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The Illustrious Prince

4. Miss Penelope Morse
It was already a little past the customary luncheon hour at the Carlton, and the restaurant
was well filled. The orchestra had played their first selection, and the stream of incoming
guests had begun to slacken. A young lady who had been sitting in the palm court for at
least half an hour rose to her feet, and, glancing casually at her watch, made her way into
the hotel. She entered the office and addressed the chief reception clerk.
"Can you tell me," she asked, "if Mr. Hamilton Fynes is staying here? He should have
arrived by the Lusitania last night or early this morning."
It is not the business of a hotel reception clerk to appear surprised at anything.
Nevertheless the man looked at her, for a moment, with a curious expression in his eyes.
"Mr. Hamilton Fynes!" he repeated. "Did you say that you were expecting him by the
Lusitania, madam?"
"Yes!" the young lady answered. "He asked me to lunch with him here today. Can you
tell me whether he has arrived yet? If he is in his room, I should be glad if you would
send up to him."
There were several people in the office who were in a position to overhear their
conversation. With a word of apology, the man came round from his place behind the
mahogany counter. He stood by the side of the young lady, and he seemed to be suffering
from some embarrassment.
"Will you pardon my asking, madam, if you have seen the newspapers this morning?" he
inquired.
Without a doubt, her first thought was that the question savored of impertinence. She
looked at him with slightly upraised eyebrows. She was slim, of medium complexion,
with dark brown hair parted in the middle and waving a little about her temples. She was
irreproachably dressed, from the tips of her patent shoes to the black feathers in her Paris
hat.
"The newspapers!" she repeated. "Why, no, I don't think that I have seen them this
morning. What have they to do with Mr. Hamilton Fynes?"
The clerk pointed to the open door of a small private office.
"If you will step this way for one moment, madam," he begged.
She tapped the floor with her foot and looked at him curiously. Certainly the people
around seemed to be taking some interest in their conversation.
 
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