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ceased, Madame Fosco's shadow darkened the
blind again. Instead of passing this time, it
remained, for a moment, quite still. I saw her
fingers steal round the corner of the blind, and
draw it on one side. The dim white outline of
her face, looking out straight over me, appeared
behind the window. I kept quite still, shrouded
from head to foot in my black cloak. The rain,
which was fast wetting me, dripped over the
glass, blurred it, and prevented her from seeing
anything. " More rain!" I heard her say to
herself. She dropped the blind- and I breathed
again freely.

The talk went on below me; the Count
resuming it, this time.

"Percival! do you care about your wife?"

"Fosco! that's rather a downright question."

"I am a downright man; and I repeat it."

"Why the devil do you look at me in that
way ':"

"You won't answer me? Well, then; let
us say your wife dies before the summer is

"Drop it, Fosco!"

"Let us say your wife dies——"

"Drop it, I tell you!"

"In that case, you would gain twenty
thousand pounds; and you would lose——"

"1 should lose the chance of three thousand
a year."

"The remote chance, Percival- the remote
chance only. And you want money, at once.
In your position, the gain is certain- the loss

"Speak for yourself as well as for me. Some
of the money I want has been borrowed for you.
And if you come to gain, my wife's death would
be ten thousand pounds in your wife's pocket.
Sharp as you are, you seem to have conveniently
forgotten Madame Fosco's legacy. Don't look
at me in that way! I won't have it! What
with your looks and your questions, upon my
soul, you make my flesh creep!"

"Your flesh? Does flesh mean conscience in
English? I speak of your wife's death, as I
sneak of a possibility. Why not? The respectable
lawyers who scribble-scrabble your deeds
and your wills, look the deaths of living people
in the face. Do lawyers make your flesh creep?
Why should I? It is my business to-night, to
elear up your position beyond the possibility of
mistake- and I have now done it. Here is
your position. If your wife lives, you pay those
bills with her signature to the parchment. If
your wife dies, you pay them with her death."

As he spoke, the light in Madame Fosco's
room was extinguished; and the whole second
floor of the house was now sunk in darkness.

"Talk! talk!" grumbled Sir Percival. " One
would think, to hear you, that my wife's signature
to the deed was got already."

"You have left the matter in my hands," re-
torted the Count; "and I have more than two
months before me to turn round in. Bay no
more about it, if you please, for the present.
When the bills are due, you will see for yourself
if my ' talk! talk!' is worth something, or
if it is not. And now, Percival, having done
with the money-matters, for to-night, I can place
my attention at your disposal, if you wish to
consult me on that second difficulty, wliich has
mixed itself up with our little embarrassments,
and which has so altered you for the worse, that I
hardly know you again. Speak, my friend- and
pardon me if I shock your fiery national tastes
by mixing myself a second glass of sugar-and-

"It's very well to say speak," replied Sir
Percival, in a far more quiet and more polite
tone than he had yet adopted; " but it's not so
easy to know how to begin."

"Shall I help you?" suggested the Count.
"Shall I give this private difficulty of yours a
name? What, if I call it- Anne Catherick?"

"Look here, Fosco, you and I have known
each other for a long time; and, if you have
helped me out of one or two scrapes before this,
I have done the best I could to help you in
return, as far as money would go. We have
made as many friendly sacrifices, on both sides,
as men could; but we have had our secrets from
each other, of course- haven't we?"

"You have had a secret from me, Percival.
There is a skeleton in your cupboard here at
Blackwater Park, that has peeped out, in these
last few days, at other people besides yourself."

"Well, suppose it has. If it doesn't concern
you, you needn't be curious about it, need you?"

"Do I look curious about it?"

"Yes, you do."

"So! so! my face speaks the truth, then?
What an immense foundation of good there
must be in the nature of a man who arrives at
my age, and whose face has not yet lost the
habit of speaking the truth!—- Come, Glyde! let
us be candid one with the other. This secret
of yours has sought me: I have not sought
it. Let us say I am curious- do you ask me,
as your old friend, to respect your secret, and to
leave it, once for all, in your own keeping?"

"Yes- that's just what I do ask."

"Then my curiosity is at an end. It dies in
me, from this moment."

"Do you really mean that?"

"What makes you doubt me?"

"I have had some experience, Fosco, of your
roundabout ways; and I am not so sure that
you won't worm it out of me, after all."

The chair below suddenly creaked again- I
felt the trellis-work pillar under me shake from
top to bottom. The Count had started to his
feet and struck it with his hand, in indignation.

"Percival! Percival!" he cried, passionately,
"do you know me no better than that? Has
all your experience shown you nothing of my
character yet? I am a man of the antique type!
I am capable of the most exalted acts of virtue-
when I have the chance of performing them.
It has been the misfortune of my life that I have
had few chances. My conception of friendship
is sublime! Is it my fault that your skeleton
has peeped out at me? Why do I confess my
curiosity? You poor superficial Englishman,
it is to magnify my own self-control. I could