From Captain Wragge to Magdalen.
"Birmingham, July 2d, 1847.
"MY DEAR GIRL -- The box containing the articles of costumes which you took away by mistake has come safely to hand. Consider it under my special protection until I hear from you again.
"I embrace this opportunity to assure you once more of my unalterable fidelity to your interests. Without attempting to intrude myself into your confidence, may I inquire whether Mr. Noel Vanstone has consented to do you justice? I greatly fear he has declined -- in which case I can lay my hand on my heart, and solemnly declare that his meanness revolts me. Why do I feel a foreboding that you have appealed to him in vain? Why do I find myself viewing this fellow in the light of a noxious insect? We are total strangers to each other; I have no sort of knowledge of him, except the knowledge I picked up in making your inquiries. Has my intense sympathy with your interests made my perceptions prophetic? or, to put it fancifully, is there really such a thing as a former state of existence? and has Mr. Noel Vanstone mortally insulted me -- say, in some other planet?
"I write, my dear Magdalen, as you see, with my customary dash of humor. But I am serious in placing my services at your disposal. Don't let the question of terms cause you an instant's hesitation. I accept beforehand any terms you like to mention. If your present plans point that way, I am ready to squeeze Mr. Noel Vanstone, in your interests, till the gold oozes out of him at every pore. Pardon the coarseness of this metaphor. My anxiety to be of service to you rushes into words; lays my meaning, in the rough, at your feet; and leaves your taste to polish it with the choicest ornaments of the English language.
"How is my unfortunate wife? I am afraid you find it quite impossible to keep her up at heel, or to mold her personal appearance into harmony with the eternal laws of symmetry and order. Does she attempt to be too familiar with you? I have always been accustomed to check her, in this respect. She has never been permitted to call me anything but Captain; and on the rare occasions since our union, when circumstances may have obliged her to address me by letter, her opening form of salutation has been rigidly restricted to 'Dear Sir.' Accept these trifling domestic particulars as suggesting hints which may be useful to you in managing Mrs. Wragge; and believe me, in anxious expectation of hearing from you again,