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mischievous folly, on your wife. Where are your
eyes? Can you look at Miss Halcombe, and
not see that she has the foresight and the
resolution of a man? With that woman for my
friend, I would snap these fingers of mine at the
world. With that woman for my enemy, I, with
all my brains and experience- I, Fosco, cunning
as the devil himself, as you have told me a
hundred times- I walk, in your English phrase,
upon egg-shells! And this grand creature- I
drink her health in my sugar and water- this
grand creature, who stands in the strength of
her love and her courage, firm as a rock between
us two, and that poor flimsy pretty blonde wife
of yours- this magnificent woman, whom I
admire with all my soul, though I oppose her in
your interests and in mine, you drive to extremities,
as if she was no sharper and no bolder than
the rest of her sex. Percival! Percival! you
deserve to fail, and you have failed."

There was a pause. I write the villain's words
about myself, because I mean to remember them,
because I hope yet for the day when I may
speak out, once for ail in his presence, and cast
them back, one by one, in his teeth.

Sir Percival was the first to break the silence

"Yes, yes; bully aud bluster as much as you
like," he said, sulkily; " the difficulty about the
money is not the only difficulty. You would be
for taking strong measures with the women,
yourself- if you knew as much as I do."

"We will come to that second difficulty, all
in good time," rejoined the Count. " You may
confuse yourself, Percival, as much as you please,
but you shall not confuse me. Let the question
of the money be settled first. Have I convinced
your obstinacy? have I shown you that your
temper will not let you help yourself?—- Or must
I go back, and (as you put it in your dear
straightforward English) bully and bluster a
little more?"

"Pooh! It's easy enough to grumble at me.
Say what is to be done- that's a little harder."

"Is it? Bah! This is what is to be done:
You give up all direction in the business from to-
night; you leave it, for the future, in. my hands
only. I am talking to a Practical British Man
ha? Well, Practical, will that do for you?"

"What do you propose, if I leave it all to

"Answer me first. Is it to be in my hands
or not?"

"Say it is in your hands- what then?"

"A few questions, Percival, to begin with. I
must wait a little, yet, to let circumstances
guide me; and I must know, in every possible
way, what those circumstances are likely to be.
There is no time to lose. I have told you already
that Miss Halcombe has written to the lawyer
to-day, for the second time."

"How did you find it out? What did she

"If I told you, Percival, we should only come
back at the end to where we are now. Enough
that I have found out- and the finding has
caused that trouble and anxiety which made me
so inaccessible to you all through to-day. Now,
to refresh my memory about your affairs- it is
some time since I talked them over with you.
The money has been raised, in the absence of
your wife's signature, by means of bills at three
months raised at a cost that makes my poverty-
stricken foreign hair stand on end to think of it!
When the bills are due, is there really aud truly
no earthly way of paying them but by the help
of your wife?"


"What! You have no money at the banker's!"

"A few hundreds, when I want as many

"Have you uo other security to borrow

"Not a shred."

"What have you actually got with your wife,
at the present moment?"

"Nothing, but the interest of her twenty
thousand pounds- barely enough to pay our
daily expenses."

"What do you expect from your wife?"

"Three thousand a year, when her uncle dies."

"A fine fortune, Percival. What sort of a
man is this uncle? Old?"

"No- neither old nor young."

"A good-tempered, freely-living man?
Married? No I think my wife told me, not

"Of course not. If he was married, and had
a son, Lady Glyde would not be next heir to
the property. I'll tell you what lie is. He's a
maudlin, twaddling, selfish fool, and bores everybody
who comes near him about the state of his

"Men of that sort, Percival, live long, and
marry malevolently when you least expect it. I
don't give you much, my friend, for your chance
of the three thousand a year. Is there nothing
more that comes to you from your wife?"


"Absolutely nothing?"

"Absolutely nothing- except in case of her

"Aha? in the case of her death."

There was another pause. The Count moved
from the verandah to the gravel walk outside. I
knew that he had moved, by his voice. " The
rain has come at last," I heard him say. It had
come. The state of my cloak showed that it
had been falling thickly for some little time.

The Count went back under the verandah- I
heard the chair creak beneath his weight as he
sat down in it again.

"Well, Percival," he said; " and, in the case
of Lady Glyde's death, what do you get then?"

"If she leaves no children-"

"Which she is likely to do?"

"Which she is not in the least likely to


"Why, then I get her twenty thousand

"Paid down?"

"Paid down."

They were silent once more. As their voices