“I want you to promise me one thing,” Lucille said earnestly.
“It is promised,” Mr. Sabin answered.
“You will not ask me the reason of my visit to this place?”
“I have no curiosity,” Mr. Sabin answered. “Come!”
Mr. Sabin, contrary to his usual custom, engaged a private room at the Milan. Lucille was in the highest spirits.
“If only this were a game instead of reality!” she said, flashing a brilliant smile at him across the table, “I should find it most fascinating. You seem to come to me always when I want you most. And do you know, it is perfectly charming to be carried off by you in this manner.”
Mr. Sabin smiled at her, and there was a look in his eyes which shone there for no other woman.
“It is in effect,” he said, “keeping me young. Events seem to have enclosed us in a curious little cobweb. All the time we are struggling between the rankest primitivism and the most delicate intrigue. To-day is the triumph of primitivism.”
“Meaning that you, the medieval knight, have carried me off, the distressed maiden, on your shoulder.”
“Having confounded my enemy,” he continued, smiling, “by an embarrassing situation, a little argument, and the distant view of a policeman’s helmet.”
“This,” she remarked, with a little satisfied sigh as she selected an ortolan, “is a very satisfactory place to be carried off to. And you,” she added, leaning across the table and touching his fingers for a moment tenderly, “are a very delightful knight-errant.”
He raised the fingers to his lips—the waiter had left the room. She blushed, but yielded her hand readily enough.
“Victor,” she murmured, “you would spoil the most faithless woman on earth for all her lovers. You make me very impatient.”
“Impatience, then,” he declared, “must be the most infectious of fevers. For I too am a terrible sufferer.”
“If only the Prince,” she said, “would be reasonable.”
“I am afraid,” Mr. Sabin answered, “that from him we have not much to hope for.”
“Yet,” she continued, “I have fulfilled all the conditions. Reginald Brott remains the enemy of our cause and Order. Yet some say that his influence upon the people is lessened. In any case, my work is over. He began to mistrust me long ago. To-day I believe that mistrust is the only feeling he has in connection with me. I shall demand my release.”
“I am afraid,” Mr. Sabin said, “that Saxe Leinitzer has other reasons for keeping you at Dorset House.”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“He has been very persistent even before I left Vienna. But he must know that it is hopeless. I have never encouraged him.”
“I am sure of it,” Mr. Sabin said. “It is the incorrigible vanity of the man which will not be denied. He has been taught to believe himself irresistible. I have never doubted you for a single moment, Lucille. I could not. But you have been the slave of these people long enough. As you say, your task is over. Its failure was always certain. Brott believes in his destiny, and it will be no slight thing which will keep him from following it. They must give you back to me.”