scenery, fauna, flora, or other features? Had I not simply wasted my time in my usual frivolous, good- for-nothing way? That was the aspect of the matter which, I was obliged to admit, would present itself to my sister-in-law; and against a verdict based on such evidence, I had really no defence to offer. It may be supposed, then, that I presented myself in Park Lane in a shamefaced, sheepish fashion. On the whole, my reception was not so alarming as I had feared. It turned out that I had done, not what Rose wished, butthe next best thingwhat she prophesied. She had declared that I should make no notes, record no observations,gather no materials. My brother, on the other hand, had been weak enough to maintain that a serious resolve had at length animated me.
When I returned empty-handed, Rose was so occupied in triumphing over Burlesdon that she let me down quite easily, devoting the greater part of her reproaches to my failure to advertise my friends of my whereabouts.
Weve wasted a lot of time trying to find you, she said.
I know you have, said I. Half our ambassadors have led weary lives on my account. George Featherly told me so. But why should you have been anxious? I can take care of myself.
Oh, it wasnt that, she cried scornfully, but I wanted to tell you about Sir Jacob Borrodaile. You know, hes got an Embassyat least, he will have in a monthand he wrote to say he hoped you would go with him.
Wheres he going to?
Hes going to succeed Lord Topham at Strelsau, said she. You couldnt have a nicer place, short of Paris.
Strelsau! Hm! said I, glancing at my brother.
Oh, that doesnt matter! exclaimed Rose impatiently. Now, you will go, wont you?
I dont know that I care about it!
Oh, youre too exasperating!
And I dont think I can go to Strelsau. My dear Rose, would it besuitable?
Oh, nobody remembers that horrid old story now.
Upon this, I took out of my pocket a portrait of the King of Ruritania. It had been taken a month or two before he ascended the throne. She could not miss my point when I said, putting it into her hands:
In case youve not seen, or not noticed, a picture of Rudolf V, there he is. Dont you think they might recall the story, if I appeared at the Court of Ruritania?
My sister-in-law looked at the portrait, and then at me.
Good gracious! she said, and flung the photograph down on the table.
What do you say, Bob? I asked.
Burlesdon got up, went to a corner of the room, and searched in a heap of newspapers. Presently he came back with a copy of the Illustrated London News. Opening the paper, he displayed a double-page engraving of the Coronation of Rudolf V at Strelsau. The photograph and the picture he laid side by side. I sat at the table fronting them; and, as I looked, I grew absorbed. My eye travelled from my own portrait to Sapt, to Strakencz, to the rich robes of the Cardinal, to Black Michaels face, to the stately
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