The Illustrious Prince
19. A Momentous Question
The Duke paused, in his way across the crowded reception rooms, to speak to his host,
Sir Edward Bransome, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
"I have just written you a line, Bransome," he said, as they shook hands. "The chief tells
me that he is going to honor us down at Devenham for a few days, and that we may
expect you also."
"You are very kind, Duke," Bransome answered. "I suppose Haviland explained the
matter to you."
The Duke nodded.
"You are going to help me entertain my other distinguished visitor," he remarked. "I
fancy we shall be quite an interesting party."
Bransome glanced around.
"I hope most earnestly," he said, "that we shall induce our young friend to be a little more
candid with us than he has been. One can't get a word out of Hesho, but I'm bound to say
that I don't altogether like the look of things. The Press are beginning to smell a rat. Two
leading articles this morning, I see, upon our Eastern relations."
The Duke nodded.
"I read them," he said. "We are informed that the prestige and success of our ministry will
entirely depend upon whether or not we are able to arrange for the renewal of our treaty
with Japan. I remember the same papers shrieking themselves hoarse with indignation
when we first joined hands with our little friends across the sea!"
His secretary approached Bransome and touched him on the shoulder.
"There is a person in the anteroom, sir," he said, "whom I think that you ought to see."
The Duke nodded and passed on. The Secretary drew his chief on one side.
"This man has just arrived from Paris, sir," he continued, "and is the bearer of a letter
which he is instructed to deliver into your hands only."
"Is he known to us at all?" he asked. "From whom does the letter come?"
The young man hesitated.