"I found them in the waste-paper basket by the old man's desk," the man explained, "and there was some ashes there--ashes of paper--as if he had burned up something. Maybe it was what he cut out of those papers. I could not tell."
"We've got to get copies of those papers at once and see what it was.
Come on, I'm going to take them to the Chief. We can get the papers on the way down."
Calling the other operative from the roof, before he even had had time to attract the attention of Lena Kraus by his activities, they hastened back to the office, where Fleck and Carter together scanned the two papers from which the clippings had been taken.
"Why," said Carter disappointedly, "it is just a couple of advertisements he cut out--advertisements for a tooth paste. There's nothing in that."
"Don't be too sure," warned Fleck. "If a man cuts out one tooth-paste advertisement, the natural presumption would be that he wished to remind himself to buy some. When he cuts out two, he must have some special interest in that particular tooth paste. We'll have to find out what his interest is."
"Maybe he owns it," suggested Carter.
"Perhaps," said Fleck, as he began studying the advertisements, "but it would not surprise me if these advertisements contained some sort of code messages."
"Messages in advertisements," exclaimed Carter incredulously.
"Why not? The Germans have hundreds of spies at work here in this city and all over the country. What would be an easier method of communicating orders to them than by code messages concealed in advertising. They have done it before. When the German armies got into France they found their way placarded in advance with much useful information in harmless looking posters advertising a certain brand of chocolate. I'd be willing to bet that every one of these advertisements carries a code message. I've noticed that these advertisements, all peculiarly worded, have been running for some time. I never thought of hooking them up with German propaganda, but, see, it is a German firm that inserts them."
Carefully he cut out the two advertisements and laid them side by side on his desk. Turning to Carter he said: "Go at once to see Mr. Sprague, the publisher of this paper. Get him to give you a copy of each paper that has contained an advertisement of this sort in the last six months. Find out what agency places the advertising. Tell him I want to know. He'll understand. We have worked together before."
Alone in his office, Fleck bent with wrinkled brow over the first of the two advertisements, which read: REMEMBER Please, that our new paste, DENTO, will stop decay of your teeth. Sound teeth are passports to good health and comfort. Now, no business man can risk ill health. It is closely allied with failure. The teeth if not watched are quickly gone.