Selingman beamed amiably.
“The young lady,” he said, “is more than ornamental—she is extremely useful. From the fact that I may not be privileged to present her to you, I must be careful that she cannot consider herself neglected. And so good night, Baroness! Good night, Norgate!”
He passed on. The Baroness watched him as he took his place opposite his companion.
“Is it my fancy,” Norgate asked, “or does Selingman not meet entirely with your approval?”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“It is not that,” she replied. “He is a great man, in his way, the Napoleon of the bourgeoisie, but then he is one of them himself. He collects the whole scheme of information as to the social life and opinions—the domestic particulars, I call them—of your country. Details of your industries are at his finger-tips. He and I do not come into contact. I am the trusted agent of both sovereigns, but it is only in high diplomatic affairs that I ever intervene. Selingman, it is true, may be considered the greatest spy who ever breathed, but a spy he is. If we could only persuade your too amiable officials to believe one-tenth of what we could tell them, I think our friend there would breakfast in an English fortress, if you have such a thing.”
“We should only place him under police supervision,” declared Norgate, “and let him go. It’s just our way, that’s all.”
She waved the subject of Selingman on one side, but almost at that moment he stood once more before them. He held an evening paper in his hand.
“I bring you the news,” he announced. “A terrible tragedy has happened. The Archduke of Austria and his Consort have been assassinated on their tour through Bosnia.”
For a moment neither Anna nor Norgate moved. Norgate felt a strange sense of sickening excitement. It was as though the curtain had been rung up!
“Is the assassin’s name there?” he asked.
“The crime,” Selingman replied, “appears to have been committed by a young Servian student. His name is Sigismund Henriote.”
They paused at last, breathless, and walked out of the most wonderful ballroom in London into the gardens, aglow with fairy lanterns whose brilliance was already fading before the rising moon. They found a seat under a tall elm tree, and Anna leaned back. It was a queer mixture of sounds which came to their ears; in the near distance, the music of a wonderful orchestra rising and falling; further away, the roar of the great city still awake and alive outside the boundary of those grey stone walls.
“Of course,” she murmured, “this is the one thing which completes my subjugation. Fancy an Englishman being able to waltz! Almost in that beautiful room I fancied myself back in Vienna, except that it was more wonderful because it was you.”
“You are turning my head,” he whispered. “This is like a night out of Paradise. And to think that we are really in the middle of London!”