I signed and dated these lines, enclosed them in an envelope, and sealed it up. On the outside I wrote this direction: `Keep the enclosure unopened until nine o'clock tomorrow morning. If you do not hear from me, or see me, before that time, break the seal when the clock strikes, and read the contents.' I added my initials, and protected the whole by enclosing it in a second sealed envelope, addressed to Pesca at his lodgings.

Nothing remained to be done after this but to find the means of sending my letter to its destination immediately. I should then have accomplished all that lay in my power. & anything happened to me in the Count's house, I had now provided for his answering it with his life.

That the means of preventing his escape, under any circumstances whatever, were at Pesca's disposal, if he chose to exert them, I did not for an instant doubt. The extraordinary anxiety which he had expressed to remain unenlightened as to the Count's identity -- or, in other words, to be left uncertain enough about facts to justify him to his own conscience in remaining passive -- betrayed plainly that the means of exercising the terrible justice of the Brotherhood were ready to his hand, although, as a naturally humane man, he had shrunk from plainly saying as much in my presence. The deadly certainty with which the vengeance of foreign political societies can hunt down a traitor to the cause, hide himself where he may, had been too often exemplified, even in my superficial experience, to allow of any doubt. Considering the subject only as a reader of newspapers, cases recurred to my memory, both in London and in Paris, of foreigners found stabbed in the streets, whose assassins could never be traced -- of bodies and parts of bodies thrown into the Thames and the Seine, by hands that could never be discovered -- of deaths by secret violence which could only be accounted for in one way. I have disguised nothing relating to myself in these pages, and I do not disguise here that I believed I had written Count Fosco's death-warrant, if the fatal emergency happened which authorised Pesca to open my enclosure.

I left my room to go down to the ground floor of the house, and speak to the landlord about finding me a messenger. He happened to be ascending the stairs at the time, and we met on the landing. His son, a quick lad, was the messenger he proposed to me on hearing what I wanted. We had the boy upstairs, and I gave him his directions. He was to take the letter in a cab, to put it into Professor Pesca's own hands, and to bring me back a line of acknowledgment from that gentleman -- returning in the cab, and keeping it at the door for my use. It was then nearly half-past ten. I calculated that the boy might be back in twenty minutes, and that I might drive to St John's Wood, on his return, in twenty minutes more.

When the lad had departed on his errand I returned to my own room for a little while, to put certain papers in order, so that they might be easily found in case of the worst. The key of the old-fashioned bureau in which the papers were kept I sealed up, and left it on my table, with Marian's name written on the outside of the little packet. This done, I went downstairs to the sitting-room, in which I expected to find Laura and Marian awaiting my return from the Opera. I felt my hand trembling for the first time when I laid it on the lock of the door.

No one was in the room but Marian. She was reading, and she looked at her watch, in surprise, when I came in.

`How early you are back!'' she said. `You must have come away before the Opera was over.'

`Yes,' I replied, `neither Pesca nor I waited for the end. Where is Laura?'

`She had one of her bad headaches this evening, and I advised her to go to bed when we had done tea.'

I left the room again on the pretext of wishing to see whether Laura was asleep. Marian's quick eyes were beginning to look inquiringly at my face -- Marian's quick instinct was beginning to discover that I had something weighing on my mind.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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