“Won’t do to be conspicuous,” she explained.
Lichtenstein packed the things which he and Bubbles had taken off into a suit-case marked “A.P.” (Amelia Popple), and led the way downstairs. A little later a taxicab drew up at the curb, and the two disguised secret-service agents sauntered down the high steps of Mrs. Popple’s brownstone house, looking neither to the right nor to the left, and got in.
“Where to?” said the driver, with rather a bold leer. The average lady who descended or ascended Mrs. Popple’s steps; was not considered respectable even by taxi-drivers.
It had been agreed that Bubbles, having of the two the more feminine adaptabilities of voice, should do the talking.
“Grand Central,” he said.
Barbara was reading “Smoke” and did not wish to be interrupted by a “young person” (in the footman’s words) who refused to give her name. Nevertheless she was weakly good-natured in such matters, and closing her book said: “Very well—in here, John.”
A moment later the young person was shown into the living-room. Barbara was still more annoyed, for young faces covered with powder were odious to her. But suddenly the young person’s mouth curled into a captivating grin, and the young person trotted forward in a very un-young-personish way, and cried triumphantly:
And Bubbles followed Barbara’s gratifying exclamations of surprise and inquiry with a syncopated outburst of explanation, finishing with: “And Mr. Lichtenstein said I was to throw us on your mercy, and ask if he could stay to finish his writing, and he’s stepped into some bushes off the driveway to put on his own clothes. And please, Miss Barbara, he’s just the finest and bravest ever, and don’t care what happens to him, only he says they’re bound to get him now everything’s found out, and he’s just got to finish writing down what he carries in his head.”
“Of course,” said Barbara, “we’ll have to tell my father; but all will be well. Mr. Lichtenstein shall stay. Bring him to me when he’s finished changing, and then you’d best change, and if you don’t want to have a sore face wash all that nasty stuff off it.”
Lichtenstein had already changed, and was coming up the driveway carrying a suit-case. Bubbles brought him at once, and with great pride, to Barbara. Mr. Lichtenstein had never seen her before. In his bow there was a trace of Oriental elaboration. And his curiously meagreish, pug-nosed sandy face beamed with pleasure and admiration.
“I thought I knew my New York, Miss Ferris,” he said, “but it seems I was mistaken.”
Since the compliment was obviously sincere, Barbara took pleasure in it, and the pleasure showed in her charming face. “And Bubbles says,” said she, “that you are the ‘finest ever.’ I’m glad if staying here is going to help the cause. You can be as private as you like—” But a sudden change had come over Lichtenstein’s face, the smile had vanished, the eyes grown sharp, even stern. “What is your maid’s name?” he asked abruptly.