She shrugged her shoulders scornfully.
“That’s just the sort of thing the New York Herald would say,” she remarked. “You see, I have to get a reputation for being smart and saying bright things, or nobody would ask me anywhere. Penniless American young women are not too popular over here.”
“Marry me, then,” he suggested amiably. “I shall have plenty of money some day.”
“I’ll see about it when you’re grown up,” she answered. “Just at present, I think we’d better return to the subject of Hamilton Fynes.”
Mr. Richard Vanderpole sighed, but seemed not disinclined to follow her suggestion.
“Harvey is a silent man, as you know,” he said thoughtfully, “and he keeps everything of importance to himself. At the same time these little matters get about in the shop, of course, and I have never heard of any despatches being brought across from Washington except in the usual way. Presuming that you are right,” he added after a moment’s pause, “and that this fellow Hamilton Fynes really had something for us, that would account for his being able to get off the boat and securing his special train so easily. No one can imagine where he got the pull.”
“It accounts, also,” Penelope remarked, “for his murder!”
Her companion started.
“You haven’t any idea—” he began.
“Nothing so definite as an idea,” she interrupted. “I am not going so far as to say that. I simply know that when a man is practically the secret agent of his government, and is probably carrying despatches of an important nature, that an accident such as he has met with, in a country which is greatly interested in the contents of those despatches, is a somewhat serious thing.”
The young man nodded.
“Say,” he admitted “you’re dead right. The Pacific cruise, and our relations with Japan, seem to have rubbed our friends over here altogether the wrong way. We have irritations enough already to smooth over, without anything of this sort on the carpet.”
“I am going to tell you now,” she continued, leaning a little towards him, “the real reason why I fetched you out of the club this afternoon and have brought you for this little expedition. The last time I lunched with Mr. Hamilton Fynes was just after his return from Berlin. He intrusted me then with a very important mission. He gave me a letter to deliver to Mr. Blaine Harvey.”
“But I don’t understand!” he protested. “Why should he give you the letter when he was in London himself?”
“I asked him that question myself, naturally,” she answered. “He told me that it was an understood thing that when he was over here on business he was not even to cross the threshold of the Embassy, or hold any direct communication with any person connected with it. Everything had to be done through a third party, and generally in duplicate. There was another man, for instance, who had a copy of the same letter, but I never came across him or even knew his name.”