“Jeanne is the only difficulty,” the Princess said. “It would suit me better, for upon my word I don’t know where I could get credit for her trousseau.”
“It isn’t any use waiting,” Forrest said. “I have watched them together, and I am sure of it. De Brensault isn’t one of those fellows who improve upon acquaintance. Look, there they are. Nothing very lover-like about that, is there?”
De Brensault and Jeanne were crossing the room together. Only the very tips of her fingers rested upon his coat-sleeve, and there was a marked aloofness about her walk and the carriage of her head. He was saying something to her to which she seemed to be paying the scantiest of attention. Her head was thrown back, and in her eyes was a great weariness. Suddenly, just as they reached the entrance, they saw her whole expression change. A wave of colour flooded her cheeks. Her eyes were suddenly filled with life. They saw her lips part. Her hands were outstretched to greet the man who, crossing the room, had stopped at her summons. Both the Princess and Forrest frowned when they saw who it was. It was Andrew de la Borne.
“That infernal fisherman!” Forrest muttered. “I saw in the paper that he had returned this afternoon from The Hague.”
The Princess made an involuntary movement forward, but Forrest checked her.
“You can do no good,” he said. “Wait and see what happens.”
What did happen was very simple, and for the Count de Brensault a little humiliating. Jeanne passed her arm through the newcomer’s and with the curtest of nods to her late companion, disappeared through an open doorway. The Belgian stood looking after them, twirling his moustache with shaking fingers. His face was paler even than usual, and he was shaking with anger.
“Leave him alone for a few minutes,” Forrest said to the Princess. “You will do no good at all by speaking to him just now. Ena, it is absolutely necessary that you make Jeanne understand the state of affairs.”
“I think,” the Princess said thoughtfully, “that it will be best to take her away from London. Lately I have noticed a development in Jeanne which I do not altogether understand. She has begun to think for herself most unpleasantly. She plays at being a child with De Brensault, but that is simply because it is the easiest way to repulse him.”
Meanwhile Jeanne, whose face was transfigured, and whose whole manner was changed, was sitting with her companion in the quietest corner they could find.
“It is delightful to see you again,” she said frankly. “I do not think that any one ever felt so lonely as I do.”
“I can assure you that I find it delightful to be back again,” he said, “although I have enjoyed my work very much. By the by, who introduced you to the man whom you were with when I found you?”
“My stepmother,” she answered. “He is the man, by the by, whom I am told I am to marry.”