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My first conviction, as soon as I found myself
outside the house, was that no alternative was
left me but to act at once on the information I
had receivedto make sure of the Count, that
night, or to risk the loss, if I only delayed till
the morning, of Laura's last chance. I looked
at my watch: it was ten o'clock.

Not the shadow of a doubt crossed my mind
of the purpose for which the Count had left the
theatre. His escape from us, that evening, was,
beyond all question, the preliminary only to his
escape from London. The mark of the Brother-
hood was on his armI felt as certain of it
as if he had shown me the brandand the
betrayal of the Brotherhood was on his
conscienceI had seen it in his recognition of

It was easy to understand why that recognition
had not been mutual. A man of the Count's
character would never risk the terrible consequences
of turning spy without looking to his personal
security quite as carefully as he looked to his
golden reward. The shaven face, which I had
pointed out at the Opera, might have been
covered by a beard in Pesca's time; his dark
brown hair might be a wig. The accident of time
might have helped him as wellhis immense
corpulence might have come with his later years.
There was every reason why Pesca should not
have known him againevery reason, also, why
he should have known Pesca, whose singular
personal appearance made a marked man of him,
go where he might.

I have said that I felt certain of the purpose
in the Count's mind when he escaped us at the
theatre. How could I doubt it, when I saw,
with my own eyes, that he believed himself, in
spite of the change in his appearance, to have
been recognised by Pesca, and to be therefore
in danger of his life? If I could get speech of
him that night, if I could show him that I,
too, knew of the mortal peril in which he stood,
what result would follow? Plainly this. One
of us must be master of the situationone
of us must inevitably be at the mercy of the

I owed it to myself to consider the chances
against me, before I confronted them. l owed
it to my wife to do all that lay in my power to
lessen the risk.

The chances against me wanted no reckoning
up: they were all merged in one. If the Count
discovered, by my own avowal, that the direct
way to his safety lay through my life, he was
probably the last man in existence who would
shrink from throwing me off my guard and
taking that way, when he had me alone within his
reach. The only means of defence against him on
which I could at all rely to lessen the risk,
presented themselves, after a little careful thinking,
clearly enough. Before I made any personal
acknowledgment of my discovery in his
presence, I must place the discovery itself where
it would be ready for instant use against him,
and safe from any attempt at suppression on his
part. If I laid the mine under his feet before
I approached him, and if I left instructions with
a third person to fire it, on the expiration of a
certain time, unless directions to the contrary
were previously received under my own hand, or
from my own lips—  in that event, the Count's
security was absolutely dependent upon mine,
and I might hold the vantage ground over him
securely, even in his own house.

This idea occurred to me when I was close to
the new lodgings which we had taken on returning
from the sea-side. I went in, without
disturbing any one, by the help of my key. A light
was in the hall; and I stole up with it to my
workroom, to make my preparations, and
absolutely to commit myself to an interview with the
Count, before either Laura or Marian could
have the slightest suspicion of what I intended
to do.

A letter addressed to Pesca represented the
surest measure of precaution which it was now
possible for me to take. I wrote as follows:

"The man whom I pointed out to you at the
Opera, is a member of the Brotherhood, and
has been false to his trust. Put both these
assertions to the test, instantly. You know the
name he goes by in England. His address is
No. 5, Forest-road, St. John's Wood. On the
love you once bore me, use the power entrusted
to you, without mercy and without delay, against
that man. I have risked all and lost alland
the forfeit of my failure has been paid with my

I signed and dated these lines, enclosed them
in an envelope, and sealed it up. On the
outside, I wrote this direction: "Keep the
I wrote this direction: "Keep the