“Your charming ward,” Cecil answered, “has as many whims and fancies as an elf. She yawns when I talk to her, and looks longingly after one of my villagers. Hang the fellow!”
“A very superior villager,” the Princess remarked, “if you mean Mr. Andrew.”
Forrest looked up, and fixed his cold intent eyes upon his host.
“I suppose,” he said, “you are sure that this man Andrew is really what he professes to be, and not a masquerader?”
“I have known him,” Cecil answered, “since I was old enough to remember anybody. He has lived here all his life, and only been away three or four times.”
They played until the dressing-bell rang. Then Cecil de la Borne rose from his seat with a peevish exclamation.
“My luck seems dead out,” he said.
The Princess raised her eyebrows.
“Possibly, my dear boy,” she said, “but you must admit that you also played abominably. Your last declaration of hearts was indefensible, and why you led a diamond and discarded the spade in Lord Ronald’s ‘no trump’ hand, Heaven only knows!”
“I still think that I was right,” Cecil declared, a little sullenly.
The Princess said nothing, but turned toward the door.
“Any one dining to-night, Mr. Host?” she said.
“No one,” he answered. “To tell you the truth there is no one to ask within a dozen miles, and you particularly asked not to be bothered with meeting yokels.”
“Quite right,” the Princess answered, “only I am getting a little bored, and if you had any yokels of the Mr. Andrew sort, with just a little more polish, they might be entertaining. You three men are getting deadly dull.”
“Princess!” Lord Ronald declared reproachfully. “How can you say that? You never give any one a chance to see you until the afternoon, and then we generally start bridge. One cannot be brilliantly entertaining while one is playing cards.”
The Princess yawned.
“I never argue,” she said. “I only state facts. I am getting a little bored. Some one must be very amusing at dinner-time or I shall have a headache.”
She swept up to her room.
“I suppose we’d better go and change,” Cecil remarked, leading the way out into the hall.
Forrest, who was at the window, screwed his eyeglass in and leaned forward. A faint smile had parted the corner of his lips, and he beckoned to Cecil, who came over at once to his side. On the top of the sand-dyke two figures were walking slowly side by side. Jeanne, with the wind blowing her skirts about her small shapely figure, was looking up all the time at the man who walked by her side, and who, against the empty background of sea and sky, seemed of a stature almost gigantic.
“Quite an idyll!” Forrest remarked with a little sneer.
Cecil bit his lip, and turned away without a word.