“I’m only giving you the facts: he’s the first man, other than those of her entourage, that she has met since we’ve had her under surveillance. It was at Union Station, this afternoon. She went there alone, after loitering for an hour through the shops of F Street. In the train-shed she chanced, seemingly by the veriest accident, upon Snodgrass. He almost bumped into her as they rounded the news-stand. From their gaiety they are old acquaintances; and after a word he turned and accompanied her to the cab-stand and put her in a taxi. As far as the shadow saw, there was no letter or papers passed—only conversation. And what he managed to overhear of it was seemingly quite innocent of value to us. He called her Madeline and she called him Billy, which isn’t his name, and invited him to Paris; so they must be pretty well acquainted. They are to meet at one o’clock tomorrow. That’s the first matter to report. The second is that Marston is spying around the French Embassy. He has walked up Sixteenth Street frequently since four o’clock, and never once glanced at the big marble mansion when he thought anyone was looking. His eyes were busy enough other times. Also he visited, after dark, Paublo’s Eating-House in the Division, and had a talk with Jimmy-the-Snake—a professional burglar of the best class. We are watching The Snake, of course. Something will be done at the French Embassy tonight, I imagine. Finally, at nine o’clock, Marston went to Carpenter’s residence and was admitted. He came out fifteen minutes later, and returned to the Chateau. I assume that Carpenter will tell you of this errand.”
“What shall be done as to Snodgrass—also as to Mrs. Spencer and one o’clock tomorrow?” Ranleigh asked. “Do you wish me to prevent the meeting?”
“No,” said Harleston, after a little consideration; “simply keep them in view and follow them. I can’t imagine Snodgrass being concerned in this affair. It’s the lady he’s after, not her mission. It’s likely he doesn’t even know she’s in the Secret Service. However, keep an eye on them; I may be mistaken.”
The telephone buzzed. Ranleigh answered, then passed the instrument across to Harleston.
“Is that you, Harleston?... This is Carpenter. I’ve just had a most amazing proposition made to me. It will keep until morning, but drop around at the Department about nine-thirty and I’ll unburden myself.”
“Is it Marston?” Harleston asked.
“Exactly; however did you guess it?”
“However did you guess I was with Ranleigh?” Harleston laughed.
“I didn’t guess; I called Mrs. Clephane, told her I wanted you—and presto! There’s small trick about that, old fox—except in knowing your quarry. So long—and don’t!”
“If you don’t mind, Carpenter, I’ll stop on my way home. I’m just beginning to be interested.”
“Come along!” was the answer.
“Carpenter—to explain a Marston proposition,” Harleston remarked, pushing back the instrument.