repeat that I do assuredly feel, even on this short acquaintance, a strange, half- willing, half-unwilling liking for the Count. He seems to have established over me the same sort of ascendency which he has evidently gained over Sir Percival. Free, and even rude, as he may occasionally be in his manner towards his fat friend, Sir Percival is nevertheless afraid, as I can plainly see, of giving any serious offence to the Count. I wonder whether I am afraid too? I certainly never saw a man, in all my experience, whom I should be so sorry to have for an enemy. Is this because I like him, or because I am afraid of him? Chi sa?—as Count Fosco might say in his own language. Who knows?
June 16th.—Something to chronicle to-day besides my own ideas and impressions. A visitor has arrived—quite unknown to Laura and to me, and apparently quite unexpected by Sir Percival.
We were all at lunch, in the room with the new French windows that open into the verandah, and the Count (who devours pastry as I have never yet seen it devoured by any human beings but girls at boarding-schools) had just amused us by asking gravely for his fourth tart—when the servant entered to announce the visitor.
"Mr. Merriman has just come, Sir Percival, and wishes to see you immediately."
Sir Percival started, and looked at the man with an expression of angry alarm.
"Mr. Merriman!" he repeated, as if he thought his own ears must have deceived him.
"Yes, Sir Percival—Mr. Merriman, from London."
"Where is he?"
"In the library, Sir Percival."
He left the table the instant the last answer was given, and hurried out of the room without saying a word to any of us.
"Who is Mr. Merriman?" asked Laura, appealing to me.
"I have not the least idea," was all I could say in reply.
The Count had finished his fourth tart, and had gone to a side- table to look after his vicious cockatoo. He turned round to us with the bird perched on his shoulder.
"Mr. Merriman is Sir Percival's solicitor," he said quietly.
Sir Percival's solicitor. It was a perfectly straightforward answer to Laura's question, and yet, under the circumstances, it was not satisfactory. If Mr. Merriman had been specially sent for by his client, there would have been nothing