admirably imitated Miss Garth's voice and manner than when she spoke her next words.
"You are very good," she said to Mrs. Lecount. "I make no claim to be treated with any extraordinary consideration. I am a governess, and I don't expect it. I have only one favor to ask. I beg Mr. Noel Vanstone, for his own sake, to hear what I have to say to him."
"You understand, sir?" observed Mrs. Lecount. "It appears that Miss Garth has some serious warning to give you. She says you are to hear her, for your own sake."
Mr. Noel Vanstone's fair complexion suddenly turned white. He put away the plate of strawberries among his father's bargains. His hand shook and his little figure twisted itself uneasily in the chair. Magdalen observed him attentively. "One discovery already," she thought; "he is a coward!"
"What do you mean, ma'am?" asked Noel Vanstone, with visible trepidation of look and manner. "What do you mean by telling me I must listen to you for my own sake? If you come her to intimidate me, you come to the wrong man. My strength of character was universally noticed in our circle at Zurich -- wasn't it, Lecount?"
"Universally, sir," said Mrs. Lecount. "But let us hear Miss Garth. Perhaps I have misinterpreted her meaning."
"On the contrary," replied Magdalen, "you have exactly expressed my meaning. My object in coming here is to warn Mr. Noel Vanstone against the course which he is now taking."
"Don't!" pleaded Mrs. Lecount. "Oh, if you want to help these poor girls, don't talk in that way! Soften his resolution, ma'am, by entreaties; don't strengthen it by threats!" She a little overstrained the tone of humility in which she spoke those words -- a little overacted the look of apprehension which accompanied them. If Magdalen had not seen plainly enough already that it was Mrs. Lecount's habitual practice to decide everything for her master in the first instance, and then to persuade him that he was not acting under his housekeeper's resolution but under his own, she would have seen it now.
"You hear what Lecount has just said?" remarked Noel Vanstone. "You hear the unsolicited testimony of a person who has known me from childhood? Take care, Miss Garth -- take care!" He complacently arranged the tails of his white dressing-gown over his knees and took the plate of strawberries back on his lap.
"I have no wish to offend you," said Magdalen. "I am only anxious to open your eyes to the truth. You are not acquainted with the characters of the two sisters whose fortunes have fallen into your possession. I have known them from childhood; and I come to give you the benefit of my experience in their interests and in yours. You have nothing to dread from the elder of the two; she patiently accepts the hard lot which you, and your father before you, have forced on her. The younger sister's conduct is the very opposite of this. She has already declined to submit to your father's decision, and she now refuses to be silenced by Mrs. Lecount's letter. Take my word for it, she is capable of giving you serious trouble if you persist in making an enemy of her."
Noel Vanstone changed color once more, and began to fidget again in his chair. "Serious trouble," he repeated, with a blank look. "If you mean writing letters, ma'am, she has given trouble enough already. She has written once to me, and twice to my father. One of the letters to my father was a threatening letter -wasn't it, Lecount?"
"She expressed her feelings, poor child," said Mrs. Lecount. "I thought it hard to send her back her letter, but your dear father knew best. What I said at the time was, Why not let her express her feelings? What are a few threatening words, after all? In her position, poor creature, they are words, and nothing more."
"I advise you not to be too sure of that," said Magdalen. "I know her better than you do."
She paused at those words -- paused in a momentary terror. The sting of Mrs. Lecount's pity had nearly irritated her into forgetting her assumed character, and speaking in her own voice.
"You have referred to the letters written by my pupil," she resumed, addressing Noel Vanstone as soon as she felt sure of herself again. "We will say nothing about what she has written to your father; we will only speak of what she has written to you. Is there anything unbecoming in her letter, anything said in it that is false? Is it not true that these two sisters have been cruelly deprived of the provision which their father made for them? His will to this day speaks for him and for them; and it only speaks to no purpose, because he was not aware that his marriage obliged him to make it again, and because he died before he could remedy the error. Can you deny that?"
Noel Vanstone smiled, and helped himself to a strawberry. "I don't attempt to deny it," he said. "Go on, Miss Garth."
"Is it not true," persisted Magdalen, "that the law which has taken the money from these sisters, whose father made no second will, has now given that very money to you, whose father made no will at all? Surely, explain it how you may, this is hard on those orphan girls?"
"Very hard," replied Noel Vanstone. "It strikes you in that light, too -doesn't it, Lecount?"
Mrs. Lecount shook her head, and closed her handsome black eyes. "Harrowing," she said; I can characterize it, Miss Garth, by no other word -- harrowing. How the young person -- no! how Miss Vanstone, the younger -- discovered that my late respected master made no will I am at a loss to understand. Perhaps it was put in the papers? But I am interrupting you, Miss Garth. Do have something more to say about your pupil's letter?" She noiselessly drew her chair forward, as she said these words, a few inches beyond the line of the visitor's chair. The attempt was neatly made, but it proved useless. Magdalen only kept her head more to the left, and the packing-case on the floor prevented Mrs. Lecount from advancing any further.
"I have only one more question to put," said Magdalen. "My pupil's letter addressed a proposal to Mr. Noel Vanstone. I beg him to inform me why he has refused to consider it."
"My good lady!" cried Noel Vanstone, arching his white eyebrows in satirical astonishment. "Are you really in earnest? Do you know what the proposal is? Have you seen the letter?"
"I am quite in earnest," said Magdalen, "and I have seen the letter. It entreats you to remember how Mr. Andrew Vanstone's fortune has come into your hands; it informs you that one-half of that fortune, divided between his daughters, was what his will intended them to have; and it asks of your sense of justice to do for his children what he would have done for them himself if he had lived. In plainer words still, it asks you to give one-half of the money to the daughters, and it leaves you free to keep the other half yourself. That is the proposal. Why have you refused to consider it?"
"For the simplest possible reason, Miss Garth," said Noel Vanstone, in high good-humor. "Allow me to remind you of a well-known proverb: A fool and his money are soon parted. Whatever else I may be, ma'am, I'm not a fool."
"Don't put it in that way, sir!" remonstrated Mrs. Lecount. "Be serious -- pray be serious!"
"Quite impossible, Lecount," rejoined her master. "I can't be serious. My poor father, Miss Garth, took a high moral point of view in this matter. Lecount, there, takes a high moral point of view -- don't you, Lecount? I do nothing of the sort. I have lived too long in the Continental atmosphere to trouble myself about moral points of view. My course in this business is as plain as two and two make four. I have got the money, and I should be a born idiot if I parted with it. There is my point of view! Simple enough, isn't it? I don't stand on my dignity; I don't meet you with the law, which is all on my side; I don't blame your coming here, as a total stranger, to try and alter my resolution; I don't blame the two girls for wanting to dip their fingers into my purse. All I say is, I am not fool enough to open it. Pas si bete, as we used to say in the English circle at Zurich. You understand French, Miss Garth? Pas si bete!" He set aside his plate of strawberries once more, and daintily dried his fingers on his fine white napkin.
Magdalen kept her temper. If she could have struck him dead by lifting her hand at that moment, it is probable she would have lifted it. But she kept her temper.
"Am I to understand," she asked, "that the last words you have to say in this matter are the words said for you in Mrs. Lecount's letter!"
"Precisely so," replied Noel Vanstone.
"You have inherited your own father's fortune, as well as the fortune of Mr. Andrew Vanstone, and yet you feel no obligation to act from motives of justice or generosity toward these two sisters? All you think it necessary to say to them is, you have got the money, and you refuse to part with a single farthing of it?"
"Most accurately stated! Miss Garth, you are a woman of business. Lecount, Miss Garth is a woman of business."
"Don't appeal to me, sir," cried Mrs. Lecount, gracefully wringing her plump white hands. "I can't bear it! I must interfere! Let me suggest -- oh, what do you call it in English? -- a compromise. Dear Mr. Noel, you are perversely refusing to do yourself justice; you have better reasons than the reason you have given to Miss Garth. You follow your honored father's example; you feel it due to his memory to act in this matter as he acted before you. That is his reason, Miss Garth - - I implore you on my knees to take that as his reason. He will do what his dear father did; no more, no less. His dear father made a proposal, and he himself will now make that proposal over again. Yes, Mr. Noel, you will remember what this poor girl says in her letter to you. Her sister has been obliged to go out as a governess; and she herself, in losing her fortune, has lost the hope of her marriage for years and years to come. You will remember this -- and you will give the hundred pounds to one, and the hundred pounds to the other, which your admirable father offered in the past time? If he does this, Miss Garth, will he do enough? If he gives a hundred pounds each to these unfortunate sisters -- ?"
"He will repent the insult to the last hour of his life," said Magdalen.
The instant that answer passed her lips she would have given worlds to recall it. Mrs. Lecount had planted her sting in the right place at last. Those rash words of Magdalen's had burst from her passionately, in her own voice.
Nothing but the habit of public performance saved her from making the serious error that she had committed more palpable still, by attempting to set it right. Here her past practice in the Entertainment came to her rescue, and urged her to go on instantly in Miss Garth's voice as if nothing had happened.
"You mean well, Mrs. Lecount," she continued, "but you are doing harm instead of good. My pupils will accept no such compromise as you propose. I am sorry to have spoken violently just now; I beg you will excuse me." She looked hard for information in the housekeeper's face while she spoke those conciliatory words. Mrs. Lecount baffled the look by putting her handkerchief to her eyes. Had she, or had she not, noticed the momentary change in Magdalen's voice from the tones that were assumed to the tones that were natural? Impossible to say.
"What more can I do!" murmured Mrs. Lecount behind her handkerchief. "Give me time to think -- give me time to recover myself. May I retire, sir, for a moment? My nerves are shaken by this sad scene. I must have a glass of water, or I think I shall faint. Don't go yet, Miss Garth. I beg you will give us time to set this sad matter right, if we can -- I beg you will remain until I come back."
There were two doors of entrance to the room. One, the door into the front parlor, close at Magdalen's left hand. The other, the door into the back parlor, situated behind her. Mrs. Lecount politely retired -- through the open folding-doors -- by this latter means of exit, so as not to disturb the visitor by passing in front of her. Magdalen waited until she heard the door open and close again behind her, and then resolved to make the most of the opportunity which left her alone with Noel Vanstone. The utter hopelessness of rousing a generous impulse in that base nature had now been proved by her own experience. The last chance left was to treat him like the craven creature he was, and to influence him through his fears.
Before she could speak, Noel Vanstone himself broke the silence. Cunningly as he strove to hide it, he was half angry, half alarmed at his housekeeper's desertion of him. He looked doubtingly at his visitor; he showed a nervous anxiety to conciliate her until Mrs. Lecount's return.
"Pray remember, ma'am, I never denied that this case was a hard one," he began. "You said just now you had no wish to offend me -- and I'm sure I don't want to offend you. May I offer you some strawberries? Would you like to look at my father's bargains? I assure you, ma'am, I am naturally a gallant man; and I feel for both these sisters -- especially the younger one. Touch me on the subject of the tender passion, and you touch me on a weak place. Nothing would please me more than to hear that Miss Vanstone's lover (I'm sure I always call her Miss Vanstone, and so does Lecount) -- I say, ma'am, nothing would please me more than to hear that Miss Vanstone's lover had come back and married her. If a loan of money would be likely to bring him back, and if the security offered was good, and if my lawyer thought me justified -- "
"Stop, Mr. Vanstone," said Magdalen. "You are entirely mistaken in your estimate of the person you have to deal with. You are seriously wrong in supposing that the marriage of the younger sister -- if she could be married in a week's time -- would make any difference in the convictions which induced her to write to your father and to you. I don't deny that she may act from a mixture of motives. I don't deny that she clings to the hope of hastening her marriage, and to the hope of rescuing her sister from a life of dependence. But if both those objects were accomplished by other means, nothing would induce her to leave you in possession of the inheritance which her father meant his children to have. I know her, Mr. Vanstone! She is a nameless, homeless, friendless wretch. The law which takes care of you, the law which takes care of all legitimate children, casts her like carrion to the winds. It is your law -- not hers. She only knows it as the instrument of a vile oppression, an insufferable wrong. The sense of that wrong haunts her like a possession of the devil. The resolution to right that wrong burns in her like fire. If that miserable girl was married and rich, with millions tomorrow, do you think she would move an inch from her purpose? I tell you she would resist, to the last breath in her body, the vile injustice which has struck at the helpless children, through the calamity of their father's death! I tell you she would shrink from no means which a desperate woman can employ to force that closed hand of yours open, or die in the attempt!"
She stopped abruptly. Once more her own indomitable earnestness had betrayed her. Once more the inborn nobility of that perverted nature had risen superior to the deception which it had stooped to practice. The scheme of the moment vanished from her mind's view; and the resolution of her life burst its way outward in her own words, in her own tones, pouring hotly and more hotly from her heart. She saw the abject manikin before her cowering, silent, in his chair. Had his fears left him sense enough to perceive the change in her voice? No: his face spoke the truth -- his fears had bewildered him. This time the chance of the moment had befriended her. The door behind her chair had not opened again yet. "No ears but his have heard me," she thought, with a sense of unutterable relief. "I have escaped Mrs. Lecount."
She had done nothing of the kind. Mrs. Lecount had never left the room.
After opening the door and closing it again, without going out, the housekeeper had noiselessly knelt down behind Magdalen's chair. Steadying herself against the post of the folding-door, she took a pair of scissors from her pocket, waited until Noel Vanstone (from whose view she was entirely hidden) had attracted Magdalen's attention by speaking to her, and then bent forward, with the scissors ready in her hand. The skirt of the false Miss Garth's gown -- the brown alpaca dress, with the white spots on it -- touched the floor, within the housekeeper's reach. Mrs. Lecount lifted the outer of the two flounces which ran round the bottom of the dress one over the other, softly cut away a little irregular fragment of stuff from the inner flounce, and neatly smoothed the outer one over it again, so as to hide the gap. By the time she had put the scissors back in her pocket, and had risen to her feet (sheltering herself behind the post of the folding-door), Magdalen had spoken her last words. Mrs. Lecount quietly repeated the ceremony of opening and shutting the back parlor door; and returned to her place.
"What has happened, sir, in my absence?" she inquired, addressing her master with a look of alarm. "You are pale; you are agitated! Oh, Miss Garth, have you forgotten the caution I gave you in the other room?"
"Miss Garth has forgotten everything," cried Noel Vanstone, recovering his lost composure on the re-appearance of Mrs. Lecount. "Miss Garth has threatened me in the most outrageo us manner. I forbid you to pity either of those two girls any more, Lecount -- especiall y the younger one. She is the most desperate wretch I ever heard of! If she can't get my money by fair means, she threatens to have it by foul. Miss Garth has told me that to my face. To my face!" he repeated, folding his arms, and looking mortally insulted.
"Compose yourself, sir," said Mrs. Lecount. "Pray compose yourself, and leave me to speak to Miss Garth. I regret to hear, ma'am, that you have forgotten what I said to you in the next room. You have agitated Mr. Noel; you have compromised the interests you came here to plead; and you have only repeated what we knew before. The language you have allowed yourself to use in my absence is the same language which your pupil was foolish enough to employ when she wrote for the second time to my late master. How can a lady of your years and experience seriously repeat such nonsense? This girl boasts and threatens. She will do this; she will do that. You have her confidence, ma'am. Tell me, if you please, in plain words, what can she do?"
Sharply as the taunt was pointed, it glanced off harmless. Mrs. Lecount had planted her sting once too often. Magdalen rose in complete possession of her assumed character and composedly terminated the interview. Ignorant as she was of what had happened behind her chair, she saw a change in Mrs. Lecount's look and manner which warned her to run no more risks, and to trust herself no longer in the house.
"I am not in my pupil's confidence," she said. "Her own acts will answer your question when the time comes. I can only tell you, from my own knowledge of her, that she is no boaster. What she wrote to Mr. Michael Vanstone was what she was prepared to do -- -what, I have reason to think, she was actually on the point of doing, when her plans were overthrown by his death. Mr. Michael Vanstone's son has only to persist in following his father's course to find, before long, that I am not mistaken in my pupil, and that I have not come here to intimidate him by empty threats. My errand is done. I leave Mr. Noel Vanstone with two alternatives to choose from. I leave him to share Mr. Andrew Vanstone's fortune with Mr. Andrew Vanstone's daughters -- or to persist in his present refusal and face the consequences." She bowed, and walked to the door.
Noel Vanstone started to his feet, with anger and alarm struggling which should express itself first in his blank white face. Before he could open his lips, Mrs. Lecount's plump hands descended on his shoulders, put him softly back in his chair, and restored the plate of strawberries to its former position on his lap.
"Refresh yourself, Mr. Noel, with a few more strawberries," she said, "and leave Miss Garth to me."
She followed Magdalen into the passage, and closed the door of the room after her.
"Are you residing in London, ma'am?" asked Mrs. Lecount.
"No," replied Magdalen. "I reside in the country."
"If I want to write to you, where can I address my letter?"
"To the post-office, Birmingham," said Magdalen, mentioning the place which she had last left, and at which all letters were still addressed to her.
Mrs. Lecount repeated the direction to fix it in her memory, advanced two steps in the passage, and quietly laid her right hand on Magdalen's arm.
"A word of advice, ma'am," she said; "one word at parting. You are a bold woman and a clever woman. Don't be too bold; don't be too clever. You are risking more than you think for." She suddenly raised herself on tiptoe and whispered the next words in Magdalen's ear. "I hold you in the hollow of my hand!" said Mrs. Lecount, with a fierce hissing emphasis on every syllable. Her left hand clinched itself stealthily as she spoke. It was the hand in which she had concealed the fragment of stuff from Magdalen's gown -- the hand which held it fast at that moment.
"What do you mean?" asked Magdalen, pushing her back.
Mrs. Lecount glided away politely to open the house door.
"I mean nothing now," she said; "wait a little, and time may show. One last question, ma'am, before I bid you good-by. When your pupil was a little innocent child, did she ever amuse herself by building a house of cards?"
Magdalen impatiently answered by a gesture in the affirmative.
"Did you ever see her build up the house higher and higher," proceeded Mrs. Lecount, "till it was quite a pagoda of cards? Did you ever see her open her little child's eyes wide and look at it, and feel so proud of what she had done already that she wanted to do more? Did you ever see her steady her pretty little hand, and hold her innocent breath, and put one other card on the top, and lay the whole house, the instant afterward, a heap of ruins on the table? Ah, you have seen that. Give her, if you please, a friendly message from me. I venture to say she has built the house high enough already; and I recommend her to be careful before she puts on that other card."
"She shall have your message," said Magdalen, with Miss Garth's bluntness, and Miss Garth's emphatic nod of the head. "But I doubt her minding it. Her hand is rather steadier than you suppose, and I think she will put on the other card."
"And bring the house down," said Mrs. Lecount.
"And build it up again," rejoined Magdalen. "I wish you good-morning."
"Good-morning," said Mrs. Lecount, opening the door. "One last word, Miss Garth. Do think of what I said in the back room! Do try the Golden Ointment for that sad affliction in your eyes!"
As Magdalen crossed the threshold of the door she was met by the postman ascending the house steps with a letter picked out from the bundle in his hand. "Noel Vanstone, Esquire?" she heard the man say, interrogatively, as she made her way down the front garden to the street.
She passed through the garden gates little thinking from what new difficulty and new danger her timely departure had saved her. The letter which the postman had just delivered into the housekeeper's hands was no other than the anonymous letter addressed to Noel Vanstone by Captain Wragge.Next