From one of his pockets he had brought forth a small packet which he held out to her. In spite of her agitation she forced herself to study it observingly, making note that it was tied with strong cord and sealed in several places with red wax. Curiously, too, she noted that on it was written her own name.
"Jane," said Hoff, "to-night I am going away. I may be absent for only a day or two if all goes well, but it is possible I may never come back,--may never be able to see you again."
She caught her breath sharply. There was the solemnity of finality in his tones. Where was he going? What might happen to him? She realized that the journey he was about to make was in connection with the plot that she and Chief Fleck were seeking to uncover. Evidently he anticipated peril in what he was about to undertake. Suppose he should be trapped in the commission of some act inimical to America's welfare?
What would happen to him? He would be arrested, of course. More than likely he would be sent to prison. He might even be shot as a spy. What if she were the one responsible for his meeting a disgraceful death?
How could she go on with it? She must warn him. She must try to persuade him to give up his plans. She tried hard to steady herself, to think calmly. She must listen to every word he was saying and try to remember it.
"This little packet is for you," he went on. "I want you to keep it safely. In case anything happens, in the event that within one month I have not returned and you have heard nothing of me, I wish you to open it and keep what it contains. Promise me that you will do what I ask."
In a panic of indecision she got up from her chair, trying to frame a score of questions, but none of them succeeded in passing the barrier of her trembling lips.
"Promise me," he said softly yet impellingly, as he placed the little packet in her hand and closed her fingers over it.
"I promise," she whispered, hardly knowing what she said.
Quickly he caught her in his powerful arms. For just a second he held her there, his face close to hers, his blue eyes burning into hers with a steady inscrutable gaze as if he was trying to read in them the love her lips had refused to speak.
Then, so quickly that it was all over before she quite realized what had happened, he had kissed her passionately full on the lips and was gone.