re the time you mention, I will break the seal when the clock strikes."
I placed the paper in my pocket-book, and made for the door. Marian met me on the threshold, and pushed me back into the room, where the candle-light fell full on my face. She held me by both hands, and her eyes fastened searchingly on mine.
"I see!" she said, in a low eager whisper. "You are trying the last chance to-night."
"Yes, the last chance and the best," I whispered back.
"Not alone! Oh, Walter, for God's sake, not alone! Let me go with you. Don't refuse me because I'm only a woman. I must go! I will go! I'll wait outside in the cab!"
It was my turn now to hold HER. She tried to break away from me and get down first to the door.
"If you want to help me," I said, "stop here and sleep in my wife's room to-night. Only let me go away with my mind easy about Laura, and I answer for everything else. Come, Marian, give me a kiss, and show that you have the courage to wait till I come back."
I dared not allow her time to say a word more. She tried to hold me again. I unclasped her hands, and was out of the room in a moment. The boy below heard me on the stairs, and opened the hall-door. I jumped into the cab before the driver could get off the box. "Forest Road, St. John's Wood," I called to him through the front window. "Double fare if you get there in a quarter of an hour." "I'll do it, sir." I looked at my watch. Eleven o'clock. Not a minute to lose.
The rapid motion of the cab, the sense that every instant now was bringing me nearer to the Count, the conviction that I was embarked at last, without let or hindrance, on my hazardous enterprise, heated me into such a fever of excitement that I shouted to the man to go faster and faster. As we left the streets, and crossed St. John's Wood Road, my impatience so completely overpowered me that I stood up in the cab and stretched my head out of the window, to see the end of the journey before we reached it. Just as a church clock in the distance struck the quarter past, we turned into the Forest Road. I stopped the driver a little away from the Count's house, paid and dismissed him, and walked on to the door.
As I approached the garden gate, I saw another person advancing towards it also from the direction opposite t