Carlton stopped midway, with one foot on the step and the other in the air.
“The deuce they are!” he exclaimed; “and which is—” he began, eagerly, and then remembering himself, dropped back on the cushions of the hansom.
He broke into the little dining-room at Cox’s in so excited a state that two dignified old gentlemen who were eating there sat open-mouthed in astonished disapproval. Mrs. Downs and Miss Morris had just come down stairs.
“I have seen her!” Carlton cried, ecstatically; “only half an hour in the town, and I’ve seen her already!”
“No, really?” exclaimed Miss Morris. “And how did she look? Is she as beautiful as you expected?”
“Well, I can’t tell yet,” Carlton answered.
“There were three of them, and they were all muffled up, and which one of the three she was I don’t know. She wasn’t labelled, as in the picture, but she was there, and I saw her. The woman I love was one of that three, and I have engaged rooms at the hotel, and this very night the same roof shelters us both.”
“The course of true love certainly runs smoothly with you,” said Miss Morris, as they seated themselves at the table. “What is your next move? What do you mean to do now?”
“The rest is very simple,” said Carlton. “To-morrow morning I will go to the Row; I will be sure to find some one there who knows all about them—where they are going, and who they are seeing, and what engagements they may have. Then it will only be a matter of looking up some friend in the Household or in one of the embassies who can present me.”
“Oh,” said Miss Morris, in the tone of keenest disappointment, “but that is such a commonplace ending! You started out so romantically. Couldn’t you manage to meet her in a less conventional way?”
“I am afraid not,” said Carlton. “You see, I want to meet her very much, and to meet her very soon, and the quickest way of meeting her, whether it’s romantic or not, isn’t a bit too quick for me. There will be romance enough after I am presented, if I have my way.”
But Carlton was not to have his way; for he had overlooked the fact that it requires as many to make an introduction as a bargain, and he had left the Duke of Hohenwald out of his considerations. He met many people he knew in the Row the next morning; they asked him to lunch, and brought their horses up to the rail, and he patted the horses’ heads, and led the conversation around to the royal wedding, and through it to the Hohenwalds. He learned that they had attended a reception at the German Embassy on the previous night, and it was one of the secretaries of that embassy who informed him of their intended departure that morning on the eleven o’clock train to Paris.
“To Paris!” cried Carlton, in consternation. “What! all of them?”
“Yes, all of them, of course. Why?” asked the young German. But Carlton was already dodging across the tan-bark to Piccadilly and waving his stick at a hansom.