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1. _From Ozias Midwinter to Mr. Brock_.
"Thorpe Ambrose, June 15, 1851.
"DEAR MR. BROCK--Only an hour since we reached this house, just
as the servants were locking up for the night. Allan has gone to
bed, worn out by our long day's journey, and has left me in the
room they call the library, to tell you the story of our journey
to Norfolk. Being better seasoned than he is to fatigues of all
kinds, my eyes are quite wakeful enough for writing a letter,
though the clock on the chimney-piece points to midnight, and we
have been traveling since ten in the morning.
"The last news you had of us was news sent by Allan from the Isle
of Man. If I am not mistaken, he wrote to tell you of the night
we passed on board the wrecked ship. Forgive me, dear Mr. Brock,
if I say nothing on that subject until time has helped me to
think of it with a quieter mind. The hard fight against myself
must all be fought over again; but I will win it yet, please God;
I will, indeed.
"There is no need to trouble you with any account of our
journeyings about the northern and western districts of the
island, or of the short cruises we took when the repairs of the
yacht were at last complete. It will be better if I get on at
once to the morning of yesterday, the fourteenth. We had come in
with the night-tide to Douglas Harbor, and, as soon as the
post-office was open; Allan, by my advice, sent on shore for
letters. The messenger returned with one letter only, and the
writer of it proved to be the former mistress of Thorpe
"You ought to be informed, I think, of the contents of this
letter, for it has seriously influenced Allan's plans. He loses
everything, sooner or later, as you know, and he has lost the
letter already. So I must give you the substance of what Mrs.
Blanchard wrote to him, as plainly as I can.
"The first page announced the departure of the ladies from Thorpe
Ambrose. They left on the day before yesterday, the thirteenth,
having, after much hesitation, finally decided on going abroad,
to visit some old friends settled in Italy, in the neighborhood
of Florence. It appears to be quite possible that Mrs. Blanchard
and her niece may settle there, too, if they can find a suitable
house and grounds to let. They both like the Italian country and
the Italian people, and they are well enough off to please
themselves. The elder lady has her jointure, and the younger is
in possession of all her father's fortune.
"The next page of the letter was, in Allan's opinion, far from a
pleasant page to read.
"After referring, in the most grateful terms, to the kindness
which had left her niece and herself free to leave their old home
at their own time, Mrs. Blanchard added that Allan's considerate
conduct had produced such a strongly favorable impression among
the friends and dependents of the family that they were desirous
of giving him a public reception on his arrival among them. A
preliminary meeting of the tenants on the estate and the
principal persons in the neighboring town had already been held
to discuss the arrangements, and a letter might be expected
shortly from the clergyman inquiring when it would suit Mr.
Armadale's convenience to take possession personally and publicly
of his estates in Norfolk.
"You will now be able to guess the cause of our sudden departure
from the Isle of Man. The first and foremost idea in your old
pupil's mind, as soon as he had read Mrs. Blanchard's account of
the proceedings at the meeting, was the idea of escaping the
public reception, and the one certain way he could see of
avoiding it was to start for Thorpe Ambrose before the
clergyman's letter could reach him.
"I tried hard to make him think a little before he acted an his
first impulse in this matter; but he only went on packing his
portmanteau in his own impenetrably good-humored way. In ten
minutes his luggage was ready, and in five minutes more he had
given the crew their directions for taking the yacht back to
Somersetshire. The steamer to Liverpool was alongside of us in
the harbor, and I had really no choice but to go on board with
him or to let him go by himself. I spare you the account of our
stormy voyage, of our detention at Liverpool, and of the trains
we missed on our journey across the country. You know that we
have got here safely, and that is enough. What the servants think
of the new squire's sudden appearance among them, without a word
of warning, is of no great consequence. What the committee for
arranging the public reception may think of it when the news
flies abroad to-morrow is, I am afraid, a more serious matter.
"Having already mentioned the servants, I may proceed to tell
you that the latter part of Mrs. Blanchard's letter was entirely
devoted to instructing Allan on the subject of the domestic
establishment which she has left behind her. It seems that all
the servants, indoors and out (with three exceptions), are
waiting here, on the chance that Allan will continue them in
their places. Two of these exceptions are readily accounted for:
Mrs. Blanchard's maid and Miss Blanchard's maid go abroad with
their mistresses. The third exceptional case is the case of the
upper housemaid; and here there is a little hitch. In plain
words, the housemaid has been sent away at a moment's notice,
for what Mrs. Blanchard rather mysteriously describes as 'levity
of conduct with a stranger.'
"I am afraid you will laugh at me, but I must confess the truth.
I have been made so distrustful (after what happened to us in the
Isle of Man) of even the most trifling misadventures which
connect themselves in any way with Allan's introduction to his
new life and prospects, that I have already questioned one of the
men-servants here about this apparently unimportant matter of the
housemaid's going away in disgrace.
"All I can learn is that a strange man had been noticed hanging
suspiciously about the grounds; that the housemaid was so ugly
a woman as to render it next to a certainty that he had some
underhand purpose to serve in making himself agreeable to her;
and that he has not as yet been seen again in the neighborhood
since the day of her dismissal. So much for the one servant who
has been turned out at Thorpe Ambrose. I can only hope there is
no trouble for Allan brewing in that quarter. As for the other
servants who remain, Mrs. Blanchard describes them, both men and
women, as perfectly trustworthy, and they will all, no doubt,
continue to occupy their present places.
"Having now done with Mrs. Blanchard's letter, my next duty is
to beg you, in Allan's name and with Allan's love, to come here
and stay with him at the earliest moment when you can leave
Somersetshire. Although I cannot presume to think that my own
wishes will have any special influence in determining you to
accept this invitation, I must nevertheless acknowledge that I
have a reason of my own for earnestly desiring to see you here.
Allan has innocently caused me a new anxiety about my future
relations with him, and I sorely need your advice to show me the
right way of setting that anxiety at rest.
"The difficulty which now perplexes me relates to the steward's
place at Thorpe Ambrose. Before to-day I only knew that Allan
had hit on some plan of his own for dealing with this matter,
rather strangely involving, among other results, the letting
of the cottage which was the old steward's place of abode, in
consequence of the new steward's contemplated residence in the
great house. A chance word in our conversation on the journey
here led Allan into speaking out more plainly than he had spoken
yet, and I heard to my unutterable astonishment that the person
who was at the bottom of the whole arrangement about the steward
was no other than myself!
"It is needless to tell you how I felt this new instance of
Allan's kindness. The first pleasure of hearing from his own lips
that I had deserved the strongest proof he could give of his
confidence in me was soon dashed by the pain which mixes itself
with all pleasure--at least, with all that I have ever known.
Never has my past life seemed so dreary to look back on as it
seems now, when I feel how entirely it has unfitted me to take
the place of all others that I should have liked to occupy in my
friend's service. I mustered courage to tell him that I had none
of the business knowledge and business experience which his
steward ought to possess. He generously met the objection by
telling me that I could learn; and he has promised to send to
London for the person who has already been employed for the time
being in the steward's office, and who will, therefore, be
perfectly competent to teach me.
"Do you, too, think I can learn? If you do, I will work day and
night to instruct myself. But if (as I am afraid) the steward's
duties are of far too serious a kind to be learned off-hand by a
man so young and so inexperienced as I am, then pray hasten your
journey to Thorpe Ambrose, and exert your influence over Allan
personally. Nothing less will induce him to pass me over, and to
employ a steward who is really fit to take the place. Pray, pray
act in this matter as you think best for Allan's interests.
Whatever disappointment I may feel, _he_ shall not see it.
"Believe me, dear Mr. Brock,
"P.S.--I open the envelope again to add one word more. If you
have heard or seen anything since your return to Somersetshire of
the woman in the black dress and the red shawl, I hope you will
not forget, when you write, to let me know it.
2. _From Mrs. Oldershaw to Miss Gwilt_.
"Ladies' Toilet Repository, Diana Street, Pimlico,
"MY DEAR LYDIA--To save the post, I write to you, after
a long day's worry at my place of business, on the business
letter-paper, having news since we last met which it seems
advisable to send you at the earliest opportunity.
"To begin at the beginning. After carefully considering the
thing, I am quite sure you will do wisely with young Armadale if
you hold your tongue about Madeira and all that happened there.
Your position was, no doubt, a very strong one with his mother.
You had privately helped her in playing a trick on her own
father; you had been ungratefully dismissed, at a pitiably tender
age, as soon as you had served her purpose; and, when you came
upon her suddenly, after a separation of more than twenty years,
you found her in failing health, with a grown-up son, whom she
had kept in total ignorance of the true story of her marriage.
"Have you any such advantages as these with the young gentleman
who has survived her? If he is not a born idiot he will decline
to believe your shocking aspersions on the memory of his mother;
and--seeing that you have no proofs at this distance of time to
meet him with--there is an end of your money-grubbing in the
golden Armadale diggings. Mind, I don't dispute that the old
lady's heavy debt of obligation, after what you did for her in
Madeira, is not paid yet; and that the son is the next person to
settle with you, now the mother has slipped through your fingers.
Only squeeze him the right way, my dear, that's what I venture to
suggest--squeeze him the right way.
"And which is the right way? That question brings me to my news.
"Have you thought again of that other notion of yours of trying
your hand on this lucky young gentleman, with nothing but your
own good looks and your own quick wits to help you? The idea hung
on my mind so strangely after you were gone that it ended in my
sending a little note to my lawyer, to have the will under which
young Armadale has got his fortune examined at Doctor's Commons.
The result turns out to be something infinitely more encouraging
than either you or I could possibly have hoped for. After the
lawyer's report to me, there cannot be a moment's doubt of what
you ought to do. In two words, Lydia, take the bull by the
horns--and marry him!
"I am quite serious. He is much better worth the venture than you
suppose. Only persuade him to make you Mrs. Armadale, and you may
set all after-discoveries at flat defiance. As long as he lives,
you can make your own terms with him; and, if he dies, the will
entitles you, in spite of anything he can say or do--with
children or without them--to an income chargeable on his estate
of _twelve hundred a year for life_. There is no doubt about
this; the lawyer himself has looked at the will. Of course, Mr.
Blanchard had his son and his son's widow in his eye when he made
the provision. But, as it is not limited to any one heir by name,
and not revoked anywhere, it now holds as good with young
Armadale as it would have held under other circumstances with Mr.
Blanchard's son. What a chance for you, after all the miseries
and the dangers you have gone through, to be mistress of Thorpe
Ambrose, if he lives; to have an income for life, if he dies!
Hook him, my poor dear; hook him at any sacrifice.
"I dare say you will make the same objection when you read this
which you made when we were talking about it the other day; I
mean the objection of your age.
"Now, my good creature, just listen to me. The question is--not
whether you were five-and-thirty last birthday; we will own the
dreadful truth, and say you were--but whether you do look, or
don't look, your real age. My opinion on this matter ought to be,
and is, one of the best opinions in London. I have had twenty
years experience among our charming sex in making up battered
old faces and wornout old figures to look like new, and I say
positively you don't look a day over thirty, if as much. If you
will follow my advice about dressing, and use one or two of my
applications privately, I guarantee to put you back three years
more. I will forfeit all the money I shall have to advance for
you in this matter, if, when I have ground you young again in my
wonderful mill, you look more than seven-and-twenty in any man's
eyes living--except, of course, when you wake anxious in the
small hours of the morning; and then, my dear, you will be old
and ugly in the retirement of your own room, and it won't matter.
"'But,' you may say, 'supposing all this, here I am, even with
your art to help me, looking a good six years older than he is;
and that is against me at starting.' Is it? Just think again.
Surely, your own experience must have shown you that the
commonest of all common weaknesses, in young fellows of this
Armadale's age, is to fall in love with women older than
themselves. Who are the men who really appreciate us in the bloom
of our youth (I'm sure I have cause to speak well of the bloom of
youth; I made fifty guineas to-day by putting it on the spotted
shoulders of a woman old enough to be your mother)--who are the
men, I say, who are ready to worship us when we are mere babies
of seventeen? The gay young gentlemen in the bloom of their own
youth? No! The cunning old wretches who are on the wrong side of
"And what is the moral of this, as the story-books say?
"The moral is that the chances, with such a head as you have got
on your shoulders, are all in your favor. If you feel your
present forlorn position, as I believe you do; if you know what
a charming woman (in the men's eyes) you can still be when you
please; and if all your resolution has really come back, after
that shocking outbreak of desperation on board the steamer
(natural enough, I own, under the dreadful provocation laid on
you), you will want no further persuasion from me to try this
experiment. Only to think of how things turn out! If the other
young booby had not jumped into the river after you, _this_ young
booby would never have had the estate. It really looks as if fate
had determined that you were to be Mrs. Armadale, of Thorpe
Ambrose; and who can control his fate, as the poet says?
"Send me one line to say Yes or No; and believe me your attached
3. _From Miss Gwilt to Mrs. Oldershaw_.
'YOU OLD WRETCH--I won't say Yes or No till I have had a long,
long look at my glass first. If you had any real regard for
anybody but your wicked old self, you would know that the bare
idea of marrying again (after what I have gone through) is an
idea that makes my flesh creep.
"But there can be no harm in your sending me a little more
information while I am making up my mind. You have got twenty
pounds of mine still left out of those things you sold for me;
send ten pounds here for my expenses, in a post-office order, and
use the other ten for making private inquiries at Thorpe Ambrose.
I want to know when the two Blanchard women go away, and when
young Armadale stirs up the dead ashes in the family fire-place.
Are you quite sure he will turn out as easy to manage as you
think? If he takes after his hypocrite of a mother, I can tell
you this: Judas Iscariot has come to life again.
"I am very comfortable in this lodging. There are lovely flowers
in the garden, and the birds wake me in the morning delightfully.
I have hired a reasonably good piano. The only man I care two
straws about--don't be alarmed; he was laid in his grave many a
long year ago, under the name of BEETHOVEN--keeps me company, in
my lonely hours. The landlady would keep me company, too, if I
would only let her. I hate women. The new curate paid a visit to
the other lodger yesterday, and passed me on the lawn as he came
out. My eyes have lost nothing yet, at any rate, though I _am_
five-and-thirty; the poor man actually blushed when I looked at
him! What sort of color do you think he would have turned, if one
of the little birds in the garden had whispered in his ear, and
told him the true story of the charming Miss Gwilt?
"Good-by, Mother Oldershaw. I rather doubt whether I am yours, or
anybody's, affectionately; but we all tell lies at the bottoms of
our letters, don't we? If you are my attached old friend, I must,
of course, be yours affectionately.
"P.S.--Keep your odious powders and paints and washes for the
spotted shoulders of your customers; not one of them shall touch
my skin, I promise you. If you really want to be useful, try and
find out some quieting draught to keep me from grinding my teeth
in my sleep. I shall break them one of these nights; and then
what will become of my beauty, I wonder?"
4. _From Mrs. Oldershaw to Miss Gwilt_.
"Ladies' Toilet Repository, Tuesday.
"MY DEAR LYDIA--It is a thousand pities your letter was not
addressed to Mr. Armadale; your graceful audacity would have
charmed him. It doesn't affect me; I am so well used to audacity
in my way of life, you know. Why waste your sparkling wit, my
love, on your own impenetrable Oldershaw? It only splutters and
goes out. Will you try and be serious this next time? I have news
for you from Thorpe Ambrose, which is beyond a joke, and which
must not be trifled with.
"An hour after I got your letter I set the inquiries on foot. Not
knowing what consequences they might lead to, I thought it safest
to begin in the dark. Instead of employing any of the people whom
I have at my own disposal (who know you and know me), I went to
the Private Inquiry Office in Shadyside Place, and put the matter
in the inspector's hands, in the character of a perfect stranger,
and without mentioning you at all. This was not the cheapest way
of going to work, I own; but it was the safest way, which is of
much greater consequence.
"The inspector and I understood each other in ten minutes; and
the right person for the purpose--the most harmless looking young
man you ever saw in your life--was produced immediately. He left
for Thorpe Ambrose an hour after I saw him. I arranged to call at
the office on the afternoons of Saturday, Monday, and to-day for
news. There was no news till to-day; and there I found our
confidential agent just returned to town, and waiting to favor me
with a full account of his trip to Norfolk.
"First of all, let me quiet your mind about those two questions
of yours; I have got answers to both the one and the other. The
Blanchard women go away to foreign parts on the thirteenth, and
young Armadale is at this moment cruising somewhere at sea in his
yacht. There is talk at Thorpe Ambrose of giving him a public
reception, and of calling a meeting of the local grandees to
settle it all. The speechifying and fuss on these occasions
generally wastes plenty of time, and the public reception is not
thought likely to meet the new squire much before the end of the
"If our messenger had done no more for us than this, I think he
would have earned his money. But the harmless young man is a
regular Jesuit at a private inquiry, with this great advantage
over all the Popish priests I have ever seen, that he has not got
his slyness written in his face.
"Having to get his information through the female servants in the
usual way, he addressed himself, with admirable discretion, to
the ugliest woman in the house. 'When they are nice-looking, and
can pick and choose,' as he neatly expressed it to me, 'they
waste a great deal of valuable time in deciding on a sweetheart.
When they are ugly, and haven't got the ghost of a chance of
choosing, they snap at a sweetheart, if he comes their way, like
a starved dog at a bone.' Acting on these excellent principles,
our confidential agent succeeded, after certain unavoidable
delays, in addressing himself to the upper housemaid at Thorpe
Ambrose, and took full possession of her confidence at the
first interview. Bearing his instructions carefully in mind,
he encouraged the woman to chatter, and was favored, of course,
with all the gossip of the servants' hall. The greater part of it
(as repeated to me) was of no earthly importance. But I listened
patiently, and was rewarded by a valuable discovery at last. Here
"It seems there is an ornamental cottage in the grounds at Thorpe
Ambrose. For some reason unknown, young Armadale has chosen to
let it, and a tenant has come in already. He is a poor half-pay
major in the army, named Milroy, a meek sort of man, by all
accounts, with a turn for occupying himself in mechanical
pursuits, and with a domestic incumbrance in the shape of a
bedridden wife, who has not been seen by anybody. Well, and what
of all this? you will ask, with that sparkling impatience which
becomes you so well. My dear Lydia, don't sparkle! The man's
family affairs seriously concern us both, for, as ill luck will
have it, the man has got a daughter!
"You may imagine how I questioned our agent, and how our agent
ransacked his memory, when I stumbled, in due course, on such
a discovery as this. If Heaven is responsible for women's
chattering tongues, Heaven be praised! From Miss Blanchard
to Miss Blanchard's maid; from Miss Blanchard's maid to Miss
Blanchard's aunt's maid; from Miss Blanchard's aunt's maid,
to the ugly housemaid; from the ugly housemaid to the
harmless-looking young man--so the stream of gossip trickled into
the right reservoir at last, and thirsty Mother Oldershaw has
drunk it all up.
"In plain English, my dear, this is how it stands. The major's
daughter is a minx just turned sixteen; lively and nice-looking
(hateful little wretch!), dowdy in her dress (thank Heaven!) and
deficient in her manners (thank Heaven again!). She has been
brought up at home. The governess who last had charge of her left
before her father moved to Thorpe Ambrose. Her education stands
woefully in want of a finishing touch, and the major doesn't
quite know what to do next. None of his friends can recommend him
a new governess and he doesn't like the notion of sending the
girl to school. So matters rest at present, on the major's own
showing; for so the major expressed himself at a morning call
which the father and daughter paid to the ladies at the great
"You have now got my promised news, and you will have little
difficulty, I think, in agreeing with me that the Armadale
business must be settled at once, one way or the other. If, with
your hopeless prospects, and with what I may call your family
claim on this young fellow, you decide on giving him up, I shall
have the pleasure of sending you the balance of your account with
me (seven-and-twenty shillings), and shall then be free to devote
myself entirely to my own proper business. If, on the contrary,
you decide to try your luck at Thorpe Ambrose, then (there being
no kind of doubt that the major's minx will set her cap at the
young squire) I should be glad to hear how you mean to meet the
double difficulty of inflaming Mr. Armadale and extinguishing
5. _From Miss Gwilt to Mrs. Oldershaw.
"Richmond, Wednesday Morning.
"MRS. OLDERSHAW--Send me my seven-and-twenty shillings, and
devote yourself to your own proper business. Yours, L. G."
6. _From Miss Gwilt to Mrs. Oldershaw.
"Richmond, Wednesday Night.
"DEAR OLD LOVE--Keep the seven-and-twenty shillings, and burn my
other letter. I have changed my mind.
"I wrote the first time after a horrible night. I write this time
after a ride on horseback, a tumbler of claret, and the breast of
a chicken. Is that explanation enough? Please say Yes, for I want
to go back to my piano.
"No; I can't go back yet; I must answer your question first. But
are you really so very simple as to suppose that I don't see
straight through you and your letter? You know that the major's
difficulty is our opportunity as well as I do; but you want me to
take the responsibility of making the first proposal, don't you?
Suppose I take it in your own roundabout way? Suppose I say,
'Pray don't ask me how I propose inflaming Mr. Armadale and
extinguishing Miss Milroy; the question is so shockingly abrupt
I really can't answer it. Ask me, instead, if it is the modest
ambition of my life to become Miss Milroy's governess?' Yes, if
you please, Mrs. Oldershaw, and if you will assist me by becoming
"There it is for you! If some serious disaster happens (which is
quite possible), what a comfort it will be to remember that it
was all my fault!
"Now I have done this for you, will you do something for me. I
want to dream away the little time I am likely to have left here
in my own way. Be a merciful Mother Oldershaw, and spare me the
worry of looking at the Ins and Outs, and adding up the chances
For and Against, in this new venture of mine. Think for me, in
short, until I am obliged to think for myself.
"I had better not write any more, or I shall say something savage
that you won't like. I am in one of my tempers to-night. I want a
husband to vex, or a child to beat, or something of that sort. Do
you ever like to see the summer insects kill themselves in the
candle? I do, sometimes. Good-night, Mrs. Jezebel The longer you
can leave me here the better. The air agrees with me, and I am
7. _From Mrs. Oldershaw to Miss Gwilt_.
"MY DEAR LYDIA--Some persons in my situation might be a little
offended at the tone of your last letter. But I am so fondly
attached to you! And when I love a person, it is so very hard, my
dear, for that person to offend me! Don't ride quite so far, and
only drink half a tumblerful of claret next time. I say no more.
"Shall we leave off our fencing-match and come to serious matters
now? How curiously hard it always seems to be for women to
understand each other, especially when they have got their pens
in their hands! But suppose we try.
"Well, then, to begin with: I gather from your letter that you
have wisely decided to try the Thorpe Ambrose experiment, and to
secure, if you can, an excellent position at starting by becoming
a member of Major Milroy's household. If the circumstances turn
against you, and some other woman gets the governess's place
(about which I shall have something more to say presently), you
will then have no choice but to make Mr. Armadale's acquaintance
in some other character. In any case, you will want my
assistance; and the first question, therefore, to set at rest
between us is the question of what I am willing to do, and what
I can do, to help you.
"A woman, my dear Lydia, with your appearance, your manners, your
abilities, and your education, can make almost any excursions
into society that she pleases if she only has money in her pocket
and a respectable reference to appeal to in cases of emergency.
As to the money, in the first place. I will engage to find it,
on condition of your remembering my assistance with adequate
pecuniary gratitude if you win the Armadale prize. Your promise
so to remember me, embodying the terms in plain figures, shall be
drawn out on paper by my own lawyer, so that we can sign and
settle at once when I see you in London.
"Next, as to the reference.
"Here, again, my services are at your disposal, on another
condition. It is this: that you present yourself at Thorpe
Ambrose, under the name to which you have returned ever since
that dreadful business of your marriage; I mean your own maiden
name of Gwilt. I have only one motive in insisting on this; I
wish to run no needless risks. My experience, as confidential
adviser of my customers, in various romantic cases of private
embarrassment, has shown me that an assumed name is, nine times
out of ten, a very unnecessary and a very dangerous form of
deception. Nothing could justify your assuming a name but the
fear of young Armadale's detecting you--a fear from which we are
fortunately relieved by his mother's own conduct in keeping your
early connection with her a profound secret from her son and from
"The next, and last, perplexity to settle relates, my dear, to
the chances for and against your finding your way, in the
capacity of governess, into Major Milroy's house. Once inside the
door, with your knowledge of music and languages, if you can keep
your temper, you may be sure of keeping the place. The only
doubt, as things are now, is whether you can get it.
"In the major's present difficulty about his daughter's
education, the chances are, I think, in favor of his advertising
for a governess. Say he does advertise, what address will he give
for applicants to write to?
"If he gives an address in London, good-by to all chances in your
favor at once; for this plain reason, that we shall not be able
to pick out his advertisement from the advertisements of other
people who want governesses, and who will give them addresses in
London as well. If, on the other hand, our luck helps us, and he
refers his correspondents to a shop, post-office, or what not _at
Thorpe Ambrose_, there we have our advertiser as plainly picked
out for us as we can wish. In this last case, I have little or no
doubt--with me for your reference--of your finding your way into
the major's family circle. We have one great advantage over the
other women who will answer the advertisement. Thanks to my
inquiries on the spot, I know Major Milroy to be a poor man; and
we will fix the salary you ask at a figure that is sure to tempt
him. As for the style of the letter, if you and I together can't
write a modest and interesting application for the vacant place,
I should like to know who can?
"All this, however, is still in the future. For the present my
advice is, stay where you are, and dream to your heart's content,
till you hear from me again. I take in _The Times_ regularly, and
you may trust my wary eye not to miss the right advertisement. We
can luckily give the major time, without doing any injury to our
own interests; for there is no fear just yet of the girl's
getting the start of you. The public reception, as we know, won't
be ready till near the end of the month; and we may safely trust
young Armadale's vanity to keep him out of his new house until
his flatterers are all assembled to welcome him.
"It's odd, isn't it, to think how much depends on this half-pay
officer's decision? For my part, I shall wake every morning now
with the same question in my mind: If the major's advertisment
appears, which will the major say--Thorpe Ambrose, or London?
"Ever, my dear Lydia, affectionately yours,
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
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