His jaunty air, his complaisant nod, admitted of but one explanation. He had told his story to the chief authorities and been listened to. Proof that he had something of actual moment to tell them; something which the District Attorney’s office might feel bound to take up.
Alanson Black felt the shock of this discovery, but was glad of the warning it gave him. Plans which had seemed both simple and natural before, he now saw must be altered to suit the emergency. He could no longer hope to leave town with his little party without attracting unwelcome attention. They might even be followed. For whatever Flannagan may have told the police, there was one thing he had been unable to impart, and that was where to look for Oliver. Only Reuther held that clew, and if they once suspected this fact, she would certainly become the victim of their closest surveillance. Little Reuther, therefore, must not accompany him on his quest, but hold herself quite apart from it; or, better still, be made to act as a diversion to draw off the scent from the chief actor, which was himself. The idea was good, and one to be immediately carried out.
Continuing on to his office, he called up Miss Weeks.
“Are you there?” he asked.
Yes, she was there.
Yes, Reuther was home packing.
“No one listening on the line?”
She was sure not.
“Very well. Listen closely and act quickly. You are not to go to— I will not mention the name; and you are not to wait for me. You are to start at the hour named, but you will buy tickets for Atlantic City, where you must get what accommodations you can. Our little friend needs to be taken out of town,—not on business you understand, but to escape the unpleasantness here and to get such change as will distract her mind. Her mother cannot leave her duties, so you have undertaken to accompany the child. The rest leave to me. Have you understood all this?”
“Yes, perfectly; but—”
“Not another word, Miss Weeks. The change will do our little friend good. Trust my judgment, and ask her to do the same. Above all, do not be late for the train. Telephone at once for a cab, and forget everything but the pleasant trip before you.—Oh, one minute! There’s an article you had better send me. I hope you can guess what it is.”
“I think I can.”
“You know the city I am going to. Mark the package, General Delivery, and let me have it soon. That’s all.”
He hung up the receiver.
At midnight he started for Washington. He gave a political reason in excuse for this trip. He did not expect to be believed; but the spy, if such had been sent, had taken the earlier train on which the two ladies had left for Atlantic City. He knew every man who got on board of the same train as himself; and none of them were in league with Police Headquarters.