“Tell me in what respect your tastes are so far apart?” she asked. “You say that as though there were something in the manner of his life of which you disapproved.”
“We are sons of different countries, Miss Penelope,” the Prince said. “We look out upon life differently, and the things which seem good to him may well seem idle to me. Before I go,” he added a little hesitatingly, “we may speak of this again. But not now.”
“I shall remind you of that promise, Prince,” she declared.
“I will not fail to keep it,” he replied. “You have, at least,” he added after a moment’s pause, “one great claim upon happiness. You are the son and the daughter of kindred races.”
She looked at him as though not quite understanding.
“I was thinking,” he continued simply, “of my own father and mother. My father was a Japanese nobleman, with the home call of all the centuries strong in his blood. He was an enlightened man, but he saw nothing in the manner of living or the ideals of other countries to compare with those of the country of his own birth. I sometimes think that my mother and father might have been happier had one of them been a little more disposed to yield to the other I think, perhaps, that their union would have been a more successful one. They were married, and they lived together, but they lived apart.”
“It was not well for you, this,” she remarked.
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Do not mistake me,” he begged. “So far as I am concerned, I am content. I am Japanese. The English blood that is in my veins is but as a drop of water compared to the call of my own country. And yet there are some things which have come to me from my mother—things which come most to the surface when I am in this, her own country—which make life at times a little sad. Forgive me if I have been led on to speak too much of myself. Today one should think of nothing but of you and of your happiness.”
He turned to accept the greeting of an older woman who had lingered for a moment, in passing, evidently anxious to speak to him. Penelope watched his kindly air, listened to the courteous words which flowed from his lips, the interest in his manner, which his whole bearing denoted, notwithstanding the fact that the woman was elderly and plain, and had outlived the friends of her day and received but scanty consideration from the present generation. It was typical of him, too, she realized. It was never to the great women of the world that he unbent most thoroughly. Gray hairs seemed to inspire his respect, to command his attentions in a way that youth and beauty utterly failed to do. These things seemed suddenly clear to Penelope as she stood there watching him. A hundred little acts of graceful kindness, which she had noticed and admired, returned to her memory. It was this man whom she had lifted her hand to betray! It was this man who was to be accounted guilty, even of crime! There came