"Have you 'Limehouse Nights'?" she asked the attendant, naming the first book that came into her head. She had a copy of the book at home, but that seemed to be the only title she could think of.
"We have several copies," the girl in charge answered, "but I think they are all out. I'll look."
As the clerk examined the shelves, Jane kept up a desultory talk with her, questioning her about various books on the shelves, all the while watching the old German out of the corner of her eye. His back was toward her, and he seemed to be examining various books on the shelves, turning over the pages as if unable to decide what he wanted. Curious as to what his taste in reading was, Jane endeavored to locate each book that he removed from its place, her idea being that she would later try to discover their titles. To her amazement she found that it was invariably the third book in each shelf that he removed and examined--the third from the end. It did not appear to her that he was examining the contents of the pages so much as searching them as if he expected to find something there.
All at once, as she furtively watched from behind him, she heard him give a little pleased grunt and she saw him picking out from between the leaves of the book a fragment of paper, which he held concealed in his hand. Watching closely, Jane saw him thrust this same hand into his trousers pocket, and when he brought it out she was certain that the hand was empty. What did this curious performance mean? What was the little slip of paper he had found in the book? Why had he concealed it in his pocket?
Still keeping her attention riveted on him, she picked up a book to mask her occupation and pretended to be turning its pages. She was glad she had done so, for a minute later old Hoff wheeled suddenly and looked sharply about him. Apparently having his suspicions disarmed by seeing only herself and the clerk there, he turned again to the bookshelves.
Jane this time saw him thrust his fingers into his waistcoat pocket and withdraw therefrom,--she was almost certain of it,--a little slip of paper. She saw him remove from the second row of books the fifth from the end, open it quickly and close it again and then restore it to its place. As he did so he turned to leave the store.
"Didn't you find anything to read to-day, Mr. Hoff?" the clerk asked.