She felt far from satisfied. If he was born in America, if he really was an American at heart, his replies would have been reassuring, but his name was Hoff. His uncle was a German-American, a proved spy or at least a messenger for spies. If her guest still considered Prussia his fatherland the answers he had made would fit equally well.
"You're just as provokingly secretive as these navy men," she taunted him. "When I try to find out now where any of my friends in the navy are stationed they won't tell me a thing, will they, Mr. Kramer?"
"I'll tell you where they all are," said Lieutenant Kramer. "Every letter I've had from abroad recently from chaps in the service has had the same address--'A deleted port.'"
"I really think the government is far too strict about it," she continued. "My only brother is over there now fighting. All we know is that he is 'Somewhere in France.' War makes it hard on all of us."
"Yet after all," said Hoff soberly, "what are our hardships here compared to what people are suffering over there, in France, in Belgium, in Germany, even in the neutral countries. They know over there, they have known for three years, greater horrors than we can imagine."
The longer she chatted with him, the more puzzled Jane became. He seemed to speak with sincerity and feeling. Her intuition told her that he was a man of honor and high ideals, and yet in everything he said there was always reserve, hesitation, caution, as if he weighed every word before uttering it. Intently she listened, hoping to catch some intonation, some awkward arrangement of words that might betray his tongue for German, but the English he spoke was perfect--not the English of the United States nor yet of England, but rather the manner of speech that one hears from the world-traveler. Question after question she put, hoping to trap him into some admission, but skilfully he eluded her efforts. She decided at last to try more direct tactics.
"Your name has a German sound. It is German, isn't it?" she asked.
"I told you I was born in Cincinnati," he answered laughingly. "Some people insist that that is a German province."
"But you have been in Germany, haven't you?"
"Why do you ask?"
"I was wondering if you had not lived in that country?"
"I could not well have been there without having lived there, could I?"
Kramer came to her rescue.
"Of course he has lived there. Mr. Hoff and I both attended German universities. That was what brought us together at the start--our common bond."