Mr. Robert Blaine-Harvey, American
Ambassador and Plenipotentiary
Extraordinary to England, was
a man of great culture, surprising
personal gifts, and with a diplomatic
instinct which amounted almost
to genius. And yet there were
times when he was puzzled. For
at least half an hour he had
been sitting in his great library,
looking across the Park, and
trying to make up his mind on
a very important matter. It seemed
to him that he was face to face
with what amounted almost to
a crisis in his career. His two
years at the Court of St. James
had been pleasant and uneventful
enough. The small questions which
had presented themselves for
adjustment between the two countries
were, after all, of no particular
importance and were easily arranged.
The days seemed to have gone
by for that over-strained sensitiveness
which was continually giving
rise to senseless bickerings,
when every trilling breeze seemed
to fan the smouldering fires
of jealousy. The two great English-speaking
nations appeared finally to have
realized the absolute folly of
continual disputes between countries
whose destiny and ideals were
so completely in accord and whose
interests were, in the main,
identical. A period of absolute
friendliness had ensued. And
now there had come this little
cloud. It was small enough at
present, but Mr. Harvey was not
the one to overlook its sinister
possibilities. Two citizens of
his country had been barbarously
murdered within the space of
a few hours, one in the heart
of the most thickly populated
capital in the world, and there
was a certain significance attached
to this fact which the Ambassador
himself and those others at Washington
perfectly well realized. He glanced
once more at the most recent
letter on the top of this pile
of correspondence and away again
out into the Park. It was a difficult
matter, this. His friends at
Washington did not cultivate
the art of obscurity in the words
which they used, and it had been
suggested to him in black and
white that the murder of these
two men, under the particular
circumstances existing, was a
matter concerning which he should
speak very plainly indeed to
certain August personages. Mr.
Harvey, who was a born diplomatist,
understood the difficulties of
such a proceeding a good deal
more than those who had propounded
There was a knock at the door,
and a footman entered, ushering
in a visitor.
"The young lady whom you were
expecting, sir," he announced
Mr. Harvey rose at once to
"My dear Penelope," he said,
shaking hands with her, "this
is charming of you."
"It seems quite like old times
to feel myself at home here once
more," she declared.
Mr. Harvey did not pursue the
subject. He was perfectly well
aware that Penelope, who had
been his first wife's greatest
friend, had never altogether
forgiven him for his somewhat
brief period of mourning. He
drew an easy chair up to the
side of his desk and placed a
footstool for her.
"I should not have sent for
you," he said, "but I am really
and honestly in a dilemma. Do
you know that, apart from endless
cables, Washington has favored
me with one hundred and forty
pages of foolscap all about the
events of the week before last?"
Penelope shivered a little.
"Poor Dicky!" she murmured,
looking away into the fire. "And
to think that it was I who sent
him to his death!"
Mr. Harvey shook his head.
"No," he said, "I do not think
that you need reproach yourself
with that. As a matter of fact,
I think that I should have sent
Dicky in any case. He is not
so well known as the others,
or rather he wasn't associated
so closely with the Embassy,
and he was constantly at the
Savoy on his own account. If
I had believed that there was
any danger in the enterprise," he
continued, "I should still have
sent him. He was as strong as
a young Hercules. The hand which
twisted that noose around his
neck must have been the hand
of a magician with fingers of
Penelope shivered again. Her
face showed signs of distress.
"I do not think," she said, "that
I am a nervous person, but I
cannot bear to think of it even
"Naturally," Mr. Harvey answered. "We
were all fond of Dicky, and such
a thing has never happened, so
far as I am aware, in any European
country. My own private secretary
murdered in broad daylight and
with apparent impunity!"
"Murdered--and robbed!" she
whispered, looking up at him
with a white face.
The frown on the Ambassador's
"Not only that," he declared, "but
the secrets of which he was robbed
have gone to the one country
interested in the knowledge of
"You are sure of that?" she
"I am sure of it," Mr.
Penelope drew a little breath
between her teeth. Her thoughts
flashed back to a recent dinner
party. The Prince was once more
at her side. Almost she could
hear his voice--low, clear, and
yet with that note of inexpressible,
convincing finality. She heard
him speak of his country reverently,
almost prayerfully; of the sacrifices
which true patriotism must always
demand. What had been in his
mind, she wondered, at the back
of his inscrutable eyes, gazing,
even at that moment, past the
banks of flowers, across the
crowded room with all its splendor
of light and color, through the
walls,--whither! She brushed
the thought away. It was absurd,
incredible! She was allowing
herself to be led away by her
old distrust of this man.
"I remarked just now," Mr.
Harvey continued, "that such
a thing had never happened, so
far as I was aware, in any European
country. My own words seem to
suggest something to me. These
methods are not European. They
savor more of the East."
"I think you had better go
on," she said quietly. "There
is something in your mind. I
can see that. You have told me
so much that you had better tell
me the rest."
"The contents of those despatches," Mr.
Harvey continued, "intrusted
in duplicate, as you have doubtless
surmised, to Fynes and to Coulson,
contained an assurance that the
sending of our fleet to the Pacific
was in fact, as well as in appearance,
an errand of peace. It was a
demonstration, pure and simple.
Behind it there may have lain,
indeed, a masterful purpose,
the determination of a great
country to affirm her strenuous
existence in a manner most likely
to impress the nations unused
to seeing her in such a role.
It became necessary, in view
of certain suspicions, for me
to be able to prove to the Government
here the absolutely pacific nature
of our great enterprise. Those
despatches contained such proof.
And now listen, Penelope. Before
the murder of poor Dicky Vanderpole,
we know for a fact that a great
nation who chooses to consider
herself our enemy in Eastern
waters was straining every nerve
to prepare for war. Today those
preparations have slackened.
A great loan has been withdrawn
in Paris, an invitation cabled
to our fleet to visit Yokohama.
These things have a plain reading."
"Plain, indeed," Penelope assented,
and she spoke in a low tone because
there was fear in her heart. "Why
have you told me about them?
They throw a new light upon everything,--an
"I have known you," the Ambassador
said quietly, "since you were
a baby. Every member of your
family has been a friend of mine.
You come of a silent race. I
know very well that you are a
person of discretion. There are
certain small ways in which a
government can occasionally be
served by the help of some one
outside its diplomatic service
altogether, some one who could
not possibly be connected with
it. You know this very well,
Penelope, because you have already
been of service to us on more
than one occasion."
"It was a long time ago," she
"Not so very long," he reminded
her. "But for the first of these
tragedies, Fynes' despatches
would have reached me through
you. I am going to ask your help
even once more."
In the somewhat cold spring
sunlight which came streaming
through the large window, Penelope
seemed a little pallid, as though,
indeed, the fatigue of the season,
even in this its earlier stages,
were leaving its mark upon her.
There were violet rims under
her eyes. A certain alertness
seemed to have deserted her usually
piquant face. She sat listening
with the air of one half afraid,
who has no hope of hearing pleasant
"It has been remarked," Mr.
Harvey continued, "or rather
I may say that I myself have
noticed, that you are on exceedingly
friendly terms with a very distinguished
nobleman who is at present visiting
this country--I mean, of course,
Her eyebrows were slowly elevated.
Was that really the impression
people had! Her lips just moved.
"I have met Prince Maiyo myself," Mr.
Harvey continued, "and I have
found him a charming representative
of his race. I am not going to
say a word against him. If he
were an American, we should be
proud of him. If he belonged
to any other country, we should
accept him at once for what he
appears to be. Unfortunately,
however, he belongs to a country
which we have some reason to
mistrust. He belongs to a country
in whose national character we
have not absolute confidence.
For that reason, my dear Penelope,
we mistrust Prince Maiyo."
"I do not know him so well
as you seem to imagine," Penelope
said slowly. "We are not even
friends, in the ordinary acceptation
of the word. I am, to some extent,
prejudiced against him. Yet I
do not believe that he is capable
of a dishonorable action."
"Nor do I," the Ambassador
declared smoothly. "Yet in every
country, almost in every man,
the exact standard of dishonor
varies. A man will lie for a
woman's sake, and even in the
law courts, certainly at his
clubs and amongst his friends,
it will be accounted to his righteousness.
A patriot will lie and intrigue
for his country's sake. Now I
believe that to Prince Maiyo
Japan stands far above the whole
world of womankind. I believe
that for her sake he would go
to very great lengths indeed."
"Go on, please," Penelope
"The Prince is over here on
some sort of an errand which
it isn't our business to understand," Mr.
Harvey said. "I have heard it
rumored that it is a special
mission entirely concerned with
the renewal of the treaty between
England and Japan. However that
may be, I have sat here, and
I have thought, and I have come
to this conclusion, ridiculous
though it may seem to you at
first. I believe that somewhere
behind the hand which killed
and robbed Hamilton Fynes and
poor Dicky stood the benevolent
shadow of our friend Prince Maiyo."
"You have no proof?" she
"No proof at all," the Ambassador
admitted. "I am scarcely in a
position to search for any. The
conclusion I have come to has
been simply arrived at through
putting a few facts together
and considering them in the light
of certain events. In the first
place, we cannot doubt that the
secret of those despatches reached
at once the very people whom
we should have preferred to remain
in ignorance of them. Haven't
I told you of the sudden cessation
of the war alarm in Japan, when
once she was assured, by means
which she could not mistrust,
that it was not the intention
of the American nation to make
war upon her? The subtlety of
those murders, and the knowledge
by which they were inspired,
must have come from some one
in an altogether unique position.
You may be sure that no one connected
with the Japanese Embassy here
would be permitted for one single
second to take part in any such
illegal act. They know better
than that, these wily Orientals.
They will play the game from
Grosvenor Place right enough.
But Prince Maiyo is here, and
stands apart from any accredited
institution, although he has
the confidence of his Ambassador
and can command the entire devotion
of his own secret service. I
have not come to this conclusion
hastily. I have thought it out,
step by step, and in my own mind
I am now absolutely convinced
that both these murders were
inspired by Prince Maiyo."
"Even if this were so," Penelope
said, "what can I do? Why have
you sent for me? The Prince and
I are not on especially friendly
terms. It is only just lately
that we have been decently civil
to one another."
The Ambassador looked at her
with some surprise.
"My dear Penelope," he said, "I
have seen you together the last
three or four evenings. The Prince
looks at no one else while you
are there. He talks to you, I
know, more freely than to any
"It is by chance," Penelope
protested. "I have tried to avoid
"Then I cannot congratulate
you upon your success," Mr. Harvey
"Things have changed a little
between us, perhaps," Penelope
said. "What is it that you really
"I want to know this," the
Ambassador said slowly. "I want
to know how Japan became assured
that America had no intention
of going to war with her. In
other words, I want to know whether
those papers which were stolen
from Fynes and poor Dicky found
their way to the Japanese Embassy
or into the hands of Prince Maiyo
"Anything else?" she
asked with a faint note of
in her tone.
"Yes," Mr. Harvey replied, "there
is something else. I should like
to know what attitude Prince
Maiyo takes towards the proposed
renewal of the treaty between
his country and Great Britain."
She shook her head.
"Even if we were friends," she
said, "the very closest of friends,
he would never tell me. He is
far too clever."
"Do not be too sure," Mr. Harvey
said. "Sometimes a man, especially
an Oriental, who does not understand
the significance of your sex
in these matters, can be drawn
on to speak more freely to a
woman than he would ever dream
of doing to his best friend.
He would not tell you in as many
words, of course. On the other
hand, he might show you what
was in his mind."
"He is going back very shortly," Penelope
Mr. Harvey nodded.
"That is why
I sent for you to come immediately.
see him tonight at Devenham House."
"With all the rest of the world," she
answered, "but a man is not likely
to talk confidentially under
Mr. Harvey rose to his feet.
"It is only a chance, of course," he
admitted, "but remember that
you know more than any other
person in this country except
myself. It would be impossible
for the Prince to give you credit
for such knowledge. A casual
remark, a word, perhaps, may
Penelope held out her hand.
The servant for whom the Ambassador
had rung was already in the room.
"I will try," she promised. "Ask
Mrs. Harvey to excuse my going
up to see her this afternoon.
I have another call to make,
and I want to rest before the
The Ambassador bowed, and escorted
her to the door.
"I have confidence in you,
Penelope," he said. "You will
try your best?"
"Oh, yes!"she answered with
a queer little laugh, "I shall
do that. But I don't think that
even you quite understand Prince