“There is no fresh news, I suppose?” the Princess asked.
“None,” Cecil answered gloomily. “If only we could see our way to the end of it, I shouldn’t mind.”
The Princess was thoughtful for a few moments.
“Well,” she said, “I don’t know, after all, if Forrest need go just yet. Your brother has made up his mind to go fishing for several weeks. I think that he is going to start to-day.”
“Do you mean it?” Cecil exclaimed, incredulously.
The Princess nodded.
“He has been philandering with Jeanne,” she said, “and his magnificent conscience is taking him out into the North Sea.”
Cecil’s features relaxed. After all, though he played at maturity, he was little more than a boy.
“Fancy old Andrew!” he exclaimed. “Gone on a child like Miss Jeanne, too! Well, anyhow, that makes it all right about Forrest staying, doesn’t it?”
“He shall stop,” the Princess answered slowly. “Jeanne and I will stay, too, until Monday. Perhaps by that time—”
“By that time,” Cecil repeated, “something may have happened.”
His Grace the Duke of Westerham stepped forward from the hearthrug, in the middle of which he had been standing, and held out both his hands. His lips were parted in a smile, and there was a twinkle in his eyes.
“My dear Andrew,” he exclaimed, “it is delightful to see you. You seem to bring the salt of the North Sea into our frowsy city.”
Andrew grasped his friend’s hands.
“I have been fishing with some of my men for three weeks,” he said, “off the Dogger Bank. The salt does cling to one, you know, and I suppose I am as black as a nigger.”
The Duke sighed a little.
“My dear Andrew,” he said, “you make one wonder whether it is worth while to count for anything at all in the world. You represent the triumph of physical fitness. You could break me, or a dozen like me, in your hands. You know what the faddists of the moment say? They declare that brains and genius have had their day—that the greatest man in the world nowadays is the strongest.”
Andrew smiled as he settled down in the armchair which his friend had wheeled towards him.
“You do not believe in your own doctrines,” he remarked. “You would not part with a tenth part of your brains for all my muscle.”
The Duke paused to think.
“It is not only the muscle,” he said. “It is this appearance of splendid physical perfection. You have but to show yourself in a London drawing-room, and you will establish a cult. Do you want to be worshipped, friend Andrew—to wear a laurel crown, and have beautiful ladies kneeling at your feet?”
“Chuck it!” Andrew remarked good humouredly. “I didn’t come here to be chaffed. I came here on a serious mission.”