Baffled and more disappointed than he cared to own, Paul rode slowly back to Berkeley Square, his heart bounding with the excitement of the chase and yet thoroughly vexed over his failure, at himself, his horse, the girl.
At the house he found letters from the Regent awaiting him, recalling to him his position and its unwelcome responsibilities. One of them enclosed a full-length photograph of his future bride.
Fate had certainly been kind to him by granting his one expressed wish. The Princess Elodie was what he had desired, “quite six-foot tall.” Yet he pushed the portrait aside with an impatient gesture, and before his mental vision rose a little figure tripping up the steps, with a backward glance that still seemed to pierce his very soul.
He was not thinking, as he certainly should have been, of the Princess Elodie! And he had not even noticed whether she had any eyes or not!
He looked again at the picture of the Austrian princess, lying face upward upon the pile of letters. With disgust and loathing he swept the offending portrait into a drawer, and summoning Vasili, began to make a hasty toilet.
Vasili had never seen his young master in such bad humor. He was unpardonably late for luncheon, but that would not disturb him, surely not to such an extent as this!
He was greatly disturbed by something. There was no denying that.
He had found the voice, but—
It was the next morning at the breakfast table that Paul Zalenska, listlessly looking over the “Society Notes” in the Times, came upon this significant notice:
“Mr. Gilbert Ledoux
and daughter, Miss Opal Ledoux, of New Orleans,
accompanied by Henri, Count de Roannes, of Paris, have taken
passage on the Lusitania, which sails for New York on July 3rd.”
It was she, of course!—who else could it be? Surely there could not be more than one Opal in America!
“Father Paul, I notice that the Lusitania is to sail for America on the third of July. Can’t we make it?”
Verdayne smiled quietly at the suddenness of the proposal, but was not unduly surprised. He remembered many unaccountable impulses of his own when his life was young and his blood was hot. He remembered too with a tender gratitude how his father had humored him and—was he not “Father Paul”?
“I see no reason why not, Boy.”
“You see, I have already lost a whole month out of my one free year. I am unwilling to waste a single hour of it, Father Paul—wouldn’t you be? And we must see America together, you and I, before I go back to—prison!”
“Certainly, Boy, certainly. My time is yours—when you want it, and where you want it, the whole year through!”
“I know that, Father Paul, and—I thank you!”