“So be it!” Harleston replied heartily, “We understand each other, Madeline.”
“Yes, we understand each other,” she said laconically, as the car drew in to the curb.
“So well, indeed,” he continued, as he gave her his hand to the sidewalk, “that I have to arrange for you to meet the Secretary of State at four o’clock tomorrow afternoon.”
“Where?” said she, looking at him narrowly.
“In his office. You would like to meet him, Madeline?”
“I don’t know what your play is,” she laughed, “but I’ll meet him—and take my chances. From all I can learn, the gentleman isn’t much but bumptiousness and wind. To either you or me, Guy, he should be easy.”
“The play,” Harleston explained, “is that the Secretary has heard of you and wishes to see the remarkable woman who—almost upset a throne.”
“His wish shall be gratified,” she shrugged. “Will you come for me, or am I to go to him—a rendezvous a deux?”
“I’ll escort you to him—afterward it will depend on you.”
“Very good!” she replied—“but all the same I wonder what’s the game.”
“The Secretary’s wish and curiosity is the only game,” he replied.
“Far be it from me to balk either—when something may result of advantage to your—”
“—beautiful and fascinating self,” he interjected.
She raised her eyebrows and laughed scornfully, as the lift bore her upwards.
Harleston sauntered through Peacock Alley; not finding Mrs. Clephane, he had himself announced and went up to her apartment.
Outwardly he was impassive; inwardly there was the liveliest sensation of eagerness and anticipation. He could not recall a time when he had so much joy in living, and in the expectation of the woman. And when he felt Mrs. Clephane’s small hand in his, and heard her bid him welcome, and looked into her eyes, he was well content to be alive—and with her.
“I’ve quite a lot to tell you,” she smiled. “I’m so glad you could dine with me—it will give us much more time.”
“Time is not of the essence of this contract,” he replied.
“What contract?” she asked, with a fetching little frown of perplexity.
“The contract of the present—and the future.”
“Oh, you mean our friendship—and that you won’t doubt me ever again?”
“Precisely—and then some,” he confided.
“What is the ‘some’, Mr. Harleston?” frowning again in perplexity.
“Whatever may happen,” he said slowly.
“You mean it?” she asked.
“I mean it—and more—when I may.”
“The ‘more’ and the ‘may’ are in the future,” she remarked. “Meanwhile, what have you to report?”
“Very considerable,” said he. “Mrs. Spencer was in the Collingwood, this afternoon—in the Chartrands’ apartment. And the telephone girl recognized her as the woman who left the building on the night of the—cab.”