In the other car, too, silence reigned. Somerfield was the only one who struggled against the general air of depression.
“After all,” he remarked to Bransome, “I don’t see what we’re all so blue about. If Scotland Yard are right, and the Prince is really the guilty person they imagine him, I cannot see what sympathy he deserves. Of course, they look upon this sort of thing more lightly in his own country, but, after all, he was no fool. He knew his risks.”
Penelope spoke for the first time since they had left Devenham.
“If you begin to talk like that, Charlie,” she said, “I shall ask the Duchess to stop the car and put you down here in the road.”
Somerfield laughed, not altogether pleasantly.
“Seven miles from any railway station,” he remarked.
Penelope shrugged her shoulders.
“I should not care in the least what happened to you, today or at any other time,” she declared.
After that, Somerfield held his peace, and a somewhat strained silence followed. Soon they reached the outskirts of London. Long before midday they slackened speed, after crossing Battersea Bridge, and the two cars drew alongside. They had arranged to separate here, but, curiously enough, no one seemed to care to start the leave taking.
“You see the time!” the Prince exclaimed. “It is barely eleven o’clock. I want you all, if you will, to come with me for ten minutes only to my house. Tomorrow it will be dismantled. Today I want you each to choose a keepsake from amongst my treasures. There are so many ornaments over here, engravings and bronzes which are called Japanese and which are really only imitations. I want you to have something, if you will, to remember me by, all of you, something which is really the handicraft of my country people.”
The Duke looked for a moment doubtful.
“It wants an hour to midday,” the Prince said, softly. “There is time.”
They reached St. James’ Square in a few minutes. There were no signs of disturbance. The door flew open at their approach. The same solemn-faced, quietly moving butler admitted them. The Prince led the way into the room upon the ground floor which he called his library.
“It is a fancy of mine,” he said, smiling, “to say goodbye to you all here. You see that there is nothing in this room which is not really the product of Japan. Here I feel, indeed, as though I had crossed the seas and were back under the shadow of my own mountains. Here I feel, indeed, your host, especially as I am going to distribute my treasures.”
He took a picture from the wall and turned with it to the Duke.