“I think—that men always know,” Helene said, “if they care to. Was Lucille happy with you?”
“Absolutely. I am sure of it.”
“Then your first assumption must be correct,” she declared. “You cannot explain things to me, so I cannot help you even with my advice. I am sorry.”
He turned his head towards her and regarded her critically, as though making some test of her sincerity.
“Helene,” he said gravely, “it is for your own sake that I do not explain further, that I do not make things clearer to you. Only I wanted you to understand why I once more set foot in Europe. I wanted you to understand why I am here. It is to win back Lucille. It is like that with me, Helene. I, who once schemed and plotted for an empire, am once more a schemer and a worker, but for no other purpose than to recover possession of the woman whom I love. You do not recognise me, Helene. I do not recognise myself. Nevertheless, I would have you know the truth. I am here for that, and for no other purpose.”
He rose slowly to his feet. She held out both her hands and grasped his.
“Let me help you,” she begged. “Do! This is not a matter of politics or anything compromising. I am sure that I could be useful to you.”
“So you can,” he answered quietly. “Do as I have asked you. Watch Mr. Brott!”
Mr. Brott and Mr. Sabin dined together—not, as it happened, at the House of Commons, but at the former’s club in Pall Mall. For Mr. Sabin it was not altogether an enjoyable meal. The club was large, gloomy and political; the cooking was exactly of that order which such surroundings seemed to require. Nor was Mr. Brott a particularly brilliant host. Yet his guest derived a certain amount of pleasure from the entertainment, owing to Brott’s constant endeavours to bring the conversation round to Lucille.
“I find,” he said, as they lit their cigarettes, “that I committed an indiscretion the other day at Camperdown House!”
Mr. Sabin assumed the puzzled air of one endeavouring to pin down an elusive memory.
“Let me see,” he murmured doubtfully. “It was in connection with—”
“The Countess Radantz. If you remember, I told you that it was her desire just now to remain incognito. I, however, unfortunately forgot this during the course of our conversation.”
“Yes, I remember. You told me where she was staying. But the Countess and I are old acquaintances. I feel sure that she did not object to your having given me her address. I could not possibly leave London without calling upon her.”
Mr. Brott moved in his chair uneasily.
“It seems presumption on my part to make such a suggestion perhaps,” he said slowly, “but I really believe that the Countess is in earnest with reference to her desire for seclusion just at present. I believe that she is really very anxious that her presence in London, just now should not be generally known.”