“He’s certainly a romantic figure ready to your hand. Probably a bank-clerk who makes European finance his recreation.”
“He isn’t an Englishman, at any rate. He repudiated the idea with scorn.”
“Well, your Mr. Armitage didn’t seem so awfully excited at meeting Singleton; but he seemed rather satisfied with your appearance, to put it mildly. I wonder if he had arranged with Singleton to pass by in that purely incidental way, just for the privilege of making your acquaintance!”
“Don’t be foolish, Dick. It’s unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. But if you should see Mr. Singleton again—”
“Yes—not if I see him first!” ejaculated Claiborne.
“Well, you might ask him who Mr. Armitage is. It would be amusing—and satisfying—to know.”
Later in the day the old attache fell upon Claiborne in the smoking-room and stopped to discuss a report that a change was impending in the American State Department. Changes at Washington did not trouble Singleton, who was sure of his tenure. He said as much; and after some further talk, Claiborne remarked:
“Your friend Armitage seems a good sort.”
“Oh, yes; a capital talker, and thoroughly well posted in affairs.”
“Yes, he seemed interesting. Do you happen to know where he lives—when he’s at home?”
“Lord bless you, boy, I don’t know anything about Armitage!” spluttered Singleton, with the emphasis so thrown as to imply that of course in any other branch of human knowledge he would be found abundantly qualified to answer questions.
“But you introduced us to him—my sister and me. I assumed—”
“My dear Claiborne, I’m always introducing people! It’s my business to introduce people. Armitage is all right. He’s always around everywhere. I’ve dined with him in Paris, and I’ve rarely seen a man order a better dinner.”
The news I bring is heavy in my tongue.—Shakespeare.
The second day thereafter Shirley Claiborne went into a jeweler’s on the Grand Quai to purchase a trinket that had caught her eye, while she waited for Dick, who had gone off in their carriage to the post-office to send some telegrams. It was a small shop, and the time early afternoon, when few people were about. A man who had preceded her was looking at watches, and seemed deeply absorbed in this occupation. She heard his inquiries as to quality and price, and knew that it was Armitage’s voice before she recognized his tall figure. She made her purchase quickly, and was about to leave the shop, when he turned toward her and she bowed.
“Good afternoon, Miss Claiborne. These are very tempting bazaars, aren’t they? If the abominable tariff laws of America did not give us pause—”
He bent above her, hat in hand, smiling. He had concluded the purchase of a watch, which the shopkeeper was now wrapping in a box.