She said very little, but she looked at him for a moment with her wonderful eyes, very soft with unshed tears.
“You are very, very kind,” she said. “I have been very unhappy, and I have felt very lonely. It will make everything seem quite different to know there is some one to whom I may come for advice if—if—”
“I know, dear,” the Duke interrupted, rising and holding out his arm. “I know quite well what you mean. All I can say is, don’t be afraid to come or to send, and don’t let any one bully you into throwing away your life upon a scoundrel like De Brensault. I am going to give you back to Andrew now. He is a good fellow—one of the best. I only wish—”
The Duke broke off short. After all, he remembered, he had no right to complete his sentence. Andrew, he felt, was no more of a marrying man than he himself, and he was the last person in the world to ever think of marrying a great heiress. They found him waiting about outside.
“I must relinquish my charge,” the Duke said smiling. “You will not forget, Miss Le Mesurier?”
“I am never likely to,” she answered gratefully.
The Count de Brensault had seldom been in a worse temper. That Jeanne should have flouted him was not in itself so terrible, because he had quite made up his mind that sooner or later he would take a coward’s revenge for the slights he had been made to endure at her hands. But that he should have been flouted in the presence of a whole roomful of people, that he should have been deliberately left for another man, was a different matter altogether. His first impulse when Jeanne left him, was to walk out of the house and have nothing more to say to the Princess or Jeanne herself. The world was full of girls perfectly willing to tumble into his arms, and mothers only too anxious to push them there. Why should he put himself in this position for Jeanne, great heiress though she might be? But somehow or other, after he had tossed off two glasses of champagne at the buffet, he realized that his fancy for her was a real thing, and one from which he could not so readily escape. If she had wished to deliberately attract him, she could scarcely have chosen means more calculated to attain that end than by this avowed indifference, even dislike. He sat by himself in a small smoking-room and thought of her—her slim girlish perfection of figure and bearing, her perfect complexion, her beautiful eyes, her scarlet lips. All these things came into his mind as he sat there, until he felt his cheeks flush with the desire to succeed, and his eyes grow bright at the thought of the time when he should hold her in his arms and take what revenge he chose for these slights. No! he would not let her go, he determined. Dignified or undignified, he would pursue her to the end, only he must have an understanding with the Princess, something definite must be done. He would not run the risk again of being made a laughing-stock before all his friends. Forrest found him in exactly the mood most suitable for his purpose.