filled himself another glass of wine, and asked Lady Glyde what she wanted of him.
"If my sister is fit to travel, I am fit to travel" said her ladyship, with more firmness than she had yet shown. "I come to beg you will make allowances for my anxiety about Marian, and let me follow her at once, by the afternoon train."
"You must wait till to-morrow," replied Sir Percival; "and then, if you don't hear to the contrary, you can go. I don't suppose you are at all likely to hear to the contrary—so I shall write to Fosco by to-night's post."
He said those last words, holding his glass up to the light, and looking at the wine in it, instead of at Lady Glyde. Indeed he never once looked at her throughout the conversation. Such a singular want of good breeding in a gentleman of his rank, impressed me, I own, very painfully.
"Why should you write to Count Fosco?" she asked, in extreme surprise.
"To tell him to expect you by the mid-day train," said Sir Percival. "He will meet you at the station, when you get to London, and take you on to sleep at your aunt's, in St. John's Wood."
Lady Glyde's hand began to tremble violently round my arm—why I could not imagine.
"There is no necessity for Count Fosco to meet me," she said. "I would rather not stay in London to sleep."
"You must. You can't take the whole journey to Cumberland in one day. You must rest a night in London—and I don't choose you to go by yourself to an hotel. Fosco made the offer to your uncle to give you house-room on the way down; and your uncle has accepted it. Here! here is a letter from him, addressed to yourself. I ought to have sent it up this morning; but I forgot. Read it, and see what Mr. Fairlie himself says to you."
Lady Glyde looked at the letter for a moment; and then placed it in my hands.
"Read it," she said faintly. "I don't know what is the matter with me. I can't read it, myself."
It was a note of only four lines—so short and so careless that it quite struck me. If I remember correctly, it contained no more than these words:
"Dearest Laura, Please come, whenever you like. Break the journey by sleeping at your aunt's house. Grieved to hear of dear Marian's illness. Affectionately yours, Frederick Fairlie."