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Peter Ruff and the Double Four

II.3. The Ambassador's Wife
Alone in his study, with fast-locked door, Peter, Baron de Grost, sat reading,
word by word, with zealous care the despatch from Paris which had just been
delivered into his hands. From the splendid suite of reception rooms which
occupied the whole of the left-hand side of the hall came the faint sound of
music. The street outside was filled with automobiles and carriages setting down
their guests. Madame was receiving to-night a gathering of very distinguished
men and women, and it was only for a few moments, and on very urgent
business indeed, that her husband had dared to leave her side.
The room in which he sat was in darkness except for the single heavily shaded
electric lamp which stood by his elbow. Nevertheless, there was sufficient
illumination to show that Peter had achieved one, at least, of his ambitions. He
was wearing court dress, with immaculate black silk stockings and diamond
buckles upon his shoes. A red ribbon was in his buttonhole and a French order
hung from his neck. His passion for clothes was certainly amply ministered to by
the exigencies of his new position. Once more he read those last few words of
this unexpectedly received despatch, read them with a frown upon his forehead
and the light of trouble in his eyes. For three months he had done nothing but live
the life of an ordinary man of fashion and wealth. His first task, for which, to tell
the truth, he had been anxiously waiting, was here before him, and he found it
little to his liking. Again, he read slowly to himself the last paragraph of
Sogrange's.
As ever, dear friend, one of the greatest sayings which the men of my race have
ever perpetrated once more justifies itself - "Cherchez la femme!" Of Monsieur
we have no manner of doubt. We have tested him in every way. And to all
appearance Madame should also be above suspicion. Yet those things of which I
have spoken have happened. For two hours this morning I was closeted with
Picon here. Very reluctantly he has placed the matter in my hands. I pass it on to
 
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