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FIGURES CAN'T LIE

by Arthur Somers Roche
Author of "For Bravery", "The Sport of Kings," etc.

TENNEY, star operative of the Secret Service, possessed the "camera eye" in a measure. That is to say, he never forgot a face, but unless the face was indissolubly connected with some business or social event, the operative was apt to forget the name of the owner of the face and the time and place where he had first seen it. He was not at all superhuman or uncanny, this man Tenney, nor inquisitive, save in matters of routine. Ordinarily a drunken man was of slightest interest to Tenney.

But the man who was buying champagne for several other men in a far corner of the dining-room where Tenney breakfasted, piqued the operative's curiosity, for the face was familiar—he had seen the man before. But where? To the waiter serving his coffee, Tenney indicated the purchaser of the bubbling juice of the grape.

"Who's his Merriness?" he asked. "I've always thought that this was a quiet family hotel—that's why I came here. I didn't know you held wine parties at 10 A. M."

"Lawd, Mist' Tenney, we usually don't," grinned the darkey. "But this yere gent he ain't makin' no noise, and he's spendin' his money, and—" the darkey shrugged his shoulders— "I dunno who he is, Mist' Tenney, but I know what he is—he's a fool with money, and them gents with him sure will make a hard try to part the two."

"Who are they?" demanded Tenney.

"Don't you know 'em, seh? But sho—course you don't! A patent lawyer like you-all wouldn't know nothin' about racin' people. That big man at the end of their table is Mist' "Diamond" Dave Bleakie. He makes book at Bennings, seh. So do the gents at his left and right, Mist' Bill Heenan and Mist' "Skyhigh" Aids. Them other two look like touts to me, seh.

"I guess the thirsty gentleman will play the races this aft'noon, seh. He's sure primed for a big day. He was in here las' night with the same crowd, and I never see sech a hollow gentleman in my life! He done opened two cases of wine, and when they took him upstairs to bed he was weepih' fo' mo'. And now he's been down here since eight o'clock. You gotta give him your admiration, seh. When it comes to drinkin', that gemman is sure educated! He registered here vest'day, seh. I can git Iris name from the office."

Tenney smiled.

"No thank you, Sam. I'm not interested."

Then he attacked his breakfast as if he had forgotten all about the wine-bibber in the corner. Yet on his way out of the hotel he stopped at the desk and glanced carelessly at the register. Among the arrivals of the previous night he saw, in sprawling chirography, the name of Peter Firkins, of Washington. Tenney pointed at the name.

"Our champagne friend?" he asked the clerk.

The latter nodded.

"Don't know how he happened to pick a quiet place like this for his party, sir," apologized the clerk. "But he's been quiet enough, for all his drinking and his friends. However—if you object, sir, I'll speak to the proprietor."

"Certainly not," said Tenney. "Judging from his friends he'll be relieved of bis money soon, and the hotel of his company."

Then, brows wrinkled, Tenney left the hotel, for while he did not pride himself particularly on his memory, he nevertheless knew that when he recognized a face he should also recognize the owner's name if he saw or heard it. He was certain that he knew the face of the wine-bibber. Yet in all his wide acquaintance, he had never met a man named Peter Firkins. It was strange; Tenney might see a man and not know7 his name, yet if the name were mentioned Tenney would always know where to place it. Likewise, if a name were mentioned, and a little later Tenney should see its owner, even the lapse of many years would not cause him hesitation in applying the name to the man.

"I must be getting old," he told himself. "Failing memory is the first sign, I'm told. Well——"

He shrugged his shoulders and hailed a cab. In the presence of the important message from Dilkes, Chief of the Secret Service, which had come to him just before breakfast, Tenney could ill afford to fret his brain over trivialities. He had dismissed the petty matter from his mind when he entered the office of his Chief.

"Well, Chief," he said, "you sent word that —— had broken loose, so as soon as I finished breakfast, I ——"

He paused, his eyes suddenly alighting upon a third figure in the room, a small man, whose lack of stature was emphasized by the manner in which he huddled—that's the word—in a huge leather-cushioned armchair. The face and figure Tenney recognized at once, and he raised his eyebrows inquiringly as he looked at Dilkes; he became suddenly conscious that the room radiated nervous strain. The man in the chair lifted burning eyes and looked at Tenney.

"This the man, Chief Dilkes?"

"This is he," replied the Chief. "Tenney, this is the Secretary of War. He's come to me, and I've sent for you because——"

The Secretary interrupted.

"Why did you not come at once, sir? Is breakfast more important than—than patriotism?"

Tenney flushed.

"It's rather essential, sir, that I come prepared. I'm not a health faddist. I need breakfast before I do anything. And I rather judged from the Chief's message that I'd have to do some thinking."

"Thinking?" cried Dilkes. "Acting, Tenney! Acting at once! Before the last secret of the War Department is given away; before the ——"

"Before the ...

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