this time to-morrow you will have a clear-headed, trustworthy man acting for your good. Mr. Gilmore's partner is our next best friend to Mr. Gilmore himself."
A moment's reflection, as soon as I was alone, convinced me that I had better not appear in my walking-dress, until I had first discovered what was going on in the lower part of the house. I had not ascertained yet whether Sir Percival was in doors or out.
The singing of the canaries in the library, and the smell of tobacco-smoke that came through the door, which was not closed, told me at once where the Count was. I looked over my shoulder as I passed the doorway; and saw, to my surprise, that he was exhibiting the docility of the birds, in his most engagingly polite manner, to the housekeeper. He must have specially invited her to see them—for she would never have thought of going into the library of her own accord. The man's slightest actions had a purpose of some kind at the bottom of every one of them. What could be his purpose here?
It was no time then to inquire into his motives. I looked about for Madame Fosco next; and found her following her favourite circle, round and round the fish-pond.
I was a little doubtful how she would meet me, after the outbreak of jealousy, of which I had been the cause so short a time since. But her husband had tamed her in the interval; and she now spoke to me with the same civility as usual. My only object in addressing myself to her was to ascertain if she knew what had become of Sir Percival. I contrived to refer to him indirectly; and after a little fencing on either side, she at last mentioned that he had gone out.
"Which of the horses has he taken?" I asked carelessly.
"None of them," she replied. "He went away, two hours since, on foot. As I understood it, his object was to make fresh inquiries about the woman named Anne Catherick. He appears to be unreasonably anxious about tracing her. Do you happen to know if she is dangerously mad, Miss Halcombe?"
"I do not, Countess."
"Are you going in?"
"Yes, I think so. I suppose it will soon be time to dress for dinner."
We entered the house together. Madame Fosco strolled into the library, and closed the door. I went at once to fetch my hat and shawl. Every moment was of importance, if I was to get to Fanny at the inn and be back before dinner.