The Duke laid his hands upon the young man’s shoulders and looked down into his face. The Duke was over six feet high, and broad in proportion. Before him the Prince seemed almost like a boy.
“Maiyo,” he said, “we have grown fond of you,—my wife, my daughter, all of us. We don’t want harm to come to you, but there is the American Ambassador watching all the time. Already he more than half suspects. For our sakes, Prince,—come, I will say for the sake of those who are grateful to you for your candor and truthfulness, for the lessons you have tried to teach us,—make use of my car. You will reach Southampton in half an hour.”
The Prince shook his head. His lips had parted in what was certainly a smile. At the corners they quivered, a little tremulous.
“My dear friend,” he said, and his voice had softened almost to affection, “you do not quite understand. You look upon the things which may come from your point of view and not from mine. Remember that, to your philosophy, life itself is the greatest thing born into the world. To us it is the least. If you would do me a service, please see that I am able to start for London in half an hour.”
It was curious how the Prince’s sudden departure seemed to affect almost every member of the little house party. At first it had been arranged that the Duke, Mr. Haviland, Sir Edward Bransome, and the Prince should leave in the former’s car, the Prince’s following later with the luggage. Then the Duchess, whose eyes had filled with tears more than once after her whispered conversation with her husband, announced that she, too, must go to town. Lady Grace insisted upon accompanying her, and Penelope reminded them that she was already dressed for travelling and that, in any case, she meant to be one of the party. Before ten o’clock they were all on their way to London.
The Prince sat side by side with Lady Grace, the other two occupants of the car being the Duke himself and Mr. Haviland. No one seemed in the least inclined for conversation. The Duke and Mr. Haviland exchanged a few remarks, but Lady Grace, leaning back in her seat, her features completely obscured by a thick veil, declined to talk to any one. The Prince seemed to be the only one who made any pretence at enjoying the beauty of the spring morning, who seemed even to be aware of the warm west wind, the occasional perfume of the hedgeside violets, and the bluebells which stretched like a carpet in and out of the belts of wood. Lady Grace’s eyes, from beneath her veil, scarcely once left his face. Perhaps, she thought, these things were merely allegorical to him. Perhaps his eyes, fixed so steadfastly upon the distant horizon, were not, as it seemed, following the graceful outline of that grove of dark green pine trees, but were indeed searching back into the corners of his life, measuring up the good and evil of it, asking the eternal question—was it worth while?