The curtain fell on the first act, and the audience rose to look about them. This was the time I had waited for—the time to try if Pesca knew him.
He rose with the rest, and surveyed the occupants of the boxes grandly with his opera-glass. At first his back was towards us, but he turned round in time, to our side of the theatre, and looked at the boxes above us, using his glass for a few minutes— then removing it, but still continuing to look up. This was the moment I chose, when his full face was in view, for directing Pesca's attention to him.
"Do you know that man?" I asked.
"Which man, my friend?"
"The tall, fat man, standing there, with his face towards us."
Pesca raised himself on tiptoe, and looked at the Count.
"No," said the Professor. "The big fat man is a stranger to me. Is he famous? Why do you point him out?"
"Because I have particular reasons for wishing to know something of him. He is a countryman of yours—his name is Count Fosco. Do you know that name?"
"Not I, Walter. Neither the name nor the man is known to me."
"Are you quite sure you don't recognise him? Look again—look carefully. I will tell you why I am so anxious about it when we leave the theatre. Stop! let me help you up here, where you can see him better."
I helped the little man to perch himself on the edge of the raised dais upon which the pit-seats were all placed. His small stature was no hindrance to him—here he could see over the heads of the ladies who were seated near the outermost part of the bench.
A slim, light-haired man standing by us, whom I had not noticed before—a man with a scar on his left cheek—looked attentively at Pesca as I helped him up, and then looked still more attentively, following the direction of Pesca's eyes, at the Count. Our conversation might have reached his ears, and might, as it struck me, have roused his curiosity.
Meanwhile, Pesca fixed his eyes earnestly on the broad, full, smiling face turned a little upward, exactly opposite to him.
"No," he said, "I have never set my two eyes on that big fat man before in all my life."
As he spoke the Count looked downwards towards the boxes behind us on the pit tier.