“I guess you’ll have to look sharp, then.” Mr. Coulson remarked. “Do you see the time?”
Vanderpole glanced at the clock and whistled softly to himself.
“Tell you what!” he exclaimed, “I’ll write a note to one of the friends I’ve got to meet, and leave it here. Boy,” he added, turning to a page boy, “get me a taxi as quick as you can.”
The boy ran out into the Strand, and Vanderpole, sitting down at the table, wrote a few lines, which he sealed and addressed and handed to one of the reception clerks. Then he shook hands with Coulson and threw himself into a corner of the cab which was waiting.
“Drive down the Brompton Road,” he said to the man. “I’ll direct you later.”
It was a quarter past seven when he left the hotel. At half past a policeman held up his hand and stopped the taxi, to the driver’s great astonishment, as he was driving slowly across Melbourne Square, Kensington.
“What’s the matter?” the man asked. “You can’t say I was exceeding my speed limit.”
The policeman scarcely noticed him. His head was already through the cab window.
“Where did you take your fare up?” he asked quickly.
“Savoy Hotel,” the man answered. “What’s wrong with him?”
The policeman opened the door of the cab and stepped in.
“Never you mind about that,” he said. “Drive to the South Kensington police station as quick as you can.”
Seated upon a roomy lounge in the foyer of the Savoy were three women who attracted more than an average amount of attention from the passers-by. In the middle was the Duchess of Devenham, erect, stately, and with a figure which was still irreproachable notwithstanding her white hair. On one side sat her daughter, Lady Grace Redford, tall, fair, and comely; on the other, Miss Penelope Morse. The two girls were amusing themselves, watching the people; their chaperon had her eye upon the clock.
“To dine at half-past seven,” the Duchess remarked, as she looked around the entresol of the great restaurant through her lorgnettes, “is certainly a little trying for one’s temper and for one’s digestion, but so long as those men accepted, I certainly think they ought to have been here. They know that the play begins at a quarter to nine.”
“It isn’t like Dicky Vanderpole in the least,” Penelope said. “Since he began to tread the devious paths of diplomacy, he has brought exactness in the small things of life down to a fine art.”
“He isn’t half so much fun as he used to be,” Lady Grace declared.
“Fun!” Penelope exclaimed. “Sometimes I think that I never knew a more trying person.”
“I have never known the Prince unpunctual,” the Duchess murmured. “I consider him absolutely the best-mannered young man I know.”
Lady Grace smiled, and glanced at Penelope.