“Exactly,” Jeanne admitted. “I went to sleep listening for footsteps. I think it was very rude of Ronald to go away without saying good-bye to me.”
“You would have thought it still ruder,” Cecil remarked, “if he had had you roused at five o’clock or so to make his adieux.”
The Princess and Jeanne left the table together a few minutes before the other two, and Jeanne asked her stepmother a question.
“How long are we going to stop here?” she inquired. “I thought that our visit was for two or three days only.”
The Princess hesitated.
“Cecil is such a nice boy,” she said, “and he is so anxious to have us stay a little longer. What do you say? You are not bored?”
“I am not bored,” Jeanne answered, “so long as you can keep him from saying silly things to me. On the contrary, I like to be here. I like it better than London. I like it better than any place I have been in since I left school.”
The Princess looked at her a little curiously.
“I wonder,” she said, “whether I ought to be looking after you a little more closely, my child. What do you do on the marshes there all the time? Do you talk with this Mr. Andrew?”
“I went with him in his boat this morning,” Jeanne answered composedly. “It was very pleasant. We had a delightful sail.”
The Princess shrugged her shoulders.
“Well,” she said, “one must amuse oneself, and I suppose it is only reasonable that we should all choose different ways. I think I need not tell even such a child as you that men are the same all the world over, and that even a fisherman, if he is encouraged, may be guilty sometimes of an impertinence.”
Jeanne raised her eyebrows.
“I have not the slightest fear,” she said, “that Mr. Andrew would ever be guilty of anything of the sort. I wish I could say the same of some of the people whom I have met in our own circle of society.”
The Princess smiled tolerantly.
“Nowadays,” she remarked, “it is perfectly true that men do take too great liberties. Well, amuse yourself with your fisherman, my dear child. It is your legitimate occupation in life to make fools of all manner of men, and there is no harm in your beginning as low down as you choose if it amuses you.”
Jeanne walked deliberately away. The Princess laughed a little uneasily. As she watched Jeanne ascend the stairs, Forrest and Cecil came out into the hall. They all three moved together into the further corner, where coffee was set out upon a small table, and it was significant that they did not speak a word until they were there, and even then Major Forrest looked cautiously around before he opened his lips.
“Well?” he asked.
The Princess smiled scornfully at their white, anxious faces.
“What are you afraid of?” she asked contemptuously. “Jeanne suspects nothing, of course. There is nothing which she could suspect. She has not mentioned his name even.”