“Exactly; but what’s the effect on the matter in hand? Does not this personal understanding signify that the delivery of the formula has been arranged, maybe even effected.”
Harleston nodded. With Madeline Spencer it was, he knew, business first and personal matters afterward.
“I think we shall see the end of the affair of your cipher letter and its ramifications before the afternoon is over,” he replied.
“What about the French Embassy?” she asked.
“The Marquis has been advised that we have the translation. He will keep his hands off, you may believe.”
“You think either that Captain Snodgrass has the document in his possession, or that he has given it to Mrs. Spencer?”
“Or that it will come into his possession before they leave the Rataplan, and be transferred to her here or in the taxi on their way back to town,” he added.
“What if he transferred it to her on their way here?”
“Then she still has it—once she gets it in her possession she won’t part with it, even in her sleep, until she places it in the hands of the official who sent her to America.”
“And Mr. Carpenter was here to watch until you came?”
“Yes—and afterward; you see one of us might be called away. From the time she and Snodgrass met at the Chateau this morning, they have not been out of espionage and close espionage. So long as they are in a taxi, or at the Rataplan, there is no danger of the document getting away if either of them has it; but until we are certain that they have it, we won’t detain them; we want the document to aid us in running down the traitor. I’m not at all sure that Snodgrass is aware of the character of the document. He probably stipulated not to know; he will be content with a division of the money—and with a chance to spend some of it on Spencer; which spending she is quite ready to facilitate, as witness the pleasant understanding they seem to have arrived at during luncheon.”
“What are you going to do, Mr. Harleston?” Mrs. Clephane asked.
“I think you will enjoy it better if you’re not wise, little lady!” he smiled. “Moreover, it depends on circumstances just how it’s to be gone about—except that it ends in the office of the Secretary of State.—Hush!”
“The Secretary of State!” she exclaimed low.
“I’ve an appointment to take Mrs. Spencer to meet his Excellency at four o’clock.”
“And what are you going to do with me, Mr. Harleston?” she smiled.
“You mean at four o’clock, or permanently?”
“At four o’clock, sir,” with a charming lilt of the head.
“Take you along.”
“With that woman? Thank you!”
“No, with me.”
“Didn’t you say you had an appointment to take Mrs. Spencer?”
“You intend to keep the appointment?”
“Surely, sir, you don’t imagine for a moment that I would go anywhere with Mrs. Spencer!”