“Then you are here now for her good?” she asked.
“Assuredly,” he answered.
“Tell me in what way?” she begged. “You have been studying English customs, their methods of education, their political life, perhaps?”
He turned his head slowly and looked into her eyes. She bore the ordeal well, but she never forgot it. It seemed to her afterwards that he must have read every thought which had flashed through her brain. She felt like a little child in the presence of some mysterious being, thoughts of whom had haunted her dreams, now visible in bodily shape for the first time.
“My dear young lady,” he said, “please do not ask me too much, for I love to speak the truth, and there are many things which I may not tell. Only you must understand that the country I love—my own country—must enter soon upon a new phase of her history. We who look into the future can see the great clouds gathering. Some of us must needs be pioneers, must go forward a little to learn our safest, and best course. May I tell you that much?”
“Of course,” she answered softly.
“And now,” he added, leaving his seat as though with reluctance, “the Duchess reminded me, above all things, that directly I found you I was to take you to supper. One of your royal princes has been good enough to signify his desire that we should sit at the same table.”
She rose at once.
“Does the Duchess know that you are taking me?” she asked.
“I arranged it with her,” he answered. “My time draws soon to an end and I am to be spoilt a little.”
They crossed the ballroom together and mounted the great stairs. Something—she never knew quite what it was—prompted her to detain him as they paused on the threshold of the supper room.
“You do not often read the papers, Prince,” she said. “Perhaps you have not seen that, after all, the police have discovered a clue to the Hamilton Fynes murder.”
The Prince looked down upon her for a moment without reply.
“Yes?” he murmured softly.
She understood that she was to go on—that he was anxious for her to go on.
“Some little doctor in a village near Willington, where the line passes, has come forward with a story about attending to a wounded man on the night of the murder,” she said.
He was very silent. It seemed to her that there was something strange about the immovability of his features. She looked at him wonderingly. Then it suddenly flashed upon her that this was his way of showing emotion. Her lips parted. The color seemed drawn from her cheeks. The majordomo of the Duchess stood before them with a bow.
“Her Grace desires me to show your Highness to your seats,” he announced.
Prince Maiyo turned to his companion.
“Will you allow me to precede you through the crush?” he said. “We are to go this way.”