"Bascombe Rectory, West Somerset, Thursday, July 8.
"MY DEAR MIDWINTER--One line before the post goes out, to relieve you of
all sense of responsibility at Thorpe Ambrose, and to make my apologies to the
lady who lives as governess in Major Milroy's family.
"The Miss Gwilt--or perhaps I ought to say, the woman calling herself by that
name--has, to my unspeakable astonishment, openly made her appearance here, in
my own parish! She is staying at the inn, accompanied by a plausible-looking
man, who passes as her brother. What this audacious proceeding really means--
unless it marks a new step in the conspiracy against Allan, taken under new
advice--is, of course, more than I can yet find out.
"My own idea is, that they have recognized the impossibility of getting at Allan,
without finding me (or you) as an obstacle in their way; and that they are going to
make a virtue of necessity by boldly trying to open their communications through
me. The man looks capable of any stretch of audacity; and both he and the woman
had the impudence to bow when I met them in the village half an hour since. They
have been making inquiries already about Allan's mother here, where her
exemplary life may set their closest scrutiny at defiance. If they will only attempt
to extort money, as the price of the woman's silence on the subject of poor Mrs.
Armadale's conduct in Madeira at the time of her marriage, they will find me well
prepared for them beforehand. I have written by this post to my lawyers to send a
competent man to assist me, and he will stay at the rectory, in any character which
he thinks it safest to assume under present circumstances.
"You shall hear what happens in the next day or two.
"Always truly yours, DECIMUS BROCK."