“Go on, please,” Penelope murmured.
“The Prince is over here on some sort of an errand which it isn’t our business to understand,” Mr. Harvey said. “I have heard it rumored that it is a special mission entirely concerned with the renewal of the treaty between England and Japan. However that may be, I have sat here, and I have thought, and I have come to this conclusion, ridiculous though it may seem to you at first. I believe that somewhere behind the hand which killed and robbed Hamilton Fynes and poor Dicky stood the benevolent shadow of our friend Prince Maiyo.”
“You have no proof?” she asked breathlessly.
“No proof at all,” the Ambassador admitted. “I am scarcely in a position to search for any. The conclusion I have come to has been simply arrived at through putting a few facts together and considering them in the light of certain events. In the first place, we cannot doubt that the secret of those despatches reached at once the very people whom we should have preferred to remain in ignorance of them. Haven’t I told you of the sudden cessation of the war alarm in Japan, when once she was assured, by means which she could not mistrust, that it was not the intention of the American nation to make war upon her? The subtlety of those murders, and the knowledge by which they were inspired, must have come from some one in an altogether unique position. You may be sure that no one connected with the Japanese Embassy here would be permitted for one single second to take part in any such illegal act. They know better than that, these wily Orientals. They will play the game from Grosvenor Place right enough. But Prince Maiyo is here, and stands apart from any accredited institution, although he has the confidence of his Ambassador and can command the entire devotion of his own secret service. I have not come to this conclusion hastily. I have thought it out, step by step, and in my own mind I am now absolutely convinced that both these murders were inspired by Prince Maiyo.”
“Even if this were so,” Penelope said, “what can I do? Why have you sent for me? The Prince and I are not on especially friendly terms. It is only just lately that we have been decently civil to one another.”
The Ambassador looked at her with some surprise.
“My dear Penelope,” he said, “I have seen you together the last three or four evenings. The Prince looks at no one else while you are there. He talks to you, I know, more freely than to any other woman.”
“It is by chance,” Penelope protested. “I have tried to avoid him.”
“Then I cannot congratulate you upon your success,” Mr. Harvey said grimly.
“Things have changed a little between us, perhaps,” Penelope said. “What is it that you really want?”
“I want to know this,” the Ambassador said slowly. “I want to know how Japan became assured that America had no intention of going to war with her. In other words, I want to know whether those papers which were stolen from Fynes and poor Dicky found their way to the Japanese Embassy or into the hands of Prince Maiyo himself.”