"Have pity on a poor girl doomed to eat a lonely luncheon by her parent's neglect," urged Jane. "Really, you must come, both of you. Nice men to talk to are so scarce in these war times that I have no intention of letting you escape."
"I'm in Kramer's hands," said Frederic Hoff gallantly, "but if he takes me to some wretched hotel instead of accepting such a charming invitation as this, my opinion of him as a host will be shattered."
"But," struggled Kramer, realizing that it must be a case of mistaken identity and sure now that he never had met either Jane or her mother before, "we have some business to talk over."
"Business always can wait a fair lady's pleasure," said Hoff. "Is this ruthless war making you navy men ungallant?"
With a mock gesture of surrender, and as a matter of fact, not at all averse to pursuing the adventure further, Lieutenant Kramer permitted Jane to lead the way to the Strong apartment.
Soon, with the familiarity of youth and high spirits, the three of them were merrily chatting on the weather, the war, the theater and all manner of things. Jane, in the midst of the conversation, could not help noting that Hoff had seated himself in a chair by the window where he seemed to be keeping a vigilant eye on the ships that could be seen from there. Even at the luncheon table he got up once and walked to the window to look out, making some clumsy excuse about the beautiful view.
Determined to press the opportunity, Jane endeavored to turn the conversation into personal channels.
"You are an American," she said turning to Hoff, "are you not? I'm surprised that you are not in uniform, too."
"A man does not necessarily need to be in uniform to be serving his government," he replied. "Perhaps I am doing something more important."
"But you are an American, aren't you?" she persisted almost impudently, driven on by her eagerness to learn all she possibly could about him.
"I was born in Cincinnati," he replied hesitantly.
She could not help observing how diplomatically he had parried both her questions. Mentally she recorded his exact words with the idea in her mind of repeating what he had said verbatim to her chief.
"Then you _are_ doing work for the government?"
Intensely she waited for his answer. Surely he could find no way of evading such a direct inquiry as this.
"Every man who believes in his own country," he answered, modestly enough, yet with a curious reservation that puzzled her, "in times like these is doing his bit."