Lady Carey looked for a moment across at the Prince, and her eyes were full of venom.
“If you knew,” she murmured, “how I loathe that man. Friends! That is all long since past. Nothing would give me so much pleasure as never to see his face again.”
“Nevertheless,” Mr. Sabin reminded her, “whatever your private feelings may be, he has claims upon you which you cannot resist.”
“There is one thing in the world,” she said in a low tone, “for which I would risk even the abnegation of those claims.”
“You would perjure your honour?”
“Yes—if it came to that.”
Mr. Sabin moved uneasily in his chair. The woman was in earnest. She offered him an invaluable alliance; she could show him the way to hold his own against even the inimical combination by which he was surrounded. If only he could compromise. But her eyes were seeking his eagerly, even fiercely.
“You doubt me still,” she whispered. “And I thought that you had genius. Listen, I will prove myself. The Prince has one of his foolish passions for Lucille. You know that. So far she has shown herself able to resist his fascinations. He is trying other means. Lucille is in danger! Duson! —but after all, I was never really in danger, except the time when I carried the despatches for the colonel and rode straight into a Boer ambush.”
Mr. Sabin saw nothing, but he did not move a muscle of his face. A moment later they heard the Prince’s voice from behind them.
“I am very sorry,” he said, “to interrupt these interesting reminiscences, but you see that every one is going. Lucille is already in the cloak-room.”
Lady Carey rose at once, but the glance she threw at the Prince was a singularly malicious one. They walked down the carpeted way together, and Lady Carey left them without a word. In the vestibule Mr. Sabin and Reginald Brott came face to face.
The greeting between the two men was cold, and the Prince almost immediately stepped between them. Nevertheless, Brott seemed to have a fancy to talk with Mr. Sabin.
“I was at Camperdown House yesterday,” he remarked. “Her Ladyship was regretting that she saw you so seldom.”
“I have been a little remiss,” Mr. Sabin answered. “I hope to lunch there to-morrow.”
“You have seen the evening paper, Brott?” the Prince asked.
“I saw the early editions,” Brott answered. “Is there anything fresh?”
The Prince dropped his voice a little. He drew Brott on one side.
“The Westminster declared that you had left for Windsor by an early train this afternoon, and gives a list of your Cabinet. The Pall Mall, on the other hand, declares that Letheringham will assuredly be sent for to-morrow.”
Brott shrugged his shoulders.
“There are bound to be a crop of such reports at a time like this,” he remarked.