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THE next event that occurred was of so
singular a nature, that it might have caused me
a feeling of superstitious surprise, if my mind
had not been fortified by principle against any
pagan weakness of that sort. The uneasy sense
of something wrong in the family which had
made me wish myself away from Blackwater
Park, was actually followed, strange to say, by
my departure from the house. It is true that
my absence was for a temporary period only:
but the coincidence was, in my opinion, not the
less remarkable on that account.

My departure took place under the following

On the day when the servants all left, I was
again sent for to see Sir Percival. The undeserved
slur which he had cast on my management
of the household, did not, I am happy to
say, prevent me from returning good for evil to
the best of my ability, by complying with his
request as readily and respectfully as ever. It
cost me a struggle with that fallen nature which
we all share in common, before I could suppress
my feelings. Being accustomed to self-discipline,
I accomplished the sacrifice.

I found Sir Percival and Count Fosco sitting
together, again. On this occasion his lordship
remained present at the interview, and assisted
in the development of Sir Percival's views.

The subject to which they now requested my
attention, related to the healthy change of air
by which we all hoped that Miss Halcombe and
Lady Glyde might soon be enabled to profit. Sir
Percival mentioned that both the ladies would
probably pass the autumn (by invitation of
Frederick Fairlie, Esquire)  at Limmeridge
House, Cumberland.   But before they went
there, it was his opinion, confirmed by Count
Fosco (who here took up the conversation, and
continued it to the end), that they would benefit
by a short residence first in the genial climate of
Torquay.   The great object, therefore, was to
engage lodgings at that place, affording all the
comforts and advantages of which they stood in
need;  and the great difficulty was to find an
experienced person capable of choosing the sort of
residence which they wanted. In this emergency,
the Count begged to inquire, on Sir Percival's
behalf, whether I would object to give the ladies
the benefit of my assistance, by proceeding
myself to Torquay in their interests.

It was impossible, for a person in my situation,
to meet any proposal, made in these terms,
with a positive objection.

I could only venture to represent the serious
inconvenience of my leaving Blackwater Park,
in the extraordinary absence of all the in-door
servants, with the one exception of Margaret
Porcher. But Sir Percival and his lordship declared
that they were both willing to put up with
inconvenience for the sake of the invalids. I
next respectfully suggested writing to an agent
at Torquay; but I was met here by being reminded
of the imprudence of taking lodgings
without first seeing them. I was also informed
that the Countess (who would otherwise have
gone to Devonshire herself) could not, in Lady
Glyde's present condition, leave her niece; and
that Sir Percival and the Count had business to
transact together, which would oblige them to
remain at Blackwater Park. In short, it was
clearly shown me, that if I did not undertake
the errand, no one else could be trusted with it.
Under these circumstances, I could only inform
Sir Percival that my services were at the
disposal of Miss Halcombe and Lady Glyde.

It was thereupon arranged that I should leave
the next morning; that I should occupy the day
after in examining all the most convenient
houses in Torquay; and that I should return,
with my report, on the third day. A memorandum
was written for me by his lordship,
stating the various requisites which the place
I was sent to take must be found to possess;
and a note of the pecuniary limit assigned to
me, was added by Sir Percival.

My own idea, on reading over these instructions,
was, that no such residence as I saw described
could be found at any watering-place in
England; and that, even if it could by chance be
discovered, it would certainly not be parted with
for any period, on such terms as I was permitted
to offer. I hinted at these difficulties to
both the gentlemen; but Sir Percival (who
undertook to answer me) did not appear to feel
them. It was not for me to dispute the question.
I said no more; but I felt a very strong conviction
that the business on which I was sent
away was so beset by difficulties that my errand
was almost hopeless at starting.

Before I left, I took care to satisfy myself
that Miss Halcombe was going on favourably.