The Prince raised his eyebrows.
“Come,” he said, “you can have no sympathy with Reginald Brott, the sworn enemy of our class, a Socialist, a demagogue who would parcel out our lands in allotments, a man who has pledged himself to nothing more nor less than a revolution.”
“The man’s views are hateful enough,” she answered, “but he is in earnest, and however misguided he may be there is something noble in his unselfishness, in his, steady fixedness of purpose.”
The Prince’s face indicated his contempt.
“Such men,” he declared, “are only fit to be crushed like vermin under foot. In any other country save England we should have dealt with him differently.”
“This is all beside the question,” she declared. “My task was to prevent his becoming Prime Minister, and I have succeeded.”
The Prince gave vent to a little gesture of dissent. “Your task,” he said, “went a little farther than that. We require his political ruin.”
She pointed to the pile of newspapers upon the table.
“Read what they say!” she exclaimed. “There is not one who does not use that precise term. He has missed his opportunity. The people will never trust him again.”
“That, at any rate, is not certain,” the Prince said. “You must remember that before long he will realise that he has been your tool. What then? He will become more rabid than ever, more also to be feared. No, Lucille, your task is not yet over. He must be involved in an open and public scandal, and with you.”
She was white almost to the lips with passion.
“You expect a great deal!” she exclaimed. “You expect me to ruin my life, then, to give my honour as well as these weary months, this constant humiliation.”
“You are pleased to be melodramatic,” he said coldly. “It is quite possible to involve him without actually going to extremes.”
“And what of my husband?” she asked.
The Prince laughed unpleasantly.
“If you have not taught him complaisance,” he said, “it is possible, of course, that Mr. Sabin might be unkind. But what of it? You are your own mistress. You are a woman of the world. Without him there is an infinitely greater future before you than as his wife you could ever enjoy.”
“You are pleased,” she said, “to be enigmatic.”
The Prince looked hard at her. Her face was white and set. He sighed.
“Lucille,” he said, “I have been very patient for many years. Yet you know very well my secret, and in your heart you know very well that I am one of those who generally win the thing upon which they have set their hearts. I have always loved you, Lucille, but never more than now. Fidelity is admirable, but surely you have done your duty. He is an old man, and a man who has failed in the great things of life. I, on the other hand, can offer you a great future. Saxe Leinitzer,