Cecil drew a little breath of relief. His face seemed to have grown haggard during the last few hours.
“I wish to God,” he muttered, “we were out of this!”
The Princess turned her head and looked at him coldly.
“My young friend,” she said, “you men are all the same. You have no philosophy. The inevitable has happened, or rather the inevitable has been forced upon us. What we have done we did deliberately. We could not do otherwise, and we cannot undo it. Remember that. And if you have a grain of philosophy or courage in you, keep a stouter heart and wear a smile upon your face.”
Cecil rose to his feet.
“You are right,” he said. “Are you ready, Forrest? Will you come with me?”
Forrest rose slowly to his feet.
“Of course,” he said. “By the by, a sail this afternoon was a good idea. We must develop an interest in country pursuits. It is possible even,” he added, “that we may have to take to golf.”
The Princess, too, rose.
“Come into my room, one of you,” she said, “and see me for a moment, afterwards. I suppose we shall start for our sail about three?”
“The boat will be here by then,” he said.
“And I will come up and bring you the news, if there is any,” Forrest added.
The man who stood with a telescope glued to his eye watching the coming boat, shut it up at last with a little snap. He walked round to the other side of the cottage, where Andrew was sitting with a pipe in his mouth industriously mending a fishing net.
“Andrew,” he said, “there are some people coming here, and I am almost sure that they mean to land.”
Andrew rose to his feet and strolled round to the little stretch of beach in front of the cottage. When he saw who it was who approached, he stopped short and took his pipe from his mouth.
“By Jove, it’s Cecil,” he exclaimed, “and his friends!”
His companion nodded. He was a man still on the youthful side of middle age, with bronzed features, and short, closely-cut beard. He looked what he was, a traveller and a sportsman.
“So I imagined,” he said, “but I don’t see Ronald there.”
Andrew shaded his eyes with his hand.
“No!” he said. “There is the Princess and Cecil, and Major Forrest and Miss Le Mesurier. No one else. They certainly do look as though they were going to land here.”
“Why not?” the other man remarked. “Why shouldn’t Cecil come to visit his hermit brother?”
“Berners,” he said, “I want you to remember this. If they land here and you see anything of them, will you have the goodness to understand that I am Mr. Andrew, fisherman, and that you are my lodger?”
Andrew’s companion looked at him in surprise.
“What sort of a game is this, Andrew?” he asked.