A loud knock at the door had brought on the poor creature’s palpitations.
This visitor was no other than Prince Ernest. The name on his card was Graf von Delzenburg, and it set my heart leaping to as swift a measure as Mrs. Waddy’s.
Hearing that I was in the house, he desired to see me.
We met, with a formal bow.
’I congratulate you right heartily upon being out of the list of the nekron,’ he said, civilly. ’I am on my way to one of your watering-places, whither my family should have preceded me. Do you publish the names and addresses of visitors daily, as it is the custom with us?’
I relieved his apprehensions on that head: ’Here and there, rarely; and only at the hotels, I believe.’ The excuse was furnished for offering the princess’s address.
’Possibly, in a year or two, we may have the pleasure of welcoming you at Sarkeld,’ said the prince, extending his hand. ’Then, you have seen the Countess of Delzenburg?’
’On the day of her arrival, your Highness. Ladies of my family are staying on the island.’
He paused, and invited me to bow to him. We bowed thus in the room, in the hall, and at the street-door.
For what purpose could he have called on my father? To hear the worst at once? That seemed likely, supposing him to have lost his peculiar confidence in the princess, of which the courtly paces he had put me through precluded me from judging.
But I guessed acutely that it was not his intention to permit of my meeting Ottilia a second time. The blow was hard: I felt it as if it had been struck already, and thought I had gained resignation, until, like a man reprieved on his road to execution, the narrowed circle of my heart opened out to the breadth of the world in a minute. Returning from the city, I hurried to my father’s house, late in the afternoon, and heard that he had started to overtake the prince, leaving word that the prince was to be found at his address in the island. No doubt could exist regarding the course I was bound to take. I drove to my grandfather, stated my case to him, and by sheer vehemence took the wind out of his sails; so that when I said, ’I am the only one alive who can control my father,’ he answered mildly, ‘Seems t’ other way,’ and chose a small snort for the indulgence of his private opinion.
’What! this princess came over alone, and is down driving out with my girl under an alias?’ he said, showing sour aversion at the prospect of a collision with the foreign species, as expressive as the ridge of a cat’s back.
Temple came to dine with us, so I did not leave him quite to himself, and Temple promised to accompany him down to the island.
‘Oh, go, if you like,’ the fretted old man dismissed me: