The doctor did not attempt to conceal the fact that he found this suggestion entirely satisfactory. In less than half an hour, the two men were on their way to town.
Curiously enough, Penelope and Prince Maiyo met that morning for the first time in several days. They were both guests of the Duchess of Devenham at a large luncheon party at the Savoy Restaurant. Penelope felt a little shiver when she saw him coming down the stairs. Somehow or other, she had dreaded this meeting, yet when it came, she knew that it was a relief. There was no change in his manner, no trace of anxiety in his smooth, unruffled face. He seemed, if possible, to have grown younger, to walk more buoyantly. His eyes met hers frankly, his smile was wholly unembarrassed. It was not possible for a man to bear himself thus who stood beneath the great shadow!
So far from avoiding her, he came over to her side directly he had greeted his hostess.
“This morning,” he said, “I heard some good news. You are to be a fellow guest at Devenham.”
“I am afraid,” she admitted, “that of my two aunts I impose most frequently upon the one where my claims are the slightest. The Duchess is so good-natured.”
“She is charming,” the Prince declared. “I am looking forward to my visit immensely. I think I am a little weary of London. A visit to the country seems to me most delightful. They tell me, too, that your spring gardens are wonderful. What London suffers from, I think, at this time of the year, is a lack of flowers. We want something to remind us that the spring is coming, besides these occasional gleams of blue sky and very occasional bursts of sunshine.”
“You are a sentimentalist, Prince,” she declared, smiling.
“No, I think not,” he answered seriously. “I love all beautiful things. I think that there are many men as well as women who are like that. Shall I be very rude and say that in the matter of climate and flowers one grows, perhaps, to expect a little more in my own country.”
An uncontrollable impulse moved her. She leaned a little towards him.
“Climate and flowers only?” she murmured. “What about the third essential?”
“Miss Penelope,” he said under his breath, “I have to admit that one must travel further afield for Heaven’s greatest gift. Even then one can only worship. The stars are denied to us.”
The Duchess came sailing over to them.
“Every one is here,” she said. “I hope that you are all hungry. After lunch, Prince, I want you to speak to General Sherrif. He has been dying to meet you, to talk over your campaign together in Manchuria. There’s another man who is anxious to meet you, too,—Professor Spenlove. He has been to Japan for a month, and thinks about writing a book on your customs. I believe he looks to you to correct his impressions.”
“So long as he does not ask me to correct his proofs!” the Prince murmured.