He set down his teacup and smiled at her for a moment gravely.
“I came with a purpose,” he said. “I came in order to observe and to study certain features of your life, but, believe me, I have felt the strain—I have felt it sometimes very badly. These countries, yours especially, are like what one of your great poets called the Lotus-Lands for us. Much of your life here is given to pursuits which we do not understand, to sports and games, to various forms of what we should call idleness. In my country we know little of that. In one way or another, from the Emperor to the poor runner in the streets, we work.”
“Is there nothing which you will regret?” she asked.
“I shall regret the friends I have made,—the very dear friends,” he repeated, “who have been so very much kinder to me than I have deserved. Life is a sad pilgrimage sometimes, because one may not linger for a moment at any one spot, nor may one ever look back. But I know quite well that when I leave here there will be many whom I would gladly see again.”
“There will be many, Prince,” she said softly, “who will be sorry to see you go.”
The Prince rose to his feet. Another little stream of callers had come into the room. Presently he drank his tea and departed. When he reached St. James’ Square, his majordomo came hurrying up and whispered something in his own language.
The Prince smiled.
“I go to see him,” he said. “I will go at once.”
CHAPTER XXVII. A PRISONER
Dr. Spencer Whiles was sitting in a very comfortable easy chair, smoking a particularly good cigar, with a pile of newspapers by his side. His appearance certainly showed no signs of hardship. His linen, and the details of his toilet generally, supplied from some mysterious source into which he had not inquired, were much improved. Notwithstanding his increased comfort, however, he was looking perplexed, even a little worried, and the cause of it was there in front of him, in the advertisement sheets of the various newspapers which had been duly laid upon his table.
The Prince came in quietly and closed the door behind him.
“Good afternoon, my friend!” he said. “I understood that you wished to see me.”
The doctor had made up his mind to adopt a firm attitude. Nevertheless the genial courtesy of the Prince’s tone and manner had the same effect upon him as it had upon most people. He half rose to his feet and became at once apologetic.
“I hope that I have not disturbed you, Prince,” he said. “I thought that I should like to have a word or two with you concerning something which I have come across in these journals.”
He tapped them with his forefinger, and the Prince nodded thoughtfully.
“Your wonderful Press!” he exclaimed. “How much it is responsible for! Well, Dr. Whiles, what have the newspapers to say to you?”