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The Unofficial Spy
by [?]

We stood awestruck for the moment.

“The coroner ought to be here any moment,” remarked McBride and even the callousness of the regular detective was not sufficient to hide the real feelings of the man. His practical sense soon returned, however, and he continued, “Now, Jameson, don’t you think you could use a little influence with the newspaper men to keep this thing off the front pages? Of course something has to be printed about it. But we don’t want to hoodoo the hotel right at the start. We had a suicide the other day who left an apologetic note that was played up by some of the papers. Now comes this affair. The management are just as anxious to have the crime cleared up as any one – if it is a crime. But can’t it be done with the soft pedal? We will stop at nothing in the way of expense – just so long as the name of the Vanderveer is kept in the background. Only, I’m afraid the coroner will try to rub it in and make the thing sensational.”

“What was her name?” asked Kennedy. “At least, under what name was she registered?

“She was registered as Madame de Nevers. It is not quite a week now since she came here, came directly from the steamer Tripolitania. See, there are her trunks and things, all pasted over with foreign labels, not an American label among them. I haven’t the slightest doubt that her name was fictitious, for as far as I can see all the ordinary marks of identification have been obliterated. It will take time to identify her at the best, and in the meantime, if a crime has been committed, the guilty person may escape. What I want now, right away, is action.”

“Has nothing in her actions about the hotel offered any clue, no matter how slight?” asked Kennedy.

“Plenty of things,” replied McBride quickly. “For one thing, she didn’t speak very much English and her maid seemed to do all the talking for her, even to ordering her meals, which were always served here. I did notice Madame a few times about the hotel, though she spent most of her time in her rooms. She was attractive as the deuce, and the men all looked at her whenever she stirred out. She never even noticed them. But she was evidently expecting some one, for her maid had left word at the desk that if a Mr. Gonzales called, she was at home; if any one else, she was out. For the first day or two she kept herself closely confined, except that at the end of the second day she took a short spin through the park in a taxicab – closed, even in this hot weather. Where she went I cannot say, but when they returned the maid seemed rather agitated. At least she was a few minutes later when she came all the way downstairs to telephone from a booth, instead of using the room telephone. At various times the maid was sent out to execute certain errands, but always returned promptly. Madame de Nevers was a genuine woman of mystery, but as long as she was a quiet mystery, I thought it no business of ours to pry into the affairs of Madame.”

“Did she have any visitors? Did this Mr. Gonzales call?” asked Kennedy at length.

“She had one visitor, a woman who called and asked if a Madame de Nevers was stopping at the=20hotel,” answered McBride. “That was what the clerk was telling me when I happened to catch sight of you. He says that, obedient to the orders from the maid, he told the visitor that Madame was not at home.”

“Who was this visitor, do you suppose?” asked Craig. “Did she leave any card or message? Is there any clue to her?”