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The Secret Agents
by [?]

There was nothing to be gained by further inquiry here, and I could imagine that Kennedy was burning with anxiety to get at work on his own line of inquiry at the laboratory. After a few minutes of conversation we excused ourselves and left the hotel.

Craig’s air of abstraction was not such as to invite further questioning, and I left him an hour or so later in the laboratory surrounded by his microscopes, slides, and innumerable test-tubes which he had prepared for some exceedingly minute investigation in which his exact soul delighted.

How late he worked I do not know, for I did not hear him come into our apartment. But he was up very early, in fact woke me up stirring around the living room.

I had scarcely completed dressing, while he scanned the morning papers in a vain hope that some stray news item might shed some light on the mystery in which we were now involved, when the whirr of our door buzzer announced that we had an unusually early caller.

Kennedy opened the door and admitted a stranger. He was one of those well-groomed middle-aged men whose appearance denotes with what care they seek by every means to retain youth that is fast passing. I could imagine him calmly calculating even his vices.

“My name is Ames–Ashby Ames,” he introduced. “Dr. Leslie, the coroner, has suggested that I see you.”

Ames looked as if he had been traveling all night and had not had a chance to freshen himself up in his haste.

“I’ve just heard about that trouble down at my apartment,” he continued, “and, though I had planned a trip for my health to the southern resorts, I thought it best for me to come right back to New York. It’s a beastly mess.”

He had thrown his hat vindictively on the table, though his manner to us was rather that of one seeking advice. “Why,” he stormed, “this affair is the limit! I rent my apartment to an apparently reputable person. And what do I find? It is not even a mere scandal. It is worse. The place is closed and guarded–quarantined, as it were. I can’t get back into my own rooms!”

Kennedy smiled. “I can’t blame you for feeling vexed, Mr. Ames,” he soothed, “but I’m sure I don’t know what I can do for you more than I am doing. We are making every effort to clear the thing up–and I have been on the case, you must remember, less than twelve hours.”

“Oh, I’ve no criticism of you,” rejoined Ames, somewhat mollified. “I didn’t come here to criticise. I came only because I thought you might like to know that I was back in town, and because Dr. Leslie mentioned your name. No, indeed–no criticism. Only,” he added, “now that my vacation is spoiled and I am back in town, there is going to be some action–that’s all.”

“It can’t come too swiftly for me,” encouraged Craig.

“I’m going to jump right into this beastly row,” pursued Ames aggressively. “This morning I’m going to look these people up. They tell me that Baroness has been spending a good deal of time at my place. Pine business–eh? She’s disappeared. But I’ll get after that Haynes and the Madame Dupres they tell me about–and I’ll let you know if I find out anything.”

He had not given Kennedy a chance to say anything, and in fact Kennedy did not seem to want to say anything yet.

“Just thought I’d drop in,” concluded Ames, who hadn’t taken a chair, but now extended his hand to us; “I think I’ll drop into a Turkish bath and freshen up a bit. Keep in touch with me.”

We shook hands and Ames departed, bustling out as he had bustled in.

Kennedy looked at me and laughed as the door closed. “If we have many more people co-operating with us,” he exclaimed, “we may resign and let this case solve itself.”