The Great Game
stared straight ahead; a look that Barnett knew masked extreme annoyance. "And it's not a question of suspicion. I am merely relating my observations and deductions. If you don't want my opinion, why do you ask me?"
                  "I was merely making conversation," Barnett replied, trying not to sound defensive. "And I do value your opinion. I'm so sorry if you feel otherwise. You are an extremely perceptive person. Even Professor Moriarty has said so. But I thought I was pointing out some interesting native fauna, not another mystery. I admit I think you've been overwrought lately." He reached out to pat her hand, but she drew it back sharply into the folds of her green traveling-cloak.
                  "I believe, as I told you, that we've been watched since we left London," Cecily said coldly. Whether the studied lack of emotion in her voice masked anger or fear, or both, Barnett couldn't tell. "This is the result of my observations and deductions, which you usually are willing to credit with being fairly accurate. I am no Professor Moriarty, perhaps, but I do seem to have the knack for that sort of thing. The professor himself, you will remember, has valued my opinion on occasion. But just because you can't think of any reason why anyone should be watching us, you give no credence to what I say and think that, because I have not been well of late, I'm either incompetent or insane. That would certainly tend to make one overwrought."
                  "I don't think you're insane," Barnett protested. "I merely think that, in this instance, you're mistaken."
                  "You wouldn't think so if I were a man," Cecily said, and turned pointedly back to her book.
                  That, Barnett thought, was an unfair remark. He repressed the urge to call it "female logic," since he had a feeling that would do more harm than good, and he didn't want to start any more of a fight than they were already in. There is a time for discussion and a time for letting it lie, he thought, leaning back in his seat. He had the virtuous feeling of one who knows he is in the right, but allows another the last word.
                  Barnett had tried in various ways to check on the people Cecily believed were watching them, but it's hard to tell whether someone on the same train or staying at the same hotel is really there just to keep watch on you. None of Cecily's objects of suspicion skulked about peering at them from behind lampposts. And it was an unlikely series of people—an old man with piercing blue eyes at the Majestic in Paris; a little, bulldog-faced man on the train to Rome; a handsome, aristocratic-looking woman who struck up a conversation with Barnett at the Hotel Excelsior in Rome—that Cecily suspected of being in league to keep an eye on the Barnett family. Barnett admitted to himself that he would have found it easier to believe if he could think of any reason why anyone would find them interesting enough to want to follow them about.
                  The Capostazione, the master of this Italian railway station, bedecked in a uniform that would not look out of place on the leader of a circus orchestra, appeared on the platform to give the departure signal, and the train heaved itself back into motion. As it gathered speed, the fat man and his companions tramped down the corridor and distributed themselves among the nearly empty first-class compartments. Barnett saw the fat man pass by and peer through the glass in the compartment door at them; he was closely followed by the woman in black. Judging by the sounds, they settled in the next two compartments. The clergyman and the youth passed not at all; they must have chosen earlier compartments.
                  That, Barnett reflected, was odd. They had certainly known each other on the platform, and here they were settling in different compartments.

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