“It was apparently a quite harmless production,” Major Thomson confessed.
“Do you propose to open any more?”
Thomson shook his head.
“That is within our discretion, sir.”
Mr. Gordon Jones struggled with his obvious annoyance.
“Look here,” he said, with an attempt at good-humour, “you can at least abandon the official attitude for a moment with me. Tell me why, of all men in the world, you have chosen to suspect Sir Alfred Anselman?”
“I am sorry,” Thomson replied stiffly, “but this is not a matter which I can discuss in any other way except officially, and I do not recognise you as having any special claims for information.”
The Minister rose to his feet. Those few minutes marked to him an era in his official life.
“You are adopting an attitude, sir,” he said, “which, however much I may admire it from one point of view, seems to me scarcely to take into account the facts of the situation.”
Thomson made no reply. He had risen to his feet. His manner clearly indicated that he considered the interview at an end. Mr. Gordon Jones choked down his displeasure.
“When you are wanting a civil job, Major Thomson,” he concluded, “come and give us a call. Good morning!”
“A lady to see you, sir,” Jarvis announced discreetly.
Granet turned quickly around in his chair. Almost instinctively he pulled down the roll top of the desk before which he was seated. Then he rose to his feet and held out his hand. He managed with an effort to conceal the consternation which had succeeded his first impulse of surprise.
“Miss Worth!” he exclaimed.
She came towards him confidently, her hands outstretched, slim, dressed in sober black, her cheeks as pale as ever, her eyes a little more brilliant. She threw her muff into a chair and a moment afterwards sank into it herself.
“You have been expecting me?” she asked eagerly.
Granet was a little taken aback.
“I have been hoping to hear from you,” he said. “You told me, if you remember, not to write.”
“It was better not,” she assented. “Even after you left I had a great deal of trouble. That odious man, Major Thomson, put me through a regular cross-examination again, and I had to tell him at last—”
“What?” Granet exclaimed anxiously.
“That we were engaged to be married,” she confessed. “There was really no other way out of it.”
“That we were engaged,” Granet repeated blankly.
“He pressed me very hard,” she went on, “and I am afraid I made some admissions—well, there were necessary—which, to say the least of it, were compromising. There was only one way out of it decently for me, and I took it. You don’t mind?”
“Of course not,” he replied.