“Look here,” he announced gravely, “I am going for the gamble. If I have been misled, there will probably be an end of my career. I tell you frankly, I believe in you. I believe in the truth of the things you talk about. I risked everything, only a few weeks ago, on my belief. I’ll risk my whole career now. Keep your mouth shut; don’t say a word. Until to-morrow you will be the only man in England who knows it. I am going to mobilise the fleet to-night. Shake hands, Mr. Norgate. You’re either the best friend or the worst foe I’ve ever had. My coat and hat,” he ordered the servant who answered his summons. “Tell your mistress, if she enquires, that I have gone down to the Admiralty on special business.”
Anna passed her hand through Norgate’s arm and led him forcibly away from the shop window before which they had been standing.
“My mind is absolutely made up,” she declared firmly. “I adore shopping, I love Bond Street, and I rather like you, but I will have no more trifles, as you call them. If you do not obey, I shall gaze into the next tobacconist’s window we pass, and go in and buy you all sorts of unsmokable and unusable things. And, oh, dear, here is the Count! I feel like a child who has played truant from school. What will he do to me, Francis?”
“Don’t worry, dear,” Norgate laughed. “We’re coming to the end of this tutelage, you know.”
Count Lanyoki, who had stopped his motor-car, came across the street towards them. He was, as usual, irreproachably attired. He wore white gaiters, patent shoes, and a grey, tall hat. His black hair, a little thin at the forehead, was brushed smoothly back. His moustache, also black but streaked with grey, was twisted upwards. He had, as always, the air of having just left the hands of his valet.
“Dear Baroness,” he exclaimed, as he accosted her, “London has been searched for you! At the Embassy my staff are reduced to despair. Telephones, notes, telegrams, and personal calls have been in vain. Since lunch-time yesterday it seemed to us that you must have found some other sphere in which to dwell.”
“Perhaps I have,” Anna laughed. “I am so sorry to have given you all this trouble, but yesterday—well, let me introduce, if I may, my husband, Mr. Francis Norgate. We were married by special license yesterday afternoon.”
The Count’s amazement was obvious. Diplomatist though he was, it was several seconds before he could collect himself and rise to the situation. He broke off at last, however, in the midst of a string of interjections and realised his duties.
“My dear Baroness,” he said, “my dear lady, let me wish you every happiness. And you, sir,” he added, turning to Norgate, “you must have, without a doubt, my most hearty congratulations. There! That is said. And now to more serious matters. Baroness, have you not always considered yourself the ward of the Emperor?”