Even when the younger Hoff was dining out, as he sometimes did, Jane could hear the old man giving the toast, presumably with only the old servant for an auditor. That the woman, too, was a spy, as well as servant, Jane had known since the day on the roof, but so far neither she nor Dean had been able to make anything out of her handkerchief code, though both were sure the messages related to the sailings of transports.
Only once had she heard anything that she deemed really important. One evening, as uncle and nephew dined, there had been an acrimonious dispute.
"Have you it yet?" the uncle had asked in German.
"Not yet," Frederic had answered.
His seemingly simple reply for some reason appeared to have stirred the elder man's wrath. He broke into a volley of curses and epithets, reproaching his nephew for his delay. In the rapid medley of oaths and expostulations Jane could distinguish only occasional words--"afraid"--"haste"--"all-highest importance"--"American swine."
The younger Hoff had appeared to exercise marvelous self-control.
"There is yet time," he answered calmly.
"Donnerwetter," the old man had exclaimed. "There is yet time, you say--and Emil the wonder-worker almost ready has. It must be done at once."
The outburst over, old Hoff had subsided into inarticulate mutterings, evidently busy with his food, leaving Jane to wonder futilely who Emil might be, what he meant by the "wonder-worker," and what particular task had been assigned to the nephew that must be performed immediately. She had hastened to report this conversation in detail to Chief Fleck, but if he understood what it was about he had taken neither Jane nor Thomas Dean into his confidence.
Other things, too, Jane had learned and reported, which she knew the chief appreciated even though he was sparing in his thanks and compliments. She had learned through her almost constant listening that Lieutenant Kramer was a regular visitor, coming to the Hoff apartment or seeing Frederic Hoff somewhere every other day. Unfortunately he was always conducted into one of the inner rooms, so that no more of the conversation than the ordinary greetings and farewells ever reached Jane's ears. The mere fact of his coming so regularly to the Hoffs convicted him of treachery, in Jane's mind. What proper business could an American naval officer have in the home of two German agents? The excuse that Frederic Hoff was a delightful and entertaining friend was entirely too flimsy and unsatisfactory.
Nothing that she had overheard--and within her heart she felt glad that it was so--in any way as yet incriminated young Hoff. When she dared to think about it, she found herself almost believing, certainly at least wishing, that the nephew was not involved in his uncle's activities.