Jeanne sighed. She had been enjoying herself very much indeed.
“I am ready now,” she said, standing up, “but must we go to Dorchester House? I would so much rather go straight home. I have not had such a good time since I have been in London.”
The Duke offered her his arm, ignoring altogether Count De Brensault, who was standing by.
“At least,” he said, “you will permit me to see you to your carriage.”
The Princess smiled graciously. It was bad enough to be ignored, as she certainly was to some extent, but on the other hand it was good for De Brensault to see Jeanne held in such esteem. She took his arm and they followed down the room. The Duke was bending down and talking earnestly to Jeanne; this surprised the Princess.
“I wonder,” she remarked, more to herself than to her companion, “what he is saying.”
De Brensault shrugged his shoulders.
“I do not care,” he said. “We will keep to our bargain, you and I. In a few days it will be my arm that she shall take, and nobody else’s. Perhaps I shall be a little jealous. Who can say? In a little time she will not mind.”
“Remember,” the Duke was saying, as he drew Jeanne’s hand through his arm, “that I was very much in earnest in what I said to you just now. I have seen a good deal of the world, and you nothing at all, and I cannot help believing that the time when you may need some one’s help is a good deal nearer than you yourself imagine.”
“I wonder,” she asked, a little timidly, “why you are so kind to me?”
“I accept you upon trust,” the Duke said, “for the sake of my friend Andrew. I know that he lives out of the world, and has not much experience in judging others, but I do believe that when he has made up his mind about anybody, he is generally right. Frankly, from what I have heard, and a little that I know, I am afraid that I should have been suspicious about even a child like you, because of your associates. But because I believe in you, I am all the more sure that very soon you are going to find yourself in trouble. It is agreed, remember, that when that time comes you will remember that I am your friend.”
“I will remember,” she murmured. “I am not likely to forget. Except for you and Mr. De la Borne, no one has been really kind to me since I left school. They all say foolish things, and try to make me like them, because I am a great heiress, but one understands how much that is worth.”
The Duke looked at her, and seemed half inclined to say something. Whatever it may have been, however, he thought better of it. He contented himself with taking her hand in his and shaking it warmly.
“Good night,” he said, “little Miss Jeanne, and remember, No. 51, Grosvenor Square. If I am not there, I have a very nice old housekeeper who will look after you until I turn up.”
“No. 51,” she repeated softly. “No, I shall not forget!”