Mr. Sabin smiled gently.
“You were referring without doubt—” he began.
“To the Countess,” Brott admitted. “Yes, it is true. But after all,” he added cheerfully, “I believe that our disagreements are mainly upon the surface. The Countess is a woman of wide culture and understanding. Her mind, too, is plastic. She has few prejudices.”
Mr. Sabin glanced at the clock for the third time, and rose to his feet. He was quite sure now that the note was from her. He leaned on his stick and took his leave quietly. All the time he was studying his host, wondering at his air of only partially suppressed excitement.
“I must thank you very much, Mr. Brott,” he said, “for your entertainment. I trust that you will give me an opportunity shortly of reciprocating your hospitality.”
The two men parted finally in the hall. Mr. Sabin stepped into his hired carriage.
“Dorset House!” he directed.
“This little difference of opinion,” the Prince remarked, looking thoughtfully through the emerald green of his liqueur, “interests me. Our friend Dolinski here thinks that he will not come because he will be afraid. De Brouillac, on the contrary, says that he will not come because he is too sagacious. Felix here, who knows him best, says that he will not come because he prefers ever to play the game from outside the circle, a looker-on to all appearance, yet sometimes wielding an unseen force. It is a strong position that.”
Lucille raised her head and regarded the last speaker steadily.
“And I, Prince!” she exclaimed, “I say that he will come because he is a man, and because he does not know fear.”
The Prince of Saxe Leinitzer bowed low towards the speaker.
“Dear Lucille,” he said, so respectfully that the faint irony of his tone was lost to most of those present, “I, too, am of your opinion. The man who has a right, real or fancied, to claim you must indeed be a coward if he suffered dangers of any sort to stand in the way. After all, dangers from us! Is it not a little absurd?”
Lucille looked away from the Prince with a little shudder. He laughed softly, and drank his liqueur. Afterwards he leaned back for a moment in his chair and glanced thoughtfully around at the assembled company as though anxious to impress upon his memory all who were present. It was a little group, every member of which bore a well-known name. Their host, the Duke of Dorset, in whose splendid library they were assembled, was, if not the premier duke of the United Kingdom, at least one of those whose many hereditary offices and ancient family entitled him to a foremost place in the aristocracy of the world. Raoul de Brouillac, Count of Orleans, bore a name which was scarcely absent from a single page of the martial history of France. The Prince of Saxe Leinitzer kept up still a semblance of royalty in the State which his ancestors had ruled with despotic power. Lady Muriel Carey was a younger daughter of a ducal house, which had more than once intermarried with Royalty. The others, too, had their claims to be considered amongst the greatest families of Europe.