"What's more, you're going to find out for me!"
Desmond smiled at the note of assurance in his voice.
"I suppose you've got something to go on?" he asked. "There's Nur-el-Din, for instance. What about her?"
"That young person," replied the Chief, "is to be your particular study. If she is not the center of the whole conspiracy, she is, at any rate, in the thick of it. It will be part of your job to ascertain the exact role she is playing."
"But what is there against her?" queried Desmond.
"What is there against her? The bad company she keeps is against her. 'Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are' is a maxim that we have to go on in our profession, Okewood. You have met the lady. Did you see any of her entourage? Her business manager, a fat Italian who calls himself Lazarro, did you notice him? Would you be surprised to hear that Lazarro alias Sacchetti alias Le Tardenois is a very notorious international spy who after working in the Italian Secret Service in the pay of the Germans was unmasked and kicked out of Italy... that was before the war? This pleasant gentleman subsequently did five years in the French penal settlements in New Caledonia for robbery with violence at Aix-les-Bains... oh, we know a whole lot about him! And this woman's other friends! Do you know, for instance, where she often spends the week-end? At the country-place of one Bryan Mowbury, whose name used to be Bernhard Marburg, a very old hand indeed in the German Secret Service. She has identified herself right and left with the German espionage service in this country. One day she lunches with a woman spy, whose lover was caught and shot by the French. Then she goes out motoring with..."
"But why in Heaven's name are all these people allowed to run loose?" broke in Desmond. "Do you mean to say you can't arrest them?"
"Arrest 'em? Arrest 'em? Of course, we can arrest 'em. But what's the use? They're all small fry, and we have to keep out a few lines baited with minnows to catch the Tritons. None of 'em can do any harm: we watch 'em much too closely for that. Once you've located your spy, the battle's won. It's when he--or it may be a she--is running loose, that I get peeved!"