MRS. LECOUNT returned to the parlor, with the fragment of Magdalen's dress in
one hand, and with Captain Wragge's letter in the other.
"Have you got rid of her?" asked Noel Vanstone. "Have you shut the door at last
on Miss Garth?"
"Don't call her Miss Garth, sir," said Mrs. Lecount, smiling contemptuously. "She
is as much Miss Garth as you are. We have been favored by the performance of
a clever masquerade; and if we had taken the disguise off our visitor, I think we
should have found under it Miss Vanstone herself. -- Here is a letter for you, sir,
which the postman has just left."
She put the letter on the table within her master's reach. Noel Vanstone's
amazement at the discovery just communicated to him kept his whole attention
concentrated on the housekeeper's face. He never so much as looked at the
letter when she placed it before him.
"Take my word for it, sir," proceeded Mrs. Lecount, composedly taking a chair.
"When our visitor gets home she will put her gray hair away in a box, and will
cure that sad affliction in her eyes with warm water and a sponge. If she had
painted the marks on her face, as well as she painted the inflammation in her
eyes, the light would have shown me nothing, and I should certainly have been
deceived. But I saw the marks; I saw a young woman's skin under that dirty
complexion of hers; I heard in this room a true voice in a passion, as well as a
false voice talking with an accent, and I don't believe in one morsel of that lady's
personal appearance from top to toe. The girl herself, in my opinion, Mr. Noel --
and a bold girl too."