He completed his packing, and then sat consulting a travelling map, making entries in his pocket-book, and looking every now and then impatiently at his watch. Not another word, addressed to myself, passed his lips. The near approach of the hour for his departure, and the proof he had seen of the communication established between Pesca and myself, had plainly recalled his whole attention to the measures that were necessary for securing his escape.
A little before eight o'clock, Monsieur Rubelle came back with my unopened letter in his hand. The Count looked carefully at the superscription and the seal, lit a candle, and burnt the letter. "I perform my promise," he said, "but this matter, Mr. Hartright, shall not end here."
The agent had kept at the door the cab in which he had returned. He and the maid-servant now busied themselves in removing the luggage. Madame Fosco came downstairs, thickly veiled, with the travelling cage of the white mice in her hand. She neither spoke to me nor looked towards me. Her husband escorted her to the cab. "Follow me as far as the passage," he whispered in my ear; "I may want to speak to you at the last moment."
I went out to the door, the agent standing below me in the front garden. The Count came back alone, and drew me a few steps inside the passage.
"Remember the Third condition!" he whispered. "You shall hear from me, Mr. Hartright—I may claim from you the satisfaction of a gentleman sooner than you think for." He caught my hand before I was aware of him, and wrung it hard—then turned to the door, stopped, and came back to me again.
"One word more," he said confidentially. "When I last saw Miss Halcombe, she looked thin and ill. I am anxious about that admirable woman. Take care of her, sir! With my hand on my heart, I solemnly implore you, take care of Miss Halcombe!"
Those were the last words he said to me before he squeezed his huge body into the cab and drove off.
The agent and I waited at the door a few moments looking after him. While we were standing together, a second cab appeared from a turning a little way down the road. It followed the direction previously taken by the Count's cab, and as it passed the house and the open garden gate, a person inside looked at us out of the window. The stranger at the Opera again!—the foreigner with a scar on his left cheek.