“So when the boy grew to be about twenty, he determined to carve out a career for himself, to create a great fortune, and so make his own little kingdom, which should not be bound by any country or race. He had an English tutor—he had always had one—and in his studies of countries and peoples and their attributes, the English seemed to him to be much the finest race. They were saner, more understanding, more full of the sense of the fitness of things, and of the knowledge of life and how to live it wisely.
“So the boy, with no country, and no ingrained patriotism for the place of his birth, determined he, being free and of no nation, should, when he had made this fortune, migrate there, and endeavor to obtain a place among those proud people, whom he so admired in his heart. That was his goal, in all his years of hard work, during which time he grew to understand the value of individual character, regardless of nation or of creed; and so, when finally he did come to this country, it was not to seek, but to command.” And here Francis Markrute, master of vast wealth and the destinies of almost as many human souls as his father, the Emperor, had been, raised his head. And Lady Ethelrida, daughter of a hundred noble lords, knew her father, the Duke, was no prouder than he, the Spanish dancer’s son. And something in her fine spirit went out to him; and she, there in the firelight with the soft owl lamp silvering her hair, stretched out her hand to him; and he held it and kissed it tenderly, as he took his seat by her side.
“My sweet and holy one,” he said. “And so you understand!”
“Yes, yes!” said Ethelrida. “Oh, please go on”—and she leaned back against her pillow, but she did not seek to draw away her hand.
“There came a great grief, then, in the life of the boy who was now a grown man. His sister brought disgrace upon herself, and died under extremely distressful circumstances, into which I need not enter here; and for a while these things darkened and embittered his life.” He paused a moment, and gazed into the fire, a look of deep sorrow and regret on his sharply-cut face, and Ethelrida unconsciously allowed her slim fingers to tighten in his grasp. And when he felt this gentle sympathy, he stroked her hand.
“The man was very hard then, sweet lady,” he went on. “He regrets it now, deeply. The pure angel, who at this day rules his life, with her soft eyes of divine mercy and gentleness, has taught him many lessons; and it will be his everlasting regret that he was hard then. But it was a great deep wound to his pride, that quality which he had inherited from his father, and had not then completely checked and got in hand. Pride should be a factor for noble actions and a great spirit, but not for overbearance toward the failings of others. He knows that now. If this lady, whom he worships, should ever wish to learn the whole details of this time, he will tell her even at any cost to his pride, but for the moment let me get on to pleasanter things.”