As for the elder man, he said but little. He had been wondering throughout that dinner-hour whether he could ever really make Isabella his wife. The Boy thought of Isabella, too, and was anxious to know whether his Father Paul was going to be happy at last. He had been very curious to see the woman who could play so cruel a part toward the man he loved. If he had been Verdayne, he thought, he would never forgive her—never! Still, if Father Paul loved the woman—as he certainly must to have remained single for her sake so long—it put a different face on the matter, and of course it was Verdayne’s affair, not his! The Boy had been disappointed in Isabella’s appearance and attractions—she was not at all the woman he had imagined his Father Paul would love—but of course she was older now, and age changes some women, and, and—well, he only hoped that his friend would be happy—happy in his own way, whatever that might be.
At last, he summoned Vasili to him and called for his own particular yellow wine—the Imperial Tokayi—and the old man filled the glasses. It was too much for Verdayne—and all thoughts of Isabella were consigned to eternal oblivion as he remembered the time when he had sipped that wine with his Queen in the little hotel on the Buergenstock.
She would have no cause for jealousy—his darling!
It was November when Sir Charles died, and Lady Henrietta betook herself to her sister’s for consolation, while Sir Paul and the Boy, with a common impulse, departed for India.
They spent Christmas in Egypt, the winter months in the desert, and at last spring came, with its remembrance of duties to be done. And to the elder man England made its insistent call, as it always did in March. For was it not in England, and in March, the tidings reached him that unto him a son was born?
He must go back.
So at last, acting upon a pre-arrangement to which the young Prince had not been a party, they made their way back to their own world of men and women.
* * * * *
“Boy,” said Sir Paul, one day, “the time has come when many questions you have asked and wondered about are to be answered, as is your due. It was your mother’s wish that you should go, at the beginning of May, alone, to Lucerne. There you will find letters awaiting you—from her—from your Uncle Peter—yes, even from myself—telling you the whole secret of your birth, the story of your inheritance.”
“Why Lucerne, Father Paul?”
“It was your mother’s wish—and mine!”
Then, with a rush of tenderness, the older man threw his arm around the Boy’s shoulders. “Boy,” he said, “be charitable and lenient and kind—whatever you read!”
“And what are you going to do, Father Paul? I have not quite two weeks of freedom left, and I begrudge every day I am forced to spend away from you. You will go with me to see me crowned—and married?”