They were talking of the Prince
during those few minutes before
they separated to dress for dinner.
The whole of the house-party,
with the exception of the Prince
himself, were gathered around
the great open fireplace at the
north end of the hall. The weather
had changed during the afternoon,
and a cold wind had blown in
their faces on the homeward drive.
Every one had found comfortable
seats here, watching the huge
logs burn, and there seemed to
be a general indisposition to
move. A couple of young men from
the neighborhood had joined the
house-party, and the conversation,
naturally enough, was chiefly
concerned with the day's sport.
The young men, Somerfield especially,
were inclined to regard the Prince's
achievement from a somewhat critical
"He rode the race well enough," Somerfield
admitted, "but the mare is a
topper, and no mistake. He had
nothing to do but to sit tight
and let her do the work."
"Of course, he hadn't to finish
either," one of the newcomers,
a Captain Everard Wilmot, remarked. "That's
where you can tell if a fellow
really can ride or not. Anyhow,
his style was rotten. To me he
seemed to sit his horse exactly
like a groom."
"You will, perhaps, not deny
him," the Duke remarked mildly, "a
certain amount of courage in
riding a strange horse of uncertain
temper, over a strange country,
in an enterprise which was entirely
new to him."
"I call it one of the most
sporting things I ever heard
of in my life," Lady Grace declared
Somerfield shrugged his shoulders.
"One must admit that he has
pluck," he remarked critically. "At
the same time I cannot see that
a single effort of this sort
entitles a man to be considered
a sportsman. He doesn't shoot,
nor does he ever ride except
when he is on military service.
He neither plays games nor has
he the instinct for them. A man
without the instinct for games
is a fellow I cannot understand.
He'd never get along in this
country, would he, Wilmot?"
"No, I'm shot if he would!" that
young man replied. "There must
be something wrong about a man
who hasn't any taste whatever
Penelope suddenly intervened--intervened,
too, in somewhat startling fashion.
"Charlie," she said, "you
are talking like a baby! I
of you! I am ashamed of you all!
You are talking like narrow-minded,
ignorant little squireens."
Somerfield went slowly white.
He looked across at Penelope,
but the angry flash in his eyes
was met by an even brighter light
in her own.
"I will tell you what I think!" she
exclaimed. "I think that you
are all guilty of the most ridiculous
presumption in criticising such
a man as the Prince. You would
dare--you, Captain Wilmot, and
you, Charlie, and you, Mr. Hannaway," she
added, turning to the third young
man, "to stand there and tell
us all in a lordly way that the
Prince is no sportsman, as though
that mysterious phrase disposed
of him altogether as a creature
inferior to you and your kind!
If only you could realize the
absolute absurdity of any of
you attempting to depreciate
a person so immeasurably above
you! Prince Maiyo is a man, not
an overgrown boy to go through
life shooting birds, playing
games which belong properly to
your schooldays, and hanging
round the stage doors of half
the theatres in London. You are
satisfied with your lives and
the Prince is satisfied with
his. He belongs to a race whom
you do not understand. Let him
alone. Don't presume to imagine
yourselves his superior because
he does not conform to your pygmy
standard of life."
Penelope was standing now,
her slim, elegant form throbbing
with the earnestness of her words,
a spot of angry color burning
in her cheeks. During the moment's
silence which followed, Lady
Grace too rose to her feet and
came to her friend's side.
"I agree with every word Penelope
has said," she declared.
The Duchess smiled.
"Come," she said soothingly, "we
mustn't take this little affair
too seriously. You are all right,
all of you. Every one must live
according to his bringing up.
The Prince, no doubt, is as faithful
to his training and instincts
as the young men of our own country.
It is more interesting to compare
than to criticise."
Somerfield, who for a moment
had been too angry to speak,
had now recovered himself.
"I think," he said stiffly, "that
we had better drop the subject.
I had no idea that Miss Morse
felt so strongly about it or
I should not have presumed, even
here and amongst ourselves, to
criticise a person who holds
such a high place in her esteem.
Everard, I'll play you a game
of billiards before we go upstairs.
There's just time."
Captain Wilmot hesitated. He
was a peace-loving man, and,
after all, Penelope and his friend
"Perhaps Miss Morse--" he
Penelope turned upon him.
"I should like you all to understand," she
declared, "that every word I
said came from my heart, and
that I would say it again, and
more, with the same provocation."
There was a finality about
Penelope's words which left no
room for further discussion.
The little group was broken up.
She and Lady Grace went to their
"Penelope, you're a dear!" the
latter said, as they mounted
the stairs. "I am afraid you've
made Charlie very angry, though."
"I hope I have," Penelope answered. "I
meant to make him angry. I think
that such self-sufficiency is
absolutely stifling. It makes
me sometimes almost loathe young
Englishmen of his class."
"And you don't dislike the
Prince so much nowadays?" Lady
Grace remarked with transparent
"No!" Penelope answered. "That
is finished. I misunderstood
him at first. It was entirely
my own fault. I was prejudiced,
and I hated to feel that I was
in the wrong. I do not see how
any one could dislike him unless
they were enemies of his country.
Then I fancy that they might
Lady Grace sighed.
"To tell you the truth, Penelope," she
said, "I almost wish that he
were not quite so devotedly attached
to his country."
Penelope was silent. They had
reached Lady Grace's room now,
and were standing together on
the hearthrug in front of the
"I am afraid he is like that," Penelope
said gently. "He seems to have
none of the ordinary weaknesses
of men. I, too, wish sometimes
that he were a little different.
One would like to think of him,
for his own sake, as being happy
some day. He reminds me somehow
of the men who build and build,
toiling always through youth
unto old age. There seems no
limit to their strength, nor
any respite. They build a palace
which those who come after them
Once more Lady Grace sighed.
She was looking into the heart
of the fire. Penelope took her
"It is hard sometimes, dear," she
said, "to realize that a thing
is impossible, that it is absolutely
out of our reach. Yet it is better
to bring one's mind to it than
to suffer all the days."
Lady Grace looked up. At that
moment she was more than pretty.
Her eyes were soft and bright,
the color had flooded her cheeks.
"But I don't see WHY it should
be impossible, Penelope," she
protested. "We are equals in
every way. Alliances between
our two countries are greatly
to be desired. I have heard my
father say so, and Mr. Haviland.
The trouble is, Pen," she added
with trembling lips, "that he
does not care for me."
"You cannot tell," Penelope
answered. "He has never shown
any signs of caring for any woman.
Remember, though, that he would
want you to live in Japan."
"I'd live in Thibet if he asked
me to," Lady Grace declared,
raising her handkerchief to her
eyes, "but he never will. He
doesn't care. He doesn't understand.
I am very foolish, Penelope."
Penelope kissed her gently.
"Dear," she said, "you are
not the only foolish woman in
the world." . . .
Conversation amongst the younger
members of the house-party at
Devenham Castle was a little
disjointed that evening. Perhaps
Penelope, who came down in a
wonderful black velveteen gown,
with a bunch of scarlet roses
in her corsage, was the only
one who seemed successfully to
ignore the passage of arms which
had taken place so short a while
ago. She talked pleasantly to
Somerfield, who tried to be dignified
and succeeded only in remaining
sulky. Chance had placed her
at some distance from the Prince,
to whom Lady Grace was talking
with a subdued softness in her
manner which puzzled Captain
Wilmot, her neighbor on the other
"I saw you with all the evening
papers as usual, Bransome," the
Prime Minister remarked during
the service of dinner. "Was there
"Nothing much," the Foreign
Secretary replied. "Consuls are
down another point and the Daily
Comet says that you are like
a drowning man clinging to the
raft of your majority. Excellent
cartoon of you, by the bye. You
shall see it after dinner."
"Thank you," the Prime Minister
said. "Was there anything about
you in the same paper by any
"Nothing particularly abusive," Sir
Edward answered blandly. "By
the bye, the police declare that
they have a definite clue this
time, and are going to arrest
the murderer of Hamilton Fynes
and poor dicky Vanderpole tonight
"Excellent!" the Duke declared. "It
would have been a perfect disgrace
to our police system to have
left two such crimes undetected.
Our respected friend at the Home
Office will have a little peace
"How about me?" Bransome grumbled. "Haven't
I been worried to death, too?"
The Prince, who had just finished
describing to Lady Grace a typical
landscape of his country, turned
"I think that I heard you say
something about a discovery in
connection with those wonderful
murder cases," he said. "Has
any one actually been arrested?"
"My paper was an early edition," Bransome
answered, "but it spoke of a
sensational denouement within
the next few hours. I should
imagine that it is all over by
now. At the same time it's absurd
how the Press give these things
away. It seems that some fellow
who was bicycling saw a man get
in and out of poor Dicky's taxi
and is quite prepared to swear
"Has he not been rather a long
time in coming forward with his
evidence?" the Prince remarked. "I
do not remember to have seen
any mention of such a person
in the papers before."
"He watched so well," Bransome
answered, "and was so startled
that he was knocked down and
run over. The detective in charge
of the case found him in a hospital."
"These things always come out
sooner or later," the Prime Minister
remarked. "As a matter of fact,
I am inclined to think that our
police wait too long before they
make an arrest. They play with
their victim so deliberately
that sometimes he slips through
their fingers. Very often, too,
they let a man go who would give
himself away from sheer fright
if he felt the touch of a policeman
upon his shoulder."
"As a nation," Bransome remarked,
helping himself to the entree, "we
handle life amongst ourselves
with perpetual kid gloves. We
are always afraid of molesting
the liberty of the subject. A
trifle more brutality sometimes
would make for strength. We are
like a dentist whose work suffers
because he is afraid of hurting
Somerfield was watching his
"Are you really very pale tonight,
Penelope," he asked, "or is it
those red flowers which have
drawn all the color from your
"I believe that I am pale," Penelope
answered. "I am always pale when
I wear black and when people
have disagreed with me. As a
matter of fact, I am trying to
make the Prince feel homesick.
Tell me," she asked him across
the round table, "don't you think
that I remind you a little tonight
of the women of your country?"
The Prince returned her gaze
as though, indeed, something
were passing between them of
greater significance than that
"Indeed," he said, "I
think that you do. You remind
my country itself--of the things
that wait for me across the ocean."
The Prince's servant had entered
the dining room and whispered
in the ear of the butler who
was superintending the service
of dinner. The latter came over
at once to the Prince.
"Your Highness," he said, "some
one is on the telephone, speaking
from London. They ask if you
could spare half a minute."
The Prince rose with an interrogative
glance at his hostess, and the
Duchess smilingly motioned him
to go. Even after he had left
the room, when he was altogether
unobserved, his composed demeanor
showed no signs of any change.
He took up the receiver almost
blithely. It was Soto, his secretary,
who spoke to him.
"Highness," he said, "the
man Jacks with a policeman
in the hall at the present moment.
He asks permission to search
"For what purpose?" the
"To discover some person whom
he believes to be in hiding here," the
secretary answered. "He explains
that in any ordinary case he
would have applied for what they
call a search warrant. Owing
to your Highness' position, however,
he has attended here, hoping
for your gracious consent without
having made any formal application.
"I must think!" the Prince
answered. "Tell me, Soto. You
are sure that the English doctor
has had no opportunity of communicating
with any one?"
"He has had no opportunity," was
the firm reply. "If your Highness
says the word, he shall pass."
"Let him alone," the Prince
answered. "Refuse this man Jacks
permission to search my house
during my absence. Tell him that
I shall be there at three o'clock
tomorrow afternoon and that at
that hour he is welcome to return."
"It shall be done, Highness," was
The Prince set down the receiver
upon the instrument and stood
for a moment deep in thought.
It was a strange country, this,--a
strange end which it seemed that
he must prepare to face. He felt
like the man who had gone out
to shoot lions and returning
with great spoil had died of
the bite of a poisonous ant!