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THE morning of her husband's return to
North Shingles was a morning memorable for
ever in the domestic calendar of Mrs. Wragge.
She dated from that occasion the first announcement
which reached her of Magdalen's

It had been Mrs. Wragge's earthly lot to pass
her life in a state of perpetual surprise. Never
yet, however, had she wandered in such a maze
of astonishment as the maze in which she lost
herself when the captain coolly told her the truth.
She had been sharp enough to suspect Mr. Noel
Vanstone of coming to the house in the character
of a sweetheart on approval; and she had dimly
interpreted certain expressions of impatience
which had fallen from Magdalen's lips, as boding
ill for the success of his suit but her utmost
penetration had never reached as far as a suspicion
of the impending marriage. She rose from
one climax, of amazement to another as her
husband proceeded with his disclosure. A wedding
in the family at a day's notice! and that wedding
Magdalen's! and not a single new dress ordered
for anybody, the bride included! and the Oriental
Cashmere Robe totally unavailable, on the
occasion of all others when she might have worn it
to the greatest advantage! Mrs.Wragge dropped
crookedly into a chair, and beat her disorderly
hands on her unsymmetrical knees, in utter
forgetfulness of the captain's presence, and the
captain's terrible eye. It would not have surprised
her to hear next, that the world had come to an
end, and that the only mortal whom Destiny had
overlooked in winding up the affairs of this
earthly planet, was herself!

Leaving his wife to recover her composure by
her own unaided efforts, Captain Wragge withdrew
to wait for Magdalen's appearance in the
lower regions of the house. It was close on one
o'clock before the sound of footsteps in the room
above, warned him that she was awake and
stirring. He called at once for the maid (whose
name he had ascertained to be Louisa), and sent
her up-stairs to her mistress for the second time.

Magdalen was standing by her dressing-table,
when a faint tap at the door suddenly roused her.
The tap was followed by the sound of a meek
voice, which announced itself as the voice of " her
maid," and inquired if Miss Bygrave needed any
assistance that morning.

"Not at present," said Magdalen, as soon as
she recovered the surprise of finding herself
unexpectedly provided with an attendant. " I will
ring when I want you."

After dismissing the woman with that answer,
she accidentally looked from the door to the
window. Any speculations on the subject of
the new servant in which she might otherwise
have engaged, were instantly suspended by the
sight of the bottle of laudanum, still standing on
the ledge of the window, where she had left it
at sunrise. She took it once more in her hand,
with a strange confusion of feeling with a
vague doubt even yet, whether the sight of it
reminded her of a terrible reality or a terrible
dream. Her first impulse was to rid herself of
it on the spot. She raised the bottle to throw
the contents out of the window and paused, in
sudden distrust of the impulse that had come to
her. " I have accepted my new life," she thought.
"How do I know what that life may have in store
for me?" She turned from the window, and
went back to the table. "I may be forced to
drink it yet," she said and put the laudanum
into her dressing-case.

Her mind was not at ease when she had done
this: there seemed to be some indefinable
ingratitude in the act. Still she made no attempt
to remove the bottle from its hiding-place. She
hurried on her toilette; she hastened the time
when she could ring for the maid, and forget
herself and her waking thoughts in a new subject.
After touching the bell, she took from the table
her letter to Norah and her letter to the captain;
put them both into her dressing-case with the
laudanum; and locked it securely with the key
which she kept attached to her watch-chain.

Magdalen's first impression of her attendant
was not an agreeable one. She could not
investigate the girl with the experienced eye of the
landlady at the London hotel, who had characterised
the stranger as a young person conversant
with misfortune; and who had shown
plainly, by her look and manner, of what nature
she suspected that misfortune to be. But, with
this drawback, Magdalen was perfectly competent
to detect the tokens of sickness and sorrow,
lurking under the surface of the new maid's

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