“I must say,” I replied, “that while I wish to remain in your world till I have learnt, if not all that is to be learnt, yet very much more than I at present know about it, the whole purpose of my voyage would be sacrificed if I could not effect my return to Earth.”
“I suppose so,” he answered, “and for that reason I wish to keep your vessel safe and within your reach; for to get away at all you may have to depart suddenly. But you will not do wisely to make the Prince suspect that such is your intention. Tell him of what you wish to see and to explore in this world; tell him freely of your own, for he will not readily fancy that you prefer it to this; but say as little as possible of your hopes of an ultimate return, and, if you are forced to acknowledge them, let them seem as indefinite as possible.”
By this time, returning by another road, Esmo stopped the carriage at the gate of an enclosed garden of moderate size, about two miles from Ecasfe. Entering alone, he presently returned with another gentleman, wearing a dress of grey and silver, with a white ribbon over the shoulder; a badge, I found, of official rank or duties. Mounting his own carriage, this person accompanied us home.
CHAPTER X — WOMAN AND WEDLOCK.
We arrived at home in the course of some few minutes, and here my host requested us to wait in the hall, where in about half-an-hour he rejoined us, accompanied by all the members of his family, the ladies all closely veiled. Looking among them instinctively for Eveena, I observed that she had exchanged her usual light veil for one fuller and denser, and wore, contrary to the wont of maidens indoors, sleeves and gloves. She held her father’s hand, and evinced no little agitation or alarm. The visitor stood by a table on which had been placed the usual pencils or styles, and a sort of open portfolio, on one side of which was laid a small strip of the golden tafroo, inscribed with crimson characters of unusual size, leaving several blanks here and there. Most of these he filled up, and then, leading forward his daughter, Esmo signed to me also to approach the table. The others stood just behind us, and the official then placed the document in Eveena’s hand. She looked through it and replaced it on the table with the gesture of assent usual among her people, inclining her head and raising her left hand to her lips. The document was then handed to me, but I, of course, was unable to read it. I said so, and the official read it aloud:—
“Between Eveena, daughter of Esmo dent Ecasfen, and ——  reclamomorta (the alleged arch-traveller), covenant: Eveena will live with —— in wedlock for two years, foregoing during that period the liberty to quit his house, or to receive any one therein save by his permission. In consideration whereof he will maintain her, clothing her to her satisfaction, at a cost not exceeding five staltau by the year.