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In a Glass Darkly, v. 3/3   By: (1814-1873)

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IN A GLASS DARKLY

BY

J. SHERIDAN LE FANU,

AUTHOR OF "UNCLE SILAS," &C.

IN THREE VOLUMES.

VOL. III.

LONDON:

R. BENTLEY & SON, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.

1872.

In a Glass Darkly.

THE ROOM IN THE DRAGON VOLANT.

VOL. III.

CHAPTER XXIV.

HOPE.

She had scarcely set down my heavy box, which she seemed to have considerable difficulty in raising on the table, when the door of the room in which I had seen the coffin, opened, and a sinister and unexpected apparition entered.

It was the Count de St. Alyre, who had been, as I have told you, reported to me to be, for some considerable time, on his way to Père la Chaise. He stood before me for a moment, with the frame of the doorway and a background of darkness enclosing him, like a portrait. His slight, mean figure was draped in the deepest mourning. He had a pair of black gloves in his hand, and his hat with crape round it.

When he was not speaking his face showed signs of agitation; his mouth was puckering and working. He looked damnably wicked and frightened.

"Well, my dear Eugenie? Well, child eh? Well, it all goes admirably?"

"Yes," she answered, in a low, hard tone. "But you and Planard should not have left that door open."

This she said sternly. "He went in there and looked about wherever he liked; it was fortunate he did not move aside the lid of the coffin."

"Planard should have seen to that," said the Count, sharply. " Ma foi! I can't be everywhere!" He advanced half a dozen short quick steps into the room toward me, and placed his glasses to his eyes.

"Monsieur Beckett," he cried sharply, two or three times, "Hi! don't you know me?"

He approached and peered more closely in my face; raised my hand and shook it, calling me again, then let it drop, and said "It has set in admirably, my pretty mignonne . When did it commence?"

The Countess came and stood beside him, and looked at me steadily for some seconds.

You can't conceive the effect of the silent gaze of those two pairs of evil eyes.

The lady glanced to where, I recollected, the mantel piece stood, and upon it a clock, the regular click of which I sharply heard.

"Four five six minutes and a half," she said slowly, in a cold hard way.

"Brava! Bravissima! my beautiful queen! my little Venus! my Joan of Arc! my heroine! my paragon of women!"

He was gloating on me with an odious curiosity, smiling, as he groped backward with his thin brown fingers to find the lady's hand; but she, not (I dare say) caring for his caresses, drew back a little.

"Come, ma chère , let us count these things. What is it? Pocket book? Or or what ?"

"It is that ?" said the lady, pointing with a look of disgust to the box, which lay in its leather case on the table.

"Oh! Let us see let us count let us see," he said, as he was unbuckling the straps with his tremulous fingers. "We must count them we must see to it. I have pencil and pocket book but where's the key? See this cursed lock! My ! What is it? Where's the key?"

He was standing before the Countess, shuffling his feet, with his hands extended and all his fingers quivering.

"I have not got it; how could I? It is in his pocket, of course," said the lady.

In another instant the fingers of the old miscreant were in my pockets: he plucked out everything they contained, and some keys among the rest.

I lay in precisely the state in which I had been during my drive with the Marquis to Paris. This wretch I knew was about to rob me. The whole drama, and the Countess's rôle in it, I could not yet comprehend. I could not be sure so much more presence of mind and histrionic resource have women than fall to the lot of our clumsy sex whether the return of the Count was not, in truth, a surprise to her; and this scrutiny of the contents of my strong box, an extempore undertaking of the Count's. But it was clearing more and more every moment: and I was destined, very soon, to comprehend minutely my appalling situation.

I had not the power of turning my eyes this way or that, the smallest fraction of a hair's breadth... Continue reading book >>




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