“I think not,” she said. “Perhaps you are expecting me to come down with the lunch and compliment you all upon your prowess.”
“It would be delightful!” he murmured.
She shook her head.
“There are too many of you, and I am too few,” she said lightly. “Besides, shooting is one of the few sports with which I have no sympathy at all. I shall try and get somewhere away from the sound of your guns.”
“I myself,” he said, “am not what you call a devotee of the sport. I wonder if part of the day one might play truant. Would Lady Angela take pity upon an unentertained guest?”
“I should find it a shocking nuisance,” she said, coolly. “Besides, it would not be allowed. You will find that when my father has once marshalled you, escape is a thing not to be dreamed of. Every one says that he is a perfect martinet where a day’s shooting is concerned.”
He smiled enigmatically. “We shall see,” he remarked, as he turned away. Lady Angela watched him disappear. “Do you know who that is?” she asked me. I shook my head. “Some one French, very French,” I remarked. “He should be,” she remarked. “That is Prince Henri de Malors. He represents the hopes of the Royalists in France.”
“It is very interesting,” I murmured. “May I ask is he an old family friend?”
“Our families have been connected by marriage,” she answered. “He and Blenavon saw a great deal of one another in Paris, very much to the disadvantage of my brother, I should think. I believe that there was some trouble at the Foreign Office about it.”
“It is very interesting,” I repeated.
“Blenavon was very foolish,” she declared. “It was obviously a most indiscreet friendship for him, and Paris was his first appointment. But I must go and speak to some of these people.”
She rose and left me a little abruptly. I escaped by one of the side entrances, and hurried back to my cottage.
The Prince accepted my most comfortable easy chair with an air of graceful condescension. Lady Angela had already seated herself. It was late in the afternoon, and Grooton was busy in the room behind, preparing my tea.
“The Prince did not care to shoot to-day,” Lady Angela explained, “and I have been showing him the neighbourhood. Incidentally, I am dying for some tea, and the Prince has smoked all his cigarettes.”
The Prince raised his hand in polite expostulation, but he accepted a cigarette with a little sigh of relief.
“You have found a very lonely spot for your dwelling-house, Mr. Ducaine,” he said. “You English are so fond of solitude.”
“It suits me very well,” I answered, “for just now I have a great deal of work to do. I am safely away from all distractions here.”
Lady Angela smiled at me.
“Not quite so safe perhaps, Mr. Ducaine, as you fondly imagined,” she remarked. “I am afraid that we disturbed you. You look awfully busy.”