“Duchess,” she said, “I am so sorry, but I am afraid that something has happened to Dicky. If you do not mind, I am going to ask Sir Charles to take me home.”
“But my dear child!” the Duchess exclaimed.
“Miss Morse is quite right,” the Prince said quietly. “I think it would be better for her to leave at once. If you will allow me, I will explain to you later.”
She left the box without another word, and took Somerfield’s arm.
“We two are to go,” she murmured. “The Prince will explain to the Duchess.”
The Prince closed the box door behind them. He placed a chair for the Duchess so that she was not in view of the house.
“A very sad thing has happened,” he said quietly. “Mr. Vanderpole met with an accident in a taxicab this evening. From the latest reports, it seems that he is dead!”
There followed a few days of pleasurable interest to all Englishmen who travelled in the tube and read their halfpenny papers. A great and enlightened Press had already solved the problem of creating the sensational without the aid of facts. This sudden deluge, therefore, of undoubtedly tragical happenings became almost an embarrassment to them. Black headlines, notes of exclamation, the use of superlative adjectives, scarcely met the case. The murder of Mr. Hamilton Fynes was strange enough. Here was an unknown man, holding a small position in his own country,—a man apparently without friends or social position. He travelled over from America, merely a unit amongst the host of other passengers; yet his first action, on arriving at Liverpool, was to make use of privileges which belonged to an altogether different class of person, and culminated in his arrival at Euston in a special train with a dagger driven through his heart! Here was material enough for a least a fortnight of sensations and countersensations, of rumored arrests and strange theories. Yet within the space of twenty-four hours the affair of Mr. Hamilton Fynes had become a small thing, had shrunk almost into insignificance by the side of the other still more dramatic, still more wonderful happening. Somewhere between the Savoy Hotel and Melbourne Square, Kensington, a young American gentleman of great strength, of undoubted position, the nephew of a Minister, and himself secretary to the Ambassador of his country in London, had met with his death in a still more mysterious, still more amazing fashion. He had left the hotel in an ordinary taxicab, which had stopped on the way to pick up no other passenger. He had left the Savoy alone, and he was discovered in Melbourne Square alone. Yet, somewhere between these two points, notwithstanding the fact that the aggressor must have entered the cab either with or without his consent, Mr. Richard Vanderpole, without a struggle, without any cry sufficiently loud to reach