“Your Highness,” the latter said, “His Grace has sent me to look for you. He would be glad if you could spare him a moment or two in the library.”
The Prince followed the man to the room where his host was waiting for him. The Duke, with his hands behind his back, was pacing restlessly up and down the apartment.
“Good morning, Duke,” the Prince said cheerfully. “Another of your wonderful spring mornings. Upon the terrace the sun is almost hot. Soon I shall begin to fancy that the perfume of your spring flowers is the perfume of almond and cherry blossom.”
“Prince,” the Duke said quietly, “I have sent for you as your host. I speak to you now unofficially, as an Englishman to his guest. I have been besieged through the night, and even this morning, with incomprehensible messages which come to me from those who administer the law in this country. Prince, I want you to remember that however effete you may find us as a nation from your somewhat romantic point of view, we have at least realized the highest ideals any nation has ever conceived in the administration of the law. Nobleman and pauper here are judged alike. If their crime is the same, their punishment is the same. There is no man in this country who is strong enough to arrest the hand of justice.”
The Prince bowed.
“My dear Duke,” he said, “it has given me very much pleasure, in the course of my investigations, to realize the truth of what you have just said. I agree with you entirely. You could teach us in Japan a great lesson on the fearless administration of the law. Now in some other countries—”
“Never mind those other countries,” the Duke interrupted gravely. “I did not send for you to enter into an academic discussion. I want you clearly to understand how I am placed, supposing a distinguished member of my household—supposing even you, Prince Maiyo—were to come within the arm of the law. Even the great claims of hospitality would leave me powerless.”
“This,” the Prince admitted, “I fully apprehend. It is surely reasonable that the stranger in your country should be subject to your laws.”
“Very well, then,” the Duke continued. “Listen to me, Prince. This morning a London magistrate will grant what is called a search warrant which will enable the police to search, from attic to cellar, your house in St. James’ Square. An Inspector from Scotland Yard will be there this afternoon awaiting your return, and he believes that he has witnesses who will be able to identify you as one who has broken the laws of this country. I ask you no questions. There is the telephone on the table. My eighty-horse-power Daimler is at the door and at your service. I understand that your cruiser in Southampton Harbor is always under steam. If there is anything more, in reason, that I can do, you have only to speak.” The Prince shook his head slowly.
“Duke,” he said, “please send away your car, unless it will take me to London quicker than my own. What I have done I have done, and for what I have done I will pay.”