The Duchess smiled good humoredly.
“Well, my dear Ambrose,” she said, “I don’t know what more we can do than feed him properly and give him pleasant people to talk to. He doesn’t go in for sports, does he? All I can promise is that we will do our best to be agreeable to him.”
“I am sure of it, my dear,” the Duke said. “You haven’t committed yourself to asking any one, by the bye?”
“Not a soul,” his wife answered, “except Sir Charles. I had to ask him, of course, for Penelope.”
“Naturally,” the Duke assented. “I am glad Penelope will be there. I only wish that she were English instead of American, and that Maiyo would take a serious fancy to her.”
“Perhaps,” the Duchess said dryly, “you would like him to take a fancy to Grace?”
“I shouldn’t mind in the least,” her husband declared. “I never met a young man whom I respected and admired more.”
“Nor I, for that matter,” the Duchess agreed. “And yet, somehow or other—”
“Somehow or other?” the Duke repeated courteously.
“Well, I never altogether trust these paragons,” his wife said. “In all the ordinary affairs of life the Prince seems to reach an almost perfect standard. I sometimes wonder whether he would be as trustworthy in the big things. Nothing else you want to talk about, Ambrose?”
“Nothing at all,” the Duke said, rising to his feet. “I only wanted to make it plain that we don’t require a house party next week.”
“I shan’t ask a soul,” the Duchess answered. “Do you mind ringing the bell as you pass? I’ll have Miss Smith back again and send these letters off.”
“Good!” the Duke declared. “I’m going down to the House, but I don’t suppose there’ll be anything doing. By the bye, we shall have to be a little feudal next week. Japan is a country of many ceremonies, and, after all, Maiyo is one of the Royal Family. I have written Perkins, to stir him up a little.”
The Duke drove down to the House, but called first in Downing Street. He found the Prime Minister anxious to see him.
“You’ve arranged about Maiyo coming down to you next week?” he asked.
“That’s all right,” the Duke answered. “He is coming, for certain. One good thing about that young man—he never breaks an engagement.”
The Prime Minister consulted a calendar which lay open before him.
“Do you mind,” he asked, “if I come, too, and Bransome?”
“Why, of course not,” the Duke replied. “We shall be delighted. We have seventy bedrooms, and only half a dozen or so of us. But tell me—is this young man as important as all that?”
“We shall have to have a serious talk,” the Prime Minister said, “in a few days’ time. I don’t think that even you grasp the exact position of affairs as they stand today. Just now I am bothered to death about other things. Heseltine has just been in from the Home Office. He is simply inundated with correspondence from America about those two murders.”