The doctor sighed.
“I am not used to luxury,” he said.
“These two rooms will be yours,” the Prince announced, “and the first condition of our arrangement is that until two months are up, or our engagement is finished, you do not leave them.”
The doctor stared at him blankly.
“Are you in earnest, sir?” he asked.
“In absolute earnest,” the Prince assured him. “Not only that, but I require you to keep your whereabouts, until after the period of time I have mentioned, an entire secret from every one. I gather that you are not married, and that there is no one living in your house to whom it would seem necessary to disclose your movements. In any case, this is another of my conditions. You are neither to write nor receive any letters whilst here. You are to figure in the neighborhood from which you came as a man who has disappeared,—as a man, in short, who has found it impossible to pay his way and has preferred simply to slip out of his place. At the end of two months you can reappear or not, as you choose. That rests with yourself.”
The doctor smiled faintly. To make some sort of disappearance had been his precise intention, but to disappear in this fashion and make his return to the world with a thousand guineas in his pocket, had not exactly come within the scope of his imagination. It was a situation full of allurements. Nevertheless he was bewildered.
“I am to live in these two rooms?” he demanded. “I am to let no one know where I am, to write no letters, to receive none? My duties are to be simply to treat you?”
“When required,” the Prince remarked dryly.
“I suppose,” the doctor asked, “my friend Mr. Jacks was speaking the truth when he told me your name?”
“My name is Prince Maiyo,” the Prince said.
Mechanically the doctor helped himself to another whiskey and soda.
“You are to be my only patient,” he said thoughtfully. “May I take the liberty of feeling your pulse, Prince?”
The Prince extended his hand. The doctor felt it and resumed his seat.
“There is, of course, nothing whatever the matter with you,” he declared. “You are, I should say, in absolutely perfect health. You have no need of a physician.”
“On the contrary,” the Prince protested, smiling, “I need you, Dr. Whiles, so much that I am paying you a thousand guineas—”
“To remain in these two rooms,” the doctor remarked quietly.
“It is not your business to think that or to know that,” the Prince said. “Do you accept my offer?”
“If I should refuse?” the doctor asked.
The Prince hesitated.
“Do not let us suppose that,” he said. “It is not a pleasant suggestion. I do not think that you mean to refuse.”
“Frankly, I do not,” the doctor answered. “And yet treat it as a whim of mine and answer my question. Supposing I should?”