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THE early morning, when Magdalen rose and looked out, was cloudy and
overcast. But as time advanced to the breakfast hour the threatening of rain
passed away; and she was free to provide, without hinderance from the weather,
for the first necessity of the day -- the necessity of securing the absence of her
traveling companion from the house.
Mrs. Wragge was dressed, armed at all points with her collection of circulars, and
eager to be away by ten o'clock. At an earlier hour Magdalen had provided for
her being properly taken care of by the landlady's eldest daughter -- a quiet, well-
conducted girl, whose interest in the shopping expedition was readily secured by
a little present of money for the purchase, on her own account, of a parasol and a
muslin dress. Shortly after ten o'clock Magdalen dismissed Mrs. Wragge and her
attendant in a cab. She then joined the landlady -- who was occupied in setting
the rooms in order upstairs -- with the object of ascertaining, by a little well-timed
gossip, what the daily habits might be of the inmates of the house.
She discovered that there were no other lodgers but Mrs. Wragge and herself.
The landlady's husband was away all day, employed at a railway station. Her
second daughter was charged with the care of the kitchen in the elder sister's
absence. The younger children were at school, and would be back at one o'clock
to dinner. The landlady herself "got up fine linen for ladies," and expected to be
occupied over her work all that morning in a little room built out at the back of the
premises. Thus there was every facility for Magdalen's leaving the house in
disguise, and leaving it unobserved, provided she went out before the children
came back to dinner at one o'clock.
By eleven o'clock the apartments were set in order, and the landlady had retired
to pursue her own employments. Magdalen softly locked the door of her room,
drew the blind over the window, and entered at once on her preparations for the
perilous experiment of the day.