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V. The Mercy Sign--Two
Some days after the recovery of the houseboat, Average Jones sat at breakfast,
according to his custom, in the cafe of the Hotel Palatia. Several matters were troubling
his normally serene mind. First of these was the loss of the trail which should have led
to Harvey Craig. Second, as a minor issue, the Oriental papers found in the deserted
Bellair Street apartment had been proved, by translation, to consist mainly of
revolutionary sound and fury, signifying, to the person most concerned, nothing. As for
the issue of the Washington daily, culled from the houseboat, there was, amidst the
usual melange of social, diplomatic, political and city news, no marked passage to show
any reason for its having been in the possession of "Smith." Average Jones had studied
and restudied the columns, both reading matter and advertising, until he knew them
almost by heart. During the period of waiting for his order to be brought he was brooding
over the problem, when he felt a hand-pressure on his shoulder and turned to confront
Mr. Thomas Colvin McIntyre, solemn of countenance and groomed with a supernal
modesty of elegance, as befitted a rising young diplomat, already Fifth Assistant
Secretary of State of the United States of America.
"Hello, Tommy," said the breakfaster. "What'll you have to drink? An entente cordialer?"
"Don't joke," said the other. "I'm in a pale pink funk. I'm afraid to look into the morning
"Hello! What have you been up to that's scandalous?"
"It isn't me," replied the diplomat ungrammatically. "It's Telfik Bey."
"Telfik Bey? Wait a minute. Let me think." The name had struck a response from some
thought wire within Average Jones' perturbed brain. Presently it came to him as
visualized print in small head-lines, reproduced to the mind's eye from the Washington
newspaper which he had so exhaustively studied.
Telfik Bey, Guest of Turkish Embassy, Barely
Escapes a Speeding Motor-Car
No arrest, it appeared, had been made. The "story," indeed, was brief, and of no
intrinsic importance other than as a social note. But to Average Jones it began to glow
"Who is Telfik Bey?" he inquired.
"He isn't. Up to yesterday he was a guest of this hotel."