“My Dear Mark: His Excellency isn’t a very good housekeeper; I have found an envelope in one of the books, and a tiny slip of blue-corded pencil in the drawer of my dressing-table. I should like to pension the man who first put fly-leaves in a book. Fortunately, my maid isn’t with me much, and the man in the yard can’t see my front window because of the tree. So I have only to listen to the guard in the next room. He is always walking up and down, and when he reaches the uncarpeted space near the door I know he is at the end and ready to turn back. For that one second I can chance throwing this letter out into the street. I shall load it with a cut-glass ball I found on my desk. It is a beautiful little paper-weight, but its beauty won’t save it this time. Someone will surely take the letter to you. Where to find you is my worry. But I know that the signal flashes could only mean that you are in the city, so I am risking the New Willard.
“A warship has been sent to take the Grand Duchess home. I cannot convince them that I am only Ruth Atheson. I am sure they are going to send me away. You must get me out of this house quickly, or it will be too late.
“Give me this special signal and I will be ready: At ten-thirty any morning flash the light and keep it still on the top of the gate pillar. Leave it there a moment; then flash it once across the top if you are coming that day, or twice for night. If you receive this letter, answer it by flashing the light into my room to-morrow morning. I shall pray for friendly sunlight.
“Thank you for coming. I don’t know how you found out, but somehow I felt that you would. Love to the dear Father, if he is with you. I feel pretty sure he is.
Saunders was the first to speak.
“I think, Father,” he said, “that you have a clever niece. This makes things easy.”
The Padre smiled. But Mark was not smiling—one can’t do so little a thing to show unbounded joy.
It was early next morning when Saunders knocked at Mark Griffin’s door. His knock was soft, for Mark’s room adjoined Father Murray’s. When Mark rose to let him in, the detective entered on tiptoe.
“I came down to see you early,” he said, “because I wanted to dodge the Padre, and I thought perhaps he’d be over in the church for his Mass.”
“A good Yankee guess,” said Mark. “I heard him leave a few minutes ago, so you can talk as loud as you like. What is the matter? Anything gone wrong?”
“It’s just this,” said the detective. “We must make our attempt to get Miss Atheson without the Padre’s knowing anything about it. I have been thinking about the thing, and I have a plan I believe will work. It’s out of the question to get that guard off the watch in any ordinary way. If we attempt it, the house will be alarmed and we shall be taken for burglars.”