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The Secret Agents
by [?]

“I don’t think that is likely,” I replied.

“Not unless we hear from Burke,” he agreed. “There is plenty for me to do in the laboratory–but I do wish Burke would wire.”

The morning passed, and still there was no word from Burke.

“I think we might drop around to the St. Quentin for lunch,” suggested Kennedy in the forenoon. “We might pick up some news there.”

We had scarcely entered when we met Haynes pacing up and down the lobby furiously.

“What’s the matter?” inquired Craig, eyeing him searchingly.

“Why,” he replied nervously, sticking his thumbs into his waistcoat pockets and then plunging them into his trousers pockets as if it was with the utmost difficulty he controlled those unruly members from doing violence to somebody, “that fellow Ames from whom Delaney hired the apartment had just returned suddenly to town. I saw him talking to Madame Dupres in the hotel parlor. She seemed a bit nervous, so I went in to speak to her. But she said everything was all right and that she’d meet me out here in a few minutes. It’s quarter of an hour now. I think he’s threatening her with something.”

Haynes was evidently worried. I wondered whether he was afraid that Ames might worm from her some secret common to the two, for I did not doubt that Ames was a clever and subtle attorney and capable of obtaining a great deal of information by his kind of kid-glove third degree.

“I should like to see both of them,” decided Craig quickly.

Before Haynes could say anything more, he strode into the hotel parlor. Haynes and I followed a short distance behind.

There was an air of tense, suppressed excitement in the group, but of all of us, I felt that Madame Dupres was the coolest.

“I see you’ve lost no time in getting busy,” nodded Craig to Ames.

“No,” he replied easily. “This is certainly a very interesting situation which madame here has just outlined to me.”

Haynes came up just in time to catch the last words.

“I say, Ames,” he almost roared, “you may be a clever lawyer, but you must remember that you are also expected to be a gentleman. There are limits to questioning a woman when she has not the advantage of having a friend to advise her.”

For a moment I thought there was going to be a fight, but Kennedy moved unobtrusively between the two men. As for Madame Dupres, I felt that really she was a match for both of them.

Instead of getting mad, however, Ames merely laughed.

“Why, Haynes,” he said quietly, “I don’t think you ought to complain. I understand that you, now representing Delaney’s Texas syndicate, have already signed the final contract for the deal with those whom Madame Dupres represents and have received a certified check from them as a first payment to bind the bargain.”

Haynes turned almost livid, then recovering himself, glanced at Madame Dupres.

“Why, Harris, I didn’t think there was any secrecy about it now,” she said, seeing the change in him. “If there is, I’m sorry.”

“There isn’t,” replied Haynes, quickly recovering his composure. “Only I just didn’t like to see a lawyer, an outsider, quizzing you, that’s all.”

Jealousy was stamped in every line of Haynes’ face. Ames said nothing, but it was impossible to escape the look of gratification which he shot at Kennedy as he brought out the startling new development.

Madame Dupres was clever enough to see that no good could come of prolonging an interview for which now there was an excuse to break up.

“Take me in to lunch, Harris,” she said, slipping her arm familiarly into his. “Good-morning, gentlemen.”

Somehow I felt that she would have liked to add, “And if you see the Baroness, tell her I have beaten her to it.”

Ames watched them depart with an air of cynical satisfaction, paused a moment, then in turn excused himself from us.

What did it mean? What was behind all this intrigue. Was it merely to get this cattle contract, big as that was?

We lunched together at the St. Quentin, and it was evident that Madame Dupres was doing her best to smooth over the ruffled feelings of her lover.

Luncheon over, Kennedy plunged with redoubled energy into his laboratory investigation. He said little, but I could tell from his manner that he had found something that was very fascinating to him.