I A spy’s
III in the gable window
V the strange neighbors next door
VI at the stair-head
VII A moving shadow
VIII the paragraph
X A glimmer of the truth
XIII A discovery
XIV I seek help
XV hardly A coincidence
XVI in the library
XVII the two weird sisters
XVIII the morning news
XIX the cry from the stairs
XXI the cipher
XXIII the wife’s tale
XXIV the sins of the fathers
XXV the finger on the wall
XXVI “Bitter as the grave”
XXVII A child’s playthings
A SPY’S DUTY
I am not without self-control, yet when Miss Davies entered the room with that air of importance she invariably assumes when she has an unusually fine position to offer, I could not hide all traces of my anxiety.
I needed a position, needed it badly, while the others—
But her eyes are on our faces, she is scanning us all with that close and calculating gaze which lets nothing escape. She has passed me by—my heart goes down, down—when suddenly her look returns and she singles me out.
“Miss Saunders.” Then, “I have a word to say to you.”
There is a rustle about me; five disappointed girls sink back into their seats as I quickly rise and follow Miss Davies out.
In the hall she faced me with these words:
“You are discreet, and you evidently desire a position. You will find a gentleman in my sitting-room. If you come to terms with him, well and good. If not, I shall expect you to forget all about him and his errand the moment you leave his presence. You understand me?”
“I think so,” I replied, meeting her steady look with one equally composed. Part of my strength—and I think I have some strength —lies in the fact that I am quietest when most deeply roused. “I am not to talk whatever the outcome.”
“Not even to me,” she emphasized.
Stirred still further and therefore outwardly even more calm than before, I stopped her as she was moving on and ventured a single query.
“This position—involving secrecy—is it one you would advise me to take, even if I did not stand in need of it so badly?”
“Yes. The difficulties will not be great to a discreet person. It is a first-class opportunity for a young woman as experienced as yourself.”
“Thank you,” was my abrupt but grateful rejoinder; and, obeying her silent gesture, I opened the door of the sitting-room and passed in. A gentleman standing at one of the windows turned quickly at the sound of my step and came forward. Instantly whatever doubt I may have felt concerning the nature of the work about to be proposed to me yielded to the certainty that, however much it might involve of the strange and difficult, the man whose mission it was to seek my aid was one to inspire confidence and respect.