In a turmoil of mental anxiety Jane waited the arrival of Chief Fleck at the place he had designated. She was still badly wrought up by the scene through which she had just passed with Frederic. There were moments when her heart insisted that, regardless of the despicable crimes that were laid at his door, she should forsake everything for him, for the man she loved. Had there been in her mind the slightest possible doubt as to his guilt she might indeed have wavered, but the evidence of his treachery seemed too manifest! She loathed herself for caring for him and felt it her sacred duty to go on with her work of aiding the government in trying to entrap both of them; yet how could she ever do it?
As she waited she debated with herself whether or not to tell Chief Fleck what had passed between herself and Frederic. After all, why should she? That was her own secret, not the country's. If she stifled her love, and gave her best efforts to aiding the other operatives in running down the conspirators, what more could be expected of her?
Certainly she was not going to tell any one of the sealed packet Frederic had entrusted to her. She had promised him she would keep it safe. Surely there could be no harm in that, yet the little parcel, still in the bosom of her gown where she had thrust it, seemed to be burning her flesh and searing itself into her very soul.
In strong contrast with her own spirit of martyrdom was Fleck's manner.
Never before had she seen him in such high spirits as he was when he drew up before the subway station in a low car built for speed. On the seat beside the chauffeur was a young man whom she recognized as another of the operatives. As Fleck swung the door of the tonneau open for her she noticed lying on the floor under a rug several rifles and drew back questioningly.
"Come on, Miss Strong," he cried gaily. "Don't be afraid of them. We may be glad we have them before we return from our hunting expedition."
"But," she asked hesitatingly as she took her seat beside him, "you don't expect to shoot these men--without a trial."
Her heart seemed torn in anguish as she sensed anew the peril that lay ahead for Frederic. Misgivings that she might be unable to fulfil her task seized her, and she was smitten with reproach for her own conduct toward him. Why, an hour ago, when there was still opportunity, had she not warned Frederic? If he were really sincere in the affection he professed for her maybe she might have persuaded him, if not to betray his comrades, at least to abandon them and escape from the country. Yet even now her reason told her that any plea she might have made would have been worse than futile. Above and beyond his love for her she understood that he held sacred what he conceived to be his duty, his misguided duty to his erring country. It was too late now for regrets, for repentance, too late for her to do anything but to try to serve her country, cost her what it might, yet anxiously she awaited Chief Fleck's reply to her question.