The Prince sighed.
“You always misunderstand me,” he murmured. “However, I will prove my words. You spoke of an appeal.”
“Certainly,” Mr. Sabin answered. “I intend to impeach you for making use of the powers entrusted to you for your own private ends —in other words, for making an arbitrary misuse of your position.”
The Prince nodded.
“It is very well put,” he said. “I shall await the result of your appeal in fear and trembling. I confess that I am very much afraid. But, come now, I am going to be generous. I am going to help you on a little. Do you know to whom your appeal must be made?”
“To the Grand Duke!” Mr. Sabin replied.
The Prince shook his head.
“Ah me!” he said, “how long indeed you have been absent from the world. The Grand Duke is no longer the head of our little affair. Shall I tell you who has succeeded him?”
“I can easily find out,” Mr. Sabin answered.
“Ah, but I warned you that I was in a generous mood,” the Prince said, with a smile. “I will save you the trouble. With your permission I will whisper the name in your ear. It is not one which we mention lightly.”
He stepped forward and bent his head for a moment. Afterwards, as he drew back, the smile upon his lips broadened until he showed all his teeth. It was a veritable triumph. Mr. Sabin, taken wholly by surprise, had not been able to conceal his consternation.
“It is not possible,” he exclaimed hoarsely. “He would not dare.”
But in his heart he knew that the Prince had spoken the truth.
“After all,” said the Prince, looking up from the wine list, “why cannot I be satisfied with you? And why cannot you be satisfied with me? It would save so much trouble.”
Lady Carey, who was slowly unwinding the white veil from her picture hat, shrugged her shoulders.
“My dear man,” she said, “you could not seriously expect me to fall in love with you.”
The Prince sipped his wine—a cabinet hock of rare vintage—and found it good. He leaned over towards his companion.
“Why not?” he asked. “I wish that you would try—in earnest, I mean. You are capable of great things, I believe—perhaps of the great passion itself.”
“Perhaps,” she murmured derisively.
“And yet,” he continued, “there has always been in our love-making a touch of amateurishness. It is an awkward word, but I do not know how better to explain myself.”
“I understand you perfectly,” she answered. “I can also, I think, explain it. It is because I never cared a rap about you.”
The Prince did not appear altogether pleased. He curled his fair moustache, and looked deprecatingly at his companion. She had so much the air of a woman who has spoken the truth.
“My dear Muriel!” he protested.