“She is found!” I cried.
“Then go in search of her,” he said.
“And you will go with me?”
“Not I! I prefer tigers to princesses. By the way, here is an article in the Zeitung on the coming coronation of Her Serene Highness the Princess Elizabeth of Hohenphalia. I’m afraid that I shan’t be present to witness the event.” He thrust the paper into my hands and approached the window, out of which he leaned and stared at the garden flowers below. . . . “When I asked her why it could not be, she answered that she had no love to give in return for mine.” Presently he rapped his pipe on the sill and drew in his head. His brow was wrinkled and his lips were drawn down at the corners. With some shame I remembered that I had thought only of myself during the past few months. “Jack,” he said, “I have gone around with you for the excitement of it, for the temporary forgetfulness, and because I wanted to see you well cared for before I left you. The excitement took my mind from my own malady, but it has returned to-day with all its old violence. There is the same blood in our veins. We must have one woman or none. I must get away from all this. We are at the parting of the ways, old man. To-night I leave for India. The jungle is a great place. I am glad for your sake that you are not to go with me. Sometimes one gets lost.”
“She may change her mind,” I said, putting a hand on his. “Most women do.”
“Most admit of exceptions,” he replied, regarding me with earnest eyes as if to read what was going on behind mine. “There are some women who never change. Her Highness is one of these. As I remarked before, she has no love to give me; it is gone, and as it is gone without reward, she will make no attempt to recall it to give to another. I love her all the more for that. The game fate plays with our hearts is a cruel one. For one affinity there are ten unfinished lives. Her Highness loves a good man.”
My hand fell from his, and I went over to the window. This was the first intimation he had given to me that he knew the secret, the secret which had made me so sad, the secret which I tried not to believe.
“You are determined to go to India?” I said, without turning my head. I could find no other words.
“Yes. It will be the best thing in the world.”
“You will promise to write?”
“Whenever I strike the post. Marry and be happy; it is the lot of the few.”
That night he started for Bombay, by the way of England, and the next morning I put out for the feudal inn.