Aide Lerestelle is a part-time agent for French Intelligence.
I probably should throw in "freelance" because she definitely does not come across as being an actual employee. We see this shortly after we first meet her as she is approached by a man high up in the echelons of the government, possibly even the head of French Intelligence, a man named Roché. His goal is entice her to again undertake a mission for him. Note that statement well for two reasons: first, he goes TO HER to get her help rather than summon her, and second, he GOES to her in that he leaves his office and seeks her out, in the street outside a shop - a far different time than these days!
The time period of her activities is the turn of the century as the 19th makes way for the 20th. France is about halfway through its Third Republic but tensions are pretty taut with worries about Germany and Austria-Hungary and the need for solidifying alliances and pacts with other nations is tremendous as is the desire to keep such maneuvers very hush-hush.
She addresses this Roché as 'Premier' but at other times, far less formally for there is obviously a long friendship between them and possibly a fascinating history; she is not at all reticient to mildly chastise or tease him and in ending that brief meeting mentioned above, she sends him on his way in a cheery manner but with a "you weary me" tossed in. In response, he compliments her in earnest as being "the cleverest woman in Paris".
Lerestelle shows at the moment just how confident she is in her abilities for she informs us just after being asked to help and telling him her plans, "I already counted my mission as accomplished". As we will witness, her belief in herself will never waver even then life throws a few unforeseen obstacles in her path, a couple of which will have her certain she was about to breathe her last.
Lerestelle is obviously a woman of considerable wealth. Even before we are told in the second adventure that "she is one of the richest" in Paris, we watched her at a very high-end dress shop seeing a one-of-kind gown she admired; she insisted on buying it on the spot not bothering to ask the price and when told it was already purchased by someone else offered double and then triple. And the owner of the establishment, who was obviously familiar with her, was not the least surprised with the offer - nor with the petulant way she acted when denied.
In an interesting dichotomy, Lerestelle is a woman very used to the finest things with many of them just handed her - especially by her quite attractive and useful maid, Therese, while at the same time willing, and if truth be told, sometimes eager, to throw herself into unpleasant and dangerous situations to make sure that the confidence I mention above remains justified.
The reasoning for her willing involvement in the matters that Roché brings her from time to time is her "love for a little excitement, something to relieve the ennui of a solitary existence" though she is more apt to agree to a mission when there was the required "something of the glamour of romance".
Lerestelle brings to her occasional assignment a wonderful conceit: "A far-seeing Providence must surely have intended women to shine in diplomacy, for men are so impressionable, and some women so fascinating, that the victory is assured before the struggle commences".
- Said by the French Premier, "men are diplomats by education, women by intuition. It is civilization against nature."
- Commented by Lerestelle, "Men, despite their deceit, are strangely truthful sometimes".
- Another observation by Lerestelle, "all men are young - or at least feel they are - when a pretty woman smiles upon them".
- Said by Roché concerning an English ambassador being an honorable man, "Tush! [He] is a diplomat, and the code of honor is different".
- In a wonderful show of conceit, when Lerestelle had to leave a skating partner for a meeting, she thought, "all my feminine friends were dying to skate with him. It went against my heart to give him up to a woman who would only bore him".
- Regarding a rival of Roché whom he says is "one of the greatest diplomats" and she calls "one of the most unscrupulous men in France", she concedes, "the terms are frequently synonymous".