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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 6, 1862

Welcome to our online archive or original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. We feel confident that this collection will be a valuable resource for your study and research. This information is simply not available anywhere else!

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SEPTEMBER 6, 1862.]




[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.]





Printed from the Manuscript and early Proof-sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."


LATE that evening, when Magdalen and Mrs. Wragge came back from their walk in the dark, the captain stopped Magdalen on her way up stairs, to inform her of the proceedings of the day. He added the expression of his opinion, that the time had come for bringing Mr. Noel Vanstone, with the least possible delay, to the point of making a proposal. She merely answered that she understood him, and that she would do what was required of her. Captain Wragge requested her, in that case, to oblige him by joining a walking excursion in Mr. Noel Vanstone's company, at seven o'clock the next morning. "I will be ready," she replied. "Is there any thing more?" There was nothing more. Magdalen bade him good-night, and returned to her own room.

She had shown the same disinclination to remain any longer than was necessary in the captain's company throughout the three days of her seclusion in the house.

During all that time, instead of appearing to weary of Mrs. Wragge's society, she had patiently, almost eagerly, associated herself with her

companion's one absorbing pursuit. She, who had often chafed and fretted in past days, under the monotony of her life in the freedom of Combe-Raven, now accepted, without a murmur, the monotony of her life at Mrs. Wragge's work-table. She, who had hated the sight of a needle and thread in old times-who had never yet worn an article of dress of her own making—now toiled as anxiously over the making of Mrs. Wragge's gown, and bore as patiently with Mrs. Wragge's blunders, as if the sole object of her existence had been the successful completion of that one dress. Any thing was welcome to her —the trivial difficulties of fitting a gown; the small ceaseless chatter of the poor half-witted creature who was so proud of her assistance, and so happy in her company—any thing was welcome that shut her out from the coming future, from the destiny to which she stood self-condemned. That sorely-wounded nature was soothed by such a trifle now as the grasp of her companion's rough and friendly. hand—that desolate heart was cheered, when night parted them, by Mrs. Wragge's kiss.

The captain's isolated position in the house produced no depressing effect on the captain's easy and equal spirits. Instead of resenting Magdalen's systematic avoidance of his society, he looked to results, and highly approved of it. he more she neglected him for his wife, the more directly useful she became in the character of Mrs. Wragge's self-appointed guardian. He had more than once seriously contemplated revoking the concession which had been extorted from him, and removing his wife at his own sole responsibility, out of harm's way; and he had only abandoned the idea on discovering that Magdalen's resolution to keep Mrs. Wragge in her own company was really serious. While the two were together, his main anxiety was set at rest. They kept their door locked, by his own desire, while he was out of the house, and, whatever Mrs. Wragge might do, Magdalen was to be trusted not to open it until he came back. That night Captain Wragge enjoyed his cigar with a mind at ease, and sipped his brandy-and-water in happy ignorance of the pitfall which Mrs. Lecount had prepared for him in the morning.

Punctually at seven o'clock Mr. Noel Vanstone made his appearance. The moment he entered the room Captain Wragge detected a change in his visitor's look and manner. "Something wrong!" thought the captain. "We have not done with Mrs. Lecount yet."

"How is Miss Bygrave this morning?" asked Mr. Noel Vanstone. "Well enough, I hope, for our early walk?" His half-closed eyes, weak and watery with the morning light and the morning air, looked about the room furtively, and he shifted his place in a restless manner from one chair to another as he made those polite inquiries.

"My niece is better—she is dressing for the walk," replied the captain, steadily observing his restless little friend while he spoke. "Mr. Vanstone!" he added, on a sudden, "I am a plain Englishman—excuse my blunt way of speaking my mind. You don't meet me this morning as cordially as you met me yesterday. There is something unsettled in your face. I distrust that housekeeper of yours, Sir! Has she been presuming on your forbearance? Has she been trying to poison your mind against me or my niece?"

If Mr. Noel Vanstone had obeyed Mrs. Lecount's injunction, and had kept her little morsel of note-paper folded in his pocket until the time came to use it, Captain Wragge's designedly blunt appeal might not have found him unprepared with an answer. But curiosity had got the better of him—he had opened the note at night, and again in the morning—it had seriously perplexed and startled him—and it had left his mind far too disturbed to allow him the possession of his ordinary resources. He hesitated; and his answer, when he succeeded in making it, began with a prevarication.

Captain Wragge stopped him before he had got beyond his first sentence.

"Pardon me, Sir," said the captain, in his loftiest manner. "If you have secrets to keep, you have only to say so and I have done. I intrude on no man's secrets. At the same time, Mr. Vanstone, you must allow me to recall to your memory that I met you yesterday without any reserves on my side. I admitted you to my frankest and fullest confidence, Sir—and, highly as I prize the advantages of your society, I can't consent to cultivate your friendship on any other than equal terms." He threw open his respectable frock-coat, and surveyed his visitor with a manly and virtuous severity.

"I mean no offense!" cried Mr. Noel Vanstone, piteously. "Why do you interrupt me,

Mr. Bygrave? Why don't you let me explain? I mean no offense."

"No offense is taken, Sir," said the captain. "You have a perfect right to the exercise of your own discretion. I am not offended—I only claim for myself the same privilege which I accord to you." He rose with great dignity, and rang the bell. " Tell Miss Bygrave," he said to the servant, "that our walk this morning is put off until another opportunity, and that I won't trouble her to come down stairs."

This strong proceeding had the desired effect. Mr. Noel Vanstone vehemently pleaded for a moment's private conversation before the message was delivered. Captain Wragge's severity partially relaxed. He sent the servant down stairs again; and, resuming his chair, waited confidently for results. In calculating the facilities for practicing on his visitor's weakness he had one great superiority over Mrs. Lecount. His judgment was not warped by latent female jealousies, and he avoided the error into which the housekeeper had fallen, self-deluded—the error of underrating the impression on Noel Vanstone that Magdalen had produced. One of the forces in this world which no middle-aged woman is capable of estimating at its full volume, when it acts against her, is the force of beauty in a woman younger than herself.

"You are so hasty, Mr. Bygrave, you won't


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