A man’s footstep approached them. Somerfield himself drew near and hesitated. The Prince rose at once.
“Sir Charles,” he said, “I have been bidding farewell to Miss Penelope. I have had news tonight over the telephone and I find that I must curtail my visit.”
“The Duke will be disappointed,” Somerfield said. “Are you off at once?”
“Probably tomorrow,” the Prince answered. “May I leave Miss Penelope in your charge?” he added with a little bow. “The Duke, I believe, is awaiting me.”
He passed out of the conservatory. Penelope sat quite still.
“Well,” Somerfield said, “if he is really going—”
“Charlie,” she interrupted, “if ever you expect me to marry you, I make one condition, and that is that you never say a single word against Prince Maiyo.”
“The man whom a month ago,” he remarked curiously, “you hated!”
She shook her head.
“I was an idiot,” she said. “I did not understand him and I was prejudiced against his country.”
“Well, as he actually is going away,” Sir Charles remarked with a sigh of content, “I suppose it’s no use being jealous.”
“You haven’t any reason to be,” Penelope answered just a little wistfully. “Prince Maiyo has no room in his life for such frivolous creatures as women.”
The Prince found the rest of the party dispersed in various directions. Lady Grace was playing billiards with Captain Wilmot. She showed every disposition to lay down her cue when he entered the room.
“Do come and talk to us, Prince,” she begged. “I am so tired of this stupid game, and I am sure Captain Wilmot is bored to tears.”
The Prince shook his head.
“Thank you,” he said, “but I must find the Duke. I have just received a telephone message and I fear that I may have to leave tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow!” she cried in dismay.
The Prince sighed.
“If not tomorrow, the next day,” he answered. “I have had a summons—a summons which I cannot disobey. Shall I find your father in the library, Lady Grace?”
“Yes!” she answered. “He is there with Mr. Haviland and Sir Edward. Are you really going to waste your last evening in talking about treaties and such trifles?”
“I am afraid I must,” he answered regretfully.
“You are a hopelessly disappointing person,” she declared a little pitifully.
“It is because you are all much too kind to me that you think so,” he answered. “You make me welcome amongst you even as one of yourselves. You forget—you would almost teach me to forget that I am only a wayfarer here.”
“That is your own choice,” she said, coming a little nearer to him.
“Ah, no,” he answered. “There is no choice! I serve a great mistress, and when she calls I come. There are no other voices in the world for one of my race and faith. The library you said, Lady Grace? I must go and find your father.”