“Then I shall not run the risk of missing you,” he declared. “I shall call very soon.”
Immelan intervened,—grim, suspicious, a little disturbed. For some reason or other, the meeting between these two young people seemed to have made him uneasy.
“Your father has desired me to present his excuses to Lord Dorminster,” he announced, “and to escort you back to the Milan. He has been telephoned for from the Consulate.”
Naida rose to her feet with some apparent reluctance.
“You will not delay your call too long, Lord Dorminster?” she enjoined, as she gave him her hand. “I shall expect you the first afternoon you are free.”
“I shall not delay giving myself the pleasure,” he assured her.
She nodded and made her adieux to the Prince. The two men stood together and watched her depart with her companion.
“Really, one gains much through being an onlooker,” the Prince reflected. “There go the spirit of Russia and the spirit of Germany. You dabble in these things, my friend Dorminster. Can you guess what they are met for—for whom they wait?”
“I might guess,” Nigel replied, “but I would rather be told.”
“They wait for the master spirit,” Karschoff declared, taking his arm. “They wait for the great Prince Shan.”
Nigel and Maggie had tea together in the little room which the latter had used as a boudoir. They were discussing the question of her future residence there.
“I am afraid,” he declared, “that you will have to marry me.”
“It would have its advantages,” she admitted thoughtfully. “I am really so fond of you, Nigel. I should be married at St. Mary Abbot’s, Kensington, and have the Annersley children for bridesmaids. Don’t you think I should look sweet in old gold and orange blossoms?”
“Don’t tantalise me,” he begged.
“We really must decide upon something,” she insisted. “I hate giving up my rooms here, I should hate having my worthy aunt as resident duenna, and I suppose it would be gloriously improper for us two to go on living here if I didn’t. Are you quite sure that you love me, Nigel?”
“I am not quite so sure as I was this morning,” he confessed, holding out his cup for some more tea. “I met a perfectly adorable girl to-day at luncheon at the Ritz. Such eyes, Maggie, and the slimmest, most wonderful figure you ever saw!”
“Who was the cat?” Maggie enquired with asperity.
“She is Russian. Her name is Naida Karetsky. Karschoff introduced me.”
Maggie was suddenly serious. There was just a trace of the one expression he had never before seen in her face—fear—lurking in her eyes, even asserting itself in her tone.
“Naida Karetsky?” she repeated. “Tell me exactly how you met her?”
“She was lunching with her father and Oscar Immelan. She stopped to speak to Karschoff and asked him to present me. Afterwards, she invited us to take coffee in the lounge.”