He hesitated for a moment.
“There is still an aftermath to our troubles,” he told her, “one cloud which leans over us. I shall clear it up in time,—but other things may happen first.”
“You take yourself very seriously, Everard,” she observed, looking at him with a puzzled expression. “One would think that there was a side of your life, and a very important one, which you kept entirely to yourself. Why do you have that funny little man Seaman always round with you? You’re not being blackmailed or anything, are you?”
“On the contrary,” he told her, “Seaman was the first founder of my fortunes.”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“I have made a little money once or twice on the Stock Exchange,” she remarked, “but I didn’t have to carry my broker about in my pocket afterwards.”
“Seaman is a good-hearted little fellow, and he loves companionship. He will drift away presently, and one won’t see anything of him for ages.”
“Henry began to wonder,” she concluded drily, “whether you were going to stand for Parliament on the Anglo-German alliance ticket.”
Dominey laughed as he caught Middleton’s reproachful eye in the doorway of the farmer’s kitchen in which they were hunching. He gave the signal to rise.
“I have had some thoughts of Parliament,” he admitted, “but—well, Henry need not worry.”
The next morning saw the breaking-up of Dominey’s carefully arranged shooting party. The Prince took his host’s arm and led him to one side for a few moments, as the cars were being loaded up. His first few words were of formal thanks. He spoke then more intimately.
“Von Ragastein,” he said, “I desire to refer back for a moment to our conversation the other day.”
Dominey shook his head and glanced behind.
“I know only one name here, Prince.”
“Dominey, then. I will confess that you play and carry the part through perfectly. I have known English gentlemen all my life, and you have the trick of the thing. But listen. I have already told you of my disapproval of this scheme in which you are the central figure.”
“It is understood,” Dominey assented.
“That,” the Prince continued, “is a personal matter. What I am now going to say to you is official. I had despatches from Berlin last night. They concern you.”
Dominey seemed to stiffen a little.
“I am given to understand,” the Ambassador continued, “that you practically exist only in the event of that catastrophe which I, for one, cannot foresee. I am assured that if your expose should take place at any time, your personation will be regarded as a private enterprise, and there is nothing whatever to connect you with any political work.”
“Up to the present that is absolutely so,” Dominey agreed.