The Duchess looked up from her
writing table and nodded to her
husband, who had just entered.
"Good morning, Ambrose!" she
said. "Do you want to talk to
"If you can spare me five minutes," the
Duke suggested. "I don't think
that I need keep you longer."
The Duchess handed her notebook
to her secretary, who hastened
from the room. The Duke seated
himself in her vacant chair.
"About our little party down
in Hampshire next week," he began.
"I am waiting to hear from
you before I send out any invitations," the
"Quite so," the Duke assented. "To
tell you the truth, I don't want
anything in the nature of a house
party. What I should really like
would be to get Maiyo there almost
His wife looked at him in some
"You seem particularly anxious
to make things pleasant for this
young man," she remarked. "If
he were the son of the Emperor
himself, no one could do more
for him than you people have
been doing these last few weeks."
The Duke of Devenham, Chancellor
of the Duchy of Lancaster, whose
wife entertained for his party,
and whose immense income, derived
mostly from her American relations,
was always at its disposal, was
a person almost as important
in the councils of his country
as the Prime Minister himself.
It sometimes occurred to him
that the person who most signally
failed to realize this fact was
the lady who did him the honor
to preside over his household.
"My dear Margaret," he said, "you
can take my word for it that
we know what we are about. It
is very important indeed that
we should keep on friendly terms
with this young man,--I don't
mean as a personal matter. It's
a matter of politics--perhaps
of something greater, even, than
The Duchess liked to understand
everything, and her husband's
reticence annoyed her.
"But we have the Japanese Ambassador
always with us," she remarked. "A
most delightful person I call
the Baron Hesho, and I am sure
he loves us all."
"That is not exactly the point,
my dear," the Duke explained. "Prince
Maiyo is over here on a special
mission. We ourselves have only
been able to surmise its object
with the aid of our secret service
in Tokio. You can rest assured
of one thing, however. It is
of vast importance to the interests
of this country that we secure
The Duchess smiled good humoredly.
"Well, my dear Ambrose," she
said, "I don't know what more
we can do than feed him properly
and give him pleasant people
to talk to. He doesn't go in
for sports, does he? All I can
promise is that we will do our
best to be agreeable to him."
"I am sure of it, my dear," the
Duke said. "You haven't committed
yourself to asking any one, by
"Not a soul," his wife answered, "except
Sir Charles. I had to ask him,
of course, for Penelope."
"Naturally," the Duke assented. "I
am glad Penelope will be there.
I only wish that she were English
instead of American, and that
Maiyo would take a serious fancy
"Perhaps," the Duchess said
dryly, "you would like him to
take a fancy to Grace?"
"I shouldn't mind in the least," her
husband declared. "I never met
a young man whom I respected
and admired more."
"Nor I, for that matter," the
Duchess agreed. "And yet, somehow
"Somehow or other?" the
Duke repeated courteously.
"Well, I never altogether trust
these paragons," his wife said. "In
all the ordinary affairs of life
the Prince seems to reach an
almost perfect standard. I sometimes
wonder whether he would be as
trustworthy in the big things.
Nothing else you want to talk
"Nothing at all," the Duke
said, rising to his feet. "I
only wanted to make it plain
that we don't require a house
party next week."
"I shan't ask a soul," the
Duchess answered. "Do you mind
ringing the bell as you pass?
I'll have Miss Smith back again
and send these letters off."
"Good!" the Duke declared. "I'm
going down to the House, but
I don't suppose there'll be anything
doing. By the bye, we shall have
to be a little feudal next week.
Japan is a country of many ceremonies,
and, after all, Maiyo is one
of the Royal Family. I have written
Perkins, to stir him up a little."
The Duke drove down to the
House, but called first in Downing
Street. He found the Prime Minister
anxious to see him.
"You've arranged about Maiyo
coming down to you next week?" he
"That's all right," the Duke
answered. "He is coming, for
certain. One good thing about
that young man--he never breaks
The Prime Minister consulted
a calendar which lay open before
"Do you mind," he asked, "if
I come, too, and Bransome?"
"Why, of course not," the Duke
replied. "We shall be delighted.
We have seventy bedrooms, and
only half a dozen or so of us.
But tell me--is this young man
as important as all that?"
"We shall have to have a serious
talk," the Prime Minister said, "in
a few days' time. I don't think
that even you grasp the exact
position of affairs as they stand
today. Just now I am bothered
to death about other things.
Heseltine has just been in from
the Home Office. He is simply
inundated with correspondence
from America about those two
The Duke nodded.
"It's an odd thing," he remarked, "that
they should both have been Americans."
"Heseltine thinks there's something
behind this correspondence," the
Prime Minister said slowly. "Washington
was very secretive about the
man Fynes' identity. I found
that out from Scotland Yard.
Do you know, I'm half inclined
to think, although I can't get
a word out of Harvey, that this
The Prime Minister hesitated.
Duke asked a little impatiently.
"I don't want to go too far," his
chief said. "I am making some
fresh inquiries, and I am hoping
to get at the bottom of the matter
very shortly. One thing is very
certain, though, and that is
that no two murders have ever
been committed in this city with
more cold-blooded deliberation,
and with more of what I should
call diabolical cleverness. Take
the affair of poor young Vanderpole,
for instance. The person who
entered his taxi and killed him
must have done so while the vehicle
was standing in the middle of
the road at one of the three
blocks. Not only that, but he
must have been a friend, or some
one posing as a friend--some
one, at any rate, of his own
order. Vanderpole was over six
feet high, and as muscular as
a young bull. He could have thrown
any one out into the street who
had attempted to assault him
"It is the most remarkable
case I ever heard of in my life," the
Duke admitted, helping himself
to a cigarette from a box which
he had just discovered.
"There is another point," the
Prime Minister continued. "There
are features in common about
both these murders. Not only
were they both the work of a
most accomplished criminal, but
he must have been possessed of
an iron nerve and amazing strength.
The dagger by which Hamilton
Fynes was stabbed was driven
through the middle of his heart.
The cord with which Vanderpole
was strangled must have been
turned by a wrist of steel. No
time for a word afterwards, mind,
or before. It was a wonderful
feat. I am not surprised that
the Americans can't understand
"They don't suggest, I suppose," the
Duke asked, "that we are not
trying to clear the matter up?"
"They don't suggest it," his
chief answered, "but I can't
quite make out what's at the
back of their heads. However,
I won't bother you about that
now. If I were to propound Heseltine's
theory to you, you would think
that he had been reading the
works of some of our enterprising
young novelists. Things will
have cleared up, I dare say,
by next week. I am coming round
to the House for a moment if
you're not in a hurry."
The Duke assented, and waited
while the secretary locked up
the papers which the Prime Minister
had been examining, and prepared
others to be carried into the
House. The two men left the place
together, and the Duke pointed
toward his brougham.
"Do you mind walking?" the
Prime Minister said. "There is
another matter I'd like to talk
to you about, and there's nowhere
better than the streets for a
little conversation. Besides,
I need the air."
"With pleasure," the
Duke answered, who loathed
He directed his coachman to
precede them, and they started
off, arm in arm.
"Devenham," the Prime Minister
said, "we were speaking, a few
minutes ago, of Prince Maiyo.
I want you to understand this,
that upon that young man depends
entirely the success or failure
of my administration."
"You are serious?" the
"Absolutely," the Prime Minister
answered. "I know quite well
what he is here for. He is here
to make up his mind whether it
will pay Japan to renew her treaty
with us, or whether it would
be more to her advantage to enter
into an alliance with any other
European power. He has been to
most of the capitals in Europe.
He has been here with us. By
this time he has made up his
mind. He knows quite well what
his report will be. Yet you can't
get a word out of him. He is
a delightful young fellow, I
know, but he is as clever as
any trained diplomatist I have
ever come across. I've had him
to dine with me alone, and I've
done all that I could to make
him talk. When he went away,
I knew just exactly as much as
I did before he came."
He seems pleased
enough with us," the Duke remarked.
"I am not so sure," the Prime
Minister answered. "He has travelled
about a good deal in England.
I heard of him in Manchester
and Sheffield, Newcastle and
Leicester, absolutely unattended.
I wonder what he was doing there."
"From my experience of him," the
Duke said, "I don't think we
shall know until he chooses to
"I am afraid you are right," the
Prime Minister declared. "At
the same time you might just
drop a hint to your wife, and
to that remarkably clever young
niece of hers, Miss Penelope
Morse. Of course, I don't expect
that he would unbosom himself
to any one, but, to tell you
the truth, as we are situated
now, the faintest hint as regards
his inclinations, or lack of
inclinations, towards certain
things would be of immense service.
If he criticised any of our institutions,
for instance, his remarks would
be most interesting. Then he
has been spending several months
in various capitals. He would
not be likely to tell any one
his whole impressions of those
few months, but a phrase, a word,
even a gesture, to a clever woman
might mean a great deal. It might
also mean a great deal to us."
"I'll mention it," the Duke
promised, "but I am afraid my
womenfolk are scarcely up to
this sort of thing. The best
plan would be to tackle him ourselves
down at Devenham."
"I thought of that," the Prime
Minister assented. "That is why
I am coming down myself and bringing
Bransome. If he will have nothing
to say to us within a week or
so of his departure, we shall
know what to think. Remember
my words, Devenham,--when our
chronicler dips his pen into
the ink and writes of our government,
our foreign policy, at least,
will be judged by our position
in the far East. Exactly what
that will be depends upon Prince
Maiyo. With a renewal of our
treaty we could go to the country
tomorrow. Without it, especially
if the refusal should come from
them, there will be some very
ugly writing across the page."
The Duke threw away his cigarette.
"Well," he said, "we
can only do our best. The young
The Prime Minister nodded.
"It is precisely his friendliness
which I fear," he said.