“Monsieur will be so good as
to destroy this when read. My will
is in my trunk.
“Your Grace’s faithful servant,
Mr. Sabin read this letter carefully through to the end. Then he put it into his pocket-book and quickly rang the bell.
“You had better send for a doctor at once,” he said to the waiter who appeared. “My servant appears to have suffered from some sudden illness. I am afraid that he is quite dead.”
“You spoke, my dear Lucille,” the Duchess of Dorset said, “of your departure. Is not that a little premature?”
Lucille shrugged her beautiful shoulders, and leaned back in her corner of the couch with half-closed eyes. The Duchess, who was very Anglo-Saxon, was an easy person to read, and Lucille was anxious to know her fate.
“Why premature?” she asked. “I was sent for to use my influence with Reginald Brott. Well, I did my best, and I believe that for days it was just a chance whether I did not succeed. However, as it happened, I failed. One of his friends came and pulled him away just as he was wavering. He has declared himself now once and for all. After his speech at Glasgow he cannot draw back. I was brought all the way from America, and I want to go back to my husband.”
The Duchess pursed her lips.
“When one has the honour, my dear,” she said, “of belonging to so wonderful an organisation as this we must not consider too closely the selfish claims of family. I am sure that years ago I should have laughed at any one who had told me that I, Georgina Croxton, should ever belong to such a thing as a secret society, even though it had some connection with so harmless and excellent an organisation as the Primrose League.”
“It does seem remarkable,” Lucille murmured.
“But look what terrible times have come upon us,” the Duchess continued, without heeding the interruption. “When I was a girl a Radical was a person absolutely without consideration. Now all our great cities are hot-beds of Socialism and—and anarchism. The whole country seems banded together against the aristocracy and the landowners. Combination amongst us became absolutely necessary in some shape or form. When the Prince came and began to drop hints about the way the spread of Socialism had been checked in Hungary and Austria, and even Germany, I was interested from the first. And when he went further, and spoke of the Society, it was I who persuaded Dorset to join. Dear man, he is very earnest, but very slow, and very averse to anything at all secretive. I am sure the reflection that he is a member of a secret society, even although it is simply a linking together of the aristocracy of Europe in their own defence, has kept him awake for many a night.”