Her dearest friend, the Princess, had written to say that she was coming to spend a month with her. Her dear schoolmate of the old days in Paris—her chum of the dear Sacred Heart Convent when it flourished in the Boulevard des Invalides—her roommate up to the day when that institution was forced to leave Paris for less unfriendly fields!
“In her uncle’s yacht, Deppy—the big one that came to Cowes last year, don’t you know? Of course, you do. Don’t look so dazed. He’s cruising for a couple of months and is to set her down here until the yacht returns from Borneo and the Philippines. She says she hopes it will be quiet here! Quiet! She hopes it will be quiet! Where are the cigarettes, Deppy? Quick! I must do something devilish. Yes, I know I swore off last week, but—please let me take ’em.” The four of them smoked in wondrous silence for two or three minutes. Then Browne spoke up, as if coming from a dream:
“I say, Deppingham, you can take her out walking and pick up a crownful of fresh rubies every day or so.”
“Hang it all, Browne, I’m afraid to pluck a violet these days. Every time I stoop over I feel that somebody’s going to take a shot at me. I wonder why the beggars select me to shoot at. They’re not always popping away at you, Browne. Why is it? I’m not looking for rubies every time I stoop over. They shot at me the other day when I got down to pick up my crop.”
“It’s all right so long as they don’t kill you,” was Browne’s consoling remark.
“By Jove!” said Deppingham, starting up with a look of horror in his eyes, sudden comprehension rushing down upon him. “I wonder if they think I am you, Browne! Horrible!”
WOMEN AND WOMEN
The Enemy’s office hours were from three to five in the afternoon. It was of no especial consequence to his clients that he frequently transferred the placard from the front of the company’s bank to the more alluring doorway of the “American bar;” all was just and fair so long as he was to be found where the placard listed. Twice a week, Miss Pelham came down from the chateau in a gaily bedecked jinriksha to sit opposite to him in his stuffy corner of the banking house, his desk between them, her notebook trembling with propinquity. Mr. Britt generously loaned the pert lady to the Enemy in exchange for what he catalogued as “happy days.”
Miss Pelham made it a point to look as fascinating as possible on the occasion of these interesting trips into the Enemy’s territory.
The Enemy, doing his duty by his clients with a determination that seemed incontestable, suffered in the end because of his very zealousness. He took no time to analyse the personal side of his work; he dealt with the situation from the aspect of a man who serves but one interest, forgetting that it involved the weal of a thousand units. For that reason, he was the last to realise that an intrigue was shaping itself to combat his endeavours. Von Blitz, openly his friend and ally, despite their sad encounter, was the thorn which pricked the natives into a state of uneasiness and doubt as to their agent’s sincerity.