“I don’t think you’ll get Penelope to agree with you, mother,” she said.
“Why not, my dear?” the Duchess asked. “I heard that you were quite rude to him the other evening. We others all find him so charming.”
Penelope’s lip curled slightly.
“He has so many admirers,” she remarked, “that I dare say he will not notice my absence from the ranks. Perhaps I am a little prejudiced. At home, you know, we have rather strong opinions about this fusion of races.”
The Duchess raised her eyebrows.
“But a Prince of Japan, my dear Penelope!” she said. “A cousin of the Emperor, and a member of an aristocracy which was old before we were thought of! Surely you cannot class Prince Maiyo amongst those to whom any of your country people could take exception.”
Penelope shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“Perhaps,” she said, “my feeling is the result of hearing you all praise him so much and so often. Besides, apart from that, you must remember that I am a patriotic daughter of the Stars and Stripes, and there isn’t much friendship lost between Washington and Tokio just now.”
The Duchess turned away to greet a man who had paused before their couch on his way into the restaurant.
“My dear General,” she said, “it seems to me that one meets every one here! Why was not restaurant dining the vogue when I was a girl!”
General Sherrif smiled. He was tall and thin, with grizzled hair and worn features. Notwithstanding his civilian’s clothes, there was no possibility of mistaking him anywhere, or under any circumstances, for anything but a soldier.
“It is a delightful custom,” he admitted. “It keeps one always on the qui vive; one never knows whom one may see. Incidentally, I find it interferes very much with my digestion.”
“Digestion!” the Duchess murmured. “But then, you soldiers lead such irregular lives.”
“Not always from choice,” the General reminded her. “The Russo-Japanese war finished me off. They kept us far enough away from the fighting, when they could, but, by Jove, they did make us move!”
“We are waiting now for Prince Maiyo,” the Duchess remarked. “You know him?”
“Know him!” the General answered. “Duchess, if ever I have to write my memoirs, and particularly my reminiscences of this war, I fancy you would find the name of your friend appear there pretty frequently. There wasn’t a more brilliant feat of arms in the whole campaign than his flanking movement at Mukden. I met most of the Japanese leaders, and I have always said that I consider him the most wonderful of them all.”
The Duchess turned to Penelope.
“Do you hear that?” she asked.
“The Fates are against me,” she declared. “If I may not like, I shall at least be driven to admire.”