The Prince dropped his voice almost to a whisper.
“Brott,” he said, “there is something which I have had it in my mind to say to you for the last few days. I am not perhaps a great politician, but, like many outsiders, I see perhaps a good deal of the game. I know fairly well what the feeling is in Vienna and Berlin. I can give you a word of advice.”
“You are very kind, Prince,” Brott remarked, looking uneasily over his shoulder. “But—”
“It is concerning Brand. There is no man more despised and disliked abroad, not only because he is a Jew and ill-bred, but because of his known sympathy with some of these anarchists who are perfect firebrands in Europe.”
“I am exceedingly obliged to you,” Brott answered hurriedly. “I am afraid, however, that you anticipate matters a good deal. I have not yet been asked to form a Cabinet. It is doubtful whether I ever shall. And, beyond that, it is also doubtful whether even if I am asked I shall accept.”
“I must confess,” the Prince said, “that you puzzle me. Every one says that the Premiership of the country is within your reach. It is surely the Mecca of all politicians.”
“There are complications,” Brott muttered. “You—”
He stopped short and moved towards the door. Lucille, unusually pale and grave, had just issued from the ladies’ ante-room, and joined Lady Carey, who was talking to Mr. Sabin. She touched the latter lightly on the arm.
“Help us to escape,” she said quickly. “I am weary of my task. Can we get away without their seeing us?”
Mr. Sabin offered his arm. They passed along the broad way, and as they were almost the last to leave the place, their carriage was easily found. The Prince and Mr. Brott appeared only in time to see Mr. Sabin turning away, hat in hand, from the curb-stone. Brott’s face darkened.
“Prince,” he said, “who is that man?”
The Prince shrugged his shoulders.
“A man,” he said, “who has more than once nearly ruined your country. His life has been a splendid failure. He would have given India to the Russians, but they mistrusted him and trifled away their chance. Once since then he nearly sold this country to Germany; it was a trifle only which intervened. He has been all his life devoted to one cause.”
“And that?” Brott asked.
“The restoration of the monarchy to France. He, as you of course know, is the Duc de Souspennier, the sole living member in the direct line of one of the most ancient and historical houses in England. My friend,” he added, turning to Mr. Sabin, “you have stolen a march upon us. We had not even an opportunity of making our adieux to the ladies.”
“I imagine,” Mr. Sabin answered, “that the cause of quarrel may rest with them. You were nowhere in sight when they came out.”
“These fascinating politics,” the Prince remarked. “We all want to talk politics to Mr. Brott just now.”