Even in her distress she caught his phrase "here in _your_ country" and turned ghastly white. Always before in talking with her he had spoken of himself as an American. Did he realize, she wondered, that he had at last betrayed himself to her? Was he about to strip the mask from himself and his activities at last, and in the face of it all expect her, Jane Strong, to admit that she loved him?
"Here in your country," he went on placidly, "women forced by economic conditions have been driven from home into business, into politics, into office-holding, even into war activities. Longing for the clinging arms of little children they are striving to forget in assuming some part in the affairs that belong properly to men. But to the true woman love must ever mean more than duty, more than country. Those are words for men. A woman, if she would find happiness, must follow her heart, must forsake all for the man she loves. A woman's duty is only to the man she loves, just as a man's duty is to be true to himself, to his country."
"But," she cried, "you told me you were American, that you were born here?"
"Jane," he persisted, with an impatient gesture, "we will not discuss that now. I love you. You must trust me in spite of everything. I know you will. You must. I can answer no questions. I can make no explanations. I can only say I love you. That must suffice."
"No, no," she protested, almost sobbing.
"I came here to-day," he went on calmly, "to ask a favor of you."
"A favor," she cried.
Calming herself she forced herself to look into his face. There was something so monstrously unbelievable about his audacity that she could hardly believe her ears. What sort of a credulous stupid creature was he, she angrily asked herself, that in one breath he could all but confess to her that he was a spy and in the next beseech her to do him a favor. Yet there came to her now a remembrance of her duty to her country. She felt that she must mask her feelings toward him, that if she was to be of service she must endeavor bravely to lead him on. She must try to induce him to confide in her. Hard as her task might be, what was it compared to the work her brother and those other brave American boys had undertaken facing the fire of death-dealing guns, facing the terrible gas attacks, living for days and weeks in those terrible trenches? Reinforced by a sense of duty, she made a pitiable effort at cordiality as she asked: "What is it you wish of me?"