The Grand Babylon Hotel
20. Mr Sampson Levi Bids Prince Eugen Good Morning
PRINCE EUGEN started. 'I will see him,' he said, with a gesture to Hans as if to
indicate that Mr Sampson Levi might enter at once.
'I beg one moment first,' said Aribert, laying a hand gently on his nephew's arm,
and giving old Hans a glance which had the effect of precipitating that admirably
trained servant through the doorway.
'What is it?' asked Prince Eugen crossly. 'Why this sudden seriousness? Don't
forget that I have an appointment with Mr Sampson Levi, and must not keep him
waiting. Someone said that punctuality is the politeness of princes.'
'Eugen,' said Aribert, 'I wish you to be as serious as I am. Why cannot we have
faith in each other? I want to help you. I have helped you. You are my titular
Sovereign; but on the other hand I have the honour to be your uncle:
I have the honour to be the same age as you, and to have been your companion
from youth up. Give me your confidence. I thought you had given it me years
ago, but I have lately discovered that you had your secrets, even then. And now,
since your illness, you are still more secretive.'
'What do you mean, Aribert?' said Eugen, in a tone which might have been either
inimical or friendly. 'What do you want to say?'
'Well, in the first place, I want to say that you will not succeed with the estimable
Mr Sampson Levi.'
'Shall I not?' said Eugen lightly. 'How do you know what my business is with
'Suffice it to say that I know. You will never get that million pounds out of him.'
Prince Eugen gasped, and then swallowed his excitement. 'Who has been
talking? What million?' His eyes wandered uneasily round the room. 'Ah!' he said,
pretending to laugh. 'I see how it is. I have been chattering in my delirium. You
mustn't take any notice of that, Aribert. When one has a fever one's ideas
become grotesque and fanciful.'
'You never talked in your delirium,' Aribert replied; 'at least not about yourself. I
knew about this projected loan before I saw you in Ostend.'
'Who told you?' demanded Eugen fiercely.
'Then you admit that you are trying to raise a loan?'
'I admit nothing. Who told you?'
'Theodore Racksole, the millionaire. These rich men have no secrets from each
other. They form a coterie, closer than any coterie of ours. Eugen, and far more
powerful. They talk, and in talking they rule the world, these millionaires. They
are the real monarchs.'
'Curse them!' said Eugen.
'Yes, perhaps so. But let me return to your case. Imagine my shame, my disgust,
when I found that Racksole could tell me more about your affairs than I knew
myself. Happily, he is a good fellow; one can trust him; otherwise I should have
been tempted to do something desperate when I discovered that all your private
history was in his hands. Eugen, let us come to the point; why do you want that