Lucille laughed scornfully.
“Reginald Brott is a man, at any rate, and an honest one,” she answered. “But I am too selfish to think much of him. It is myself whom I pity. I have a home, Prince, and a husband. I want them both.”
“You amaze me,” the Prince said slowly. “Lucille, indeed, you amaze me. You have been buried alive for three years. Positively we believed that our summons would sound to you like a message from Heaven.”
Lucille was silent for a moment. She rubbed the mist from the carriage window and looked out into the streets.
“Well,” she said, “I hope that you realise now how completely you have misunderstood me. I was perfectly happy in America. I have been perfectly miserable here. I suppose that I have grown too old for intrigues and adventures.”
“Too old, Lucille,” the Prince murmured, leaning a little towards her. “Lucille, you are the most beautiful woman in London. Many others may have told you so, but there is no one, Lucille, who is so devotedly, so hopelessly your slave as I.”
She drew her hand away, and sat back in her corner. The man’s hot breath fell upon her cheek, his eyes seemed almost phosphorescent in the darkness. Lucille could scarcely keep the biting words from her tongue.
“You do not answer me, Lucille. You do not speak even a single kind word to me. Come! Surely we are old friends. We should understand one another. It is not a great deal that I ask from your kindness—not a great deal to you, but it is all the difference between happiness and misery for me.”
“This is a very worn-out game, Prince,” Lucille said coldly. “You have been making love to women in very much the same manner for twenty years, and I—well, to be frank, I am utterly weary of being made love to like a doll. Laugh at me as you will, my husband is the only man who interests me in the slightest. My failure to-day is almost welcome to me. It has at least brought my work here to a close. Come, Prince, if you want to earn my eternal gratitude, tell me now that I am a free woman.”
“You give me credit,” the Prince said slowly, “for great generosity. If I let you go it seems to me that I shall lose you altogether. You will go to your husband. He will take you away!”
“Why not?” Lucille asked. “I want to go. I am tired of London. You cannot lose what you never possessed—what you never had the slightest chance of possessing.”
The Prince laughed softly—not a pleasant laugh, not even a mirthful one.
“Dear lady,” he said, “you speak not wisely. For I am very much in earnest when I say that I love you, and until you are kinder to me I shall not let you go.”
“That is rather a dangerous threat, is it not?” Lucille asked. “You dare to tell me openly that you will abuse your position, that you will keep me bound a servant to the cause, because of this foolish fancy of yours?”