“We have met,” Anna declared, smiling, as she made her way towards the door, “but we do not know one another. It is best like that. Herr Selingman and I work in the same army—”
“But I, madame, am the sergeant,” Selingman interrupted, with a low bow, “whilst you are upon the staff.”
She laughed as she made her adieux and departed. The door closed heavily behind her. Selingman came a little further into the room.
“You have read your dispatches this morning, Prince?” he asked.
“Not yet,” the latter replied. “Is there news, then?”
Selingman pointed to the closed door. “You have spoken for long with her?”
“Naturally,” the Prince assented. “She is a confidential friend of the Emperor. She has been entrusted for the last two years with all the private dispatches between Vienna and Berlin.”
“In your letters you will find news,” Selingman declared. “She is pronounced suspect. She is under my care at this moment. A report was brought to me half an hour ago that she was here. I came on at once myself. I trust that I am in time?”
The Prince stood quite silent for a moment.
“Fortunately,” he answered coolly, “I have told her nothing.”
As Norgate entered the premises of Selingman, Horsfal and Company a little later on the same morning he looked around him in some surprise. He had expected to find a deserted warehouse—probably only an office. He saw instead all the evidences of a thriving and prosperous business. Drays were coming and going from the busy door. Crates were piled up to the ceiling, clerks with notebooks in their hands passed continually back and forth. A small boy in a crowded office accepted his card and disappeared. In a few minutes he led Norgate into a waiting-room and handed him a paper.
“Mr. Selingman is engaged with a buyer for a few moments, sir,” he reported. “He will see you presently.”
Norgate looked through the windows out into the warehouse. There was no doubt whatever that this was a genuine and considerable trading concern. Presently the door of the inner office opened, and he heard Mr. Selingman’s hearty tones.
“You have done well for yourself and well for your firm, sir,” he was saying. “There is no one in Germany or in the world who can produce crockery at the price we do. They will give you a confirmation of the order in the office. Ah! my young friend,” he went on, turning to Norgate, “you have kept your word, then. You are not a customer, but you may walk in. I shall make no money out of you, but we will talk together.”
Norgate passed on into a comfortably furnished office, a little redolent of cigar smoke. Selingman bit off the end of a cigar and pushed the box towards his visitor.
“Try one of these,” he invited. “German made, but Havana tobacco—mild as milk.”