"What do I think?" said Albert, evidently surprised at such a question from his companion; "I think he is a delightful fellow, who does the honors of his table admirably; who has travelled much, read much, is, like Brutus, of the Stoic school, and moreover," added he, sending a volume of smoke up towards the ceiling, "that he has excellent cigars." Such was Albert's opinion of the count, and as Franz well knew that Albert professed never to form an opinion except upon long reflection, he made no attempt to change it.
"Ah," replied he, sighing, "that is not very surprising; I have been more than a year absent from Paris, and my clothes are of a most antiquated cut; the count takes me for a provincial.
"Which are your windows?" asked he of the count, with as much indifference as he could assume.
Franz, Albert, and the count continued to descend the Corso.
Franz heard the words of the count but imperfectly, and he perhaps did not fully appreciate this new attention to their wishes; for he was wholly absorbed by the spectacle that the Piazza del Popolo presented, and by the terrible instrument that was in the centre.
"I thought," said Franz to the count, "that you told me there would be but one execution."
The Count's glib cynicism had revealed a new aspect of his nature from which we both recoiled.
Before we had taken three steps, the Count's quick eye discovered the lost mouse under the seat that we had been occupying.
"Do you see nothing there?" said the Count, catching him nervously by the collar with one hand, and pointing with the other to the place near which he had found the mouse.
"Not dirt," whispered the Count, fastening the other hand suddenly on Sir Percival's collar, and shaking it in his agitation.
Sir Percival had hitherto remained at the inner end of the boat- house with Count Fosco, while I spoke to him from the door.
Just as I moved the Count's persuasive hand was laid on his shoulder, and the Count's mellifluous voice interposed to quiet him.