"You must let me be your big brother while he is away," her escort had suggested gallantly.
"All right, brother," she had challenged him. "I'll take you on at once.
I have seats for a matinee to-morrow. I'd much rather go with a brother than with one of the girls."
"I would be delighted," he answered unsuspectingly, "but unfortunately I have an engagement that takes me out of town."
"We'll go next week, then--Wednesday."
"A week is too long to wait. Let me take you to a matinee on Saturday."
Jane hesitated. At times her conscience troubled her not a little. While satisfied that the importance of her trust wholly justified her actions, she disliked any deception of her family.
"Wouldn't it be better," she parried, "if you came to call on me some evening first? You've only just met my mother, and I would like you to know Dad, too."
"May I?" he cried with manifest pleasure. "How about to-morrow evening?"
"That's Wednesday," she answered slowly. That was the day she and Dean were planning to put in a dictograph. She wondered at herself calmly carrying on this casual conversation with the man she was planning to betray. Coloring a little from the very shame of it, she continued, "How about making it Thursday evening?"
"Delighted," cried Hoff, "and about Saturday's matinee--what haven't you seen?"
Glad for the respite of at least twenty-four hours, Jane, as they talked, watched his face, his expression, his eyes. Regardless of the things she believed about him, he impressed her as honest and sincere.
Certainly there was no mistaking the fact that his liking for her and his delight in her society were wholly genuine. Her heart warned her that it was his intention to press their new-formed acquaintance into close intimacy. Was he, she wondered, like herself, pretending friendship merely to unmask secrets for his government? No, she could not, she would not believe it. She felt sure that his admiration was unfeigned. Something told her that quickly his ardor and determination might lead her into embarrassing circumstances. He might even ask her to marry him. For a moment she was overcome with timidity and tempted to stop short on her new career, but there came to her the thought of the brave Americans in the trenches, of the soldiers at sea, of the brutal, lurking U-boats, and sternly she put aside all personal considerations.
"You spoke of going out of town," she said when the subject of the matinee had been disposed of. "Don't you find train travel rather disagreeable these days?"
"Fortunately I'm motoring."
"That will be nice, if you don't have to travel too far."