“I’m here—since I can’t be with you there,” he replied.
“Assuredly not! I’m not exactly in receiving attire. Meanwhile the morning—and Madame Brunette’s doings. Good-night, Mon camarade.”
At nine o’clock the next morning, Marston tapped gently on the door of Madeline Spencer’s apartment, and was immediately admitted by the demure maid; who greeted him with a smile, which he repaid with a kiss—several of them, indeed—and an affectionate and pressing arm to her shapely and slender waist.
“I suppose monsieur wants to see my mistress,” said she.
“Now that I’ve seen you, yes, little one,” Marston returned, with another kiss.
“Have you seen me, monsieur?”
“Not half long enough, my love; but business before pleasure. There’s another now, so run along and do your devoir.”
She fetched him a tiny slap across his cheek, for which she was caught and made to suffer again; then she wriggled loose, and, with a flirty backward kick at him, disappeared through the inner doorway.
In a moment she returned, dropped him a bit of curtsy, and informed him that her mistress would receive him.
He rewarded her with another caress, which she accepted with assumed shyness—and a wicked little pinch.
“I’ll pay you later for the pinch!” he tossed back, softly.
She answered with an affected shrug and a wink.
“Elise is remarkably pretty!” Madeline Spencer remarked when he entered the boudoir. She was sitting up in bed, eating her rolls and coffee—a bewildering negligee of cerise and cream heightening the effect of her dead-white colouring and raven-black hair.
Marston drew in his breath sharply, then sighed.
“And you are ravishingly beautiful, my lady,” he replied.
“You like this robe?” she asked.
“I—like you; what you may wear is incidental. It merely increases the effect of your wonderful personality.”
“My good Marston!” she smiled. “What a faithful friend you are; always seeing my few good points and being blind to my many bad.”
“And being always,” he added, bowing low, “your most humble and loving servant.”
“I know it—and I am very, very grateful.” She put aside the tray and languidly stretched her lithe length under the sheet. “What have you to report, Marston?” she asked.
“I have to report, madame,” said Marston, with strict formality of a subordinate to his chief, “that I have procured the French code-book.”
“Good work!” she exclaimed, sitting up sharply. “However did you manage it?”
“By the assistance of one Jimmy-the-Snake. He visited the French Embassy last night, and persuaded the safe to yield up the code. It would have been better, I admit, to copy the code and then replace it, but it wasn’t possible. He had just sufficient time to grab the book and make a get-away. Someone was coming.”