“You have acted very discreetly, Hardy,” he said. “I think you had better tell your friend that I am expecting to leave for somewhere at a moment’s notice. For your own information,” he added, “I rather think that I shall stay here. It seems to me quite possible that we may find London, for a few weeks, just as interesting as any city in the world.”
“I am very glad to hear you say so, sir,” the man murmured. “Shall I fetch your overcoat?”
The telephone bell suddenly interrupted them. Hardy took up the receiver and listened for a moment.
“Mr. Hebblethwaite would like to speak to you, sir,” he announced.
Norgate hurried to the telephone. A cheery voice greeted him.
“Hullo! That you, Norgate? This is Hebblethwaite. I’m just back from a few days in the country—found your note here. I want to hear all about this little matter at once. When can I see you?”
“Any time you like,” Norgate replied promptly.
“Let me see,” the voice continued, “what are you doing to-night?”
“Come straight round to the House of Commons and dine. Or no—wait a moment—we’ll go somewhere quieter. Say the club in a quarter of an hour—the Reform Club. How will that suit you?”
“I’ll be there, with pleasure,” Norgate promised.
“Righto! We’ll hear what you’ve been doing to these peppery Germans. I had a line from Leveson himself this morning. A lady in the case, I hear? Well, well! Never mind explanations now. See you in a few minutes.”
Norgate laid down the receiver. His manner, as he accepted his well-brushed hat, had lost all its depression. There was no one in the Cabinet with more influence than Hebblethwaite. He would have his chance, at any rate, and his chance at other things.
“Look here, Hardy,” he ordered, as he drew on his gloves, “spend as much time as you like with that fellow and let me know what sort of questions he asks you. Be careful not to mention the fact that I am dining with Mr. Hebblethwaite. For the rest, fence with him. I am not quite sure what it all means. If by any chance he mentions a man named Selingman, let me know. Good night!”
“Good night, sir!” the man replied.
Norgate descended into the Strand and walked briskly towards Pall Mall. The last few minutes seemed to him to be fraught with promise of a new interest in life. Yet it was not of any of these things that he was thinking as he made his way towards his destination. He was occupied most of the time in wondering how long it would be before he could hope to receive a reply from Berlin to his letter.