Monsieur Rochè's Defeat
Published in Cassell's Magazine, November 1899. Collected in the next year.
When Monsieur Roché calls on Aide Lerestelle, he is distraught, certain that he had been betrayed and likely to be tossed from the government, all because of a duplicitous action by his secretary and confidante, Gaspard Levivé, for whom Lerestelle has particular fondness. Roché tells her that recently France received an insult so deliberately offensive that the country would be forced to go to war with the offending nation if word of it got out. Roché knew France was not prepared for such a conflict and would suffer for it, so the insult was to be hidden - for now! He got in writing from his biggest rival an agreement to that effect. Now that document, which had been in his safe, has been reclaimed by the rival and is being used as blackmail. Levivé is the prime suspect for who got it from the safe and gave it to the rival.