The Prince on his return from
the library intercepted Penelope
her way across the hall.
"Forgive me," he said, "but
I could not help overhearing
some sentences of your conversation
with Sir Charles Somerfield as
we sat at dinner. You are going
to talk with him now, is it not
"As soon as
he comes out from the dining
He saw the hardening of her
lips, the flash in her eyes at
the mention of Somerfield's name.
"Yes!" she continued, "Sir
Charles and I are going to have
a little understanding."
"Are you sure," he asked softly, "that
it will not be a misunderstanding?"
She looked into his face.
"What does it matter to you?" she
asked. "What do you care?"
"Come into the conservatory
for a few minutes," he begged.
You know that I take no wine
and I prefer not to return into
the dining room. I would like
so much instead to talk to you
before you see Sir Charles."
She hesitated. He stood by
her side patiently waiting.
"Remember," he said, "that
I am a somewhat privileged person
just now. My days here are numbered,
She turned toward the conservatories.
"Very well," she said, "I
must be like every one else,
and spoil you. How dare you come
and make us all so fond of you
that we look upon your departure
almost as a tragedy!"
"Indeed," he declared, "there
is a note of tragedy even in
these simplest accidents of life.
I have been very happy amongst
you all, Miss Penelope. You have
been so much kinder to me than
I have deserved. You have thrown
a bridge across the gulf which
separates us people of alien
tongues and alien manners. Life
has been a pleasant thing for
"Why do you go so soon?" she
"Miss Penelope," he answered, "to
those others who ask me that
question, I shall say that my
mission is over, that my report
has been sent to my Emperor,
and that there is nothing left
for me to do but to follow it
home. I could add, and it would
be true, that there is very much
work for me still to accomplish
in my own country. To you alone
I am going to say something else."
She was no longer pale. Her
eyes were filled with an exceedingly
soft light. She leaned towards
him, and her face shone as the
face of a woman who prays that
she may hear the one thing in
life a woman craves to hear from
the lips she loves best.
"Go on," she
"I want to ask you, Miss Penelope," he
continued, "whether you remember
the day when you paid a visit
to my house?"
"Very well," she
"I was showing you a casket," he
She gripped his arm.
"Don't!" she begged. "Don't,
I can't bear any more of that.
You don't know how horrible it
seems to me! You don't know--what
fears I have had!"
He looked away from her.
"I have sometimes wondered," he
said, "what your thoughts were
at that moment, what you have
thought of me since."
She shivered a little, but
did not answer him.
"Very soon," he reminded her, "I
shall have passed out of your
He heard the sudden, half-stifled
exclamation. He felt rather than
saw the eyes which pleaded with
him, and he hastened on.
"You understand what is meant
by the inevitable," he continued. "Whatever
has happened in the matters with
which I have been concerned has
been inevitable. I have had no
choice--sometimes no choice in
such events is possible. Do not
think," he went on, "that I tell
you this to beg for your sympathy.
I would not have a thing other
than as it is. But when we have
said goodbye, I want you to believe
the best of me, to think as kindly
as you can of the things which
you may not be able to comprehend.
Remember that we are not so emotional
a nation as that to which you
belong. Our affections are but
seldom touched. We live without
feeling for many days, sometimes
for longer, even, than many days.
It has not been so altogether
with me. I have felt more than
I dare, at this moment, to speak
"Yet you go," she
"Yet I go," he assented. "Nothing
in the world is more certain
than that I must say farewell
to you and all of my good friends
here. In a sense I want this
to be our farewell. Leaving out
of the question just now the
more serious dangers which threaten
me, the result of my mission
here alone will make me unpopular
in this country. As the years
pass, I fear that nothing can
draw your own land and mine into
any sort of accord. That is why
I asked you to come here with
me and listen while I said these
few words to you, why I ask you
now that, whatever the future
may bring, you will sometimes
spare me a kindly thought."
"I think you know," she answered, "that
you need not ask that."
"You will marry Sir Charles
Somerfield," he continued, "and
you will be happy. In this country
men develop late. Somerfield,
too, will develop, I am sure.
He will become worthy even, I
trust, to be your husband, Miss
Penelope. Something was said
of his going into Parliament.
When he is Foreign Minister and
I am the Counsellor of the Emperor,
we may perhaps send messages
to one another, if not across
the seas, through the clouds."
A man's footstep approached
them. Somerfield himself drew
near and hesitated. The Prince
rose at once.
"Sir Charles," he said, "I
have been bidding farewell to
Miss Penelope. I have had news
tonight over the telephone and
I find that I must curtail my
"The Duke will be disappointed," Somerfield
said. "Are you off at once?"
"Probably tomorrow," the Prince
answered. "May I leave Miss Penelope
in your charge?" he added with
a little bow. "The Duke, I believe,
is awaiting me."
He passed out of the conservatory.
Penelope sat quite still.
"Well," Somerfield said, "if
he is really going--"
"Charlie," she interrupted, "if
ever you expect me to marry you,
I make one condition, and that
is that you never say a single
word against Prince Maiyo."
"The man whom a month ago," he
remarked curiously, "you hated!"
She shook her head.
"I was an idiot," she said. "I
did not understand him and I
was prejudiced against his country."
"Well, as he actually is going
away," Sir Charles remarked with
a sigh of content, "I suppose
it's no use being jealous."
"You haven't any reason to
be," Penelope answered just a
little wistfully. "Prince Maiyo
has no room in his life for such
frivolous creatures as women."
The Prince found the rest of
the party dispersed in various
directions. Lady Grace was playing
billiards with Captain Wilmot.
She showed every disposition
to lay down her cue when he entered
"Do come and talk to us, Prince," she
begged. "I am so tired of this
stupid game, and I am sure Captain
Wilmot is bored to tears."
The Prince shook his head.
"Thank you," he said, "but
I must find the Duke. I have
just received a telephone message
and I fear that I may have to
cried in dismay.
The Prince sighed.
"If not tomorrow, the next
day," he answered. "I have had
a summons--a summons which I
cannot disobey. Shall I find
your father in the library, Lady
"Yes!" she answered. "He
is there with Mr. Haviland
Edward. Are you really going
to waste your last evening in
talking about treaties and such
"I am afraid I must," he
You are a hopelessly
disappointing person," she
declared a little pitifully.
"It is because you are all
much too kind to me that you
think so," he answered. "You
make me welcome amongst you even
as one of yourselves. You forget--you
would almost teach me to forget
that I am only a wayfarer here."
"That is your own choice," she
said, coming a little nearer
"Ah, no," he answered. "There
is no choice! I serve a great
mistress, and when she calls
I come. There are no other voices
in the world for one of my race
and faith. The library you said,
Lady Grace? I must go and find
He passed out, closing the
door behind him. Captain Wilmot
chalked his cue carefully.
"That's the queerest fellow
I ever knew in my life," he said. "He
seems all the time as though
his head were in the clouds."
Lady Grace sighed. She too
was chalking her cue.
"I wonder," she said, "what
it would be like to live in the