anything. At the end of that time the sound of a carriage caught my ear, and I was met, as I advanced towards the second turning, by a fly from the railway. I made a sign to the driver to stop. As he obeyed me a respectable-looking man put his head out of the window to see what was the matter.
`I beg your pardon,' I said, `but am I right in supposing that you are going to Blackwater Park?'
`With a letter for any one?'
`With a letter for Miss Halcombe, ma'am.'
`You may give me the letter. I am Miss Halcombe.
The man touched his hat, got out of the fly immediately, and gave me the letter.
I opened it at once and read these lines. I copy them here, thinking it best to destroy the original for caution's sake.
`DEAR MADAM, -- Your letter received this morning has caused me very great anxiety. I will reply to it as briefly and plainly as possible.
`My careful consideration of the statement made by yourself, and my knowledge of Lady Glyde's position, as defined in the settlement, lead me, I regret to say, to the conclusion that a loan of the trust money to Sir Percival (or, in other words, a loan of some portion of the twenty thousand pounds of Lady Glyde's fortune) is in contemplation, and that she is made a party to the deed, in order to secure her approval of a flagrant breach of trust, and to have her signature produced against her if she should complain hereafter. It is impossible, on any other supposition, to account, situated as she is, for her execution to a deed of any kind being wanted at all.
`In the event of Lady Glyde's signing such a document, as I am compelled to suppose the deed in question to be, her trustees would be at liberty to advance money to Sir Percival out of her twenty thousand pounds. If the amount so lent should not be paid back, and if Lady Glyde should have children, their fortune will then be diminished by the sum, large or small, so advanced. ln plainer terms still, the transaction, for anything that Lady Glyde knows to the contrary, may be a fraud upon her unborn children.
`Under these serious circumstances, I would recommend Lady Glyde to assign as a reason for withholding her signature, that she wishes the deed to be first submitted to myself, as her family solicitor (in the absence of my partner, S Gilmore). No reasonable objection can be made to taking this course -- for, if the transaction is an honourable one, there will necessarily be no difficulty in my giving my approval.
`Sincerely assuring you of my readiness to afford any additional help or advice that may be wanted, I beg to remain, Madam, your faithful servant, WILLIAM KYRLE.
I read this kind and sensible letter very thankfully. It supplied Laura with a reason for objecting to the signature which was unanswerable, and which we could both of us understand. The messenger waited near me while I was reading to receive his directions when I had done.
`Will you be good enough to say that I understand the letter, and that I am very much obliged?' I said. `There is no other reply necessary at present.'
Exactly at the moment when I was speaking those words, holding the letter open in my hand, Count Fosco turned the corner of the lane from the high-road, and stood before me as if he had sprung up out of the earth.
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