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The Box with Broken Seals by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Part 5 out of 5

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"Three hundred," Jocelyn Thew replied coolly. "One moment, Mr. Bobby."

He leaned forward and whispered in the comedian's ear. The latter nodded
and turned to the rival bidder.

"Do you understand, sir," he enquired, "that this is strictly a cash
affair? I must have notes for the amount at the conclusion of the sale."

"You will have to wait until I get them, then," was the anxious reply. "I
only brought two hundred and fifty with me."

The comedian shook his head.

"There can be no question of waiting," he decided. "If two hundred and
fifty guineas is all that you have with you, then the box must go to the
other gentleman for three hundred guineas."

"If we'd only thought of mentioning the matter of cash before," Jocelyn
Thew said pleasantly, "it seems to me that I might have saved a little
money. However, I don't grudge it to the cause."

There was a little murmur of applause, and before any further word could be
said, the auctioneer's hammer dropped. Jocelyn Thew stepped up to his side
and counted out three hundred guineas in notes, receiving in return the
admission ticket for the box. The comedian shook hands with him.

"A very generous contribution, sir," he declared. "I shall do myself the
pleasure of remembering it to-night."

Jocelyn Thew made some suitable reply and strolled leisurely off, his eyes
searching everywhere for his unsuccessful rival. He found him at last in
the main avenue, on his way to the principal exit, and touched him on the

"One moment, sir," he begged.

The young man paused. When he saw who his interlocutor was, however, he
attempted to hurry on.

"You will excuse me," he began, "I am pressed for time."

"I will walk with you as far as the gate," Jocelyn Thew said. "I am very
curious concerning your bidding for Box A. Can't you let me know for whom
you were trying to buy it? It is possible that I might feel inclined to

"My instructions were to buy the box by auction, and to go up to five
hundred pounds for it," was the somewhat hesitating reply. "I am
unfortunately not in a position to divulge the name of my client."

"You can at least tell me your own name, or the name of the firm whom you

The young man quickened his pace.

"I can tell you nothing," he said firmly. "Good afternoon!"

Jocelyn Thew strolled thoughtfully back, made a few purchases wherever he
was accosted, but had always the air of a man who is seeking to solve some
problem. Issuing from one of the tents, he came suddenly face to face with
Katharine and her brother.

"You are too late for the auction," the latter declared, as they shook
hands, "and you wouldn't have got your box, anyhow. Do you know what it

"Three hundred guineas," Jocelyn Thew replied with a smile. "I bought it at

They both stared at him.

"For three hundred guineas?" Richard repeated.

"I was rather lucky to get it at that. There was an anonymous bidder who
fortunately hadn't got the cash with him, or I gathered that he was willing
to go to a great deal more."

They stood for a moment in silence. Katharine laughed a little nervously.

"What does it mean?" she asked.

"A little obstinacy on the part of a millionaire, I suppose," Jocelyn Thew
replied carelessly. "By-the-by, if it suits you we will meet at the theatre
this evening, instead of dining. I know that you will like to have a little
time alone with your brother, as he is off to-night, Miss Beverley, and I
have a business friend coming in to see me about dinner time. I shall be in
the box, awaiting you, say at half-past eight. You'll be close to Charing
Cross, won't you, Richard, and you won't have to leave until ten o'clock?"

"That's all right," the young man agreed. "It's a jolly good send-off for

Jocelyn Thew made his farewells and strolled down one of the narrow avenues
which led to the exit. About half-way down, he came suddenly face to face
with Nora and Crawshay. They all three stood together, talking, for a few
moments. Suddenly Crawshay, who appeared to see some one in the crowd,
turned away. "Will you excuse me for one moment, Miss Sharey?" he said.
"Perhaps Mr. Thew will take care of you."

"Perhaps," Jocelyn Thew observed, as he watched Crawshay disappear, "you
need some taking care of, eh, Nora?"

She shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes sought his. She looked at him

"Well," she exclaimed, "London's a dull place all alone. So's life."

"I am not interfering in your choice of residence or companionship," he
replied, "although it seems strange that you, whom I think I may call my
friend, should choose to amuse yourself with the one person in life who is
my open enemy, the one man who has sworn to bring about my downfall."

"There isn't any man in the world will ever do that," she declared, "and
you know it. You are afraid of no one. You've no cause to be."

"That may be true," he agreed, "but since we have the opportunity of these
few moments' conversation, Nora, there is one thing I wish to say to you. I
place no embargo upon your friendship with Mr. Crawshay. I do not presume
to dictate to you even as to the subjects of your conversation with him.
Tell him what pleases you. Talk to him about me, if you will--you will find
him always interested. But there is one thing. If your lips should ever
breathe a word of that other name of mine, or of those other things
connected with my personal history of which you know, I warn you, Nora,
that it will be a very bad day for you. It will be the one unforgivable
thing, and I never forgive." Nora shivered, although the afternoon sun was
streaming down upon them. Her cheeks were a little paler.

"No," she murmured, "I know that. You would never forgive. You are as hard
as the rocks. All the time since I have known you, I have tried to soften
you ever so little, just because I was fool enough to like you, fool enough
to believe that it was just suffering which had made you what you are. That
belongs to the past. When I think of you now, my heart is like a stone,
because I know that there is no love in you, nor any of those other things
for which a woman craves. I should be very sorry indeed, Jocelyn Thew, for
any woman who ever cared for you, and for her own sake I pray very much
that there is no one at the present moment who does."

A light breeze was blowing over the place. They were standing a little
apart, in the shadow of a tree, and the hum of conversation and laughter,
the noisy appeals of the vendors of flowers and other trifles, the strident
voices from a distant stage, the far-off strains of swaying music, seemed
blended together in an insistent and not inharmonious chorus. Jocelyn Thew
stood as though listening to them for a moment. His eyes were following a
tall figure in white, walking, a little listlessly by her brother's side.
When he spoke, his tone was unusually soft.

"I always told you what you seem to have discovered, Nora," he said. "I
always told you that behind the driving force of my life was much hate but
no love, nor any capacity for love. That may not have been my fault. If we
were in another place," he went on, "I somehow feel that I might tell you
what I have never told anybody else--the real story that lay behind the
things you know of, things the memory of which was brought back to me only
last night. Even now that may come, but for the present, Nora, remember.
What you know of me that lies behind that curtain, must never pass your

"I promise," she murmured. "Here comes Mr. Crawshay."

Jocelyn Thew raised his hat, smiled at Nora and strolled away. He smiled
also a little to himself, but not so pleasantly. The man from whom Crawshay
had just parted, and with whom he had been in close conversation, was the
man who had been bidding against him for Box A at the Alhambra that night.


From six o'clock until half an hour before the time fixed for the
commencement of the performance, a steady crowd of people elbowed and
pushed their way that night into the cheaper parts of the Alhambra
Music-hall. Soon afterwards, the earliest arrivals presented themselves at
the front of the house. Brightman and Crawshay arrived together, and made
their way at once to the manager's office, the former noticing, with a
little glint of recognition which amounted to scarcely more than a droop of
the eyes, two or three sturdy looking men who had the appearance of being a
little unused to their evening clothes, and who were loitering about in the

The manager greeted his two visitors without enthusiasm. He was a small,
worried-looking man, with pale face, hooked nose and shiny black hair. He
had recently changed his name from Jonas to Joyce, without materially
affecting the impression which he made upon the stranger.

"This is Mr. Crawshay," Brightman began, "who has charge from the
Government point of view, of the little matter you and I know about."

The manager shook hands limply.

"Glad to meet you, Mr. Crawshay," he said, "but a little disturbed at the
cause. I must say that I hope you will find your impressions ill-founded. I
don't like things of this sort happening in my house."

"Might happen anywhere," Mr. Brightman declared, with an attempt at
cheerfulness. "By-the-by, Mr. Joyce, I hope you got my note?"

The manager nodded.

"Yes," he assented, "I've made all the arrangements you wished, and the box
has not been entered except by the cleaner."

"Mr. Thew himself, then, has made no attempt to visit it?" Crawshay

"Not to my knowledge," was the brusque reply.

The two men took their leave, strolled along the vestibule, glanced at the
closed door of the box and made their way down into the stalls.

"Our friend must be exceedingly confident," Brightman remarked musingly.

"Or else we are on the wrong tack," Crawshay put in.

"As to that we shall see! I don't like to seem over-sanguine," Brightman
went on, "but my impression is that he is rather up against it."

"All I can say is that he is taking it very coolly, then!"

"To all appearance, yes. But whereas it is quite true that he has made no
attempt to get at the box, Joyce didn't tell us--as a matter of fact, I
don't suppose he knows--that three times Jocelyn Thew has visited the
theatre under some pretext or other, and spotted my men about. From
half-an-hour after his bid at the fete, that box has been as inaccessible
to him as though it had been walled up."

They took their seats in the stalls, which were now rapidly filling. About
five minutes later, Jocelyn Thew arrived alone. The box opener brought him
from the vestibule, and an amateur programme seller accepted his
sovereign--both, in view of the many rumours floating about the place,
regarding him with much curiosity. Without any appearance of hurry he
entered the much-discussed box, divested himself of his coat and hat, and
stood for a moment in full view, looking around the house. His eyes rested
for a moment upon the figures of the two men below, and a very grim smile
parted his lips. He stepped a little into the background and remained for
some time out of sight. Brightman's interest became intense.

"From this moment he is our man," he whispered. "All the same, I should
have liked to have seen where he has hidden the papers. I went round the
box myself without finding a thing."

Jocelyn Thew had hung up his coat and hat upon one of the pegs, and for a
few seconds remained as though listening. Then he turned the key of the
door, and, taking the heavy curtain up in his hand, searched it for a few
moments until he arrived at a certain spot in one of the bottom folds. With
a penknife which he drew from his pocket, he cut through some improvised
stitches, thrust his hand into the opening and drew out a small packet,
which he buttoned up in his pocket. In less than a minute he had let the
curtain fall again and unlocked the door. Almost immediately afterwards
there was a knock.

"Come in," he invited.

Katharine and her brother entered, the former in a gown of black net
designed by the greatest of French modistes, and Richard in active service

"We are abominably early, of course," Katharine declared, as they shook
hands, "but I love to see the people arrive, and as it is Dick's last
evening he couldn't bear the thought of losing a minute of it."

Jocelyn Thew busied himself in establishing his guests comfortably. He
himself remained standing behind Katharine's chair, a little in the

"We are going to have a great performance to-night," he observed. "Exactly
what time does your train go, Richard?"

"Ten o'clock from Charing Cross."

Jocelyn Thew thrust his hand into his pocket, and Richard, rising to his
feet, stepped back into the shadows of the box. Something passed between
them. Katharine turned her head and clutched nervously at the programme
which lay before her. She was looking towards them, and her face was as
pale as death. Her host stepped forward at once and smiled pleasantly down
at her.

"You will not forget," he whispered, "that we are likely be the centre of
observation to-night. I see that our friends Brightman and Crawshay are
already amongst the audience."

Katharine picked up her program and affected to examine it. "If only
to-night were over!" she murmured.

"It is strange that you should feel like that," he observed, drawing his
chair up to the front of the box and leaning towards her in conversational
fashion. "Now to me half the evils of life lie in anticipation. When the
time of danger actually arrives, those evils seem to take to themselves
wings and fly away. Take the case of a great actress on her first night, an
emotional and temperamental woman, besieged by fears until the curtain
rises, and then carried away by her genius even unto the heights. Our
curtain has risen, Miss Beverley. All we can do is to pray that the gods
may look our way."

She studied him thoughtfully for a moment. It was obvious that he was not
exaggerating. His granite-like face had never seemed more immovable. His
tone was perfectly steady, his manner the manner of one looking forward to
a pleasant evening. Yet he knew quite well what she, too, guessed--that his
enemies were closing in around him, that the box itself was surrounded,
that notwithstanding all his ingenuity and all his resource, a crisis had
come which seemed insuperable. She was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of
the pity of it. All the admiration she had ever felt for his strange
insouciance, his almost bravado-like coolness, his mastery over events,
seemed suddenly to resolve itself into more definite and more
clearly-comprehended emotion. It was the great pity of it all which
suddenly appealed to her. She leaned a little forward.

"You have called this our last evening," she whispered. "Tell me one thing,
won't you? Tell me why it must be?"

The softness in her eyes was unmistakable, and his own face for a moment
relaxed wonderfully. Again there was that gleam almost of tenderness in his
deep-blue eyes. Nevertheless, he shook his head.

"Whether I succeed or whether I fail," he said simply, "to-night ends our
associations. Don't you understand," he went on, "that if I pass from the
shadow of this danger, there is another more imminent, more certain?"

He hesitated for a single moment, and his voice, which had grown softer,
became suddenly almost musical. Katharine, who was listening intently,
realised like a flash that for the first moment the mask had fallen away.

"I have lived for many years with that other danger," he went on. "It has
lain like a shadow always in front of my path. Perhaps that is why I have
become what I am, why I have never dared to hope for the other things which
are dear to every one."

Her hand suddenly gripped his. They sat there for a moment in a strange,
disturbing silence. Then the orchestra ceased, the curtain was rung up, the
performance, which was in the nature of a music-hall show, with frequent
turns and changes, commenced. Popular favourites from every department of
the theatrical world, each in turn claimed attention and applause.
Katharine watched it all with an interest always strained, a gaiety
somewhat hysterical; Jocelyn Thew with the measured pleasure of a critic;
Richard with uproarious, if sometimes a little unreal merriment. The time
slipped by apparently unnoticed. Suddenly Richard glanced at his
wrist-watch and stood up.

"I must go," he declared. "I had no idea that it was so late." Katharine's
fingers clutched the program which lay crumpled up in her hand. She looked
at her brother with almost frightened eyes. Their host, too, had risen to
his feet, and down-stairs in the stalls two men had slipped out of their
places. Jocelyn Thew threw back his head with a little familiar gesture.
The light of battle was in his eyes.

"Richard is right," he observed. "It is twenty minutes to ten."

"My servant will meet me down there with my kit and get me a seat," the
young man said. "I shall have plenty of time, but I think I had better make
a start."

Katharine came into the back of the box and threw her arms around her
brother's neck. He stooped and kissed her on the lips and forehead.

"Cheer up, Katharine," he begged. "There is nothing to worry about."

"Nothing whatever," Jocelyn Thew echoed. "The most serious contingency that
I can see at present is that you may have to find your way home alone."

"The number of the car is twenty," Beverley said, handing a ticket to his
sister. "I'll send you a wire from Folkestone."

Jocelyn Thew suddenly held out his hand. His eyes were still flashing with
the light of anticipated battle, but there was something else in his face
reminiscent of that momentary softening.

"Mine, I fear," he murmured, "may be but a wireless message, but I hope
that you will get it."

They departed, and Katharine, drawing her chair into the back of the box,
faced many anxious moments of solitude. The two men made their way in
leisurely fashion along the vestibule and turned upstairs towards the
refreshment room. Half-way up, however, Jocelyn Thew laid his hand upon his
companion's arm.

"Dick," he said, "I think if I were you I wouldn't have another. You've
only just time to catch your train, as it is."

"Must have a farewell glass, old fellow," the young man protested.

His companion was firm, however, and Beverley turned reluctantly away. They
walked arm in arm down the broad entrance lounge towards the glass doors.
It seemed to have become suddenly evident that Jocelyn Thew's words were
not without point. Richard stumbled once and walked with marked
unsteadiness. Just before they reached the doors, Brightman, with a tall,
stalwart-looking friend, slipped past them on the right. Another man fell
almost into line upon the left, and jostled the young officer as he did so.
The latter glanced at both of them a little truculently.

"Say, don't push me!" he exclaimed threateningly. "You keep clear."

Neither of the men took any notice. The nearer one, in fact, closed in and
almost prevented Beverley's further progress. Brightman leaned across.

"I am sorry, Captain Beverley," he said, "but we wish to ask you a
question. Will you step into the box office with us?"

"I'm damned if I will!" the young man answered. "I have a matter of ten
minutes to catch my train at Charing Cross, and I'm not going to break my
leave for you blighters."

Crawshay, who had been lingering in the background, drew a little nearer.

"Forgive my intervention, Captain Beverley," he said, "but the matter will
be explained to the military authorities if by chance you should miss your
train. I am afraid that we must insist upon your acceding to our request."

Then followed a few seconds' most wonderful pandemonium. Jocelyn Thew's
efforts seemed of the slightest, yet Mr. Brightman lay on his back upon the
floor, and his stalwart companion, although he himself was not ignorant of
Oriental arts, lay on his side for a moment, helpless. Richard, if not so
subtle, was equally successful. His great fist shot out, and the man whose
hand would have gripped his arm went staggering back, caught his foot in
the edge of the carpet, and fell over upon the tesselated pavement. There
were two swing doors, and Richard, with a spring, went for the right-hand
one. The commissionaire guarding the other rushed to help his companion bar
the exit. The two plainclothes policemen, whose recovery was instantaneous,
scrambled to their feet and dashed after him, followed by Crawshay. Jocelyn
Thew, scarcely accelerating his walk, strolled through the left-hand door,
crossed the pavement of the Strand and vanished.

Fortune was both kind and unkind to Richard in those next few breathless
minutes. An old football player, his bent head and iron shoulder were
sufficient for the commissionaires, and, plunging directly Across the
pavement and the street, he leapt into a taxi which was crawling along in
the direction of Charing Cross.

"Give you a sovereign to get to Charing Cross in three minutes," he cried
out, and the man, accepting the spirit of the thing, thrust in his clutch,
eagerly. For a moment it seemed as though temporarily, at any rate, Richard
would get clear away. In about fifty yards, however, there was a slight
block. The door of the taxicab was wrenched open, and one of the men who
were chasing him essayed to enter. Richard sent him without difficulty
crashing back into the street, only to find that simultaneously the other
door had been opened, and that his hands were held from behind in a grip of
iron. At the same time he looked into the muzzle of Crawshay's revolver.

"Sit down," the latter commanded.

Brightman, too, was in the taxicab, and one of the other men had his foot
upon the step. With a shrug of the shoulders, the young man accepted the
inevitable and obeyed. Brightman leaned out of the window, gave a direction
to the driver, and the taxicab was driven slowly in through the assembling
crowd. Richard leaned back in his corner and glared at his two companions.

"Say, this is nice behaviour to an officer!" he exclaimed truculently. "I
am on my way to catch the leave train. How dare you interfere with me!"

"Perhaps," Crawshay remarked, "we may consider that the time has arrived
for explanations."

"Then you'd better out with them quick," Richard continued angrily. "I am
an officer in His Britannic Majesty's Service, come over to fight for you
because you can't do your own job. Do you get that, Crawshay?"

"I am listening."

"I am on my way to catch the ten o'clock train from Charing Cross," Richard
went on. "If I don't catch it, my leave will be broken."

"I feel sure," Crawshay remarked drily, "that the authorities will
recognise the fact that you made every effort to do so. As a matter of
fact, there will be a supplementary train leaving at ten-forty-five, which
it is possible that you may be able to catch. Explanations such as I have
to offer are not to be given in a taxicab. I have therefore directed the
man to drive to my rooms, I trust that you will come quietly. If the result
of our conversation is satisfactory, as I remarked before, you can still
catch your train."

Richard glanced at the man seated opposite to him--a great strong fellow
who was obviously now prepared for any surprise; at Brightman, who, lithe
and tense, seemed watching his every movement; at the little revolver which
Crawshay, although he kept it out of sight, was still holding.

"Seems to me I'm up against it," he muttered. "You'll have to pay for it
afterwards, you fellows, I can tell you that."

They accepted his decision in silence, and a few minutes later they
descended outside the little block of flats in which Crawshay's rooms were
situated. Richard made no further attempt to escape, stepped into the lift
of his own accord, and threw himself into an easy-chair as soon as the
little party entered Crawshay's sitting room. There was a gloomy frown upon
his forehead, but the sight of a whisky decanter and a soda-water syphon
upon the sideboard, appeared to cheer him up.

"I think," he suggested tentatively, "that after the excitement of the last

"You will allow me to offer you a whisky and soda," Crawshay begged, mixing
it and bringing it himself. "When you have drunk it, I have to tell you
that it is our intention to search you."

"What the devil for?" the young man demanded, with the tumbler still in his

"We suspect you of having in your possession certain documents of a
treasonous nature."

"Documents?" Richard jeered. "Don't talk nonsense! And treasonous to whom?
I am an American citizen."

"That," Crawshay reminded him, "is entirely contrary to your declaration
when a commission in His Majesty's Flying Corps was granted to you. The
immediate question, however, is are you going to submit to search or not?"

Richard glanced at that ominous glitter in Crawshay's right hand, glanced
at Brightman, and at the giant who was standing barely a yard away, and
shrugged his shoulders.

"I suppose you must do what you want to," he acquiesced sullenly, "but
you'll have to answer for it--I can tell you that. It's a damnable

He drank up his whisky and soda and set down the empty glass. The search
which proceeded took a very few moments. Soon upon the table was gathered
the usual collection of such articles as a man in Richard's position might
be expected to possess, and last of all, from the inside of his vest, next
to his skin, was drawn a long blue envelope, fastened at either end with a
peculiar green seal. Crawshay's heart beat fast as he watched it placed
upon the table. Richard seemed to have lost much of his truculence of

"That packet," he declared, "is my personal property. It contains nothing
of any moment whatever, nothing which would be of the least interest to

"In that case," Brightman promised, "it will be returned to you. Mr.
Crawshay," he added, turning towards him, "I must ask you, as you represent
the Government in this matter, to break these seals and acquaint yourself
with the nature of the contents of this envelope, which I have reason to
suppose was handed to Captain Beverley by Jocelyn Thew, a few minutes ago."

Crawshay took the envelope into his hands.

"I am sorry, Captain Beverley," he declared, "but I must do as Mr.
Brightman has suggested. This man Jocelyn Thew, with whom you have been in
constant association, is under very grave suspicion of having brought to
England documents of a treasonable nature."

"I suppose," Richard said defiantly, "you must do as you d----d well
please. My time will come afterwards."

Crawshay broke the seal, thrust his hand into the envelope and drew out a
pile of closely folded papers. One by one he laid them upon the table and
smoothed them out. Even before he had glanced at the first one, a queer
presentiment seemed suddenly to chill the blood in his veins. His eyes
became a trifle distended. They were all there now, a score or more of
sheets of thin foreign note paper, covered with hand-writing of a
distinctly feminine type. The two men read--Richard Beverley watched them

"What the mischief little May Boswell's letters have to do with you
fellows, I can't imagine!" he muttered. "Go on reading, you bounders! Much
good may they do you!"

There were minutes of breathless silence. Then Crawshay, as the last sheet
slipped through his fingers, glanced stealthily into Brightman's face, saw
him bite through his lips till the blood came and strike the table with his
clenched fist.

"My God!" he exclaimed, snatching up the telephone receiver. "Jocelyn Thew
has done us again!"

"And you let him walk out!" Crawshay groaned.

"We'll find him," Brightman shouted. "Here, Central! Give me Scotland Yard.
Scotland Yard, quick! Johnson, you take a taxi to the Savoy."

Unnoticed, Richard Beverley had risen to his feet and helped himself to
another whisky and soda.

"If you are now convinced," he said, turning towards them, "that I am
carrying nothing more treasonable than the love letters of my best girl, I
should be glad to know what you have to say to me on the subject of my

Crawshay for once forgot his manners.

"Damn your detention!" he replied. "Get off and catch your train."


On the extreme edge of a stony and wide-spreading moor, Jocelyn Thew
suddenly brought the ancient motor-car which he was driving to a somewhat
abrupt and perilous standstill. He stood up in his seat, unrecognisable,
transformed. From his face had passed the repression of many years. His
lips were gentle and quivering as a woman's, his eyes seemed to have grown
larger and softer as they swept with a greedy, passionate gaze the view at
his feet. All that was hard and cruel seemed to have passed suddenly from
his face. He was like a poet or a prophet, gazing down upon the land of his

Behind him lay the rolling moor, cloven by that one ribbonlike stretch of
uneven road, broken here and there with great masses of lichen-covered grey
rock, by huge clumps of purple heather, long, glittering streaks of yellow
gorse. The morning was young, and little shrouds of white mist were still
hanging around. His own clothes were damp. Little beads of moisture were
upon his face. But below, where the Atlantic billows came thundering in
upon a rock-strewn coast, the sun, slowly gathering strength, seemed to be
rolling aside the feathery grey clouds. Downwards, split with great
ravines, the road now sloped abruptly to a little plateau of farmland, on
the seaward edge of which stood the ruins of a grey castle. Dotted here and
there about that pastoral strip and on the opposite hillside, were a few
white-washed cottages. Beyond these no human habitation, no other sign of

The traveller gazed downwards till he suddenly found a new mist before his
eyes. Nothing was changed. Everywhere he looked upon familiar objects.
There was the little harbour where he had moored his boat, scarcely more
than a pool surrounded by those huge masses of jagged rocks; the fields
where he had played, the cave in the cliffs where he had sat and dreamed.
This was his own little corner, the land which his forefathers had sworn to
deliver, the land for which his father had died, for which he had become an
exile, to which he returned with the price of death upon his head.

After a while he slipped down from the car, examined the brakes, mounted to
his seat and commenced the precipitous descent. Skilful driver though he
was, more than once he was compelled to turn into the cliff side of the
road in order to check his gathering speed. At last, however, he reached
the lowlands in safety. On the left-hand side now was the rock-strewn
beach, and the almost deafening roar of the Atlantic. On the right and in
front, fields, no longer like patchwork but showing some signs of
cultivation; here and there, indeed, the stooping forms of labourers--men,
drab-coloured, unnoticeable; women in bright green and scarlet shawls and
short petticoats. He passed a little row of whitewashed cottages, from
whose doorways and windows the children and old people stared at him with
strange eyes. One old man who met his gaze crossed himself hastily and
disappeared. Jocelyn Thew looked after him with a bitter smile upon his
lips. He knew so well the cause of the terror.

He came at last to the great gates leading to the ruined castle, gates
whose pillars were surmounted by huge griffins. He looked at the deserted
lodges, the coat of arms, nothing of which remained but a few drooping
fragments. He shook the iron gates, which still held together, in vain.
Finally he drove the car through an opening in the straggling fence, and up
the long, grass-grown avenue, until he reached the building itself. Here he
descended, walked along the weed-framed flags to the arched front door, by
the side of which hung the rusty and broken fragments of a bell, at which
he pulled for some moments in vain. To all appearances the place was
entirely deserted. No one answered his shout, or the wheezy summons of the
cracked and feeble bell. He passed along the front, barely out of reach of
the spray which a strong west wind was bringing from seaward, looked in
through deserted windows till he came at last to a great crack in the
walls, through which he stepped into a ruined apartment. It was thus that
he entered the home in which he had been born.

He made his way into a stone passage, along which he passed until a door on
his right yielded to his touch. In front of him now were what had been the
state apartments, stretching along the whole front of the castle save the
little corner where he had entered. Here was dilapidation supreme,
complete. The white, stone-flagged floor knew no covering save here and
there a strip of torn matting. The walls were stained with damp. At long
intervals were tables and chairs of jet-black oak, in all sorts and states
of decay. On one or two remained the fragments of some crimson velvet,--on
the back of one, remnants of a coat of arms! And here, entirely in keeping
with the scene of desolation, were the first signs of human life--an old
man with a grey beard, leaning upon a stick, who walked slowly back and
forth, mumbling to himself.

A new light broke across Jocelyn Thew's face as he listened, and the tears
stood in his eyes. The man was reciting Gaelic verses, verses familiar to
him from childhood. The whole desolate picture seemed to envisage thoughts
which he had never been able to drive from his mind, seemed in the person
of this old man to breathe such incomparable, unalterable fidelity that he
felt himself suddenly a traitor who had slipped unworthily away and hidden
from a righteous doom. Better that his blood had been spilt and his bones
buried in the soil of the land than to have become a fugitive, to have
placed an ocean between himself and the voices to which this old man had
listened, day by day and night by night, through the years!

Jocelyn Thew stole softly out of the shadows.

"Timothy," he called quietly.

The old man paused in his walk. Then he came forward towards the speaker
and dropped on one knee. His face showed no surprise, though his eyes were
strange and almost terribly brilliant.

"The Cathley!" he exclaimed. "God is good!"

He kissed his master's hand, which he had seized with almost frantic joy.
Jocelyn Thew raised him to his feet.

"You recognised me then, Timothy?"

"There is no Cathley in the world," the old man answered passionately,
"would ever rise up before me and call himself by any other name."

"Am I safe here, Timothy, for a day or two?"

The old man's scorn was a wonderful thing.

"Safe!" he repeated. "Safe! There is just a dozen miles or so of the
Kingdom of Ireland where the stranger who came on evil business would
disappear, and it's our pride that we are the centre of it."

"They've held on, then, in these parts?"

"Hold on? Why, the fire that smouldered has become a blaze," was the eager
response. "Ireland is our country here. Why--you know?"

"Know what?" Jocelyn Thew demanded. "You must treat me as a stranger,
Timothy, I have been living under a false name. News has failed me for

"Don't you know," the old man went on eagerly, "that they meet here in the
castle, the men who count--Hagen, the poet, Matlaske, the lawyer, Indewick,
Michael Dilwyn, Harrison, and the great O'Clory himself?"

"I thought O'Clory was in prison since the Sinn Fein rising."

"In prison, aye, but they daren't keep him there!" was the fierce reply.
"They had a taste then of the things that are ablaze through the country.
The O'Clory and the others will be here to-night, under your own roof. Aye,
and the guard will be out, and there'll be no Englishman dare come within a
dozen miles!"

Jocelyn Thew walked away to one of the great windows and looked out
seaward. The old servant limped over to his side.

"Your honour," he said, his voice shaking even as the hands which clasped
his stick, "this is a wonderful day--sure, a wonderful day!"

"For me, too, Timothy!"

"You've been a weary time gone. Maybe you've lain hidden across the seas
there--you've heard nothing."

"I've heard little enough, Timothy," his master told him sadly. "There came
a time when I put the newspapers away from me. I did it that I might keep

"You've missed much then, Sir Denis. There has been cruelty and wickedness,
treason and murder afoot, but the spirit of the dear land has never even
flickered in these parts. The arms we sent to Dublin were landed in yonder
bay, and there was none to stop them, either, though they laid hands on
that poor madman who well-nigh brought us all to ruin. There's strange
craft rides there now, where your honour's looking."

A silence fell between the two men. Presently the steward withdrew.

"I'll be seeing after your honour's room," he murmured "and there's others
to tell. There's a drop of something left, too, in the cellars, thank God!"

Jocelyn Thew listened to the retreating footsteps and then for a moment
pushed open the window. There was the old roar once more, which seemed to
have dwelt in his ears; the salt sting, the scream of the pebbles, the cry
of a wheeling gull. There was the headland round which he had sailed his
yacht, the moorland over which he had wandered with his gun, the meadow
round which he had tried the wild young horses. In those few seconds of
ecstatic joy, he seemed for the first time to realise all that he had
suffered during his long exile.

More and more unreal seemed to grow the world in which Sir Denis Jocelyn
Cathley passed that day. Time after time, the great hall in which he had
played when a boy, draughty now but still moderately weather-tight, had
echoed to the roars of welcome from old associates. But the climax of it
all came later on, when he sat at the head of the long, black oak table,
presiding over what was surely the strangest feast ever prepared and given
to the strangest gathering of guests. The tablecloth of fine linen was
patched and mended--here and there still in holes. Some of the dishes were
of silver and others of kitchen china. There were knives and forks
beautifully shaped and fashioned, mingled with the horn-handled ware of the
kitchen; silver plate and common pewter side by side; priceless glass and
common tumblers; fragments of beautiful china and here and there white
delf, borrowed from a neighbouring farm. The fare was simple but plentiful;
the only drink whisky and some ancient Marsala, in dust-covered bottles,
produced by Timothy with great pride and served with his own hand. The roar
which had greeted the first drinking of Sir Denis' health had scarcely died
away when Michael Dilwyn led the way to the final sensation.

"Denis, my boy," he said, "there's a trifle of mystery about you yet. Will
you tell me then, why, when I spoke to you at the Savoy Restaurant the
other night, you denied your own identity? Told me your name was Thew, or
something like it, and I your father's oldest friend, and your own, too!"

A sudden flood of recollection unlocked some of the fears in Denis
Cathley's breast.

"I have not used the name of Cathley for many years," he said. "Was it
likely that I should own to it there, in the heart of London, with a price
upon my head, and half a dozen people within earshot? I came back to
England at the risk of my life, on a special errand. I scarcely dared to
hope that I might meet any of you. I just wanted twelve hours here--"

"Stop, lad!" Dilwyn interrupted. "What's that about a price on your head?
You've missed none of our letters, by any chance?"

"Letters?" Sir Denis repeated. "I have had no word from this country, not
even from Timothy here, for over three years and a half."

There was a little murmur of wonder. The truth was beginning to dawn upon

"It'll be the censor, maybe," Michael Dilwyn murmured. "Tell us, Denis
Cathley, what brought you back, then? What was this special errand you
spoke of?"

"Nothing I can discuss, even with you," was the grim answer. "It was a big
risk, in more ways than one, but if to-night keeps calm I'll bring it off."

"You've had no letters for three years," Michael Dilwyn repeated. "Why,
d----n it, boy," he exclaimed, striking the table with his fist, "maybe you
don't know, then? You haven't heard of it?"

"Heard of what?" Sir Denis demanded.

"Your pardon!"


"Your pardon," was the hoarse reply, "signed and sealed a year ago, before
the Dublin matter. Things aren't as bad as they were! There's a different
spirit abroad.--Pass him the Madeira, Hagan. Sure, this has unnerved him!"

Sir Denis drank mechanically, drank until he felt the fire of the old wine
in his veins. He set the glass down empty.

"My pardon!" he muttered.

"It's true," Hagan assured him. "You were one of a dozen. I wrote you with
my own hand to the last address we had from you, somewhere out on the west
coast of America. Dilwyn's right enough. England has a Government at last.
There are men there who want to find the truth. They know what we are and
what we stand for. You can judge what I mean when I tell you that we speak
as we please here, openly, and no one ventures to disturb us. Denis,
they've begun to see the truth. Dilwyn here will tell you the same thing.
He was in Downing Street only last week."

"I was indeed--I, Michael Dilwyn, the outlaw!--and they listened to me."

"The days are coming," Hagan continued, "for which we've pawned our lands,
our relatives, and some of us our liberty. Please God there isn't one here
that won't see a free Ireland! We've hammered it into their dull Saxon
brains. It's been a long, drear night, but the dawn's breaking."

"And I am pardoned!" Sir Denis repeated wonderingly.

"Where have you been to these three years, man, that you've heard nothing?"
Michael Dilwyn asked.

"In Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uraguay. You're right. I've been out of the
world. I crept out of it deliberately. When I left here, nothing seemed so
hopeless as the thought that a time of justice might come. I cut myself off
even from news. I have lived without a name and without a future."

"Maybe for the best," Hagan declared cheerfully. "Remember that it's but
twelve months ago since your pardon was signed, and you'd have done ill to
have found your way back before then.--But what about this mission you
spoke of?"

Sir Denis looked down the table. Of servants there was only old Timothy at
the sideboard, and of those who were gathered around his board there was
not one whom he could doubt.

"I will tell you about that," he promised, leaning a little forward. "You
have read of the documents and the famous stolen letter which were supposed
to have been brought over to England in a certain trunk, protected by the
seal of a neutral country?"

"Why, sure!" Michael Dilwyn murmured under his breath. "The box was to have
been opened at Downing Street, but one heard nothing more of it."

"The stolen letter," Hagan remarked, "was supposed to have been indiscreet
enough to have brought about the ruin of a great man in America."

Sir Denis nodded.

"You've got the story all right," he said. "Well, those papers never were
in that trunk. I brought them over myself in the _City of Boston_. I
brought them over under the nose of a Secret Service man, and although the
steamer and all of us on board were searched from head to foot in the
Mersey before we were permitted to land."

"And where are they now?" Michael Dilwyn asked.

Sir Denis drew a long envelope from his pocket and laid it upon the table
before him. Almost as he did so, another little sensation brought them all
to their feet. They hurried to the window. From about a mile out seaward, a
blue ball, followed by another, had shot up into the sky. Sir Denis watched
for a moment steadily. Then he pointed to a bonfire which had been lighted
on the beach.

"That," he pointed out, "is my signal, and there is the answer. The
documents you have all read about are in that envelope."

There was a queer, protracted silence, a silence of doubt and difficulty.

"It will be a German submarine, that," Michael Dilwyn declared. "She has
come to pick up your papers, maybe?"

"That's true," was the quiet answer. "I was to light the fire on the beach
the moment I arrived. The blue balls were to be my answer."

The O'Clory, a big, silent man, leaned over and laid his hand on his host's

"What are you going to do about it?" he demanded.

"For the moment I do not know," Sir Denis confessed. "Advise me, all of
you. I undertook this enterprise partly because of its danger, partly for a
great sum of money which I should have handed over to our cause, partly
because if I succeeded it would hurt England. Now I have come back and I
find you all moved by a different spirit."

"There isn't a man in this island," Michael Dilwyn said slowly, "who has
hated England as I have. She has been our oppressor for generations, and in
return we have given her the best of our sons, their life-blood, their
genius, their souls. And yet, with it all there is a bond. Our children
have married theirs, and when we've looked together over the side, we've
seen the same things. We've made use of Germans, Denis, but I tell you
frankly I hate them. There are two things every Irishman loves--justice and
courage--and England went into this war in the great manner. She has done
big things, and I tell you, in a sneaking sort of way we're proud. I am
honest with you, you see, Denis. You can guess, from what I've said, what
I'd do with that packet."

Sir Denis turned to the O'Clory.

"And you?" he asked.

"My boy," was the reply, "sure Michael's right. I've hated England, I've
shouldered a rifle against her, I've talked treason up and down the
country, and I've known the inside of a prison. I've spat at her authority.
I've said in plain words what I think of her--fat, commerce-ridden, smug,
selfish. I've watched her bleed and been glad of it, but at the bottom of
my heart I'd have liked to have seen her outstretched hand. Denis, lad,
that's coming. We've got to remember that we, too, are a proud, obstinate,
pig-headed race. We've got to meet that hand half-way, and when the moment
comes I'd like to be the first to raise the boys round here and give the
Germans hell!"

Another blue ball shot up into the sky. Sir Denis took the packet of papers
from the table and stood by the great open stone hearth. Michael Dilwyn
moved to his side, a gaunt, impressive figure.

"You're doing the right thing, Denis," he declared. "What fighting we've
done, and any that we may still have to do with England, we'll do it on the
surface. I was down at Queenstown when they brought in some of the bodies
from the _Lusitania_. To Hell with such tricks! There's no Irishman yet has
ever joined hands with those who war against women and babies."

Denis drew a log of burning wood out on to the hearth and laid the packet
deliberately upon it. He stood there watching the smoke curl upwards as the
envelope shrivelled and the flames crept from one end to the other.

"That seems a queer thing to do," he observed, with a dry little laugh.
"I've carried my life in my hands for those papers, and there's a hundred
thousand pounds waiting for them, not a mile away."

"Blood-money, boy," the O'Clory reminded him, "and anyway there's a touch
of the evil thing about strangers' gold.--Eh, but who's this?"

A large motor-car had suddenly flashed by the window. With the instinct of
past dangers, the little gathering of men drew close together. There was
the sound of an impatient voice in the hall. The door was opened hurriedly
and Crawshay stepped in. "It is a gentleman in a great hurry, your honour,"
Timothy explained.

Crawshay, dour and threatening, came a little further into the room. Behind
him in the hall was a vision of his escort. Sir Denis looked up from the
hearth with a poker in his hand.

"My friend," he observed, "it seems to be your unfortunate destiny to be
always five minutes too late in life."

Crawshay's outstretched hand pointed denouncingly through the window
towards the bay.

"If I am too late this time," he declared, "then an act of treason has been
committed. You know what it means, I suppose, to communicate with the

Denis shook his head.

"As yet," he said, "we have held no communication with our visitors. If you
doubt my word, come down on your knees with me and examine these ashes."

Crawshay, with a little exclamation, crossed the floor and crouched down by
the other's side. A word or two in the topmost document stared at him. The
seal of the envelope had melted, and a little thread of green wax had made
a strange pattern upon the stones.

"Is this the end, then?" he demanded in bewilderment.

"It is the end," was the solemn reply. "Perhaps if you take the ashes away
with you, you will be able to consider that honours are divided."

"You burnt them--yourself?" Crawshay muttered, still wondering. "Every
gentleman in this room," Denis replied, "is witness of the fact that I
destroyed unopened the packet which I brought from America, barely five
minutes ago."

Crawshay stood upright once more. He was convinced but puzzled.

"Will you tell me what induced you to do this?" he asked.

"We will tell you presently. As for the submarine outside, well, as you
see, he is still sending up blue lights."

Crawshay gathered the ashes together and thrust them into an envelope.

"Your friend will be trying some of our Irish whisky, Denis," Michael
Dilwyn invited. "We are hoping to make the brand more popular in England
before long."


One by one, the next morning, in all manner of vehicles, the guests left
the Castle. Sir Denis bade them farewell, parting with some of them in the
leaky hall of his ancestors, and with others out in the stone-flagged
courtyard. Crawshay alone lingered, with the obvious air of having
something further to say to his host. The two men strolled down together
seaward to where the great rocks lay thick upon the stormy beach.

"These," Sir Denis pointed out, "are supposed to be the marbles with which
the great giant Cathley used to play. Tradition is a little vague upon the
subject, but according to some of the legends he was actually an ancestor,
and according to others a kind of patron saint.... Just look at my house,
Crawshay! What would you do with a place like that?"

They turned and faced its crumbling front, majestic in places, squalid in
others, one whole wing open to the rain and winds, one great turret still
as solid and strong as the rocks themselves.

"It would depend very much," Crawshay replied, "upon the extremely sordid
question of how much money I had to spend. If I had enough, I should
certainly restore it. It's a wonderful situation."

The eyes of its owner glowed as he swept the outline of the storm-battered
country and passed on to the rich strip of walled-in fields above.

"It is my home," he said simply. "I shall live in no other place. If this
matter which we discussed last night should indeed prove to have a solid
foundation, if this even should be the beginning of the end of the great

"But it is," Crawshay interrupted. "How can you doubt it if you have read
the papers during the last six months?"

"I have scarcely glanced at an English newspaper for ten years," was his
companion's reply. "I fled to America, hating England as a man might do
some poisonous reptile, sternly determined never to set foot upon her
shores again. I left without hope. It seemed to me that she was implacable.
The war has changed many things."

"You are right," Crawshay admitted. "In many respects it has changed the
English character. We look now a little further afield. We have lost some
of our stubborn over-confidence. We have grown in many respects more
spiritual. We have learnt what it means to make sacrifices, sacrifices not
for gold but for a righteous cause. And as far as regards this country of
yours, Sir Denis," he continued, "I was only remarking a few days ago that
the greatest opponents of Home Rule who have ever mounted a political
platform in England have completely changed their views. There is only one
idea to-day, and that is to let Ireland settle her own affairs. Such
trouble as remains lies in your own country. Convert Ulster and you are

"You heard what was said last night?" Sir Denis reminded his companion.
"The O'Clory believes that that is already done."

The faintest of white mists was being burnt away now by the strengthening
sun. Long, green waves came rolling in from the Atlantic. Distant rocks
gleamed purple in the gathering sunshine. The green of the fields grew
deeper, the colouring on the moors warmer. Crawshay lit a cigarette and
leaned back against a rock.

"Over in America," he observed, "I heard all sorts of stories about you.
The man Hobson, with whom I was sent to Halifax, and who dragged me off to
Chicago, seemed to think that if he could once get his hand on your
shoulder there were other charges which you might have to answer.
Brightman, that Liverpool man, had the same idea. I am mentioning this for
your own sake, Sir Denis."

The latter shook his head.

"Heaven knows how I've kept clear," he declared, "but there isn't a thing
against me. I sailed close to the wind in Mexico. I'd have fought for them
against America if they'd really meant business, but they didn't. I was too
late for the Boer War or I'd have been in that for a certainty. I went
through South America, but the little fighting I did there doesn't amount
to anything. After I came back to the States I ran some close shaves, I
admit, but I kept clear of the law. Then I got in with some Germans at
Washington. They knew who I was, and they knew very well how I felt about
England. I did a few things for them--nothing risky. They were keeping me
for something big. That came along, as you know. They offered me the job of
bringing these things to England, and I took it on."

"For an amateur," Crawshay confessed, "you certainly did wonderfully. I am
not a professional detective myself, but you fairly beat us on the sea, and
you practically beat us on land as well."

"There's nothing succeeds like simplicity," Denis declared. "I gambled upon
it that no one would think of searching the curtains of the music hall box
in which Gant and I spent apparently a jovial evening. No one did--until it
was too late. Then I felt perfectly certain that both you and Brightman
would believe I was trying to get hold of Richard Beverley. The poor fellow
thought so himself for some time."

"There is just one question," Crawshay said, after a moment's pause, "which
I'd like to ask. It's about Nora Sharey."

Sir Denis glanced at his companion with a faint smile. He suddenly realised
the purport of his lingering.

"Well, what about her?"

"She seems to have followed you very quickly from New York."

"Must you put it like that? Her father and brother were connected with the
German Secret Service in New York, and on the declaration of war they had
to hide. She could scarcely stay there alone."

"She might have gone with her father to Chicago," Crawshay observed.

"You must remember that she, too, is Irish," Sir Denis pointed out. "I am
not at all sure that she wasn't a little homesick. By-the-by, are you
interested in her?"

"Since you ask me," Crawshay replied, "I am."

Sir Denis threw away his cigarette.

"I suppose," he said quietly, "if I tell you that I am delighted to hear
it, for your own sake as well as hers--"

"That's all I have been hanging about to hear," Crawshay interrupted,
turning towards the castle. "I suppose we shall meet again in London?"

"I think not. They talk about sending me to the Dublin Convention here.
Until they want me, I don't think I shall move."

Crawshay looked around him. The prospect in its way was beautiful, but save
for a few bending figures in the distant fields, there was no sign of any
human being.

"You won't be able to stand this for long," he remarked. "You've lived too
turbulent a life to vegetate here."

Sir Denis laughed softly but with a new ring of real happiness.

"It's clear that you are not an Irishman!" he declared. "I've been away for
over ten years. I can just breathe this air, wander about on the beach
here, walk on that moorland, watch the sea, poke about amongst my old
ruins, send for the priest and talk to him, get my tenants together and
hear what they have to say--I can do these things, Crawshay, and breathe
the atmosphere of it all down into my lungs and be content. It's just
Ireland--that's all.--You hurry back to your own bloated, over-rich,
smoke-disfigured, town-ruined country, and spend your money on restaurants
and theatres if you want to. You're welcome."

Sir Denis' words sounded convincing enough, but his companion only smiled
as he brought his car out of a dilapidated coach-house, from amidst the
ruins of a score of carriages.

"All the same," he observed, as he leaned over and shook hands with his
host, "I should never be surprised to come across you in that
smoke-disfigured den of infamy! Look me up when you come, won't you?"

"Certainly," Sir Denis promised. "And--my regards to Nora!"

Richard Beverley, after his first embrace, held his sister's hands for a
moment and looked into her face.

"Why, Katharine," he exclaimed, "London's not agreeing with you! You look

She laughed carelessly.

"It was the heat last month," she told him. "I shall be all right now. How
well you're looking!"

"I'm fine," he admitted. "It's a great life, Katharine. I'm kind of worried
about you, though."

"There is nothing whatever the matter with me," she assured him, "except
that I want some work. In a few days' time now I shall have it. I have
eighty nurses on the way from the hospital, with doctors and dressers and a
complete St. Agnes's outfit. They sailed yesterday, and I shall go across
to Havre to meet them."

"Good for you!" Richard exclaimed. "Say, Katharine, what about lunch?"

"You must be starving," she declared. "We'll go down and have it. I feel
better already, Dick. I think I must have been lonely."

They went arm in arm down-stairs and lunched cheerfully. Towards the end of
the meal, he asked the question which had been on his lips more than once.

"Heard anything of Jocelyn Thew?"

"Not a word."

Richard sighed thoughtfully.

"What a waste!" he exclaimed. "A man like that ought to be doing great
things. Katharine, you ought to have seen their faces when they searched me
and found I was only carrying out a packet of old love letters, and it
dawned upon them that he'd got away with the goods! I wonder if they ever
caught him."

"Shouldn't we have heard of it?" she asked.

"Not necessarily. If he'd been caught under certain circumstances, he might
have been shot on sight and we should never have heard a word. Not that
that's likely, of course," he went on, suddenly realising her pallor. "What
a clumsy ass I am, Katharine! We should have heard of it one way or
another.--Do you see who's sitting over there in a corner?"

Katharine looked across the room and shook her head.

"The face of the man in khaki seems familiar," she admitted.

"That's Crawshay, the fellow whom Jocelyn Thew fooled. He was married last
week to the girl with him. Nora Sharey, her name was. She came from New

"They seem very happy," Katharine observed, watching them as they left the

"Crawshay's a good fellow enough," her brother remarked, "and the girl's
all right, although at one time--"

He stopped short, but his sister's eyes were fixed upon him enquiringly.

"At one time," he continued, "I used to think that she was mad about
Jocelyn Thew. Not that that made any difference so far as he was concerned.
He never seemed to find time or place in his life for women."

They finished their luncheon and made their way up-stairs once more to
Katharine's sitting room. Richard stretched himself in any easy-chair and
lit a cigar with an air of huge content.

"I am to be transferred when our first division comes across," he told her.
"Our Squadron Commander's going to make that all right with the W.O. We've
had some grand flights lately, I can tell you, Katharine."

There was a knock at the door, a few moments later. The waiter entered,
bearing a card upon a tray, which he handed to Katharine. She read it with
a perplexed frown.

"Sir Denis Cathley.--But I don't know of any one of that name," she
declared, glancing up. "Are you sure that he wants to see me?"

"Perhaps I had better explain," a quiet voice interposed from outside. "May
I come in?"

Katharine gave a little cry and Richard sprang to his feet. Sir Denis
pushed past the waiter. For a moment Katharine had swayed upon her feet. "I
am so sorry," he said earnestly. "Please forgive me, Miss Beverley, and do
sit down. It was an absurd thing to force my way upon you like this. Only,
you see," he went on, as he helped her to a chair, "the circumstances which
required my use of a partially assumed name have changed. I ought to have
written you and explained. Naturally you thought I was dead, or at the
other end of the world."

Katharine smiled a little weakly. She was back again in her chair, but Sir
Denis seemed to have forgotten to release her hand, which she made no
effort to withdraw.

"It was perfectly ridiculous of me," she murmured, "but I was just telling
Dick--he is back again for another four days' leave and we were talking
about you at luncheon time--that I wasn't feeling very well, and your
coming in like that was quite a shock. I am absolutely all right now. Do
please sit down and explain," she begged, motioning him to a chair.

The waiter had disappeared. Sir Denis shook hands with Richard, who wheeled
an easy-chair forward for him. He sat down between them and commenced his

"You see," he went on, "as a criminal I am really rather a fraud. When I
tell you that I am an Irishman--perhaps you may have guessed it from my
name--and a rabid one, a Sinn Feiner, and that for ten years I have lived
with a sentence probably of death hanging over me, you will perhaps
understand my hatred of England and my somewhat morbid demeanour

Katharine was speechless. Richard Beverley indulged in a long whistle.

"So that's the explanation!" he exclaimed. "That was why you got mixed up
with that German crew, eh?"

"That," Sir Denis admitted, "was the reason for my attempted enterprise."

"Attempted?" Richard protested. "But you brought it off, didn't you?"

"The end of the affair was really curious," Sir Denis explained. "I
suppose, in a way, I did bring it off. I caught the mail train from Euston
that night, got away with the papers and took them where I always meant
to--to my old home on the west coast of Ireland. There, whilst I was
waiting to keep an appointment with a German U-boat, I found out what
happens to a man who has sworn an oath that he will never again look inside
an English newspaper, and been obstinate enough to keep his word."

"Say, this is interesting!" Richard declared enthusiastically. "Why, of
course, there have been great changes, haven't there? You Irish are going
to have all that you want, after all."

"It looks like it," Sir Denis assented. "I found that my home was the
rendezvous of a lot of my old associates, only instead of meeting
underneath trapdoors at the risk of their lives, they were meeting quite
openly and without fear of molestation. From them I heard that the
Government had granted me, together with some others, a free pardon many
months ago. I heard, too, of the coming Convention and of the altered
spirit in English politics. I heard of these things just in time, for the
U-boat was waiting outside in the bay."

"You didn't part with the stuff?" Richard exclaimed eagerly.

Sir Denis shook his head.

"I burnt the papers upon my hearth," he told them. "Crawshay ran me to
ground there, but his coming wasn't necessary. A great deal besides the
ashes of those documents went up in smoke that night."

Richard Beverley had risen to his feet and was pacing up and down the room.
He found some vent for his feelings by wringing his friend's hand.

"If this doesn't beat the band!" he exclaimed. "My head isn't strong enough
to take it all in. So Crawshay found you out?"

"He arrived," Sir Denis replied, "to find the papers burning upon the
hearth. As a matter of fact, he took the ashes with him."

"He didn't arrest you, then, after all? There was no charge made?"

"None whatever. He was perfectly satisfied. He stayed until the next
morning and we parted friends. A few days ago I had his wedding cards. You
know whom he married?"

"Saw them together down-stairs," Richard declared. "I'm off in a moment to
see if I can get hold of Crawshay and shake his hand.--So you're Sir Denis
Cathley, eh, and you've chucked that other game altogether?"

"Naturally," the other replied--"Sir Denis Jocelyn Cathley. As a matter of
fact, I am up in town to arrange for some one else to take my place at the
Convention. I am not much use as a maker of laws. They've promised me a
commission in the Irish Guards. That will be settled in a few days. Then I
shall go back home to see what I can do amongst my tenantry, and
afterwards--well," he concluded, with a little gleam in his dark eyes,
"they promise me I shall go out with the first drafts of the new

Richard gripped his friend's hand once again and turned towards the door.

"It's great!" he declared. "I must try and catch Crawshay before he goes."

He hurried out. The door was closed. Sir Denis turned at once towards
Katharine. He rose to his feet and leaned over her chair. His voice was not
quite so steady.

"So much that I had thought lost for ever," he said, "has come back to me.
So much that I had never thought to realise in this world seems to be
coming true. Is it too late for me to ask for the one greatest thing of all
of the only person who could count--who ever has counted? You know so well,
Katharine, that even as a soured and disappointed man I loved you, and now
it is just you, and you only, who could give me--what I want in life."

She laid her fingers upon his shoulders. Her eyes shone as he drew her into
his arms.

"I ought to keep you waiting such a long time," she murmured, "because I
had to ask you first--for your friendship, and you weren't very kind to
die. But I can't."

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