“Madame!” the man protested. “I do not understand.”
“You can go away,” she replied. “You can tell Herr Selingman in your morning’s report that I came to Mr. Norgate’s rooms at an early hour in the morning and spent an hour talking with him. You can go now.”
The man withdrew without remark. He was a quiet, inoffensive-looking person, with sallow complexion, suave but silent manners. Norgate closed the door behind him.
“A victim of the system which all Europe knows of except you people,” she remarked lightly. “Well, after this I must be careful. Walk with me to my hotel.”
“Of course,” he assented.
They made their way along the silent corridors to the lift, out into the streets, empty of traffic now save for the watering-carts and street scavengers.
“Will there be trouble for you,” Norgate asked at last, “because of this?”
“There is more trouble in my own heart,” she told him quietly. “I feel strangely disturbed, uncertain which way to move. Let me take your arm—so. I like to walk like that. Somehow I think, Mr. Francis Norgate, that that little fracas in the Cafe de Berlin is going to make a great difference in both our lives. I know now what I had begun to believe. Like all the trusted agents of sovereigns, I have become an object of suspicion. Well, we shall see. At least I am glad to know that there is some one whom I can trust. Perhaps to-morrow I will tell you all that is in my heart. We might even, if you wished it, if you were willing to face a few risks, we might even work together to hold back the thunder. So! Good night, my friend,” she added, turning suddenly around.
He held her hand for a moment as they stood together on the pavement outside her hotel. For a single moment he fancied that there was a change in that curious personal aloofness which seemed so distinctive of her. It passed, however, as she turned from him with her usual half-insolent, half gracious little nod.
“To-morrow,” she directed, “you must ring me up. Let it be at eleven o’clock.”
The Ambassador glanced at the clock as he entered his library to greet his early morning visitor. It was barely nine o’clock.
“Dear friend,” he exclaimed, as he held out his hands, “I am distressed to keep you waiting! Such zeal in our affairs must, however, not remain unnoticed. I will remember it in my reports.”
Anna smiled as he stooped to kiss her fingers.
“I had special reasons,” she explained, “for my haste. I was disappointed, indeed, that I could not see you last night.”
“I was at Windsor,” her host remarked. “Now come, sit there in the easy-chair by the side of my table. My secretaries have not yet arrived. We shall be entirely undisturbed. I have ordered coffee here, of which we will partake together. A compromising meal to share, dear Baroness, but in the library of my own house it may be excused. The Princess sends her love. She will be glad if you will go to her apartments after we have finished our talk.”