Forrest’s eyes narrowed. A quick little breath passed between his teeth. He took a step forward toward the young man, as though about to strike him.
Engleton, however, remained unmoved.
“You are going to carry away a story like this?” he said hoarsely.
“I shall tell my friends,” Engleton answered, “just as much or as little as I choose of my visit here. Since, however, you are curious, I may say that should I find you at any future time in any respectable house, it will be my duty to inform any one of my friends who are present of the character of their fellow-guest. Will you be so good as to stand away from that door?”
“No!” Forrest answered.
Engleton turned toward Cecil.
“Mr. De la Borne,” he said, “may I appeal to you, as it is your house, to allow me egress from it?”
Cecil came hesitatingly up to the two. The Princess, with a sweep of her skirts, followed him.
“Major Forrest is right,” she declared. “We cannot have this madman go back to London to spread about slanderous tales. Major Forrest will stand away from that door, Lord Ronald, as soon as you pass your word that what has happened to-night will remain a secret.”
Engleton laughed contemptuously.
“Not I,” he answered. “Exactly what I said to Major Forrest, I repeat, madam, to you, and to you, sir, my host. I shall give my friends the benefit of my experience whenever it seems to me advisable.”
Forrest locked the door, and put the key into his pocket.
“We shall hope, Lord Ronald,” he said quietly, “to induce you to change your mind.”
“Every one down for luncheon!” Jeanne declared. “What energy! Where is Lord Ronald, by the by?” she added, looking around the room. “He promised to take me out sailing this morning. I wonder if I missed him on the marshes.”
The Princess yawned, and glanced at the clock.
“By this time,” she remarked, “Lord Ronald is probably in London. He had a telegram or something in the middle of the night, and went away early this morning.”
Jeanne looked at them in surprise.
“How queer!” she remarked. “I was down before nine o’clock. Had he left then?”
“Long before then, I believe,” Forrest answered. “He is very likely coming back in a day or two.”
Jeanne nodded indifferently. The intelligence, after all, was of little importance to her.
“Has the luncheon gong gone?” she asked. “I have been out since ten o’clock, and I am starving.”
Cecil led the way across the hall into the dining-room.
“Come along,” he said. “I wish we all had such healthy appetites.”
She glanced at him, and then at the others.
“Well,” she said, “you certainly look as though you had been up very late last night. What is the matter with you all?”