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Title: I Spy
Author: Lincoln, Natalie Sumner, 1881-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "I Spy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                                 I SPY

                        BY NATALIE SUMNER LINCOLN

                                 1916



_To MRS. SARAH VAIL GOULD my grandmother to whose affection belongs many
joyous days of childhood at "Oaklands" this book is offered as a loving
tribute to her memory._



CONTENTS

      I. AT VICTORIA STATION

     II. OUT OF THE VOID

    III. POWERS THAT PREY

     IV. "SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT?"

      V. AN EVENTFUL EVENING

     VI. AT THE CAPITOL

    VII. PHANTOM WIRES

   VIII. KAISER BLUMEN

     IX. THE SPIDER AND THE FLY

      X. SISTERS IN UNITY

     XI. A MAN IN A HURRY

    XII. A SINISTER DISCOVERY

   XIII. HIDE AND SEEK

    XIV. A QUESTION OF LOYALTY

     XV. THE GAME, "I SPY"

    XVI. AT THE MORGUE

   XVII. CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

  XVIII. A PROPOSAL

    XIX. THE YELLOW STREAK

     XX. THE AWAKENING

    XXI. THE FINGER PRINT

   XXII. "TRENTON HURRY"

  XXIII. IN FULL CRY

   XXIV. RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE

    XXV. LOVE PARAMOUNT



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"He saw Kathleen quickly palm his place card"

"As Henry pushed back the door, she collapsed into her father's arms"

"'A flash, the rifle's recoil--and Mr. Whitney still standing just
where he was'"

"Whitney paused to snatch up a magnifying glass and by its aid examined
the finger prints"



CHAPTER I

AT VICTORIA STATION


The allied forces, English and French, had been bent backward day by day,
until it seemed as if Paris was fairly within the Germans' grasp. Bent
indeed, but never broken, and with the turning of the tide the Allied
line had rushed forward, and France breathed again.

Two men, seated in a room of the United Service Club in London one gloomy
afternoon in November, 1914, talked over the situation in tones too low
to reach other ears. The older man, Sir Percival Hargraves, had been
bemoaning the fact that England seemed honeycombed by the German Secret
Service, and his nephew, John Hargraves, an officer in uniform, was
attempting to reassure him. It was a farewell meeting, for the young
officer was returning to the front.

"Much good will all this espionage do the Germans," said the young man.
"We are easily holding our own, and with the spring will probably come
our opportunity." He clicked his teeth together. "What price then all
these suspected plots and futile intrigues?"

"Don't be so damned cocksure," rapped out his uncle, his exasperation
showing in heightened color and snapping eyes. "It's that same
cocksureness which has almost brought the British Empire to the very
brink of dissolution."

His nephew smiled tolerantly, and shifted his thickset figure to a more
comfortable position.

"Now, now," he cautioned. "Remember what old Sawbones told you yesterday
about not exciting yourself. Said you weren't to read or talk about this
bally old war. Leave the worrying to Kitchener; he'll see we chaps do
our part."

"If everything were left to Kitchener!" Sir Percival thumped the arm of
his chair. "Some of us would sleep easier in our beds. And I know you
chaps at the front will do your part. Would to God I could be with you!"
glancing at his shrunken and useless left leg. "If I could only take a
pot at the beggars!"

"According to your belief the firing line will shortly be on English
soil," chaffed his nephew, avoiding looking at his companion. He knew the
tragic circumstances surrounding his uncle's maimed condition, and wished
to avoid anything touching upon sentiment.

"If the plans to undermine England's home government are perfected and
carried out, every man, woman and child will have to band together to
repel invasion." Sir Percival lowered his voice. "If there are any
able-bodied men left here."

"Don't be so pessimistic. Kitchener has built up a great army, and is
only waiting the proper moment to launch it in the field."

"The best of England has volunteered," agreed Sir Percival, "but what
about the slackers? What about the coal strikes--the trouble in our
munition factories? All are chargeable to the Kaiser's war machine which
overlooks nothing in its complete preparedness. Preparedness--England
doesn't yet know the meaning of the word."

"It's time for me to leave," said the young officer, consulting his
watch. "Take my word for it, Uncle, we're not going to the demnition
bowwows--count on England's bulldog grit. God help Germany when the
Allies get into that country!"

"When--ah, when?" echoed Sir Percival. "I hope that I live to see the
day. Tell me, boy," his voice softening, "how is it with you and Molly?"

His nephew reddened under his tan. "Molly doesn't care for a chap like
me," he muttered.

"Did she tell you so?"

"Well, no. You see, Uncle, it--eh--doesn't seem the thing to suggest
that a charming girl like Molly tie herself to a fellow who may get his
at any time."

"Piffle!" Sir Percival's shaggy eyebrows met in a frown. "Sentimental
nonsense! You and Molly were great chums a year ago. You told me yourself
that you hoped to marry her; I even spoke to her mother about the
suitability of the match."

"You had no right to," blazed his nephew. "It was damned impertinent
interference."

"You have not always thought so," retorted Sir Percival bitterly. "What
had that most impertinent American girl you met in Germany to do with
your change of front toward Molly?"

"I must insist that you speak more respectfully of Kathleen." John
Hargraves' expression altered. "If you must know, I asked Kathleen to
marry me and--she refused."

"I said she was impertinent. All Americans are; they don't know any
better," fumed his uncle. "Forget her, John; think of Molly. I tell you
the child loves you. Don't wreck her happiness for the sake of a
fleeting fancy."

"Fleeting fancy?" John Hargraves shook his head sorrowfully. "When
Kathleen refused me I was hard hit; so hit I can't marry any other girl.
Don't let's talk of it." He smiled wistfully as he held out his hand.
"Time's up, Uncle; the train leaves in an hour, and I must get my kit.
Good-by, sir. Wish me luck." And before the older man could stop him he
was retreating down the hall.

Sir Percival stared vacantly about the room. "The last of his race," he
muttered. "God help England! The toll is heavy."

In spite of his haste John Hargraves was late in reaching Victoria
Station, and had barely time to take his place before the train pulled
slowly out. As he looked down the long trainshed, he encountered the
fixed stare of a tall, well-groomed man standing near one of the pillars.
Hargraves looked, and looked again; then his hand flew up, and leaning
far out of his compartment he shouted to a porter. But his message was
lost in the roar of the more rapidly moving train, and the porter,
shaking a bewildered head, turned back.

The crowd of women and children and a few men, which had gathered to
witness the troop train's departure, was silently dispersing when an
obsequious porter approached the tall stranger whose appearance had so
excited John Hargraves.

"Ye keb's out 'ere, sir," he said. "This way, sir," and as the stranger
made no move to follow him, he leaned forward and lifted the latter's top
coat from his arm. "Let me carry this 'ere for you, gov'ner," then in a
whisper that none could overhear, he said in German: "For your life,
follow me."

"Go on," directed the stranger in English, pausing to adjust his cravat,
and made his leisurely way after the hurrying porter. The latter stopped
finally by the side of a somewhat battered-looking limousine.

"'Ere ye are, sir," announced the porter, not waiting for the
chauffeur to pull open the door. "I most amissed ye," he rattled on.
"Kotched the keb, sir, an' tucked yer boxes inside, then I looked for
ye at the bookin' office, 'cording to directions. Let me tuck this
'ere laprobe over ye."

As the stranger stepped into the limousine and seated himself the porter
clambered in after him.

"They're on," he whispered, his freckles showing plainly against his
white face. "The chauffeur is one of us, he'll take you straight to our
landing. This packet's for you. Good luck!" And pocketing the sovereign
offered, the porter, voicing loud thanks, backed from the limousine and
slammed the door shut.

The outskirts of London were reached before the man in the limousine
opened the slip of paper thrust into his hand by the porter. It was
wrapped about a small electric torch and a book of cigarette papers.
Slowly he read the German script in the note.

Be at the rendezvous by Thursday. Hans, the chauffeur, has full
directions. Do not miss the seventeenth.

After rereading the contents of the note the man tore it into tiny bits
and, not content with that, stuffed them among the tobacco in his pipe.
Striking a match he lighted his pipe and planting his feet on the bag he
gazed long and earnestly at his initials stamped on the much labeled
buckskin. The slowing up of the limousine aroused him from his
meditations, and he glanced out of the window to see which way they were
headed. London, the metropolis of the civilized world, lay behind him.
Catching his chauffeur's backward glance, he signaled him to continue
onward as, removing his pipe, he muttered:

"_Gott strafe England_!"



CHAPTER II

OUT OF THE VOID


Slowly, the sullen roar of artillery, the rattle of Maxims and rifles
sank fitfully away. A tall raw-boned major of artillery stretched his
cramped limbs in the observation station, paused to look with callous
eyes over the devastated fields before him, then sought the trench.
Earlier in the day the Allies had been shelled out of an advance position
by the enemy and had fallen back on the entrenchments.

"Devilish hot stuff, shrapnel," commented a brother officer as Major
Seymour stopped at his side.

The Major nodded absently, and without further reply advanced a few paces
to meet an ammunition corporal who was obviously seeking him. "Well?" he
demanded, as the non-commissioned officer saluted.

"Only twenty rounds left, Major." The Corporal lowered his voice.
"Captain Hargraves sent word to rush reinforcements here as soon as it is
dark, sir."

Major Seymour glanced with unconcealed impatience at his wrist watch.
God! Would night never come!

"Can't we get our wounded to the base hospital, Major?" asked a
younger officer. He had only joined the unit thirty-six hours before
and while he had faced the baptism of fire gallantly, the ghastly
carnage about him shook his nerve. He was not fed up with horrors as
were his brother officers.

"The wounded would stand small chance of reaching safety if the German
gunners sighted them. They must wait for darkness," replied Seymour.
"Here, take a pull at my flask. Got potted yourself, didn't you?"
noticing a thin stream of blood trickling down his companion's sleeve.

"Only a flesh wound--of no moment," protested the young man, flushing at
the thought that his commanding officer might have misunderstood his
question. "I'm afraid Captain Hargraves is in a bad way."

"Hargraves!" The Major spun on his heel. "Where is he?"

"This way, sir," and the Lieutenant led him past groups of men and
officers. It was an appalling scene of desolation. The approach of night
had brought a slight drizzling rain, and the ground, pitted with shell
holes, was slimy with wet, greasy mud. Nearly all the trees in the
vicinity were blasted as if by lightning, and along the right hand side
of the road was a line of A.S.S. carts and limbers blown to pieces. One
horse, completely disemboweled, lay on his back, the inside arch of his
ribs plainly showing. His leader was a mass of entrails lying about, and
on the other side lay four or five more, one with a foreleg blown clear
off at the shoulder, one minus a head. A half-dozen motor cycles and over
a dozen push bikes lay in the mud with some unrecognizable shapes that
had been riding them. Between the advance trenches, in No Man's Land, the
ground was thickly strewn with corpses of Scotties killed in the charge.

"The Huns had us cold as to range," volunteered the Lieutenant, loss
of blood and reaction from excitement loosening his tongue. "They
outed five guns complete with detachments by direct hits. Here we are,
sir," and he paused near a demolished gun emplacement. The ground
about was a shambles.

Major Seymour stepped up to one of the figures lying upon the ground,
a mud-incrusted coat thrown over his legs. Several privates who had
been rendering what assistance they could, moved aside on the
approach of their superior officers. Hargraves opened his eyes as
Seymour knelt by him.

"My number's up," he whispered, and the game smile which twisted his
white lips was pitiful.

"Nonsense." Seymour's gruff tone concealed emotion. Hargraves' face
betrayed death's indelible sign. "You'll pull through, once you're back
at the hospital."

Hargraves shook his head; he realized the futility of argument.

"Have you pencil and paper?" he asked.

"Yes." Seymour drew out his despatch book and removed a page. "What is
it, John?" But some minutes passed before his question received an
answer, and Hargraves' voice was noticeably weaker, as he dictated:

DEAR KATHLEEN:

I saw Karl in London at Victoria Station. I swear it was he ... warn
Uncle ... Kathleen ... Kathleen ...

There was a long silence; then Seymour laid aside the unneeded brandy
flask and slowly rose to his feet. He mechanically folded the scrap of
paper, but before slipping it inside his pocket, the blank side arrested
his attention.

"Heavens! John never gave me her address or last name. Who is Kathleen?"
he exclaimed.

More shaken than he was willing to confess even to himself, by the loss
of his pal, he stared bitterly across the battlefield toward the enemy's
lines. How cheerily Hargraves had greeted him that morning on his return
from a week's furlough in England! How glad he had been to rejoin the
unit and be once again with his comrades on the firing line! A gallant
spirit had passed to the Great Beyond.

Back in his observation station Major Seymour an hour later viewed the
gathering darkness with satisfaction. Two hours more and it would be
difficult to see a hand before one's face. Undoubtedly the sorely needed
ammunition and reserves would reach the trenches in time, and the wounded
could be safely transferred to the base hospital. The Allies' line had
held, and in spite of their desperate assaults the Germans had been
unable to find a vulnerable spot.

Seymour passed his hand over his eyes. Against the darkness his fevered
imagination pictured advancing "gray phantoms." "They come like demons
from the hell they have created," he muttered. "I hope to God they
don't use 'starlights' over our trenches tonight. Flesh and blood can
stand no more."

The darkness grew denser and more dense. In the long battle front of the
Allies no sentinel saw a powerful Aviatik biplane glide over the trenches
and fly onward toward its goal. Several times the airman inspected his
phosphorescent compass and map, each time thereafter altering his course.
Finally, making a sign to his observer, he planed to a lower level and,
satisfied that he had reached the proper distance, a bomb was released.

Down through the black void the infernal machine sped. A sickening
pause--then a deafening detonation, followed by another and another, cut
the stillness, and the earth beneath was aflame with light as the high
explosives and shells stored in the concealed ammunition depot were set
off. Nothing escaped destruction; flesh and blood, mortar and brick went
skyward together, and a great gash in the earth was all that was left to
tell the story of the enemy's successful raid.

From a safe height the German airman and his observer watched their
handiwork. Suddenly the latter caught sight of an aeroplane winging its
way toward them.

"Bauerschreck!" he shouted, and the airman followed his pointed finger.
Instantly under his skillful manipulation their biplane climbed into the
air in long graceful spirals until they were six thousand feet above
ground. But as fast as they went, their heavier Aviatik was no match in
speed for the swift French aeroplane, and the bullets from the latter's
machine gun were soon uncomfortably near.

The German airman's face was set in grim lines as he maneuvered his
biplane close to his pursuer and, dodging and twisting in sharp dips and
curves, spoiled the aim of the Frenchman at the machine gun, while his
own revolver and that of his observer kept up a continuous fusillade.

For twenty minutes the unequal fight continued. It could not last much
longer. Despair pulled at the German's heartstrings as he saw his
observer topple for a moment in his seat, then pitch forward into space.
The biplane tipped dangerously, righted itself and sped like a homing
pigeon in the direction of the German lines. There was nothing left but
to fly for it. The German dared not look behind; only by the mercy of God
were the Frenchman's shots going wild. It could not last; he must get the
range. Surely, surely they were past the last of the Allies' trenches?

The German turned and fired his revolver desperately at his pursuers.
Glory to God! one of his bullets punctured the latter's gasoline tank. It
must be so--the French aeroplane was apparently making a forced landing.
The shout on the German's lips was checked by a stinging sensation in his
right side. The Frenchman had his range at last.

Almost simultaneously his machine turned completely over. With groping,
desperate fingers the German strove to gain control over the levels and
right himself. In vain--and as he started in the downward rush, the
hurrying wind carried the frenzied whisper:

"The cross, dear God, the cross!"



CHAPTER III

POWERS THAT PREY


Not far as the crow flies from the scene of the German airman's
catastrophe, but with its presence hidden from general knowledge, was
the Grosses Hauptquartier, the pulsing heart and brain of the Imperial
fighting forces. Vigilant sentries patrolled the park leading from the
chateau commandeered for the use of the War Lord and his entourage, to
the quarters of the Great General Staff. In a secluded room of the
latter building a dozen men sat in conference about a table littered
with papers; they had been there since early evening, but no man
permitted his glance to stray to the dial of a library clock whose hands
were gradually approaching two o'clock. Truly, the chiefs of the
divisions were tireless toilers.

The Herr Chief of the Great General Staff was emphasizing his remarks
with vigor unusual even for him, when the telephone, no respecter of
persons, sent out its tinkling call. Hitching his chair closer to the
table, the Herr Chief of the Aviation Corps removed the receiver from
the instrument. A courteous silence prevailed as he took the message.
Replacing the receiver, he turned and confronted his confrères.

"An outpost reports," he began formally, "that Captain von Eltz in his
Aviatik biplane was pursued and wrecked by a French airman who was
obliged to make a forced landing inside our lines. The French airmen were
shot in their attempt to escape. Owing to the Aviatik biplane catching in
the branches of a tree and thereby breaking his fall Captain von Eltz was
rescued alive, although desperately wounded. The observer who accompanied
him is dead. On regaining consciousness Captain von Eltz reported that
his mission was successful, the new ammunition depot having been
completely destroyed by his bomb."

A low hum of approval greeted his words. "Well done, gallant von Eltz!"
exclaimed one of the hearers. "He deserves the Iron Cross."

"He will receive it," declared another officer enthusiastically.

"The information as to the location of this new ammunition depot, which
von Eltz has just destroyed, came from the man of whom I have been
telling you tonight," broke in the Herr Chief of the Secret Service. "He
has been our eyes and ears in England. Gentlemen, is it your wish that he
be intrusted with the delicate mission of which we have just been
speaking?"

The eyes of the Herr Chief of the Great General Staff swept his
companions. "Is it that I speak for all?" A quick affirmative answered
him. "Then, we leave the matter entirely in your hands." The Herr Chief
of the Secret Service bowed. "You know your agents; the selection is left
to you, but see there is no unnecessary delay."

"There will be no delay," responded the Herr Chief of the Secret Service.
"My agent is not far from here. With your permission, I take my leave,"
and saluting he hastened from the room.

The sun was halfway in the heavens when a limousine drew up before a
wayside inn near a semi-demolished city. Before the orderly sitting by
the chauffeur could swing himself to the ground, a tall man had stepped
to the side of the car and opened the door. For a second the Herr Chief
of the Secret Service and the stranger contemplated each other without
speaking, then the former motioned to the vacant seat by his side.

"We can talk as we ride," he announced brusquely. "Your luggage--"

"Is here," thrusting a much labeled suitcase inside the limousine and
jumping in after it.

At a low-toned word from the Herr Chief of the Secret Service the orderly
saluted and quickly resumed his seat by the chauffeur. There was a short
silence inside the limousine as the powerful car continued up the road.
They were stopped at the first railroad crossing by a trainload of
wounded soldiers.

"Your pardon," and before the Herr Chief of the Secret Service could stop
him, the stranger pulled down the sash curtains of all the windows. "You
are well known; being recognized is the penalty of greatness. It is to my
interest to escape such a distinction."

"I approve your caution, Herr Captain," observed the older man. "Will you
smoke?" producing his cigarette case, and as the other smilingly helped
himself and accepted a lighted match, he surveyed him critically. Paying
no attention to his chief's scrutiny, the Secret Service agent
contemplated the luxurious appointments of the limousine with
satisfaction and puffed contentedly at his cigarette. His air of breeding
was unmistakable, but the devil-may-care sparkle in his gray-blue eyes
redeemed an otherwise expressionless face from being considered heavy.
The spirits of the Herr Chief of the Secret Service rose. His
recollection and judgment was still good; his agent, by men and women,
would be deemed extremely handsome.

"The new ammunition depot was destroyed last night by our airmen," he
said, with some abruptness. "Your information was reliable."

"Pardon, is not my information always reliable?" interpolated the Secret
Service agent.

"So it has proved," acknowledged his chief cordially, but a mark was
mentally registered against the Herr Captain. German bureaucracy does not
tolerate presumption from a subordinate. "And owing to your excellent
record, you have been selected for a most delicate mission."

"Under the same conditions?"

"The Imperial Government cannot be questioned," retorted his chief, his
anger rising.

"I am different from other operatives." A puff of cigarette smoke
wreathed upward from the speaker's lips. "A free-lance."

"And you have been given a free hand. We have not inquired into your
methods of procuring information, being content with the result."

"And does not the result justify not only your confidence but promotion?"

The Herr Chief of the Secret Service considered before replying; then he
answered with a question.

"Have you been to Ireland?"

The Secret Service agent smiled grimly as he took from his pocket a book
of cigarette papers. Counting them over, he selected the seventeenth
paper, and passed it to his companion, who examined the small blank sheet
with interest. "Just a moment," and the young man again slipped his hand
into a vest pocket, this time bringing out a nickel flashlight. Pressing
his thumb on the switch he held the glass bulb against the rice paper. In
a few minutes a faint tracing appeared on the blank page, which grew
brighter as the rays of light generated more heat.

"Hold it a moment," said the Herr Chief of the Secret Service. "Keep it
over the bulb," and taking out his notebook he made several entries, then
closed it with a snap.

"Finished?" As he asked the question, the Secret Service agent replaced
his pocket flashlight, drew out his tobacco pouch, poured a little in the
rice paper, and proceeded to roll the cigarette with practiced fingers.

"About Sheerness?" questioned the Herr Chief of the Secret Service.

"All is arranged."

"Good." The Herr Chief of the Secret Service permitted himself to settle
back more comfortably on the roomy seat so that he faced his companion.
In the closed and semi-darkened limousine there was no danger of their
conversation being overheard.

"I reserved for myself, Herr Captain," said the Herr Chief slowly, "the
pleasure of informing you that your valuable services to the Kaiser and
the Fatherland"--the Secret Service agent raised his hat--"are
recognized. The Cross may yet be yours."

"How can I express my gratitude?" stammered the Secret Service agent.

"By not jumping to hasty conclusions," smiled his chief. "Never again
question your orders."

"Be just," protested the Secret Service agent warmly. "I have risked my
life daily for the Kaiser and the Fatherland in a hostile country. There
have been hours which I do not care to remember." The speaker's tone grew
husky. "Some day--a short shift; and I must make provision for another."

"I understood you were not married?"

There was a barely perceptible pause. "Spies do not marry, sir."

"And if a Secret Service agent has a healthy regard for his own safety,
he is careful of serious entanglements," cautioned his chief. "However,
judging by your past work, I believe you are quite able to take care of
yourself. Thanks to the warnings and information of your organization we
have been able to meet some of the Allies' contemplated concerted
attacks, and your information as to the sailing of transports and the
movements of ammunition trains has been of inestimable service."

"Do you still wish me to keep up this particular work?"

"No." The Herr Chief of the Secret Service leaned forward in his
earnestness. "This war has demonstrated again and again that victory goes
with the heaviest artillery."

"True! Antwerp, one of the strongest fortified cities on the Continent,
crumpled up before our siege guns," broke in his companion.

The older man paid no attention to the interruption, but continued
gravely: "Hand to hand conflict and cavalry charges are a thing of the
past. We shell out the enemies' trenches from batteries six to twelve
miles away. All this you already know; I repeat it now to explain what I
am about to say. We are in possession of the mining district of France,
they are getting hard pushed for ammunition; England's supply is not
inexhaustible; Russia cannot half arm her fighting forces. They one and
all are appealing to the manufacturing capitalists of the United States
to furnish them with arms and ammunition."

"And with success," dryly.

The Herr Chief of the Secret Police frowned. "It must be stopped. You are
to go to America--"

"I?"

"Yes, at once. You have a genius for organization; your work in England
proved that. Let us know what merchant vessels and passenger steamers are
carrying munitions of war. Be sure, doubly sure, that your information is
correct, for we shall act upon it. Our Government stands ready to take
most drastic measures to stop such traffic."

"I see." The Secret Service agent stroked his clean-shaven chin in
meditative silence. "In England I went hand in hand with death; in the
United States I am likely to outlive my usefulness."

"Perhaps," with dry significance. "But recollect our Government is ready
to adopt _any_ expedient to stop the exporting of arms and ammunition to
our enemies."

"As for instance--?"

"Leave our methods to us; you have your work. You will make your
headquarters at Washington City. There you will be able to place your
hand on the pulse of the nation, and there you will find--idle women."

"Have we not already representatives at the United States capital?"

The Herr Chief of the Secret Service eyed him keenly. "Our embassy is
concerned only with the diplomatic world. You are to send us word whether
the United States Government arsenals are working under a full complement
of men; of the orders placed by the Navy Department for submarines, and
the activities obtaining in private munition plants. Be certain and study
the undercurrent of sentiment for or against us. Report as you have
heretofore."

"How am I to get in touch with the private shipyards and munition
plants?"

"I will give you letters to residents loyal to their Fatherland. A number
of the owners of powder companies and munition plants usually winter in
Washington. I am also told that Mexican juntas still make Washington
their headquarters." The eyes of the Secret Service agent were boring
into him, but the older man's countenance remained a mask. "You must bear
in mind that if the American capitalists persist in selling assistance to
our enemies the attention of the United States must be diverted to other
issues...."

"Such a plan could only be carried out by creating a necessity of
home consumption for war munitions," supplemented the Secret Service
agent softly.

Without replying the Herr Chief of the Secret Service pulled forward a
small despatch-box from a cleverly concealed pocket in the upholstery of
the limousine.

"We are motoring to your nearest destination," he said soberly,
opening the box. "Here are your letters of credit, your passport, and
introductions to our friends across the water," handing him a leather
wallet. "They will see that you are properly introduced to Washington
hostesses. Go out in society; I am told it is most delightful at the
Capital. Make friends with influential public men and prominent
Washingtonians. Above all," with emphasis, "cultivate the gentler
sex; remember, idle women make excellent pawns, my dear Herr Captain
von Mueller."



CHAPTER IV

"SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT?"


Mrs. Winslow Whitney, gathering her wraps together, stepped from the
limousine.

"I shall not need you again tonight, Henry," she said, as the chauffeur
sprang to the sidewalk to assist her.

"Very good, ma'am," and touching his cap respectfully, he took from the
limousine the heavy fur laprobe and hastened to ring the doorbell for
his mistress.

Halfway to her front door Mrs. Whitney paused to scan the outward
appearance of her home. The large, Colonial, brick double house, with
lights partly showing behind handsomely curtained windows, looked the
embodiment of comfort, but Mrs. Whitney heaved a sharp sigh of
discontent. The surroundings were not pleasing to her. Again and again
she had pleaded with her husband to give up the old house and move into a
more fashionable neighborhood. But with the tenacity which easy-going men
sometimes exhibit, Winslow Whitney clung to the home of his ancestors. It
had descended from father to son for generations, and finally to him, the
last of the direct male line. Although business had encroached and noisy
electric cars passed his door, and even government buildings dwarfed the
impressive size of the old mansion, he declined to give up his home,
stating that he had been born there and there he would die.

"Very well, you and Providence can settle the point between you, Dad,"
answered Kathleen, his only child, who had been brought in to use her
persuasive powers upon her irate parent. "But as long as mother and I
have to inhabit this old shell you must, simply must, put new works
inside her."

And Whitney, with the generosity which marked his every action to those
he loved, rehabilitated and remodeled the mansion until it finally
rivaled in up-to-date completeness the more ornate homes of the newly
rich in the fashionable Northwest.

"Has Miss Kathleen returned?" asked Mrs. Whitney, handing her wraps to
the breathless Vincent, who had hurried to answer the chauffeur's
imperious ring.

"No, ma'am."

"When she does return, tell her that I wish to see her."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Is Mr. Whitney in his studio?"

"Yes, ma'am. Shall I send Julie to you?"

"Tell her to go to my room and wait for me." As she spoke Mrs. Whitney
crossed the broad hall and, passing the Colonial staircase, entered the
elevator. The automatic car carried her to the first bedroom floor but,
changing her mind, she did not open the door; instead she pressed the
electric button marked "Attic." Her slight feeling of irritation aroused
by not being met downstairs by any member of her family was increased by
stepping from the elevator into a dark hall.

"Winslow!" she called. Meeting with no response she walked over to the
opposite wall and by the aid of the light in the elevator found the
electric switch and turned it on. Not pausing to look about her, she went
to the back of the large high-roofed attic and tried the handle of a
closed door. Finding that it would not open to her touch, she rapped
sharply on the panel. She waited several seconds before she heard a chair
pushed back and the sound of advancing footsteps. The inside bolt was
shot back with distinct force.

"Well, what is it?" demanded Whitney, jerking open the door. "Oh, my
dear," his tone changing at sight of his wife, "I had no idea you were
returning so soon."

"Do you call half-past six o'clock soon?" asked Mrs. Whitney following
him into the room. "Winslow, Winslow, I warn you not to become too
absorbed in your work."

Whitney laughed somewhat ruefully. "Does the kettle call the pot black?
What do you do but give up your time to the Sisters in Unity? I'm a
secondary consideration. There, there," noting his wife's expression.
"Don't let us dispute over trifles. I'm making headway, Minna--headway."

"I congratulate you, dear." Mrs. Whitney laid a caressing hand on his
touseled gray hair. "I never doubted that you would. But, Winslow, such
complete absorption in your work is not healthy. The doctor has warned
you not to shut yourself up in this room for hours, and particularly that
you are not to lock your door on the inside. Remember your recent attacks
of vertigo."

"McLane's an ass. The vertigo sprang from indigestion; hereafter, I'll be
more careful what I eat," he protested. "There's nothing the matter with
this room; it's well ventilated and heated. And I will lock my door--I
won't be interrupted by any jackass servant wanting to feed me
pap"--pointing scornfully toward the hall where a tray laden with a
teapot and tempting dishes stood on a table near the door. "Do you not
yet realize, Minna, that this is my life work?" With a sweeping gesture
he indicated the models, brass, wood, and wax, which filled every cranny
of the sparsely furnished room.

Mrs. Whitney sighed. The room was her bugbear. She had dignified it with
the name of "studio," but it looked what it was--a workshop. Winslow
Whitney, considered in clubdom as a dilettante and known to scientists as
an inventor of ability, frowned impatiently as he observed his wife's air
of disapprobation.

"My dear, we must agree to disagree," he said, lowering his voice. "My
brain is carrying too much just now; I cannot be confused by side issues.
Everything must wait until my invention is completed."

"Is your daughter's welfare of secondary importance?"

"What?" Whitney surveyed his wife in startled surprise, and her handsome
face flushed under his scrutiny. "What is the matter with Kathleen's
welfare? Do I illtreat her? Is she refused money? Do I make her spend
hours here helping me in this"--sarcastically--"sweatshop? Four years ago
she took up this fad of painting; you encouraged her at it--you know you
did," shaking an accusing finger at his wife. "You persuaded me to let
her study in Germany, and she hasn't been worth a button since--as far
as home comfort goes."

"Winslow!"

"It's true," doggedly. "Formerly she was willing and glad to help me with
my modeling, help me in making calculations, tracings--now she spends her
time philandering."

"All young girls flirt, Winslow."

"But Kathleen was always so shy," Whitney shook his head. "Now I'm asked
at the club if she isn't engaged to this man and that."

"Will you never realize that Kathleen is exceptionally pretty, with the
gift of fascination?"

"A dangerous power," said Whitney gravely. "I do not entirely approve of
the men whose attentions Kathleen encourages."

"As for instance...."

"Young Potter, and this Baron Frederic von Fincke--you know, Minna, I do
not approve of international marriages, and I am very glad that Kathleen
refused that Englishman, John Hargraves, whom she met in Germany...."

"I sometimes wonder if she regrets," said Mrs. Whitney musingly.
"Kathleen hears from him occasionally--and at times she is so very odd in
her manner."

"Humph! I hope not. I don't want her to be a war bride," retorted
Whitney. "And all Englishmen of family are at the front these days. You
don't think, Minna," with quickly suppressed nervousness, "that Kathleen
can be fond of Sinclair Spencer."

"Sinclair Spencer?" echoed Mrs. Whitney. "Why he is double her age, and
besides, Winslow, his habits are not...."

"I know," gloomily, as his wife paused. "I would certainly never give my
consent to such a marriage. But, Minna, he is forever hanging around
Kathleen and haunts this house."

"So much so that Kathleen is heartily sick of him," said Mrs. Whitney
comfortingly. "She is not the girl to really care for a man of his
caliber. After all, Winslow," unable to restrain the dig, "you are
responsible for Sinclair Spencer's intimate footing in this house...."

"Intimate footing? Nothing of the sort. Just because I employed him as my
patent attorney, you and Kathleen did not have to throw yourselves at
his head and have him sitting in your pockets."

Mrs. Whitney laughed outright. "My dear Winslow, neither Kathleen nor I
encouraged him to come here. If you are afraid," her eyes twinkling,
"that Kathleen considers his attentions seriously, I will sound her on
the subject. And this brings me back to what I was going to say
originally; you must inquire about the men Kathleen meets. She is at the
impressionable age and as apt as not to pick up an undesirable _parti_."

"Why didn't Kathleen remain a schoolgirl?" fumed Whitney. "Then we only
had to engage competent nurses and look up their references and our
responsibility ended."

"Your responsibility is just beginning," said Mrs. Whitney cheerfully.
"By the way, the days are short, and Kathleen should be at home by five
o'clock at least; this is a rough neighborhood for a beautiful girl to
walk through unattended."

"My forefathers found no fault with this neighborhood," replied Whitney
stiffly. "Then it was fashionable, now it is a good respectable business
section; and if dividends continue to dwindle you may thank your stars we
are in a business section--for convenience' sake. I will not give up this
house, Minna, even to please you."

"Dear Winslow, don't excite yourself." Mrs. Whitney laid an affectionate
hand on his arm. "Remember Dr. McLane's advice ... and dinner will be
served in an hour. Please come down and get it while it is hot," and not
waiting to hear his halfhearted promise she walked from the room and
closed the door. It was some seconds before Whitney resumed his
interrupted work.

"Only a little while now," he muttered--"only a little while."

Before proceeding to her bedroom Mrs. Whitney sought the suite of rooms
which had been given to Kathleen on her coming of age two months before.
Finding the prettily decorated and furnished sitting-room empty she
walked into the adjoining bedroom and saw Kathleen sitting at her
dressing table.

"What detained you?" she asked kindly, as the girl turned on her
entrance.

"The symphony concert was not over until twenty-five minutes ago. Won't
you sit down, dear?" pulling forward a chair. "I must go on with my
dressing. My pink satin, Julie, thank you," as the French maid appeared.

"Are you dining out tonight?" in surprise. "I thought you told me you had
no engagement for this evening."

"I hadn't, mother. This invitation was quite unexpected," explained
Kathleen, arranging her hair with care. "On my return from the concert I
found this note from Miss Kiametia Grey asking me to fill a place and
prevent thirteen at her dinner tonight."

"I see." Mrs. Whitney inspected the dainty note-paper and forceful
handwriting through her gold lorgnette. The word of Miss Kiametia Grey
was as the law of the Medes and Persians to her many friends, and Mrs.
Whitney had a high regard for the wealthy spinster who cloaked her
warm-hearted impulsiveness under an erratic and often brusque manner.
"You cannot very well refuse. Who sent you those orchids?" pointing to a
handsome bouquet lying half out of its box on the bed.

"Sinclair Spencer," briefly. "Be careful, Julie, don't muss my hair,"
and discussing unimportant matters Kathleen hurried her dressing as much
as possible.

"Not knowing you were going out I told Henry he would not be needed
tonight," said Mrs. Whitney, suddenly waking up to the fact that Kathleen
was ready to go. "You had better order a herdic."

"Oh!" Kathleen gazed at her blankly. "And the dinner is at the Chevy
Chase Club."

"Pardon, madame," Julie, the maid, spoke in rapid French. "Mademoiselle
Grey telephoned to ask if mademoiselle had returned and said that she
hoped she could dine with her. Knowing madame had no engagement this
evening, I took the great liberty of telling Henry to be here with the
limousine."

"Quite right, Julie," Mrs. Whitney rose. "Don't forget your orchids,
Kathleen."

"I am not going to wear them; they"--not meeting Mrs. Whitney's
eyes--"they would stain my dress. Good night, mother. I am likely to be
late; don't either you or Dad wait up for me."

An hour later, her naturally rosy cheeks a deeper tint from the
consciousness that she was late, Kathleen made a charming picture as she
stood just within the entrance to the assembly room of the Chevy Chase
Club, waiting to greet her hostess who was at that moment marshalling her
guests out to the private dining-room. It was several minutes before Miss
Kiametia Grey discovered Kathleen's presence.

"So very glad you could come," she said, squeezing her hand warmly. "Not
only did I want to be helped over the thirteen bugaboo, but I have such a
nice dinner partner for you. Captain Miller. Yes, Judge, you are to take
me out. Kathleen, introduce yourself to the Captain."

"Am I to find him by the process of elimination?" laughed Kathleen, as
Miss Kiametia laid her hand on the Judge's arm.

"He is just back of you," she called, and Kathleen turned around. Every
vestige of color left her cheeks as she encountered the steadfast gaze of
a tall, broad-shouldered man in immaculate evening dress.

"You?" she blurted out, her white lips barely forming the word. "_You_?"

There was an agonizing pause, then Captain Miller stepped toward her.

"Suppose we go out to dinner," he suggested suavely.



CHAPTER V

AN EVENTFUL EVENING


While keeping up an animated conversation with Judge Powers, Miss
Kiametia Grey saw with inward perturbation that her vis-à-vis, Captain
Miller, was spending much of his time between courses making bread
pellets. What possessed Kathleen Whitney? She was usually the soul of
courtesy, and yet her hostess had not seen her address one word to her
dinner partner. Possibly Kathleen had taken offense at her off-hand
introduction to the handsome officer. But that was not like the
warmhearted, charming girl she had come to love and admire, and Miss
Kiametia ate her dinner with less and less relish as she tried to keep
up her end of the conversation and forget about the pair seated
opposite her.

Captain Charles Miller had just finished helping himself to an ice when,
from the tail of his eye, he saw Kathleen quickly palm his place card.

"Let us make it an exchange," he said, and reaching across her plate,
picked up the pretty hand-painted Japanese card bearing her name, and
slipped it inside the pocket of his white vest.

For the first time that evening there was color in Kathleen's cheeks.

"You have not lost your--"

"Courage?"

"Effrontery," she finished. "I cannot see that the years have brought
much change."

"To you, most certainly not," and there was no mistaking the admiration
in his eyes.

"I object to personalities." She paused. "And particularly on slight
acquaintance."

Miller bowed. "It is my loss that we have not met before," and he did not
miss the look of relief that lighted her eyes for the fraction of a
second. Swiftly he changed the subject. "Who is the man glaring at us
from the end of the table?"

"Baron Frederic von Fincke." Her manner was barely civil and that was
all. Under his heavy eyebrows Miller's eyes snapped. She should talk to
him, and he squared his broad shoulders.

"I have already met the young girl sitting next him," he said, "and who
is her dinner partner?"

"Captain Edwin Sayre, United States Army."

"Of what branch of the service?"

"Ordnance."

"Is it true, Miss Kathleen," broke in the man seated on her right, "that
Captain Sayre has resigned from the army to take a position in the Du
Pont Powder Works?"

"I believe so."

"Is that not establishing a bad precedent, Mr. Spencer?" inquired Miller.
He had met the lawyer on his arrival before dinner. "Suppose other
officers follow his example, what will the army do in case of hostilities
with--eh--Mexico?"

"Probably the officers will apply for active service." Sinclair Spencer,
glad of the pretext that talking to Miller gave him of bending nearer
Kathleen, turned his back on his dinner partner. That Kathleen had given
him her full attention throughout the dinner had partly compensated for
the fact that she was not wearing his orchids. It had been weeks since he
had enjoyed so uninterrupted a talk with her. That her manner was
distrait and her replies somewhat haphazard escaped him utterly. The
drive to Chevy Chase was both long and cold, and while waiting for Miss
Kiametia's other guests to assemble before he presented himself, he had
enjoyed more than one cocktail. That stimulant, combined with Miss
Kiametia's excellent champagne, had dulled his perceptions. "The officers
will be given their old rank," continued Spencer. "In the meantime they
will have gained most valuable experience."

"There is really no prospect now of a war with Mexico." As she spoke
Kathleen looked anxiously across at Miss Kiametia, but her hostess showed
no disposition to give the signal for rising. Kathleen was aware by his
thick speech and flushed features that Spencer had taken more wine than
was good for him. She desired to ignore Captain Miller, but she was
equally desirous not to encourage Spencer's attentions. She moved her
chair back as far as she could from the table to avoid the latter's near
presence as he bent toward her. Deliberately she turned and continued her
remarks to Miller. "As soon as a fair election is held and a president
elected, he will be recognized by our Government."

Miller laughed. "A fair election and Mexico are a contradiction of terms.
Trouble there is by no means over. I hope that you are not a
peace-at-any-price American?"

"Indeed I am not," and Kathleen's eyes sparkled. "I am for peace
with a punch."

Again Spencer cut into the conversation, but his condition was so
apparent that Kathleen shrank from him. "Miss Kathleen, give me firs'
dance," he demanded, as Miss Kiametia laid aside her napkin and pushed
back her chair.

In a second Baron Frederic von Fincke was by her side, and with a sigh of
thankfulness Kathleen accepted his eager demand for a dance, and they
hastened into the assembly room, which, stripped of its furniture, was
already filled with dancers. It was the regular Wednesday night dance at
the club and the room was crowded. Kathleen had no difficulty in avoiding
Captain Miller. Since her début she had reigned an acknowledged belle in
society, and she was quickly importuned by men eager for a dance. But as
she laughed and jested with her partners, she was conscious of lagging
time and numbing brain. Could she keep up the farce much longer?

From one of the doorways Sinclair Spencer watched the gay scene with
surly discontent. An attempt to dance, while its result had no effect
upon his understanding, had caused his partner hastily to seek her
chaperon. His only ray of consolation was that she had not been Kathleen
Whitney. Come to think of it, she had never thanked him for his orchids.
The oversight worried him, and he was about to attempt to dodge the
dancers and cross the room in search of Kathleen when Baron von Fincke
stopped and addressed him.

"She is very beautiful, your Miss Whitney," he said slowly. His English
was not fluent "But she has not the tact of her pretty mother. _She_
would never have shown her avoidance of Captain Miller quite so plainly
as did Miss Whitney during dinner."

"'Twasn't 'voidance," protested Spencer. "I cut him out."

"Then why postpone your wooing?" The foreigner permitted no hint of his
secret amusement to creep into his voice as he glanced from Spencer to
where Kathleen was dancing.

"Go-going to ask Kathleen tonight," replied Spencer, with drunken
dignity. "I'm no la-laggard. Speak to Whitney, too; though that isn't
important--he won't refuse." He cogitated darkly for a moment. "If he
does ... I'll make things hot for him...."

"Hush!" Von Fincke laid a heavy hand on Spencer's shoulder as he looked
carefully about them; apparently no one was within earshot. "Collect your
wits. The time is not ripe for threats, Spencer. The invention is not yet
completed; until it is--no threats. We must not kill the goose before the
golden egg is laid."

"Washn't makin' threats," stammered Spencer, startled by the angry gleam
in his companion's eyes. "Now, don't get mad, von Fincke, think of all
I've done in that Mex--"

"Come this way," and with no gentle hand the foreigner propelled Spencer
down the hall out of sight of the guests and out of doors.

Miss Kiametia Grey, enjoying watching the dancing as much as her guests
enjoyed participating in it, was interrupted in her desultory
conversation with two chaperons by one of the club attendants. Upon
receiving his message she made her way to where Kathleen and her partner
had just paused after a breathless extra.

"Having a good time, dearie?" she questioned. "It is a shame to interrupt
your pleasure, but your father has telephoned that you must be at home by
midnight."

"And your car waits, Cinderella," put in Spencer who, suddenly returning,
had overheard Miss Kiametia's remark. He had a particularly hard time
with the pronunciation of "Cinderella."

The spinster favored him with a frown, and the back view of a sharp
shoulder blade. To her mid-Victorian mind Sinclair Spencer was not
conducting himself as a gentleman should, and her half-considered resolve
to drop him from her visiting list became adamantine as she observed his
appearance. Slipping her hand inside Kathleen's arm she led her to the
cloakroom.

"Catch me asking fourteen to dinner again!" she exclaimed. "It always
dwindles to thirteen at the last moment, and I have a nervous chill until
the number is completed."

"Whose place did I fill?" asked Kathleen, presenting her cloak check
to the maid.

"Nobody's, to be quite candid," Miss Kiametia smiled ruefully. "My dinner
was originally twelve, but Captain Miller was so charming this afternoon
that I asked him on impulse, and then sent for you to pair off with him."

"Thank you." The dryness of her tone was not lost on the spinster. There
were times when she wished to box Kathleen's ears. She was a born
matchmaker, and Kathleen's indifference to matrimonial opportunities was
a constant source of vexation to her.

"Never saw two people look so ideally suited to each other," she snapped.
Kathleen started as if stung. "And I'm told mutual aversion is often a
good beginning for a romance. I never saw you discourteous before,
Kathleen; you simply ignored Captain Miller until dessert."

"Possibly I had good reason." Kathleen's color rose. "Where, pray, did
you pick him up?"

"Tut, tut! Don't forget you are talking to a woman nearly old enough to
be your mother." But Miss Kiametia's kind heart softened as she saw
Kathleen felt her words. "There, dearie, don't mind an old crosspatch.
Captain Miller was introduced to me by Senator Foster. You can see with
half an eye that Captain Miller is a gentleman born and bred. All ready?
Then I'll run back to my other guests. Come and see me Sunday," and with
a friendly wave of her hand, Miss Kiametia returned to the dining-room
where the dancers had adjourned for supper.

Kathleen found her limousine waiting at the entrance, and bidding the
club attendant good-night she stepped inside the car, but as her
chauffeur started to close the door he was pushed to one side.

"Fa-sher tele-telephoned I was to shee you home," announced Spencer,
striving to enunciate clearly. His haste and unsteady gait precipitated
him almost on top of the girl as he endeavored to seat himself by her
side. "D-don't get scared," placing a moist hand on her wrist. "Fa-sher's
orders. Ask H-Henry."

The chauffeur touched his cap. "Mr. Whitney did telephone me to bring
Mr. Spencer back with you, Miss Kathleen," he volunteered, and
without waiting for further orders he banged to the door and climbed
into his seat.

With an indignant exclamation Kathleen leaned over, seized the
speaking-tube and whistled through it. But apparently the roar of the
open throttle drowned the whistle, for Henry did not pick up his end of
the tube. As the car started down the drive a man jumped to the
running-board, jerked open the car door, and without ceremony pushed
Spencer into a corner and seated himself between the latter and Kathleen.

"Hope I didn't keep you waiting, Miss Whitney," he apologized. "Sorry to
have been late."

Kathleen shrank back. She did not need the light from the lamp at the
entrance of the club grounds to tell her the intruder was Captain Miller.
She was too well acquainted with his voice. A voice she had hoped never
to hear again.

Spencer, considerably shaken by the force Miller had used in thrusting
him back against the side of the car, muttered a string of curses, which
ended abruptly as Miller's elbow came in sharp contact with his ribs.

Too bewildered for speech, Kathleen rested her head against the
upholstered back of the limousine. Neither of the men seemed inclined to
break the silence as the car sped swiftly toward Washington, and
gradually Kathleen's reasoning power returned to her. She was furiously
angry with herself, with the world, with Fate. Ah, she _would_ be
mistress of her own fate. Kathleen compressed her lips in mute
determination. Captain Miller must be made to understand that she would
not tolerate his further acquaintance. How dared he thrust his presence
upon her? Kathleen's hot anger cooled for a second; if Miller had not
thrust himself into the limousine she would in all probability have
either had to order Henry forcibly to eject Spencer, which might have
given rise to unpleasant gossip, or have endured alone the intoxicated
man's society for the five-mile drive into town.

High-power arc lights were strung along the roadway, and under their
white glare Kathleen stole a glance at Miller. Handsome still, she
admitted to herself, and the same broad-shouldered, athletic figure. He
was the type of man which appeals to both men and women. She caught her
breath sharply as bitter memories crowded upon her, and slipping down her
hand, drew her skirts surreptitiously away from touching Miller. If he
noted the movement he gave no sign.

As the lights of Washington appeared, the chauffeur reduced the
limousine's speed to that required by law. They were in the heart of the
resident section when a snore from Spencer explained his long silence.
The warmth and motion of the limousine, combined with his overindulgence
in wine, had lulled him to sleep. With an effort Kathleen roused herself
from her dismal reflections.

"Can I leave you anywhere, Captain--Miller?" she inquired frigidly.

"No thanks, I will walk to my hotel after I have seen you safely home."

Kathleen fumbled with the clasp of her evening wrap and stared down the
empty streets. She waited until they were approaching Lafayette Square,
then broke her silence for the second time.

"I desire that you leave me here," she stated calmly. "I am now within a
few blocks of my home." Without waiting for comment she leaned forward,
tapped upon the front window, and signaled Henry to stop.

Miller rose as the limousine drew up to the curb. "As you wish," he said
courteously. "But I do not think this man a suitable companion for you,"
and collaring Spencer, he opened the door and, thrusting the still
sleeping man out on the pavement, sprang out after him.

Henry's eyes bulged as he saw the two men, but Miller's manner stopped
the ejaculation upon his lips.

"Take Miss Whitney home," directed Miller, and lifting his hat to
Kathleen he watched the limousine turn a corner and disappear. Then he
glanced down at Spencer sprawling on the pavement. A queer smile lighted
his face as he stared at the lawyer.

"What's your little game, Spencer?" he asked softly, and a hearty kick
punctuated the question.



CHAPTER VI

AT THE CAPITOL


Mrs. Whitney's usually placid disposition was decidedly ruffled, and she
took no pains to conceal her displeasure.

"Really, Kathleen, you are greatly at fault," she said, as the girl
joined her in the vestibule. "The idea of keeping Henry at the Club until
after midnight! No wonder he is late now. No chauffeur can work both day
and night."

"I'm sorry, mother," but Kathleen did not look particularly penitent; she
considered that the faithful Henry had a soft berth. That he worked
occasionally would not prove harmful. She had hoped to avoid going to the
Capitol that morning, and when told that Henry had not appeared either at
the house for orders or at the garage, she had supposed the trip would be
given up. But Mrs. Whitney was of the persevering kind, and with her to
plan was to accomplish. Decidedly upset by Henry's non-appearance in her
well conducted household, she had ordered the garage to fill his place
temporarily, and her limousine was at last at the door.

Mrs. Whitney was giving her final direction to the new chauffeur as to
which she considered the best and safest route to the Capitol and the
speed she wished maintained, when her husband joined them.

"I've decided to take a morning off and go with you," he announced,
entering the limousine. "Room for me on the back seat?"

"Surely," and his wife patted the wide cushion. "We do not possess a
superabundance of flesh in this family."

"Except Dad," interpolated Kathleen mischievously. She knew her father
disliked the idea of getting fat, while lacking the initiative of keeping
thin. "What you need, Dad, is a cold plunge and a ten-mile walk before
breakfast."

Whitney shuddered. "Nice comfortable ideas you have, Kathleen, for a
winter day. It strikes me you should take a dose of your own medicine."
Inspecting her keenly. "Late hours do not improve your appearance,
young lady."

"Thanks," but her usually sunny smile was strained. "And I suppose you
still work all night, Dad, disobeying Dr. McLane's orders."

"I don't take orders from McLane," shortly. "And I didn't work very late
last night. Your mother came up and tried some of her Sisters in Unity
persuasion upon me, and I capitulated."

Mrs. Whitney did not take the jest in good part. While she reveled in
society, she was essentially a clubwoman, and nothing delighted her so
much as debating and delivering addresses. She was a capital
extemporaneous speaker, and had held prominent offices in different
clubs. Possessing no sense of humor, which her husband and Kathleen had
in abundance, she seriously objected to their poking fun at her beloved
organization, the Sisters in Unity, of which she was a charter member.
Any allusion to it in fun she considered an offense in good taste.
Therefore withdrawing into dignified silence she permitted Whitney and
Kathleen to keep up the conversation. In fact, Whitney did most of the
talking, and neither he nor his wife perceived Kathleen's inattention.

"I'm on the high road to solving the last problem," he exulted. "The
invention is simple, so very simple, but, Minna, it will revolutionize
many things in warfare. You won't be ashamed of your old Dad, Kathleen,
when the world acknowledges what I've done."

"I'm proud of you now, and always have been," affirmed Kathleen, and
leaning over she placed a spray of lilies-of-the-valley from her bouquet
in his buttonhole.

"Who sent you the flowers, Kathleen?" inquired Mrs. Whitney.

"I don't know; I could find no card or note with them."

"Perhaps Sinclair Spencer has decided to send them anonymously." With a
look of repugnance, Kathleen pulled the flowers off and before her father
could interfere, opened the door and tossed the bouquet into the street.
"Good gracious, Kathleen, don't take everything that I say literally!"
exclaimed Mrs. Whitney. "I am sorry I suggested...."

"I am not, mother. After last night, nothing would induce me to wear
his flowers again," declared Kathleen with spirit. "Father, what made
you tele--"

"Here we are," broke in Whitney, apparently not hearing Kathleen's
remark, as the limousine drew up at the entrance to the Senate side of
the Capitol. "Jump out, Kathleen. Careful, Minna." But without assistance
Mrs. Whitney sprang lightly to the ground, a worried look on her face.

"I do believe, Winslow," she said, "that I have left my admission card to
the private gallery at home. It isn't in my bag."

"Don't mind, I'll look up Randall Foster; he'll see we get in. Come
this way."

They found the corridors of the huge building filled with hurrying men
and women, and Whitney spent fully twenty minutes before he succeeded in
obtaining the coveted card to the private gallery from his friend,
Senator Foster. To Mrs. Whitney's dismay they found the gallery filled;
but fortune favored them, for just after their entrance three women
seated in the front row rose and made their way out. With a quickness
which showed her familiarity with conventions Mrs. Whitney pounced upon
the seats, and sank into hers with a sigh of thankfulness. She had
overcome a number of obstacles that morning to get there, and though it
was a small matter she hated to be thwarted in anything she undertook.

Kathleen, like many another Washingtonian, confined her visits to the
Capitol to sightseeing trips with out-of-town friends, and she had come
there that morning only because she could think of no good reason for
staying away. To her inward surprise she soon found her attention
absorbed by the debate going on in the Senate, and when one of the
distinguished lawmakers commenced a characteristic speech she became
unconscious of the flight of time. As the Senator ended his fiery
peroration, she raised her head and, glancing toward the Diplomats'
Gallery, recognized Captain Charles Miller sitting in the front row
regarding her.

"Have you seen Medusa's head?" asked Whitney, tugging at her elbow. "Wake
up, Kathleen, unless you've been turned into marble. Your mother's told
you three times that Senator Foster has invited us to lunch with him. She
is waiting for us in the corridor. Come along."

As they joined Mrs. Whitney, a young man hurried up to them. "I am
Senator Foster's secretary," he explained. "The Senator has gone direct
to the dining-room on the ground floor. This way, please," and he piloted
them to an elevator. On reaching the private dining-room of the Senate
they found not only Foster but Miss Kiametia Grey awaiting them.

"This is my lucky day," exclaimed Foster, heartily. "First, you tell me
your wife and Miss Kathleen are here, Whitney; then I meet Kiametia on
the way to the gallery." Mrs. Whitney smiled covertly. The Senator's
courtship of the wealthy spinster was one of the most discussed topics in
smart society. "Couldn't resist the temptation to have you all lunch with
me," added Foster. "Won't you sit here, Mrs. Whitney," pulling out a
chair on his right, "and Kiametia," indicating the chair on his left,
"and Whitney next to you. Miss Kathleen, it's not etiquette to place
father and daughter together, but I have a stranger for your other hand.
Ah, here he comes...."

Kathleen's back was to the entrance of the dining-room, but a sixth sense
warned her who the newcomer was, and her face was expressionless when
Foster introduced his friend, Captain Miller, to Mrs. Whitney and her
husband. After greeting Miss Kiametia, Miller stepped to Kathleen's side.

"Good morning," he said quietly, and held out his hand. Kathleen drew
back, then good breeding mastered her indignation. A second later her
hand was laid in his and instantly withdrawn, but her fingers tingled
from his strong clasp.

"Jolly party you must have had last night, Kiametia." Foster's cheery
voice enabled Kathleen to control her somewhat shaken nerves. "Telephoned
Sinclair Spencer to stop and see me this morning, but his servant said he
never showed up until noon today."

"Kathleen pleaded guilty to a sleepless night," volunteered Mrs. Whitney,
to the girl's secret indignation.

"It was the lobster," answered Miss Kiametia. "I tried to warn you not
to eat it, Kathleen."

"Well, your lobster won't account for the non-appearance of Henry,"
mourned Mrs. Whitney, her mind harking back to her own grievance. "How
d'ye do, Mrs. Sunderland," as an elaborately gowned woman swept by their
table, barely returning their greeting.

"It is the regret of my life," announced Miss Kiametia, her eyes
twinkling, "that I never kept a photograph of Mrs. Sunderland taken when
she first came to Washington ten years ago. It would provide a study in
expression and expansion in social snobbery."

Mrs. Whitney, conscious that she was perhaps rude by her silence, turned
to Captain Miller who had taken no part in the conversation.

"Is this your first visit to Washington, Captain?" she inquired.

"Yes, and I find its residents so delightful that I hope to
prolong my stay."

"What did you think of the speech today?" broke in Foster.

"Capital! The Senator is right; if this government ship purchase bill
goes through, the country will indeed be buying a quarrel."

"Quite right," agreed Whitney, laying down his fork. "The only people
who fail to see it in that light are those advocating the bill's passage.
Every nation thinks the same."

"Except possibly Germany," argued Foster. "She would probably try and
sell us the hundreds of interned ships in our seaports."

"Well, why shouldn't she?" Miss Kiametia, with recollections of her
misgivings the night before, declined the lobster croquettes. "With the
German steamships and freighters interned here we should have a merchant
marine ready to our hand."

"And thereby provide instant use for our navy," retorted Whitney.

"Uncle Sam had better think twice before taking issue with the German
submarines," grumbled Miss Kiametia.

Whitney's eyes lit with an angry sparkle, and he opened his mouth to
speak, but his wife gave him no opportunity.

"Are you pro-German, Kiametia?" she asked in astonishment.

"Well, I lean that way," admitted the spinster. "You know I'm named for
the sister of Pocahontas, and my drop of Indian blood gives me a good
memory. It strikes me that this nation is overlooking the American
Revolution, not to mention 1812, and I also recollect that England did
not show us particular friendship during the Civil War."

"The idea of waving the bloody shirt of '76!" exclaimed Kathleen. "For
shame, Miss Kiametia! We Anglo-Saxons must stand together. And another
thing: Germany may have wiped the Belgians off the map, but she's lodged
them in every American heart."

"And we'll wake up some day and find the Germans sitting in Canada,"
retorted Miss Kiametia. "Looking at U. S."

"'Over the garden wall,'" quoted Whitney laughing. "No, no, Kiametia.
Wave the bloody shirt, but don't try to scare us with a straw man."

"Straw or not, the Kaiser is the world's bogy man. He has taught us a
lesson in preparedness which this country will be slow to imitate."

"Uncle Sam is a good disciplinarian but a poor student," acknowledged
Whitney, fingering the table ornaments nervously. "Well, Foster, I've
enjoyed myself immensely, but there's work awaiting me at home, and I
really must run along."

Mrs. Whitney, talking placidly with Captain Miller, looked considerably
taken aback by her husband's precipitancy. Hastily draining the last drop
of her demi-tasse, she added her thanks and good-byes, and followed her
husband and Kathleen from the room.

"I'll walk home," announced Kathleen, as Whitney signaled to their
chauffeur. "It will do me good, I need a constitutional."

"But--but it's over a mile," protested Mrs. Whitney.

"All the better," and waving her muff in farewell, Kathleen hastened off
through the grounds in the direction of Pennsylvania Avenue. She found
the cold invigorating air a bracing tonic after the steam-heated
atmosphere of the Capitol, and was thoroughly enjoying her walk when she
became conscious that a figure was keeping pace with her. Looking up, she
recognized Captain Miller. Kathleen stopped.

"Which way are you going?" she demanded, totally unconscious of the
pretty tableau she made, her dark beauty enhanced by a becoming hat and
silver fox furs. Not anticipating her abrupt halt, Miller was forced to
retrace his footsteps.

"I spoke to you twice, Miss Whitney, but you apparently did not hear me,"
he answered, lifting his hat. "I asked if I might accompany you, and took
silence for consent. My way lies your way."

Kathleen's fingers clenched tightly together inside her muff. "Are you
dead to all sense of decency?" she asked. "Can you not see that your
presence is an offense?"

Miller's color rose, and there was an ominous flash in his blue-gray
eyes, but she met his look undauntedly. "I think you take an exaggerated
view of the matter," he said quietly. "I desire your friendship."

"You dare ask that after...."

With a quiet masterful gesture Miller stopped her. "We are living in the
present," he said. "I repent the past. Come"--with deepening earnestness,
"you are warm-hearted, impulsive, generous--be generous to me--give me a
chance to make good. Before God, I will not fail you."

Kathleen scanned him keenly. Could she place faith in his sincerity?
As she met the penetrating glance she knew of old, now softened by the
fascination of his winning smile, she came again under the old
personal charm.

"I cannot be friends with a man whom I do not respect," she stammered.

"But you shall respect me," with dogged determination, "and then...."

A bevy of girls, coming out of Galt's, paused to greet Kathleen, and
Miller, not waiting to complete his sentence, bowed to her and continued
up the Avenue. He paid no attention to the streets he traversed, but on
turning into F Street sought shelter near a shop to light his cigarette.
As he threw the burnt match to the pavement he was attracted by a large
photograph of Kathleen Whitney in the window. It was an excellent
likeness, and Miller, studying the clear-cut features, the lovely eyes,
and soft rippling hair, felt his heart throb. He glanced at the sign
above the window and found he was standing before Edmonston's
Photographic Studio. On impulse he entered the building.

Miller's absorption in Kathleen's photograph had not gone unnoticed, and
when he emerged from the studio, the observer accosted him.

"Beg pardon, sir, I'm Henry, Mr. Whitney's chauffeur," he said. "Mr.
Spencer, sir, was much put out to wake up this morning, sir, and find
himself in a strange hotel."

"Better that than being registered 'drunk and disorderly,'" smiled
Miller.

"Yes, Captain Miller. I told him, sir, that you had done him a service."

"Ah, indeed? May I ask how you know who I am?"

"I made out you'd have trouble with Mr. Spencer, sir, and as soon as I'd
left Miss Kathleen at home, sir, I ran the car back down by the park,
sir, just in time to see you leading Mr. Spencer into the hotel. The
doorman there gave me your name, sir."

"I see," replied Miller thoughtfully. "I lunched with Mr. Whitney today,
and it was mentioned that you had not shown up," and his eyes were guilty
of a peculiar glint as he scrutinized the intelligent face and finely
proportioned figure of the chauffeur.

Henry reddened. "I wasn't feeling very well in the night, sir, and
overslept," he explained. "Eh, Captain," as Miller turned away. "I saw
you looking, sir, at Miss Kathleen's picture. Did you get a copy in
Edmonston's?"

"No," curtly.

"I thought not, sir. They never part with their photographs in there,
sir. But there's an extra one in Mr. Whitney's library, sir, which I
could ... could...." he stopped abruptly as he met Miller's gaze.

After a pause Miller slipped his hand into his pocket and on pulling it
out disclosed a gold coin lying in his bare palm. "I see you are
amenable to reason, Henry," he said serenely, and the chauffeur
stammered his thanks.



CHAPTER VII

PHANTOM WIRES


Sinclair Spencer walked up and down the Whitney drawing-room examining
the costly bric-a-brac, totally blind to the merits of each piece and in
several instances replacing them with entire disregard as to whether they
rested on the edge, or on firm foundation. His occupation was interrupted
by the return of Vincent, the butler.

"Miss Kathleen is not at home, sir," he announced.

"Quite certain, Vincent?" holding out a treasury bill with a
persuasive gesture.

"Quite, sir." Vincent looked offended, but slipped the large tip in his
pocket with inward satisfaction. He saw Spencer's crestfallen appearance
and thawed. "Julie, the maid, says Miss Kathleen hasn't returned from the
Red Cross meeting, sir, but that she's liable to come in 'most any time."

"Well, perhaps--is Mr. Whitney at home?"

"Yes, sir; but I dassent interrupt him, sir. He's working in his studio."

"Then I'll wait here for a time, at least. Don't wait, Vincent"

"Very good, sir." But Vincent paused irresolutely. His conscience was
reproaching him. Miss Kathleen's orders had been very explicit; if Mr.
Spencer called to see her father, well and good; if he came to see _her_,
he was not to be admitted.

For six weeks the seesaw had kept up, and Vincent had grown weary of
answering the door for Spencer. He had been an almost daily caller,
occasionally admitted when Winslow Whitney was downstairs, and always a
visitor on Mrs. Winslow's weekly day at home. But these latter visits had
profited him nothing. Kathleen never gave him an opportunity to see her
alone, and it was the same at dinners and dances to which they were both
invited. Spencer had come there that morning fully determined to see
Kathleen and, as he expressed it to himself, "have an understanding with
her." Having for once gotten by Vincent's relaxed guard, wild horses
would not have dragged him away.

Vincent's harassed expression altered to one of relief as he heard the
front doorbell sound, but his feelings underwent a change when he saw
Kathleen standing in the vestibule instead of Mrs. Whitney, who had
announced that she would return early as she was walking and not using
the limousine.

"Any mail for me in the noon delivery?" asked Kathleen, and her smile
faded at the butler's negative reply. Why did her letters to England
remain unanswered? John Hargraves was the promptest of correspondents,
and the question she had asked him required an answer. Preoccupied with
her own thoughts, she was about to enter the elevator totally oblivious
to Vincent's agitated manner. As she placed her hand on the elevator
door, Sinclair Spencer walked into the hall.

"How are you?" he said, his off-hand salutation concealing much
tribulation of spirit. Vincent caught one glimpse of Kathleen's face and
discreetly vanished.

"Do you wish to see my father, Mr. Spencer?" asked Kathleen, utterly
ignoring his outstretched hand.

"No. I came expressly to see you," and his air of dogged determination
was not to be mistaken. Kathleen came to a sudden decision.

"Suppose we go into the drawing-room," she suggested. "I can spare you a
few minutes." But once in the room she did not sit down. "Why do you wish
to see me, Mr. Spencer?"

"To ask you to marry me." Sinclair's usually florid face was white, and
his customary self-assurance had departed.

"I thank you for the compliment," with icy politeness, "but I must
decline your proposal."

"You--you refuse?" Spencer spoke as in a dream.

"Yes. Surely, Mr. Spencer, you cannot have expected any other
answer--cannot have deluded yourself into thinking that I could possibly
accept you? I have tried in every means within my power to discourage
your attentions."

"But why?" Spencer's air castles were tumbling about his ears, but he
stuck to his guns. His affection for Kathleen, fanned by her
indifference, had become all-absorbing. Courted and flattered by mothers
with marriageable daughters, he had come to believe that he had but to
speak to win Kathleen.

"Why discuss the matter further?" asked Kathleen. She heartily wished the
scene over; it had not been of her seeking. To wantonly hurt another's
feelings was alien to her nature, and that Spencer was suffering his
demeanor betrayed.

"I must." Spencer came a step nearer. "Tell me why you refuse me."

"Your habits ..."

"I haven't touched a drop of wine since that dinner at Chevy Chase,"
triumphantly. "And if you don't approve, I'll not take another drink as
long as I live."

"I certainly think it would be better for you to stick to that
resolution." Kathleen moved toward the hall door. "I really do not see
any object in prolonging this discussion."

"But I do," following her. "I have perhaps startled you by my abrupt
manner. I do love you, Kathleen"--his voice shook--"love you better than
anybody. I know that I can make you care for me. I have money ..."

"That makes no difference."

"With you, perhaps not," but Spencer looked dubious. "I swear never to
touch wine again. I will gratify your every wish"--Kathleen shook her
head, and he added heatedly, "What is there about me you don't like?"

"I--I cannot tell--" Kathleen edged toward the door. "It's a case of
'Dr. Fell.'"

"Fell?" Spencer turned red, his self-esteem pricked at last. "Is that
another name for Captain Miller?" with insolent significance.

Kathleen stepped back as if struck. "I think it time to end this
conversation," she said, but her remark received no attention.

"I see it all now," muttered Spencer. "Captain Miller has won your
affection."

"He has not." The contradiction slipped from Kathleen with more vehemence
than she intended. Spencer brightened. In endeavoring to convince
herself, she had thoroughly convinced him.

"You are not engaged to him?" he asked eagerly.

"Certainly not." Kathleen crimsoned with indignation. How dared Sinclair
Spencer catechise her! "I must insist that you leave. And, Mr. Spencer,
please remember, I desire that you never again allude to your proposal of
marriage."

"But I shall," doggedly.

"Then our acquaintance will cease." Her manner even more than her words
roused Spencer to sudden wrath.

"No, it won't," he retorted. "And I will make you--understand--make you
reconsider your refusal to marry me. Good morning," and without a
backward look he departed.

Kathleen drew a long breath of relief as the front door closed behind
him. "Thank God, he's gone," she said aloud, unconscious that her words
were overheard. "He is insufferable. I cannot understand why father ever
encouraged him to come to the house."

Rapid walking soon brought Spencer to the corner of Seventeenth and H
Streets, and hailing a taxicab he gave the chauffeur an address on
Nineteenth Street. Fifteen minutes later he was ushered into the presence
of Baron Frederic von Fincke.

"And how is the excellent Mr. Spencer this morning?" asked von Fincke
genially, offering his guest a chair.

Spencer, however, remained standing and disregarded the question as well
as the chair.

"Who is this fellow, Charles Miller?" he asked in his turn.

Von Fincke laughed softly. "Consult your 'Who's Who,' my dear friend; do
not come to me, an outsider."

"You know why I come to you," with pointed accentuation. "I am determined
to find out Miller's antecedents, and I am convinced you can tell me if
you will."

Von Fincke shook his head. "You overrate my powers," he insisted suavely.
"I have met Captain Miller as one meets any visitor to this cosmopolitan
city. My acquaintance extends no further than our meeting at Miss Grey's
dinner at the Chevy Chase Club six weeks ago."

Spencer paused in indecision; for the moment, the foreigner's candid
manner disarmed his doubts. "Quite sure you can't find out about Miller?"
he persisted.

"I can but question my few friends in Washington; their information of
Captain Miller may be of the vaguest. Why do you not apply to Senator
Randall Foster? He and the Captain are what you call--inseparable."

"So they are, but I'm not going to Foster for anything."

"No?"

"_No!_" The repetition was almost a roar. Spencer's temper, always
uncertain, had been severely tried that morning, and was rapidly giving
way under the strain of bitter disappointment. "I ran up against Foster
in those Senate lobby charges, and of all the cantankerous--" He paused
expressively, then added, "I used to have a high regard for his sagacity
and business judgment until he lost his head over that Grey woman.
Because she don't choose to be decently civil, he's turned surly. You
wait! I'll bring them to time, and Kathleen Whitney also."

"Ah!"

"You may 'Ah!' all you wish, but I am going to marry that girl, in spite
of her refusal."

"And how is that to be accomplished if you have not the young
lady's consent?"

Spencer thrust his hands deep into his pockets and faced von Fincke
resolutely. "She idolizes her father; his word is law to her."

"And you have his consent to the match?"

"Not yet, but I mean to get it; if necessary, by moral suasion."

"Gently, my dear Spencer, gently." Von Fincke held up a warning hand.
"Whitney must not be annoyed."

"Indeed?" Spencer eyed his companion suspiciously. "And why not?"

"His invention...."

Spencer's laugh was not pleasant. "How do you know it isn't completed and
patent applied for?"

"Is that so?" Von Fincke walked over to his desk and seated himself.
"Suppose we sit and talk...."

"No," defiantly. "The time for talking has gone by. You know, I'll bet my
last cent that Whitney has patents pending in the United States Patent
Office for his invention. All this waiting for him to finish his work is
poppy-cock. Why are you protecting Whitney, unless he's your tool?"

Von Fincke laughed. "You have strange ideas. Do sit and let us change
the topic of conversation."

"I won't." Spencer strode to the door. "I've done with your dirty
work...."

"Tut! tut!" Von Fincke, who had been leaning back in his revolving chair,
straightened up. "Your language, my dear friend, can be improved ..."

"And so can my knowledge," significantly. "I'm going to investigate
Whitney's affairs and his house before I'm much older. Don't bother to
ring for a servant," he added, seeing his host's hand hovering over the
electric desk bell, and not waiting for an answer, bolted from the room.

Von Fincke's hand descended on the electric bell button with imperative
force, and rising he hastened into the hall. He paused at sight of his
breathless valet ushering Spencer down the staircase. Not until he was
thoroughly convinced that Spencer had left the house did he turn back
from the head of the stairs.

"He grows troublesome, that Spencer," he mused as he made his way to his
own suite of rooms.

An hour later Captain Charles Miller turned in at the main entrance of
his hotel and went directly to his room on the eighth floor. Humming
softly to himself he hung up his overcoat and hat in the closet, and
removing his coat placed that also on a hanger. Back once more in his
bedroom, he carefully arranged the heavy draperies over his window so
that his movements were completely screened, and taking a black silk
muffler fastened it securely over the knob of the hall door. The window
and door of his private bathroom were likewise draped. Finally satisfied
that he was secure from observation and all sound deadened, Miller took
from his overcoat pocket four porcelain castors, and dropping on his
knees by the side of his brass bed, he deftly inserted them in place of
the bed's regular steel castors.

Pausing long enough to clear the toilet articles from his bureau, he
lifted from a box-shaped leather bag marked "Underwood" a Massie
Rosonophone and deftly installed it on the bureau top. Taking a slight
copper wire he attached it to one of the posts of the bed and connected
it with the apparatus, making sure that the wire was suspended clear of
the ground and surrounding objects. With another suspended wire he
grounded the apparatus on the radiator.

At last convinced that all was adjusted properly, Miller moved over to
his desk and gazed intently at a large photograph of Kathleen Whitney. It
was an occupation of which he never tired. The faint buzz of the alarm
bell sent him back to the wireless apparatus, and slipping on his
headpiece telephone he picked up his pencil. Listening intently to the
dots and dashes, Miller took down the message passing through space.

As he jotted down the last letter and the wireless apparatus ceased to
receive, Miller regarded the written coded message before him on his
writing pad with deep satisfaction. He was at last in tune with the
transmitting station. The code only remained to be solved.



CHAPTER VIII

KAISER BLUMEN


Miss Kiametia Grey was having her last Tuesday at home before Holy Week,
and the drawing-room of her apartment was hardly large enough to hold all
her callers comfortably. She was assisted in receiving by several of her
friends, and Kathleen Whitney presided over the tea-table.

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 séance?" 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?"

"Yes."

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."

"Yes, Julie."

"_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."

"Nonsense!"

"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 fiancé 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:

"MY DARLING:

"I send you the harbinger of spring, of hope, of happiness. Ever fondly
your lover,

"CHARLES."

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?



CHAPTER IX

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...."

"Then you...."

"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?"

"Does she?"

"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.

"No."

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.



CHAPTER X

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."



CHAPTER XI

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?



CHAPTER XII

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?"

"About midnight."

"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?"

"Yes."

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."



CHAPTER XIII

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 café, 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 habitués 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?"

"Oh, Congress...."

"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 ..."

"Exactly."

"Is the purchaser to be the same for whom you are collecting horses and
ammunition?"

"Yes."

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."



CHAPTER XIV

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."

"Or waiting."

"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
portières 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.

"_Oui, monsieur._"

"And you think you can best accomplish that result by avoiding the
police?"

"_Oui, monsieur_."

"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."

"Me, monsieur?"

"Yes."

"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.



CHAPTER XV

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.

The slight sound occasioned by the closing of his bedroom window was
drowned in Miller's cheery whistle as he emerged from the bathroom.
Refreshed and invigorated by his bath, he switched off the lights and
climbed into bed.

The sunlight was streaming in the windows when he awoke, and it was a
full minute before his sleepy senses grasped the fact that someone was
pounding on the hall door. Hastily donning his bathrobe, he turned the
key and opened the door. Henry, the Whitneys' chauffeur, was standing on
the threshold.

"May I have a word with you, sir?" he asked.

"Certainly, come in," and Miller, conscious of his negligé attire and
that two pretty women were passing down the hall, precipitously retreated
into his bedroom. "Shut the door after you." He waited until his order
had been followed, then demanded impetuously: "How is Miss Kathleen?"

"Better, sir."

"Thank God!" The fervid exclamation escaped him unwittingly, and a faint
tinge of red stained his cheeks as he met Henry's attentive regard. "Did
you give her my note?"

"I sent it to her by the nurse, sir; Miss Kathleen still keeps her room,"
said Henry respectfully. "Vincent tells me that she refused even to see
her mother and father."

"Have you an answer for me?" as the servant paused.

"The nurse came to the kitchen and gave me these"--pulling a letter and
package out of his pocket--"to deliver personally to you, sir; Miss
Kathleen asked to have them sent at once."

Taking them Miller examined the addresses; the note was the one he had
written Kathleen, and the package bore the label of a prominent jeweler,
upon which was written Kathleen's full name in Miller's handwriting. Both
were unopened. Miller placed them in his pocket with unmoved face.

"Why did you not deliver them to me last night?" he asked curtly.

"I started to, sir, but seeing you walking with Baron von Fincke down
Massachusetts Avenue, sir, I...." Henry's eyes wavered and fell before
Miller's scrutiny.

"Followed me?" prompted the latter, bending forward.

"Only a little way"--quickly. "I did not like to intrude, sir, and by
following hoped to get a chance to give you Miss Kathleen's package and
note. I lost sight of you at Thomas Circle, sir, and went home. That is
the gospel truth, sir, as sure as my name is--Heinrich."

Miller viewed the chauffeur in silence. "So!" he exclaimed, and a pleased
smile brightened his face. "Naturalized, or born in this country?"

"Born here, sir, of naturalized parents." The chauffeur twisted his cap
nervously. "German-American, sir."

"There is no such thing, Heinrich." Miller's voice deepened. "The hyphen
cannot be recognized. You are either American or German."

The chauffeur straightened himself, and his heels clicked together as he
raised his hand in salute.

"Hoch der Kaiser!"

The words were echoed by Miller as he sprang forward and grasped the
chauffeur's hand. "For the Fatherland!" he added in German. "Why have you
not declared yourself before?"

"Until last night, Herr Captain, I was not absolutely sure you were one
of us. But later in the evening Baron von Fincke...."

"Stood sponsor for me," finished Miller, thrusting his hand in his pajama
pocket, and thereby pushing an envelope still deeper in it. "What have
you to report? Wait, speak English; the walls have ears."

The chauffeur whitened and moved closer to Miller. "Was Mr. Spencer in
your confidence?"

"No."

"And the Baron did not trust him," said Heinrich, reflectively. "If he
was not one of us, how came he to be killed?"

"God knows." Miller threw out his hands in a hopeless gesture. "I don't."

"But there must be some motive for the crime," argued the chauffeur.
"Miss Kathleen must have suspected something before taking ..." Powerful
hands on his throat choked his utterance.

"Never mention Miss Kathleen's name in that connection again," commanded
Miller, his voice low and stern. "You hear me, you dog!" and he shook
Heinrich until his teeth rattled, then released him.

"Pardon," gasped the badly frightened man. "I meant no offense."

"See that you follow my instructions hereafter."

"Yes, sir"--Heinrich caressed his throat tenderly, and looked at Miller
with a new respect. "I was only going to mention, sir, that Mr. Spencer
meddled in what did not concern him. I believe he suspected what I have
come to believe."

"And what is that?"

"That this photography business is only a blind."

"A blind?" Miller looked thoughtfully at his companion. "Suppose you pull
up a chair; wait, first hang your cap over the keyhole of the hall door."
While waiting for Heinrich to follow his instructions Miller seated
himself. "A blind?" he repeated. "No, no, Heinrich, you are mistaken; Mr.
Whitney has invented a very perfect aeroplane camera, of that I am
thoroughly convinced. And our country needs it...."

"Undoubtedly, sir," Heinrich almost stuttered in his growing excitement.
"But he has invented something that we need more...."

"What is that?"

"I don't know, sir."

Miller, who had been leaning forward in his eagerness, drew back. "Don't
waste my time, Heinrich," he said roughly.

"Your time won't be wasted," protested the German. "Have patience and let
me explain. I cannot manage this affair alone, I need assistance--and
--you are a frequent caller at the Whitney house...."

"Well, what then?"

"Mr. Whitney may be persuaded to take you to his studio ..." the
chauffeur hesitated.

"Proceed," directed Miller shortly. "You can count on me."

"Good," the chauffeur hitched his chair closer. "Day before yesterday I
carried a telegram up to the studio. Not hearing any sound in the room, I
carefully turned the knob of the door and found it unlocked. For months I
have tried that door, hoping for just such luck," he interpolated.
"Opening it very softly, I saw Mr. Whitney standing with his back to me,
and facing the muzzle of a rifle. I had only time to note that the rifle
was braced on two iron brackets and that Mr. Whitney was holding a string
which was attached to the trigger; when I saw a flash, the rifle's
recoil--and Mr. Whitney still standing just where he was."

Miller stared incredulously at Heinrich, down whose face sweat was
running; the man was obviously telling the truth--at least, what he
believed to be the truth.

"Wake up, Heinrich," he said skeptically, and the chauffeur
flushed hotly.

"It's God's truth I'm telling you," he declared solemnly. "For the sake
of the Fatherland, believe me."

"I will," and Miller's fist came softly down on his desk. "Did you hear
no report?"

"None; there was a Maxim silencer on the rifle." "I see--and blank
cartridges in the breech." "That is what I first thought on seeing Mr.
Whitney still standing," admitted Heinrich. "I believed he was trying to
commit suicide. Then I heard him exclaim: 'God be thanked! I've solved
the problem; it stood the test.'"

"Hardly a suicide's speech." Miller stared at Heinrich. "Probably he was
testing the Maxim silencer."

"No, Herr Captain." The chauffeur almost jumbled his words over each
other in his haste. "An instant after the flash, I saw Mr. Whitney sway
upon his feet, recover his balance, and stand upright."

"The blast of powder must have caused that."

"He was fully the length of the room from the muzzle of the rifle. There
were no powder marks on his vest and coat when he opened the door in
response to my knock a few minutes later. You see, Herr Captain, as soon
as I got back my wits, I closed the door. When Mr. Whitney pulled out
his gold pencil from his vest pocket to sign for the telegram I heard
something drop on the floor, and letting the receipt slip fall, I
stooped over and picked up with it--this--" and he laid on the desk a
Mauser bullet.

Miller examined it curiously. His companion was the first to break the
silence. "It is flattened on one side, Herr Captain."

"I see it is." Miller weighed the bullet in his hand. "You have something
more to tell me, Heinrich; out with it."

"Yes, Herr Captain. That night I bribed Vincent to let me valet Mr.
Whitney, and I found the vest he wore that afternoon. In it, over the
heart, was a round hole."

"Did the bullet fit it?"

"Exactly." There was a protracted silence, which the chauffeur broke with
a question. "What do you make out of it, sir?"

Miller did not answer directly. "Was Mr. Whitney wearing his ordinary
business suit?" he inquired.

"Yes, Herr Captain."

"You are sure he wore nothing over it?"

"Absolutely positive."

Miller handed back the bullet. "It rather looks as if Mr. Whitney has
invented some wearing apparel which Mauser bullets cannot penetrate," he
said slowly, "or else...."

"Yes, Herr Captain."

"You are a great liar."



CHAPTER XVI

AT THE MORGUE


Shortly before three o'clock on that same afternoon in which Heinrich had
confided in Miller, dashing turnouts and limousines, their smartly
liveried coachmen and chauffeurs asking now and then the direction from
street-crossing policeman, trotted and tooted their way down busy Seventh
Street toward the wharves, their destination a modest two-storied
stuccoed building bearing the words, "D. C. Morgue." The inquest on
Sinclair Spencer was to be held there at three o'clock.

Spencer's tragic death twenty-four hours before had indeed created a
sensation in the nation's Capital. The wildest rumors were afloat. Was it
deliberate murder or suicide? The press, ever keen to scent sensational
news, had devoted much space to the little known facts and hinted at even
more startling developments; all of which but whetted the curiosity of
the public. The social prominence of the Whitneys had precipitated them
still further into the limelight; not often did the smart set have so
choice a titbit to discuss, and gossip ran riot. It had few facts to
thrive upon, as both the coroner and the police refused to give out the
slightest detail.

"Good gracious!" ejaculated Miss Kiametia, as the touring car in which
she and Senator Foster were riding threaded its tooting way through the
many vehicles. "This street resembles Connecticut Avenue on Saturday
afternoon. Where _is_ the morgue?"

"Right here," and Foster sprang out of the car with alacrity as it drew
up to the curb. He had been, for his cheery temperament, singularly
morose, and Miss Kiametia's attempt to make conversation during their
ride had failed. The spinster's talkativeness was a sure indication that
her nerves were on edge; she usually kept guard upon her tongue.

"Do you suppose the Whitneys are here?" she asked, adjusting her veil
with nervous fingers as she crossed the uneven sidewalk.

"Probably; I imagine we are late. Look out for that swing door."
Foster put out a steadying hand. "This way," turning to the left of
the entrance.

"One moment, sir," and Detective Mitchell, who with several others from
the Central Office had been unobtrusively keeping tab on each new
arrival, joined them. "Miss Grey, being a witness, must stay with the
others in this room. The inquest is being held in that inner room, Mr.
Senator. Will you sit over here, Miss Grey...."

But the spinster hesitated; she relied upon Foster more than she was
willing to admit, and the promise of his presence had reconciled her to
the prospect of a trying afternoon.

"I prefer to go with you," she objected, turning appealingly to him.

"But, Kiametia, you can't," interposed Foster hurriedly. "The law forbids
it. I will be in the next room should you need me." He gave her hand a
reassuring squeeze, then glanced hastily about the room. In one corner
the Whitney servants, their inward perturbance showing in their white
scared faces, sat huddled together, but there was no sign of Mr. and Mrs.
Whitney and Kathleen. Apparently he and Miss Kiametia were earlier than
he had at first thought. Turning from Miss Kiametia, he addressed
Detective Mitchell in a low tone.

"Have you caught Julie, the French maid?" he asked.

"All developments in the case will be brought out at the inquest,"
replied Mitchell politely, and Foster, his curiosity unsatisfied, walked
away. He found the room used for inquests crowded to the doors, and made
his way through the knot of men standing about, to the reporters' table,
where a seat had been reserved for him by the morgue master. Across the
east end of the room was the raised platform upon which stood a long
table and chairs for the coroner, the deputy coroner, and the witnesses,
while to their left were the six chairs for the coroner's jury. As the
Senator seated himself he spied Charles Miller among the men standing at
the back of the room. There was a vacant chair next to his, and after a
few hurried words with the coroner, Foster beckoned Miller to join him.

"I called you up repeatedly this morning," said Miller, pushing his chair
closer to the Senator so as to make room for a reporter on his left. "But
your servant declared you were not at home."

"I spent most of the morning at the Whitneys' and lunched with Miss Grey.
Horrible affair, this; the Whitneys are all unstrung."

"Did you see Kathleen?"

"No," Foster stroked his chin nervously. "She has steadily refused to see
anyone, even her parents. Her conduct is most strange."

"I don't agree with you," warmly. "She has undergone a great shock,
finding a friend dead in an elevator...."

"Ah, did she?" The words seemed forced from Foster; he would have given
much to recall them on seeing the look that flashed in Miller's eyes.

"She did," he asserted tersely. "Kathleen is the soul of honor--you have
but to know her to appreciate that--she and evil can never be associated
together."

"You are a warm champion," exclaimed Foster. "I should almost imagine--"

"That I am engaged to her?" calmly. "Quite true, I am."

Foster drew back. "I--I beg pardon," he stammered in some confusion. "I
had no idea affairs had progressed so far--I am sorry I spoke as I did."

"You were but echoing what I hear on all sides," answered Miller
bitterly.

"True," Foster nodded. "Kathleen's extraordinary silence, when by a few
words she could explain what happened yesterday morning before her
screams aroused the household, is causing unfavorable comment and
unfortunate conjecture."

"The mystery will be explained this afternoon," and quiet confidence rang
in Miller's pleasantly modulated tones. "Hello, I see some members of the
Diplomatic Corps are present."

"And the so-called 'four hundred,'" growled Foster. The close atmosphere
had started him coughing, and he scowled at Baron Frederic von Fincke
who was seated near by. "Where is the jury?" he asked, as soon as the
paroxysm of coughing was over.

"Viewing the body in that room." Miller indicated a closed door to his
right. "The jury is sworn in there by the morgue master."

As he spoke the door opened and the six men, led by the morgue master,
filed into the room and took their places, and the low hum of
conversation died away as the coroner, stepping to the platform, stated
briefly the reason for the inquest, and summoned Dr. Hall, of the
Emergency Hospital, to the witness chair. He was quickly sworn by the
morgue master, and in response to the coroner's question, stated that he
had reached the Whitney residence shortly after eight o'clock Wednesday
morning in answer to a telephone call.

"Tell the jury what you found on your arrival," directed the coroner.

"I was shown upstairs by the butler, whose incoherent remarks led me to
suppose that someone was ill in the elevator. On entering it I found Mr.
Spencer, whom I knew slightly, lying there dead."

"Did you make a thorough examination?"

"Only enough to prove that life was extinct. The butler informed me that
my services were needed by Miss Whitney, and I went at once to her."

"In what condition did you find her?"

"Hysterical. To quiet her, I finally administered an opiate, and sent for
a trained nurse."

"Did you consider her case dangerous?"

"No, but she was completely unstrung; her nervous system had undergone a
severe shock, and I feared for her mental condition if not given
immediate relief and complete rest."

"Have you seen her today?"

"Yes, this morning."

"How was she?"

"Much improved."

"Did Miss Whitney speak to you of Mr. Spencer?"

"She did not."

"Did you question her on the subject of the mystery surrounding Mr.
Spencer's death?"

"I did not. In her condition I judged it a topic to be avoided. I also
cautioned her parents not to discuss it with her unless she voluntarily
alluded to it."

"How long had Spencer been dead, Doctor, when you saw him?"

"I cannot answer positively, as I did not make a thorough examination,
but judging from appearances, I should say he had been dead at least
four hours."

Miller shot a triumphant look at Foster, then turned his attention to the
coroner, who was scanning his notebook.

"I think that is all, Doctor," he announced, "you are excused."

There was a slight pause, and the deputy coroner, who had been taking the
testimony, laid down his pen and gently massaged his hand. The next
instant at the coroner's direction, the morgue master ushered in
Detective Mitchell. The detective, after being duly sworn, told his full
name and length of service in the District force, and briefly described
his arrival at the Whitney residence.

"You examined the body in the elevator?" questioned the coroner.

"Yes, Doctor."

"Was Mr. Spencer dressed?"

"Yes, sir, except for coat, waistcoat, collar, and shoes."

"Are these the clothes he had on at the time of his death?" The coroner
pointed to a pile of wearing apparel lying on the desk.

"Yes, Doctor."

"Did you search for the weapon with which Mr. Spencer's throat
was gashed?"

"At once, sir," answered Mitchell promptly. "At the back of the elevator
near the body I found this"--holding up a short bone-handled knife which
he took from his coat pocket. "The blade was covered with blood."

Coroner Penfield took the knife and after examining it, handed it to the
foreman of the jury who, upon scanning it closely, passed it on to his
companions.

"Have you ever seen such a knife before?" questioned the coroner. "The
blade is a peculiar shape."

"Yes, sir; that shape of knife is sometimes used in modeling clay and by
glaziers when handling putty."

Penfield and the deputy coroner exchanged glances, then the coroner
resumed his questions. "Did you examine the bedroom Mr. Spencer occupied
Tuesday night, Mitchell?"

"I did, sir."

"Had the bed been slept in?"

"Apparently it had, sir. The pillows and covering had been tossed about."

"Did you find anything in the room belonging to the deceased?"

"Yes, the coat and waistcoat of his suit, his collar and shoes."

"Was there any indication, besides the tossing of the bedclothes, that
the deceased had made preparations to sleep there?"

"Yes; I found a pair of pajamas lying on the floor near the bed,
apparently hastily discarded, as they were turned wrong side out."

"Did you examine the deceased's clothes?'

"Yes, sir. They were what any gentleman would wear in the evening. In his
pockets I found a wallet containing twenty dollars in bills, three
dollars in loose change, and his keys. Here they are, sir," and Mitchell,
as he mentioned each ticketed article, laid them on the table before the
coroner, who examined them carefully.

"Was there anything about the room which especially claimed your
attention?" Mitchell paused and glanced thoughtfully at his polished
shoes. "Let me alter that question," said the coroner hastily. "Did
you find any indication in the room that Mr. Spencer expected to
return to it?"

"His clothes were there, and the electric light by the bureau was
burning, notwithstanding the fact that it was nearly nine o'clock in
the morning."

The coroner consulted his papers, "That is all just now," and Mitchell
departed. "Ask Mr. Whitney to step here," directed Penfield, a second
afterward.

"Beg pardon, sir," and the morgue master stepped before the platform.
"Mr. Whitney went back to his residence to escort his daughter here. Mrs.
Whitney, however, is waiting in the next room."

"Very well, bring Mrs. Whitney here," and the coroner left his seat to
assist her to the platform. Mrs. Whitney's customary self-control and air
of good breeding had not deserted her, and whatever her inward
tribulation at appearing before a coroner's jury, it was successfully
concealed as she repeated the oath after the morgue master.

"Your full name?" questioned Coroner Penfield.

"Minna Caswell Whitney, daughter of the late Judge William Caswell, of
New York."

"You were married to Winslow Whitney in--"

"1896."

"And you have resided in Washington since then?"

"Yes, except in the summer months when we went to our home in
Massachusetts or, occasionally, abroad."

"Will you kindly state what took place at your house on Tuesday evening,
Mrs. Whitney?"

"I entertained the Sisters in Unity, and afterward went to bed." The
concise reply wrung a smile from Foster.

"At what hour did the members of your club depart?"

"A little before one o'clock, Wednesday morning."

"Then did you go direct to bed?"

"No, I first showed Miss Kiametia Grey who, owing to an attack of
faintness, was spending the night at my home, to her room; then I
retired."

"Were you aware that Mr. Spencer was also spending the night under
your roof?"

"Not until Miss Grey informed me of the fact; I had inadvertently
placed her in the same room with Mr. Spencer. I immediately took her to
another room."

"Was Mr. Spencer's bedroom in darkness when you ushered Miss Grey into
it?"

"It was."

"Did not your husband tell you of Mr. Spencer's presence?"

"I did not see my husband until Wednesday morning; he had gone to his
studio in the attic when I went to my bedroom. He frequently works all
night on his inventions."

"Were you awakened during the night by any noise?"

"No."

"Did you see your daughter before retiring?"

"No."

"Did she attend the meeting of your club?"

"No, she is not a member."

"When did you first hear of Mr. Spencer's death?"

"The next morning, when my daughter's screams aroused the household."

"How long has Julie Genet, your French maid, been in your employ?"

"Four years."

"Have you heard from her since her disappearance?"

"No."

"Was she acquainted with Mr. Spencer?"

"I really don't know."

The coroner flushed at her tone. "Was Julie discontented with her place?"
he asked, somewhat harshly.

"I have no reason to suppose so; she never complained."

"How did you come to employ her?"

"A friend of mine brought her to this country, and a year later Julie
came to me; she was highly recommended."

"Has she any relatives in this country to whom she might have gone?"

"None that I ever heard of." Mrs. Whitney reflected for a second, then
added, "Julie told me some months ago that her only near relatives had
been killed in the war in France."

"Was Julie a well trained servant?"

"She was indeed; also good-natured, thoughtful, and obedient."

"When did you last see Julie?"

"Downstairs, when giving final directions to Vincent. I told her to
assist him in closing the house, and then go direct to bed; that I would
undress myself as it was so late."

"Did she appear as usual?"

"Yes."

"Did you go at all to Mr. Spencer's bedroom yesterday morning after
hearing of his death?"

"No."

"We will not detain you longer, Mrs. Whitney," and with a slight bow to
the jurors and the coroner she made her way from the room.

Her place was taken by Vincent, the butler, who testified that he had
gone about his work on Wednesday morning as customary, that all windows
and doors were locked as he had left them the night before, and that he
and Henry, the chauffeur, were busy replacing the drawing-room furniture,
removed the night before to make room for chairs for the meeting of the
Sisters in Unity, when startled by Miss Whitney's screams. He also stated
that having gone to bed very late, he had slept heavily and had not been
awakened until aroused at seven o'clock by the cook. His bedroom was
across the hall from the other servants. He had not realized that Julie
Genet was absent until Mrs. Whitney rang for her; he had supposed the
maid was upstairs waiting upon either her or Miss Whitney. No, Julie was
not quarrelsome; she was quiet, deeply engrossed in her own affairs, and
spent much of her time sewing in Miss Whitney's sitting-room. He had
heard that she was to have been married the previous December, but the
war had taken her fiancé back to the colors, and he had been killed in
the retreat on Paris.

Henry, the chauffeur, was the next to testify. He admitted admiration for
Julie and stated that she had not encouraged his attentions, and the
remainder of his testimony simply corroborated that of Vincent. He did
not sleep in the Whitney residence, but took his meals there.

When giving their testimony the chambermaid, laundress, and scullery
maid also stated they did not sleep at the Whitneys'; that Julie, while
always pleasant, kept very much to herself. They one and all declared
that they had never entered Sinclair Spencer's bedroom Wednesday morning
after the discovery of the tragedy. The coroner quickly dismissed each
one, and Rosa, the cook, looking extremely perturbed, was the last
servant to be questioned. She stated that she had not gone upstairs
Wednesday morning until noon.

"Sure, I dunno whin Julie wint downstairs Wednesday mornin'," she
declared. "I slep' that heavy I niver hear her a'movin' around."

"Was it her habit to get up before you did?" asked Coroner Penfield.

"Yis, sor. She had oneasy nights, like, an' would be off downstairs at
the foist peep o' day. She brooded too much over the papers, I'm feared;
though 'twas natural to read av the divils who killed her kin and
swateheart in France."

"Did Julie ever speak to you of Mr. Spencer?"

"Wance or twice, maybe," admitted Rosa reluctantly.

"Did she ever meet Mr. Spencer away from the house?"

"Niver, sor." Rosa looked shocked. "Julie was real dacent, she niver
sought her betters' society. Nay, she was afeared Miss Kathleen might
listen to his courtin'. She didn't consider no wan good enough for Miss
Kathleen."

"Ah, then she was fond of Miss Kathleen?"

"Sure, fond's not the word; she was daffy about her. An' no wonder, Miss
Kathleen was that good to her; comforted her whin bad news came from the
wars, let her sit and sew wid her, and give her money to sind to France."

"Was Julie on good terms with the other servants?"

"Yis, sor. She and Henry had words now and thin; when Henry got teasin',
she didn't always take ut in good part."

"Have you any idea where Julie went on leaving the Whitneys?"

"No, sor; she has no real frinds in Washington. I dunno where she can be,
an' I'm sick o' worryin' over her." The warm-hearted Irishwoman's eyes
filled with tears. "Julie was excitable like and quicktempered, but she
niver did wrong, an' don't let yourselves be thinkin' ut."

"There, there." The coroner laid a kindly hand on her arm. "We won't keep
you any longer, Mrs. O'Leary. Careful of that step," and as the morgue
master appeared, he asked, "Is Miss Kiametia Grey here?"

"Yes, Doctor."

"Then ask her to come in." He exchanged a few remarks with the deputy
coroner in a tone too low to reach the ears of the attentive reporters,
then turned back to the witness chair as Miss Kiametia seated herself.

"We will only keep you a few minutes," he began, after the preliminary
questions had been asked the spinster. "I understand you were
accidentally shown into the bedroom already occupied by Mr. Spencer."

"I was," stated Miss Kiametia, as the coroner paused. "Neither Mrs.
Whitney nor I was aware he was within a mile of us."

"Did you discover his presence at once?"

"No." The spinster's tone was short. "The bed is in an alcove, and I had
only turned on the electric bulb by the bureau; thus the room was in
partial darkness. I--eh--eh--" then with a rush--"I did not know he was
there until I was ready to get in bed."

"Was Mr. Spencer asleep?"

"I never waited to see."

Coroner Penfield stifled a smile and changed the subject. "Were you
aroused during the night by any noise?"

"No," sharply. "When once in the hall bedroom I took a pretty stiff drink
of whiskey as a nightcap, for I was feeling pretty shaky about then.
Consequently I slept soundly all through the night."

"Was Mr. Spencer a great friend of yours?"

"No," with uncomplimentary promptness. "But I did occasionally ask him to
large entertainments."

"Did you see Miss Whitney before retiring on Tuesday night?"

"No. Her mother told me she had gone to bed early."

"Did you see Mr. Whitney?"

"No."

"Did you see Julie, the French maid?"

"Not upstairs. Mrs. Whitney gave me the whiskey and a dressing-gown."

"Can you tell me if Mr. Spencer was wearing his pajamas in bed?"

"I cannot," dryly.

"Did you enter Mr. Spencer's bedroom the next morning after hearing of
his death?"

"I did not."

"While in his room Tuesday night did you observe his clothes on a
chair or table?

"No, and after discovering his presence, I was too keen to get out of
the room to notice anything in it."

"Then possibly you left the light burning by the bureau?"

"I did nothing of the sort. It is a hobby of mine never to waste gas or
electricity, and I remember distinctly stopping to put out the light
after I had picked up my clothes."

"Quite sure, Miss Gray?" and the spinster bridled at his quizzical
glance.

"I am willing to take my dying oath," she said solemnly, "that I left
that room in total darkness."



CHAPTER XVII

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE


"Mr. Winslow Whitney will be the next witness," announced Coroner
Penfield, first signifying to Miss Kiametia Grey that her presence was no
longer required in the witness chair, and the spinster, with an audible
sigh of relief, picked up her gold mesh purse and its dangling
accessories and hastily left the room.

There was an instant craning of necks and raising of lorgnettes as the
door opened to admit Winslow Whitney. Courteously acknowledging the bows
of several friends seated near the entrance, he made his way to the
witness chair with a firm tread, and his clear voice was plainly heard
as, in answer to the morgue master's questions, he stated his full name,
age, and length of residence in Washington, having first taken the oath
to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Charles
Miller, watching him intently, was relieved to find that the nervous
twitching of the muscles of his face and hands, so noticeable the day
before, was missing. Though his haggard face testified to a sleepless
night, Whitney was outwardly composed.

"For how many years have you known Sinclair Spencer?" asked the coroner.

"Fully ten."

"Were you intimately acquainted?"

"No. I knew him as I know dozens of other men; he was frequently at my
house, and on several occasions he assisted me in protecting my patents
in the law courts."

"But you would not call him an intimate friend?"

"Most assuredly not."

"Was he in the habit of spending the night in your house?"

"He has sometimes stopped with me during the summer months when I was
detained in Washington and my wife and daughter were away."

"He was familiar with your house, then?"

"You mean--architecturally?"

"Yes. Could he find his way about it alone in the dark?"

"I presume he could--provided he was sober," dryly. "The arrangement of
the rooms is not complicated, and one floor is very much like another."

Coroner Penfield cleared his throat. "Was Mr. Spencer a welcome guest in
your house?"

"Certainly; otherwise I should not have invited him," replied Whitney,
with quiet dignity.

"Let me amend my question." The coroner laid down his pencil. "Was Mr.
Spencer on a friendly footing with each member of your household?"

"I have every reason to believe he was."

"Was Mr. Spencer's manner the same as usual when he called upon you
Tuesday evening?"

"No."

"In what way was it different?"

"He had been drinking."

"Was he rough, boisterous?"

"The latter, yes. So much so, that I suggested he spend the night. I did
not wish him to go downstairs and disturb my wife's guests, which he was
quite capable of doing had the whim seized him."

"Were you then upstairs, Mr. Whitney?"

"Yes, in my wife's boudoir on the first bedroom floor."

"When did you last see Mr. Spencer alive?"

"When I showed him into his bedroom and loaned him a pair of pajamas."

"Did you help him undress?"

"No, as he assured me, with drunken gravity, that he could manage
it himself."

"Did you inform your wife and daughter that Mr. Spencer was spending the
night in your house?"

"No. My wife was downstairs entertaining her guests, and my daughter was
asleep in her room. I did not see either of them until the next morning."

"Where did you go after leaving Mr. Spencer in his bedroom?"

"To my studio in the attic. I remained there all night absorbed in my
work."

"Did you hear any unusual sounds during the night?"

"No; my studio, or workshop, is sound-proof. And it is the same
throughout the house," he added. "The walls, besides being of unusual
width, were all deadened by my grandfather's direction. He had a horror
of noise."

"When did you leave your studio?"

"About seven o'clock Wednesday morning."

"Did you use the elevator then?"

"No, I seldom use it." Whitney twisted about in his chair. "I had the
elevator installed for the convenience of my wife and daughter."

Penfield made an entry in his notebook, then faced Whitney directly.

"Have you in connection with your workshop a photographic outfit and
darkroom?" he asked.

"I have."

"I am told that you are working on a sort of camera which, used in an
aeroplane, makes a map of the country over which the machine passes. Is
that correct, Mr. Whitney?"

"Yes," acknowledged Whitney. "A patent is pending."

"Had it gotten about among your servants that you were working upon an
important invention?"

"It's very possible," Whitney conceded.

"Did Julie, your wife's maid, ever evince undue curiosity in your work?"

Whitney wrinkled his brow in thought. "No," he said. "I can't say that I
am aware she did. When I go to my studio, as we usually call my workshop,
it is an understood thing that I am not to be disturbed by _anyone_. It
is a rule I enforce by dismissal if broken, and the servants have learned
by experience to obey."

"Has your household access to your studio when you are not there?"

"No, I securely lock the door whenever I leave the room."

"Are you ever joined while in your studio by your wife and daughter and
their friends?"

"Occasionally they bring Miss Grey and Senator Foster in to see my
models."

"Did you confide the particulars of your latest invention to Mr.
Spencer?"

"I did not."

"Did he ever show deep interest in it?"

"Only questioned me about it now and then," replied Whitney casually, and
Charles Miller alone noted the nervous twitching of his eyelids.

"Was the electric light turned on in Mr. Spencer's room when you left him
for the night?"

"Y-yes." Whitney reflected for a moment, then added, "I believe the bulb
by the bureau was burning, but I can't swear to it."

"Did Mr. Spencer give you any inkling Tuesday night that he intended to
be an early riser on Wednesday morning?"

"No, he never mentioned the subject."

"Was it his custom on previous visits, to walk about your house before
the servants were up?"

"Not that I am aware of," Whitney hesitated. "Possibly his intoxicated
condition made him desire the fresh air."

"That is possible," admitted the coroner. "But witnesses testify that Mr.
Spencer had on no shoes."

"Which confirms my statement of his condition," replied Whitney quietly.
"No man in his sober senses seeks the street in his stockings."

The coroner, making no comment, held up the knife with the black bone
handle. "Have you ever seen this knife before?"

Whitney turned a shade whiter. "I may have; there is nothing distinctive
about the knife."

"Is it not used for modeling in clay?"

"I believe so."

"Who made the clay models in your studio, Mr. Whitney?"

"I did."

"Unassisted?"

The question remained unanswered, and after a brief pause the
coroner pushed back his chair and rose. "That is all, thank you, Mr.
Whitney; kindly wait in the adjoining room to the left; you will
find a chair there."

With a stiff bow Whitney stepped down from the platform and made his way
through the silent crowd to the room indicated.

As the door closed behind him, Penfield called the deputy coroner to the
stand. Laying down his pen, Dr. North took his seat in the witness chair,
and after being sworn, turned to face the jurors, chart in hand.

"You made the autopsy upon Mr. Sinclair Spencer?" questioned Penfield.

"I did, Doctor, in the presence of the morgue master."

"Please state to the jury the result of that autopsy."

The deputy coroner glanced at the notes on the back of the chart, then
reversed it, holding it aloft so that all in the room could see the
anatomical drawing of a human figure.

"The knife penetrated this section of the neck, just missing the carotid
artery," he began, using his pencil to indicate the spot marked on the
chart. "While the wound bled profusely it was superficial and did not
cause death."

His words created a sensation. Men and women looked at each other, then
sat forward in their chairs, the better to view the deputy coroner and
his chart.

"Were there indications of death from extreme alcoholism, then?"
questioned the coroner, and his voice sounded unusually loud in the deep
silence which prevailed.

"No. Judging by the contents of the stomach Mr. Spencer had not taken
alcohol to excess."

"Then if the knife wound was not fatal, and there was no indication of
intoxication, what caused Mr. Spencer's death?" demanded the coroner.

"On examination," Dr. North weighed his words carefully, "I found a
powerful drug had evidently been used, producing instantaneous death by
paralyzing the respiratory center and arresting the heart action."

All in the room were giving the deputy coroner rapt attention. Many had
come there purely from love of sensation, and they were not being
disappointed. The eyes of Charles Miller and Senator Foster met for a
second, then quickly shifted back to the deputy coroner. The reporters,
their pencils flying across the sheets, were the only ones in the room
who had not glanced at the witness.

"Have you discovered the drug used?" questioned the coroner.

"By tests I found it to be cyanide of potassium, a most deadly poison,
generally instantaneous in its action."

"How large a dose was given?"

"I don't know, as there were no indications of it in the gastric
contents."

"Then how was the drug administered?"

"Through the blood."

"By means of the knife?"

The deputy coroner looked puzzled. "Possibly," he admitted. "But I could
find no trace of the poison left on the knife blade. There was no mark
on the body to show how the poison was administered."

"At what hour did death occur?"

"Between three and four in the morning, judging by the condition of
the body."

"Was there any indication, Doctor, of resistance on the part of the
deceased? Did he make an effort to defend himself."

"No, Judging from his expression and the condition of the muscles I
should say that Mr. Spencer never knew what killed him, never knew even
that his life was threatened."

"Were his hands opened or clenched?"

"His right hand was clenched," acknowledged the deputy coroner. "Not,
however, for the purpose of defense, but to retain his grasp upon this--"
and drawing an envelope from his pocket he carefully shook into his open
palm a crushed and faded flower. "It is a cornflower," he explained.
"Sometimes called bachelor's button. The stem is broken short off." And
he held the flower so that all might view it.

Senator Foster, who had followed the testimony with unflagging interest,
heard a sudden sharp intake of breath to his right, but glancing quickly
at Charles Miller he found his face expressionless.

Penfield took the cornflower and envelope from the deputy coroner and
laid them carefully on his desk, while continuing his examination. No one
paid any attention to the lengthening shadows of the late afternoon, and
the coroner's next question was awaited with breathless interest.

"Is cyanide of potassium used in photography?" he inquired.

"It is."

"That is all, Doctor, you are excused," and the deputy coroner returned
to his seat.

The next witness was the morgue master, and his testimony simply
corroborated that of the deputy coroner. He was followed by William Banks
and John P. Wilson, respectively, both well known in the financial world
of Washington, who testified to Sinclair Spencer's standing in the
community, and stated that his financial condition precluded any
suggestion of suicide; and that to their knowledge he had no enemies.

The lights were burning when the last named witness left the chair, but
there was no sign of weariness among the men and women in the room.
Although several consulted their watches, no one rose to go. Their
already deeply stirred interest was quickened into fever heat as, in
obedience to the coroner's summons, Kathleen Whitney took her place in
the witness chair.

Dressed with the strict attention to detail and taste which made her one
of the conspicuous figures in the younger set, Kathleen's appearance and
beauty made instant impression upon juror and spectator alike. But her
chic veil failed to hide the pallor of her cheeks, and the unnatural
brilliancy of her eyes. Despite every effort at control, her voice shook
as she repeated the oath word for word and stated her full name and age.

"Have you always resided in Washington?" asked the coroner.

"Yes."

"Were you educated in this city?"

"Yes, except for a winter in Germany."

"Did you take up a special study while in Germany, Miss Whitney?"

"Yes, miniature painting--"

"And modeling?" as she paused.

"Oh, no, I never studied that abroad although I occasionally help my
father by modeling in clay."

"When did you make your debut in Washington society?"

"Last winter."

"Did you then make Mr. Sinclair Spencer's acquaintance?"

"No." She moved involuntarily at the mention of Spencer's name. "I
had known him previously. He was one of father's friends, and much
older than I."

"Were you not reported engaged to him last fall?"

Kathleen flushed at the question. "I never heard of it," she said coldly.
"I do not encourage gossip."

"Miss Whitney." Coroner Penfield surreptitiously scanned a small note
handed him before the commencement of the inquest. The handwriting was
distinctly foreign. "Miss Whitney," repeated Penfield. "Did you not
refuse Mr. Spencer's offer of marriage on Tuesday morning?"

For a moment Kathleen stared at him in speechless surprise. "Where did
you get that piece of information?" she demanded, recovering herself.

"You have not answered my question, Miss Whitney," and the quiet
persistence of his manner impressed Kathleen.

"Yes, I refused him," she admitted.

"Did Mr. Spencer make any attempt to persuade you to reconsider
your refusal?"

"Yes." Kathleen shot an impatient look at the coroner. "I cannot see what
my private affairs have to do with the regrettable death of Mr.
Spencer," she protested.

Penfield ignored her remark. "Did Mr. Spencer communicate with you
Tuesday by letter or telephone?" he asked and waited, but the question
remained unanswered. To the disappointment of the reporters, he did not
repeat it, but asked instead: "Were you aware on Tuesday evening that Mr.
Spencer was spending the night at your house?"

"No."

"Did you see either your father or your mother that night before
retiring?"

"No."

"When did you last see Julie, your mother's maid?"

"Before dinner when she came to my bedroom to help me change my dress."

"Did she seem discontented with her situation?'" questioned the coroner.

"No."

"Did Julie ever evince dislike to Mr. Spencer?"

Kathleen's hand crept to her throat and she plucked nervously at her
veil. "Julie was too respectful to discuss our family friends with
me," she said.

"You have not answered my question, Miss Whitney," was Penfield's quick
retort, and Kathleen flushed under the rebuke.

"Because I am aware that you are striving to make me incriminate Julie in
Mr. Spencer's death," she began heatedly. "Instead, you and the police
should make every effort to find Julie and protect her ..."

"From what?"

"I don't know," hopelessly. "Julie has no friends in this city, no one
whom she could turn to in trouble but me. I cannot understand her
disappearance; I fear, greatly fear, foul play."

"Circumstantial evidence points to her having disappeared of her own
volition, Miss Whitney, to escape being charged with a heinous crime."

"Pardon me, her disappearance is the only scrap of evidence which leads
you to think she might possibly have murdered a man whom she knew by
sight," retorted Kathleen.

"Was it your habit to supply Julie with money?" questioned the coroner.

"Yes, which she sent to France as her mite toward the war fund," answered
Kathleen heatedly. "I am confident Julie had nothing whatever to do with
the death of Mr. Spencer."

"Can you tell us who did, Miss Whitney?" asked Penfield, and he saw the
terror which crept into her handsome eyes.

"I cannot," she answered with unsteady lips. "I never awoke that night."

"What took you downstairs at so early an hour yesterday morning?"

"I had rung the upstairs bell for Julie, and as she did not come, I
started to go down and find her," she hesitated uncertainly.

"Continue," directed Penfield. "Tell your story of finding Mr. Spencer's
body in your own way."

It was some minutes before Kathleen obeyed his request. "I went to the
elevator and pushed the button," she began slowly. "I was in a hurry, and
when I heard the click which indicated the cage was there I opened the
outer mahogany door, pushed back the inner steel grille-work door,
stepped into the elevator and without looking about me, closed the doors,
and pushed the basement button. Then I turned about"--Kathleen moistened
her dry lips--"and saw--and saw--Mr. Spencer lying there--the blood"--she
closed her eyes as if to shut out the, recollection--"I think for a time
I lost my reason. I have no intelligent recollection of anything that
occurred until I found myself in bed with a trained nurse in attendance."

As her charming voice ceased, Charles Miller, who had never taken his
eyes from her face, gently moved his chair so that Foster's figure cast
him in shadow. Never once had Kathleen glanced his way; she sat for the
most part with her eyes downcast or looking directly at the coroner.
Kathleen was visibly moved by the recital of her experiences in the
elevator, and Penfield waited an instant before questioning her further.

"Could you tell from what floor the elevator came when you pushed your
floor button?" he asked.

"No," was the disappointing answer. "The elevator runs practically
noiselessly, and we have no floor indicator such as you see in stores."

"Was the electric light turned on in the elevator when you entered it?"

"No."

"Then how could you see Mr. Spencer so clearly?"

"The brick elevator shaft is lighted by a skylight," answered Kathleen.
"The electric light is only needed at night."

"Do you recognize this knife?" and Penfield held it before her as he
spoke. Kathleen's eyes did not shift their gaze, but her teeth met
sharply on her lower lip.

"I see that it resembles one that I have," she said.

"You still have yours?"

"Yes, you will find it in my desk drawer at home."

"Had you only the one knife, Miss Whitney?"

"I may have had others," indifferently. "I do not recall; I buy my
painting and modeling supplies as I need them."

The coroner replaced the knife without further comment.

"You use azurea perfume, do you not?" he asked.

"Yes."

"What was your object in trying to rub out a blood stain on the front of
Mr. Spencer's white shirt, Miss Whitney, while you were in the elevator?"
asked Penfield.

Kathleen looked at him dully. "Wh-what d-did you say?" she stuttered.

For answer Penfield took from the pile of clothing on the table a white
shirt and pointed to a discoloration on its glazed surface.

"When I first saw this shirt on Mr. Spencer it reeked of perfume," he
said sternly. "Submitted to chemical tests, I find a blood stain was
partially removed by azurea. Again I ask, what was your object in
attempting to remove the blood stain?"

But Penfield spoke to deaf ears. Kathleen had fainted. Excitement waxed
high in the room as Kathleen was carried out by Charles Miller, the first
to reach her side, and placed in the tender care of Mrs. Whitney and the
trained nurse. Waiting only to see her brought back to consciousness by
Dr. Hall, Miller slipped back into the inquest room. Detective Mitchell
was again in the witness chair.

"You made a thorough examination of Miss Whitney's room?" inquired
the coroner.

"Yes, Doctor."

"And what did you find?"

"This torn note"--and the detective held up the pieces in each hand.

"Read its contents aloud," ordered Penfield.

"The Connecticut,

"Tuesday afternoon.

"KATHLEEN, MY DARLING:

"I implore you to reconsider--before it is too late. Consult
your father's best interests before you reject _me_.

"Yours, with undying affection,

 "SINCLAIR."

Mitchell paused after reading the signature, then continued. "Here is a
sample of Mr. Spencer's handwriting, attested by his cousin, Captain
Dunbar; the handwriting of the notes is identical, sir," and he placed
the papers in Penfield's hand. Reading them carefully, the coroner passed
them along to the jury for examination.

"Where did you find this note?" he asked Mitchell.

"Among Miss Whitney's painting materials in her sitting-room."

"What is that in your lap?" and the coroner pointed to a paper box. In
answer Mitchell raised the cover and displayed a bouquet of faded
cornflowers.

"I found it in Miss Whitney's sitting-room also," he stated. In tipping
the box, the better to show its contents, a small piece of white muslin
rolled to the floor. Quickly Penfield retrieved it. "I discovered that
handkerchief secreted in the folds of Miss Whitney's blue foulard gown,"
added Mitchell, as the coroner spread open the handkerchief. It was badly
mussed and its white center bore dark stains. Penfield sniffed the faint
perfume still hanging about it; then without comment handed the
handkerchief to the foreman of the jury.

"That is all, Mitchell," announced Penfield, and as the detective
departed, he turned and addressed the jury. His summing up of the case
was quick and to the point, and at the end the jurors silently filed into
another room. It was long after seven o'clock, but no one stirred in the
room, and the silence, which none cared to break, slowly grew oppressive.
The long wait was finally terminated by the reappearance of the jury.
Coroner Penfield rose and addressed them.

"Gentlemen of the jury," he said, "have you reached a verdict?"

"The jury find," answered the foreman, "that Kathleen Whitney is
responsible for the death of Sinclair Spencer by poison on the morning of
Wednesday, March 24, 1915, in her family residence in the city of
Washington."

Quickly the crowded room emptied, reporters rushing madly for motors; not
often had the district morgue housed a _cause célèbre_, and its
sensational details had to be rushed on the wire. Charles Miller,
separated from Foster by the sudden crowding of the doorways, waited to
one side for him.

"Americans are an emotional people," commented a quiet voice at his
elbow, and turning hastily Miller recognized Baron Frederic von Fincke.
"One death more or less does not create a furore elsewhere."

"That depends on who dies," retorted Miller.

"True. If it should be a member of the Imperial Family"--Von Fincke's
gesture was eloquent. "To them, all give way. We others are pawns."



CHAPTER XVIII

A PROPOSAL


The atmosphere inside the house matched the leaden skies outside in point
of gloom, and even the wood fire, crackling on the hearth, failed to
mitigate the air of restraint and cheerlessness which prevailed in the
dining-room. The rain, falling in torrents, had brought with it a
penetrating cold wind, a last reminder of winter, and Vincent, passing
noiselessly to and from the pantry with sundry savory dishes, was
grateful for the heat thrown out by the blazing logs.

Mrs. Whitney, whose eyes were red and inflamed from constant weeping,
gave up her attempt to eat her breakfast and pushed her plate away.

"Let me give you some hot coffee, Winslow," she suggested. "Your cup must
be stone cold, and you haven't touched your fish balls."

Absorbed in his newspaper, Whitney did not at first heed her request, but
the pulling back of the portieres aroused him, and glancing over his
shoulder, he saw Kathleen entering the room.

"Good morning, Dad," laying her hand for a second on his shoulder before
taking the chair Vincent pulled out. "Just a cup of coffee, mother dear,
that is all," and Kathleen unfolded her napkin.

"You told me upstairs you would remain in bed, Kathleen." Mrs. Whitney
looked solicitously at her. "Are you prudent to tax your strength after
all you were subjected to yesterday?"

"I couldn't stay still a moment longer." Kathleen's slender, supple
fingers played with a piece of toast. "You need not bother to conceal the
newspapers, Dad," as Whitney surreptitiously tucked the _Herald_ and the
_Post_ behind his back. "I read them up in my room."

"My dearest, I'm sorry you did that." Whitney leaned over and clasped her
hand tenderly. "I gave orders that...."

"Vincent is not to blame," broke in Kathleen. "I borrowed the nurse's
newspapers before she left."

"There was no sense in your reading all this jargon," protested Whitney
warmly. "And there is no need, Kathleen, of paying attention to one word
published here. Your friends believe in you absolutely, as we do."

"Thank you, Dad." Kathleen returned the strong pressure of his hand, and
leaning over, kissed Mrs. Whitney. "Bless both your dear loyal hearts."
Her eyes brimmed with tears, and she dashed them impatiently away. "It
was better that I should see the papers," she continued a moment later,
"and know the world's unbiased opinion."

"Unbiased opinion in a newspaper!" Whitney laughed mirthlessly. "That and
the millennium will arrive together. Have you everything you want,
Kathleen?"

"Yes, Dad."

"Then you need not wait, Vincent. Now, Minna, what did you ask me a few
minutes ago?"

"If you will have some hot coffee. Yes? Then send me your cup," and Mrs.
Whitney, taking it from Kathleen, poured out the coffee and hot milk. As
she returned the cup and saucer, she glanced carefully about the room,
but Vincent had departed to the kitchen. Satisfied on that point, she
lowered her voice to a confidential pitch. "I hear the servants are
planning to leave."

"Who cares?" Whitney shrugged his shoulders. "There are better where they
came from."

"Quite true," agreed Mrs. Whitney. "Then, will you give me their
wages ..."

"Wages?" Whitney flushed with anger. "No, if the dirty dogs wish to leave
us in the lurch without notice, they will not get one cent from me."

"They won't leave us," declared Kathleen. "At least, I am sure that
Vincent and Rosa will not go. They have been with us too long."

"I only know what Henry told me he heard in the kitchen this morning,"
explained Mrs. Whitney.

"Oh, Henry!" exclaimed Kathleen contemptuously. "I wouldn't put any faith
in what he says; he is forever making trouble in the kitchen. He is ..."

The violent ringing of the telephone bell interrupted her.

"I have finished my breakfast, I'll go," volunteered Mrs. Whitney, and
she hastened into the pantry where a branch telephone had been installed
for the use of the servants. Before the swing door closed tightly, they
heard her say: "Oh, Kiametia ..."

"What is the reason the servants are so anxious to decamp?" asked
Whitney, handing Kathleen the dish of fruit, which she declined.

"You forget this house has become a chamber of horrors." Kathleen's voice
shook, and she paused to take a hasty swallow of hot coffee. "Possibly
the presence of the detectives makes them nervous."

"Well, a sudden leave-taking from here will probably center the
detectives' attention upon them more than if they stayed and did
their work."

"That is highly probable. Tell me, Dad"--Kathleen regarded Whitney
intently--"how is it that I am not in jail? Did not the coroner's jury
convict me?"

"Their verdict read that you were responsible for Spencer's death, and as
such you are under suspicion and will be held for the Grand Jury."

"Oh!" Kathleen shuddered slightly.

"I had no difficulty arranging bail," continued Whitney. "The officials
themselves realize--must realize," he interjected, with bitter
force--"there is little _real_ evidence against you. The coroner's
jury--the d----fools"--the words escaped between his clenched teeth--"to
place faith in circumstantial evidence!" Whitney's clenched fist
descended on the table with a force that made the goblets ring. "My dear,
why, why did you try to whitewash Julie?"

"Because I knew she had nothing to do with Sinclair Spencer's death."

"You knew nothing of the sort"--with subdued violence. "You are totally
wrong. That Julie ran away is confession of complicity in the crime."

"I don't believe Julie ran away; I do not"--meeting her father's angry
eyes steadily. "I believe she was enticed away. I tell you, Dad, if this
mystery is ever to be cleared, you must find...."

"Captain Miller," announced Vincent, drawing back the portières from the
doorway, and Miller, emerging from the hall, advanced into the room.

Kathleen's coffee cup descended with a clatter on its saucer as her
nerveless fingers released their hold, and placing one hand on the back
of her chair to steady herself, she rose slowly to her feet.

"Senator Foster would like to speak to you a minute, Mr. Whitney," added
Vincent. "He is waiting at the front door, sir."

"Certainly." Whitney shook Miller's hand cordially. "Excuse me a second,
Captain, I'll be back in a jiffy," and he followed Vincent from the room.

Impulsively Miller stepped toward Kathleen, hands extended and eyes
alight with passionate tenderness. "My love, my dear, dear love!"

"Stop!" Kathleen spoke in a dangerously low tone. "I must request you to
leave this house at once."

"Kathleen!"

"You understand the English tongue?" Her cold repellent manner caused him
to pause in uncertainty. "Or shall I translate my request into German?"

"I will not put you to that inconvenience," he retorted hotly; then his
manner changed. "Ah, Kathleen, do not let us waste the precious seconds
bickering. Tell me what I can do for you."

"_You_ ask me that?" Her tone was impossible to translate.

"Yes." Miller held her gaze, his handsome eyes speaking a language all
their own. "You gave me the right, my darling, to protect you--and I
_shall_ protect you."

Her strength suddenly deserting her, Kathleen sank down in her chair.

"You will protect me," she echoed. "_You?_"

Her tone stung him to the quick. "Yes--I," he said slowly. "Do you not
realize the depth of my love? I would willingly sacrifice my career, my
life for you--and count it no sacrifice."

"Would God I could believe you!" The cry was wrung from her, and she
raised her trembling hands to brush away the blinding tears.

Miller dropped on one knee beside her. "My dearest, my heart's desire!"
he whispered passionately, taking her hands prisoner. At his touch she
shrank back, remembrance crowding upon her.

"Go!" she stammered. "I have kept faith; go, before I say too much."

Before Miller could answer he heard his name called, and the sound of
rapid footsteps. With a bound he was on his feet, and pausing only
long enough to whisper "Courage, Kathleen," he joined Winslow Whitney
in the hall.

But Kathleen was hardly conscious of his departure. With an exceedingly
bitter moan, she dropped her head upon her arms and cried as if her heart
would break. Mrs. Whitney, entering from the pantry a second later,
paused aghast, then running to Kathleen, soothed her with loving word and
hand back to some semblance of composure.

Miller found Winslow Whitney walking rapidly up and down the hall. He
stopped at sight of the latter. "Come in the library," he said. "I've
given instructions that we are not to be interrupted," closing the door
and also pulling to the folding doors behind the portières leading to
the dining-room. "Make yourself comfortable, Captain," producing a box
of cigars. "Don't mind if I walk up and down; I think better when
moving about."

"Same here," but Miller selected the most comfortable chair in the room
and puffed slowly at his cigar, while never taking his eyes from his
host. Neither man spoke for fully five minutes, then Whitney pulled up a
chair and sat down near his companion.

"Have you seen Senator Foster today?" he inquired.

"Not to talk to; but I caught a glimpse of him coming here as I entered."
Miller knocked the gathering ash from the end of his cigar. "I was with
him at the inquest yesterday."

"I saw you both there." Whitney selected a cigar and, lighting it, sat
back. "Did Foster happen to tell you that Sinclair Spencer had in his
will made him executor of his estate?"

"No."

"Well, he came here today to tell me that, and also that Kathleen is
mentioned in Spencer's will as residuary legatee."

"What!" Miller's surprise was shown in his face, which had grown
suddenly white.

"Spencer evidently really cared for Kathleen," went on Whitney, paying no
attention to his ejaculation. "A queer fellow, Spencer; I did not give
him credit for possessing sincere feeling, except where he himself was
concerned."

"Was Spencer wealthy?" The question shot from Miller against his will.

"Report says so; I never inquired, myself." Whitney puffed a cloud of
smoke, and as it cleared away, turned impulsively to Miller. "I'm damned
if I like Foster's manner to me today!" he burst out.

"Why, what happened?" Miller bent eagerly forward.

"I only asked him to postpone probating Spencer's will," began Whitney,
laying down his cigar.

Miller's eyes opened. "Did he agree to it?"

"No--refused curtly." Whitney's eyes flashed. "And the manner of his
refusal--rankles," he confessed.

"Your request was somewhat singular," commented Miller slowly.

"Nothing singular about it," retorted Whitney. "I was thinking of
Kathleen when I made the request. Man, do you not see," and the haggard
lines in his face deepened, "the instant that will is offered for probate
its contents become public. And its publication now will but strengthen
the suspicion already centered about Kathleen, by supplying a possible
motive for Spencer's murder."

"Suspicion cannot injure the innocent," protested Miller.

"Oh, can't it! That's all you know about it," growled Whitney, wiping
beads of moisture from his forehead. "So much for Foster's friendship
when put to the test. I made it plain to him that my request was prompted
by my desire to shield Kathleen from further publicity."

"I understand, Mr. Whitney," said Miller gently.

"Yes, I believe you do," went on Whitney feverishly. "That an old friend
should be the first to go back on me; there's the sting. We are a proud
family, Miller, united in our affections." He cleared his throat of a
slight huskiness. "I would have given everything I possess to have spared
Kathleen that scene at the inquest yesterday; I never for a moment
imagined"--He straightened up.--"I am going to move heaven and earth to
clear Kathleen from this vile suspicion that she is in some way
responsible for Sinclair Spencer's death."

"I'm with you, Mr. Whitney," Miller's voice rang out clear and strong,
carrying conviction, and a flash of hope lighted Whitney's brooding eyes.
"I love your daughter, sir, and came this morning to ask your consent to
our marriage."

Whitney looked at him long and intently, and Miller bore the scrutiny
without flinching, his direct gaze never shifting, and his strongly
molded features set with dogged determination.

"You make this proposal, and at this time?" asked Whitney at last.

"Yes." Miller's hand tightened its grip on the arm of his chair.
"Clouds can be dispelled, sir; and my faith in your daughter will never
be shaken."

Without a word Whitney extended his hand, and Miller grasped it
eagerly. "You have my consent, Captain," he said, the huskiness of his
voice more pronounced. "I cannot, of course, answer for Kathleen; I
would not force her acceptance of any man." He turned to relight his
cigar, and Miller's swift change of expression escaped him. "Tell me,
Captain," continued Whitney, tossing away the match. "What conclusions
did you draw at the inquest?"

"I think the jury acted on inconclusive evidence," said Miller
thoughtfully. "Before rendering any verdict they should have waited to
hear Julie's testimony."

"You have hit the nail on the head," declared Whitney. "I firmly believe,
in spite of the other servants' testimony, that Julie and Sinclair
Spencer knew each other well, and his death is the result of a
clandestine love affair with her."

"Love may have entered into it," acknowledged Miller. "But I think there
is also another motive behind Spencer's murder, the significance of which
we have not fully grasped."

"And that is--?"

Miller did not answer directly. "What motive inspired Spencer to feign
drunkenness," he asked, "and when everyone was asleep, to steal over this
house like a thief in the night?"

Whitney drummed impatiently on the desk. "There is but one apparent
answer," he admitted reluctantly. "You believe that he was interested in
my inventions?"

"I do; his actions certainly point to that conclusion."

Whitney shook his head. "His behavior that night would have been just the
same if planning a clandestine meeting with Julie."

"But, my dear sir, he could have met Julie elsewhere with far less danger
of discovery. Besides," Miller hesitated, "let us give the devil his due.
Spencer was evidently very much attached to Kathleen. With her image
before him, I do not believe he spared a thought for the French maid."

Whitney looked his disbelief. "In this instance, I cannot speak well of
the dead," he said slowly. "I know too much of Spencer's past. He was not
above courting the maid and the mistress at the same time."

"Well, at least Spencer was no fool; if he did court Julie, it was not
done in this house." Miller tossed his cigar stub into the ash receiver.
"It might be that he used the maid to assist him in securing information
about your inventions."

"You may be right." Whitney started from his chair. "And Julie, perhaps
believing in his protestations of affection at first, awoke to his
duplicity, and took the occasion of his spying to kill him."

"Yes, that's about my idea."

"But--but--" Whitney turned bewildered eyes on his companion. "What
prompted Spencer to desire to steal my inventions?"

"That we have still to learn. That he did try, I am as convinced as if I
had seen him." Miller picked up another cigar. "And, Mr. Whitney, permit
me to call attention to one very essential fact...."

"Go on," urged Whitney.

"That what Spencer failed to accomplish, others may."

"Nonsense."

"It is very far from nonsense." Miller's earnestness impressed Whitney.
"I do not for one moment believe that Spencer was working alone."

"You hint at conspiracy?" Whitney frowned perplexedly.

"Call it that if you wish; only, sir, take every precaution to safeguard
your inventions from prying eyes."

"I have, already."

"How, for instance?"

"With double locks, iron shutters, and electric wires, my workshop is
hermetically sealed."

"Until a clever thief gains entrance." Miller laughed faintly. "The
science of house-breaking keeps step with modern inventions to protect
property. What one man can conceive another man can fathom."

"You may be right." Whitney took a short turn about the room, then
stopped in front of his companion. "What precautions would you suggest?"

Miller did not answer immediately. "It is very likely that another
attempt will be made to secure the drawings and specifications of your
inventions, if not your models," he said finally. "And if on guard, you
may not only catch the thief but Spencer's murderer."

"A good idea," acknowledged Whitney. "But how would you suggest going
about to catch the thief?"

"By laying a plot for him; forget to lock your studio door
occasionally, lay prepared paper inconspicuously about, and powder your
tables and floor with fine dust. The thief will leave an indelible
trail behind him."

"And walk off with all necessary data," answered Whitney skeptically. "As
clever a thief as you paint will never leave that room, once he is inside
it, without full knowledge of my inventions."

"The thief will not have an opportunity of stealing what he came for,
because the specifications and drawings of your inventions will not
be there."

"Eh!" Whitney's cigar fell unheeded to the floor. "Where will they be?"

"In my possession."

Too astounded to speak, Whitney stared at his companion. It was over a
minute before he recovered himself.

"Do you think I will trust you with the drawings and models of my latest
inventions?" he asked.

"You did not withhold your consent when, a short time ago, I asked for
Kathleen's hand in marriage," said Miller slowly. "Do you hold your
inventions dearer than your daughter's future happiness, which you are
willing to intrust to my care?"

Never taking his eyes from his companion's face Whitney stepped back. The
seconds lengthened into minutes before he spoke. "Come upstairs," he said
and, turning, made for the closed door.



CHAPTER XIX

THE YELLOW STREAK


Leaving the War Department; Detective Mitchell debated for a second
whether to walk around the back of the White House grounds to the
Municipal Building, or to go to Pennsylvania Avenue and take an east
bound electric car. But there was no sign of let-up in the pelting rain,
and pulling his coat collar up about his ears, he hastened toward the
avenue, and at sight of an approaching car broke into a run. The usually
empty sidewalks were filled with hurrying government employees, anxious
to get their luncheon and return in the prescribed half-hour to the
State, War, and Navy Departments, and the detective had some difficulty
in dodging the pedestrians.

Seeing an opening among the lowered umbrellas, he stepped off the curb
and dashed for the street car. He was almost by its side when the
hoarse sound of a motor siren smote his ear, and glancing sideways, he
saw a touring car bearing down upon him at full speed. In trying to
spring backward his foot slipped on the wet asphalt and he sprawled
forward on his knees. The automobile was almost upon him when strong
hands jerked him safely to one side. Scrambling to his feet, Mitchell
turned to look at the man whose strength and quickness had saved him
from a nasty accident.

"Much obliged, Captain Miller," he said. "I owe you a great deal."

Miller stooped over and picked up the detective's hat. "Why don't you
chaps arrest such speeders?" he inquired, pointing to the vanishing car.

"We do in most cases," returned Mitchell, brushing the mud from his
trousers, and limping back to the sidewalk. "However, the driver of that
car is exempt."

"Why?"

"We can't arrest a United States Senator."

"Ah, then you got his number." Miller led the way to the sidewalk.

"That car doesn't need a number to identify it," grumbled Mitchell. "Its
color and shape are too distinctive. We on the force call it the 'Yellow
Streak.' The car belongs to Senator Randall Foster; when he's at the
wheel, the Lord help the pedestrians!"

"So it would seem," dryly. "Where are you going, Mitchell?" observing
the detective's rather shaken appearance.

"To the Municipal Building."

"Suppose you come and lunch with me first at the Occidental," and the
smile which accompanied the invitation was very persuasive. "It's near
where you are going."

Mitchell had not lunched, and a hurried breakfast had been consumed
before six o'clock. It was his hunger which had occasioned his haste to
reach the Municipal Building and later a near-by café. His official
business was not very pressing, and since meeting Miller at the
Whitneys' two days before, he had heard of his attentions to Kathleen
Whitney. The rumor had interested him as much as Miller's personality.
Promptly he accepted Miller's invitation, and the two men boarded the
next downtown car.

Within a short time they were both eating an appetizing lunch in the
attractive restaurant of the Occidental. Just before the arrival of
coffee and cheese, Mitchell sat back in his chair with a sigh of physical
content. The Martini had warmed his chilled body, and the lassitude which
comes after a hearty meal was stealing over him. Miller had proved an
agreeable companion, able to talk upon any subject--except one, in spite
of the detective's hints in its direction. Their table was in one corner
apart from the others, and there was no danger of their conversation
being overheard. Taking in their isolated position at a glance, the
detective changed his tactics.

"I saw you at the Spencer inquest," he said abruptly, applying a match to
his cigar. "What do you think of the verdict?"

"What every sane man thinks," answered Miller. "That the prosecution will
have to secure more material and tangible proof before it can secure an
indictment by the Grand Jury."

"I'm not so certain of that," responded the detective, ruffled by
Miller's casual manner. "Our evidence against Miss Whitney was pretty
conclusive."

"It would have been just as conclusive if applied to any other inhabitant
of the Whitney house that night."

"Hardly." Mitchell smiled broadly. "I fear your friendship blinds you to
the danger in which Miss Whitney stands."

Miller refrained from answering until their waiter had served the coffee
and cheese and departed. "Circumstantial evidence will not always
convict--fortunately," he said, helping himself to the Camembert. "What
have you proved...."

"That Spencer was Miss Whitney's rejected lover," broke in Mitchell.
"That the knife belonged to her; that she tried to remove incriminating
blood stains on his shirt with her perfumed handkerchief; and that he
held in his hand a flower, possibly broken from the bouquet which she was
wearing at the time."

"It sounds formidable," commented Miller quietly. "But there are a number
of flaws. You have _not_ absolutely proved that the knife belonged to
Miss Whitney, only proved that it is probable she might have owned it.
Wait"--as Miller started to interrupt. "The deputy coroner testified that
Spencer was killed by cyanide of potassium."

"Which, as Spencer did not swallow it, was administered by aid of the
knife," retorted Mitchell hastily.

"The deputy coroner said he found no trace of the poison on the knife
blade." Miller paused to refill Mitchell's coffee cup. "Secondly,
cyanide of potassium is not a drug which Miss Whitney would be apt to
have around."

"I saw a half-filled bottle of it in Whitney's work-shop last Wednesday."

"Quite true, I saw it there myself," admitted Miller. "I also saw that
Whitney kept his studio workshop under lock and key."

"To outsiders; but it is just possible he is not so strict about the
members of his household, his testimony to the contrary," argued
Mitchell. "The point is not well taken, Captain, and even if it were," he
stirred his coffee thoughtfully, "Miss Whitney did not need to enter her
father's workshop to secure the cyanide of potassium; I find she buys all
his photographic supplies at a shop not far from here, and recently
purchased a new supply of cyanide."

"Purely circumstantial evidence," responded Miller, keeping his
expression unaltered by an effort. The detective's last statement had
startled him. "In regard to the flower which Spencer held in his hand:
you say it was probably broken from the bouquet which she wore at the
time of committing the crime--I am, for the sake of argument only,
admitting that she might be guilty. The medical evidence went to prove
that Spencer was killed between three and four in the morning; it is
straining probabilities to claim that a young girl, in donning her
wrapper, pinned on a bouquet of flowers."

"How do you know she was not fully dressed? It was not so late in the
morning; she could have gone to bed after the crime, or she may not have
gone to bed at all."

"All supposition," scoffed Miller.

"Not quite all." The detective, nettled by his jeering smile, spoke
hastily. "On further inquiry I learned from one of the servants
today that Miss Whitney had on the same dress Wednesday morning,
when her screams aroused the household, which she wore at dinner the
night before."

"Ah, indeed?" Miller's smile had ceased to be skeptical, it was strained.
"And which servant imparted that information to you?"

"Henry, the chauffeur."

"For a chauffeur, Henry seems to know a great deal about what transpires
inside the Whitney house," observed Miller thoughtfully. "Tell me,
Mitchell, what motive do you attribute to Miss Whitney for the killing of
Sinclair Spencer?"

Mitchell looked uncomfortable, and it was not until Miller repeated his
question that he spoke. "I believe Spencer persuaded Miss Whitney to meet
him clandestinely that night, and threatened to compromise her if she
refused again to marry him."

"Oh, come!" Miller spoke more roughly than he realized. "Wake up,
Mitchell; you've been reading penny dreadfuls. Try and think up a motive
which will hold water."

The detective flushed. "That is quite motive enough," he said. "If Miss
Whitney takes the stand in her own defense she can, on that motive, enter
a plea of killing to protect her honor...."

"And any jury in the country would acquit her," broke in Miller. "She
would...."

"Thus escape the gallows," finished the detective.

"But I can suggest an even better solution of the problem," put in Miller
suavely, although his fingers itched to choke his companion.

"And that is--?"

"That the detective force find the guilty party."

Mitchell suppressed a smile. "And where would you suggest that we hunt
for this guilty party?" he asked. "Provided he or she is still at large,
and not out on bail under indictment."

"Search among the men and women who spent Wednesday night at the
Whitneys', servants as well as guests."

"Captain," in his earnestness Mitchell leaned across the table, "it is
contrary to all records of crime that a man or woman will commit murder
without motive...."

"You forget homicidal maniacs."

"True, but they do not belong in this category," protested Mitchell.
"No person in that house, except Miss Whitney, had a motive for
killing Spencer."

"Motives are not always on the surface; I advise you to investigate ..."

"Yes--?" eagerly.

"Is it true that arc lights have been installed at the United States
navy yards and arsenals, which make them as light as day on the
darkest night?"

"I believe so." Mitchell glanced perplexedly at his companion. Why was he
changing the conversation?

"And that visitors are not encouraged to loiter on government
reservations?"

"I believe such an order has been issued," conceded the detective.

"Also visitors are forbidden at the Government Radio Station at
Arlington?"

"Yes."

"And still there is a leak--government secrets are secrets no longer."

"How do you know that, Captain?" and the detective shot a look full of
suspicion at him.

"I only know what Senator Foster has told me," carelessly. "I believe
Foster's advice has been sought in the matter."

"And why did he confide in you?"

"He desired my help," responded Miller. "Seemed to think my opinion might
be worth something, but, honestly, Mitchell, I can't see anything to this
secret leak business--the Secret Service operatives are putting a scare
over on the government.

"It's more than that, sir. No more coffee," and the detective, his sudden
doubts dispelled by Miller's sunny smile, leaned back once more in his
chair. "It seems that officials here are awakening to the realization
that government secrets are being betrayed. If the American troops are
ordered to a certain point on the border, the order is known in Mexico
before it is executed. It is the same with coded communications to
Foreign Powers. The movements of our fleet are known to foreign naval
attachés even before the maneuvers are carried out. The whereabouts of
the smallest torpedo boat and submarine is no secret--to any but the
American people."

"Is that so?" Miller looked politely incredulous. "And is the Secret
Service not investigating the matter?"

"Sure; they'll handle it all right." Mitchell twisted about in his chair.
"At present, Captain, my entire attention is claimed by the Spencer
murder. Where would you suggest that I begin my search among Whitney's
household for a motive which will explain the murder?"

"Why not try and find Julie, the French maid?"

The eagerness died out of Mitchell's face. "We are trying," he said. "But
we can convict Miss Whitney without her evidence."

"So you think Julie's testimony will implicate Miss Whitney still further
in the crime?"

"I do. I have no doubt she is accessory after the fact, and, provided
with funds by Miss Whitney, stole away so as not to give evidence
against her."

"You have a curious conception of human nature, Mitchell," was Miller's
only comment as he signed to their waiter to bring his check. He did not
speak again until he and the detective were in the street. "You have
overlooked a very important point, Mitchell, in your investigation of
Spencer's murder."

"What is that?"

"You apparently believe that Miss Whitney murdered Spencer between three
and four in the morning and then went back to her bedroom ..."

"Go on," urged Mitchell.

"At the inquest all witnesses testified that Miss Whitney was the first
to find Spencer and that she was in the elevator with him." Miller spoke
with impressiveness. "Even the most hardened criminal would not have
deliberately walked into that elevator and shut himself in with the man
he had murdered a short time before--and yet, you argue that a highly
strung, delicately nurtured girl did exactly that. It's preposterous!"

"It does sound cold-blooded," admitted the detective. "It is just
possible that after committing the crime, she lost consciousness and
remained in the elevator all night...."

"Talk sense!" ejaculated Miller disgustedly and, without waiting to hear
the detective's thanks for his luncheon, turned on his heel and hurried
up Fourteenth Street. Mitchell watched his tall, erect figure out of
sight with absorbed attention.

"I'd give a lot to know who he suspects murdered Spencer," he muttered
under his breath, and started for the Municipal Building.

As Miller approached his hotel, he thought he saw Foster's yellow touring
car move away from the ladies' entrance. After procuring his mail he went
at once to his room. He was about to open his letters when his eyes fell
on an open drawer of his desk. Putting down the bundle in his hand, he
carefully investigated every pigeonhole and drawer. The papers he looked
for were missing.

Rising quickly, Miller examined the windows of his room and bathroom.
They were securely fastened on the inside. In deep thought he went out
into the hall to where the floor chambermaid and a companion were sitting
in full view of his door.

"Have you been here long?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," replied the elder girl. "I've been on duty here ever
since noon, and Mary," laying her hand on her companion, "was here
all the morning."

"Has either of you seen anyone enter my bedroom?"

"No, sir, only yourself, sir," answered the first speaker, and Mary
echoed her words.



CHAPTER XX

THE AWAKENING


The prospect was uninviting at any time and to Julie, who had stared at
the rows of slatternly kept backyards until she grew familiar with each
battered garbage can, the sight was hateful. The rain had driven even the
starved alley cats to cover, and with a sigh forlorn in its wretchedness,
she turned from the window and contemplated her nicely furnished bedroom.
The two days she had been there had passed on leaden feet. Captain
Miller's money had secured her a haven of refuge--food and a roof over
her head--but had deprived her of liberty and the daily newspaper. The
first had been the only restriction he had placed upon her acceptance of
his bounty. His plea--protect Kathleen--had found a ready echo in her
loyal heart, and blindly she had obeyed him.

The first day had passed in numb resignation, then had followed the
reaction. As she recovered from bodily fatigue there came a quickening of
the blood, and in spite of the cold driving rain, a longing for the
out-of-doors possessed her.

Since the breaking out of the great world war, with its invasion of
Belgium and her beloved France, she had become an inveterate newspaper
reader, and during the days of "extras" she had formed the habit of
depending upon them. From day to day, month to month, she had followed
the ever shifting, always fighting forces on the firing line, and her
knowledge of the situation in Europe would have shamed some of the
students of the times. Her own personal loss and agonizing sorrow had
been engulfed in her acceptance of the world's tragedy, but it had made
adamantine her desire to serve France.

Forty-eight hours had passed and she had not seen a daily paper. She had
asked her landlady, Mrs. Robinson, for the loan of her _Star_, only to be
told that Mrs. Robinson never took it. She had thereupon presented her
with three cents and asked her to secure the morning papers. But Mrs.
Robinson, on her return from market earlier in the day, had forgotten to
comply with her request. The one servant, when appealed to in the hall,
had promised to get her an evening _Times_, but on inquiry, Mrs. Robinson
had informed her that the woman had finished her work and gone home.

What was happening in Europe? Had the Allies attempted the drive hinted
at during the winter months? Had Italy cast her lot with the Allies?
Julie's restlessness increased as each question remained unanswered. From
whom could she get a newspaper? Mrs. Robinson had assured her that she
was the only boarder in the house, and on the one occasion on which she
had left her room, she had seen no one but the servant. The latter had
gone out, and Mrs. Robinson had not responded to her call ten minutes
before. Julie sighed again and gazed wearily out over the backyards; then
a thought came to her. Why not go to a front window and hail a newsboy;
there might be one in the vicinity?

With brightened eyes Julie left her room and, walking down the hall,
turned the knob of the door opposite her own. It would not open.
Bethinking herself, Julie rapped timidly on the door panel; then
receiving no reply, she rapped again. No voice nor footstep responded to
the summons; apparently the room was empty. Considerably perplexed, Julie
turned and made her way to the second bedroom floor. Quickly she rapped
at each closed door and tried its knob. Each door was locked and her
repeated raps went unanswered. In the fourth floor she met with the same
results, and, returning again to the stairs, she made her way down them
almost at a run.

The silent and apparently empty house frightened her, and it was with a
fast beating heart that she made her way to the ground floor and into
the drawing-room. Its sumptuous furnishings astounded her. Mrs. Robinson
had neither the air nor the well-dressed appearance of a woman of
wealth. From her swarthy skin and black eyes and hair Julie had taken
her for a Creole.

The stair door leading to the basement was not locked, and Julie laid a
hesitating hand on it. Should she seek Mrs. Robinson in the kitchen?
Almost without her own volition she released her hold on the knob and
retraced her steps to the front door. She needed air; the silent house
was getting on her nerves. She suddenly remembered the noises she had
heard in the night and which, in the morning, she had attributed to her
feverish condition.

Noiselessly she removed the night latch and slipped into the vestibule.
She stood for a moment filling her lungs with the cold refreshing air,
then bethinking herself, stepped behind the closed section of the outer
door. She must not be seen by a chance policeman. As she stepped back her
foot encountered a small bundle, and she looked down. Joy of joys I It
was a folded newspaper. As she opened it she saw in the dim light of dusk
the red letter stamping: "Subscriber's copy." What had Mrs. Robinson
meant by telling her she did not take newspapers?

Not pausing to worry further over that problem, she hastily scanned the
first page of the five-thirty edition of the _Times_; and her eyes
dilated as she read the scare headings:

SPENCER'S WILL OFFERED FOR PROBATE

KATHLEEN WHITNEY, CONVICTED BY CORONER'S JURY, IS RESIDUARY LEGATEE OF
MURDERED CLUBMAN

SOCIETY GIRL OUT ON BAIL FURNISHED BY SENATOR FOSTER

Too stunned to move or cry out, Julie stared dumbly at the newspaper.
Kathleen Whitney, her kind friend rather than employer, was
convicted--then her absence had not benefited her? Captain Miller's
advice had been wrong. Her faith in him was misplaced. To what had he
brought her? She cast a terrified look at the partly closed door behind
her. Better jail than--The thought of jail brought her whirling senses
back to Kathleen. But Kathleen was not in jail; the paper stated that she
was out on bail. If at home, she could be reached.

Utterly regardless of her hatless condition, she dragged the shawl,
previously borrowed from Mrs. Robinson, over her head, and closing the
front door, bolted up the street, the newspaper still clutched in her
hand. Darkness was closing in, and the rain had driven the few
pedestrians usually in that location scurrying to their homes. Julie was
five or more blocks from the Robinson house when she saw a yellow touring
car draw up to the opposite curb and a man spring out. He paused for a
second to examine one of the lamps and its light threw his face in bold
relief against the darkness. It was Henry, the chauffeur. Julie shrank
back behind a tree-box, muffling her face in the friendly shawl. But the
precaution was unnecessary, for Henry did not glance toward her as he
hastened around the touring car and entered a near-by house.

For some seconds Julie stood peering doubtfully in the direction he had
gone. Why was Henry driving a car other than the Whitneys'? Had they, by
chance, discharged him? Or was he up to some particular deviltry? Her
latent distrust of Henry and her suspicions as to his nationality surged
uppermost, and not waiting to count the cost, she darted across the
street and peered into the empty touring car. Opening the door, Julie
climbed into the tonneau and, seating herself on the floor, pulled the
heavy laprobe over her. Thus protected, she sat in the darkened interior
of the car for what seemed an interminable time. The slam of a door and
the sound of approaching footsteps caused her to half rise and peep
through the storm window. At sight of Henry standing by the bonnet
lighting his pipe she sank hastily back and secreted herself under the
laprobe. His pipe drawing to his satisfaction, Henry, with barely a
backward glance into the dark tonneau, stowed himself behind the steering
wheel and started the car up the street.

Baron Frederic von Fincke looked from his bank book to his companion, a
pleasant-featured, gray-haired man. "The balance is low," he said.

"I come with unlimited financial credit," and the short, stockily built
man drew from an inside pocket a leather cardcase and passed it to the
Baron, who read its contents carefully before returning it.

"I am glad you have arrived, Hartzmann," he volunteered. "As a diplomatic
center Washington is dull. I call at the State Department--no news; it is
not in touch with secret history."

"My dear Baron, what can you expect?" Hartzmann shrugged his shoulders
amusedly. "Trained diplomats do not confide state secrets to a premier
who derives his income from a newspaper and the lecture platform."

"True. Diplomat and politician are synonymous in America; oil and water
would sooner mix in the Old World." Von Fincke carefully replaced his
bank book in a dispatch-box. "Your friend, Captain von Mueller, has won
many friends during his sojourn in Washington."

"A brilliant man; he will go far." Hartzmann rubbed his hands with
satisfaction. "His work in England will not be forgotten. He has courage,
and the instinct of the hunter; he never blunders."

"High praise," said von Fincke. "I am the more glad to hear it because I
have intrusted a most delicate mission to him--the securing of Whitney's
_latest_ invention"--with peculiar meaning. "My other efforts in that
line having proved failures." Quickly he forestalled the question he saw
coming, "And your plan of campaign, Hartzmann, what of it?"

"First, let me give you this," taking several papers from his vest
pocket. "It is a list of factories throughout the United States supplying
munitions of war to the Allies. You may find it useful."

"Thanks." Von Fincke read the paper with minute care before placing it
inside his dispatch-box. "A concerted movement has been commenced by us
to secure a majority control of many of these plants."

"In several instances it is planned to buy the great gun and munition
factories outright," explained Hartzmann. "Our agents are already trying
to engage the output of munitions until 1916, so that even if the United
States requires powder and high explosives, it will be impossible to
supply the Government."

"Anything, anything to stop the supply going to the Allies." Von Fincke
emphasized his words with a characteristic gesture.

"Our work is already telling." Hartzmann carefully replaced several
papers in an inside pocket. "In Russia, the men of the first Russian
reserve have to wait before engaging the enemy until the Russian soldiers
in the outer trenches are _dead_ so as to get their guns and ammunition
to fight with."

"Excellent!" and von Fincke beamed with pleasure.

"I shall instigate strikes in the munitions factories," continued
Hartzmann. "Tell me, how have you succeeded with the passports?"

Von Fincke's expression changed. "Not so well as I hoped. The Secret
Service are active in investigating all that are issued. It is difficult
to circulate them under such espionage."

"It is risky," agreed Hartzmann. "Our agents have opened headquarters in
New York. We hope to destroy by means of fire bombs British ships
clearing from American ports."

"If that is accomplished, it will lend material aid to our war zone
policy," exulted von Fincke.

"And later on we hope to establish the American seaports as bases for a
fleet of naval auxiliaries, loaded with supplies for our swift submarines
and cruisers. I am making arrangements for taking care of the necessary
clearance papers."

"Excellent!" ejaculated von Fincke for the second time, and opened a
notebook which he took from his dispatch-box. "Our reservists in this
country report regularly. Under the guise of rifle clubs they keep
themselves in excellent practice. Bodies of them are unobtrusively
seeking employment along the Canadian border."

"Well done; it is a wise move." Hartzmann helped himself to a cigar.
"What about this Spencer mystery, Baron? As our agent in Mexican affairs
he received a small fortune. Does not his death come at a most
unfortunate moment?"

Von Fincke pursed up his lips. "No. Spencer was a good tool, but
sometimes too inquisitive; however, I shall not be sorry if Miss Whitney
receives the full penalty for her crime." The two men regarded each other
in silence for a brief second, then von Fincke added: "From reports which
have reached me, I judge the mine is well laid, and Mexico will yet prove
troublesome to her northern neighbor."

"And useful to us," mused Hartzmann. "The United States when angry with
Germany will make war--on Mexico."

"Perhaps," skeptically, "but to me it appears intervention in Mexico will
hang fire until ..."

"Engineered," Hartzmann smiled meaningly. "Huerta will leave shortly for
the Panama-Pacific Exposition, and then ..." Not completing his sentence,
he pointed to a paragraph near the bottom of the first page of the
_Times_ which lay spread on the table by him. "The Sisters in Unity, I
see, is a strictly neutral organization for peace at any price."

"The dear ladies!" Mockingly von Fincke's hand rose in salute. "They are
the best propagandists in the country, and Senator Foster proves an able
advocate of peace--when urged by a woman."

"He is a clever speaker," agreed Hartzmann.

"Most men in public life have their uses. Have you nothing to report of
the pernicious activities of the United States Government?"

Without replying von Fincke pressed the button of his electric bell. "Is
Heinrich here?" he asked a moment later as his servant entered.

"Yes, Baron."

"Then show him in." Von Fincke turned back to his guest. "A clever man,
Heinrich, and useful. Come in," as a discreet tap sounded on the door;
and the chauffeur, carefully closing the door, saluted. "Any news of the
Atlantic fleet, Heinrich?"

"Its departure for the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco via the
Panama Canal has been indefinitely postponed."

"The Department must have awakened to the fact that if sent there the
fleet would have to return by rail," growled von Fincke. "There is not
enough coal in California at present to supply the fleet--the battleships
and cruisers could not escape from attack, but might even be captured at
the dock."

"Have you learned where the fleet will be sent?" asked Hartzmann,
watching the chauffeur narrowly.

"It is to go to New York for a grand review, Herr Captain."

"Ah, a mobilization?"

"No, Herr Captain; I think not. The reserve fleet will be missing."

"Will the President review the fleet?"

"It is so believed, Herr Captain."

Von Fincke, who had been silently eyeing his companions, stood up.
"Would that not give us an opportunity to bottle up the fleet in the
North River by slipping down one of our biggest ocean steamers and
sinking her in the channel?"

"It might be done," but Hartzmann looked doubtful. "The Harbor Police of
New York are vigilant. I fear the warping of a great steamer from her
berth would attract instant attention."

"Not if properly engineered, Hartzmann." A soft tap at the door
interrupted von Fincke. "Come in," he called.

"Captain von Mueller," announced the valet, and von Fincke advanced
eagerly to meet the newcomer.

"Welcome, Herr Captain. I hoped that you would get my note in time."

"I found it on my return to the hotel. Hartzmann, well met." Von Mueller
returned the older man's firm clasp. "It is some years...."

"Years? What are they when old friends foregather," exclaimed Hartzmann.
"Let us sit and talk."

"Wait, wait," remonstrated von Fincke. "Heinrich," turning to the
chauffeur, who stood respectfully waiting, "did you learn the strength of
the fleet?"

"Of the thirty-five United States battleships, only twenty-one are in
commission and ready for emergency," he said. "Of these twenty-one three
have broken shafts, and the fourth is a turbine engine battleship, which
needs overhauling."

"Is this all the fighting strength of the United States navy?" questioned
Hartzmann, jotting down the figures in a notebook.

"No, Herr Captain; there are seventy fighting craft; but not in
commission and all require overhauling. Half of the submarines will
not--er--'sub,' so to speak." A ghost of a smile crossed Heinrich's lips.
"The complement of torpedo vessels has been reduced from fifteen to
twenty-five per cent, and the Atlantic Fleet needs five thousand men."

"Interesting data," said von Mueller. "I congratulate you, Heinrich. What
of the army?"

"Nothing definite to report today, Herr Captain. If rumor speaks truly,
discontent will shortly reduce the standing army to a man and a mule."

"A mule can fight on occasions," laughed von Mueller.

"But not against trained men, backed up by field guns firing in one hour
two hundred thousand shells carrying high explosives," boasted Hartzmann
triumphantly. "Weapons such as these, von Mueller, alter the face of
nature as well as the fate of nations."

"Any further news tonight, Heinrich?" asked von Fincke.

"No, Baron." The chauffeur saluted. "Any orders?"

"A moment," broke in von Mueller. "I will be at the Whitney residence
tonight, Heinrich; see that I am admitted," he added, observing the
slight change in the chauffeur's expression.

"It can be arranged, Herr Captain," hastily. "I was but thinking of
Julie--the French she-devil. Should she come ..."

"She will not return." Von Mueller spoke with confidence. "I have
convinced her that she will better protect Miss Whitney by remaining in
hiding, thus directing attention to herself as the criminal."

"But will she not read the papers?" touching the _Times_.

"No; the landlady will keep them from her."

"The police are ransacking the town for her," persisted Heinrich.

"They will not find Julie"--von Mueller lowered his voice. "They never
investigate Robinson's."

"So!" Von Fincke elevated his eyebrows, and his smile was not pleasant.



CHAPTER XXI

THE FINGER PRINT


Kathleen Whitney breathed inward thanks when dinner was over. It had been
a trying ordeal on top of an agonizing day. Cloistered in her room with
only her sad thoughts for company, she had been relieved to find that
Miss Kiametia Grey had been prevailed upon by Mrs. Whitney to prolong her
afternoon visit to include a family dinner. But the spinster's endeavor
to divert her by relating society gossip finally palled, and! she
permitted her thoughts to stray to other scenes.

"Did you receive your invitation to the Morton reception, Kathleen?"
asked Miss Kiametia, breaking off her conversation with Mrs. Whitney with
her customary abruptness, and startling Kathleen back to the present.

"Yes--no; I don't know," was her confused reply.

"It is here." Mrs. Whitney went into the library and returned with a
large envelope.

"What night?" Miss Kiametia took the card and examined its heavily
embossed surface with interest. "_Nouveau riche_ stamped all over it, as
well as R.S.V.P.--'Real Slick Vittles, People,'" and she laughed
disdainfully.

"A11 the trimmings." Mrs. Whitney replaced the card in its envelope. "I
have written our regrets. I understand the reception is given to announce
the engagement of Mona Morton to some South American Monte Cristo."

"Speaking of engagements," Whitney turned to the spinster, "what about
you and Randall Foster, Kiametia?"

"I shall never marry." Miss Kiametia's half bantering tone dropped, and
the eyes she turned to Kathleen were shadowed with a haunting regret.
"The habits of a life-time cannot be broken."

"Oh, Kiametia!" exclaimed Mrs. Whitney in open disappointment. "Senator
Foster is splendid--and I had hoped--_why_ do you discourage his
attentions?"

"Can't stand the way he wears his hair," announced Miss Kiametia with an
air of finality which warned against further discussion.

"Marry him and make him change his barber," advised Whitney rising. "I
have to go out, Minna; you and Kathleen must not wait up for me. Good
night, Kiametia; Henry is downstairs, he can take you home in the car,
if you wish. See you tomorrow," and he moved toward the door. After a
brief hesitation Kathleen followed him into the hall.

"Must you go out, Dad?" she asked helping him with his overcoat. "It is
still stormy tonight, and I feel lonely"--her voice broke, and turning
Whitney impulsively took her in his arms.

"My darling little girl." He stopped and steadied his voice as he kissed
her tenderly. "There, don't worry, trust old Dad to put things
straight--as he did your broken dollies. Go early to bed, dear, and get
some rest."

"Rest!" Kathleen strove to suppress all trace of bitterness. "Now, don't
have me on your mind; come home early," and she returned his kiss and
went slowly back into the drawing-room, as the front door closed after
her father.

"We are going up to my boudoir, Kathleen; won't you come, dear?" asked
Mrs. Whitney.

"Not just now, mother; I want to talk to Vincent when he gets the table
cleared away."

"I envy you, Vincent," chimed in Miss Kiametia. "Such an excellent
servant. Oh, Minna, don't go to the elevator; suppose we walk upstairs."

Left by herself Kathleen went in search of Vincent. He was not in the
pantry, but judging by the still unwashed dishes that he was probably
eating his supper in the kitchen, she refrained from calling him
upstairs, and walked listlessly back into the drawing-room.

Sick at heart, utterly discouraged, she threw herself down on the large
sofa and sank back among the pillows. Throughout the long day she had
tried to banish all thought of Charles Miller. It was hopeless; his image
was in her heart as well as before her mental vision. To some women it is
given to love lightly, tasting but the essence, while to others love is a
lifetime of steadfast devotion. And that winter had brought to Kathleen
her one great passion; for weal or for woe she had given her heart to
Charles Miller, and she must drain the cup to the bitter dregs.

With the gradual awakening to the belief that Charles Miller was really a
blackguard, a--she shuddered, and raised her hands as if to ward off an
overwhelming horror. And he had dared to approach her that morning with
loving words on his lips. His eyes had met hers frankly--there had been
no effort to avoid, no show of fear--no, he was only facing a loyal
woman. Kathleen choked back a moan. Truly, he understood the art of
dissimulation. If she had not known of his duplicity, of his guilt, his
expression as he addressed her that morning would have proclaimed him
innocent of all wrongdoing. His expression, ah, it had been that which
had sowed a little seed of hope in her heart. Perhaps she could sketch
his face as he appeared that morning, again catch the expression that
inspired confidence in spite of all.

She sat bolt upright and glanced eagerly about for a scrap of paper and a
pencil. The white back of a magazine on a lamp table caught her eye and
she went toward it. By the lamp lay Miss Kiametia's gold mesh purse,
vanity box, and pencil. Kathleen snatched up the dangling baubles and the
magazine and returned to the sofa. If only she could get her impression
down on paper before remembrance faded! She could copy it at her leisure.
She jerked feverishly at the gold pencil, and as she pulled it out laid
its point on the white paper--and then sat petrified. It was a hypodermic
needle. Some seconds passed before she moved; then she raised the gold
cylinder--outwardly it resembled a pencil, inside were concealed the
syringe and needle. With anxious haste she manipulated its delicate
mechanism, and slipped back the needle to its hiding place.

Forgotten for the moment was her own problem. Brilliant, gifted Kiametia
Grey a drug fiend--Oh, the pity of it! In the light of her discovery
Kathleen remembered many idiosyncrasies which the drug habit would
explain; often that winter she had found Miss Kiametia dozing in her
chair at the theater, at dinners, in motors, but had put it down to
over-fatigue from too much social gayety. Miss Kiametia's variable likes
and dislikes, her sudden whims and fancies, her irritability--all were
traceable to the same cause.

The sound of her name caused Kathleen to raise her head with a start.
Henry, the chauffeur, was standing just inside the hall door.

"Beg pardon, Miss Kathleen," he said. "Mrs. Whitney wished me to tell you
that Miss Grey will spend the night here and has retired to her bedroom.
And I was to ask you if you had any orders for the motor tomorrow."

"No, none, thanks. As you go downstairs, tell Vincent that I wish
to see him."

"Vincent has gone, Miss Kathleen." Meeting her quick glance, he added,
"It is his evening out."

"Oh! Please ask Rosa to stop in my room before she goes to bed."

"Very good, Miss Kathleen." As he turned to leave, the loud buzz of the
front doorbell sounded. Not waiting to hear the directions Kathleen
called after him, Henry darted into the hall.

Picking up Miss Kiametia's gold purse and the hypodermic needle, Kathleen
replaced them on the table, but halfway to the hall door she hesitated.
Should she not take them to Miss Kiametia? Suppose Henry, for instance,
should take it into his head to examine them? At the thought Kathleen's
face hardened, and she returned to pick up Miss Kiametia's property.
Henry's voice from the doorway arrested her.

"Captain Miller," he announced, and retired.

Kathleen stood as if carved from stone, every vestige of color
stricken from her. If her life had depended upon it, she could not
have turned around.

"Have you no word for me?" asked the familiar voice, and Miller stepped
in front of her, his wistful eyes pleading for him. But Kathleen was
mute. Slowly, unwillingly his eyes dropped before her level gaze and
rested finally on the gold baubles in her hand. "Why do you not wear my
ring, Kathleen?"

The question stung her out of the bewildered trance into which his
unexpected appearance had thrown her.

"The ring was returned to you for good and sufficient reasons," she said
icily. "That you choose to ignore these reasons does not affect the
issue. Will you leave this house, or shall I ring for the servant?"

"Kathleen, are you mad?" He whitened to the lips. "Think what you are to
me, dearly beloved; your words cut me like a knife."

"Your similes are unfortunate," she stammered, with dry lips. "I do not
use knives. I leave that for others, the coroner's jury to the contrary."

"Do you think the coroner's jury influenced my judgment, sweetheart?
Shame--I have more faith than you. I know that you are innocent of
Spencer's death."

"You have every reason to know that I am innocent." Kathleen was
thoroughly roused. "It is not a question of faith on your part,"
significantly. "I see no use in these discussions. It is better that we
do not meet. Again I ask you to go--forever."

Without replying he turned and paced the room rapidly, hands in pocket,
head bent forward. Kathleen watched him with burning eyes and aching
heart. To outward seeming he had the attributes which make for success.
What mad blood-lust had made him throw the world away?

"Suppose I accede to your unreasonable request, Kathleen," he said,
stopping before her. "Will you do something for me?"

"Yes," huskily.

"Then get from your father the specifications and drawings of his latest
invention for me."

As if she had not heard aright, Kathleen stared at him.

"Wh-what is it you ask?" she stammered.

"The plans of your father's _latest_ invention," patiently. "I do not
mean the camera."

"Either you or I are mad," she looked at him dazedly. "Do you realize
that my father would not give me those plans--that I should have to
steal them."

"Expediency knows no law," he muttered, not meeting her eyes. "Call it
borrowing." Kathleen shrank back appalled.

"Good God! That you should be so base!" she cried. "For more than
forty-eight hours I have closed my eyes to reason; deluded myself that
you acted from temporary mental aberration--that Sinclair Spencer's death
was unpremeditated. My impulse was to help--to save. Ah, you wooed me
well this winter." Her voice broke and she drew a long quivering breath.
"It is a pitiful thing to kill a woman's love. Some day, perhaps, I shall
be grateful to you. Go!"

He flinched at the scorn in her voice, but stood his ground
doggedly. "Not until I get the drawings and specifications of the
invention," he answered.

The slamming of the front door caused Kathleen to look in that
direction, and Henry's entrance the next instant stayed the words on her
parted lips.

"A special delivery for you, Miss Kathleen," he said, "from the State
Department."

Kathleen took the proffered envelope mechanically.

"Wait, Henry," steadying her voice. "When Captain Miller calls again, he
is not to be admitted, under any pretense."

"Very good, Miss Kathleen," and concealing his curiosity, the chauffeur
moved swiftly away.

There was a pause which Miller broke. "Read your letter," he said
composedly. "I can wait."

Kathleen was on the point of collapse; desperately she clung to her
remnant of composure. Hardly conscious of her action, she tore open the
outer envelope, and read the brief statement that the letter inclosed had
been sent to her, care of the Department of State. With some stirring of
curiosity not unmixed with dread, she examined the contents of the second
envelope. It read:

"United Service Club,

"London, England.

"MY DEAR MISS WHITNEY:

"I send the inclosed, forwarded to me by Major Seymour, who was until
recently a prisoner in Germany. My nephew, John Hargraves, was killed in
action.

"Very truly yours,

"Percival Hargraves."

John dead! Her loyal friend dead--and killed in action! Through a blur of
tears Kathleen read the stained scrap of paper inclosed in the
Englishman's note:

"DEAR KATHLEEN:

"I saw Karl in London at Victoria Station. I swear it was he--warn
Uncle--Kathleen ... Kathleen...."

Shaken with grief Kathleen raised her head and looked at her companion
sitting immovable in his chair. If he felt any interest in the letter
and her emotion, he did not evince it. Three years before, he, she, and
John Hargraves had been friends in Germany. John, the soul of honor,
loyal and unselfish in his friendship, had laid down his young life for
his country. His last dying word had been of her--to warn her....
Kathleen stood erect, wrath drying the tears which affection had
brought. John had seen Karl in London in war times; there was but one
answer to the puzzle.

"Captain Karl von Mueller," she said cuttingly, "to use the name by which
I knew you abroad, do you wish my father's invention for Germany?"

"I do." Rising quietly, he faced her, stern and unyielding. "Why
dissemble any longer? Your father promised to sell it to us; then went
back on his given word. In handing me the invention you will but redeem
his pledge."

"You have a strange conception of honor." Her eyes were blazing with
fury. "Your statement about my father is open to doubt. Captain von
Mueller, I give you forty-eight hours to leave this country before I
denounce you as a German spy."

"Really?" His slow smile of unbelief caused her to writhe inwardly. "Do
you think the unsupported statement of a woman suspected of murder will
find credence?" Kathleen clenched John Hargraves' letter until her
knuckles shone white under the taut skin. "Secondly," he continued in the
same quiet tone, "you speak tonight only of this winter. Have you
forgotten our relationship in Germany?"

"That is hardly the term for it," she said proudly. "I met you at the
house of a German schoolmate ..."

"And our friendship rapidly ripened into love," he said softly, never
removing his gaze from her bloodless face. "Our walks in the meadows
about Berlin, our elopement ..."

"But not our marriage," she burst in. "John Hargraves can testify that I
left you."

"John Hargraves is dead."

"True," she could hardly articulate. "But we were not married."

"Quite so; that is my point--_I_ did not _marry_ you."

Kathleen swayed upon her feet and threw out her hand blindly for support.
"You cur! you despicable cur!" she gasped. "Don't touch me." But though
she shrank from him, his strong hand steadied her toward the hall door.

"Washington society is surfeited with scandal," he said. "When more
composed think of your father's latest invention."

If she heard him she gave no sign. Mental torture had exhausted her
emotion. She never raised her head as he guided her to the staircase; her
eyes stared only at his open right hand.

The house was dark except for the hall light burning dimly, when Winslow
Whitney inserted his latchkey and entered the front door. Removing hat
and overcoat, he made his way noiselessly to his studio in the attic.
With cautious movement he fingered the locks on his door. Would Miller's
plan for catching Spencer's murderer work out? According to their
arrangement he had left the door insecurely fastened.

Just as he was about to creep into the room, he heard distinctly in the
stillness a whispered word in a voice his keen ear instantly recognized.
All idea of caution forgotten, he threw open the door and switched on the
electric light. To outward appearances the room was empty.

Darting over to where he kept his secret papers, he lifted a powerful
Mazda lamp, the better to scan the prepared paper left where an
incautious thief would be obliged to rest his hand with some degree of
force. Under the powerful light the finger prints stood out distinct and
clear. But with eyes starting from his head, Whitney paused to snatch up
a magnifying glass, and by its aid examined the finger prints minutely.

"It's--his--finger print--but the voice, my God! the voice.... Kathleen,
Kathleen!" A gurgle choked his utterance, and the magnifying glass
clattered beside him as he fell inertly on the floor.



CHAPTER XXII

"TRENTON HURRY"


Charles Miller, completing a hurried toilet, paused at the sound of a
sharp rap on his bedroom door.

"Come in," he called. "Ah, Henry, good morning," as the chauffeur stepped
briskly over the threshold. The latter's white face and agitated manner
indicated that he was the bearer of portentous news. Miller made a hasty
step in his direction.

"Kathleen--is she ill?" he asked.

The chauffeur looked to see that the bedroom door was securely fastened
before he answered.

"It isn't Miss Kathleen," he answered cautiously. "Mr. Whitney has had
a stroke."

"What?" Miller recoiled. "When?"

"Some time last night."

"Will he recover?"

"Dr. McLane says that he cannot tell yet, Herr Captain. He was alive but
still unconscious when I left the house to come here."

"What"--Miller looked anxiously at the chauffeur--"what brought on the
stroke? Mr. Whitney appeared to be in robust health when I saw him last."

"The Doctor seemed to think it was caused by sudden shock, Herr Captain."
Henry stepped closer. "Miss Kiametia Grey found Mr. Whitney in his studio
lying on the floor unconscious."

"Miss Grey found him!" Miller's eyes opened wide in astonishment.

"Yes, Herr Captain; at four o'clock in the morning," with significant
emphasis, and the two men looked at each other.

"And what was Miss Grey doing in the attic at that hour of the morning?"

"She said she had gone upstairs to see Rosa, the cook, who was suffering
from a bilious attack early in the evening."

"But," perplexedly, "if I remember correctly, Rosa testified at the
inquest that the servants' bedrooms are not in the attic but on the
floor beneath."

"They are, Herr Captain. On answering the bell from Mr. Whitney's studio
I found Miss Grey there trying to revive him."

"You answered the bell at four in the morning?" in surprise. "I
understood you did not sleep at the Whitneys'."

"Nor do I, Herr Captain; but last night I took Vincent's place and
occupied his bedroom. When I reached the studio, I at first thought Mr.
Whitney dead," continued the chauffeur, after a slight pause, "and rushed
to summon a physician. On his arrival I assisted him to carry Mr. Whitney
to his bedroom."

"Did you see Miss Kathleen?"

"Not after giving her the special delivery letter"--Henry's sidelong
glance escaped Miller's attention--"when you were with her in the
drawing-room; but I did hear her talking to Mrs. Whitney and the nurse in
her father's bedroom just before I left the house to come here."

"Keep me informed of what transpires at the Whitneys'," directed Miller,
picking up his coat.

"Very well, Herr Captain. Permit me to help you." The chauffeur stepped
closer to his side and while assisting him, whispered: "Did you get the
invention?"

Miller thrust his right arm into the coat sleeve with slow precision, and
his left arm into its sleeve with equal care before answering.

"Yes."

"God be praised!" Henry stepped back, his eyes snapping with delight.
"Ah, we will win it yet, that Cross!" he exulted; then cautiously took
from an inside pocket a folded sheet of letter paper and with care
removed from between the pages a piece of paper. "When Miss Grey was
occupied in her effort to revive Mr. Whitney I looked quickly about the
studio," he explained. "This paper caught my eye--and I bring it to you,
Herr Captain."

"Thanks," laconically, laying the paper down on the desk. "One moment
before you go," and from a well-filled wallet he extracted a treasury
bill whose denomination caused Henry's eyes to beam with pleasure.

"At service, Herr Captain," he said, saluting. "I will return and
report later."

"Very well, Henry," and the chauffeur bowed himself out, but on the other
side of the door he hesitated, fingering Miller's tip with satisfaction.

"He is liberal, that von Mueller," he muttered. "But it is just as well
not to tell him that there were two sheets of finger prints," and he went
whistling down the corridor.

Tiptoeing to his door, Miller listened for a second, then, convinced that
the chauffeur had moved away, he turned the key in the lock. Going to his
desk, he picked up the sheet of finger prints and studied them long and
attentively; then glanced down at his right hand. Horror lurked in the
depths of his frank eyes.

"The mark of Cain," he stammered, and opening the silver frame containing
Kathleen Whitney's photograph, he deftly slipped the paper between the
two pieces of cardboard.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was getting toward dusk when Mrs. Whitney stole softly into Kathleen's
bedroom and stood looking down at her as she lay, eyes closed, white face
pillowed on one shapely arm, her breath hardly stirring the laces on her
gown. Convinced that she was asleep, she moved cautiously away, hoping
not to disturb her, but at that moment Kathleen opened her eyes and
raised herself on her elbow.

"Don't go, dear," she begged. "How is Dad?"

"Just about the same." Mrs. Whitney carried a chair to the bedside. "It
is too bad to have roused you."

"I wasn't asleep--only thinking"--drearily--"I am glad you came in. Does
Dr. McLane hold out any hope?"

"Yes," and Mrs. Whitney's care-worn face brightened. "Is it not
good news?"

"The very best," Kathleen smiled through her tears. "You must be worn
out," and she stroked the hand on the bed with loving fingers. "You
should take some rest."

"I am not tired," protested Mrs. Whitney. "The nurse has just come in
from her afternoon constitutional, and I felt that I could leave Winslow
for a little time. Tell me, dear," sinking her voice. "Can you let me
have a hundred dollars?"

"I would gladly, mother, but I don't believe I have half that amount
left. You are welcome to that, though; my purse is in my desk."

"Thank you, dear, I'll get it later," but the troubled shadow did not
lift from Mrs. Whitney's pretty face. "Both Vincent and Henry have asked
me for their wages; I have given Henry part ..."

"Give him the whole, only get rid of him," burst out Kathleen. "I cannot
bear the man."

"Why, Kathleen! Has he been disrespectful?"

"N-no, only--I don't trust him."

"Please, dear, don't excite yourself." Mrs. Whitney noticed with alarm
the hectic flush that dyed Kathleen's white cheeks. "I will fill his
place. Come to think of it, I did not like his manner this morning when
he asked for his wages, and he went out without leave ..."

"He selected a curious time to make his request, with Dad so ill."

"Well, you see, my dear," coloring faintly. "I gathered your father has
not paid him recently."

"Don't believe that story until you have asked Dad." Kathleen choked back
a sob, remembering that her father, her dear father, might never answer
another question, no matter how trivial. "Don't look so worried, mother;
Dad will get better shortly."

"I pray so." Mrs. Whitney's eyelashes were wet with tears. "Kathleen, did
your father ever speak to you of a note for twenty thousand dollars?"

"No, never."

"It comes due next week." Mrs. Whitney looked hopelessly about the room.

"Surely the bank will hold over the matter until Dad is in a condition to
attend to his affairs?"

"I sent word to that effect when answering the note teller's letter."

"Who is the holder of the note?"

"Sinclair Spencer." With ashy face Kathleen dropped back on her pillow as
if shot. Failing to observe her expression in the semi-dark room, Mrs.
Whitney continued wearily: "In your father's mail today I found a notice
from his bank stating that he had overdrawn his account heavily. It just
happens that my housekeeping allowance is almost exhausted, or I would
never have mentioned the matter to you, Kathleen."

"I am glad you did, mother; you must not have this responsibility on your
shoulders, in addition to your anxiety for Dad. I have a little money in
the bank, and will turn it over to you tomorrow."

"Thank you, dear," stooping and kissing her. "My heart is wrung for you,
Kathleen. It is shameful what you have had to go through!" and her eyes
flashed with indignation.

"Hush!" placing her hand over Mrs. Whitney's mouth. "My affairs sink into
insignificance alongside of Dad's illness."

"You are such a blessing, Kathleen," squeezing her hand fondly.

"Then let us forget there is such a thing as money difficulties, and
turn to...."

"Me!" exclaimed a voice by the door, and Miss Kiametia Grey advanced
further into the room. "I rapped several times but you did not hear...."

"Do come and sit with us," suggested Kathleen.

"I will, if you will turn on the light; I can't bear to talk in the dark.
There, that's better," as Kathleen switched on the reading lamp by her
bed. "Before anything further is said," began the spinster, reddening, "I
must confess that I overheard Kathleen mention money difficulties--I
didn't mean to hear it"--hastily--"but I just want to say that I'll be
your banker until Winslow gets better."

"You dear!" Kathleen sat up and kissed her warmly and Mrs. Whitney, quite
overcome, embraced her with tears in her eyes.

"What's a friend for if she can't be of use!" Miss Kiametia's manner was
always most brusque when seeking to cover emotion. "Land sakes! I forgot
to tell you that Randall Foster wishes to see you both."

"Now!" Kathleen looked down at her negligée attire. "Can't he wait until
tomorrow? Dr. McLane said I could get up then."

"He is very anxious to interview you this evening, Kathleen. Put on this
pretty dressing-gown," and Miss Kiametia picked it up from the couch.
"You help her into it, Minna, while I go and get Randall," and not
waiting for a reply she whisked out of the room, returning a few minutes
later with Senator Foster.

"I am here under the doctor's order," explained Kathleen, taking his
proffered hand, after he had greeted Mrs. Whitney. "Won't you sit down?"

"Thank you," muttered Foster, recovering with an effort from the shock
her appearance occasioned him. She looked wretchedly ill, and the hand he
held for a second in his was hot with fever. "I can stay but a minute,
Miss Kathleen. Do you think that tomorrow you can sign some papers in
reference to Sinclair Spencer's will?"

"Why should I sign any such papers?" in quick surprise. "What have I to
do with his will?"

"Hasn't your mother told you?" Mrs. Whitney shook her head, and answered
for Kathleen.

"Winslow said not to mention the matter to Kathleen yesterday, and today
his illness put everything out of my mind," she explained.

Kathleen looked from one to the other. "What have I to do with his will?"
she repeated.

"Sinclair Spencer made you residuary legatee."

"What!" Kathleen sat up, for the moment bereft of further speech. "I
shan't take any legacy left me by him," she announced, passionately.
"Mother, you hear me, _I won't_."

"Yes, yes, dear," soothingly, and Senator Foster broke in hastily:

"We understand how you must feel."

"Feel!" echoed Kathleen. "Did you for one moment suppose I would accept a
penny from Sinclair Spencer or his estate?" and the scorn in her eyes
hurt Foster as she looked at him.

"The law requires certain formalities," he said hurriedly. "As executor,
I shall have to talk over his will with you, but later will do."

"Both now and later, I flatly refuse to consider any such bequest he may
have made me," went on Kathleen, unheeding his words as her excitement
increased, and Miss Kiametia hastened to avert the threatened scene.

"Where were you yesterday afternoon, Randall?" she asked.

"In Baltimore." Foster flashed her a grateful glance. "I hope you made
use of my car yesterday, Mrs. Whitney; I told Henry to take it out until
yours was repaired."

"You were very kind; Winslow went out in it." Mrs. Whitney's glance
strayed to the door; she was anxious to return to her husband's bedside.

"And with your permission, Randall, I'm going to use your car now to take
me home," chipped in Miss Kiametia.

"Oh, Kiametia, you must not go," protested Mrs. Whitney. "You are such a
comfort--such a help...."

"Don't go," added Kathleen. "Your presence makes my enforced idleness
here easier to bear."

"Thank you, my dears." The spinster looked immensely pleased. "Of course
I'll stay, if you really feel you want me."

"I am the only one bereft," said Foster wistfully. "I cannot call upon
you tonight, Kiametia."

"Of course you can," exclaimed Mrs. Whitney, smiling faintly. "We are not
so selfish as to keep Kiametia to ourselves all the time. If you will
excuse me, I must go back to Winslow."

"Certainly." Foster rose and opened the door for her. "I must not stop
longer. Good night, Miss Kathleen, I hope that you will feel better in
the morning."

"Thanks; please come here just a moment," and reluctantly Foster
approached the bed. He did not wish to resume discussion about
Spencer's will. "Tell me," Kathleen lowered her voice, "when will the
Grand Jury meet?"

"Not for ten days or more."

"That is all, thanks," and Foster moved away. At the door he signaled to
Miss Kiametia to step into the hall with him, and after a quick glance at
Kathleen's averted face, the spinster followed him, softly closing the
door behind her.

As the click of the latch reached her, Kathleen, seeing that she was
alone, leaned over and put out the light. The darkness was pleasant to
her, and she buried her hot hands under her pillows, the better to feel
the cool linen. Soothed by its contact she struggled to reduce her
chaotic thoughts to order. Sinclair Spencer had left her money--Sinclair
Spencer had left her money--the sentence beat in her brain tirelessly.
The idea was as repugnant to her as his personality had been. In life he
had plagued her, and in death he had involved her in conspiracy and
subjected her to cruel suspicion.

Her father's illness has aroused her from the torpor following Charles
Miller's departure the night before. She writhed even at the recollection
of her scene with him. Again and again she had been on the point of
sending for the police and denouncing him, but remembrance of the
forty-eight hours of grace which she had granted him stayed her impulse.

He had killed every spark of affection, she assured herself repeatedly;
and then turned and tossed upon her pillows as vivid recollection painted
each happy hour with him that winter.

A moan broke from her, and at the sound a stealthy figure advancing from
the sitting-room adjoining, stopped dead. Hearing no further sound, the
intruder moved cautiously forward and bent over Kathleen.

"Mademoiselle!"

Kathleen's eyes flew open. "Julie! You have come back!"

"Hush, mademoiselle! Not so loud," and Julie, dropping on her knees by
the bed, laid a warning finger on Kathleen's lips. Reaching out her
hands, the latter clasped the Frenchwoman in a warm embrance, which was
as warmly returned.

"You have come back," she repeated in a whisper. "Julie, you met
with no harm?"

"No, mademoiselle."

"Where have you been?"

"No matter now, mademoiselle. I spent last night with Vincent's sister,
Marie Tregot. He smuggled me into the house a little while ago. He told
me of all that you have been through. Oh, that I had stayed; but I acted
for the best, mademoiselle."

"I am sure of that, Julie"--touched by the feeling in the maid's voice.

"I was misled"--bitterly--"and by one I thought to be
trusted--Captain Miller."

"Julie! He did not offer...."

"No, no, mademoiselle"--Kathleen's taut muscles relaxed and she sank
weakly back in bed. "But I have reason to believe that Captain Miller is
not what he seems. Listen, mademoiselle: I was in M. Foster's touring
car--no matter how I came there now--last night. Henry was driving it. He
knew not that I was in the tonneau. When he stopped the car and got out I
watched him enter a residence in Nineteenth Street. I dared not stay
longer in the car, and hid in the vestibule of the house adjoining the
one he had entered. They are what you call semi-detached, and concealed I
was very close at hand. I had been there but a short time when a man ran
up the steps of the next house and I recognized Captain Miller. He
entered and I waited long, oh, so long, when out came Henry and Captain
Miller ..."

"Well?" prompted Kathleen, as Julie came to a breathless pause.

"The Captain entered the car with Henry and drove off. After their
departure I rang the bell of the house where I was hiding and asked
the butler who were their next-door neighbors. He said Baron Frederic
von Fincke."

"Oh, more evidence against him!" Kathleen drew in her breath sharply.

"Mademoiselle?" But Kathleen did not explain her remark, and Julie
continued hurriedly; "I at first thought to return here at once, but
remembered Marie Tregot. She gave me house room, and I arranged with
Vincent last night to admit me after dark today."

"But why not come openly, Julie? No one will harm you."

"Henry is a spy--a traitor--it did not suit my plans to have him know my
whereabouts."

"But Julie...."

"Mademoiselle, have patience--bear with me but a little longer--" The
excited Frenchwoman rose and going to both doors locked them. She
returned and switched on the reading lamp. "Quelle horreur! Mademoiselle,
what have these beasts done to you?" she exclaimed, aghast, inspecting
Kathleen in consternation. "They shall pay for every sign of suffering in
your face."

"Do not let us discuss me," Kathleen sighed wearily. "Will you tell the
police of your suspicions concerning Henry?"

"No, mademoiselle." Julie's expression changed. "I like not the police
just now. I have a plan of my own." She checked herself abruptly. "Have
you seen the _Star_?"

"No, Julie."

"See, it says here"--pointing to a paragraph in a folded sheet torn from
a newspaper which she drew from under her apron--"'Fire at Roebling's
Plant of Incendiary Origin.' Tell me, mademoiselle, what is Roebling's?"

"A factory near Trenton, New Jersey, which I believe"--Kathleen spoke
somewhat uncertainly--"manufactures insulated as well as barbed wire."

"Ah, that is used in trench fighting!" The Frenchwoman took from the
bodice of her black gown a crumpled telegram singed at the edges. "Henry
received this but an hour ago. I watched, oh, so carefully. I saw him
turn pale, and such was his haste to leave the house that he did not wait
to see that the paper burned when he threw it in the grate. Can you
translate it for me, mademoiselle?"

Smoothing out the telegram, Kathleen, with the maid intently peering
over her shoulder, read the words it contained besides the address, in
puzzled silence:

Trenton, hurry.

Hartzmann.



CHAPTER XXIII

IN FULL CRY


Senator Foster, buttoning his overcoat against the March wind, left
Calumet Place and sought his yellow touring car standing at the curb of
an intersecting street near by. He had dispensed with the services of
his chauffeur for that night. Seating himself behind the steering wheel,
he started the machine down Fourteenth Street, so deep in thought that
he barely missed running over two belated pedestrians scurrying to the
sidewalk, and entirely missed the signals of a street-crossing
policeman, who contented himself with a string of curses as he
recognized the yellow car and bullied the next automobile chauffeur as a
slight vent to his feelings.

As Foster sped by the War, State, and Navy Building he noted the lights
burning in widely separated office rooms and smiled grimly to himself.
Parking the car near the Whitney residence, he made his way to the front
door. Miss Kiametia Grey answered his impatient ring at the bell.

"A nice hour for you to keep your appointment, and for me to see
attractive men," she grumbled, leading the way to the library.
"Fortunately, I have a reputation for eccentricity--it saves me a great
deal of annoyance, and covers--er--indiscretions."

"You--the most discreet of women," protested Foster, seating himself on
the sofa by her. "And I have come tonight to confide in you...."

"Have you?" dryly. "I doubt it; but go ahead"--generous encouragement
in her tone.

"How is Whitney?"

"Pulse stronger, but still unconscious. Minna, poor child, insists that
he knows her, and will not permit herself to believe in what I fear is
the inevitable."

"Perhaps it is better so," compassionately. "What should we do without
hope in this world? I should not be surprised if Kathleen's condition is
graver than her father's." Meeting her surprised look, he tapped his
forehead significantly. "Brain fever."

"She is acting queerly," admitted the spinster. "Tonight she locked
herself in her room, won't see even the nurse, and refuses food."

"I fear the breaking point is near," conceded Foster. "I did not like Dr.
McLane's manner when we met him on leaving Kathleen; he also is worried."

He paused and asked abruptly, "Has Kathleen seen Charles Miller?"

"Not today."

"When was he last here?"

"Let me see," calculating on her fingers. "He came with you on Wednesday
when I was here--today is Saturday."

"Did Kathleen see him on Wednesday?"

"I don't think so."

"Has he been here since?"

"I can't say; possibly the servants can tell you."

"Will you find out from them before I go?" Miss Kiametia nodded
affirmatively, and he asked; "Has Kathleen spoken to you of seeing him
since Spencer's death?"

"No."

"Has she ever confided to you whether she cares for him or not?"

"Not in words," dryly. "But my woman's intuition tells me ..."

"Yes?" as she paused.

"That Kathleen worships the ground he walks on."

"Too bad." Foster sat back, looking troubled. "Too, too bad."

"What's this? A deathbed repentance? _You_ introduced Miller in
Washington," and the spinster's sharp eyes bored into him.

Foster moved uncomfortably. "I am sincerely sorry," he mumbled. "I have
been grossly deceived."

"Humph!" Miss Kiametia moved closer to his side. "Go on--confession is
good for the soul."

"I can't tell you just now," was the disappointing rejoinder. "Who found
Whitney in his studio this morning?"

"I did; and a nice shock I had," with a shudder. "The antics in this
house are deranging my nervous system. I can't even sleep."

"How did you happen to be around at that hour?"

"Rosa had a bad attack of indigestion after serving dinner, and I
promised to look in and see how she was during the night. Just as I came
out of her room I thought I heard groans and rushed upstairs; found the
studio door open, and by aid of my electric torch, found Winslow lying on
the floor."

"Did you see anyone else in the room?"

"No, I only had the light from the torch to guide me, and that is a very
big room, with models and furniture standing around in odd spots."

"Why didn't you turn on the electric lights?" impatiently.

"Couldn't find the switch. I did press a button, the only one I
could locate in my haste, and it brought Henry, who switched on the
lights for me."

"And afterward did you find any trace of papers' having been stolen?
Drawers opened, or anything?"

"I never looked to see." Foster sat back in bitter disappointment. "All I
thought about was breaking the news of Winslow's condition to Minna and
Kathleen, and getting a doctor. Henry attended to _that_; and I went
downstairs, awoke Minna," she hesitated perceptibly, "Kathleen I found
sitting in her bedroom--dressed."

"What!" Foster shot her a swift glance. "Asleep?"

"No. Just sitting there, apparently too dazed to realize my presence, let
alone what I told her. Finally she grasped the news of her father's
illness, and her grief was bitter."

"Poor girl!"

Miss Kiametia fingered her gown nervously. "You were in Baltimore when
the newspapers published Spencer's will, and this afternoon Dr. McLane
interrupted us," she began. "Is it really true that Sinclair Spencer left
Kathleen a small fortune?"

"Yes. On investigation, I find he held valuable stock, as well as
improved real estate of known value."

"Sinclair Spencer was a bad egg," said Miss Kiametia slowly. "It would
have been like him to boast of his wealth to Kathleen, and by its power
seek to influence her to accept him."

"A man will do anything to win the woman he loves," said Foster, with a
sidelong look of affection utterly lost on the spinster, who sat deep
in thought.

"A large legacy," she commented aloud. "It establishes a motive which I
thought lacking before."

"Kiametia!" Foster shook her elbow roughly. "What are you hinting at?"

"Hush!" The spinster pointed to the portières in the doorway leading to
the drawing-room. "Who is lurking there?"

She spoke in a subdued whisper which reached Foster's ears alone, but as
he rose, startled, the portières parted and Detective Mitchell walked
over to them.

"Have you seen Captain Charles Miller?" he asked eagerly, omitting
other greeting.

"No," they replied in concert.

"Strange! I saw him enter the front door half an hour ago, using a
latchkey."

"Charles Miller with a latchkey of this house!" gasped Miss Kiametia.

"Yes," declared Mitchell, "and I have searched the house and cannot
find him."

"Perhaps he came to see Kathleen," suggested Foster.

"Could you go and see if he is with her, Miss Grey?" urged Mitchell. "Her
suite of rooms is the one place where I have not looked."

"Yes, I--I suppose so," but the spinster held back.

"Do go," put in Foster gently. "A clandestine meeting is not wise
for either Kathleen or Miller. Think of the construction which may
be put upon it."

"True." But Miss Kiametia rose reluctantly, and to gain time to collect
her ideas, walked over to the table to gather up her scarf and gold mesh
purse. As she picked up the latter a slight scream escaped her. Instantly
the two men were by her side.

"See, it's missing!" she cried, raising the gold mesh purse with its
dangling vanity box.

"What is missing?" demanded Foster. "Don't look so distracted, my
darling."

"M-m-my g-gold p-p-pencil," she stuttered.

"Is that all?" and Foster smiled in relief. "I'll buy you another
tomorrow."

"Indeed you won't," recovering some degree of composure. "I'll find
mine, if I have to search this house from the top to the bottom."

"But please see Miss Whitney first," broke in Mitchell.

Miss Kiametia cast him a strange look. "That is the first place I shall
go," she announced, and the two men watched her depart in silence. Foster
was about to speak when the electric lights flickered, grew dim, and then
went slowly out.

"Trouble in the power house," grumbled Mitchell, searching his pocket for
his electric torch. "I noticed a tie-up in the street cars just before I
came in. Can you find any candles on the mantel, sir?" flashing his torch
in that direction. "Every light in the house must be out."

       *       *       *       *       *

Henry, the chauffeur, paused in indecision on Baron Frederic von Fincke's
doorstep. "You are quite certain the Baron said he would return on the
night train?"

"Quite," answered the valet. "He is due here at seven o'clock in the
morning. Good night."

"Good night," echoed Henry, and turning went swiftly down the street. He
stopped for a moment at a news stand, talked with the proprietor, and
then turned his footsteps toward the Whitneys'. As he passed the War,
State, and Navy Building the lighted windows attracted his attention.
With deepening interest he noted the location of the rooms from which the
light shone. Officials of the government were working late.

Turning, Henry sped down a side street and slipping up an alley, entered
the Whitney house by the rear entrance. He stood in deep thought outside
the kitchen door for a moment before opening it; a flash from his
electric torch showed the dark room was totally empty. Satisfied that
Rosa had gone to her bedroom, he crept softly up the back stairs and
along the front hall of the first bedroom floor. He had almost reached
Miss Kiametia Grey's bedroom door when a slight noise made him pause and
glance up the winding front stairs. He shrank farther back in the shadows
of the dark hall as a faint light appeared, outlining a white face
peering down the staircase.

Henry caught his breath sharply. How came Julie to be back in the house?
The she-devil! Spying upon him. By God! The reckoning was close at hand,
and he crawled forward a pace, then stopped. Julie had vanished, and with
her the light. Henry debated for a moment. With Julie in the house, his
plans were changed.

Losing no time, and as noiseless as the shadows about him, Henry made
his way down the back stairs, into the kitchen, down another flight of
steps into the sub-cellar, past the bottom of the elevator shaft, the
motor room, and to the front of the house. With swift, deft fingers he
swung aside a panel of shelves containing rows of preserve jars and
pickles, and stepped inside a small chamber. Carefully he drew to the
panel which, with its strong, well-oiled hinges, made no sound as it
slipped into place. A second more and the small chamber was flooded with
light as Henry found the switch. Never glancing at the batteries lining
the wall, he went direct to the small pine table, and his fingers sought
the telegraph instruments and set them in motion.

Upstairs in the library the two candles which Foster had been able to
find in the desk drawer burned brightly in their improvised candlesticks.
The flame, however, served but to intensify the darkness of the large
room. The minutes had ticked themselves away in swift succession, but
still Miss Kiametia Grey did not return. Mitchell shut his watch with an
impatient snap, and Foster, his nerves not fully under control, looked up
at the sound.

"What can be keeping Miss Grey?" he asked.

"Can't imagine, unless--" The detective never completed the sentence.

"Come quickly," whispered a voice over his shoulder, and swinging about
with a convulsive start, Mitchell recognized Charles Miller. With common
impulse he and Foster sprang up, but he was the first to reach Miller's
side, and the candlelight shone on burnished steel. "Put up the
handcuffs, Mitchell," directed Miller contemptuously. "The time has not
yet come to use them."

"I am not so sure of that," retorted Mitchell. "You are ..."

"We can argue the point later." Miller made for the door. "Both of you
come with me; but for God's sake, make no noise." His manner impressed
them, and after one second's hesitation, the detective replaced the
handcuffs, and in their stead produced a revolver.

"Go ahead," he said. "But remember, Miller, if you attempt to escape you
will be arrested."

Without replying Miller led the way through the silent house, his torch
and occasional whispered direction guiding them to the sub-cellar.

Inside the chamber under the parking of the house, Henry worked with
tireless energy, taking down the coded messages as they flashed from the
skilled fingers of the Government operators in the great War, State, and
Navy Department but a stone's throw away. Suddenly, above the click of
the sounder his abnormal sense of hearing caught a faint noise on the
other side of the closed panel. One movement of his hand and the chamber
was in darkness and the telegraph instrument stilled. Backing into a
corner, Henry waited, his eyes still blinded by the change from light to
darkness; but he heard the opening of the panel, and the soft swish of a
woman's skirts.

"Julie!" His lips formed the word, but no sound issued from him as he
launched himself forward. For a few seconds he closed with his adversary.
Backward and forward they rocked; then a shot rang out and with a sob a
figure sank limply across the pine table.

"This way!" shouted Miller, and guided by his voice Mitchell and Foster
dashed after him. They stopped just inside the chamber. Miller's torch
cast its beams across the pine table and its silent burden. A gasping cry
broke from Foster:

"Mrs. Whitney!"



CHAPTER XXIV

RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE


"Dead!" The detective bent over Mrs. Whitney. "Shot through the heart."
He turned to his silent companions. "Who fired that revolver?" and his
own covered Miller menacingly.

Miller, spying the electric lamp, switched it on before answering. Still
silent, he pointed to the telegrapher's outfit which confronted them and
to the tell-tale wires leading to the outer world.

"The shot was fired," he said, "by the man who tunneled out to the
conduit in which are the cables running to the White House and War,
State, and Navy Building, and tapped them."

"Where is he?" Mitchell cast a bewildered look about the small chamber.

"I felt someone brush by me on the stairs in the darkness," volunteered
Foster, recovering somewhat from his stupefaction. "I fear he has got
safely away."

"No." Miller stepped back from Mrs. Whitney's side. "Chief Connor of
the Secret Service has a cordon of operatives about the house.
Heinrich Strauss, alias Henry Ross, chauffeur, cannot escape. Listen,
isn't that a shot?"

"I hope to God they've caught him alive!" exclaimed Mitchell, looking
sorrowfully at the dead woman. "He'll swing for this murder, if not for
the death of Sinclair Spencer."

"I doubt if he was guilty of that crime," said Miller quietly.

"What!" Mitchell stared incredulously at him. "What leads you to
think that?"

"Hush!" Miller held up a warning hand as the sound of hurrying footsteps
reached them. A second more and Julie appeared in the sub-cellar, guided
by their light. Her eyes were gleaming with a strange excitement.
Unnoticed by the others, Miller swiftly removed his coat and threw it
over Mrs. Whitney so that it covered her face.

"He is caught, that Henry!" called Julie, catching sight of Foster
standing in the opening of the secret chamber. "He was getting away, oh,
so softly in the dark, and I tripped him. But yes, and he
fired"--touching a red gash in her cheek. "But the others, they pounced
upon him. La--la! And they are bringing him here. But what--?" trying to
peer past Foster.

Miller stepped forward. "Crouch down behind those barrels, Julie," he
ordered, and the Frenchwoman, startled by his sudden appearance, obeyed
mechanically. By sheer force of personality Miller took command. "Go back
and wait in the telegraph room," he whispered hurriedly. "You do the
questioning, Mitchell; I'll keep out of sight here."

Before Mitchell could ask the question burning on his lips, a number of
men made their way down the staircase, Heinrich Strauss in their midst,
handcuffed to the tallest operative. Mitchell saluted as he recognized
the foremost man.

"This room will interest you, Chief," he said, making way for him, and
Connor took a comprehensive look over the chamber.

"We've found the leak," he acknowledged. "Clever work that," inspecting
the arrangement of the wires. He drew back at the sight of the covered
figure stretched across the table. "What's this--murder?"

"Yes," answered Mitchell. "Henry, here," jerking his thumb toward the
erstwhile chauffeur, "killed the woman before we could interfere."

"Did I?" demanded Heinrich. "How are you going to prove it? I wasn't in
this room ..."

"You waste time," said a cool voice behind him, and Miller stepped into
the circle. "The game is up, Heinrich."

"You renegade!" Heinrich was livid with fury.

"This man is Heinrich Strauss," continued Miller quietly. "One of the
most expert electricians and telegraph operators in Germany. He could be
described as an electrical genius."

"His work shows that," acknowledged Chief Connor.

A slight stir in the doorway caused Heinrich to turn, and he smiled
evilly at sight of Kathleen and Miss Kiametia Grey.

"I'm glad you've come," he said, addressing Kathleen directly, as she
shrank back at sight of him. "That man there," pointing to Miller, "is
Karl von Mueller, captain in the Secret Service." A low moan broke from
Kathleen, and she looked anywhere but at Miller, who had stepped forward
to stand between her and the pine table with its pathetic burden. "Von
Mueller," continued Heinrich, "killed Sinclair Spencer."

"I deny it," exclaimed Miller.

"Lies won't help," retorted Heinrich. "Miss Whitney, did you not attempt
to rub off with your handkerchief from Spencer's blood-stained shirt,
Captain von Mueller's finger print?"

The question from that source was unexpected. Twice Kathleen strove to
answer. She cast an agonized look about the circle of men, but their set,
stern faces gave her no help.

"Yes," and the monosyllable was little more than a murmur.

"Ah, take that down, Detective Mitchell," exclaimed Heinrich,
triumphantly. "And von Mueller was in the house that night--do you deny
it?"

"No." Miller's clear voice did not falter nor did his gaze, and Mitchell,
handcuffs in evidence, looked perplexedly at Chief Connor. The latter was
watching Miller like a lynx, and the Secret Service operatives closed up
in the entranceway--there was no chance to escape, handcuffs seemed
unnecessary.

The smile that crossed Heinrich's lips was cruel. "We will swing
together, von Mueller," he said. "Turning state's evidence will not save
you, you traitor!" With an effort he controlled his rage, and spoke more
calmly, "Chief Connor, your informer last night stole Whitney's
invention; besides admitting to me that he had it, he left these
tell-tale finger prints"--his hand sought his pocket, but a quick jerk on
the handcuffs stopped him. "Take it out yourself," he snarled to the
operative next him, "inside pocket." His request was quickly complied
with. "There, that tells the story; open it."

Detective Mitchell bent eagerly forward and gazed at the sheet, then
turned to Miller.

"Let me see your hands," he directed. Obediently Miller held them palm
uppermost, and the detective and Chief Connor examined the half-moon scar
on the index finger of his right hand with minute care.

"It tallies," exclaimed Mitchell. A cry from Kathleen broke the silence.
Miller whitened as he heard it.

"The evidence is conclusive, is it not?" mocked Heinrich. "If that dead
woman could speak"--pointing to the table--"she would tell you how she
saw the crime committed."

"Suppose we take her mute testimony"--and with a swift movement Miller
removed his coat.

"Merciful God!" With eyes starting from his head Heinrich recoiled. "Mrs.
Whitney! Why didn't she let me know she was coming down here?"

"Ah, then she was in the habit of coming?"

Miller's remark remained unanswered. Heinrich stared and stared again at
Mrs. Whitney, great beads of sweat standing on his forehead. "I thought
it was Julie--that hell-cat!" he muttered. "Why, why didn't she speak,
and let me know who she was?" Then suddenly he collapsed on the one
chair in the chamber and bowed his head.

At sight of Mrs. Whitney a gasping cry escaped Kathleen. Involuntarily
her eyes strayed about the chamber, her dazed senses slowly grasping the
situation. In the appalling silence one idea became paramount--Henry, the
chauffeur, was a spy, and both his words and behavior implicated Mrs.
Whitney. She, his accomplice? Oh, impossible! She put the thought from
her, but memories, unconsidered trifles, rose to combat Kathleen's
loyalty. Had Mrs. Whitney's smilingly collected manner and dignified
reserve cloaked a cold, calculating, and treacherous nature?

Kathleen shuddered in horror, and reeled back into Miss Kiametia's arms.
The spinster, shaken out of her forced composure, was crying without
realizing it. She placed a protecting arm about Kathleen and held her in
close embrace. Over the shoulders of the men, Julie, who had crawled from
her hiding place behind the barrels, peered at them in mingled curiosity
and incredulity.

"Heinrich!" Miller's voice penetrated even the spy's benumbed brain. "Why
is Mrs. Whitney wearing these finger tips?" and he held up the limp right
hand. Each finger was fitted with a wax tip, and on the index finger,
distinct and plain, was the scar shaped like a half moon.

Stunned, the men and women present looked first at Mrs. Whitney's hand,
then at Miller, and last at Heinrich. No one spoke, and in the heavy
silence the spy's labored breathing was distinct.

"The game is up," he admitted slowly. "I wish I hadn't done that,"
nodding to the silent figure. "She didn't deserve to be shot by me. She
was faithful to Germany ..."

"Do you mean to insinuate that Minna Whitney was a German spy?" asked
Miss Kiametia, shocked into speech.

"Well, yes, you might call it that," taunted Heinrich. "I term it
loyalty to the Fatherland, where she was born and brought up. Her mother
was a German."

"She would never have aided you but for your devilish wiles," broke in
Miller hotly.

"The fact that she was deeply in debt did influence her," admitted
Heinrich insolently. "Money was her god. I had to pay handsomely before
she would engage my services as chauffeur, and let me make use of this
nice little box."

"Did you construct this tunnel under the pavement"--pointing to where the
telegraph wires entered the chamber--"and install this outfit by
yourself?" asked Chief Connor, breaking his long silence.

Heinrich smiled. "You will never learn that from me--and you should
remember that your conduits are laid only seven inches below the surface
of the street; it was hardly a man-sized job." He smiled again, and
continued. "Neither Mrs. Whitney nor I wished to take anyone wholly into
our confidence. She was a perfect assistant; she knew the antecedents of
nearly everyone in society here, and she invariably found out, or got
others to find out, the motives which inspired strangers to come to
Washington. Her husband never interfered with our plans, as he spent most
of his time, both day and night, in his studio. The servants never came
down in this sub-cellar, and with Mrs. Whitney's connivance, I frequently
managed to keep the limousine in the repair shop--and my time was my own.
My surroundings were ideal, even the location of this house favored my
plans ..."

"Until you grew too ambitious," added Connor softly.

"Perhaps." Heinrich gnawed at his underlip as he shot a glance full of
venom at Kathleen who stood with head averted, drinking in all that was
said. To hurt her, to lower her pride appealed to Heinrich; his silence
would not benefit the dead woman, while speech would cruelly hurt and
mortify both Kathleen and her father. "My government was anxious to
secure Mr. Whitney's inventions; he would not sell to them, although
Baron--" he stopped and scowled at Miller--"offered him a large sum.
Whitney stuck to it that none but his own country could have the
inventions. Then I suggested to Mrs. Whitney that she get the drawings
and specifications for me; and again I paid her a large sum of money. But
it was as difficult for Mrs. Whitney to get into the studio as for me,
and the danger to herself was not small. Her husband was very suspicious,
and he never permitted her to remain in the room alone.

"However, because she was not aware I had perfected, as I thought,
another plan to secure the invention, and tempted by the sum of money I
held before her to succeed, she made another attempt last night. She
cried out with disappointment when, after entering, she found only blank
paper, and Whitney heard her." He stared at the horrified faces about
him, and clearing his voice, added, "The shock finished Whitney."

"You are the devil incarnate!" exclaimed Miss Kiametia, wrathfully.

"I'm not, but he is." Heinrich raised his manacled hands menacingly
toward Miller. "I never fully trusted you, von Mueller; although I never
found any evidence of your double dealing in your room. But while
outwardly appearing to confide in you, I took the precaution to
incriminate you should my plans miscarry. I observed the peculiar scar on
your finger, and conceived the idea of copying your finger tips in wax.
With Mrs. Whitney's help, I secured an impression of your finger prints
and had it copied in wax. The workman, another German sympathizer,
achieved a wonderful copy of the original, and by my advice Mrs. Whitney
wore the wax finger tips whenever she had work to do."

"An ingenious plan, very," ejaculated Mitchell, "and one new to me."

"Mrs. Whitney was wearing them on the night that Sinclair Spencer took it
into his besotted brain to investigate this house," went on Heinrich.
"Mrs. Whitney told me afterwards that she was on the way here to see me,
when she spied Spencer crouching in the elevator, the door of which was
open. She was afraid of being discovered if she went upstairs again, and
to stay was equally dangerous.

"She had with her a hypodermic syringe which I had given her to use in an
emergency." Kathleen straightened up, and for the first time stared full
at the spy. "The syringe was filled with a solution of cyanide of
potassium," continued Henry. "Adjusting the needle, Mrs. Whitney entered
the elevator, and before Spencer could move, thrust it into his neck.
Spencer gave one convulsive start, attempted to get up, and his heavy
body lurched full against her. She held a knife in her left hand, and as
he half arose from his knees, the force of contact against the worn edges
of the knife gashed his throat. I had asked Mrs. Whitney to bring me one
of the knives which her daughter had for modeling, as I wanted to use
some putty down here.

"With great presence of mind," continued Heinrich, after a brief pause
which no one cared to break, "Mrs. Whitney ran the elevator to the
attic, and before leaving dipped her wax finger tip in the blood flowing
from Spencer's throat, and made a distinct impression of von Mueller's
finger print on Spencer's white shirt front. Mrs. Whitney left the
elevator at the attic, but Detective Mitchell arrived before she missed
the syringe. On discovering Miss Grey had it, she made various attempts
to get it back.

"I found the hypodermic syringe," confessed Miss Kiametia. "It was lying
inside the elevator, and I picked it up just after Kathleen was carried
from the elevator. The syringe was marked 'K.W.,' and some impulse made
me keep it, and after the inquest, when I learned cyanide of potassium
had killed Spencer, I hardly let it out of my sight"--Kathleen turned
bewildered, grateful eyes on the spinster--she was not a drug-fiend, but
the most loyal of friends. Her hand tightened on the spinster's, and her
pressure was returned twofold. "Did Kathleen's unnatural mother
deliberately have that syringe marked with her daughter's initials?"

"Put it down to coincidence," sneered Heinrich. "Or say I had it marked
'K.W.' for--Kaiser Wilhelm."

"I doubt it; malice alone governed your actions to all in my house."
Kathleen faced the spy proudly. "Miss Kiametia, you do Mrs. Whitney one
injustice. She was not an unnatural mother--as she was no blood kin of
mine, but my father's second wife. She never told anyone that I was not
her child. I don't know why she kept the matter a secret, but I only
learned it accidentally a year ago, and respecting her wishes, never said
anything about it."

"Mrs. Whitney was secretive by nature," said Heinrich. "And that instinct
made her a willing pawn."



CHAPTER XXV

LOVE PARAMOUNT


Pausing only long enough to say a parting word to Coroner Penfield and
Chief Connor, Miller hastened up the back stairs and entered the library.
Kathleen and Miss Kiametia Grey, utterly unmindful of the hour, sat on
the sofa, and near them stood Julie, a neat bandage wound about her cheek
and head, while Senator Foster paced agitatedly up and down the room. He
stopped on seeing Miller.

"Will you kindly inform us who you are?" he demanded peremptorily. "The
Secretary of State showed me a letter tonight from Vincent stating that
you were a German spy ..."

"Oh, that Vincent!" exclaimed Julie. "I talked too much to him."

"I came here at once," went on Foster, paying no attention to Julie,
"hoping to elicit some facts about you from Miss Grey and Miss Kathleen.
Tell us at once who you are."

"Charles Miller Trent," was the calm reply.

"Then why"--Kathleen sprang to her feet--"why were you masquerading as
Karl von Mueller when I knew you in Germany?"

"I beg your pardon, you did not know me in Germany." Kathleen
crimsoned at the direct contradiction. "But you did know my cousin,
Karl von Mueller."

Too dazed for utterance, Kathleen stared at him, studying his face as
never before, and gradually her incredulity gave place to belief. Feature
for feature, coloring matching coloring, the man before her resembled
Karl as she remembered him, but the honesty and steadfast purpose to be
read in Miller's square jaw and fine eyes had been lacking in his cousin.

"The likeness is extraordinary," she stammered.

"Yes," agreed Miller. "But I do not think you would have been so
thoroughly certain of my identity if I had not copied my cousin's
mannerisms as well as his handwriting."

"Then you were brought up together?" asked Foster.

"In a way, yes. I was never in Germany, but my aunt, Frau von Mueller,
spent many winters at my father's home in Rio Janeiro...."

"What, are you the son of the coffee importer, Charles M. Trent,"
demanded Foster, again interrupting him.

"Yes. As boys Karl and I were perpetually changing identities and
confusing our playmates, as well as our parents. To that end I was a
willing German scholar, and Karl also became proficient in his
English studies."

"Were you entirely educated in South America?" asked Miss Kiametia.

"Oh, no; I spent a great deal of time in Santa Barbara, my mother's home,
and later attended Stanford University. But I have seldom been in the
East, and have few friends here. Last fall I overcame my mother's
objection (she unfortunately sympathized with Germany), and went to
England to enlist in the British army," continued Miller, after a brief
pause. "The night of my arrival in London I was arrested, charged with
being a spy. I had great difficulty, even with my passport and letters to
my bankers, in proving I was not a spy. Finally, I was told that a man
resembling me had been arrested, tried at once, and executed that day."

"They keep such things quiet over there," commented Foster.

"To cut a long story short, I was taken to see the dead spy, and found
he was my cousin, Karl von Mueller"--He hesitated and glanced sorrowfully
at Kathleen who sat with head averted. How would she take the news he was
imparting--how deep was her affection for the dead spy? Sighing, he
continued his statement. "The indorsement of my father's influential
friends, whom I had called upon to establish my identity, evidently
carried weight, for on my release it was suggested to me by one high in
authority that, instead of enlisting in the army, I use my cousin's
identity and spy upon the Germans. There was a spice of deviltry in the
scheme and--I accepted.

"They gave me his papers, clothes, money, and I slipped straight into his
place. None of his companions had heard of his arrest and death. Those
whom I saw I told I had been out of London on a special mission, and they
believed the statement without question. By aid of such papers as my
cousin had kept concealed on his person, I learned something of his
methods, and contact with his companions in London taught me assurance.
No one doubted my identity. Karl had assumed the name of Charles Miller
and it was easy for me to drop my surname. Finally I was sent to a
certain town in the warring countries, and there I received instructions
to come to the United States."

"Did the Germans accept your identity without question?" asked Foster.

"Apparently so; but I was not in Germany twenty-four hours, and the Herr
Chief of the Secret Service was familiar with my cousin's appearance and
never doubted he was talking to Karl," answered Miller. "On my arrival
here I communicated at once with Chief Connor, giving him the credentials
I had brought from the London office. By his advice I followed out the
instructions given me by the Herr Chief of the German Secret Service, and
to all intents and purposes was a German spy. But as I grew to know Baron
von Fincke better, I became convinced that another and cleverer man was
responsible for the leak in the carefully guarded offices of this
government. I suspected everyone," Miller smiled suddenly, "even you,
Senator Foster--your peace propaganda fooled me...."

"Wait," broke in Miss Kiametia. "Randall shan't be blamed for that;
Minna Whitney insinuated that he would not make a peace speech even for
me, so I--I...."

"Proved her wrong," Foster laughed ruefully. "Mrs. Whitney was a keen
student of human nature; but continue, Miller--er--Trent--I won't
interrupt again."

"Chief Connor confided to me that messages were being wirelessed to
German cruisers, and that while the station at Sayville, Long Island, was
under surveillance, they were powerless to check the new use of the
wireless." Miller drew his chair closer. "I made a study of wireless
while at college, and the problem here fascinated me. I finally reached
the conclusion ..."

"Yes, go on," urged Foster.

"That messages to the German cruisers were being relayed from stations
close together; in other words, that the station in the heart of this
city had a wave length shorter than Arlington's minimum wave length, and
the Arlington Radio Station was unable to hear--you already know that a
transmitting and receiving station can only hear each other when in tune;
that is, the wave length of each must be equal. I therefore established a
receiving station in my room with a short wave length--and the result
justified my reasoning."

"Good!" ejaculated Foster heartily.

"But at that, while I had the messages to turn over to Chief Connor, I
was still in the dark as to the location of the sender. You know it is
impossible to determine the direction or distance of a transmitting
station by its waves--a ship at sea cannot be found by wireless unless
its bearings are given. I concluded that the transmitting station must be
in the vicinity of the government buildings, and the next relay within
five miles--a greater wave length could be picked up by Arlington.

"On Tuesday night I got on the roof of one of the tall government
buildings near here, and examining each roof as I crossed it looking for
wireless antennae, I finally reached this house. I suspected I was being
watched by Baron von Fincke, but managed to confuse him as to the
direction I was taking, and finally clambered down into this attic
through the scuttle. I was certain he was not aware of my identity, and
for the sake of my plans, could not risk discovery.

"I had never been in your attic before," went on Miller, addressing
Kathleen directly. "I was not even positive this was your house. When
trying to find my way about I chanced upon the elevator shaft; I thought
I was walking into a closet. At that moment I heard a footstep on the
stair." Julie started and bent eagerly forward. "Desiring to get away as
quickly as possible, I pressed the button for the elevator...."

"But the elevator must have been right there," interrupted Kathleen.
"You could not have opened the outer mahogany door otherwise."

"So I realized when I had collected my wits," responded Miller. "Opening
both doors, I bolted into the elevator a few minutes before the footsteps
reached the attic."

"Was Spencer in the elevator then?" questioned Foster.

"I don't know; the elevator was dark, and I only used my flashlight for a
second to show me the proper button to push for the first floor. It may
be that Spencer was in the elevator, but I did not see him."

"But I did," volunteered Julie, coming forward. "And I it was you heard
creeping upstairs. I believed that Henry was a spy and feared that he
would steal Mr. Whitney's invention. Oh, monsieur, I was so intent on
guarding the studio I never gave a thought to the sub-cellar. Frequently
I watched all night in a niche I had fashioned near the wine closet, but
on Tuesday, alas! I slept. The soft closing of the elevator door awoke
me, and a person whom, by her walk and height, I judged to be
mademoiselle, moved away from the elevator and went downstairs. Inspired
by curiosity I entered the elevator a moment later, and switched on the
light. I was almost overcome by the sight of M. Spencer, and turned out
the light to shut away the view. I rushed to my room; but I could not
rest. I was in agony for you, mademoiselle; that very afternoon I had
warned you against Monsieur Spencer, and I feared--Oh, forgive me! that
you had killed him because he had injured your father. After a long
interval I crept upstairs to the attic and there tried to puzzle out what
would be best to do for mademoiselle. Fearing the police would make me
tell what I had seen, I ran away."

"When did you discover Sinclair Spencer in the elevator, Kathleen?" asked
Miss Kiametia.

"When I went to find Julie on Wednesday morning," began Kathleen. "I was
very absent-minded that morning, and after pressing the button for the
elevator never noticed whether it was long arriving at my floor or
not--the length of time it takes to reach a floor is the only way we have
of judging from where it comes," she explained. "I entered the elevator
intent only on pushing the basement button, which I did with my right
hand, pulling the folding grille-work steel door to with my left hand. My
back was turned to where Sinclair Spencer lay." She shuddered at the
recollection. "Just before the elevator reached the basement I turned
around and saw him. At first I was too stunned to move; then impulsively
turned on the electric light so that I might see better, and discovered
the finger print on his shirt.

"I don't suppose I would have been so quick to recognize the finger mark
had not Miss Kiametia called my attention to it the day before when
reading Captain M--Trent's palm," she resumed, not looking at Miller.
"Horrified, I took my handkerchief and strove to make the stain
unrecognizable; then suddenly I lost control of myself, and gave vent to
scream after scream, and pressed my finger to the button nearest my hand.
I was taken to the third floor, but the stopping of the elevator did not
bring me self-control, and I think I should have lost my mind if the
elevator had not moved of itself; I realized someone had pushed a floor
button, but when the elevator stopped again and Miss Kiametia opened the
door, I had lost all reason ... I...." She stopped, overcome by the
recollection.

"My poor darling!" Miss Kiametia kissed her tenderly.

"How did you get that scar on your finger, Trent?" inquired Foster.

"While on a hunting trio with my father in the interior of South
America my cousin and I, then fifteen and sixteen respectively, played a
trick on one of our Indian guides. With the assistance of other Indians
he branded my finger, saying by the half-moon we would be identified one
from the other."

"That explains." Kathleen drew a long breath. "I racked my brain
to remember whether I had seen the scar on your finger in Germany,
and concluded you had perhaps received the injury since--since our
last meeting."

"Tell me, Kathleen," broke in Miss Kiametia, "how did it happen that
Sinclair Spencer had a flower from your bouquet in his hand?"

"I don't know, except that I wore the flowers the night before, and one
may have fallen on the floor of the elevator and he picked it up."

Julie, who had followed Kathleen's every word with the closest attention,
stepped to Miller Trent's side. "Monsieur, can you explain this
telegram?" handing it to him. "Heinrich dropped it here late this
afternoon."

Miller read the two words, then drew out a pencil. "Divide the word
'Trenton' to 'Trent on' and it reads: 'Trent on, hurry.' Yesterday
afternoon I met a man named Hartzmann; he had known Karl intimately, and
before I left him I realized something had aroused his suspicions. In
New York he communicated with Buenos Ayres, found my whereabouts was
unknown to my family, and jumped to the conclusion that I was
impersonating my cousin."

"How do you know that?" demanded Foster.

"The Secret Service operative shadowing Hartzmann notified me of it
today," answered Miller. "Obviously Hartzmann neglected to give any key
to his dispatch to Heinrich, and the latter must have been entirely in
the dark as to the real meaning of the warning. Von Fincke, whom
Hartzmann apparently relied on to enlighten Heinrich, is out of town."

"Was it the operative's message to you about Hartzman which brought you
here tonight?" asked Foster.

"No; I came hoping for an opportunity to examine Mr. Whitney's studio,
and used a key to the front door which I had had made without Heinrich's
knowledge. I thought by examining the studio I could find out who really
went there last night; Heinrich brought me a set of the finger prints,
and their startling resemblance to mine convinced me that a plot,
devilish in its ingenuity, was being concocted and an attempt made to
involve me in their machinations. On my way to the studio I saw Heinrich
creeping downstairs and followed him. I never for one moment suspected
Mrs. Whitney."

"Nor did anyone else," agreed Foster. "Except that Heinrich was shocked
into confession by his having unintentionally killed Mrs. Whitney,
thinking her Julie, we might never have learned the whole truth.
Mitchell, after seeing Vincent's note to the Secretary of State, was
thoroughly convinced you were guilty. By the way, Kiametia, what kept you
so long upstairs when Mitchell asked you to find out if Miller was with
Miss Kathleen?"

"Searching for that hypodermic needle; I believed Kathleen had
taken it back."

"Did you see Mrs. Whitney upstairs?"

"No, I stopped for a moment in Winslow's room, and the nurse told me
Minna had gone to her bedroom to lie down."

"What possessed her to go to the sub-cellar?" asked Foster.

"Probably a demon of unrest, or she may have had some message to leave
for Heinrich," suggested Miller. "When he grappled with her in the dark
she undoubtedly thought him a detective and dared not call out for fear
of disclosing her identity. Probably she thought Heinrich out of the
house, and never dreamed of his attacking her."

"And Heinrich mistook her for me." Julie's eyes glowed. "The hand of
God! But, monsieur, why did you advise that I stay away from
mademoiselle, and take me to that dreadful house?"

"Because, Julie, you were hysterical, and I feared if interviewed, you
might make some statement in all good faith which would do Miss Kathleen
irreparable injury. I also believed that your absence would serve to
divert suspicion until I had a chance to find the real criminal; I met
you before the inquest, and did not realize that your disappearance could
be used to militate against Miss Kathleen. As for Mrs. Robinson"--he
laughed slightly--"she keeps a private sanitarium, but just now has no
patients. You were perfectly safe there, and I had Connor detail an
operative to see that Heinrich did not torment you."

"What will become of Baron von Fincke?"

"Chief Connor and the State Department will handle his case. Connor told
me he found the Baron's next door neighbor--a man named Frank Lutz...."

"Mercy, his wife's a member of the Sisters in Unity!" ejaculated
Miss Kiametia.

"Lutz has a complete wireless transmitting station," went on Miller. "He
was stunned by his arrest, and attempted suicide; Connor believes he can
induce him to tell the locations of the other relay stations. Lutz had
the wireless antennae strung along the ceilings in the upper corridors of
his house. He declares they have just perfected a method to overcome
static interference."

"And what about Heinrich?" asked Julie anxiously. "Will he escape?"

"No, he will undoubtedly pay the penalty of his crime; Mitchell took him
in charge. Coroner Penfield was here a short time ago," added Miller,
turning to Miss Kiametia. "He assisted us to take Mrs. Whitney to her
bedroom; I left Rosa, the cook, there."

"Thank you," murmured Kathleen.

"I think I had better go upstairs and see to everything," and the
spinster rose.

"Just a minute," Miller hesitated. "I felt that another and more
determined attempt would be made to get Mr. Whitney's invention,
Kathleen, and so suggested to him that he trust me with the drawings and
specifications."

"Did he?"

"Yes, and I took them over and deposited them In the care of Chief
Connor."

"A capital idea," exclaimed Foster.

"Then father's inventions are quite safe?" asked Kathleen.

"Yes. One is a camera for taking a map of the country from an airship;
the other, still more marvelous--glass armor."

"Glass what!" chorused his listeners.

"Armor. A suit woven from a combination of mica and glass which Mauser
bullets cannot penetrate."

"Good Lord!" Foster tugged at his hair until it stood upright.

"We can discuss the inventions at another time," announced the
spinster, recovering from her astonishment. "I'll be upstairs,
Kathleen, if you want me."

"Wait, I'm coming," but Foster turned on the threshold of the door, his
curiosity mastering him. "There's just one question, Miss Kathleen; if
you knew Karl von Mueller in Germany and, as you thought, met him here
using the name of Charles Miller, why did you not at once conclude he was
a German spy?"

"Because a year ago a school friend in Germany wrote me that Karl had
disappeared after a duel, and she believed he was living in America under
an assumed name," replied Kathleen, rising hurriedly. "Under those
circumstances I thought it natural that he should have anglicized his
name. Won't you stop--?"

"No, thanks," hastily. "I must see Kiametia. Good-night," and he
disappeared into the hall. Miss Kiametia was talking to a white-capped
nurse, who continued on her way upstairs on Foster's approach.

"Winslow has regained consciousness," announced Miss Kiametia, "and is
sleeping naturally at last."

"I am delighted to hear it." Foster's tired face lighted with pleasure.
"Shall I tell Kathleen?"

"No, not just yet; good news will keep, and I think she is entitled to
the happiness of being with the man she loves."

"Do you never crave for that happiness, Kiametia?" and there was a
wistful tenderness in his voice which made the spinster blink
suspiciously. Suddenly she slipped her hand in his.

"Suppose I say yes, for a change," she whispered, burying her head on his
shoulder, and with a thankful heart Foster held her close as he whispered
tender, soothing words in her ear.

Neither Kathleen nor Miller cared to break the silence which prevailed
after Foster's departure. Julie had slipped away at the same time. The
pause became embarrassing, and in desperation Miller broke it.

"Kathleen, can you ever forgive me?" standing tall and straight before
her. "I acted what seems now a contemptible part--but I had to know whom
you were protecting, whom you suspected of killing Spencer--I
thought--forgive me--your father guilty. Until you said last night that
you were shielding me, I had no idea of such a possibility; then I jumped
to the conclusion that you had seen me in this house on Tuesday night,
and imagined you were the person creeping up to the attic. Then,
then--God help me!--came the idea that German gold had corrupted you,
also. I put you to a severe test; but I wanted my doubts that you might
be in German pay absolutely refuted. Even when I threatened, you stood
firm." He drew in his breath sharply. "You will never know how I admired
you and hated myself."

She answered with a question. "How did you know of my friendship with
your cousin, Karl?"

"We have always been confidentially intimate. In a moment of remorse he
wrote me about you, telling me of your elopement, and stating that he
took you to a village removed from a railroad for the wedding, and there
found the priest too ill in bed to perform the ceremony; he confessed
that he got drunk, lost his head, and--and--suggested that you dispense
with the marriage ceremony."

Kathleen crimsoned to the roots of her hair. "Did he tell you that I
indignantly refused, escaped from him, and started out to walk to the
nearest railroad station. There I met John Hargraves, told him of my
elopement, then accompanied him to the hotel in the next town where his
cousin was stopping and spent the night with her, returning next day
under her escort to the school. She explained to the principal that I had
been visiting her, and smoothed over what promised to be a scandal."

"Yes, Karl wrote me of that also, but he did you the tardy justice of
never mentioning your full name. When I met you at Chevy Chase I
realized suddenly that you had mistaken me for him and--" Miller
hesitated for a brief second--"I followed the game. Kathleen," his
hitherto clear voice faltered, "I followed it to my own undoing. Each
time that you repulsed me, you inspired me--first, with admiration;
then, all unbidden, came love--love, so faithful and unswerving that not
even the toils of treachery and false witness which threatened to
envelope you, could alter it." He hesitated again, his face white and
strained. "Tell me frankly, Kathleen, did you accept me on Tuesday only
because you thought me Karl?"

"No." Kathleen's face was rosy with color and her eyes shone with a new
radiance. Eagerly Miller clasped her hands and, bending his head, kissed
them. "Whatever schoolgirl affection I cherished for Karl was long since
dead before I met you. To you alone I gave my heart."

"My love, my love," he murmured softly. "May God aid me to atone to
you for the sorrow of the past!" and looking up into his eyes, as his
arms stole round her, Kathleen read there that the glory of life was
hers at last.





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