treasures beyond price -- the dear remembrances that I love to keep alive -- the friends in past adversity that my heart will never part from, my tenderness never forget.

Am I trifling, here, with the necessities of my task? am I looking forward to the happier time which my narrative has not yet reached? Yes. Back again -- back to the days of doubt and dread, when the spirit within me struggled hard for its life, in the icy stillness of perpetual suspense. I have paused and rested for a while on my forward course. It is not, perhaps, time wasted, if the friends who read these pages have paused and rested too.

I took the first opportunity I could find of speaking to Marian in private, and of communicating to her the result of the inquiries which I had made that morning. She seemed to share the opinion on the subject of my proposed journey to Welmingham, which Mrs Clements had already expressed to me.

`Surely, Walter,' she said, `you hardly know enough yet to give you any hope of claiming Mrs Catherick's confidence? Is it wise to proceed to these extremities, before you have really exhausted all safer and simpler means of attaining your object? When you told me that Sir Percival and the Count were the only two people in existence who knew the exact date of Laura's journey, you forgot, and I forgot, that there was a third person who must surely know it -- I mean Mrs Rubelle. Would it not be far easier, and far less dangerous, to insist on a confession from her, than to force it from Sir Percival?'

`It might be easier,' I replied, `but we are not aware of the full extent of Mrs Rubelle's connivance and interest in the conspiracy, and we are therefore not certain that the date has been impressed on her mind, as it has been assuredly impressed on the minds of Sir Percival and the Count. It is too late, now, to waste the time on Mrs Rubelle, which may be all-important to the discovery of the one assailable point in Sir Percival's life. Are you thinking a little too seriously, Marian, of the risk I may run in returning to Hampshire? Are you beginning to doubt whether Sir Percival Glyde may not in the end be more than a match for me?'

`He will not be more than your match,' she replied decidedly, `because he will not be helped in resisting you by the impenetrable wickedness of the Count.'

`What has led you to that conclusion?' I asked, in some surprise.

`My own knowledge of Sir Percival's obstinacy and impatience of the Count's control,' she answered. `I believe he will insist on meeting you single-handed -- just as he insisted at first on acting for himself at Blackwater Park. The time for suspecting the Count's interference will be the time when you have Sir Percival at your mercy. His own interests will then be directly threatened, and he will act, Walter, to terrible purpose in his own defence.'

`We may deprive him of his weapons beforehand,' I said. `Some of the particulars I have heard from Mrs Clements may yet be turned to account against him, and other means of strengthening the case may be at our disposal. There are passages in Mrs Michelson's narrative which show that the Count found it necessary to place himself in communication with Mr Fairlie, and there may be circumstances which compromise him in that proceeding. While I am away, Marian, write to Mr Fairlie and say that you want an answer describing exactly what passed between the Count and himself, and informing you also of any particulars that may have come to his knowledge at the same time in connection with his niece. Tell him that the statement you request will, sooner or later, be insisted on, if he shows any reluctance to furnish you with it of his own accord.'

`The letter shall be written, Walter. But are you really determined to go to Welmingham?'

`Absolutely determined. I will devote the next two days to earning what we want for the week to come, and on the third day I go to Hampshire.'

When the third day came I was ready for my journey.

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