The Prince, still fully attired, save
that in place of his dress coat he wore a loose smoking
jacket, stood at the windows of his sitting room at
Devenham Castle, looking across the park. In the
somewhat fitful moonlight the trees had taken to themselves
grotesque shapes. Away in the distance the glimmer
of the sea shone like a thin belt of quicksilver.
The stable clock had struck two. The whole place
seemed at rest. Only one light was gleaming from
a long low building which had been added to the coach
houses of recent years for a motor garage. That
one light, the Prince knew, was on his account.
There his chauffeur waited, untiring and sleepless,
with his car always ready for that last rush to the
coast, the advisability of which the Prince had considered
more than once during the last twenty-four hours.
The excitement of the evening, the excitement of his
unwonted outburst, was still troubling him. It
was not often that he had so far overstepped the bounds
which his natural caution, his ever-present self-restraint,
imposed upon him. He paced restlessly to and
fro from the sitting room to the bedroom and back
again. He had told the truth, the bare,
simple truth. He had seen the letters of fire
in the sky, and he had read them to these people because
of their kindness, because of a certain affection which
he bore them. To them it must have sounded like
a man speaking in a strange tongue. They had
not understood. Perhaps, even, they would not
believe in the absolute sincerity of his motives.
Again he paused at the window and looked over the
park to that narrow, glittering stretch of sea.
Why should he not for once forget the traditions of
his race, the pride which kept him there to face the
end! There was still time. The cruiser which
the Emperor had sent was waiting for him in Southampton
Harbor. In twenty-four hours he would be in foreign
waters. He thought of these things earnestly,
even wistfully, and yet he knew that he could not go.
Perhaps they would be glad of an opportunity of getting
rid of him now that he had spoken his mind. In
any case, right was on their side. The end, if
it must come, was simple enough!
He turned away from the window with
a little shrug of the shoulders. Even as he did
so, there came a faint knocking at the door. His
servant had already retired. For a moment it
seemed to him that it could mean but one thing.
While he hesitated, the handle was softly turned and
the door opened. To his amazement, it was Penelope
who stood upon the threshold.
“Miss Morse!” he exclaimed breathlessly.
She held out her hand as though to
bid him remain silent. For several seconds she
seemed to be listening. Then very softly she closed
the door behind her.
“Miss Penelope,” he cried
softly, “you must not come in here! Please!”
She ignored his outstretched hand,
advancing a little further into the room. There
was tragedy in her white face. She seemed to be
shaking in every limb, but not with nervousness.
Directly he looked into her eyes, he knew very well
that the thing was close at hand!
“Listen!” she whispered.
“I had to come! You don’t know what
is going on! For the last half hour the telephone
has been ringing continuously. It is about you!
The Home Office has been ringing up to speak to the
Prime Minister. The Chief Inspector of Scotland
Yard has been to see them. One of their detectives
has collected evidence which justifies them in issuing
a warrant for your arrest.”
“For my arrest,” the Prince repeated.
“Don’t you understand?”
she continued breathlessly. “Don’t
you see how horrible it is? They mean to arrest
you for the murder of Hamilton Fynes and Dicky Vanderpole!”
“If this must be so,”
the Prince answered, “why do they not come?
I am here.”
“But you must not stay here!”
she exclaimed. “You must escape! It
is too terrible to think that you should oh,
I can’t say it! that you should have
to face these charges. If you are guilty, well,
Heaven help you! If you are guilty, I want
you to escape all the same!”
He looked at her with the puzzled
air of one who tries to reason with a child.
“Dear Miss Penelope,”
he said, “this is kind of you, but, after all,
remember that I am a man, and I must not run away.”
“But you cannot meet these charges!”
she interrupted. “You cannot meet them!
You know it! Oh, don’t think I can’t
appreciate your point of view! If you killed
those men, you killed them to obtain papers which
you believed were necessary for the welfare of your
country. Oh, it is not I who judge you!
You did not do it, I know, for your own gain.
You did it because you are, heart and soul, a patriot.
But here, alas! they do not understand. Their
whole standpoint is different. They will judge
you as they would a common criminal. You must
fly, you must, indeed!”
“Dear Miss Penelope,”
he said, “I cannot do that! I cannot run
away like a thief in the dark. If this thing
is to come, it must come.”
“But you don’t understand!”
she continued, wringing her hands. “You
think because you are a great prince and a prince of
a friendly nation that the law will treat you differently.
It will not! They have talked of it downstairs.
You are not formally attached to any one in this country.
You are not even upon the staff of the Embassy.
You are here on a private mission as a private person,
and there is no way in which the Government can intervene,
even if it would. You are subject to its laws
and you have broken them. For Heaven’s sake,
fly! You have your motor car here. Let your
man drive you to Southampton and get on board the
Japanese cruiser. You mustn’t wait a single
moment. I believe that tomorrow morning will
be too late!”
He took her hands in his very tenderly
and yet with something of reverence in his gesture.
He looked into her eyes and he spoke very earnestly.
Every word seemed to come from his heart.
“Dear Miss Penelope,”
he said, “it is very, very kind of you to have
come here and warned me. Only you cannot quite
understand what this thing means to me. Remember
what I told you once. Life and death to your
people in this country seem to be the greatest things
which the mind of man can hold. It is not so
with us. We are brought up differently. In
a worthy cause a true Japanese is ready to take death
by the hand at any moment. So it is with me now.
I have no regret. Even if I had, even if life
were a garden of roses for me, what is ordained must
come. A little sooner or a little later, it makes
She sank on her knees before him.
“Can’t you understand
why I am here?” she cried passionately.
“It was I who told of the silken cord and knife!”
He was wholly unmoved. He even
smiled, as though the thing were of no moment.
“It was right that you should
do so,” he declared. “You must not
reproach yourself with that.”
“But I do! I do!”
she cried again. “I always shall! Don’t
you understand that if you stay here they will treat
He interrupted, laying his hand gently upon her shoulder.
“Dear young lady,” he
said, “you need never fear that I shall wait
for the touch of your men of law. Death is too
easily won for that. If the end which you have
spoken of comes, there is another way another
house of rest which I can reach.”
She rose slowly to her feet.
The absolute serenity of his manner bespoke an impregnability
of purpose before which the words died away on her
lips. She realized that she might as well plead
with the dead!
“You do not mind,” he
whispered, “if I tell you that you must not stay
here any longer?”
He led her toward the door. Upon
the threshold he took her cold fingers into his hand
and kissed them reverently.
“Do not be too despondent,”
he said. “I have a star somewhere which
burns for me. Tonight I have been looking for
it. It is there still,” he added, pointing
to the wide open window. “It is there, undimmed,
clearer and brighter than ever. I have no fear.”
She passed away without looking up
again. The Prince listened to her footsteps dying
away in the corridor. Then he closed the door,
and, entering his bedroom, undressed himself and slept...
When Prince Maiyo awoke on the following
morning, the sunshine was streaming into the room,
and his grave-faced valet was standing over his bed.
“His Highness’ bath is ready,” he
The Prince dressed quickly and was
first in the pleasant morning room, with its open
windows leading on to the terrace. He strolled
outside and wandered amongst the flower beds.
Here he was found, soon afterwards, by the Duke’s
“Your Highness,” the latter
said, “His Grace has sent me to look for you.
He would be glad if you could spare him a moment or
two in the library.”
The Prince followed the man to the
room where his host was waiting for him. The
Duke, with his hands behind his back, was pacing restlessly
up and down the apartment.
“Good morning, Duke,”
the Prince said cheerfully. “Another of
your wonderful spring mornings. Upon the terrace
the sun is almost hot. Soon I shall begin to
fancy that the perfume of your spring flowers is the
perfume of almond and cherry blossom.”
“Prince,” the Duke said
quietly, “I have sent for you as your host.
I speak to you now unofficially, as an Englishman
to his guest. I have been besieged through the
night, and even this morning, with incomprehensible
messages which come to me from those who administer
the law in this country. Prince, I want you to
remember that however effete you may find us as a
nation from your somewhat romantic point of view,
we have at least realized the highest ideals any nation
has ever conceived in the administration of the law.
Nobleman and pauper here are judged alike. If
their crime is the same, their punishment is the same.
There is no man in this country who is strong enough
to arrest the hand of justice.”
The Prince bowed.
“My dear Duke,” he said,
“it has given me very much pleasure, in the
course of my investigations, to realize the truth of
what you have just said. I agree with you entirely.
You could teach us in Japan a great lesson on the
fearless administration of the law. Now in some
other countries ”
“Never mind those other countries,”
the Duke interrupted gravely. “I did not
send for you to enter into an academic discussion.
I want you clearly to understand how I am placed,
supposing a distinguished member of my household supposing
even you, Prince Maiyo were to come within
the arm of the law. Even the great claims of hospitality
would leave me powerless.”
“This,” the Prince admitted,
“I fully apprehend. It is surely reasonable
that the stranger in your country should be subject
to your laws.”
“Very well, then,” the
Duke continued. “Listen to me, Prince.
This morning a London magistrate will grant what is
called a search warrant which will enable the police
to search, from attic to cellar, your house in St.
James’ Square. An Inspector from Scotland
Yard will be there this afternoon awaiting your return,
and he believes that he has witnesses who will be
able to identify you as one who has broken the laws
of this country. I ask you no questions.
There is the telephone on the table. My eighty-horse-power
Daimler is at the door and at your service. I
understand that your cruiser in Southampton Harbor
is always under steam. If there is anything more,
in reason, that I can do, you have only to speak.”
The Prince shook his head slowly.
“Duke,” he said, “please
send away your car, unless it will take me to London
quicker than my own. What I have done I have done,
and for what I have done I will pay.”
The Duke laid his hands upon the young
man’s shoulders and looked down into his face.
The Duke was over six feet high, and broad in proportion.
Before him the Prince seemed almost like a boy.
“Maiyo,” he said, “we
have grown fond of you, my wife, my daughter,
all of us. We don’t want harm to come to
you, but there is the American Ambassador watching
all the time. Already he more than half suspects.
For our sakes, Prince, come, I will say
for the sake of those who are grateful to you for
your candor and truthfulness, for the lessons you
have tried to teach us, make use of my car.
You will reach Southampton in half an hour.”
The Prince shook his head. His
lips had parted in what was certainly a smile.
At the corners they quivered, a little tremulous.
“My dear friend,” he said,
and his voice had softened almost to affection, “you
do not quite understand. You look upon the things
which may come from your point of view and not from
mine. Remember that, to your philosophy, life
itself is the greatest thing born into the world.
To us it is the least. If you would do me a service,
please see that I am able to start for London in half