"Really, Miss--" he stammered, struggling for some fitting explanation.
"Don't tell me," she warned reprovingly, "that it isn't Jane Strong that you are here to see, after all those nice things you said to me that day we had tea aboard your ship."
She was hoping he would not insist on going into particulars as to which ship it was. Fortunately she had been to functions on several of the war vessels, so that she might find a loop-hole if he was too insistent on details.
"Indeed, Miss Strong," said Kramer, gallantly pretending to recall her, "I'm delighted to see you again. I've been intending to come to see you for ever so long, but you understand how busy we are now. In fact, it was business that brought me here to-day. I'm calling on Mr. Hoff, who lives here, to take him to lunch to discuss some important matters."
At his last phrase Jane's heart thrilled. What important matters could there be that a navy lieutenant could fittingly discuss with a German, with the nephew of the man whose secret code message they had just succeeded in reading? Determining within herself to keep fast hold on the beginning she had made, she masked her real thoughts and let her face express frank disappointment.
"How horrid of you," she continued, "when I was just going to insist that you stay and have luncheon with us."
He was protesting that it was quite out of the question when the elevator brought down her mother, whom Jane at once summoned as an ally, feeling sure that considering how many men of her daughter's acquaintance she had met, it would be perfectly safe to keep up the deception.
"Oh, mother," she cried, "you remember Lieutenant Kramer, don't you?
I've just been urging him to stay and have luncheon with us. Do help me persuade him."
"Of course I remember Mr. Kramer," fibbed the matron cordially, all unaware of her daughter's duplicity. "Do stay, Mr. Kramer, and have luncheon with Jane. I ordered luncheon for four, expecting to be home, and now I've been called away, but your aunt is there to chaperone you.
It spoils the servants so to prepare meals and have no one to eat them, to say nothing of displeasing Mr. Hoover. It's really your duty--your duty as a patriot--to stay and prevent a food-waste."
"I've just been trying to explain to your daughter that I was taking Mr. Hoff to luncheon with me. Here he is now."
Mrs. Strong's eyes swept the tall figure approaching appraisingly and apparently was pleased with his aspect. As Mr. Hoff was presented she hastened to include him in the invitation to luncheon.