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He had not found Anne! We were safe for that night—he had not found her yet.

"You are going down-stairs, Marian? Come up again in the evening."

"Yes, yes. Don't be uneasy, if I am a little late—I must be careful not to give offence by leaving them too soon."

The dinner-bell rang; and I hastened away.

Sir Percival took Madame Fosco into the dining-room; and the Count gave me his arm. He was hot and flushed, and was not dressed with his customary care and completeness. Had he, too, been out before dinner, and been late in getting back? or was he only suffering from the heat a little more severely than usual?

However this might be, he was unquestionably troubled by some secret annoyance or anxiety, which, with all his powers of deception, he was not able entirely to conceal. Through the whole of dinner, he was almost as silent as Sir Percival himself; and he, every now and then, looked at his wife with an expression of furtive uneasiness, which was quite new in my experience of him. The one social obligation which he seemed to be self-possessed enough to perform as carefully as ever, was the obligation of being persistently civil and attentive to me. What vile object he has in view, I cannot still discover; but, be the design what it may, invariable politeness towards myself, invariable humility towards Laura, and invariable suppression (at any cost) of Sir Percival's clumsy violence, have been the means he has resolutely and impenetrably used to get to his end, ever since he set foot in this house. I suspected it, when he first interfered in our favour, on the day when the deed was produced in the library, and I feel certain of it, now.

When Madame Fosco and I rose to leave the table, the Count rose also to accompany us back to the drawing-room.

"What are you going away for?" asked Sir Percival—"I mean you, Fosco."

"I am going away because I have had dinner enough, and wine enough," answered the Count. "Be so kind, Percival, as to make allowances for my foreign habit of going out with the ladies, as well as coming in with them."

"Nonsense! Another glass of claret won't hurt you. Sit down again like an Englishman. I want half an hour's quiet talk with you over our wine."

"A quiet talk, Percival, with all my heart, but not now, and not over the wine. Later in the evening if you please—later in the evening."