Lucille gave a little start of amazement as she realised that she was not alone in the brougham. She reached out for the check-cord, but a strong hand held hers.
“My dear Lucille,” a familiar voice exclaimed, “why this alarm? Is it your nerves or your eyesight which is failing you?”
Her hand dropped. She turned towards him.
“It is you, then, Prince!” she said. “But why are you here? I do not understand.”
The Prince shrugged his shoulders.
“It is so simple,” he said. “We are all very anxious indeed to hear the result of your interview with Brott—and apart from that, I personally have too few opportunities to act as your escort to let a chance go by. I trust that my presence is not displeasing to you?”
She laughed a little uneasily.
“It is at any rate unnecessary,” she answered. “But since you are here I may as well make my confession. I have failed.”
“It is incredible,” the Prince murmured.
“As you will—but it is true,” she answered. “I have done my very best, or rather my worst, and the result has been failure. Mr. Brott has a great friend—a man named Grahame, whose influence prevailed against mine. He has gone to Scotland.”
“That is serious news,” the Prince said quietly.
Lucille leaned back amongst the cushions.
“After all,” she declared, “we are all out of place in this country. There is no scope whatever for such schemes and intrigues as you and all the rest of them delight in. In France and Russia, even in Austria, it is different. The working of all great organisation there is underground—it is easy enough to meet plot by counterplot, to suborn, to deceive, to undermine. But here all the great games of life seem to be played with the cards upon the table. We are hopelessly out of place. I cannot think, Prince, what ill chance led you to ever contemplate making your headquarters in London.”
The Prince stroked his long moustache.
“That is all very well, Lucille,” he said, “but you must remember that in England we have very large subscriptions to the Order. These people will not go on paying for nothing. There was a meeting of the London branch a few months ago, and it was decided that unless some practical work was done in this country all English subscriptions should cease. We had no alternative but to come over and attempt something. Brott is of course the bete noire of our friends here. He is distinctly the man to be struck at.”
“And what evil stroke of fortune,” Lucille asked, “induced you to send for me?”
“That is a very cruel speech, dear lady,” the Prince murmured.
“I hope,” Lucille said, “that you have never for a moment imagined that I find any pleasure in what I am called upon to do.”
“Why not? It must be interesting. You can have had no sympathy with Brott—a hopeless plebeian, a very paragon of Anglo-Saxon stupidity?”