Part 3 out of 5
"To a certain extent, yes," replied Edestone.
"Then why in the name of common sense don't you let 'Lord Denton' and
me have it and we will guarantee to have it used where it will do the
most good. He has more pull with the Government than any man in
England. I think you know pretty well now who he is," he added with a
wink. "If it is the war you want stopped, he is the best man outside
of the King or Kaiser."
"Well, yes, Mr. Rebener," said Edestone, "I do know who 'Lord Denton'
is and had the pleasure of seeing him this afternoon at Buckingham
Palace, but I thought perhaps he would prefer that I should preserve
his incognito and, following the example of his most charming Duchess,
permitted myself to forget. I shall be most happy to----"
He halted and turned as a waiter stepped up behind his chair to
"I beg pardon, sir, but the Marquis of Lindenberry wishes to speak to
you on the telephone.
"I am sorry, sir, but you will have to go to the booth in the room
behind the stairs. Mr. Rebener's telephone is out of order."
"What do you mean, 'my telephone is out of order'?" Rebener glanced up
sharply. "I used it not twenty minutes ago." And going into the
adjoining room he tried to speak to the floor switchboard.
"The fellow's right," he admitted on returning to the table. "You'll
have to use the booth, Jack. Waiter, show Mr. Edestone where to go."
"This way, sir," said the waiter, and he conducted Edestone down the
long corridor, passing one of Captain Bright's cavalrymen at almost
every turn. Just around the foot of the stairs the waiter showed him a
"There it is, sir," he pointed.
Edestone went in and found himself in a room that was almost dark. It
was lighted only by a shaded electric bulb used by the man at the
switchboard, who sat facing the door but hidden from anyone entering
by the high instrument in front of him. Edestone walked over to him,
finding him almost obscured by the huge green shade pulled down over
his eyes, and seemingly very much occupied with both incoming and
"Is there a call for Mr. Edestone?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," said the man without looking up from his plugs. "The
second booth from this end, No. 2."
Edestone, turning, saw in the dim light a row of booths against the
wall over beyond the door. It was quite dark in that corner, but he
could see that the door of the second booth was open. He went inside,
muttering as he did so, "I think they might give a fellow a little
As he sat down and took up the receiver, he put out his hand to stop
the door from slowly closing, apparently by itself. It was one of
those double-walled, sound-proof, stuffy boxes, and he did not want
the door shut tight, so he put out his foot to hold it open. But he
was just a moment too late. The door shut with a little bang, and when
he tried to open it again, he found that it seemed to have jammed.
THE VOICE IN THE TELEPHONE
Edestone waited. He thought he heard, or rather he felt, a vibration
as if someone were moving in the next booth. He tried the door again,
but found that it held fast.
He was about to signal the switchboard operator and tell him to come
and open up the booth, when an, "Are you there, Mr. Edestone?" came to
him from across the wire, and caused him for the moment to forget the
"Hello!" he answered. "Yes; I am Mr. Edestone. Who is this?"
The voice, instead of replying directly, spoke as if to another person
with an aside. "Mr. Edestone is on the wire."
A moment, and then a second voice spoke. "Are you there, Mr.
It was not the voice of his friend, and he answered a trifle
impatiently: "Yes. Who are you? Are you speaking for the Marquis of
"No, I am not," came the reply. "And I must apologize for having used
The voice bore the unmistakable intonation of an English gentleman.
"I am the Count Kurtz von Hemelstein. I regret that circumstances
compel me to force myself upon you in this caddish manner. But my duty
as a soldier in the service of His Majesty, the Emperor of Germany,
demands it. I shall not delay you long, however, if you will only do
what I ask."
There was a moment's pause. Involuntarily Edestone drew back slightly
from the instrument.
"Count Kurtz von Hemelstein, did you say?" He spoke with a touch of
sternness. "I do not think that I have ever had the pleasure of
meeting you, sir. I did meet a Count Heinrich von Hemelstein last
"Yes; that was my brother. He has often spoken of you, Mr. Edestone.
If I am not mistaken, you were rivals for the attention of a pretty,
young matron with a good-natured husband?"
"Not rivals, Count von Hemelstein." Edestone laughed, but under the
laugh he was doing some rapid thinking. "Your brother was the favoured
one, and when the war broke out, and he had to leave for the front,
the lady was almost inconsolable.
"But, Count von Hemelstein," he continued, "what can I do for you? We
Americans, you know, do not always insist upon a formal introduction.
As we say, 'Any friend of a friend of mine.'"
"Also, you are wrong on one point," said the Count, with a little
chuckle. "I have had the pleasure of meeting you. It was a trifle
informal, I must admit, but you were just as charming as you are now,
and I think I am indebted to you to the amount of several shillings.
In the end, you did leave me rather abruptly, and seemed offended at
something I had done; but I trust you have recovered from that by this
time." Edestone could hear him laughing heartily.
"You have met me?" repeated Edestone, completely mystified. "When and
"Today; in London. Indeed, I am in London now."
"In London, Count von Hemelstein?" Involuntarily Edestone lowered his
voice. "But I say, isn't that taking a bit of a chance for a German
officer? Where are you speaking from now, may I ask?"
The Count was laughing so, that just at first he could not answer; but
after a moment he managed to control his amusement.
"I am in the next booth to you," he said.
When he spoke again, his tone had lost all trace of levity and become
hard and direct like that of a man charged with a distasteful duty,
yet with which he was determined not to let his feelings interfere.
"In regard to our meeting today," he said; "I was in disguise. In
short, I was the taxi-driver whom you gave the slip this afternoon by
the aid of that cur, Schmidt. And now, Mr. Edestone, you must realize
what it is I want." In a more conciliatory tone, he added: "I can see
no reason, however, why we should not settle this matter as between
"Please be more explicit," returned Edestone, quietly.
"In brief, then, I am authorized by my Government to meet, and even
double or quadruple any offer for your invention made by the English
Government. I will take your word of honour. All that you have to do
is to say now, on your word as a gentleman, that you will sell it to
my Government, and you can return to your friends. My Government will
then communicate with you, and close with you at your own price."
"And if I decline the proposition?" said Edestone.
"Then I fear I shall be compelled to use force; and much as I may
regret to do so, I will tell you that I am prepared to stop at
"You are now," he went on, "locked in that solid oak booth, with its
strong double doors, perfectly sound-proof. The operator at the
switchboard is my man. He can by pulling a wire uncork a bottle which
is concealed in your booth and asphyxiate you in one half minute."
But if he had expected the American to show any trepidation as a
result of his threats, he soon found out his mistake. Edestone's reply
was as insouciant as if he had been merely commenting on the weather.
"Really, this is quite interesting, Count von Hemelstein," he said. "I
might almost call you a man after my own heart. That bottle trick is
so simple and yet effective that I, as an inventor, cannot help but
compliment you. I am wondering just what chemical you have employed.
There are of course a dozen or more that would answer your purpose;
but as their action varies greatly in the effect upon the victim, I am
"Does that mean that you are about to decline my offer?" demanded the
Count sharply. "Have a care, Mr. Edestone. I am not merely trying to
frighten you, as you may suppose. The facts are just as I have stated
them, and I shall not hesitate to----"
"Assuredly, my dear Count," Edestone broke in. "I have never doubted
that for a moment. Nor am I going to refuse your proposition--that is,
not definitely. Instead, I have been so pleased by the charming manner
in which you have presented this little matter that I desire to submit
a counter-proposition. Only, I must beg you to urge your modest friend
with the weak eyes out there at the switchboard to be a little careful
with that wire. Judging from the atmosphere in this booth, his bottle
has been leaking for some time."
"Come, come, Mr. Edestone." The Count's voice rose nervously, showing
the strain under which he was labouring. "I have already told you that
this is no joke. If it is your game to play for time, in the hope that
some one may come to release you, or that you may discover the manner
in which the bottle is secreted, you are going to be disappointed. I
must do my work quickly. If I do not have your answer at once, I will
give the signal and take your instrument away from you by force."
"It is not time I want, but air." Edestone gave a little gasp. "You
yourself have spent more time than I, with your kind explanations as
to how I may avoid what would be to me a most distressing accident.
However, since celerity is what you want, I hasten to say that I have
not my instrument, nor indeed any instrument with me."
"Not with you?" snapped the Prussian angrily. "Where is it, then?"
"Ah! That is my counter-proposition. Count von Hemelstein, if I
promise to tell you, on my word of honour, where you may find this
instrument of mine that contains the entire secret of my
invention--and it is near at hand where, if you are a brave man, you
can easily get it,--if I do this, will you, on your side, give me your
word as a gentleman, that you will immediately open this booth?
"I may add," he went on, as von Hemelstein seemed to hesitate, "that
this is my last and only proposition, and you can take that or
nothing. I will die here in this box before I will sell my invention
to any European Government; but you may have it as a free gift, Count,
if you have the nerve to go after it. There is a challenge to your
boasted Prussian valour! Are you a sport, Count von Hemelstein, or are
Von Hemelstein wavered no longer. From what Edestone told him, he
argued that the inventor must have left his instrument with some of
his subordinates, probably Black and Stanton, and relied upon them to
protect it; and it stung him to think that the American should believe
a German officer would falter at such odds--a couple of electricians,
mere Yankee artisans.
"Yes," he growled hoarsely. "I accept your terms. It is a bargain."
"On your honour?"
"On my word of honour as a Prussian officer and a gentleman."
"Well, then, hurry up and open this door. It is getting stifling in
here; and, besides, Rebener will be growing anxious about me."
"But, first, your information. Where is the instrument?"
"Oh, the instrument?" It was now Edestone's turn to laugh. "Why, that
is lying on the floor under the table in Mr. Rebener's dining-room. I
dropped it there, when I came out to answer your telephone call, and I
also gave instructions to the sentries on guard at the door of the
apartment to shoot any one who attempted to pass in or out during my
absence. You are doubtless a brave man, but I do not think you are
prepared to tackle a whole company of British cavalry.
"And now," he concluded, "I have kept to my bargain. Will you kindly
open the door?"
A muttered German imprecation, like a snarl of baffled chagrin, was
his only answer. But a moment later the door to his booth swung open,
and he was free.
As he stepped out, he found the lights in the room turned on, and the
man at the switchboard gone. He also noticed that the door to the
adjoining booth was shaking, as if someone had just jerked it open and
had passed out hurriedly, and, as he came out into the corridor, he
thought he glimpsed the figure of a man hastily disappearing down the
staircase. So far as any other evidence went, except for his wilted
collar and heaving lungs, the whole experience might have been a
He returned quietly to the dinner table, and stooping over, as if to
pick up his napkin, recovered the instrument and slipped it into his
"Lord Denton" and "Karlbeck" kept staring at him with puzzled, almost
"Did you find your friend on the wire?" finally ventured "Lord
Denton," leaning across the table toward him.
"No; it was another gentleman speaking for him," smiled Edestone, "a
mere visitor to England like myself. I took the liberty of asking him
to join us, but he declined. He is, I fancy, leaving the country very
shortly--probably going to Berlin."
A little gasp from behind him caused him to turn in his seat. It came
from the hotel proprietor who, entering the room by the rear door,
stood rooted in amazement at the sight of Edestone, his jaw dropping,
his eyes as big as saucers.
Edestone regarded him a moment; then turned to his host.
"What silly-looking waiters you have in this hotel, Rebener," he said.
"That fellow yonder doesn't appear to have brains enough to be even a
The real waiter, overhearing this compliment to his employer, clapped
his hand over his mouth and dived for the pantry, just managing to get
through the swinging door before he exploded.
The self-satisfied Bombiadi also overheard, and although he
endeavoured to appear unconscious, a dull red flush crept up over his
cheeks, and after shifting for a moment from one foot to the other, he
left the room.
"Lord Denton" and "Karlbeck" exchanged glances out of the corners of
their eyes; and Rebener, although he made out to grin at the speech,
shifted a little uneasily in his chair.
But Edestone, who, under his quiet exterior, possessed a rather
mischievous spirit, was not yet through with them.
"As I was saying when I was called to the telephone," he leaned across
the table toward the _incognito_ Royal Duke, "the desire of Your Royal
Highness--pardon me, I mean, of 'Lord Denton'--is of course to see
England victorious in this contest; but that may mean years of
fighting and an appalling loss of men and money. Such true patriots as
yourself and 'Mr. Karlbeck' must see that it would be far better to
end the war now, provided that a lasting peace can be ensured, and
that I think I can guarantee with my discovery. I should be delighted,
therefore, to co-operate with you gentlemen to that end, and if you
would advocate the proposition that England allow me to go to Berlin
with something to show that she is willing to enter into _pour
parlers_, I shall bring pressure to bear on Germany to make some
"Lord Denton," however, seemed no longer interested in the matter, and
was unable to concentrate his attention; while "Mr. Karlbeck" made no
attempt to hide the fact that he was disgusted gusted with the
evening, and wished to see it end as soon as possible.
Rebener, seeing his dinner a failure, although not quite understanding
the cause, like many a nervous host compelled to face a tableful of
distinguished guests who do not hesitate to show that they are bored,
did the silliest thing possible under the circumstances, and drank
more than he should.
Presently he began to talk in such unrestrained fashion that "Mr.
Karlbeck" looked as if he would faint with apprehension, while His
Royal Highness sought by every possible means to divert Edestone's
attention from the broad hints and imprudent revelations that were
They were still engaged at this, when suddenly the door was thrown
open, and some one announced in a loud voice, "The King's Messenger!"
"Karlbeck" and "Lord Denton" sprang to their feet, their faces ashy
pale, as they stood grasping the backs of their chairs. When, a moment
later, Colonel Stewart, the Equerry, appeared on the threshold, they
both crumpled up, and dropped into their chairs, fit subjects for the
The Colonel stared at them in undisguised surprise, a slow frown
gathering between his eyes.
"Your Royal Highness did not mention to me this afternoon that he was
dining with Mr. Edestone tonight," he drew himself up stiffly. And it
was in his mind that, on the contrary, His Royal Highness had
inveighed against the American inventor as a fraud and a fakir, and
had loudly urged that no attention be paid to him or his claims.
Neither did Colonel Stewart forget that certain ugly whispers had been
in circulation regarding the loyalty of these two high-born Englishmen
with the Teutonic names. What did it mean, then, when he found them
here in the apartment of a man practically known as a German agent,
and in conference with the possessor of the secret which Germany was
seeking so eagerly to obtain?
Whatever his suspicions, though, he said nothing further at the time,
but turned to Edestone.
"I am sorry to disturb you, Mr. Edestone, but His Majesty, the King,
has ordered that certain messages be delivered to you without delay,
and I should appreciate it, if you would give me a few minutes of your
Then, when Edestone, after requesting Rebener's permission, had
withdrawn with him into the salon, he explained that the King had
instructed Sir Egbert Graves to call the following morning at nine
o'clock and to state the decision of the Government in answer to the
"Will that hour be convenient to you?" asked the Colonel.
"Perfectly," Edestone assented. Then on an impulse, he added: "I do
not leave for the Continent until eleven."
The Equerry extended his hand. "In that case, I shall probably not see
you again. Good-bye, Mr. Edestone; I trust you will have a pleasant
journey and good luck when you reach Berlin."
It was evident that he was not to be detained. He was in no sense a
prisoner, but free to go or stay as he chose. With a smile of
gratification, he responded to Colonel Stewart's parting salute, and
returned to the dining-room.
There he found the two discomfited members of the nobility just taking
their leave; while Rebener, his earlier ill-humour put aside, was
playing the rather too strenuous host, and with his flushed face and
over-loud manner urging them to stay and "have another." Wouldn't they
try one of his wonderful cigars? Just one pony of his marvellous
But His Royal Highness, pale as death, was bent on getting away, and
turned a deaf ear to all these hospitable suggestions; and although
"Mr. Karlbeck" did consent to gulp down a large glass of Rebener's
very fine brandy, he immediately hurried off in the wake of his royal
Edestone left almost immediately, and his "guard of honour," to which
he was getting quite accustomed by this time, having been duly
assembled, he was escorted back to the hotel and a sleepy-eyed James.
IN THE HANDS OF THE GERMANS
The next morning Sir Egbert Graves called. He touched first upon the
occurrences of the evening before at Rebener's dinner, and Edestone
was surprised to learn how fully the Government was informed
concerning all that had transpired.
"His Majesty begs that you will, if possible, forget the whole
distasteful episode," Sir Egbert said, with a stern face, and a flash
of contempt in his eye. "His Royal Highness has been relieved of his
commission and is in retirement, and the Duchess of Windthorst
together with Princess Wilhelmina is leaving to join the Princess
Adolph, in Berlin. By these means, and of course with your silence,
upon which he counts, His Majesty hopes to keep England in ignorance
of the fact that such rottenness exists in his immediate household."
"And so that pretty young girl who crossed with me on the
_Ivernia_ is in the mire too," thought Edestone; for it seemed to
him that the King's order of exile against the Duchess and herself
could mean nothing else. Yet somehow his feeling of disdain and
aversion for the traitor did not extend to the feminine members of the
family. For them he had only sorrow and sympathy.
Meanwhile, Sir Egbert, as if glad to be rid of so disagreeable a
subject, had taken up the direct purpose of his call.
He said that, whereas the King was unwilling to offer any terms of
settlement that Germany in her present mood would be apt to consider,
His Majesty thought that after she understood the position of the
United States, and after her spies had reported the nature of
Edestone's reception in London, and especially after the inventor
should have had an interview with the Emperor, the Berlin Government
might suggest something which could serve as a basis upon which to
open negotiations. In such a case, His Majesty was of the opinion that
Edestone, if he were willing to undertake the delicate task, would be
the most suitable person to act as a go-between.
The Foreign Minister made it plain that England could promise nothing
at that time; but that he had her friendly interest upon his mission,
and that she would listen in the most conciliatory spirit to any
proposition he might bring back.
He brought letters to the President of France, General French, General
Joffre, and others, which would guarantee Edestone's safety up to the
German line; but suggested that it would be well not to show the
French too much, since they were such a volatile nation that they
might readily decide to retire from the field and allow the United
States and England to settle the matter. On account of the long and
sincere friendship which had existed between the French people and
those of the United States, France might feel that she could depend
upon the United States to recover her lost territory, together with
Alsace and Lorraine, and that was all she wanted.
In leaving, Sir Egbert, upon behalf of the King, insisted on placing a
torpedo boat at Edestone's disposal. Then, with the assurance that
anything he might have to communicate to the British Government would
be given most careful consideration, the Foreign Minister bowed
Edestone could not but compare this interview with the one he had held
with Lord Rockstone--the opening gun of his campaign. Verily,
twenty-four hours had made a vast change in the attitude of the
His journey to Paris was uneventful except for one incident.
In the middle of the Channel, as he leaned against the rail, gazing
back toward the white cliffs of Dover, he drew the Deionizer from his
pocket and quietly dropped it overboard. With scarcely a splash the
little instrument, for which the warring nations were willing to
barter millions and commit almost any crime, disappeared beneath the
He did not, however, intend giving any further demonstration until his
arrival in Berlin, and there he thought he might have a larger and
better one; while, in the meantime, and especially since his encounter
with Count von Hemelstein had shown him how far the Germans were
prepared to go, he did not feel like taking any unnecessary chances.
At Calais, he was received by the representative of the President and
other high officials, and when they had seen some of his photographs,
and had heard an outline of his plans, they readily followed the lead
of England in accrediting him as a sort of unofficial peacemaker.
Indeed, the Frenchmen looked upon Edestone as someone almost
superhuman--a being who had come to establish on earth the dream of
their philosophers, "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"--and they gloried
in the good fortune of their sister Republic in having produced and
sent to their rescue such a son.
When he left for Berlin, he was conducted to the Swiss frontier like a
conquering hero, and, with prayers that he would be careful while in
the land of the Huns, was turned over to the Swiss Government. The
latter also accorded him every consideration and courtesy; but when he
finally left their outposts behind and arrived on German soil, he
found a different story.
Here, he was immediately taken in charge by the frontier military
authorities, and practically held a prisoner for three days under the
excuse that instructions in regard to him had to be asked for from
He was incensed at the petty annoyances to which he was subjected by
his jailer, a fat old German martinet.
Under one pretext or another he and his men were constantly being
interrogated, and his baggage, which they insisted upon opening, was
thoroughly and repeatedly searched.
When they discovered among other things something that suggested a
miniature wireless plant, they would not let him or any of his men out
of their sight. His letters were so strong, however, that they would
not dare to do anything with him without instructions.
He let it be known that he had absolutely nothing hidden on his person
by taking off all of his clothes and going to bed, and would
apparently sleep while watching the spies go through them. They seemed
to enjoy this little game so much that he would sometimes play it once
or twice a day, varying it by taking a bath or having James give him
They never seemed to suspect that he was playing with them, but would
stand around and pounce down on his clothes, each time searching them
thoroughly as if they had discovered something entirely new, when they
had just turned the same things inside out within an hour.
While waiting here, too, he came to learn how intensely bitter was the
feeling against Americans among Germans of all classes. They regarded
themselves as superior beings, he found, and when they first noted his
splendid physique, would not believe but that he must have German
blood in his veins. When he convinced them, however, that he was of
pure Anglo-Saxon stock, Virginia bred--a thorough-paced "Yankee," as
they called it--even the peasants treated him as the dirt beneath
But at last word came from the German General Staff. He was "sealed,
stamped, and marked, 'not to be opened until after delivery in
Berlin.'" He was shown greater consideration now; but it was a
consideration which rather unpleasantly reminded him of that shown by
the keeper to a condemned prisoner in presenting him with his new
clothes in which to be executed.
He and his men and all his belongings--the latter carefully listed in
triplicate--were put into a private car, and locked in, like a rich
American with the smallpox whom they were sending out of the country;
while, to add to his comfort, he was told that Count von Hemelstein
was to act as his escort.
As they started on the journey, Edestone had an opportunity of seeing
in his true character for the first time the man whom he had so
cleverly outwitted in the telephone booth, and he found it hard work
to identify the smart cavalry officer as the grimy London taxi-driver
of a few days before.
The Count was a big, splendid-looking fellow, who rather affected an
American manner in order to hide the fact that he had been educated
both at school and college in England. Without his uniform, he would
have been taken anywhere for an Englishman, blond, blue-eyed giant
that he was, with as beautiful a moustache and as winning a smile as
was ever given to the hero of a love story. He wore the uniform of a
Colonel of Uhlans, which well set off his handsome figure. In fact, he
was as noble-looking an Uhlan as ever, either before or after
marriage, broke the heart of a rich brewer's daughter.
"Delighted to meet you again, Mr. Edestone," he grasped the American's
hand, with a hearty laugh. "Ever since our last encounter, I have been
wanting the opportunity of asking how you knew that I would keep my
word and release you, when you divulged to me the whereabouts of your
instrument there in the telephone booth? Didn't you realize that, by
'putting you out,' and then having the switchboard man raise an alarm,
I could in the resultant confusion, easily have secured the
"But I also realized that I was dealing with a soldier, not a burglar;
and I took a chance," said Edestone with a smile.
"Well," said the Colonel, "now that you are safe in Germany what
difference does it make? We mean to keep you here."
"The United States might have something to say to that," suggested
"The United States? Bah! One more country to fight; what difference
would it make to Germany, especially one that could make so little
showing? You have no army. Your navy could do no more than England is
already doing. We are at present cut off from your supplies as much as
if we were at war with you. Finally, the German-Americans would put
the brakes on you, now that another Presidential election is
"No, Mr. Edestone," he shook his head triumphantly; "you are making a
bad mistake, if you are relying on the protection of the United
States, now that you have stuck your head into the tiger's mouth."
"Do I understand, Count von Hemelstein, that Germany proposes to hold
me a prisoner? Are you telling me that she would dare do such a
"Ah, do not put it so crudely." The Count raised his hand a trifle
mockingly. "Let us say, rather, that we expect you to become so
convinced of the righteousness of our cause that you will gladly turn
over your instrument and render us any other aid you can toward the
crushing of our enemies."
The smile faded from his lips, and for a moment he, "showed his
"Take my advice, my friend," he said sharply. "Don't try to frighten
the Wilhelmstrasse with your moving pictures and your covert threats
of intervention by the United States as you did at Buckingham Palace.
We are made of sterner stuff here. We know the nature of your
invention, and just what you can accomplish with it; and our gifted
men of science are now hard at work in the effort to duplicate your
"My brother brought back word a year ago," he disclosed, "that you
were building a super-dreadnought 907 feet long, 90 feet beam, 35 feet
draught, 40,000 tons displacement. We also know that you are now
working full blast night and day at your 'Little Place in the
Country.' We know about the tricks you played with that flunkey in
your audience with the King. A hint to us Germans is all that is
"We know further," he went on in a sterner voice, "the sentiments of
love and devotion toward England that you expressed to the English
King, and we know the tenor of the answer that was returned to your
"But do you imagine that you can come here, sir, and dictate terms to
our Emperor, or arrange a peace for us, which would mean anything less
than the absolute humbling of England? Do you think we would run the
slightest risk of letting this invention of yours fall into England's
"Your question was expressed very undiplomatically, Mr. Edestone, for
one who is arrogating to himself the prerogatives of an envoy and
ambassador. Nations in speaking to one another use language that is
lighter than fairy's thought, and sweeter than a baby's dream, but
more deadly than a pestilence. But I will answer you on this occasion
just as bluntly and baldly.
"We do propose to hold you virtually a prisoner on German soil until
such time as our men of science have completed their labours. If they
succeed in solving the secret of your discovery, we shall be ready to
try conclusions with the United States, and shall deal with you
personally as may seem most advisable, dragging you by force from the
very Embassy itself, if you attempt to take refuge there. If, on the
other hand, our men of science fail, your position will be in no way
preferable. We will simply compel you to disclose your secret to us,
and, as I told you once before, we stop at nothing to gain our ends.
Your best plan, therefore, and I believe I am your sincere friend when
I tell you this, is to sell to my Government at once."
A slightly amused smile flitted over Edestone's lips from time to time
as he listened; but when he spoke it was quite seriously.
"I have no doubt," he said, "that everything you tell me is absolutely
true. Germany is undoubtedly thorough, whether her thoroughness take
the form of the destruction of Louvain, or of sewing two buttons where
only one is needed on the trousers of her soldiers. But I pity her for
not finding a larger way to gain her ends in the first place, and for
her conceit in thinking that a lot of little thoughts and extra
buttons when added together make a great nation. Germany may know
exactly how many gold and how many amalgam fillings there are in the
teeth of the German army, but she does not know that thousands of men
leave Germany and come to the United States simply because they do not
want their teeth counted. Germany may know what I have done and am
doing at my place on the Hudson, but she does not know that she has so
incensed me by her methods of obtaining this information that it were
better for her if she had never known, or you so boastful as to have
told me of it.
"Yes," and he spoke almost with the fervour of an inspired prophet;
"Germany may know her alphabet of war from end to end, forward and
backward, but she does not know that she and it are doomed to
destruction, because she thinks that she can drive the intelligent
modern world with a spear, as her forefathers did the wild beasts of
the Black Forest."
Von Hemelstein started and laid his hand indignantly to the hilt of
his sword. His instructions to bring Edestone safely to Berlin alone
prevented him from punishing then and there such insult to his country
and his Emperor.
"My orders prevent me from killing you!" he said hoarsely, as he
straightened up and, drawing his heels together with a click, turned
and stalked away.
He took a seat at the other side of the car, and as if utterly
oblivious that such a creature as Edestone existed, produced and
deliberately adjusted the two parts of a very long and handsome
cigarette holder, and with much straining of his very tight uniform
restored the case to the place provided by law for its concealment on
his glittering person. He then took out his cigarette case, and after
selecting a cigarette, he gently tapped it on the gold cover, glaring
all the time quite through and beyond the unspeakable American. With
more absurd contortions the cigarette case was disposed of, and
matches produced. Then, stretching out his beautiful patent-leather
boots, he finally lighted his cigarette.
He took a deep inhalation, and blew from the very bottom of his lungs
a thin cloud of smoke in Edestone's direction, while with much
rattling he unfolded a newspaper, and pretended to read it.
Edestone, who was with difficulty keeping a straight face, sat all
this time solemnly watching him with the expression of a schoolgirl
looking at her matinee idol at about the juncture in the last act when
that hero puts on his kingly robes which have been hidden for a
hundred years in the moth closet of his twenty-story apartment house
on upper Riverside Drive.
When the Count finally peeped cautiously over the top of his paper to
see what effect he was producing, he felt almost tempted to applaud
and blow him a kiss.
"Count von Hemelstein," he said lazily, when finally the Prussian had
put down his paper, and was sitting glaring in front of him, "I was
just thinking what a stunning book-cover you would make for a cheap
novel, or how many thousands of bottles of beer your picture would
sell in Hoboken. Hoboken, you know, is the headquarters of the
German-American standing army, and your second largest naval base. Or
you might serve as----"
He halted in some anxiety, for it seemed as if the Count were about to
choke to death.
THE GERMAN POINT OF VIEW
They sat this way for some time, Edestone looking thoughtfully out of
the car window and rather disgusted with himself for having lessened
his dignity in the eyes of the other man.
He was broad enough to be able to put himself in von Hemelstein's
place. He knew that by birth, education, and example the man's attitude
to him, in fact to the rest of the world, was that of a superior being
looking down upon those immeasurably beneath him. For him, a Prussian
nobleman, to be spoken to in this way by one of a lower sphere was bad
enough, but when that one was of the very lowest of spheres, an
American, it was acute pain. He looked upon Edestone as a low comedian
rather than as a gentleman in the hands of a chivalrous enemy, which
the officer considered himself to be.
Edestone himself felt no resentment but the sort of pity that he would
feel for one who was born with an hereditary weakness that he could no
more control than the colour of his eyes. He was as sorry as he would
have been, had he been guilty of laughing at the irregularity of
another man's teeth which were not so perfect as his own.
He got up and walked slowly over toward his travelling companion. The
handsome warrior quickly let his hand fall to his loaded automatic as
if he expected to be attacked, but when he saw Edestone standing
quietly before him, and with a rather sad smile on his face, he turned
back to his reading and refused to look up, even after Edestone had
begun to speak.
"I am sorry, Count von Hemelstein," said the inventor, "to have
offended you, and I beg that you will accept my most humble apology. We
Americans, I fear, are too much inclined to let our sense of humour run
away with us."
The soldier raised his eyes with a threatening look, not knowing but
that Edestone was still poking fun at him, or else, fearing the
consequences of his rashness, was trying to ingratiate himself with his
jailer. But after that glance at Edestone's face he felt confident that
his apology was sincere. The Prussian's pride was too deeply wounded,
however, for him to give in at once.
"I am glad, Mr. Edestone," he replied stiffly, "that you realize that
it is not customary to speak lightly of Germany in the presence of one
of her officers."
"I know," exclaimed Edestone, "it was extremely bad taste for me to
criticize a civilization so much older than my own, but you will," he
smiled, "forgive the cowboy I am sure when he tells you he is sorry."
Then seeing by the expression of the officer's face that he had won the
day: "Come now, Count von Hemelstein, let's be friends. I would not
have liked you had you not resented my remarks, and I was a cad to take
advantage of your absolutely defenceless position."
The Count broke out into a hearty laugh, and jumping up took Edestone's
"You Americans," he vowed, all traces of his ill-feeling gone, "are the
most remarkable chaps. I never saw a cowboy, but if they are anything
like you they must be descended from some branch of the Hohenzollern
"No, I cannot claim that distinction," laughed Edestone; "but I think
perhaps there are many cowboys who if they knew and knowing cared to
could boast of as distinguished a lineage. Did you ever breed dogs,
Count? Well, if you have, you would know that the good points of the
champion do not always appear in the oldest son of the oldest son, but
spring up where we least expect to find them. And so it is I think with
men; the good points are in the blood and will appear long after the
man has lost his family tree. Sometimes they appear in individuals who
show so strongly the traits of the champion that they scorn the
existence of musty documents to tell them who they are."
"Then, Mr. Edestone, you do not believe in our method of keeping our
best blood where it belongs--at the top?"
"Yes, I do most thoroughly approve of some of your methods. They are
perhaps the best that have yet been devised, but you have not yet found
the true method of following the centre of the stream. You sometimes
dip from an eddy, simply because you believe that at some time it might
have been in the middle, and you allow the deep dark red torrent to
carry its saturated solution by you."
"Well, Mr. Edestone," the Count smiled, "whether you are descended from
a cowboy king or a business baron, you are deuced good company. I am
glad that if I am to be cooped up here for two days it is with you
instead of some conceited English duke, whose English grandfather was a
fool and whose American grandfather was a knave--oh, I beg pardon. I am
like poor little Alice in Wonderland when she was talking with the
mouse. I seem always to insist upon talking about cats."
"And now, Mr. Edestone, that you have been such a brick and apologized
to me, I shall have to admit that I was rather rude in what I said to
you. I think that the German Government has every intention of treating
you fairly, and if you will only listen to reason, you will find that
they are as anxious to bring this war to a close as is the United
States. I know, however, that Germany intends to have her fair share of
the earth; we are righting for our national existence, and we will not,
and in fact we cannot afford to, stop at anything. If you really do not
intend to sell your invention to any of the countries of Europe, you
can at least use your influence with the United States to keep out of
this muss, and let us settle our little difficulties in our own way."
Edestone became serious. "My sole object, Count von Hemelstein," he
said, "is to stop this war and settle these 'little difficulties,' as
you call them, without further loss of life. If your Government will
allow me to take back to England some assurance that it is now willing
to discuss a settlement, I know that my Government will keep out of the
The conversation was interrupted at this point by the stopping of the
train at a station where the Count said he expected to take on the
lunch baskets. With a comfortable lunch between them, and a bottle of
wine to divide, they soon forgot their differences and laughed and
joked like old friends.
"It is a great pity, Mr. Edestone," said the Uhlan, "that you are not a
German. I am sure the Kaiser would like you. He might even make you a
Count, and then you could marry some woman of rank and with all your
money you could be one of the greatest swells in Europe. He might make
you an officer, too, so that you could wear a uniform and carry the
decorations which he would confer upon you. Then when Americans came
over to Kiel in their big yachts, you could tell the Emperor which were
the real cowboy families and which were the Knickerbocker noblemen."
"Well, that is exactly what I was thinking about you, Count von
Hemelstein," Edestone chuckled. "If you would only come over to America
I would get you a nice position in one of our large department stores,
where your knowledge of German would be of the greatest assistance to
you and soon put you at the top. Your German-Jew boss would invite you
to his palace at Long Branch to dinner some night before a holiday and
you would meet his beautiful daughter. She would take you into the big
parlour, which would be open that night, and say to all her friends: 'I
want you to shake hands with Count von Hemelstein, who is head salesman
in Pa's M. & D. Department.' And she would be corrected by Ma, who
would say: 'No, dearie, you mean the M. & W. Department.'
"With your military training you would, by this time, have undoubtedly
become a second lieutenant in one of our exclusive National Guard
regiments, and after marrying 'Dearie,' you would come over to Germany
and visit me at one of my castles on the Rhine. I would now have
gambled away my entire fortune, and my son, the Baron von Edestone,
would marry 'Dearie's' daughter."
So they passed the time with good-humoured chaffing, carefully avoiding
more serious subjects, and when they reached Berlin they had become
But as the train pulled into the German capital the Count leaned forward
a trifle persuasively. "Now, Mr. Edestone," he said, "we have had a
deuced good time together, and to tell the truth I am sorry to turn you
over because I do not believe these old fellows on the General Staff will
understand you as I do, but don't be an ass, I beg of you, and stand up
against these wise old chaps. Do what they want you to do--they know
better than you how to handle this complicated European situation. You
will get no thanks for your trouble if you do not, and you may get your
fingers rapped or even pretty severely pinched. My orders are to see you
to some comfortable hotel, any that you may select. I would suggest the
Hotel Adlon as perhaps the most comfortable.
"After that I am to take you to call on General von Lichtenstein, who
will hear what you have to say, and if in his judgment you should go
higher he will pass you on."
"I am to see nothing more of you?" asked Edestone.
"My duty finishes when General von Lichtenstein takes you up. You will,
of course, be watched and your every movement will be recorded, but
that will not be my duty, nor here in Berlin will you be at all annoyed
by it. Now that you are in Germany, you will be looked upon as a friend
and treated accordingly, unless you are found not to be. I have given
you my card, and I will take great pleasure in introducing you at the
clubs or helping you in any way so long as it is consistent with my
"You are extremely kind, and I appreciate it very much, Count von
"Now above all things," warned the Count, and his tone was very
impressive, "if by any chance you should be ordered to appear before
His Imperial Majesty, please be careful what you say. You have said
things to me in the last two days which, understanding you as I do, I
could overlook, but I would no more think of repeating them while you
are in Germany than I would think of flying. They were not of a nature
that would make it my duty to report them, but they might get you into
no end of trouble. For instance, you would not be so foolish as to
intimate that the Hohenzollern family is not in the middle of the 'big
stream.'" He smiled in spite of himself.
Then as the train rolled into the station he took Edestone's hand and
said: "_Auf wiedersehen_, my friend. I must now assume my other role of
your escort of honour. Speak German," he suggested quickly as the
guards came into the car; "you will be less apt to be annoyed."
Edestone was conducted hastily through the station, where automobiles
waited to whisk him and his entire party off to the hotel. At his
request, the trunks containing all his apparatus were sent to the
American Embassy. He was not as familiar with Berlin as he was with the
other capitals of Europe, but if he had not known that Germany was
engaged in a most desperate war, and millions of her sons were being
sacrificed, there was nothing that he saw as he rushed through the city
that would have suggested it.
He was received at the hotel with extreme politeness, but it was the
politeness that was insulting. The proprietor, waiters, and even the
bell-boys treated him with poorly concealed contempt, and though he
spoke to them in perfect German, would always answer in English, as if
to show him that they knew he was of that despised race.
Count von Hemelstein left him with the understanding that he would call
for him in the morning and conduct him to General von Lichtenstein.
GENERAL VON LICHTENSTEIN
That afternoon, Edestone took occasion to call at the American Embassy,
where he found that Ambassador Gerard, broken down by the strain of the
first few months of the war, during which he had accomplished such
wonderful work, had been forced to go to Wiesbaden for a rest.
The Ambassador had left in charge Mr. William Jones, First Secretary of
Legation, who with his wife was occupying the Embassy and representing
the United States. The doctors had warned the Secretary that the
Ambassador's condition was such that he must have absolute quiet, and
that he should under no circumstances be troubled or even communicated
with in regard to affairs of state. Jones was, therefore, to all
intents and purposes the Ambassador.
This suited Edestone's plans perfectly, for Jones was only a few years
older than himself and he had known him intimately since boyhood.
His friend received him with almost the delight of a man who has been
marooned on a desert island and was pining for the sight of a friendly
"Well, well, Jack," he said, "what foolish thing is this that you are
up to now? We have received the most extraordinary instructions from
the State Department--I gather that the Secretary of State has either
lost his mind or that you have got him under a spell, and then with
your hypnotic power have suggested that he order us to do things which
we could not do in peace times and which are simply out of the question
now. Don't you people over home understand that these Germans, from the
Kaiser to the lowest peasant, are all in such an exalted state of
Anglophobia that they regard everyone with distrust, and are especially
suspicious of us. My advice to you, as Lawrence would say,"--referring
to one of his under-secretaries, a college mate and intimate friend of
Edestone's,--"is to 'can that high-brow stuff' and come down to earth."
"Now, speaking for myself as your friend, I advise you to go and see
General von Lichtenstein, whom you will find a delightful old gentleman
but as wise as Solomon's aunt. Talk to him like a sweet little boy, and
then come back to the Legation and stop with us while you see something
of the war. I can take you to within one hundred and fifty miles of the
firing line and show you the crack regiments of Germany looking as
happy and sleek as if they were merely out for one of the yearly
manoeuvres. I would have difficulty, though, in showing you any of the
wounded, as they are very careful to see that we are not offended by
any of the horrors that one reads of in the American papers."
"Berlin is being forced to fiddle, eh, while Germany is burning?"
"Yes, she suggests the hysterical condition of Paris just before the
Reign of Terror, while I, like Benjamin Franklin, in 'undertaker's
clothes' in the midst of barbaric splendour, wait for the inevitable."
"Is your face, like his, 'as well known as that of the moon'?" asked
"Yes, but a thing to be insulted, not like his to be painted on the
lids of snuff-boxes, as souvenirs for kings.
"Or if that does not amuse you, Mrs. Jones can introduce you to some of
the prettiest girls you ever saw."
"Big, strong, fat, and healthy, I suppose, with red faces looking as if
they had just been washed with soap and water."
"Well, then we might have some golf, and if you will give me half a
stroke, I will play you $5 a hole and $50 on the game. Or if that is
too rich for your blood, I will play you dollar Nassau. In fact, Jack,
I will do anything to get this foolish idea out of your head. These
people can't see a joke at any time, but to try one now might put you
into a very serious if not dangerous position. Now you go along and see
Lawrence, as I have to look after some American refugees who are
waiting in the outer office. You will dine with us tonight, of course."
Lawrence Stuyvesant, to whom the Secretary had referred, appeared at
the door at that moment and beckoned to Edestone. He was one of those
irrepressible Americans, born with an absolute lack of respect for
anything that suggested convention, at home in any company and showing
absolutely no preference. He would be found joking with the stokers in
the engine room when he might be walking with the Admiral on the
quarter-deck, flirting with a deaf old Duchess when he might be supping
with the leader of the ballet. With a sense of humour that would have
made his fortune on the stage, he spoke half-a-dozen languages and a
dozen dialects. He could imitate the Kaiser or give a Yiddish dialect
to a Chinaman. Light-hearted to a fault, he would make a joke at
anyone's expense, preferably his own. An entertaining chap, but a
rolling stone that could roll up hill or skip lightly over the surface
of a placid lake with equal facility. He had already run through two
considerable fortunes, and had been almost everything from a camel
driver to a yacht's captain. Now he imagined himself to be a diplomat.
"Behold the dreamer cometh," he said in Yiddish dialect as Edestone
approached, and grasping the inventor by both hands, dragged him into
the other room, and began to ask questions so fast that a Chicago
reporter, had he heard, would have died of sheer mortification.
After he had gotten all the information that he could pump, pull, and
squeeze out of Edestone, he shook his head discouragingly.
"I am darn glad to see you, old chap," he said, "but I am sorry to hear
that you have come over to try and reason with this bunch of nuts.
Don't you know they are so damn conceited that if you were to tell them
that every time you look at a German you see two men, they would
believe you; and then as if they hated to lie to themselves, they would
say perhaps it was an optical illusion. Tell them that God did not
create anyone but the Germans and that he left the rest of the world to
the students in his office, and they will give you a smile of assent."
Edestone smiled indulgently. "Tell them that when the Kaiser frowns
every wheel in the United States stops and refuses to move until
reassured by the German papers that it is but the frown of an indulgent
father and not the thunder of their future War Lord, and they will give
a knowing look. Tell them that only German is taught in our public
schools, and that any child who does not double-cross himself at the
mention of the name of any of the North German Lloyd steamers is taken
out and shot, and they will say, 'Ach so?'
"But just you pull something about what a hit Brother Henry made in the
United States, especially with the navy, and what a swell chance he
would have of being elected Admiral when Dewey resigns, then look out!
Get under your umbrella and sit perfectly still until the storm passes.
Keep well down in the trenches and don't expose anything that you do
not want sent to the cleaners. For when one of these Dutchmen begins to
splutter, there is nothing short of the U-29 that can stand the tidal
wave of beer and sauerkraut which has been lying in wait for some
unsuspecting neutral in their flabby jowls like nuts in a squirrel's
cheek. They back-fire, skip, short-circuit, and finally blow up, and if
you don't throw on a bucket or two of flattery quick, you've got a duel
on your hands, which for an American in this country means that you get
it going and coming."
Edestone, knowing Lawrence well, took what he said largely as a joke;
but from his own observations and from what Jones had told him he felt
convinced that there did not exist the kindest feeling for Americans in
Berlin. Brushing all this aside, he turned to Lawrence with a
"Where are the trunks that I sent to the Embassy?" he asked. "Have they
got here yet?"
"Down in the basement," Lawrence nodded.
"I'd like to get something out of them."
"Well, why look at me?" inquired Lawrence. "I'm no baggage smasher."
"It's a pity you're not," rejoined Edestone. "You would be better at
that than you are at diplomacy. However, all I want is for you to have
someone show me where they are."
"Fred, show the King of America where his royal impedimenta await his
royal pleasure," Lawrence directed a young man with the manners of a
Bowery boy, who appeared in answer to his summons.
With him Edestone went down to the trunks and took from one of them a
small receiving instrument with a dial attachment similar to the one on
top of the Deionizer, which he had dropped into the Channel. Then after
a few words with his other friends in the Embassy, he went back to the
The next morning Count von Hemelstein called, and it was quite like
meeting an old friend. Edestone was really sorry when, the Count
leaving him at the door of General Headquarters said: "This is where I
turn you over to my superiors. These are times that try men's souls,
and you are now dealing with men who must win."
They had arrived on the stroke of the hour, and Edestone was quickly
taken in charge and shown without a moment's delay into the presence of
General von Lichtenstein. The General was a man whose age was
impossible to tell. He was over sixty, but how much over one found it
hard to estimate. He was erect and rather thin, and he wore his uniform
with the care of a much younger man. The lines about his mouth and
chin, which are such a sure index, were hidden by a full beard, white
as snow and rather long. His high forehead was half covered by a huge
shock of hair, also perfectly white, which was parted neatly on the
side. His steel-blue eyes, looking out through a pair of gold-rimmed
spectacles, were bright, but were set so far back under his heavy brows
that they looked very old, very wise, and almost mysterious.
When Edestone was brought into the room without any form of
introduction, the General rose and greeted him in the most kind and
"Good-morning, Mr. Edestone," he said in English with a marked accent.
"I am very glad to see you," and, putting out his hand with an air of
simple kindness as if to lead him to a chair, he said: "Won't you sit
"You must not mind if I treat you like a boy," he went on with a gentle
smile; "you are about the age of my own son who was killed at Ypres. I
am too old to fight any more, so they keep me here to entertain
distinguished strangers like yourself," and he laughed quietly to
himself, looking at Edestone as he might at a little boy whom he had
just told that he had on a very pretty suit of clothes.
He picked up from his desk, a box of very large cigars, selected two,
and, after looking very carefully at one to see that it was absolutely
perfect, handed it without a word to Edestone. After he had watched
with great interest to see that Edestone had lighted his cigar
properly, he lighted his own.
"I see by the way you smoke that you are a good judge of tobacco. I
have always understood that you Americans like very fresh cigars and
smoke them immediately after they are made. I like them old myself."
"You are thinking of Cuba, perhaps," suggested Edestone.
"Oh, that is true," admitted the old gentleman. "The Americans live in
the United States and you do not allow the other inhabitants of the
hemisphere to the north or to the south of you to use that name. You
are perfectly right; you are--what do you call it?--the boss," and
again he smiled his gentle smile.
"I get all my cigars from England," he continued. "The English and I
have very similar tastes--in cigars. I have a very old friend,
Professor Weibezhal, who lives in England, and he sends them over to
me. I just received these a few days ago. He is not having a very good
time over there now, he writes me. He can't get what he wants to eat,
and he says he misses his German beer."
Edestone could scarcely realize that he was sitting in General
Headquarters, the very heart of German militarism, talking to General
von Lichtenstein, the most powerful and astute man in all Europe. But
for the German accent and magnificent uniform it might have been in the
Union Club in New York, and he himself talking to a very nice, rather
simple-minded old gentleman, who was flattered by the attention of a
After the General had inquired about a friend of his who lived in
America--he said he did not know exactly where, not in New York, but
some town near there, Cincinnati or perhaps St. Louis. This struck
Edestone as strange when he thought of the springs on his father's old
place which were marked on a German map that he had seen, although he
himself did not know of their existence, and he had spent his entire
childhood roaming all over it.
Finally, when he had told him one or two stories about an American
woman whom he had been quite fond of when he was a young man, the
General said in a most apologetic manner:
"Now I must not keep you. I suppose you would like to go out with some
of the younger officers and see something of this war, now that you are
over here. Or, by the way, it was about some discovery or invention you
have made that you called to see me, was it not? What is this
invention, tell me, and exactly what is it that you want the German
Government to do? If you will explain to me and I can understand, I
will be glad to help you in any way I can. Of course you know that I am
a very small part of the German Empire. I am, however, in a position to
bring your wishes to those who are above me and are all-powerful."
Then, while Edestone explained to him everything in regard to his
mission except the actual construction of the Deionizer, the old
General sat quietly smoking, smiling occasionally and listening with
the attention that a man might show who was being told of an
improvement in some machine in which he had no personal interest but
was glad to be enlightened, although up to that time the matter had
been something he had never thought much about.
He would now and then say, "How very interesting!" "Can that be
possible?" "Is that so?" Not even when Edestone described the pictures
shown to the King of England did he manifest any feeling except that of
kindly interest in a most charming young man, who was taking a great
deal of trouble to explain his youthful hopes to a rather slow-thinking
He allowed Edestone to talk on, not even interrupting him, to ask a
single question, and when the visitor had finished by expressing the
hope that he might be instrumental in bringing the war to a close,
General von Lichtenstein replied with apparent sincerity:
"I really see no reason why you should not. You are a brilliant
inventor, apparently a hard worker, and above all you seem willing to
give your talents to the world for the benefit of your fellow-men. The
only thing that you lack is age and experience. I am not an inventor, I
cannot work hard any more, and I am not known as a philanthropist, but
I have age and I have experience, so I think that you and I might make
a good combination. Leave this to me, and I think I can show you how
all that you wish to accomplish can be accomplished, if not exactly in
your way, in a way which I think you will agree with me is a better
way. Whereas I should not dare to speak for His Imperial Majesty, the
Kaiser, I believe I am perfectly safe in saying that he will see you
and inspect your photographs, drawings, and anything else that you may
wish to show him. I will see him and let you know when and where."
He laid his hand on Edestone's shoulder and walked with him as far as
"You are a fine young fellow," he said with a hearty grasp of the hand
as he bade him goodbye, "and all you want is an old head on your broad
young shoulders. Let the old man help you, and everything will be all
When Edestone was on the outside and thought over all that the General
had said, he would have been delighted with the turn things had taken
had he not been warned by Jones and did he not recall what Count von
Hemelstein had said.
Being so straightforward himself, he could not understand deceit in
others, and when he recalled the almost inspired expression on the kind
old gentleman's face when he spoke of his son so recently killed in
battle, he could not bring himself to believe that this was the trained
diplomat of iron who covered with that gentle exterior a determination
to crush and kill anything that came between him and the accomplishment
of the great purpose, the great cause to which he had gladly sacrificed
his first-born and the heir to his name and title.
It was nearly noon, Greenwich time, now, so Edestone hurried back to
his hotel to receive from "Specs" the daily signal: "Awaiting orders.
All is well."
With the forethought of a good general he wished to be prepared for any
emergency, and when the needle of the receiver, which he had taken from
the trunk at the Embassy, recorded the reassuring message, Edestone
thoroughly satisfied with the work of the morning returned to the
Embassy to keep his appointment with Lawrence.
HE INSTALLS HIS WIRELESS
Lawrence was on the lookout for him when he arrived at the Embassy, and
conducted him at once to his own private quarters, where they could be
"Now, Lawrence," said Edestone, when they had made themselves
comfortable, "I want your assistance. Are you game?"
"Well I ask you, you old simp! Did you not initiate me, in my freshman
year, in the Ki Ki Ki, and do you think that I have forgotten the oath
that I took while sitting with my naked back within a foot of a red-hot
stove, my fingers in a bucket of red ink, and you branding me with a
lump of ice?" He went through with some ridiculous gesticulations to
prove the honours that had been bestowed upon him.
"I know, old man, but this is no college boy performance. Before you
commit yourself I want you to understand that you are running great
danger. Besides, I don't think that the Acting Ambassador would exactly
approve, as it might involve the United States. Desperate situations,
though, have to be met sometimes with desperate measures."
"Yours is a noble heart, Lord Reginald Bolingbroke, and the child is
safe in the hands of Jack Hathaway, the Boy Scout. Go on, I listen.
Your story interests me strangely," said Lawrence.
Edestone paid no attention to this, but went on in the same manner: "I
can assure you that, except as a last resort, you will not be called on
to do anything that will be an actual violation of our neutrality, and
not even then until I have obtained the permission of the Secretary of
the Embassy. But from now on, Lawrence, you will be looked upon with
great suspicion, and you may have trouble explaining yourself out of a
German prison, if not from in front of a firing squad." He eyed the
younger man keenly as if questioning whether or not he could rely upon
him, and upon seeing this, Lawrence altered his light tone and for once
"Jack Edestone, you know perfectly well that you can depend upon me,
while I know that you will not do anything that is not strictly on the
level, so what's the use of saying anything more. I'm with you. What is
it you want?"
"Well, take me up on the roof," said Edestone.
"Say, Bo, is that all?"
"Now be quiet, Lawrence; do what you are told. You will get a good run
for your money, so for Heaven's sake do be serious."
The roof, which was reached by elevator, was flat, covered with cement,
and but for the chimneys, a few skylights, and the penthouse over the
elevator shaft, was unencumbered.
Edestone first went over and examined this penthouse with great care.
He found as he expected a small free space over the machinery which was
entirely hidden from view and could be reached only from the roof of
the car when it was run to the top of the elevator shaft, and then by
climbing over the big drum around which the cable ran. It was perfectly
dark inside and one could remain there for days without being
After thoroughly inspecting this, the inventor went over and examined
the tall flag-pole, first saluting the stars and stripes which were
waving from it. Finally, appearing satisfied, he led Lawrence to the
edge of the roof and stood for a moment looking over the coping wall at
the city below. He seemed to be establishing his bearings, but seeing
one of the soldiers who was stationed in the street near the Embassy,
he stepped back quickly.
"Come below," he drew Lawrence back. "We must not be seen."
Lawrence, who by this time was satisfied that there was going to be
some real excitement, led the way back to his apartments.
"Little did I think," said Edestone with a smile when they were once
more settled, "when I used to chase you out of the wireless room on
board the _Storm Queen_, Lawrence, that I would some day make use of
the information which you got there, and which cost me a new instrument
and one of the best operators I ever had, but that is the reason I am
calling on you now."
"Good," cried Lawrence. "I am the best little sparker that ever sent an
S. O. S. over the blue between drinks of salt water, while swimming on
my back around the wireless room chased by a man-eating shark. And as
for a catcher, why, my boy, I can receive while eating a piece of
"All right," said Edestone with a laugh; "as your references from your
last place are so good you shall have the job. You took charge of my
trunks, did you not?"
"Yes," replied Lawrence.
"Well, in the one marked 'Black,' there is a small wireless instrument.
The Germans know that I have it, and I realize that they let it get
through in the hope of picking up any messages I may send out. They do
not know, however, that I intend to send but two, and these will be
both of but one word each. If they can make head or tail of these, they
are welcome. Still, on Jones's account, I want them not to know that I
am sending from here, nor do I care to have Jones know that this
instrument is in the Embassy. I want you to install it in the penthouse
above the drum, and I will assure you that if I ask you to send out my
two messages, it will not be until after Jones has given his consent.
Do you think that you can do this?"
Lawrence pondered for some moments. "Of course I can send the messages,
and I can install the instrument too, but how to do it without letting
the Secretary know or keeping the damn German servants from catching on
I don't quite see."
"I have thought of all that. The elevator is an electric one and any
person can run it by pushing the button. All you have to do then is to
unpack the wireless instrument here in your room, and after you have
adjusted it you can certainly arrange in some way to get it on top of
the elevator car?"
"Yes," Lawrence nodded.
"Now my Mr. Black, who is at the hotel, is one of the best electricians
in America. He can install the instrument easily, and I will tell you
how. In the other trunk I sent up is a moving-picture machine----"
"Oh, I say, come now!" said Lawrence. "I suppose you are going to tell
me next that you've got a setting hen in another trunk and that you are
going to bribe Fritz and Karl with fresh eggs. And that's no merry
jest; we haven't seen a fresh egg in Berlin in six months."
"No, Lawrence, I'm not joking. I mean exactly what I say. I have a
moving-picture machine with me and lots of films, interesting ones too,
and I propose to give a show right here in the Embassy. I will ask the
Secretary to allow every servant in the house to come in and see it. I
can keep them quiet for an hour, and during that time you can get
Black, who will be acting as my helper, into the elevator shaft and run
him up to the top of the penthouse. You can depend upon him to do the
rest, and all you will have to do after that is to see that he gets
down before I turn up the lights, when your absence might be remarked.
Isn't that simple enough?"
"But how am I to get up there to send the messages when the time
comes?" asked Lawrence.
"I have not thought of that yet. You may not have to send any messages
at all, and if you do, it will not be for some little time, so perhaps
it's just as well that you can't get up there without my assistance."
Then with a jolly laugh, which showed that although he was pitting his
strength and wits against the great General Staff, the most wonderful
machine on earth, he was as light-hearted as a boy, he said:
"You might, as you did on the yacht, want to see the wheels go 'round,
or else you'd be sending messages off to a lot of girls.
"Now, make haste," he directed, "send for the trunk marked 'Black.'"
With the arrival of the trunk the machine was soon adjusted, and
Edestone having tested Lawrence's knowledge, and explained to him again
exactly what he was to do, gave him orally all that was necessary for
him to know about the code that was to be used.
A little later, when they rejoined Jones, the Acting Ambassador, he
wanted to know what they had been up to. "Has Lawrence been giving you
the telephone numbers of some of these prospective war brides," he
asked, "or does he want you to take tea with some Royal Princess? You
know, Jack, Lawrence seems to be quite a favourite in the very smart
army set. It appears that they have heard that his grandfather was the
military governor of New York. That makes him eligible. And besides, he
is teaching the entire royal family the latest American dances."
"Well, if you care to know what we have been up to," said Edestone,
"I don't mind telling you that we have been arranging for a little
moving-picture entertainment here at the Embassy. Have we your
permission to go ahead with it? It would be a little treat for
the people here in the house."
"Certainly," consented Jones. "Go as far as you like. I myself will be
glad to see something beside battles and dead men. But why in the name
of common sense have you lugged a moving-picture machine all the way
over from America when you might have brought us some potatoes? I
suppose, of course, it has something to do with your fool scheme. Well,
as long as it doesn't get us into trouble, and helps to take our minds
off this war, I haven't any objection. When do you propose to have your
"I can't exactly say as to that," Edestone answered. "It all depends
upon Lawrence, who is to be my trap-man. He had better fix the date."
He looked at the other conspirator with a questioning glance.
"We'll have it tonight then," said Lawrence. "I think I can get up my
part by that time." He made significant faces at Edestone behind the
"Tonight's the night, eh?" said Jones with a smile. "Very well, we'll
all be on hand."
Edestone, after his experiences on the frontier, and his two days'
journey shut up in the railroad car, greatly enjoyed these evenings
with his old friends, the Joneses; and found pleasure in meeting some
of Mrs. Jones's young friends, who were delighted when they heard of
the moving-picture show.
Later, while the Secretary of Legation and Edestone were alone,
Lawrence having insisted upon helping Black install the moving-picture
machine, Jones turned to his guest.
"I saw General von Lichtenstein at the club this afternoon," he said.
"He seemed to be delighted with you, Jack. Said you were a fine young
man, and will not believe that you are not of German descent. He hopes
to present you when the Emperor returns to Berlin, which he says will
be in a few days. When I told him that you had not told me what your
invention was he merely laughed. I know he did not believe me. He seems
to think that the United States has something to do with sending you
over here. He is a sly old fox and I tell you to look out for him."
He might have added more but Lawrence appeared just then and, imitating
a barker in a sideshow, announced that everything was ready for the
The entertainment proved a brilliant success. Edestone showed some
scenes from America which he had brought over to amuse the
distinguished audiences he had expected to meet in Europe. The pictures
showing him tossing great weights and men about the room delighted the
servants, but the Secretary only looked bored and Mrs. Jones did not
hesitate to say that she thought Edestone must be losing his mind,
travelling all around the world with such silly things.
But it answered his purposes. Lawrence soon came in and whispered to
him that Mr. Black and the wireless machine were safely up in the
penthouse, and if Edestone could hold his audience for a half-an-hour
longer the work would be finished.
Edestone then threw on the screen all the crowned heads of Europe,
taking tea, playing tennis, and laying corner-stones. He had some
especially fine pictures of the German Emperor. He was getting a little
nervous though as he found his supply of films running short, but at
that moment he spied Lawrence entering the door, who gave the signal
"All is well."
The Secretary, after the entertainment, pressed Edestone to tell him
something more about his invention, but Edestone shook his head.
"I am purposely keeping you out of this, William," he said, "for if I
get into trouble I don't want to drag you and the Missus in with me."
Then with the promise that he would move around to the Embassy in the
morning, he left for his hotel.
Edestone had now been at the Embassy for about a week and was wondering
what would be the next move on the part of the German General Staff.
He knew that General von Lichtenstein was not waiting for the return of
the Emperor, for he was in Berlin. In fact he had seen him driving past
the Embassy in his big automobile with the General. Edestone was just
coming out, and although he was not certain, he thought that the
General had recognized him, for he leaned over and spoke to the
Emperor, who looked straight at the American.
He had heard nothing, but from what the different officers at the clubs
had dropped, he was confident that he had not been forgotten. These had
all received him with great show of cordiality, and among Count von
Hemelstein's friends there had sprung up a certain friendliness, which
he knew was due to the Count's influence. The Count himself, on the
other hand, seemed now to be a little bit ill at ease when in his
presence. He said to Edestone one night after he had been drinking
"Mr. Edestone, it is a great pity that you have come over here and
mixed up in our troubles. It is too late now, however; you could not
get out if you tried," and then with a sneer, "not even if you called
to your assistance Princess Wilhelmina, who seems to take so much
interest in you."
Edestone decided that the German General Staff were preparing their
answer to the new condition that had been brought about by his
invention, and that they were waiting for additional information before
delivering it. He knew that they must realize that some action must be
taken, but with the forethought for which they were so celebrated they
were preparing the way. When they had satisfied themselves that they
were in possession of all of the facts that could be gotten without his
assistance, and had looked at these from every possible standpoint, he
would be sent for, and not until then.
Several days after his sight of the Emperor, Edestone, in passing
through the halls of the Embassy, was approached by one of the German
servants, who in a rather mysterious manner handed him a note, which
read as follows:
"Dear Mr. Edestone: Please have Mr. Stuyvesant bring you to tea
on Tuesday afternoon. It is a matter of the greatest importance.
I must see you.
He knew that Princess Wilhelmina was in Berlin. Lawrence had seen her
at the house of Princess Adolph, and in his joking way had said that
she had inquired very particularly after the American inventor, and
that Count von Hemelstein, who thought he was the "candy kid," was very
But why had she sent for him? he thought. When he spoke to
Lawrence, he in his usual jocular manner exclaimed: "Ah, so now you are
to have Kaffee Klatsch with the Princess. I told you so. The lady is in
love with you, and the Emperor is going to offer you her hand in
marriage after he has bestowed on you an Iron Cross in return for one
of your quack medicines."
Edestone, who declined to take any notice of this, thoughtfully said:
"Can it be possible that she also is a traitor? She cannot imagine for
one moment that she will be able to accomplish what her father was
unable to do, but God gives women confidence in themselves to
compensate them for the fact that nobody else has." With an impatient
gesture, "No, no, Lawrence, that is impossible! That sweet little
"Ah!" said Lawrence, "so little Willie Westinghouse has fallen for the
"You are absurd, Lawrence," said Edestone with a rather embarrassed
expression. "It is perfectly clear. She feels deeply her father's
disgrace, and perhaps she thinks that I might do something to help her
to exonerate him."
"Well," said Lawrence, "I don't think there is any satisfaction in
being a hero in Berlin while being locked up in the Tower in London
like her father, but you are the limit. You talk as quietly of using
your influence for a Prince of the Royal Blood with the King of England
as if she were asking you to get her brother a position on the New York
police force. God certainly gave you confidence in yourself."
"There is nothing very strange about that," replied Edestone. "As I
understand it, the only thing that they have against the Duke of
Windthorst is that he was dining with Rebener and myself, and were I to
state that at no time during the dinner had he shown any disloyalty to
his King and country, it might do a little good. But whatever it is, we
will go and see this afternoon."
About half-past five they were driven to the handsome residence
occupied by Princess Adolph when in Berlin.
They were immediately shown into a large and beautiful room in the
style of Louis XVI., which had evidently been designed and executed by
a French artist. It was free from the brutal touch which the Germans
show in their attempt at the refinement of the French Renaissance of
They were received by Princess Adolph, a very striking young woman, who
shocked all of Berlin by affecting French clothes, French language, and
a French mode of life. She was surrounded by some of the dashing young
officers of the very exclusive army set. These glared through their
monocles when the Americans were announced and did not try to hide
Lawrence, without taking the slightest notice of these "Knights of the
Butchered Face," as he called them, with his usual careless and
frivolous manner, went over to the Princess and immediately began to
shower upon her in the most effusive manner compliment after
compliment, which she received with laughter. She rather prided herself
on shocking Berlin by pretending to be tremendously interested in this
wild young American.
The Princess turned to Edestone and extended her hand. He had
hesitated; he resented the manner of her young gallants, and feared
that they might, with their usual rudeness to Americans in the presence
of women, put him into an embarrassing position. Smiling she said:
"I welcome you, Mr. Edestone, as the greatest lion of them all in this
den of lions," and with a reproving frown she waved her hand at the
officers who were so poorly hiding their annoyance.
She then turned to Princess Wilhelmina, who was seated behind a large
table and was pouring out a cup of coffee, which she continued to do
when she saw Edestone until it was called to her attention that the cup
was full as well as the saucer.
"Billy," she nodded, "you and Mr. Edestone are old friends. Give him a
cup of tea; I know he does not like _Kaffee und Schlagsahne_."
The little Princess, who was very much embarrassed, extended her hand,
which Edestone took and seated himself beside her.
This scene might have been enacted in an English country house if it
had not been so entirely different. The Germans, in their effort to
affect certain charming English customs and Germanize them, in the
process lose the charm. Tea time for the Englishman is the hour of
relaxation after a day in the open, when he can in his easy clothes
receive the homage of the ladies in their beautiful tea-gowns. Whereas
here, these men in their tight-fitting and uncomfortable uniforms, were
attitudinizing and indulging in that military form of gallantry, which
may be picturesque but certainly looks most uncomfortable.
The entrance of the Americans had thrown a chill upon the entire
company. The officers simply refused to open their mouths, and sat
glaring at the two intruders.
Edestone, after having made several attempts to relieve the situation,
relapsed into silence. The feeble efforts of the Princess Wilhelmina
but added to the atmosphere of restraint which she was unable to
Princess Adolph up to this time had been entirely monopolized by
Lawrence, but catching an appealing look from her English cousin, came
to the rescue at last. She was apparently in the secret, and in a most
natural manner called upon Princess Wilhelmina to show Mr. Edestone her
new French garden, which she said had been laid out by a young American
studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.
Princess Billy, who by this time was in such a state of excitement that
she could scarcely get up from where she was sitting, and as if to
postpone as long as possible the meeting which she had brought upon
herself, managed to say:
"I don't think that Mr. Edestone is interested in such simple things as
flowers," but catching the glance that was thrown at her by Princess
Adolph she continued with a nervous little laugh: "Come, Mr. Edestone,
I hope I shall be able to explain everything to you properly."
When the timid little figure led the way and was followed by that of
the big man with his dignified bearing, one might almost imagine that
it was an indulgent father taking his very frightened little daughter
out to give her a lecture.
When they were on the outside and alone, as she stopped and grasped the
balcony to support herself she said, looking up into his face with eyes
in which tears were gathering:
"Oh, Mr. Edestone, I don't know what to say! I don't know what you will
think of me. I know you hate all of us and especially me."
"Oh, don't say that, Princess!" interrupted Edestone, moved to pity for
the poor little child who seemed to him, as he looked down into her
sweet little face, almost young enough to have been his own daughter.
"Oh yes you do; I know you do! But I am not what you think I am," and
in a very hurried manner, looking about her, she continued, lowering
her voice: "I am no traitor to my country, and I know that what my
father did he did because he believed it was his duty."
"Oh, Princess Wilhelmina!" said Edestone, as if to stop her on this
most disagreeable subject.
"Please do not call me Princess in that sarcastic manner. I hate being
a Princess! I know you hate all of our class, and believe that we are
all as heartless as we are sometimes forced to appear. But it is not of
that that I wish to speak. My sole object in sending for you is to tell
you that I know you are in great danger, and to beg--I mean advise--you
to leave Berlin at once. I know that you believe I am working for them,
and in fact I could not have arranged this interview unless I had left
them under the impression that I was, but I don't care. Please go
before it is too late."
Edestone, who at first thought that she might have been playing a part,
was now convinced of her sincerity. "My dear little Princess Billy," he
said, leaning over and with great effort resisting his inclination to
take her hand, "is that why you sent for me?"
"Yes," she blushed and smiled when he used the familiar form of
address, "I have heard that you were going to be killed, and I was
determined to warn you, so I pretended to be working for them. Now
please go before it is too late."
"But, Princess, why did you take all of this risk for me?"
"Oh, I don't know; but I must show you the garden. I hope that you
won't think I am very forward."
She then hurriedly passed into the garden and gave him in a very rapid
and disconnected manner a description of the different plants,
fountains, statues, etc. She hurried back into the drawing-room, but
just before reaching the other group, she said in an undertone:
"Now, won't you promise me that you will leave Berlin at once?"
Before he had time to answer they were joined by Princess Adolph.
The Americans remained for a few moments and then took their leave. The
little Princess, as she put her icy cold hand in his, gave him an
THE TWO-WHEELED MYSTERY
The Secretary came in with a very grave face one morning after having
had a long talk with the German Chancellor.
"Do you know, Jack," he said, "I think the German Government intends
to declare war on us, and I would not be a bit surprised if she
proposes to strike first and declare afterwards. Their newspapers,
and they are all inspired by the Government, you know, are working
up a strong anti-American feeling, and this I think is done in order
that when they do strike the Government may have the entire country
back of it. Have you noticed, too, that they are constantly increasing
the guard around the Embassy, which is either to save us or to catch
us? Is it possible that your nonsense has got anything to do with all
this? By Jove, Jack, I think it is about time that you told me what
you are up to."
Edestone considered for a moment. "When you tell me that you are
absolutely certain that they are going to strike, I will tell you,
William, and not before. You know enough now, however, to realize that
those soldiers outside are to catch and not protect. It is me that they
want, though, and not you. Your position is perfectly safe and
unassailable so long as you do not know too much."
That ended the discussion for the time, but Lawrence came in one night
in a state of great excitement. He had just seen some woman who, he
rather intimated, was a little bit fond of him, and who was also very
closely connected with certain high officials. She had told him, he
said, apparently joking although he knew she was in earnest, that she
hoped her pretty boy would not mix up with this man Edestone, or he
might get into trouble too.
"'They are only allowing us to stay in Berlin,' she said, 'until they
get you, Jack,'" declared Lawrence, "and then we will have to go, the
whole lot of us."
In the meantime things were going from bad to worse. The Secretary was
getting more and more anxious. Reports of all kinds kept coming in from
all sides. Americans were being insulted in the street. The officers at
the clubs were a little more arrogant in their studied politeness
toward Edestone and his associates, the younger officers even taunting
Lawrence with having to leave his girl in Berlin and go back to
Finally one of the papers reported that the entire American fleet was
collecting at Hampton Roads, that all the German boats in New York had
been dismantled by force, and broadly suggested that the Yankees were
about to strike first and apologize afterward.
However, there came a slight rift in the clouds. Coming back one
morning after a conference with the Chancellor, Jones was all smiles.
"Well, we are all right for a little while at least," he announced.
"The Chancellor has just informed me that the Emperor has decided to
see you, Edestone, and he wishes to inspect here, at the Embassy,
anything that you may like to show him. The Chancellor intimated that
it would depend entirely upon your attitude on this occasion whether or
not your mission to Europe was a failure or a brilliant success."
"And when is he coming?" asked Edestone quickly.
Jones grinned. "With his usual impetuosity, he has selected tonight,
and will pay the Embassy a formal call at nine o'clock, after the
celebration at the Palace in honour of the birthday of one of the Royal
Edestone was delighted with the prospect of some action at last, but he
had long since lost all hope of an amicable settlement. They had waited
too long. He felt that they were preparing to strike, and should they
do so it made him sick to think of the awful consequences. He was
almost tempted to tell Jones of the wireless instrument in the
penthouse and his daily communications with "Specs," but he remembered
that he had no right to involve him as a representative of the United
States, and that, as the matter stood, he and Lawrence were the only
He did not care to destroy the roseate hopes of the Secretary after his
conference with the Chancellor, and contented himself with saying:
"William, I hope that you are right, but I have an impression that we
are in for it. I am prepared to meet any game that they may play, but I
do sincerely hope that I shall not be forced to it."
By seven o'clock that evening the streets for blocks around the Embassy
were filled with soldiers, and Edestone smiled when looking from the
window he noticed that the Germans were bringing up anti-aircraft guns.
"They are taking no chances," he thought to himself, his curiosity
aroused as he noticed several large mortars being brought up and
so placed that each battery of four could throw their shells in
parallel lines over the Embassy to the north, south, east, and west.
This struck him as very strange, but he became even more interested
when he perceived that besides the ordinary ammunition wagon each gun
was provided with a trailer that looked like a big wheel or drum on a
two-wheeled carriage, although it was so carefully covered over that
he could not make out exactly what it was.
"I have got to find out what those things are," said Edestone to
himself, and taking his hat and cane, he left the Embassy as if for a
short stroll before dinner.
The soldiers took no notice of him as he sauntered along, and allowed him
to inspect everything at his will until he approached the strange-looking
mortars. Then he was stopped by a young officer, who told him in a very
polite but firm tone that he would have to pass on and could not go by
that way, at the same time showing him where he could walk around the
"I would give a good deal to know what those things are," muttered
Edestone to himself. "In fact, I must know before the night is over."
He went back into the house, after strolling about for a quarter of an
hour, and for the first time since he had left the Little Place in the
Country, he became really anxious.
"These are wonderful people. They evidently are satisfied now that they
have the answer, and who knows but they may have. All may yet be lost."
He sat down and drove his brain as he had never driven it before. He
wondered if he could get the Secretary to demand what all this
preparation meant, and what these new death-dealing instruments might
be that were threatening the Embassy of the United States; but that was
useless, he knew. They would reply that it was to protect the Emperor,
or would simply refuse to answer, or answering would lie.
After waiting until it was time to dress for dinner, in a fit of
desperation he sent for Lawrence.
"Lawrence," he said, "have you seen those mortars out there?"
"Yes," replied Lawrence, "I did. They take no chances with the 'Big
"Don't joke, Lawrence. This is serious; very serious. Did you notice
those two-wheeled wagons that are so carefully covered with canvas just
behind each of the mortars?"
"No, to tell you the truth, I did not. They have so many travelling
soup wagons and ice plants that I don't pay any attention to those
things any more."
"Well, Lawrence, I've got to know what they are tonight in order that I
may be prepared; otherwise we may find ourselves in a very serious
situation, and what is much more important, my whole life's work may be
"Now, since you put it that way," said Lawrence with a broad grin, "I
will step out and in my most polite Deutsch inquire."
"They will not let you get within a block of them. Do you think it will
be possible to persuade one of the German servants to find out from the
soldiers? I would pay any price."
"Well, I will dress myself like the cook and go out and flirt with one
of the soldiers for $2. I'm a little badly off for money myself just
about this time."
"Lawrence, you must stop joking. I tell you, something must be done."
"Leave me think, leave me think," said the irrepressible.
"_Donnerwetter_, I have it! What time does the Hohenzollern Glee Club
"At nine o'clock."
"And you come on immediately after the 'First Part,' succeeding which I
suppose Lohengrin will sing his Duck Ditty, while the Boy Scout,
dressed as Uncle Tom's Cabin, after biting the triggers off all the
guns, and pulling his wig well down over his eyes"--imitating the
action--"will sally forth into the limpid limelights, and after he has
been shot once in the face by a 16-inch howitzer and has been played
upon in the rear by a battery of machine guns, he will limp on with the
regular limp of the old Virginia servant and die at your feet, but not
until I have whispered their secret into the heel of your boot."
Edestone had known Lawrence long enough to understand that all of this
nonsense meant that his really bright mind was working, and that he had
some definite plan in view. The best way to handle him, he had found
out, was to let his exuberance of spirit have free swing, so he replied
in the same melodramatic manner: "Good, my faithful District Messenger
Boy. Now in what way can I assist you in your wonderful scheme?"
"Leave all to me, Lord Reginald Bolingbroke, and before the clock on
yon 'back drop' strikes eight bells, you will know what is hidden
beneath these veils of mystery."
"I can depend upon you," Edestone eyed him searchingly, "and no
"On the life of me mother who lies dead beneath the sacred soil of dear
old Idaho!" With a wave of an imaginary sword, and jumping astride an
imaginary stick horse, he saluted and galloped from the room, singing
"It's a Long Way to Tipperary."
"I wonder what that dare-devil is up to," thought Edestone.
Nevertheless he believed that Lawrence would accomplish his purpose.
Presently his attention was attracted by the beams of a searchlight
crossing the window, and looking out he saw those great white arms
stretching up from every part of the city.
"They expect me to show my teeth tonight," he said.
The distant tapping of drums showed that troops were moving in all
parts of Berlin, and they were beginning to form in the streets below.
It was easy to see by which route the Emperor was coming, or at least
by which route he wished the people to think he was going to arrive.
Edestone dressed hurriedly, although James seemed to think that
something extra should be done.
"Beg pardon, sir," he pleaded in an accent which would have meant
imprisonment for him if heard on the streets outside, "but these here
barbarians likes a bit of colour, sir. I understands as how the Emperor