sex. Percival! Percival! you deserve to fail, and you have failed."
There was a pause. I write the villain's words about myself, because I mean to remember them; because I hope yet for the day when I may speak out once for all in his presence, and cast them back, one by one, in his teeth.
Sir Percival was the first to break the silence again.
"Yes, yes; bully and bluster as much as you like," he said sulkily; "the difficulty about the money is not the only difficulty. You would be for taking strong measures with the women, yourself—if you knew as much as I do."
"We will come to that second difficulty, all in good time," rejoined the Count. "You may confuse yourself, Percival, as much as you please, but you shall not confuse me. Let the question of the money be settled first. Have I convinced your obstinacy? have I shown you that your temper will not let you help yourself?—Or must I go back, and (as you put it in your dear straightforward English) bully and bluster a little more?"
"Pooh! It's easy enough to grumble at me. Say what is to be done—that's a little harder."
"Is it? Bah! This is what is to be done: You give up all direction in the business from to-night; you leave it for the future in my hands only. I am talking to a Practical British man—ha? Well, Practical, will that do for you?"
"What do you propose, if I leave it all to you?"
"Answer me first. Is it to be in my hands or not?"
"Say it is in your hands—what then?"
"A few questions, Percival, to begin with. I must wait a little, yet, to let circumstances guide me; and I must know, in every possible way, what those circumstances are likely to be. There is no time to lose. I have told you already that Miss Halcombe has written to the lawyer to-day, for the second time."
"How did you find it out? What did she say?"
"If I told you, Percival, we should only come back at the end to where we are now. Enough that I have found it out—and the finding has caused that trouble and anxiety which made me so inaccessible to you all through to-day. Now, to refresh my memory about your affairs—it is some time since I talked them over with you. The money has been raised, in the absence of your wife's signature, by means of bills at three months—raised at a cost that makes my poverty-stricken foreign hair stand on end to think of it! When the bills are