“Well, how has the remedy worked?” the stranger inquired.
Mr. Coulson looked him in the face. Then he drew a short breath of relief. He had been indiscreet, but he had alarmed himself unnecessarily. There was nothing about the appearance of the quiet, dark little man, with the amiable eyes and slightly foreign manner, in the least suspicious.
“It’s given me a brute of a headache,” he declared, “but I certainly haven’t been seasick up till now, and I must say I’ve never crossed before without being ill.”
The stranger laughed soothingly.
“That brandy and soda would keep you right.” He said. “When we get to Folkestone, you’ll be wanting a supper basket. Make yourself at home. I don’t need the cabin. It’s a glorious night outside. I shouldn’t have come in at all except to see how you were getting on.”
“How long before we are in?” Mr. Coulson asked.
“About a quarter of an hour,” was the answer. “I’ll come for you, if you like. Have a few minute’s nap if you feel sleepy.”
Mr. Coulson got up.
“Not I!” he said. “I am going to douse my head in some cold water. That must have been the strongest brandy and soda that was ever brewed, to send me off like that.”
His friend laughed as he helped him out on to the deck.
“I shouldn’t grumble at it, if I were you,” he said carelessly. “It saved you from a bad crossing.”
Mr. Coulson washed his face and hands in the smoking room lavatory, and was so far recovered, even, as to be able to drink a cup of coffee before they reached the harbor. At Folkestone he looked everywhere for his friend, but in vain. At Charing Cross he searched once more. The little dark gentleman, with the distinguished air and the easy, correct speech, who had mixed his brandy and soda, had disappeared.
“And I owe the little beggar for half that cabin,” Mr. Coulson thought with a sensation of annoyance. “I wonder where he’s hidden himself!”
The Duke paused, in his way across the crowded reception rooms, to speak to his host, Sir Edward Bransome, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
“I have just written you a line, Bransome,” he said, as they shook hands. “The chief tells me that he is going to honor us down at Devenham for a few days, and that we may expect you also.”
“You are very kind, Duke,” Bransome answered. “I suppose Haviland explained the matter to you.”
The Duke nodded.
“You are going to help me entertain my other distinguished visitor,” he remarked. “I fancy we shall be quite an interesting party.”
Bransome glanced around.
“I hope most earnestly,” he said, “that we shall induce our young friend to be a little more candid with us than he has been. One can’t get a word out of Hesho, but I’m bound to say that I don’t altogether like the look of things. The Press are beginning to smell a rat. Two leading articles this morning, I see, upon our Eastern relations.”