“He’s not a very good spy,” Rose Clarke said.
“Do keep it down,” George Satterly hissed. He glanced around the tea room, but none of the other guests were paying them any attention.
“No one can hear me.” Rose was indignant. “Besides, it’s true. Lord Setter’s a fool. I don’t see how he can manage to be a spy.”
“That strikes me as very good cover,” he said gloomily. He eyed the secret document laying on the table between them. “Where did you find it?”
“Right there, in his closet,” she said. “But it was touch and go, I can tell you. The valet almost caught me.”
“I can’t believe Setter’s been sharing secrets with the Germans,” he said, a trifle unhappily.
“What’ll happen to him?” In the short time she’d been seeing him, Rose had grown rather fond of the not too bright Lord Setter and his considerable charms–wealth and looks. Trying to get close to the young lord made a pleasant change from her usual duties as chorus girl.
“He’ll be disinherited and jailed, I expect,” George said. “The king’s authorized to take action these days, and thank goodness, given the number of highly placed spies we’re finding. They torpedoed the Laconia only last month and everyone knows that was, as they call it, an inside job. The king’s got to do something.”
“Well, I think he’s a dear old bean,” Rose said vaguely.
“The king?” George raised a perfect eyebrow.
“No, Lord Setter.” She poured herself another cup of the delicate Darjeeling tea and looked approvingly at her surroundings. Fancy her in the Savoy, of all places. “How’d you come to suspect him? He’s your cousin, isn’t he?”
George’s expression was pained.
“Very distantly. And I’m not at liberty to tell you, but I can say that the hint came from a most highly placed source in…” he glanced around the room again and lowered his voice. “Germany.”
“I didn’t realize you worked in the War Office,” Rose said.
“I don’t. I’m connected through–well, let’s just say–unofficial channels. A friend of mine slipped me a hint,” he said. “I wonder if I ought to give him a chance to explain?”
“That’s treason,” Rose pointed out. “Never let your feelings cloud your judgement.”
“Oh, I suppose you’re right, but I can’t help feeling for the family,” George said. “His poor mother’s only got him left, it’ll be the end of his peerage.”
“It is a shame,” she said. She rather fancied being Lady Setter one day.
One of the smart young waiters appeared with a tray of sandwiches and sweets.
“Ooh, these little sandwiches are delightful,” Rose said. She polished off three of the curried chicken and one crab pinwheel before picking up a miniature cake. “You should try one.”
“No, thank you,” he said. “I really must be going.”
“I think you ought to stay,” Rose said. “You haven’t heard everything.”
George paused in the act of standing up. “I say, something else happened?”
“Oh yes, I saw a tall German man visiting Lord Setter two days ago. That man who was arrested. He was a general, wasn’t he?”
George’s eyes bulged. “Really? How extraordinary.”
“Yes, it is, rather. It ought to clinch the case,” Rose said. She ate the tiny cake and took another sip of the tea. It really was a remarkable blend. “I think we should order some champagne and celebrate, don’t you?”
George choked. “What?”
She smiled at his astonishment. “Aren’t you growing fond of me?”
“Why on earth would I?” His tone conveyed intense scorn.
“How unkind of you, George,” she said, with a mock pout. “Just because I’m a poor little chorus girl from Tottenham.”
He stood up and fumbled for his wallet. “This ought to cover things.”
“Sit down, George,” she said firmly.
He sat, gaping like a fish at her sudden change of tone.
She studied him critically. “You’re not awfully attractive, are you? But you will be the new Lord Setter once your cousin’s disinherited.”
“That document was far too easy to find, why hadn’t the valet found it?” She laughed. “I’m very fond of caviar and little cakes, and especially the Savoy. Now, we’re going to have a little champagne before we stop by Cartier’s, and then we’ll tell the War Office all about your cousin.”
“I…” George’s face was a mottled pink.
“Champagne, please,” Rose called to the waiter.
Faith Allington is a Seattle-based writer with a passion for the 1920s and detective stories. Her first published detective story is forthcoming in Mystery Weekly magazine.
Copyright © 2017 Faith Allington. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.