She was in his arms, sobbing and crying, and yet laughing. She clutched at him, drew down his face and covered his lips with kisses.
“Oh! I am so thankful,” she cried, “so thankful! Francis, I ached—my heart ached to have you sit there and talk as you did. Now I know that you are the man I thought you were. Francis, we will work together.”
“You mean it?”
“I do, England was my mother’s country, England shall be my husband’s country. I will tell you many things that should help. From now my work shall be for you. If they find me out, well, I will pay the price. You shall run your risk, Francis, for your country, and I must take mine; but at least we’ll keep our honour and our conscience and our love. Oh, this is a better parting, dear! This is a better good night!”
Mrs. Benedek was the first to notice the transformation which had certainly taken place in Norgate’s appearance. She came and sat by his side upon the cushioned fender.
“What a metamorphosis!” she exclaimed. “Why, you look as though Providence had been showering countless benefits upon you.”
There were several people lounging around, and Mrs. Benedek’s remark certainly had point.
“You look like Monty, when he’s had a winning week,” one of them observed.
“It is something more than gross lucre,” a young man declared, who had just strolled up. “I believe that it is a good fat appointment. Rome, perhaps, where every one of you fellows wants to get to, nowadays.”
“Or perhaps,” the Prince intervened, with a little bow, “Mrs. Benedek has promised to dine with you? She is generally responsible for the gloom or happiness of us poor males in this room.”
“None of these wonderful things have happened—and yet, something perhaps more wonderful,” he announced. “I am engaged to be married.”
There was a mingled chorus of exclamations and congratulations. Selingman, who had been standing on the outskirts of the group, drew a little nearer. His face wore a somewhat puzzled expression.
“And the lady?” he enquired. “May we not know the lady’s name? That is surely important?”
“It is the Baroness von Haase,” Norgate replied. “You probably know her by name and repute, at least, Mr. Selingman. She is an Austrian, but she is often at Berlin.”
Selingman stretched out his great hand. For some reason or other, the announcement seemed to have given him real pleasure.
“Know her? My dear young friend, while I may not claim the privilege of intimate friendship with her, the Baroness is a young lady of the greatest distinction and repute in Berlin. I congratulate you. I congratulate you most heartily. The anger of our young princeling is no longer to be wondered at. I cannot tell you how thoroughly interesting this news is to me.”