will then be directly threatened, and he will act, Walter, to terrible purpose in his own defence."
"We may deprive him of his weapons beforehand," I said. "Some of the particulars I have heard from Mrs. Clements may yet be turned to account against him, and other means of strengthening the case may be at our disposal. There are passages in Mrs. Michelson's narrative which show that the Count found it necessary to place himself in communication with Mr. Fairlie, and there may be circumstances which compromise him in that proceeding. While I am away, Marian, write to Mr. Fairlie and say that you want an answer describing exactly what passed between the Count and himself, and informing you also of any particulars that may have come to his knowledge at the same time in connection with his niece. Tell him that the statement you request will, sooner or later, be insisted on, if he shows any reluctance to furnish you with it of his own accord."
"The letter shall be written, Walter. But are you really determined to go to Welmingham?"
"Absolutely determined. I will devote the next two days to earning what we want for the week to come, and on the third day I go to Hampshire."
When the third day came I was ready for my journey.
As it was possible that I might be absent for some little time, I arranged with Marian that we were to correspond every day—of course addressing each other by assumed names, for caution's sake. As long as I heard from her regularly, I should assume that nothing was wrong. But if the morning came and brought me no letter, my return to London would take place, as a matter of course, by the first train. I contrived to reconcile Laura to my departure by telling her that I was going to the country to find new purchasers for her drawings and for mine, and I left her occupied and happy. Marian followed me downstairs to the street door.
"Remember what anxious hearts you leave here," she whispered, as we stood together in the passage. "Remember all the hopes that hang on your safe return. If strange things happen to you on this journey—if you and Sir Percival meet——"
"What makes you think we shall meet?" I asked.
"I don't know—I have fears and fancies that I cannot account for. Laugh at them, Walter, if you like—but, for God's sake, keep your temper if you come in contact with that man!"
"Never fear, Marian! I answer for my self-control."
With those words we parted.