Harleston nodded to Mrs. Spencer and to Snodgrass, then spoke to Carpenter and invited him over.
“I don’t know if you will remember me, Mrs. Clephane,” said Carpenter, coming across. “I met you several years ago in Paris.”
“Yes, indeed, Mr. Carpenter, I remember you!” Mrs. Clephane replied.
“Anything?” Harleston asked, without moving his lips.
“Nothing. I was here when they arrived,” Carpenter replied in the same manner—and went back to his table.
“Who is the woman with Harleston?” Snodgrass asked Mrs. Spencer. “I’ve never seen her.”
“A Mrs. Clephane,” Madeline Spencer replied. “She’s very good-looking, isn’t she?”
“I’m perfectly satisfied with the lady immediately in my fore,” he smiled. “I don’t run to blondes—”
“When you’re with a brunette!” she smiled back.
“I don’t run to anyone when I’m with you,” he replied with quiet earnestness, leaning toward her across the table.
She shot him a knowing glance. Last night she had held him to strict propriety. Today in the taxi she had deliberately set herself to fascinate him, and had succeeded well. She had been demurely tantalizing—holding him at a distance, letting him come a little nearer, bringing him up sharply; all the tricks of the trade executed with a perfection of technic and a mastery of effect. Snodgrass, with all his experience, was but a novice in her hands; she always struck directly at the affections—got them: and then the rest was easy. She never lost her head, nor allowed her own affections to become involved; save only twice—and both those times she had failed. Snodgrass, she had learned through inquiries, had quite sufficient money to make him worth her while; moreover, he was such a big, good-natured, dependable chap—and a gentleman. If he had not been a gentleman he would not have attracted Madeline Spencer for an instant. She dealt only in gentlemen.
She had not told Snodgrass of the Clephane letter, nor anything as to Harleston except to refer casually to him as the confidential emissary in delicate matters of the State Department. She had found that Snodgrass was not the actual man in the case; that he was simply a friendly confederate, or rather, to use his own words, “a friend of Davidson.” She had expected that the package or letter would be delivered to her in the taxi; but Snodgrass had told her as soon as they were started that Davidson would forward it to him at the Rataplan by mail, not later than the two o’clock delivery. He would get it as they were leaving and transfer it to her, accepting the consideration as specified by Davidson, and receipting for it. He said flatly that he did not want to know the contents of the letter; he was doing this favour for Davidson. He understood that it was to be entirely sub rosa and that nothing must ever transpire as to it. Therefore he was prepared to forget the entire episode the moment it was over; the epochal meetings with her he would not forget, nor would he permit her to forget him if constant devotion and assiduous attention were of avail. To which she had made a most demurely fitting answer, and the conversation thereafter grew exceedingly confidential. Oh, they were getting on very well indeed when the Rataplan was reached. And they were still progressing very well—in a discreetly informal way.