“An’ live men are jus’—names!” said M. Beaucaire.
In the outer room, Winterset, unable to find Lady Mary, and supposing her to have joined Lady Rellerton, disposed of his negus, then approached the two visitors to pay his respects to the young prince, whom he discovered to be a stripling of seventeen, arrogant looking, but pretty as a girl. Standing beside the Marquis de Mirepoix—a man of quiet bearing—he was surrounded by a group of the great, among whom Mr. Nash naturally counted himself. The Beau was felicitating himself that the foreigners had not arrived a week earlier, in which case he and Bath would have been detected in a piece of gross ignorance concerning the French nobility—making much of de Mirepoix’s ex-barber.
“’Tis a lucky thing that fellow was got out of the way,” he ejaculated, under cover.
“Thank me for it,” rejoined Winterset.
An attendant begged Mr. Nash’s notice. The head bailiff sent word that Beaucaire had long since entered the building by a side door. It was supposed Mr. Nash had known of it, and the Frenchman was not arrested, as Mr. Molyneux was in his company, and said he would be answerable for him. Consternation was so plain on the Beau’s trained face that the Duke leaned toward him anxiously.
“The villain’s in, and Molyneux hath gone mad!”
Mr. Bantison, who had been fiercely elbowing his way toward them, joined heads with them. “You may well say he is in,” he exclaimed “and if you want to know where, why, in yonder card-room. I saw him through the half-open door.”
“What’s to be done?” asked the Beau.
“Send the bailiffs—”
“Fie, fie! A file of bailiffs? The scandal!”
“Then listen to me,” said the Duke. “I’ll select half-a-dozen gentlemen, explain the matter, and we’ll put him in the center of us and take him out to the bailiffs. ’Twill appear nothing. Do you remain here and keep the attention of Beaujolais and de Mirepoix. Come, Bantison, fetch Townbrake and Harry Rakell yonder; I’ll bring the others.”
Three minutes later, his Grace of Winterset flung wide the card-room door, and, after his friends had entered, closed it.
“Ah!” remarked M. Beaucaire quietly. “Six more large men.”
The Duke, seeing Lady Mary, started; but the angry signs of her interview had not left her face, and reassured him. He offered his hand to conduct her to the door. “May I have the honor?”
“If this is to be known, ’twill be better if I leave after; I should be observed if I went now.”
“As you will, madam,” he answered, not displeased. “And now, you impudent villain,” he began, turning to M. Beaucaire, but to fall back astounded. “’Od’s blood, the dog hath murdered and robbed some royal prince!” He forgot Lady Mary’s presence in his excitement. “Lay hands on him!” he shouted. “Tear those orders from him!”