“You can listen to the balance of the episode—beginning at half-past one this morning, when I found the cab deserted at Eighteenth Street and Massachusetts Avenue, with the horse lying in the roadway, asleep in the shafts....”
“What do you wish the police to do, Mr. Harleston?” the Superintendent asked at the end.
“Nothing, until I’ve seen the Lady of Peacock Alley. Then I’ll likely know something definite—whether to keep hands off or to get busy.”
“Shan’t we even try to locate the two men, in preparation for your getting busy?”
“H’m!” reflected Harleston. “Do it very quietly then. You see, I don’t know whom you’re likely to locate, nor whether we want to locate them.”
“The men who visited your apartment are not of the profession, Mr. Harleston.”
“It’s their profession that’s bothering me!” Harleston laughed. “Why are three Americans engaged in what bears every appearance of being a diplomatic matter, and of which our State Department knows nothing?”
“There’s a woman in it, I believe; likely two, possibly three!” was the smiling reply.
“Hump!” said Harleston. “A woman is at the bottom of most things, that’s a fact; she’s about the only thing for which a man will betray his country. However, as they’re three men there should be three women—”
“One woman is enough—if she is sufficiently fascinating and plays the men off against one another. Though you’ve plenty of women in the case, Mr. Harleston, if you’re looking for the three:—the one whom you’re to meet this afternoon; the unknown who left the Collingwood so mysteriously; and the one of the photograph. If the other two are as lovely as she of the photograph they are some trio. I shouldn’t care for the latter lady to tempt me overlong.”
“Wise man!” Harleston remarked, as he arose to go. “I’ll advise you after the interview. Meanwhile you might have the cabby look at the fellow in durance at the Collingwood. Possibly he has seen him before; which may give us a lead—if we find we want a lead.”
The telephone buzzed; Ranleigh answered it—then raised his hand to Harleston to remain. After a moment, he motioned for Harleston to come closer and held the receiver so that both could hear.
“I can see you at three o’clock,” Ranleigh said.
“Three o’clock will be very nice,” came a feminine voice—soft, with a bit of a drawl.
“Very well,” Ranleigh replied. “If you will give me your name—I missed it. Whom am I to expect at three?”
“Mrs. Winton, of the Burlingame apartments. I’ll be punctual—and thank you so much. Good-bye!”
“Anything familiar about the voice?” Ranleigh asked, pushing back the instrument.
Harleston shook his head in negation.
“I thought it might be your Lady of Peacock Alley, for it’s about the cab matter. She says that she has something to tell me regarding a mysterious cab on Eighteenth Street last night sometime about one o’clock.”