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draw your secret out of you, if I liked, as I
draw this finger out of the palm of my hand-
you know I could! But you have appealed to
my friendship; and the duties of friendship are
sacred to me. See! I trample my base curiosity
under my feet. My exalted sentiments lift me
above it. Recognise them, Percival! imitate
them, Percival! Shake hands- I forgive you."

His voice faltered over the last words-
faltered, as if he was actually shedding tears!

Sir Percival confusedly attempted to excuse
himself. But the Count was too magnanimous
to listen to him.

"No!" he said. ' When my friend has
wounded me, I can pardon him without apologies.
Tell me, in plain words, do you want my

"Yes, badly enough."

"And you can ask for it without compromising

"I can try, at any rate."

"Try, then."

"Well, this is how it stands:—- I told you, to-
day, that I had done my best to find Anne
Catherick, and failed."

"Yes; you. did."

"Fosco! I'm a lost man, if I don't find her."

"Ha! Is it so serious as that?"

A little stream of light travelled out under
the verandah, and fell over the gravel-walk.
The Count had taken the lamp from the inner
part of the room,, to .see his friend clearly by the
light of it.

"Yes!" he said. " Your face speaks the truth
this time. Serious, indeed- as serious as the
money matters themselves."

"More serious. As true as I sit here, .more

The light disappeared again, and the talk went

"I showed you the letter to my wife that
Anne Catherick hid in the sand," Sir Percival
continued. " There's no boasting in that letter,
Fosco- she does know the Secret."

"Say as little as possible, .Percival, in my
presence, of the Secret. Does she know it from

"No; from her mother."

"Two women in possession of your private
mind- bad, bad, bad, my friend! One question
here, before we go any farther. The motive of
your shutting up the daughter in the asylum, is
now plain enough to me- but the manner of he
escape is not quite so clear. Do you suspect
the people in charge of her of closing their eyes
purposely, at the instance of some enemy, who
could afford to make it worth their while?"

"No; she was the best-behaved patient they
had- and, like fools, they trusted her. She's
just mad enough to be shut up, and just sane
enough to ruin me when she's at large- if you
understand that?"

"I do understand it. Now, Percival, come
at once to the point; and then 1 shall know what
to do. Where is the danger of your position at
the present moment?"

"Anne Catherick is in this neighbourhood,
in communication with Lady Glyde- there's
the danger, plain enough. Who can read the
letter she hid in .the sand, and not see that
my wife is in possession of the secret, deny it as
she may?"

"One moment, Percival. If Lady Glyde does
know the secret, she must know also that it is
a compromising secret for you. As your wife,
surely it is her interest to keep it?"

"Is it? I'm coming to that. It might be
her interest if she cared two straws about me.
But I happen to be an encumbrance in the way
of another man. She was in love with him,
efore she married me- she's in love with him
now- an infernal vagabond of a drawing-master,
named Hartright."

"My dear friend! what is there extraordinary
in that? They are all in love with some other
man. Who gets the first of a woman's heart? In
aII my experience I have never yet met with the
man who was Number One. Number Two,
sometimes. Number Three, Four, Five, often,
Number One, never! He exists, of course- but,
I have not met with him."

"Wait! I haven't done yet. Who do you
think helped Anne Catherick to get the start,
when the people from the madhouse were after
her? Hartright. Who do you think saw her
again in Cumberland? Hartright. Both times,
he spoke to her alone. Stop! don't interrupt
me. The scoundrel's as sweet on my wife, as
she is on him. He knows the secret, and she
knows the secret. Once let them both get
together again, and it's her interest and his
interest to turn their information against me."

"Gently, Percival gently! Are you insensible
to the virtue of Lady Glyde?"

"That for the virtue of Lady Glyde! I
beieve in nothing about her but her money.
Don't you see how the case stands? She might
be harmless enough by herself; but if she and
that vagabond Hartright-"

"Yes, yes, I see. Where is Mr. Hartright?"

"Out of the country. If he means to keep
a whole skin on his bones, I recommend him not
to come back in a hurry.'

"Are you sure he is out of the country?"

"Certain. I had him watched from the time
he left Cumberland to the time he sailed. Oh,
I've been careful, I can tell you! Anne
Catherick lived with some people at a farm-house
near Limmeridge. I went there, myself, after
she had given me the slip, and made sure that
they knew nothing. I gave her mother a form
of letter to write to Miss Halcombe, exonerating
me from any bad motive in putting her
under restraint. I've spent, I'm afraid to say
how much, in trying to trace her. And, in
spite of it all, she turns up here, and escapes me
on my own property! How do I know who
else may see her, who else may speak to her?
That prying scoundrel, Hartright, may come
back without my knowing it, and may make use
of her to-morrow-"

"Not he, Percival! While I am on the spot,
and while that woman is in the neighbourhood,