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In Secret   By: (1865-1933)

Book cover

First Page:

IN SECRET

by

ROBERT W. CHAMBERS

AUTHOR OF "THE COMMON LAW," "THE RECKONING," "LORRAINE," ETC.

NEW YORK

DEDICATION

A grateful nation's thanks are due To Arethusa and to you To her who dauntless at your side Pneumonia and Flue defied With phials of formaldehyde!

II

Chief of Police were you, by gosh! Gol ding it! how you bumped the Boche! Handed 'em one with club and gun Until the Hun was on the run: And that's the way the war was won.

III

Easthampton's pride! My homage take For Fairest Philadelphia's sake. Retire in company with Bill; Rest by the Racquet's window sill And, undisturbed, consume your pill.

ENVOI

When Cousin Feenix started west And landed east, he did his best; And so I've done my prettiest To make this rhyme long overdue; For Arethusa and for you.

R. W. C.

IN SECRET

CHAPTER I

CUP AND LIP

The case in question concerned a letter in a yellow envelope, which was dumped along with other incoming mail upon one of the many long tables where hundreds of women and scores of men sat opening and reading thousands of letters for the Bureau of P. C. whatever that may mean.

In due course of routine a girl picked up and slit open the yellow envelope, studied the enclosed letter for a few moments, returned it to its envelope, wrote a few words on a slip of paper, attached the slip to the yellow envelope, and passed it along to the D. A. C. whoever he or she may be.

The D. A. C., in course of time, opened this letter for the second time, inspected it, returned it to the envelope, added a memorandum, and sent it on up to the A. C. whatever A. C. may signify.

Seated at his desk, the A. C. perused the memoranda, glanced over the letter and the attached memoranda, added his terse comment to the other slips, pinned them to the envelope, and routed it through certain channels which ultimately carried the letter into a room where six silent and preoccupied people sat busy at six separate tables.

Fate had taken charge of that yellow envelope from the moment it was mailed in Mexico; Chance now laid it on a yellow oak table before a yellow haired girl; Destiny squinted over her shoulder as she drew the letter from its triply violated envelope and spread it out on the table before her.

A rich, warm flush mounted to her cheeks as she examined the document. Her chance to distinguish herself had arrived at last. She divined it instantly. She did not doubt it. She was a remarkable girl.

The room remained very still. The five other cipher experts of the P. I. Service were huddled over their tables, pencil in hand, absorbed in their several ungodly complications and laborious calculations. But they possessed no Rosetta Stone to aid them in deciphering hieroglyphics; toad like, they carried the precious stone in their heads, M. D.!

No indiscreet sound interrupted their mental gymnastics, save only the stealthy scrape of a pen, the subdued rustle of writing paper, the flutter of a code book's leaves thumbed furtively.

The yellow haired girl presently rose from her chair, carrying in her hand the yellow letter and its yellow envelope with yellow slips attached; and this harmonious combination of colour passed noiselessly into a smaller adjoining office, where a solemn young man sat biting an unlighted cigar and gazing with preternatural sagacity at nothing at all.

Possibly his pretty affianced was the object of his deep revery he had her photograph in his desk perhaps official cogitation as D. C. of the E. C. D. if you understand what I mean? may have been responsible for his owlish abstraction.

Because he did not notice the advent of the yellow haired girl until she said in her soft, attractive voice:

"May I interrupt you a moment, Mr. Vaux?"

Then he glanced up.

"Surely, surely," he said. "Hum hum! please be seated, Miss Erith! Hum! Surely!"

She laid the sheets of the letter and the yellow envelope upon the desk before him and seated herself in a chair at his elbow... Continue reading book >>




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