“Maintain the distance,” Harleston directed.
“Yes sir,” said the man.
Keeping about a hundred yards apart—the two cars sped down the hill and around Dupont Circle to Massachusetts Avenue, thence by it and Sixteenth Street to H. The one in the lead continued on toward Fourteenth. Harleston’s shot down Fifteenth, flashed over the tracks at Pennsylvania Avenue, swung into F Street, and drew in at the Chateau just as the other came around the Fourteenth Street corner, and rolled slowly up to the curb.
As Snodgrass was assisting Madeline Spencer to alight—and taking his time about it—Harleston glanced at his watch, sprang from his car, and hastened over.
“This is fortunate, Mrs. Spencer!” he exclaimed. “Just after you left the Rataplan the Secretary of State telephoned that he was summoned to the White House at four, and I should bring you an hour earlier. On the chance of overtaking you, I beat it after you. Now if Captain Snodgrass will permit you, we have just time to get over to the Department.”
“Will you excuse me, Captain Snodgrass?” she asked, with her compelling smile.
“A Secretary of State may not be denied,” Snodgrass replied. “In this instance in particular I would I were his Excellency.”
“Come and dine with me at eight,” giving him her hand.... “Now, Mr. Harleston, I am ready.”
“What did you do with Mrs. Clephane?” she asked, when they were started.
“I left her at the Rataplan,” he replied.
“Oh no—with Carpenter, who chanced to be handy.”
“The bald-headed chap, who spoke to you in the dining-room?”
“Carpenter is the chief of the Cipher Division, I believe you said.”
“I don’t recall that I said it, Madeline, but your information is correct.”
“I think I’ll ask the Secretary for the letter,” she remarked.
“Ask him anything you’ve a mind to!” Harleston laughed. “You’ve a very winning pair of black eyes et cetera, my lady.”
“I’ve never seen the Secretary!” she smiled.
“Small matter. He’ll see you, all right.”
“I’ll make an impression, you think?”
“If you don’t, it will be the first failure of the sort you’ve ever registered.”
“Except with you,” she murmured.
“Good Lord!” he exclaimed. “You’ve had me going many times.”
“Yes, Guy—but not now,” she whispered.
“Now, I’m strong!” he laughed, bluntly declining the overture.
“Hence you are willing that I try my smiles on the Secretary,” she retorted.
“We are fellow diplomats,” he countered. “You did me a good turn in the Du Plesis affair; I’m trying now to show my appreciation. Moreover, it will give Snodgrass an opportunity to reflect on your beauty and fascinating ways—and to look forward to eight o’clock.”
“It is pleasant to have something agreeable to look forward to,” she replied, ironically suggestive.