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IV 


From Miss Garth to Magdalen.

"Westmoreland House, July 1st.

"MY DEAR MAGDALEN -- You have no useless remonstrances to apprehend at the sight of my handwriting. My only object in this letter is to tell you something which I know your sister will not tell you of her own accord. She is entirely ignorant that I am writing to you. Keep her in ignorance, if you wish to spare her unnecessary anxiety, and me unnecessary distress.

"Norah's letter, no doubt, tells you that she has left her situation. I feel it my painful duty to add that she has left it on your account.

"The matter occurred in this manner. Messrs. Wyatt, Pendril, and Gwilt are the solicitors of the gentleman in whose family Norah was employed. The life which you have chosen for yourself was known as long ago as December last to all the partners. You were discovered performing in public at Derby by the person who had been employed to trace you at York; and that discovery was communicated by Mr. Wyatt to Norah's employer a few days since, in reply to direct inquiries about you on that gentleman's part. His wife and his mother (who lives with him) had expressly desired that he would make those inquiries; their doubts having been aroused by Norah's evasive answers when they questioned her about her sister. You know Norah too well to blame her for this. Evasion was the only escape your present life had left her, from telling a downright falsehood.

"That same day, the two ladies of the family, the elder and the younger, sent for your sister, and told her they had discovered that you were a public performer, roaming from place to place in the country under an assumed name. They were just enough not to blame Norah for this; they were just enough to acknowledge that her conduct had been as irreproachable as I had guaranteed it should be when I got her the situation. But, at the same time, they made it a positive condition of her continuing in their employment that she should never permit you to visit her at their house, or to meet her and walk out with her when she was in attendance on the children. Your sister -- who has patiently borne all hardships that fell on herself -- instantly resented the slur cast on you. She gave her employers warning on the spot. High words followed, and she left the house that evening.

"I have no wish to distress you by representing the loss of this situation in the light of a disaster. Norah was not so happy in it as I had hoped and believed she would be. It was impossible for me to know beforehand that the children were sullen and intractable, or that the husband's mother was accustomed to make her domineering disposition felt by every one in the house. I will readily admit that Norah is well out of this situation. But the harm does not stop here. For all you and I know to the contrary, the harm may go on. What has happened in this situation may happen in another. Your way of life, however pure your conduct may be -- and I will do you the justice to believe it pure -is a suspicious way of life to all respectable people. I have lived long enough in this world to know that the sense of Propriety, in nine Englishwomen out of te n, makes no allowances and feels no pity. Norah's next employers may discover you; and Norah may throw up a situation next time which we may never be able to find for her again.

"I leave you to consider this. My child, don't think I am hard on you. I am jealous for your sister's tranquillity. If you will forget the past, Magdalen, and come back, trust to your old governess to forget it too, and to give you the home which your father and mother once gave her. Your friend, my dear, always,

"HARRIET GARTH."

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