Kathleen, chatting gayly with first one visitor and then another, was unaware that with the passing of time her eyes strayed more and more frequently to the hall doorway, nor was she conscious that they gained an added brightness on perceiving Captain Charles Miller enter the room.
Owing to the departure of other guests Miss Kiametia contented herself with shaking Miller's hand warmly. "Come and talk to me later," she called, and turned her attention to those waiting to say good-bye. But she was not so absorbed as not to note Miller's progress down the room. From the corner of her eye she saw him stop and speak to Kathleen, accept a cup of tea, and walk over and seat himself on the sofa by Mrs. Whitney. That Mrs. Whitney was pleased by the attention was plain to be seen.
"Hum!" chuckled the astute spinster to herself. "'Always kiss the blossom when making love to the bud'—Captain Miller is nobody's fool."
"Stop looking at Miller," admonished Senator Foster, standing by her elbow. "Pay attention to me."
"I will, if you will inform me who Miller is," she retorted.
Foster looked at her oddly. "The Pied Piper, judging from the way you women run after him," he grumbled. "Can't a good-looking man come to Washington without being swamped with invitations?"
"Sour grapes!" Miss Kiametia's kind smile took the sting from her words, and Foster, whose looks were his sensitive point, laughed. "You haven't answered my question."
"He brought me letters from the president of a big munitions factory in Pennsylvania," he answered readily. "I gather—mind you I know nothing positively and must not be quoted...."
"Quite so. Well, I'm no parrot." The spinster nodded her head vigorously. "You're safe; go on."
Again Foster hesitated. He knew Miss Kiametia dearly loved a morsel of gossip, but he also knew that she could be trusted not to divulge matters of real importance. He, as well as the other members of the set in which the Whitneys and Miss Grey belonged, had observed Captain Miller's attention to Kathleen, had noted the gradual thawing of her stiff manner to him as the weeks went on, and he believed that Miss Kiametia's questions were prompted by the affection she bore Kathleen. He also was aware that the spinster cordially detested Sinclair Spencer and was secretly elated at Kathleen's indifference to the lawyer's attentions.
"I imagine Miller is here in the interests of the Allies," he said, lowering his voice. "I know that he has entered into negotiations for the purchase of war munitions, and that he is hoping to put through a deal for certain cavalry horses. I am so positive that he is what he represents himself to be that I have given him letters to influential men in my State."
"That possibly explains his many abrupt absences from the city," commented Miss Kiametia sagely. "He has the habit of backing out of dinner engagements at the eleventh hour. But tell me, do you know nothing about the man's family—his character?"
"Not a word. His letter of introduction was good, his business references excellent, and so"—the Senator's gesture was expressive. "I had no idea he would prove such a Beau Brummel when I introduced him to my Washington friends." Foster turned and looked across the room at Miller. "I should judge that he has seen service, his carriage is military."
"He appears to be an American, but he has certain mannerisms"—Miss Kiametia paused and, not completing her sentence, turned her attention to other guests. After their departure she beckoned Foster to join her by the door.
"Captain Miller piques my curiosity," she whispered. "You say you know nothing about his family—I am going to find out about his character now."
"How?" Foster looked mystified. "Where are you going?" as she moved forward. "Remember, what I told you was confidential."
"Trust me," and with a most undignified wink, Miss Kiametia sailed down upon Mrs. Whitney and Captain Miller. "You can't escape me," she said to the latter, as he rose on her approach. "You must come and be victimized."
"In what way?"
"By my latest fad—palmistry. Come, Minna, well go into the library," and laying a determined hand on Miller's arm she led the way into the cozy room, followed by Mrs. Whitney and the highly amused Senator. Miss Kiametia was a good organizer, and she marshalled her three guests into seats by the library table, placing Miller between herself and Mrs. Whitney.
"Is this a seance?" inquired Kathleen, watching the group from the doorway. Another of Miss Kiametia's receiving party had taken her place at the tea-table.
"Come and lend Captain Miller your moral support," called Miss Kiametia, while his character is being divulged. "No, you are to sit still," as Miller made a motion to rise. "Kathleen can stand behind us and prompt me if my deductions go astray; she knows you better than the rest of us."
Kathleen advanced with lagging steps into the room. She had turned singularly pale, and Miss Kiametia, watching her closely, wondered if she was taking the game seriously. She stopped just back of Miller's chair and rested her hand lightly on Miss Kiametia's shoulder as the latter pulled the electric lamp nearer so that its rays fell full upon Miller's palm.
"Has the size of the hand anything to do with the subject?" asked Miller, as the spinster picked up a magnifying glass.
"Don't make suggestions to the oracle," laughed Foster. "Go ahead, Kiametia."
"Your life line is good," pronounced the spinster, "but as it divides toward the end you will probably die in a country different from that of your birth."
"Any particular time scheduled for the event?" questioned Miller, skeptically, but Miss Kiametia ignored the remark.
"This branch from the head line to the heart"—indicating it with a slender paper-cutter—"denotes some great affection which makes you blind to reason and danger." She paused irresolutely. "Pshaw! I'm reading from the left hand, let me see the other...."
"Isn't the one nearest the heart the surest guide?" inquired Miller.
"It is not," with decision, and Miller, smiling whimsically, extended his hand toward them.
"The right hand of fellowship," he remarked, placing his palm directly under the light.
"My theory is correct." Miss Kiametia shot a triumphant look at Mrs. Whitney. "There are always more lines in the right palm than in the left; and see, here is a wider space between the lines of the head and life—contact with the world, Captain Miller, has taught you self-reliance, promptness of action, and readiness of thought. Hello, what is that on your index finger—a half-moon?"
"Yes." Miller smiled covertly; the spinster's seriousness amused him immensely. "Isn't that according to Hoyle?"
"No, nor according to Cheiro, either," tartly. "Hold your palm steady so that I can see more clearly. It's a scar, isn't it?"
Mrs. Whitney and Senator Foster were closely following Miss Kiametia's words, and neither saw the perplexed frown which wrinkled Kathleen's forehead as she stared down at Miller's right hand. She was distinctly puzzled.
"The strength of your own individuality will carry you over many obstacles," finished Miss Kiametia, giving Miller's hand a friendly tap with the paper-cutter.
"Read mine next," and Foster held out his right hand.
"Haven't time; besides," the spinster's eyes twinkled, "I know your character like a book. What is it, Sylvester?" as her colored butler appeared, card tray in hand. "More visitors? Oh, yes, the Peytons—I particularly want you to know them, Minna; no, you must not think of leaving yet," and with her accustomed energy Miss Kiametia whisked Mrs. Whitney into the drawing-room, Senator Foster following. As Kathleen stepped toward the door, Miller stopped her.
"Don't go," he pleaded, his voice, though low, vibrating with pent-up feeling. "Kathleen, my beloved, don't go."
She placed an unsteady hand on the portiere. "I must," she stammered. "They need me...."
"No, I am the one who needs you. My last chance of happiness lies in the balance. Kathleen, give me a hearing."
Slowly, reluctantly she turned in his direction. "Be wise, leave things as they are...."
"I cannot." Miller was white with the intensity of his emotion. "I love you, love you."
Kathleen's hand crept to her heart as if to still its wild throb.
"Don't, don't"—she looked beseechingly at him. "Have you forgotten..."
"Yes," boldly. "I only realize you are all in all to me."
In the dead silence that followed the ticking of the small desk clock was distinctly audible.
"Why not leave well enough alone?" she begged, a trifle wildly.
"Because I cannot stand it," huskily. "To see you day after day—Will nothing I say convince or move you? Am I outside the pale of affection?"
No answer. In the prolonged silence Miller's self-control snapped, and stepping to her side he drew her in his arms. For a second she struggled to release herself, then her strength gave way and she leaned limply against him.
"I am a fool, a fool to listen to you," she gasped, "but I—I—love you now as I never did before."
With a low cry of unutterable happiness Miller bent his head and their lips met in a passionate kiss.
The hall clock was chiming six when Mrs. Whitney and Kathleen reached home. Not waiting for her mother, Kathleen ran upstairs and shut herself in her own room. Without troubling to switch on the electric lights she made her way to a chair by the window and flung herself into it.
Love, the all-powerful, had conquered reason. Against her better judgment she had pledged her faith to Charles Miller. Her heart throbbed high with hope, and with dreamy, happy eyes she stared out of the window into the darkness. Slowly she reviewed the events of the past six weeks. Never intrusive, yet always by her side and at her beck and call, never at a loss to do and say the right thing, Miller had wooed her in his own masterful way, trampling down prejudice, suspicion, unbelief, until he had gained his heritage—love. The specter of the past was laid—involuntarily Kathleen shivered.
"Is Mademoiselle here?" asked the French maid, peering in uncertainly from the hall door. She had rapped repeatedly and getting no response had gone downstairs to look for Kathleen, only to be told that she was in her own room.
"Come in, Julie, and turn on the electric switch," directed Kathleen, and blinked as the room was suddenly flooded with light. Without rising she removed her hat-pins and handed her hat and coat to the maid. "Just the blue foulard tonight. What have you there?"
"Some flowers, mademoiselle," handing the box to Kathleen. "Captain Miller left them at the door himself, and seeing me in the hall asked that I give them to you at once." With a Frenchwoman's tact she busied herself in getting out the blue foulard and pretended not to see the blush and smile which accompanied Kathleen's opening of the box. She did not speak again, helping Kathleen with deft fingers to finish her toilet, and then stood back to contemplate the effect. "Will mademoiselle attend the meeting tonight?" she asked.
"No, I am not a member of the Sisters in Unity. I had forgotten the club was to meet here. Perhaps mother will need you now. Don't wait."
But the Frenchwoman lingered. "Mademoiselle," she began. "Mademoiselle."
"Pardon". Turning abruptly, Julie opened the door and glanced up and down the hall, then gently closed and locked it. With equal quietness she bolted the sitting-room door. Watching her with growing curiosity Kathleen saw that her comely face was white and drawn.
"Listen, mademoiselle." The Frenchwoman was careful to keep her voice low-pitched. "I dare to speak tonight—for France."
"For France!" echoed Kathleen.
"France." Julie's tone caressed the word. "My country needs your father's invention—Ah, mademoiselle, do not let him sell it to another."
"He will offer it first to our own Government."
"Will he, mademoiselle? Ah, do not be offended," catching Kathleen's swift change of expression. "I dare speak as I do—for France; think me not disrespectful—but others wait to tempt your father."
"I know what I know, mademoiselle. It has gotten abroad that Mr. Whitney has completed his invention, that tests prove it successful—and, mademoiselle, this house is watched."
Kathleen looked at Julie incredulously. Had the maid taken leave of her senses? Between nervousness and anxiety the Frenchwoman was trembling from head to foot.
"Warn your father, mademoiselle; he will listen to you."
"I will," with reassuring vigor. "Tell me, Julie, what has aroused your suspicion?"
"Many things. When it creeps out that M. Whitney has succeeded, I say to myself—the Germans, they will be interested. And I wait. Then madame engages Henry...."
"Henry? The chauffeur?"
"But yes. I do not like Henry, mademoiselle. He is too much in the house for a chauffeur; I meet him on the stairs, always on his way to the attic with some message to M. Whitney who works in his studio there. He laughs and teases me, that Henry, but wait!" Julie's eyes were blazing. "And that Monsieur Spencer; I trust him not also. Ah, mademoiselle, do not let him be closeted with your father—he is the younger and stronger man."
"Julie, are you quite mad?" exclaimed Kathleen, her eyes twice their usual size.
"No, mademoiselle. I watch; yes, always I watch and listen. Your father did well to have iron shutters on the windows and new bolts on the door, but he knows not that I am within call—on the other side of the door."
"Upon my word!" Kathleen's brain was in a whirl. Was Julie's mind unbalanced? She knew that the Frenchwoman's fiance and two brothers had been killed early in the war. Had grief for them and anxiety for her beloved country developed hallucinations? One thing was apparent—it would never do to disagree with her in her overwrought condition. Kathleen laid her arm protectingly about her shoulders and gave her a squeeze. She was very fond of the warm-hearted Frenchwoman.
"Do not worry, Julie. I will see that father takes every precaution to safeguard his invention." She hesitated. "I, too, sympathize deeply with France." "God bless thee, mademoiselle." With a movement full of grace Julie raised Kathleen's hand to her lips, then glided from the room, her slippers making no noise on the thick carpet.
Left alone Kathleen picked up her box of flowers and walked thoughtfully into her sitting-room. Her interview with Julie had depressed her. As she passed her desk she saw a note addressed to her lying on it, but recognizing Sinclair Spencer's handwriting she tossed it down again unopened. It would keep to read later. She walked over to the pier glass and began to adjust the flowers which Miller had sent her. More interested in his note which accompanied his gift, she had at first taken them for violets, but looking more closely at the corsage bouquet she found it contained cornflowers. Again she read his note:
"I send you the harbinger of spring, of hope, of happiness. Ever fondly your lover,
Back to Kathleen's memory came a vision of waving wheat in a field on the outskirts of Berlin and scattered among the grain grew the cornflower—Kaiser blumen. She raised her hand to her hot cheeks. How came Miller to send her flowers which he knew were connected with that past he so ardently wished forgotten?
THE SPIDER AND THE FLY
Whitney scanned the long drawing-room and library beyond in comic despair. The furniture of both rooms, which opened out of each other, had been carried into another part of the house, and in its place were rows on rows of gilt chairs, while in the bow window stood an improvised platform.
"Can I get you a seat, sir?" asked Vincent, placing a pitcher of ice water and tumblers on the speaker's table.
"No, thanks; my days as parliamentarian are over, thank the Lord. I have learned, Vincent, that when the Sisters in Unity hold an election it's safer to be on the other side of the bolted door."
"Yes, sir." Vincent removed a cherished Sevres vase from its customary abiding place on the mantel and tucked it carefully under his arm. "Miss Kathleen is looking for you, sir. I think I hear her in the hall now, sir," and he hastened into the library as Kathleen stepped into the drawing-room.
"Where have you been since dinner, Dad? I went from the top of the house to the bottom looking for you."
"Had to go over to the drugstore to get a prescription filled. Can I do anything for you?"
"Yes. Come and spend the evening with me," she coaxed.
Whitney laughed. "Can't, my dear. I have important work ahead of me tonight."
"It must wait until tomorrow," coaxingly, stroking his cheek softly. "I don't like these lines, Dad. Your health is more to be considered than your work."
Whitney's air of tolerance turned to one of determination. "You are wrong; my work is of primary importance. It's only a matter of hours now, Kathleen; then I can loaf for the rest of my days."
She shook her head. "Unless you take rest you cannot stand the strain. Mother tells me you worked all last night and far into the morning."
"My brain is clearer at night, and I have always required very little sleep." He frowned with growing impatience. "There is no use discussing the subject." He spoke in a tone which forbade further argument.
"Dad," Kathleen lowered her voice and moved closer to him, "has it occurred to you that—that people are unduly curious about your invention?"
Whitney eyed her keenly. "It has," he admitted tersely, "and I have taken precautions." He stared at the clock and frowned impatiently. "Nearly eight—the meeting will commence soon; let's get out of here."
"Wait, Dad," Kathleen laid a restraining hand on his shoulder. "I cannot bear to think of you alone in the attic—so far away from—"
"Sisters in Unity—the very best of reasons for going to the attic—"
"Let me come with you," eagerly. "I'll bring my own work and not say a word to you. I'm nervous, Daddy, I—I don't want to be by myself tonight—and there's something I want to—to—" her voice broke.
Whitney glanced at Kathleen in surprise. What had come over her?
"Oh, come along," he agreed roughly. "Only remember, I won't be tormented with small talk."
Kathleen's eyes brightened with relief as she accompanied him into the hall. As they appeared the elevator door opened and Mrs. Whitney stepped out into the hall.
"Why, I thought you were lying down, Kathleen; you said that you were too tired to come in later to our club meeting and hear Senator Foster's address on 'Peace,'" she exclaimed, and not waiting for an answer, turned to Whitney. "Can you spare me a moment, Winslow? I wish your advice," and with a quick tilt of her head she indicated the small reception room on the left of the front door. "Come in here."
"Certainly, Minna. Don't wait for me, Kathleen," but the girl paused irresolutely.
"Shall I go to the studio?" she asked.
"No, you cannot get in; the door is locked. Go to your sitting-room and I'll stop for you on the way to the studio."
"Honest Injun, Dad?" And her father, nodding vigorous assent, watched her go up the stairs, then with a brisk step entered the reception room.
"How charming you look, Minna!" he exclaimed, in honest admiration.
"You think so?" and Mrs. Whitney dimpled with pleasure. "I do want to win the election tonight—and clothes count for so much in woman's politics."
"I back you to win against all comers," and Whitney gave her shapely shoulder a loving pat as he stooped to kiss her. "What is the matter with Kathleen tonight? Her behavior troubles me."
His wife laughed softly. "She is suffering from an old complaint—she is in love."
"What!" Whitney stared at her in blank astonishment. "With whom?" and sudden, sharp anxiety lay behind the abrupt question.
"I suspect—Captain Miller."
"Miller? That silent—" Whitney checked his impetuous words. "Miller? Good Lord!"
"What can you tell me about Captain Miller?" Her feminine curiosity was instantly aroused at his quick change of expression.
"Just what I have seen of him and nothing more. He never talks of himself."
"Such a relief," sighed Mrs. Whitney. "There is Randall Foster—talks always of his own achievements. Wait until Kiametia Grey marries him. I sometimes wonder...."
"I can't see that we are directly concerned with that romance," broke in Whitney with characteristic impatience. "What's your opinion of Miller?"
"I rather like him; he's very agreeable, good-looking, and seems to have plenty of money...."
"Favor his suit? Yes," tranquilly.
"But, heavens, Minna, you know nothing about Captain Miller's past."
"You can inquire about it; in fact, I think it is your duty to do so. He calls here entirely too frequently not to be asked his intentions."
"What the—" Whitney reddened angrily and his voice rose. "A nice task you put before me. I dis—"
"Sh!" Rising hurriedly, Mrs. Whitney laid a warning hand on his arm. "There's the bell, and this room is needed for the cloaks. Where is Julie?"
Paying no attention to her husband's apparent desire to say something more, Mrs. Whitney stepped into the hall. Whitney stood in deep thought for a brief moment, then hastened after her, but his hope to slip upstairs unseen was frustrated. Miss Kiametia Grey, enveloped in a heavy fur coat, promptly hailed him and as he stood chatting to her in the hall the front door again opened and Henry, the chauffeur, who had been requisitioned to assist Vincent, ushered in Sinclair Spencer.
"Good evening, Mrs. Whitney," Spencer's loud cheery voice boomed through the hall, and under cover of his jovial manner he scanned Whitney and his wife. Had Kathleen spoken to them of his proposal of marriage that morning and her refusal? "Just dropped in to see your husband, Mrs. Whitney; hadn't hoped for the pleasure of seeing you. Hello, Whitney. Evening, Miss Grey." But the spinster, with a stiff bow, slipped past the lawyer and into the reception room without seeing his outstretched hand. Spencer's florid complexion turned a deeper tint as he met Henry's blank stare, but a covert glance at the Whitneys convinced him that they had not seen Miss Kiametia's rudeness.
"Do take Mr. Spencer upstairs, Winslow," suggested Mrs. Whitney, as the chauffeur opened the door to admit more guests. "I have a meeting of my club tonight, Mr. Spencer, and therefore..."
"Certainly, certainly; please don't let my presence put you out," with a courteous bow. "Come on, Whitney, let's go up to your studio," and he followed his host into the elevator.
Whitney stopped the car at the first bedroom floor. "We will be far more comfortable in my wife's boudoir than in my studio," he said. "Go ahead, Spencer, first door to your right. I'll stop in my bedroom and get some cigars."
Glancing curiously about the large attractive hall, Spencer entered the daintily furnished boudoir, and was examining the many water colors and photographs which hung on the walls, when Whitney came in carrying a cigar box and a tray containing Scotch and vichy.
"That's some of Kathleen's work," he explained, observing that the lawyer had picked up a miniature of Mrs. Whitney. "She is clever with her brush."
"Very clever," agreed Spencer enthusiastically. "There is no one, Whitney, whom I admire as I do your daughter," drawing a lounging chair near the table on which his host put the tray. "Why does Kathleen avoid me?"
"She does," with bitter emphasis. "And it cuts—deep."
"You are supersensitive," protested Whitney politely. "I do not for a moment believe Kathleen would intentionally hurt your feelings."
Spencer did not answer at once, and chafing inwardly at being kept from his work in the studio, Whitney glared first at his guest and then at the clock, but the hint was lost.
Suddenly Spencer's right fist came down on the table with a resounding whack. "Kathleen turned me down this morning." Whitney's eyes were riveted on his guest but he said nothing, and Spencer continued earnestly. "I want you to use your influence...."
"No." The monosyllable was spoken quietly, but the gleam in Whitney's eyes was a silent warning. "We will leave my daughter's name out of the discussion. Was there anything else you wished to see me about? If not...." and he half rose.
Instead of answering Spencer lolled back in his chair and, taking his time, lighted a cigar.
"Your note for twenty thousand dollars is due in ten days," he announced. "Are you prepared to take it up?"
There was a protracted pause before Whitney spoke. "Are you willing to let me curtail your note with a payment of five thousand dollars?" he asked.
Whitney's hand closed spasmodically over the bottle of whiskey, and he was livid with anger as he glared at the younger man. Spencer's good looks were marred by signs of recent dissipation, and the coarse lines about his thin lips destroyed the air of refinement given him by his well-cut clothes. Whitney cast a despairing look about the room, at the pretty knick-knacks, pictures, and handsome furniture—all indicated a cultivated woman's taste. How his wife loved her belongings!
With the curtailing of his income through the shrinking and non-payment of dividends, he had drawn upon his principal and—keeping up appearances was an expensive game. Every piece of property that he owned was heavily mortgaged, and every bit of collateral was already deposited to cover notes at his bank. Slowly Whitney's fingers loosened their grip upon the bottle of whiskey.
"Well," and his voice cut the stillness like a whiplash. "What is your pound of flesh?"
Spencer knocked the ash from the end of his cigar into the tray with care that none should fall upon the polished mahogany table top.
"Kathleen might reconsider—eh?" suggestively. "And—eh—there is your invention—your latest invention."
It was approaching midnight when Whitney stepped alone into the hall. The hum of voices rose from the room below; evidently Vincent had neglected to close the drawing-room doors, or else the Sisters in Unity needed air. Listening intently, he judged from the direction of the voices that the women had not gone into the dining-room.
Whitney walked toward the elevator, paused, then continued down the hall and without rapping entered Kathleen's sitting-room. But he stopped on the threshold on beholding Kathleen sitting before her desk with her head resting upon its flat top, sound asleep. By her side lay paint box and brushes and a half-completed miniature of Captain Miller. Without disturbing her, Whitney crept softly from the room.
SISTERS IN UNITY
It was a very much flurried Vincent who admitted Senator Randall Foster, and helped him off with his overcoat.
"They're still argufying," he said, indicating the closed drawing-room doors with a jerk of his thumb. "I'll get word to Mrs. Whitney, sir, that you have come."
"No, no, don't interrupt the meeting," hastily interposed the Senator. "I may be a few minutes early. Can I see Mr. Whitney?"
"Yes, sir, certainly, sir. Come this way," and Vincent moved toward the elevator shaft. "I don't believe Mr. Whitney has gone to his studio, yet, sir; he never takes anyone there, and I haven't seen Mr. Spencer leave."
"Mr. Spencer?" Foster drew back. "Is he with Mr. Whitney?"
"Yes, sir, so Henry told me."
"After all, I don't believe I'll disturb Mr. Whitney, Vincent. Is there some place I can wait downstairs?"
"Yes, sir, the reception room." The butler led the way to it "I'm afraid, sir, you'll find it very uncomfortable in here, sir," looking at the racks of coats and cloaks, "but"—brightening—"here's a copy of the evening paper; Mr. Whitney must have left it; and this chair, sir—"
"Yes, yes, Vincent, thank you, I'll be all right." Foster took possession of the solitary uncovered chair. "This is an excellent opportunity of reading over my speech. Be sure and let me know, Vincent, the instant I am wanted in the drawing-room."
"Surely, sir. I'll tell Mrs. Whitney that you are here, sir," and Vincent retired.
Inside the closed drawing-room and library the atmosphere was surcharged with electricity. Miss Kiametia Grey, who had locked horns with her opponents on numerous subjects, sat back, flushed and victorious; she was beginning to feel the fatigue incident to having borne the brunt of the discussion, and was secretly longing to have the meeting adjourn to the dining-room where she suspected Mrs. Whitney had provided a bountiful supper. She felt the need of refreshments, if only a Roman punch.
Mrs. Whitney was also feeling the strain. She had designated a sister official to occupy the chair when the nominating speeches were in order, and was awaiting the announcement of the result of the ballot with inward trepidation. Her composed manner and smiling face won Miss Kiametia's admiration; she was herself of too excitable a temperament to keep her equanimity unimpaired, and she watched Mrs. Whitney's calm demeanor and unruffled poise, conscious of her own disheveled appearance. She missed Kathleen; the latter's presence had become an almost virtual necessity to the spinster. Despite the disparity in ages, their tastes were similar, and both had a keen sense of humor. It had added zest to the spinster's enjoyment of the season's gayeties to have Kathleen with her, and she had watched the girl's gradual absorption in Captain Miller with lynx eyes. The obliteration of Sinclair Spencer as a possible suitor had filled her with delight. But she had seen Spencer in the house that very night. What did that mean? What was he there for? Surely, Kathleen had not....
A stir in the back of the room recalled Miss Kiametia's wandering thoughts, and she leaned eagerly forward to hear the report of the chairman of the tellers. Mrs. Whitney was elected and Miss Kiametia had also carried the day. Round after round of hearty applause greeted the announcement, and as it died out the two successful candidates for first and second place in the organization stepped to the platform. But after expressing her thanks, Miss Kiametia again resumed her seat among the members, while Mrs. Whitney took up the duties of presiding officer.
As the regular business of the meeting drew to a close one of the members rose, and on being recognized announced that she had a resolution to offer, and read in a high singsong voice:
"Be it resolved that this organization of Sisters in Unity indorse the peace movement, and that it use its wide influence to check the tendency toward militarism which injudicious and misguided Americans hope to foist upon the American public."
Applause greeted the speaker, and a gray-haired woman across the room demanded recognition from the chair.
"I would like to say a few words in favor of that resolution," she began, finally catching Mrs. Whitney's attention. "Our wars with England, our mother country, were but as the wrangle of relatives. The leaders in the warring nations in Europe today are all related. Let us keep clear of all international entanglements. Let us have peace. Through peace this country has achieved greatness. Peace and prosperity go hand in hand. Peace uplifts; war retards. Militarism is a throw-back to feudal days. On its lighter side, militarism is an appeal for gold lace and brass buttons. A man puts on our uniform because it is a thing of show, in other words, conspicuous ..."
"Madam chairman!" Her face flaming, an irate woman arose. "No, I don't care whether I'm in order or not; I will be heard—Mrs. Lutz is quite right, the United States uniform is conspicuous, and has been conspicuous on many a bloody battlefield since 1776. The uniform is honored alike in court and camp in every nation of the world."
As she sat down pandemonium reigned. Instantly Miss Kiametia was on her feet, and her strident call, "Madam chairman, madam chairman," rose repeatedly above the hubbub. Mrs. Whitney pounded for order and gave the spinster the floor.
"I rise to a question of information," explained Miss Kiametia, in tones which echoed through the rooms. "Is this an indignation meeting or an assemblage of Sisters in Unity?" she demanded, and sat down. In the comparative quiet that ensued, the peace resolution was seconded and passed by a small majority.
Mrs. Whitney stepped to the edge of the platform. "Senator Randall Foster has very kindly consented to address us tonight," she said. "So distinguished a lawmaker needs no introduction to this organization. Mr. Senator," as Foster entered through the door held open for him by Vincent, "we invite you to the platform."
Bowing his thanks, Foster joined Mrs. Whitney and immediately began one of those adroit, well-worded addresses which had made him a marked man in the Senate. "I come to you a special pleader," he continued, with growing earnestness, "to spread the gospel of peace. It is your privilege to weld public opinion, and opinion can be as a yoke upon a man's neck. In this free America opinion governs. Jingoes would try to plunge us into war. When a boy is given an airgun, his first impulse is to go out and shoot it off. Arm the men of this country and their impulse will be the same. A small standing army does not tend to militarism; its size does not lend itself to the issuing of imperative mandates; and mandates, ladies, lead to war.
"It is especially a woman's duty to demand peace. In war, upon the woman falls the suffering and the sacrifice. The lover, the brother, the father, the son may find honorable death upon the field, but at home the woman pays. God pity the woman left desolate and alone, her loved ones sacrificed on the altar of militarism!
"And mothers? What of your children and the fate of yet unborn generations? Are they brought into the world to be tools of militarism? Lift up your voice for peace; carry the message, 'Peace on earth' to the very portals of Congress. Make any and every sacrifice, but guard your man child."
As Foster stopped speaking enthusiastic applause broke out, and a rising vote of thanks was given him. As the gratified Senator stepped down from the platform he found himself by Miss Kiametia's side.
"I did it to please you, Kiametia," he whispered, holding her hand tightly. "Have I earned one kind word?"
Miss Kiametia favored him with a quick expressive look and a faint blush.
"You are a staunch friend," she said warmly, and Foster brightened. "Only—only why did you lay such stress on the 'man child'? Nearly all are spinsters in this peace organization."
A MAN IN A HURRY
Heavy clouds hung low and not a star was visible. The darkness was intensified by the gleam of distant city lights, for in that section of Washington lying to the southwest of Pennsylvania Avenue a defective fuse had caused the dimming of every electric light in the vicinity. Far up on one of the roofs a man, crouching behind the meager shelter offered by a chimney, blessed the chance which fortune provided.
Crawling on hands and knees, he cautiously made his way to the edges of the roof, on which he had dropped from the higher building next door, and looked down. His eyes straining in the darkness, every sense alert to danger, he scanned intently each window ledge and cornice. No hope there. Not even a lead pipe or telephone wires afforded a hold for desperate, gripping fingers. Unlike the building adjoining on the south, the new house had no party wall, and a gulf too wide to jump separated it from its northern neighbor. The sheer drop to the garden beneath was suicidal.
The man lay for a few seconds striving to collect himself. He could not return the way he had come. He would be caught like a rat in the trap with the arrival of dawn, if not before. Perhaps his pursuers were on his trail already. The thought spurred his numbed body to action, and lifting his head he glanced along the flat roof. Toward the center of it rose a box-like structure with apparently an arched skylight above it. A little distance away from the structure, he distinguished the outlines of what appeared to be a scuttle. Warily he approached it, and using every precaution to make the least possible sound, he attempted to raise the scuttle. A long sigh of relief escaped him as he succeeded. The scuttle was not locked.
He paused long enough to glance keenly about him. There was no sign of another human being, but a sound smote his ear. Someone was moving on the pebbled roof of the building he had just left. Without an instant's delay he groped about until his feet touched the rung of a ladder, and drawing to the scuttle behind him, he made his way down the ladder.
On reaching the bottom he paused in indecision. He could make out nothing in the inky blackness, and with every sense alive to danger, he waited. But apparently his entrance had disturbed no one, and taking heart of grace, he pulled out a tiny flashlight and pressed the button.
The light revealed a large attic partly filled with trunks and worn furniture. A large wine closet, the bottles shining as the light fell on them through the slat partition, occupied one part of the attic, while a wall partition, with closed door, ran across the entire western side. To his right, the man made out the head of a narrow staircase. He was making his way to the staircase when his acute hearing caught the sound of a softly closing door on the floor below and approaching footsteps.
Casting a hunted look about him, he spied a closed closet door. He doused his light while making his way to the closet, and jerked open the door, at the same time throwing out his right hand, the better to judge the depth of the dark closet. His groping fingers closed on cold steel. His heart lost a throb, then raced madly on, as he clung weakly to the metal. An elevator shaft, and he had mistaken it for prison bars!
For a second his chilled body was shaken with hysterical desire for laughter; then his strong will conquered. He had not forgotten the advancing footsteps. A desperate situation required desperate chances. Stepping back he closed the outer door of the elevator shaft and pressed the button for the elevator. Which would reach him first—the person creeping upstairs or the automatic electric elevator?
A SINISTER DISCOVERY
Mrs. Whitney sat up in bed and contemplated her husband reproachfully as he entered her room.
"Have you been working all night?" she inquired.
Whitney nodded absently as he stooped to kiss her. "Now, don't worry, dear; work will not injure me. I've just had a cold shower and feel ten per cent better, and all ready for my breakfast. You are the one who looks tired; that's a very becoming cap you are wearing, but you need more color here," pinching her cheek. "I don't like to see you so pale. Were the Sisters in Unity as strenuous as ever?"
"Just about—but, Oh, Winslow, I was elected...."
"That was a foregone conclusion, you modest child." Again Whitney kissed her. "Congratulations, my darling, though why you should want it...."
Mrs. Whitney laughed good-naturedly. "I'm too happy today to argue the question," she broke in.
"Kiametia Grey frightened us all last night by fainting ..."
"Fainting! Kiametia? I thought she was as tough as a horse?"
"So she is usually, but she has been doing too much socially, and late hours do not agree with a woman of her years."
"She isn't so old," protested Whitney.
"She is older than I, and I'm not so young," Mrs. Whitney, whose years sat lightly upon her, jerked a dainty dressing-gown about her shoulders. "Kiametia did faint and when she came to, declared it was the overheated atmosphere of the rooms and the continuous talking which had upset her."
"Well, you must admit, Minna, the Sisters are famous for noisy discussions. Kiametia is generally able to hold up her end of an argument. I am sorry she had to give in to superior numbers," Whitney laughed. "You'll never convince me that she fainted."
"She did, too; and felt so badly that I persuaded her not to go home, but to spend the remainder of the night in our blue bedroom."
"Good heavens!" Whitney gazed blankly at his wife. "Did she—did ..."
"No, she did not stay there," pausing dramatically. "She found Sinclair Spencer sound asleep in the bed." She waited expectantly for her husband's comment, but getting no reply, she burst out, "What was he doing there—how came he to be there?"
"I was foolish enough to offer him whiskey." Her husband seated himself carefully on the edge of the bed, "Spencer had been drinking before he came to see me, and a very little more made him tipsy. I was fearful that if I took him downstairs he would try and break up your meeting, so persuaded him to go and lie down on the bed in the blue room."
"Sometimes, Winslow, for a thoughtful man, you ball things up dreadfully," sighed Mrs. Whitney. "Why did you select that room? You always put your friends in the hall bedroom."
"Never gave the matter of the rooms a thought." Whitney moved restlessly; he hated to see a woman cry, and his wife looked perilously upon the point of tears. In spite of his assertion that he did not miss the loss of sleep, his nerves were not under full control. Ordinarily not a drinking man, he had stopped on his way from his bedroom to help himself to the small amount of Scotch left in the bottle.
"Such a scene as I had with Kiametia," groaned Mrs. Whitney sighing dismally at the recollection. "Finally, I convinced her that I knew nothing of Mr. Spencer's presence, and she consented to sleep in the hall bedroom."
"I'm glad Kiametia discovered Spencer in time." His chuckle developing into a laugh, Whitney rose and walked to the door. "It's no crying matter, my dear. Kiametia will be the first to enjoy the joke."
"If it had been anyone but Sinclair Spencer!" Mrs. Whitney shook her head forlornly. "She has developed an intense dislike for him."
"And Kiametia is usually a woman of discernment." His sarcasm passed unheeded, and he opened the hall door. "Hurry and dress, Minna, I'll wait for you in the dining-room. Heavens! What's that?"
A muffled cry, long drawn out, agonizing, vibrated through the stillness.
Spellbound, husband and wife eyed each other, then Whitney stepped into the hall just as Miss Kiametia tore out of her bedroom.
"What is it?" she demanded. "Oh, stop it, stop it!" clapping her hands over her ears as the cry rose again.
"It comes from the elevator shaft, sir," panted Vincent, appearing up the stairs, Henry, the chauffeur, close at his heels. Without moving, Whitney stared stupidly at the two servants, and it was Henry who laid a trembling finger on the elevator button. As they heard the automatic car come to a standstill on the other side of the closed mahogany door there was a second's pause; then Miss Kiametia, summoning all her fortitude, laid her hand on the door knob and pulled it open. A horrified exclamation escaped her as her eyes fell upon Kathleen, whose bloodless face was pressed against the iron grating of the inner door, to which she was clinging for support.
"Let me out," she pleaded, her eyes dark with horror. "Let me out."
At sight of his daughter Whitney recovered himself. "Stand back, Kathleen," he directed. "Then we can slide open the door." He had to repeat his words twice before she took in their meaning. Releasing her hold upon the grating, she covered her face as if to shut out some terrifying spectacle. As Henry pushed back the door, she collapsed into her father's arms.
"Bring Kathleen in here," called Mrs. Whitney from her doorway, where she had stood, too frightened to move. "There are smelling salts on my bureau. What can have brought on this attack of hysterics, Kiametia?"
"The Lord knows. Perhaps the machinery's out of order and she's been stuck between floors." The spinster, suddenly remembering her extremely light attire, backed toward her room.
Whitney, reentering the hall, caught her words. "Go to Kathleen, Minna; she asked for you," and as his wife turned back into her bedroom, he added, "See if there is anything wrong with the elevator, Henry."
Obediently the chauffeur stepped through the narrow entrance to the elevator and into the steel cage. The next instant he turned an ashy face toward his companions.
"Look!" he gasped. "Look!" And his shaking hand pointed to that part of the elevator concealed by the solid wall of the shaft from the view of those standing in the hall. With one accord they crowded into the elevator, and a stricken silence prevailed.
Crouching on the floor at the far end of the shallow cage was Sinclair Spencer. The rays of the overhead electric lamp, by which the cage was lighted, showed plainly the gash in his throat, while crimson stains on his white shirt added to the ghastly tableau. Death was stamped upon the marble whiteness of his upturned face.
"Good God!" Whitney reeled back and but for Vincent's arm would have fallen.
"Here, sir, sit here, sir," and the butler half lifted him to a chair in the hall. "Go get whiskey, Henry," noting the pallor of Whitney's face. "Quick, man!"
"Telephone for a doctor, Vincent," directed Miss Kiametia, pulling herself together. She had been the first to bolt out of the elevator. "I will stay with Mr. Whitney until you get back," and flashing her a grateful look, the butler, relieved to have responsibility taken from his shoulders, fled downstairs after Henry.
Miss Kiametia laid trembling hands on Whitney's bowed shoulders.
"It's awful, Winslow," she stammered. "Awful!"
As he paid no attention to her, but stared vacantly at the floor before him, she paced to and fro, always careful, however, never to go in the direction of the elevator. The exercise brought back some semblance of self-control, and her eyes were beginning to take on their wonted snap when Whitney rose unsteadily and stepped toward the elevator. Miss Kiametia's voice stopped him on its threshold.
"I wouldn't go in there again," she advised. "Wait until the coroner comes."
"The coroner?" staring stupidly at her.
"Yes, hadn't you better send for him?"
Whitney's hands dropped to his side with a hopeless gesture. "The coroner," he muttered. "God help us!"
"Winslow!" Mrs. Whitney appeared in the doorway, tears streaming down her white cheeks. "Kathleen is completely unnerved; come and help me quiet her."
At that moment Henry arrived, tray in hand. "I couldn't find the whiskey, sir," he explained, breathless with hurry. "But here's some cognac, sir. Let me pour it out," and he handed a filled liqueur glass to Whitney, who swallowed the stimulant at a gulp.
"Shouldn't mind having some of that myself," announced Miss Kiametia. "Bring the tray here, Henry," walking over to a table. "And, Winslow, take a glass to Kathleen; it will do her good. Henry, did Vincent telephone for the doctor?" she added below her breath, as Whitney and his wife disappeared in the latter's bedroom and closed the door.
"Yes, Miss Grey, but he was out. So Vincent rang up the hospital and the coroner."
"Good." Miss Kiametia debated a moment whether or not to take more cognac, and ended by refilling her glass. "Stay right in this hall, Henry; don't leave it for a moment until the doctor comes. I'm going in to dress."
As the door closed behind the spinster, Henry stood in deep thought, then pouring out a glass of cognac he hastily drank it. Setting down the glass, he tiptoed over to the elevator, but one look at the still figure crouching with head thrown back and sightless eyes turned to the ceiling sent him back into the center of the hall. Drawing out his handkerchief, he mopped his damp forehead.
From Mrs. Whitney's bedroom came the murmur of voices, and Henry, darting a quick, searching look about the empty hall, slipped over to the door and applied his ear to the keyhole. The sound of approaching footsteps and voices warned him of the arrival of the physician, and when Vincent appeared, followed by two men, he was standing on guard near the elevator shaft.
A quick word of explanation sufficed, and then the younger of the newcomers entered the elevator. He recoiled at sight of Spencer, then advancing tested the dead man's pulse and heart.
"This is a case for you, Penfield," he exclaimed backing out into the hall, and without a word the coroner took his place beside Spencer. The young physician turned to Vincent. "Didn't you tell me that someone was ill and required medical assistance? Mr. Spencer is dead; I can do nothing for him."
Without answering, Vincent tapped on Mrs. Whitney's door, and Whitney's voice bade him enter. "Dr. Hall, sir," announced the butler. "Want him to come in, sir?—Yes, sir; this way, Doctor," and he pulled to the door after the physician. The elevator drew Vincent's eyes as a magnet draws steel, and he started violently at sight of the coroner beckoning to him from its entrance.
"Call up Police Headquarters," directed Penfield. "Tell them I am here, and ask to have Detective Mitchell and three plain-clothes men sent over at once. Be quick about it," and his peremptory tone caused the agitated butler to hasten his usually leisurely gait. Henry started to follow him, but the coroner called him back. "Explain to me exactly what happened when Mr. Spencer was found," he said, stepping into the hall.
The tale lost nothing in Henry's telling, and Penfield was gnawing his fingernails, a trick he had if perplexed, when Vincent escorted the detective and plain-clothes policemen into the hall. The coroner rose with alacrity.
"Glad you could come, Mitchell," he said. "Let me put you in possession of all facts so far known," and he repeated all that Henry had told him. Mitchell listened in silence; only the gleam in his eyes attested his interest, as his face remained expressionless. And that gleam deepened as he stepped into the elevator and examined Spencer. When he came out he was wrapping his handkerchief around a knife. Exchanging a glance with the coroner, he turned to Vincent.
"Show my men over the house," he directed, "and you," addressing Henry, "inform Mr. Whitney that Coroner Penfield and I would like to see him at once."
"I am here." Whitney, who had entered the hall unnoticed a second before, joined the group. "What can I do for you?"
"Answer a few questions," and Penfield, observing the strain under which he was laboring, pushed a chair in his direction. "Sit down, Mr. Whitney." He turned back to Henry. "You need not wait," and the chauffeur reluctantly went down the stairs. The coroner waited an appreciable moment before again speaking to Whitney. "Was Mr. Spencer visiting you?" he questioned.
"Only for the night."
"When did you see him last?"
"And where was that?"
"In the bedroom across the way," pointing to it, and the detective crossed the hall and entered the room, the door of which was closed.
"And what was Mr. Spencer doing the last time you saw him?" asked the coroner, with quiet persistence.
"Falling asleep," tersely. "Spencer was drunk," added Whitney after a pause. "His behavior led me to believe that he would intrude upon my wife's guests if he went downstairs, so I suggested that he spend the night here." Whitney drew a long breath, "Is Spencer really dead?"
Whitney shrank back in his chair; he had aged in the past hour, and he was conscious that his hands were trembling. "I feared so," he muttered, "I feared so. Can"—clearing his throat—"can Spencer be moved?"
"Not just yet; there are certain formalities to be gone through with first." Penfield paused to make an entry in his notebook. "Of course, there will be an autopsy—at the morgue. Oh, Mitchell," as the detective returned, "have you any questions to ask Mr. Whitney?"
Before answering the detective drew up a chair near Whitney. "I am told your daughter's screams aroused the household," he said. "Can I see Miss Whitney?"
"No, you must wait until she is composed; the doctor is just administering an opiate," replied Whitney hastily. "Kathleen has been through a most harrowing experience."
"I see." Mitchell drummed impatiently on the arm of his chair. Whitney eyed the two men askance. Their manner, combined with the events of the morning, was telling on him. At any price he must break the silence—he could endure it no longer.
"I wish to God," he exclaimed, "Spencer had chosen any other spot to kill himself in than our elevator!"
The coroner was the first to reply. "The wound was not self-inflicted."
"What!" Whitney sprang to his feet. "Do you mean—Spencer was murdered?"
"Yes." Both men never moved their gaze from Whitney's ashen face. "Were all members of your family on good terms with Mr. Spencer?"
"They were," Whitney moistened his parched lips, and only the detective caught his furtive glance behind him.
"Did anyone beside your immediate family spend last night in this house, Mr. Whitney?" he asked.
"No—yes," confusedly. "Miss Kiametia Grey...."
"Winslow"—Mrs. Whitney, fully dressed, stepped into the hall from her boudoir. "Pardon me," with a courteous inclination of her head as the coroner and Mitchell rose. "Winslow, I've asked the servants, and they tell me she has disappeared...."
"She? Who?" chorused the three men.
"Julie, my French maid."
HIDE AND SEEK
Charles Miller was generally an early riser, but the head waiter at the Metropole was surreptitiously scanning his watch before giving the signal to close the dining-room doors, when the Captain walked in and took his accustomed seat at a distant table. Miller had but time to glance at the headline, "Stormy Cabinet Meeting Predicted at White House Today," in his morning newspaper, when eggs and toast were placed before him. His attentive waiter poured the hot coffee and placed cream and sugar in his cup without waiting for instructions.
"Eggs all right, sir?" he asked anxiously, a trace of accent in his pleasant voice.
"Yes, thanks." Miller looked at him casually. "I haven't seen you before; where's Jenkins?"
"Transferred to the cafe, sir," smoothing a wrinkle out of the tablecloth as he spoke. "I'll try to give satisfaction, sir."
Miller nodded absently. "Oh, it's all right," he said, stifling a yawn, and propping his newspaper against his coffee pot, ate his breakfast leisurely, so leisurely that the other habitues of the hotel had finished their breakfast and departed before he pushed back his chair. Turning, he signed to his waiter to bring his check, and not appearing to do so, watched his approach with keen interest.
"Been a steward, haven't you?" he inquired.
"Yes, sir." The waiter pocketed the tip with alacrity. "Hamburg-American Line, sir."
"Thought so." Miller signed his name with careful attention to each stroke of the pencil. "How many of you are employed here?"
"Eight, sir. The lines are tied up; we must have work, and it's hard to get good berths, sir, with so many ships interned."
"Quite so," Miller rose. "Your name—?"
"Lewis. Just a moment, sir," as Miller started to cross the deserted dining-room, "Shall I reserve the table for you for luncheon, sir?"
"Luncheon?" Miller reflected. "I rather think not."
"Thank you, sir." The waiter's manner was apologetic. "I asked, sir, because, sir, today the Cabinet officers lunch here, and...."
"They require your undivided attention?" mildly. "I quite understand—Ludwig." Their eyes met, then Miller turned on his heel. "Auf wiedersehen" he exclaimed under his breath, and the waiter's stolid expression changed to one of relief.
Miller, who had checked his overcoat and hat before entering the dining-room, wasted no time but entered a public telephone booth. When he emerged he was whistling cheerily, and the doorkeeper watched him hail a street car with curious eyes.
"Always running in and out," he muttered. "It beats me when he sleeps."
First stopping at a florist's and then a jeweler's establishment, Miller bent his footsteps toward the Portland, and to his satisfaction found Senator Foster enjoying a belated breakfast in his apartment.
"I'm glad to discover a man keeping later hours than I" he remarked, accepting the chair Foster pulled forward. "You must have an easy conscience to sleep so late in the morning."
"Or enjoyed the devil of a night—er—mare." The Senator's face was flushed and his strong voice husky. "You mistake; this is luncheon, not breakfast Keep me company? No?" Foster pecked viciously at his lamb chop. "I've no appetite at all. Caught a beastly cold at the Sisters in Unity meeting last night. Cough all the time—beastly climate, Washington."
"Why stay here?"
"But that adjourned three weeks ago."
Foster frowned, then smiled. "A woman's whim—we are not always independent, Miller"—a shrug completed the sentence. "Change your mind and have some Scotch?"
"No, thanks." Miller drew his chair closer to his companion, and lowered his voice. "I called this morning, Senator, to ask some questions about Winslow Whitney."
Foster's smile vanished, and the glance he shot at Miller was sharp.
"It depends on the questions," he began stiffly, "whether they are answered or not."
"Quite right," with unruffled composure. "I shall ask nothing which cannot be answered with propriety." Miller ceased speaking to light a cigarette. "All Washington knows Whitney is a man of wealth"—his keen eyes detected the sudden alteration in Foster's expression—"of standing in the social and business world, but has he achieved success as an inventor?"
"Yes," was the instant and unqualified response, and Miller's eyes lighted, but it was some seconds before he put another question.
"Are you familiar with his latest invention?"
"You mean his camera for use in aeroplanes?"
"Yes. Do you think it has any hope of success?"
"I believe so; Whitney declares the experiments are entirely satisfactory."
"Have you seen results of the tests?"
"Whitney showed me views of New York City and its environs taken from an aeroplane. They were—wonderful—" the Senator puffed nervously at his cigar—"perfect maps."
"Indeed?" Miller made no effort to conceal his eager curiosity. "At what height were they taken?"
"Ah, that I do not feel at liberty to disclose. How, when, and where this new camera can be utilized is of interest to all military men; but as Whitney's friend, I could not divulge details he may desire kept secret, even if I knew them."
"Pardon me, I thought you his most intimate friend...."
"I am, but not his confidant. And as his friend, I cannot discuss his private affairs with you."
"I don't agree with you there." Miller tossed his cigarette stub into the iron grate. "Would it not be a friendly act to place Whitney in a position to coin money?"
"Ah, so that is why you take an interest in his invention?" Foster laid down his cigar and contemplated his companion closely. "You wish to buy ..."
"Is the purchaser to be the same for whom you are collecting horses and ammunition?"
Foster did not answer at once, and Miller, without seeming to do so, took silent note of the handsome appointments of the dining-room. The silver service on the sideboard, the cut-glass decanters and liqueurs seemed somewhat out of place in a bachelor apartment. Somewhat puzzled, Miller looked more fully at his host, hoping to find an answer to his unspoken doubts. Careful of his dress, deportment, and democracy, Foster had early gained the sobriquet "Dandy," but there was nothing effeminate in his spare though muscular form, and his long under jaw indicated bull-dog obstinacy. Confessing to fifty, Foster did not look his age by ten years.
"I shall have to ponder your question, Miller." As he spoke Foster rose. "Frankly, I've been striving to interest our Government in Whitney's invention, and that is one of the things which has kept me in Washington. Suppose we go and see Whitney now. I know that he is anxious to dispose of his invention—he is hard pressed for money,''
"Indeed!" The pupils of Miller's eyes contracted suddenly. "Possibly Whitney will give me a hearing, and I need not offer"—he stopped, looked at his cigarette case, returned it to his pocket, and followed Foster out of the room—"a large sum," he finished, helping the Senator into his overcoat.
Foster laughed shortly. "You will get no bargain. Whitney's politeness is on the surface; underneath he is as hard as nails, and suspicious—" The Senator's cough cut short his speech and echoed down the corridor as he closed the door to his apartment. "Won't even let me look at the camera, much less let me examine the lens, specifications, drawings, plate, et cetera. In fact, refused to give me any details, although he knows I must have the information so as to interest others in his invention."
"But surely he has had the camera tested thoroughly?"
"Oh, yes. It has leaked out that the lens is so powerful and the mechanical parts of the camera so perfect that maps of the country taken at a remarkable height depict fortifications to the minutest detail. No one knows the method employed to bring about such a result. That is the secret locked inside Whitney's studio and his brain. Whitney is a genius, and unlike others of his ilk, is extremely modest about his own achievements. He covers his real nature under a mantle of eccentricity. I doubt if his wife and daughter really gauge his capabilities." A violent fit of coughing interrupted him, and he did not speak again for some minutes. As the elevator reached the ground floor, Foster saw his chauffeur standing near the office. "My car at the door?" he asked, as the man approached.
"Yes, sir," touching his cap. "Will you drive, sir?"
"Not today, too much cold, don't want pneumonia. Jump in, Miller." Foster signed to him to enter first. "Take us to the Whitneys', Mason," he directed, and sprang into the tonneau.
Five minutes later they stopped in front of the Whitney house, and directing his chauffeur to wait, Foster accompanied Miller up the steps, but before either could touch the bell, the door was opened by Vincent whose white face brightened at the sight of the Senator.
"Step right in, sir," he begged. "The master was just telephoning for you, sir." Vincent paused and looked doubtfully at Miller. "Did you wish to see Miss Kathleen, sir?"
"Yes," taking out his visiting card.
"Miss Kathleen is sick in bed." Vincent appeared still more confused, but Foster, standing somewhat in shadow, caught Miller's look of alarm which the butler missed.
"What is the matter with Miss Kathleen?" demanded Miller, and there was no mistaking the feeling in his voice and manner.
"She had a shock, sir, a most awful shock." While speaking Vincent tiptoed toward the library; he felt that he could never make a loud noise in that house again. "An awful shock," he repeated. "We all felt it."
"What do you mean?" Foster laid an impatient hand on the old servant's shoulder.
"Why, sir, he's dead...."
"Whitney?" The question sprang simultaneously from Foster and Miller.
"No, no, sir. Mr. Sinclair Spencer, sir. He was murdered"—Vincent shuddered as the last word crossed his lips.
His hearers stared stupidly at each other, and then at the butler. "Who murdered him?" asked Miller, the first to recover speech.
"We don't know—they say Julie; leastways we only know for positive that Miss Kathleen was with him ..."
Miller turned first white then red, and an angry gleam lit his eye as he stepped nearer the agitated servant.
"That will do. Go tell Mr. Whitney we are here," and his tone caused Vincent to hurry away in deep resentment.
Foster gazed dazedly at Miller. "What can have happened?" he asked. "Was Spencer so foolish as to bait Winslow ..."
"Careful," cautioned Miller, his quick ear detecting a footstep in the adjoining drawing-room. An instant later Miss Kiametia Grey stepped into the library.
"Thank goodness you have come," she exclaimed, darting toward Foster. "I've wanted you so much ..."
"My darling"—Foster, forgetful of Miller's presence, clasped her hand in both of his.
"There—there—this isn't any time for sentiment," and Miss Kiametia's chilly tone recalled the Senator to the fact that they were not alone. Looking a trifle foolish, he dropped her hand and stepped back.
"What can I do for you?" he asked, coldly. "You said you needed me."
"Well, so I do, as legal adviser," with unflattering emphasis. "Good morning, Captain Miller; I did not recognize you at first. I suppose you have both heard of Sinclair Spencer's tragic death."
"Yes, but none of the particulars," answered Miller. "And also that Kathleen is ill. Do tell me how she is," and though he strove to conceal his anxiety, his manner betrayed his emotion to the sharp-eyed spinster.
"The doctor gave her an opiate," she said quickly. "She will be herself again when she awakes. Her condition does not worry me." She hesitated, shot a quick furtive look at Miller's intent face, and added: "But I am alarmed by the mystery surrounding Sinclair Spencer's death."
"Tell us the details," urged Foster.
"Details," echoed the spinster. "There are none. We were awakened this morning by Kathleen's screams, rushed into the hall and found her in the elevator with Sinclair Spencer's dead body. She appeared completely unstrung, could make no coherent statement, and when the doctor came, was given an opiate." She paused and looked hopelessly at the two men. "We know no more of the murder than that."
"We must wait until Kathleen awakens," said Whitney, and Miss Kiametia started violently at the sound of his voice; so absorbed had the others been in her remarks that his quiet entrance a few minutes before had passed unnoticed. "I trust that she will then be more composed."
"Did she say nothing to you and Minna when you were with her before the doctor arrived?" questioned Miss Kiametia, smothering her eagerness with difficulty.
"Nothing that made sense." Whitney ran his fingers through his gray hair until it stood upright. "She babbled Spencer's name, alternating with the moaning cry, 'Kaiser blumen.'"
"'Kaiser blumen!' What in the world—" The spinster checked her hasty speech on catching sight of Detective Mitchell loitering just inside the library door. "Do you want to see Mr. Whitney?" she asked, raising her voice a trifle, and all turned to face the detective as he advanced toward them. Bowing gravely to Senator Foster and Captain Miller, Mitchell stopped opposite the spinster, but his first remark was directed to Whitney.
"Your wife tells me, sir, that the French maid, Julie, has been in your employ over four years."
"She has," acknowledged Whitney, making no effort to conceal his impatience. "Will you kindly postpone your questions, Mitchell, until later; I desire to converse with my friends now."
"I will intrude but a moment longer." Mitchell slipped one hand inside his coat pocket. "When will it be convenient, sir, for you to take me into your studio?"
Whitney looked at the detective as if he did not believe his ears.
"Why the devil should I take you through my studio?" he thundered, his anger rising. "I take no one there—you understand, no one."
"Pardon me, these are exceptional circumstances. As an officer of the law it is my duty to examine the entire premises where a crime has been committed. On reaching your attic, I found the door leading to your studio locked, and I have come downstairs, sir, to ask you to take me into that room."
"And I absolutely refuse."
"In that case, sir," there was a steely glint in Mitchell's eyes which betokened trouble, "I shall send for a locksmith and have the bolt forced."
"Wait," Foster laid a restraining hand on Whitney's shoulder as the latter made a hasty step in the detective's direction. "I assure you, Mitchell, that the so-called studio is Mr. Whitney's workshop; he is, as you no doubt know, an inventor." Whitney opened his mouth to speak, then closed his jaws with a snap. "Mr. Whitney is now engaged upon a most important invention. It is quite natural that he does not wish...."
"It is hardly a matter of wishes, Mr. Senator," broke in Mitchell. "A murder has been committed here, and it is imperative that everything be done to apprehend and convict the criminal."
"Ha!" Whitney's snort was almost a triumphant challenge. His altered demeanor did not escape the shrewd eyes watching him so keenly. "So you think I murdered Spencer?"
"I have not said what I think," retorted the detective brusquely. "Come, sir, we are wasting time; take me over your studio at once."
Whitney's haggard face reddened with anger; twice he opened and shut his mouth, then thinking better of his first impulse, he turned on his heel.
"Follow me," he directed ungraciously. As he stepped toward the doorway he looked back and encountered Miller's intent gaze. The Captain's gray eyes, their devil-may-care sparkle dampened by anxiety for Kathleen, broad forehead, and firm mouth inspired confidence. He looked a man whose word could be relied on. Whitney, harassed by conflicting doubts, and agonizing apprehensions, acted on impulse. "Come with us, Captain. We'll be right back, Kiametia; you and Foster wait for us here."
By common consent the three men avoided the elevator and walked up stairs. On reaching the attic, Whitney made at once for his studio and inserting keys in the double lock turned the wards, and opened the door.
"Go in," he said, and waited until the two men had preceded him in the room, then entered and closed the door, shooting the inner bolt. The detective looked around as the faint click of the metal caught his ear. "Force of habit," explained Whitney. "Hurry and make your examination, Mitchell; I wish to rejoin my friends downstairs as quickly as possible. Have a seat, Captain?"
But Miller declined, and stood watching Mitchell as he made a thorough search of the apartment. Nothing escaped his attention, and such furniture as the room boasted was minutely scrutinized, even the Cooper Hewitt lights and cylinder arc lights being switched on to assist in the examination. Models, large sink, darkroom, cabinets, tool chest, drawing tables, and small chemical laboratory were subjected to a thorough search. Miller's silent wonder grew; nowhere did he perceive a model resembling a camera, or the camera itself.
Whitney, sitting astride an ordinary wooden chair, followed the detective's movements with sardonic amusement, which now and then found vent in a grim smile. Whitney's expression was not lost upon Miller, who, finding him a more interesting study than Mitchell, watched him intently while appearing to be deeply engaged in examining an elevator model.
"Isn't this the design copied in building your elevator, Mr. Whitney?" he asked.
"Yes; that is the model I made when the elevator was built. It was one of the first installed in a private residence in Washington."
"It is somewhat different from others that I have seen," commented the detective, replacing a bottle carefully on a shelf. "The cage is so very shallow in depth and so long in width."
"I had to cut my coat according to my cloth," curtly. "This house is very old and the outer walls are of unusual thickness, also the inner ones, which accounts for the peculiar shape of the elevator. The brick shaft had to be built to conform to the walls and staircase. I also invented that safety air brake catch," he added, as Miller ran the elevator to the top of the shaft and released the cage with a sudden jerk. The elevator slipped down a flight, then automatically adjusted itself and stopped.
"A clever idea," said Miller admiringly. "When I first used your elevator, Mr. Whitney, I was struck by its unexpected capacity to hold six people. Its shallowness is deceptive."
"That's so." Whitney stared at the clock suggestively. "Kathleen, as a child, used to slip in unseen, and as the majority of the people enter the elevator facing the floor button plate with their backs to where she stood, she gave her governesses many scares."
The detective stopped to examine the elevator model carefully, and pressed the button marked "Attic." "Persons entering the elevator instinctively pull to the inner door with their left hand and push the floor button with the right, and they would be standing with their backs to where Spencer lay," he said.
"And anyone could have started the elevator without knowing of his presence," put in Miller softly, and the detective nodded assent.
"You have no floor indicator connected with the elevator, Mr. Whitney," commented Mitchell thoughtfully.
"No." Whitney rose abruptly. "Finished your search?" Not waiting for a reply he prepared to leave, and a covert sneer crossed his lips as he asked, "Found anything criminal?"
"Only these bottles," indicating the shelves near the laboratory. "There's enough poison here to kill a regiment."
"And only for use in photography," Whitney busied himself in adjusting shades which the detective had raised or lowered the better to see the room. "Rather a commentary on the laws governing the sale of poisons, Mitchell; can't buy them at a druggist's, but any man, woman, or child can go into a photographic supply store and buy any quantity of deadly poison and no questions asked."
"Perhaps," was Mitchell's sole comment, as he removed a stopper from a blue glass bottle and sniffed at its contents.
"Hm! You are of an inquiring turn of mind." Whitney's eyes contracted suddenly. "May I remind you that Spencer, whose death you are investigating, was stabbed."
"With a dull knife," answered Mitchell, setting down the bottle. "And it must have taken muscular force to drive the knife home."
Whitney was suddenly conscious of both men's full regard, and his thin, wiry figure stiffened. His eyes snapped with pent-up feeling.
"Is a man to be convicted of crime because it is physically possible for him to commit murder?" he demanded harshly, and not waiting for an answer unbolted the door. "I fear, Mitchell, you have wasted both my time and yours. Remember this, sir." He stepped directly in front of the detective. "Those making a charge must prove it. Now go."
A QUESTION OF LOYALTY
Miss Kiametia Grey waited until the sound of Whitney's, Miller's and the detective's footsteps had died away down the hall before addressing Senator Foster.
"Suppose we sit over there," she suggested, indicating a large leather sofa, and not waiting for his assent, walked over to it and seated herself.
The sofa stood with its back to one of the windows, and from its broad seat its occupants would have a complete view of the attractive library with its massive furniture, huge old-fashioned chimney, and bookcase-lined walls. Foster, following Miss Kiametia, was startled by a glimpse of her face as she stepped into the sunlight whose merciless rays betrayed the new lines about her closely compressed lips. A touch of rouge enhanced her pallor. Suddenly conscious of his intent regard she seated herself, turning her back squarely to the light.
"Sit there," she exclaimed pettishly, pointing to a Morris chair which stood close to the sofa. "I prefer to have the person I'm talking to face me." Without remark Foster made himself comfortable, first, however, pulling down the shade to protect his eyes from the glare of sunlight.
"We can't be overheard," began Miss Kiametia. "At least I don't think we can," and her sharp glance roved inquiringly about the room. "What was Sinclair Spencer doing in that elevator?"
"Going downstairs," hazarded the Senator, "or up."
"Eh?" Foster shot a quick look at her. "Waiting? What for?"
"That is what we have to discover," and Miss Kiametia sat back and folded her hands.
"Yours is hardly a reasonable supposition. People do not usually wait in elevators, Kiametia."
"There's no law against it," was her tart reply. "I have very good reason to believe Spencer was not going out of the house."
"May I ask what that reason is?"
"He wore no shoes," and for an instant a smile hovered on her lips as she caught his startled expression. She was woman enough to enjoy creating a sensation, and it was not often that she surprised the Senator.
"Is that so!" he exclaimed thoughtfully. "That puts a somewhat different complexion on the matter."
"It does. Why was Sinclair Spencer gallivanting about this house in his stocking feet?"
Foster played with his watch chain. "Upon my word, I don't know," he replied at last.
"Well, you might hazard a guess." But Foster's only answer was a negative shake of his head. "Pshaw! use your imagination—suppose Spencer was unduly inquisitive about Winslow's invention—"
"Stop, Kiametia!" Foster held up a warning hand. "You are treading on dangerous ground. Be sure of your facts before suggesting that a man of Winslow's known integrity is involved in—murder."
"How you men do jump at conclusions," grumbled Miss Kiametia. "I believe Julie, the maid, killed Spencer because she found him snooping around where he had no business to be."
"Why should the maid play watchdog?"
"Because she's French, stupid; and I believe, firmly believe, Sinclair Spencer was in the pay of Germany. Both he and the maid were after Winslow's invention, one to steal, the other to protect."
"You have astonishing theories." Foster leaned back and regarded her in silence, then resumed, "Suppose you give me an exact account of what transpired this morning."
He listened with rapt attention to the spinster's graphic description of the finding of Kathleen and Sinclair Spencer in the elevator.
"Strange, very strange," he muttered, as she brought the recital to an end. "How did Kathleen come to enter the elevator without seeing its occupant?"
"You take it for granted that Spencer was dead at that time?" asked the spinster.
A look of horror crept into Foster's eyes. "Kiametia, what do you mean to insinuate? Your question implies—"
"Nothing," hastily. "I only want you, with your sane common sense, to kill an intolerable doubt. Kathleen cannot—cannot know anything of this crime."
"If you doubt, why not ask Kathleen how and when she came to be in the elevator with Spencer's dead body?"
"Kathleen is still under the effects of the opiate, and you heard what Winslow said a few minutes ago about her behavior before the physician's arrival."
"Don't worry." Foster laid a soothing hand on hers. "Kathleen's condition is not surprising under the circumstances; the shock of finding Spencer's dead body was quite enough to produce hysteria and irrational conduct. When herself, her explanations will clear up the mystery. Therefore, why harbor a doubt of her innocence?"
"If you had seen the expression of her eyes," exclaimed Miss Kiametia. "It betrayed more than shock and horror. If ever I saw mental anguish depicted, a naked soul in torment, I saw it then. God help the child!" She paused and stared at Foster. "Why should Kathleen betray such emotion? Sinclair Spencer was less than nothing to her."
"He was very attentive," said Foster slowly. "I have even heard it reported last fall that they were engaged."
"Engaged? Fiddlesticks!" Miss Kiametia's head went up in a style indicative of battle. "Imagine Kathleen caring for a man who openly boasted he had held the best blood of America in his arms—she isn't that kind of girl!"
"Come, Spencer wasn't so unattractive," protested Foster. "I hold no brief for him; in fact, some of his business transactions were shady; but upon my word, he was exceedingly good-looking, and if I remember rightly, you encouraged him to come to your apartment."
"I've done some remarkably stupid things occasionally," said Miss Kiametia composedly. "That was one of them."
"Kiametia!" called a voice in the hallway, and the next moment the portieres parted and Mrs. Whitney walked into the library. "Oh, there you are, my dear; I feared you had gone. I am so glad to see you, Senator," clasping Foster's extended hand warmly. "Winslow and I both hoped you could come to us. We want your advice."
"I am entirely at your disposal." As he spoke, Foster dragged forward a comfortable chair. "Sit here, Mrs. Whitney; you look quite done up," and his sympathetic tone and manner brought tears to her hot, tired eyes.
"It is such a comfort to see two such dear friends," she said, looking gratefully at them. "And to talk to you openly, away from those dreadful detectives. I haven't had an opportunity to speak privately to Winslow. Detective Mitchell is his shadow."
"A little brief authority," Foster shrugged his shoulders. "How is Kathleen?"
"Sleeping, thank God!" Mrs. Whitney lowered her voice. "I really feared for her reason before the doctor came. I could not soothe her, or quiet her wild weeping." She stopped to glance hastily over her shoulder. "Vincent said something about Captain Miller having called—is the Captain here?"
"He has gone upstairs with your husband and Detective Mitchell," answered Foster. "Tell me, Mrs. Whitney, was Sinclair Spencer visiting you for any length of time?"
"Oh, no; his stopping here last night was quite unexpected; in fact so unexpected to me that I accidentally put Kiametia in the same room with him."
"I didn't stay there," hastily ejaculated the spinster, crimsoning. "The moment I saw him in bed, I fled."
"Was he asleep?" questioned Foster; Miss Kiametia had not told him these details in her description of events at the Whitney residence.
"I presume so; his eyes were closed—thank goodness!" she added under her breath, and quickly changed the subject "Any news of Julie's whereabouts, Minna?"
"Apparently not; I telephoned to Police Headquarters half an hour ago, and the desk sergeant said they had found no trace of her."
"Where is your maid's bedroom, Mrs. Whitney?" asked Foster.
"She rooms with the cook on the third floor."
"What does the cook say about Julie's disappearance?"
"She is as mystified as the rest of us; declares Julie went to bed at the same time she did, and that when she awoke this morning, the covers on Julie's bed were thrown back. Thinking Julie had preceded her downstairs, she dressed and attended to her usual duties. It was not until I rang for Julie that the other servants realized that none of them had seen her this morning. Not one, apparently, has the faintest idea as to when she disappeared, and where."
"So!" ejaculated Foster unbelievingly. "I imagine the police will jog their memories."
"Let us hope they will succeed in finding Julie," snapped Miss Kiametia. "I confess the situation is getting on my nerves. If she committed the murder, she should suffer for it. If not, she should come forward and prove her innocence."
"It is essential that Julie be found," agreed Foster. "For my part, I...."
"Beg pardon, sir," and Vincent approached. "This note has just come for you," presenting his silver salver to the Senator. "There's no answer, sir. The clerk at the Portland sent the messenger here with it, as it was marked 'Immediate.'"
With a word of apology to his companions, Foster tore open the envelope and hastily scanned the written lines.
"I must leave at once," he announced, carefully placing the note in his leather wallet. "I had forgotten entirely that I had an important business engagement. Please tell Winslow, Mrs. Whitney, that I will come back this evening; and you must both count on me if there is anything I can do for you."
"Won't you wait for Captain Miller?" asked Miss Kiametia, concealing her disappointment at the abrupt termination of the interview.
"Miller? I'm afraid not. Please tell him I was called away and that I leave my touring car at his service."
"If you plan to do that, may I get your chauffeur to take me home?" asked Miss Kiametia quickly.
"Why, of course; I only wish that I could accompany you." Foster wavered, he desired most ardently to see the spinster alone, but the note was urgent, and considering the source, could not be ignored. "Good-bye." Shaking hands warmly with Mrs. Whitney and Miss Kiametia, he hastily departed.
Foster's appointment consumed over an hour, and on leaving the government building where it had taken place, he walked aimlessly through the city streets, so deep in thought that he gave no heed to the direction he was taking. His absorption blinded him to the appearance of an inconspicuously dressed, heavily veiled woman who, at sight of him, shrank back under cover of the archway leading to a movie theater, until he had passed safely up the street. She was about to step out on the sidewalk again when the sight of a man walking rapidly down the street in the direction Foster had disappeared, caused her to remain in partial concealment. The woman peered at the last man irresolutely, while pretending to examine a gaudy, flaring poster of the movie, one hand pressed to her rapidly beating heart. Coming to a sudden decision, she hastened after him, and nearing an intersecting street, overtook him.
"Captain Miller," she called timidly, and at sound of his name, Miller turned toward her.
"Yes?" his hand raised toward his hat at sight of a woman. "You called me?"
"Yes, Captain." She drew nearer. "You do not recognize me, but"—sinking her voice—"I am Julie."
"Julie?" he echoed.
"Oui, monsieur," in rapid French. "Mademoiselle Kathleen's maid. Ah, monsieur, for the love you bear her, advise me now. It is for her sake, not for mine."
The Captain eyed her intently. "I don't catch your meaning," he said, in her native tongue.
"You have surely heard, Captain, of the death of that devil, Spencer"—Behind her veil, the Frenchwoman's eyes sparkled with rage. "Well, Captain, his death was—justified."
"I have no doubt of it," agreed her companion. "But, in the eyes of the law, it will be termed...."
"Murder." Her white lips barely formed the word, and she glanced fearfully behind her. Her half-conscious action recalled the Captain to their surroundings, and he, too, glanced up the street. Apparently they had it to themselves; in that unfrequented part of the city there were few passers-by. The Captain's eyes narrowed; he preferred never to be conspicuous; a crowded street was more to his liking.
"Suppose we move on," he suggested, but the Frenchwoman held back.
"I have spent all the morning at the moving pictures," she said. "There it is dark. Let us find another."
"Very well; we can talk as we go," and the Captain suited his step to hers. "And suppose also that we confine our remarks to English."
"As monsieur pleases." She half repented her impulsive act. She had intrusted her secret to another. Would that other prove loyal? A faint shiver crept down her spine, and she pressed one mitted hand over the other. "I seek seclusion, monsieur, because—I know too much."
"'A little knowledge'"—the Captain did not finish the quotation. "Let us turn down here," and not waiting for her consent, he piloted her up a side street. "You do not, then, wish to make a confidant of the police?"
"Non, non, monsieur," lapsing again into rapid French. "I think only of Mademoiselle."
A sudden gleam lighted the Captain's eyes. "Kathleen," his voice lingered on her name. "You think she is in danger?"
"I do, monsieur, in great danger. Did I not see"—she paused in her hasty speech and bit her tongue; one indiscretion was leading to another. "It matters not what I saw, monsieur—I am sometimes nearsighted."
"In that case, your eyes will be examined if testifying in a trial for murder," and he smiled covertly as he saw the fear tugging at her heart-strings. "Enough, Julie; I will respect your confidences. You know—how, I do not inquire—of my deep affection for Mademoiselle Kathleen...."
"Who would not love her?" broke in Julie passionately. "So generous, so fearless and loyal! Ah! she will be faithful to France—she will guard her father's secret—aye, even to the bitter end."
"Hush! not so loud," admonished the Captain, laying a steadying hand on her arm. "Let me think a moment." Totally unconscious of the tears which fell one by one on her white cheeks, the excited Frenchwoman kept step with him in silence for three blocks; then the Captain roused himself. "You are willing to shield Mademoiselle Kathleen at all costs?" he asked.
"And you think you can best accomplish that result by avoiding the police?"
"Have you money?"
"A little, monsieur." She turned her troubled countenance toward him. "I cannot travel far."
"It is wiser not to travel at all." The Captain slackened his walk before an unpretentious red brick residence. "The landlady of this house takes paying guests and asks no questions. Here you can remain perdue," with emphasis, "and no one inside will trouble you; but be cautious, Julie, how you venture on the street day or night."
"But, monsieur"—Julie drew back—"I do not fear for myself, only for mademoiselle, and I like not to be indoors all day. The police, they will only trouble me with questions should I return to the Whitneys."
"If you do not return to the Whitneys, Julie, the police will think you guilty."
"But—but—" stammered the Frenchwoman, overwhelmed. "I have committed no crime. I but left because I could not bear to tell what I know."
"Your departure is construed as a confession of guilt." The Captain bent his handsome face nearer hers. "It is only a question, Julie, of the depth of your affection for Mademoiselle Kathleen. Are you willing to shield her at all costs?"
The Frenchwoman faltered for a second, then drew herself proudly erect. "Oui, monsieur. Mademoiselle was kind to me when I lost all—my lover, my brothers died for France. There is no one who cares for me now but mademoiselle. I shall not betray her."
"Good!" The Captain wrung her hand. "Come," and he led the way into the house.
THE GAME, "I SPY"
Barely pausing to dip his pen in the inkstand, Charles Miller covered sheet after sheet of thin paper with his fine legible writing. As he reached the final word he laid down his pen and stretched his cramped fingers and gently rubbed one hand over the other. For the first time conscious of the chill atmosphere, he rose and moved about the room. Stopping before the steam heater to turn it on, he walked back to his desk and carefully read what he had written, correcting a phrase here and there. Finally satisfied with the result, he selected an envelope and placing the papers inside, sealed and addressed it. For a second he held the envelope poised over the unstained blotting-paper, then raising it gently, breathed on the still wet ink. At last convinced that it was dry, he placed the envelope in the pocket of his bathrobe, and picking up his pajamas went into the bathroom which opened out of his bedroom, and closed the door.
Five seconds, fifteen seconds passed, then the long curtains before the window alcove gently parted and a man looked into the empty room. With head and shoulders protruding he waited until the sound of running water reached his ears, then advanced softly into the room. The desk was his objective point, and his nimble fingers made quick work of sorting its meager contents. His search was unrewarded; there was not a scrap of incriminating writing in any drawer, and the neat pile of blotting-paper was untouched.
The intruder's expression altered; curiosity gave way to doubt. Without wasting time he replaced every article where he found it, pausing occasionally to listen to the sound of splashing coming from behind the closed bathroom door. Convinced there was no immediate danger of interruption from that quarter, he walked swiftly to the closet and minutely examined Miller's clothing. Just as he was leaving the closet a box-shaped leather bag marked "Underwood" attracted his attention, and pushing aside a bundle of soiled underclothing, he knelt down and inserted a skeleton key in the lock, and after a second's work, forced back the wards and opened the lid of the box. The typewriter it contained proved uninteresting, and putting back everything as he had found it, he returned to the window by which he had entered. Pushing it open, he climbed out on the ledge and, closing the window behind him, by the aid of ropes swung himself over to a near-by fire escape and disappeared inside a room opening from it.