due, is there really and truly no earthly way of paying them but by the help of your wife?"
"What! You have no money at the bankers?"
"A few hundreds, when I want as many thousands."
"Have you no other security to borrow upon?"
"Not a shred."
"What have you actually got with your wife, at the present moment?"
"Nothing but the interest of her twenty thousand pounds—barely enough to pay our daily expenses."
"What do you expect from your wife?"
"Three thousand a year when her uncle dies."
"A fine fortune, Percival. What sort of a man is this uncle? Old?"
"No—neither old nor young."
"A good-tempered, freely-living man? Married? No—I think my wife told me, not married."
"Of course not. If he was married, and had a son, Lady Glyde would not be next heir to the property. I'll tell you what he is. He's a maudlin, twaddling, selfish fool, and bores everybody who comes near him about the state of his health."
"Men of that sort, Percival, live long, and marry malevolently when you least expect it. I don't give you much, my friend, for your chance of the three thousand a year. Is there nothing more that comes to you from your wife?"
"Absolutely nothing—except in case of her death."
"Aha! in the case of her death!"
There was another pause. The Count moved from the verandah to the gravel walk outside. I knew that he had moved, by his voice. "The rain has come at last," I heard him say. It had come. The state of my cloak showed that it had been falling thickly for some little time.
The Count went back under the verandah—I heard the chair creak beneath his weight as he sat down in it again.
"Well, Percival," he said, "and, in the case of Lady Glyde's death, what do you get then?"
"If she leaves no children——"
"Which she is likely to do?"
"Which she is not in the least likely to do——"
"Why, then I get her twenty thousand pounds."