“In a sense,” he admitted, “it is true.”
“On the steamer,” she remarked, “you spoke as though your interest in me was not inimical.”
“Nor is it,” he answered promptly. “You are in a difficult position, but you may find things not so bad as you imagine. At present my advice to you is this: Go upstairs to your room and stay there.”
The little man had a compelling manner. Lucille made her way towards the elevator.
“As a matter of fact,” she murmured bitterly, “I am not, I suppose, permitted to leave the hotel?”
“Madam puts the matter bluntly,” he answered; “but certainly if you should insist upon leaving, it would be my duty to follow you.”
She turned away from him and entered the elevator. The door of her room was slightly ajar, and she saw that a waiter was busy at a small round table. She looked at him in surprise. He was arranging places for two.
“Who gave you your orders?” she asked.
“But it was monsieur,” the man answered, with a low bow. “Dinner for two.”
“Monsieur?” she repeated. “What monsieur?”
“I am the culprit,” a familiar voice answered from the depths of an easy-chair, whose back was to her. “I was very hungry, and it occurred to me that under the circumstances you would probably not have dined either. I hope that you will like what I have ordered. The plovers’ eggs look delicious.”
She gave a little cry of joy. It was Mr. Sabin.
The Prince dined carefully, but with less than his usual appetite. Afterwards he lit a cigarette and strolled for a moment into the lounge. Celeste, who was waiting for him, glided at once to his side.
“Monsieur!” she whispered. “I have been here for one hour.”
“Monsieur le Duc has arrived.”
The Prince turned sharply round.
“Monsieur le Duc de Souspennier. He calls himself no longer Mr. Sabin.”
A dull flush of angry colour rose almost to his temples.
“Why did you not tell me before?” he exclaimed.
“Monsieur was in the restaurant,” she answered. “It was impossible for me to do anything but wait.”
“Where is he?”
“Alas! he is with madam,” the girl answered.
The Prince was very profane. He started at once for the elevator. In a moment or two he presented himself at Lucille’s sitting-room. They were still lingering over their dinner. Mr. Sabin welcomed him with grave courtesy.
“The Prince is in time to take his liqueur with us,” he remarked, rising. “Will you take fin champagne, Prince, or Chartreuse? I recommend the fin champagne.”
The Prince bowed his thanks. He was white to the lips with the effort for self-mastery.
“I congratulate you, Mr. Sabin,” he said, “upon your opportune arrival. You will be able to help Lucille through the annoyance to which I deeply regret that she should be subjected.”