Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

cockatoo to this vast Metropolis—my agent shall present them in my name to the Zoological Gardens of London. The Document that describes them shall be drawn out on the spot."

He began to write, repeating the words as they flowed from his pen.

"Number one. Cockatoo of transcendent plumage: attraction, of himself, to all visitors of taste. Number two. Canaries of unrivalled vivacity and intelligence: worthy of the garden of Eden, worthy also of the garden in the Regent's Park. Homage to British Zoology. Offered by Fosco."

The pen spluttered again, and the flourish was attached to his signature.

"Count! you have not included the mice," said Madame Fosco

He left the table, took her hand, and placed it on his heart.

"All human resolution, Eleanor," he said solemnly, "has its limits. MY limits are inscribed on that Document. I cannot part with my white mice. Bear with me, my angel, and remove them to their travelling cage upstairs."

"Admirable tenderness!" said Madame Fosco, admiring her husband, with a last viperish look in my direction. She took up the cage carefully, and left the room.

The Count looked at his watch. In spite of his resolute assumption of composure, he was getting anxious for the agent's arrival. The candles had long since been extinguished, and the sunlight of the new morning poured into the room. It was not till five minutes past seven that the gate bell rang, and the agent made his appearance. He was a foreigner with a dark beard.

"Mr. Hartright—Monsieur Rubelle," said the Count, introducing us. He took the agent (a foreign spy, in every line of his face, if ever there was one yet) into a corner of the room, whispered some directions to him, and then left us together. "Monsieur Rubelle," as soon as we were alone, suggested with great politeness that I should favour him with his instructions. I wrote two lines to Pesca, authorising him to deliver my sealed letter "to the bearer," directed the note, and handed it to Monsieur Rubelle.

The agent waited with me till his employer returned, equipped in travelling costume. The Count examined the address of my letter before he dismissed the agent. "I thought so!" he said, turning on me with a dark look, and altering again in his manner from that moment.