“Everard is changed in more ways than one,” his wife observed, with faint irony.
Dominey, who had risen to leave, bent over her hand.
“What about my dinner party, sir?” she added.
“As soon as I return from Norfolk,” he replied.
“Dominey Hall will really find you?” she asked a little curiously.
There was again that little flutter of fear in her eyes, followed by a momentary flash of admiration. Dominey shook hands gravely with his host and nodded to Bertram. The servant whom the Duchess had summoned stood holding the curtains on one side.
“I shall hope to see you again shortly, Duke,” Dominey said, as he completed his leave-taking. “There is a little matter of business to be adjusted between us. You will probably hear from Mr. Mangan in a day or two.”
The Duke gazed after the retreating figure of this very amazing visitor. When the curtains had fallen he turned to his wife.
“A little matter of business,” he repeated. “I hope you have explained to Everard, my dear, that although, of course, we are very glad to see him back again, it is absolutely hopeless for him to look to me for any financial assistance at the present moment.”
“Everard was alluding to the money he already owes you,” she explained. “He intends to repay it at once. He is also paying off the Dominey mortgages. He has apparently made a fortune in Africa.”
The Duke collapsed into an easy-chair.
“Everard pay his debts?” he exclaimed. “Everard Dominey pay off the mortgages?”
“That is what I understand,” his wife acquiesced.
The Duke clutched at the last refuge of a weak but obstinate man. His mouth came together like a rat-trap.
“There’s something wrong about it somewhere,” he declared.
Dominey spent a very impatient hour that evening in his sitting-room at the Carlton, waiting for Seaman. It was not until nearly seven that the latter appeared.
“Are you aware,” Dominey asked him, “that I am expected to call upon the Princess Eiderstrom at seven o’clock?”
“I have your word for it,” Seaman replied, “but I see no tragedy in the situation. The Princess is a woman of sense and a woman of political insight. While I cannot recommend you to take her entirely into your confidence, I still think that a middle course can be judiciously pursued.”
“Rubbish!” Dominey exclaimed. “As Leopold Von Ragastein, the Princess has indisputable claims upon me and my liberty, claims which would altogether interfere with the career of Everard Dominey.”
With methodical neatness, Seaman laid his hat, gloves and walking stick upon the sideboard. He then looked into the connecting bedroom, closed and fastened the door and extended himself in an easy-chair.