"But there are things a young fellow can do for his country besides marching," insisted Mr. Strong. "The government needs mechanics, too."
"I know," said Thomas Dean, almost humbly, "but I have a mother, and my father is dead."
Jane smiled a little to herself at his answer. She noted how carefully he had avoided saying anything about having a mother to support. It would not have surprised her in the least to have learned that he was a millionaire, yet her father, ordinarily shrewd in judging men, apparently was satisfied.
"Supporting a mother, I suppose, comes first," he said. "Well, Dean, when can you come?"
"To-morrow morning if you like," the new chauffeur answered, nodding gravely to Jane as he withdrew.
Mr. Strong, as soon as they were alone, spoke enthusiastically about the young man, complimenting Jane on having discovered him, and as he did so a revulsion of feeling swept over her. For the first time she realized into what duplicity her work for the government was leading her. She had pledged her word to Chief Fleck that she would keep her activities an absolute secret even from her parents. Already she was deceiving them, bringing into the household an employee who really was a detective, a spy. She was tempted to tell her father, at least, what she was doing.
He, she knew, was filled with a high spirit of patriotism. While he might not wholly approve of what she herself was doing she might be able to convince him of the necessity of it. If she could only tell him, her conscience would not trouble her, but there was her promise--her sacred promise; she couldn't break that.
While with troubled mind she debated with herself between her duty to her parents and her duty to her country, one of the maids came in with a box of flowers for her.
Eagerly she cut the string and opened the box. Chief Fleck especially wanted her to cultivate young Hoff's acquaintance. If her suspicion as to the sender were correct, she could feel that she had made an auspicious beginning.
In a tremor of excitement she snatched off the lid of the box and tore out the accompanying card from its envelope.
"Mr. Frederic Johann Hoff," it read, "in appreciation of a most profitable afternoon."
Wondering at the peculiar sentiment of the card she tore off the enclosing tissue paper from the flowers. Orchids, wonderful, delicately tinted orchids, nestled in a sheaf of feathery green fern--five of them.
"Five orchids--the fifth book--a profitable afternoon."