“Tell the messenger to wait. I will write an answer.”
“I am sure we shall be glad to go to you in Wales next week,” she added, turning to Byng again. “But won’t you be far away from the centre of things in Wales?”
“I’ve had the telegraph and a private telephone wire to London put in. I shall be as near the centre as though I lived in Grosvenor Square; and there are always special trains.”
“Special trains—oh, but it’s wonderful to have power to do things like that! When do you go down?” she asked.
She smiled radiantly. She saw that he was angry with himself for his cowardice just now, and she tried to restore him. “Please, will you telephone me when you arrive at your castle? I should like the experience of telephoning by private wire to Wales.”
He brightened. “Certainly, if you really wish it. I shall arrive at ten to-morrow night, and I’ll telephone you at eleven.”
“Splendid—splendid! I’ll be alone in my room then. I’ve got a telephone instrument there, and so we could say good-night.”
“So we can say good-night,” he repeated in a low voice, and he held out his hand in good-bye. When he had gone, with a new, great hope in his heart, she sat down and tremblingly re-opened the note she had received a moment before.
“I am going abroad” it read—“to Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. I think I’ve got my chance at last. I want to see you before I go—this evening, Jasmine. May I?”
It was signed “Ian.”
“Fate is stronger than we are,” she murmured; “and Fate is not kind to you, Ian,” she added, wearily, a wan look coming into her face.
“Mio destino,” she said at last—“mio destino!” But who was her destiny—which of the two who loved her?
THREE YEARS LATER
“Extra speshul—extra speshul—all about Kruger an’ his guns!”
The shrill, acrid cry rang down St. James’s Street, and a newsboy with a bunch of pink papers under his arm shot hither and thither on the pavement, offering his sensational wares to all he met.
“Extra speshul—extra speshul—all about the war wot’s comin’—all about Kruger’s guns!”
From an open window on the second floor of a building in the street a man’s head was thrust out, listening.
“The war wot’s comin’!” he repeated, with a bitter sort of smile. “And all about Kruger’s guns. So it is coming, is it, Johnny Bull; and you do know all about his guns, do you? If it is, and you do know, then a shattering big thing is coming, and you know quite a lot, Johnny Bull.”
He hummed to himself an impromptu refrain to an impromptu tune:
“Then you know quite a lot, Johnny Bull, Johnny Bull, Then you know quite a lot, Johnny Bull!”