Part 5 out of 7
melancholy state of affairs from the people. But Mr. Kennedy, who
had been in Government House, knew more. He told Heideck that the
English army had fled in complete disorder, having lost 8,000
killed and wounded, twenty guns, and a number of colours and
standards. The Government had already abandoned all hope of saving
Delhi, for General Simpson could not possibly hold it. "We have
lost India," sorrowfully concluded Mr. Kennedy. "It is the grave
of my last hopes."
. . . . . . .
The Caledonia was moored in Victoria Dock, which formed part of the
magnificent harbour on the east coast of the peninsula. In the
midst of a seething crowd the passengers were making their way on
board. Many wounded and sick officers and soldiers were returning
on the fast steamer to England, and filled the places intended for
passengers. No travellers to Europe on business or pleasure were
to be seen. All the women on board belonged to the families of the
military. The general feeling was one of extreme melancholy.
Before embarking Heideck had discharged his faithful servant.
Morar Gopal, with tears in his eyes, had begged him to take him
with him, but Heideck was afraid that the European climate would be
the death of the poor fellow. Besides, he would have been obliged
to part with him on active service. So he gave him a hundred
rupees--a fortune for Morar Gopal.
The great steamer moved slowly out of the basin of the harbour,
past English merchantmen and the white ships of war, which had
brought troops and war material.
As the Caledonia, continually increasing her speed, made her way
through the outer harbour, Heideck saw some twenty men-of-war in
the roadstead, including several large ironclads. English troops
from Malta were being landed in boats from two transports, the
decks of which glistened with arms.
The Caledonia proceeded with increasing rapidity into the open sea.
The city and its lighthouses disappeared in the distance, the blue
mountains of the mainland and of the island were lost in a floating
mist. A long, glittering, white furrow followed in the wake of the
It was a wonderful journey for all whom a load of anxiety had not
rendered insensible to the grandeur of Nature. Heideck, happy at
being at last on the way home, enjoyed the beauty of sea and sky to
the full. The uneasy doubts which sometimes assailed him as to his
own and Edith's future were suppressed by the charm of her
presence. Her impetuosity caused him perpetual anxiety, but he
loved her. Ever since she had declared that she would never leave
him she had been all devotion and tenderness, as if tormented by a
constant fear that he might nevertheless one day cast her off.
So they sat once again, side by side, on the promenade deck. The
azure billows of the sea splashed round the planks of the vessel.
The boundless surface of ocean glittered with a marvellous
brilliancy, and everything seemed bathed in a flood of light. The
double awning over the heads of the young couple kept off the
burning heat of the sun, and a refreshing breeze swept across the
deck beneath it.
"Then you would land with me at Brindisi?" asked Heideck.
"At Brindisi, or Aden, or Port Said--where you like."
"I think Brindisi will be the most suitable place. Then we can
travel together to Berlin."
Edith nodded assent.
"But I don't know how long I shall stay in Berlin," continued
Heideck. "I hope I shan't be sent to join my regiment at once."
"If you are I shall go with you, wherever it may be," she said as
quietly as if it were a matter of course.
"That would hardly be possible," he rejoined, with a smile. "We
Germans make war without women."
"And yet I shall go with you."
Heideck looked at her in amazement. "But don't you understand,
dear, that it would be something entirely novel, and bound to
create a sensation, for a German officer to take the field with his
"I am not afraid of what people think. I don't care what the
Kennedys may say if I leave the ship at Brindisi and go with you.
Of course it will be a sad downfall for me. They would look on me
as a lost woman from that moment. But I care nothing about that.
I have long been cured of the foolish idea that we must sacrifice
our happiness to what the world may say."
Of course Heideck refused to take her words seriously. He did not
believe she meant to accompany him to the field, and seized the
opportunity of making a proposal which he had already carefully
"I should think the best thing for you to do, my dear Edith, would
be to go to my uncle at Hamburg and stay there till the war is
over. Then--if Heaven spare my life--there will be nothing to
prevent our union."
As she made no answer Heideck, who wanted to give her time to
think, hastened to turn the conversation.
"Look how beautiful it is!" he said, pointing to the water.
A long succession of white, foaming waves kept pace with the vessel
on either side. The keel seemed to be cutting its way through a
number of tiny cliffs, over which the sea was breaking. But closer
inspection showed that they were no cliffs, but countless shoals of
large fish, swimming alongside the ship, as if in order of battle.
From time to time they leaped high out of the water, their bright,
scaly bodies glistening in the sun.
"I should like to be one of those dolphins," said Edith. "Look,
how free they are! how they enjoy life!"
"You believe in the transmigration of souls?" said Heideck
jestingly; "perhaps you have once been such a dolphin yourself."
"Then certainly I have made no change for the better. There is no
doubt that our higher intellectual development prevents us from
properly enjoying our natural existence. But it teaches us to feel
more deeply the sorrows, which are far more numerous than the joys
of human life."
. . . . . . .
The journey through the Indian Ocean took six days, and Heideck
frequently had an opportunity of hearing the views of English
officers and officials on the political situation. All blamed the
incapacity of the Government, which had brought England into so
perilous a situation.
"The good old principles of English policy have been abandoned,"
said a Colonel, who had been severely wounded and was returning
home invalided. "In former times England made her conquests when
the continental Powers were involved in war, or she carried on war
with allies, to enlarge her possessions. But she has never allowed
herself to be so disgracefully surprised before. Of course we
shall beat France and Germany, for it is a question of sea power.
But even when they are beaten, we shall still have the worst of it;
the loss of India is as bad for England's health and efficiency as
the amputation of my left leg for me. I am returning to England a
cripple, and my poor country will only be a cripple after she has
"Quite true," said Mr. Kennedy; "I am afraid it will be difficult--
impossible, to recover India. We were able to rob the French, the
Dutch, and the Portuguese of their Indian possessions, since their
only connexion with India was by sea; but the Russians will annex
the peninsula to their Empire and, even in case of a defeat, will
be able to send fresh troops without number overland. I can
already see them attacking Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, occupying
the harbours built with our money, and building a fleet in our
docks with the resources of India."
"We have no right to blame the continental Powers," continued the
Colonel, "for using our defeats for their own aggrandisement.
There is no Power at whose expense we have not grown great. We
took all our possessions by force of arms from the Spaniards, the
Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French; we have always opposed
Russia, since she began to develop her power. We supported Turkey,
we invaded the Crimea and destroyed Sebastopol, we suffocated her
fleet in the Black Sea. But this time we are out of our reckoning.
We have allowed the Japanese to attack Russia; but if our ministers
believed that Japan would fight for any one but herself, they have
made a great mistake. Russia is making us pay for her losses in
the Far East."
"It is not Russia, but Germany, that is our worst enemy,"
contradicted Mr. Kennedy. "Russia has only been our enemy since we
let Germany grow so powerful. I remember how our ministers exulted
when Prussia was at war with France and Austria. The continent of
Europe again seemed paralysed for a long time by internal
disruption. But our triumph was short-lived! No one had suspected
that Prussia would prove so strong. Then the first defects in our
policy became apparent. After the first German victories on the
Rhine, England ought to have concluded an alliance with France and
declared war against Prussia. Great political revolutions require
considerable time, and a clever government should always look
ahead. Bismarck slowly prepared England's defeat. Thirty years
ago we had a presentiment of this; it threatened us like a storm-
cloud, but our Government had not the courage to look things in the
face and lacked the energy."
A general, who had hitherto said nothing, took up the conversation.
He belonged to the engineers, and was on his way to take over the
command of Gibraltar.
"We talk about the loss of India," said he; "but who knows whether
we have not to fear an invasion of England herself?"
"Impossible!" exclaimed all the gentlemen present; "England will
never allow her men-of-war to be driven out of the Channel."
"I hope so too, but I don't know whether you gentlemen remember how
close the danger of Napoleon landing an army on English soil once
"And if it had made its appearance, it would have been smashed to
pieces by British fists!" cried Mr. Kennedy.
"Perhaps. But why have we never consented to the Channel Tunnel
being made? All military authorities, especially Wolseley, are
absolutely opposed to opening a road so convenient for traffic and
trade. They have always declared that England must remain an
island, only accessible by sea. This is certainly the first and
most essential condition of England's power."
"Well, then," said Mr. Kennedy, "as England is still an island, and
we have always adhered to the principle of keeping a fleet superior
to that of the two strongest naval powers, where is the danger?"
"Danger? There is always a danger, when one has enemies," replied
the General. "I maintain that at the beginning of the nineteenth
century, it was a toss up whether Napoleon crossed or not; and I
don't believe that we should have been a match for our great
opponent, if he had once got a firm footing on our coast."
"His plan was a visionary one and therefore impracticable."
"His plan only failed because it was too complicated. If he had
had modern telegraphic communication at his disposal, this would
not have been the case. He could have directed the operations of
his fleet by cable. If Admiral Villeneuve had sailed to Brest
(instead of Cadiz) as he was ordered and joined Admiral Gantaume,
he would have had fifty-six ships of the line to cover Napoleon's
passage from Boulogne to the English coast. No, gentlemen, you
must not think England's strategical position unassailable. I am
as confident of the superiority of our naval forces as you are, but
in these days of steam and electricity England is no longer as safe
as she was when the movement of ships depended on the wind and
orders had to be given by mounted messengers and signals."
"So you really think, General, that Napoleon's plan would have been
"Most certainly. Napoleon had no luck in this enterprise. In the
first place, his greatest misfortune was the death of Admiral
Latouche-Treville. If he had been in Villeneuve's place, he would
most likely have proved a competent commander. He was the only
French naval officer who could have opposed Nelson. But he died
too soon for France, and his successor, Villeneuve, was his
inferior in ability. But there are other special circumstances,
more favourable to a landing in England than in Napoleon's day.
For instance--to say nothing of cable and steam--the fact that
modern transports can carry an enormously larger number of troops.
Napoleon had to fit out 2,293 vessels to transport his army of
150,000 men and to protect the transports, had 1,204 gunboats and
135 other armed vessels at his disposal, in addition to the
transports proper. As nearly all his ships were constructed to
land men, horses, and guns on the level beach without the aid of
boats, they wanted calm weather for crossing the Channel. They
would have taken about ten hours, with a calm sea, to reach a point
between Dover and Hastings. It is different now. The large French
and German companies' steamers are at the disposal of their
"And yet things are just the same as before," said Mr. Kennedy.
"Victory on the open sea turns the scale. No hostile fleet will be
able to show itself in the Channel without being destroyed by
"Let us hope so!" said the General.
On the way to Aden the Caledonia only met a few ships--all English.
Several transports with troops on board and a few men-of-war passed
her; as she travelled on the average twenty-two knots an hour, no
vessel overtook her. On the morning of the sixth day the reddish
brown rocks of Aden appeared, and the Caledonia cast anchor in the
roadstead. A number of small vessels darted towards her. Naked,
black Arab boys cried for money and showed their skill in diving,
fishing up pieces of silver thrown from the ship. As the Caledonia
had to coal, those passengers who were able to move went ashore in
boats rowed by Arabs.
Heideck joined the Kennedy family.
When the boat reached the deeply indented harbour, which with its
numerous bends between fortified heights afforded a safe shelter
for a whole fleet, Heideck saw some twenty English men-of-war, and
at least three times that number of French and German and a few
Russian merchantmen, which had been captured by the English.
Several cruisers of the three Powers at war with England also lay
in the harbour. They had been captured in the Indian Ocean at the
outbreak of war by superior English naval forces.
As the party had the whole day at their disposal, Mr. Kennedy took
a conveyance, and Heideck drove with the family to the town, which,
invisible from the roadstead, lay embedded between high, peaked
mountains. The road went past a large, open space, on which
thousands of camels and donkeys were exposed for sale. Here
Heideck had the opportunity of admiring, close at hand, the mighty
fortifications which the English had constructed on the important
corner of the mountain commanding the sea since the capture of Aden
by them from the Turks on the 9th of January, 1839. They also
inspected the remarkable tanks, those famous cisterns which supply
Aden with water, some fifty basins said to hold 30,000,000 gallons
of water, whose origin is lost in the hoary mist of antiquity.
They are said to have been constructed by the Persians.
About seven o'clock in the evening the passengers were again on
board. While the Caledonia continued her journey, they were
absorbed in the perusal of the English, French, and German
newspapers which they had bought at Aden. The papers were ten days
old, certainly, but contained much that was new to the travellers.
It was very hot in the Red Sea, and most of the first-class
passengers slept on deck, as they had done just before they reached
Aden. Part of the deck, over which a sail had been stretched, was
specially reserved for ladies.
The Caledonia, having again coaled at Port Said, where a number of
English men-of-war were lying, resumed her journey, with
unfavourable weather and a rather rough sea, into the
Mediterranean. Passing along the south of Crete, the steamer
turned northwest in the direction of Brindisi, where she was due on
the eighth day after leaving Aden. On the morning of the seventh
day a ship was seen coming from the north side of Crete, whose
appearance caused the captain of the Caledonia the liveliest
anxiety, which soon communicated itself to the passengers. All the
telescopes and field-glasses were directed towards the vessel,
whose course was bound to cut across that of the Caledonia. She
soon came near enough to be recognised. She was the small French
cruiser Forbin, and was bound to meet the Caledonia if the latter
continued her course.
The Forbin was a third-class cruiser, not so fast as the Caledonia
(the officers estimated her speed at twenty-one knots), which could
have beaten her in a race; but if the Caledonia made for Brindisi,
she was bound to meet the Frenchman, and could only expect to be
captured. Accordingly, the captain altered his course and turned
westwards towards Malta, without heeding the signal to stop or the
shots that were fired, one of which only went through the rigging,
without doing any damage worth mentioning.
"It is now noon," said Heideck. "We ought to be in Brindisi to-
morrow. Instead, we shall be in La Valetta, unless the captain
changes his course again and trusts to the speed of the Caledonia
to reach Brindisi in spite of the Forbin."
Then a loud shout was heard. The look-out man reported a ship on
the port side, and in a few minutes two other vessels suddenly
One of them afterwards proved to be the French second-class cruiser
Arethuse; the others were the protected cruiser Chanzy and a
The Caledonia could not possibly get past the French in the
direction of Malta, for the destroyer was much faster and capable
of making, at full speed, twenty-seven knots an hour. The captain
had no choice; he accordingly turned round, and began to make for
While the great vessel was wheeling round, those on board perceived
that the French had seen her and had started in pursuit.
Meanwhile the Forbin had approached considerably nearer and was
attempting to cut off the Caledonia. The captain accordingly gave
orders to steer further south.
Heideck, standing with Edith on the promenade-deck, followed the
movements of the vessels.
"What would happen to us if the French overtook us?" asked Edith.
"Surely they would not fire on an unarmed ship?"
"Certainly not. But they would call upon us to discontinue our
journey, and then they would take the Caledonia to the nearest
"Is that the rule of naval warfare? Is the general law of nations
so defective that a passenger steamer can be captured? The
Caledonia is not a combatant. She is taking home wounded men and
"Our captain doesn't seem to have much confidence in the laws of
naval warfare or nations in this case," said Heideck. "In fact,
nothing is more uncertain than these definitions. Strictly
speaking, there is no such thing as international law; the stronger
does what he likes with the weaker, and the only check on the
arbitrariness of the victor is the fear of public opinion. But
this fear does not weigh much with him who has might on his side,
especially as he knows that public opinion can be bribed."
"Then," said Edith, with a pitiful smile, "international law is
very like the law which is generally practised amongst human beings
"Besides, the French would not make a bad catch if they brought in
the Caledonia," continued Heideck. "Of the eight hundred
passengers about three hundred belong to the army, and I have heard
that there are large sums of money on board."
The promenade-deck was full of first-class passengers, who
anxiously followed the movements of the ships. The second-class
and steerage passengers were equally anxious. In the most
favourable circumstances, if the Caledonia escaped her pursuers,
her passage would, of course, be considerably delayed. But it was
hardly to be expected that she would reach Alexandria; for though
the Chanzy (travelling about twenty-two knots) was obviously
outpaced, the destroyer kept creeping up and the Forbin was
Then a fresh surprise was reported. Two steamships were coming
towards the Caledonia. All glasses were directed to where the tiny
pillars of smoke appeared above the surface of the water, and it
was soon seen beyond doubt that they carried the British flag.
The second officer informed the passengers that they were the
first-class cruiser Royal Arthur and the gunboat O'Hara. He
expressed his hope that the Caledonia would reach their protection
before the French overtook her.
The water was fairly calm. Sky and sea had ceased to shine and
sparkle since the Caledonia had left the Suez Canal and emerged
into the Mediterranean. The grey colouring, peculiar to European
latitudes, was seen instead, and streaky clouds scudded over the
pale-blue sky. The movements of the ships could be closely
followed by this light.
The English vessels approached rapidly. When the distance between
the Royal Arthur and the French destroyer was about two knots and a
half the cruiser opened fire from her bow-guns upon the destroyer,
which only stood out a little above the surface of the water. One
of the heavy shot whizzed so closely past the Caledonia, which was
now between the two, that the passengers could plainly hear the
howling noise of the shell as it cut through the air.
The Frenchman, without returning the fire, slackened speed, to wait
till the Chanzy came up. Meanwhile the Forbin advanced from the
north and opened fire from its bow-guns upon the British gunboat,
and soon afterwards the Chanzy fired its first shot. The position
of the vessels was now as follows: the gunboat lay broadside
opposite the Forbin, the two cruisers were firing with their bow-
guns on each other, while the destroyer kept in the background. In
the meantime the Caledonia had advanced so far that she was
completely protected by the British guns.
If the captain had now continued his course he would probably have
reached Alexandria in safety. But he wished to avoid the delay,
which would have been considerable, and the entreaties of the
passengers, who, greatly excited, begged him to remain near the
scene of action, coincided with his own wishes.
Accordingly the Caledonia slackened speed, and took up a position
to the south-east of the field of battle, whence she could make for
Brindisi or Alexandria as soon as the result was decided.
For some time neither side gained the advantage. The Chanzy and
Royal Arthur had turned broadsides to each other and fired, but the
effect was not visible from the Caledonia.
Suddenly the Royal Arthur began to move in a northerly direction,
firing upon the enemy from her stern-guns.
"It almost looks as if he meant to help the O'Hara," said Heideck
to Edith, who was standing by his side with a field-glass. "The
gunboat is clearly no match for the Forbin, and has perhaps been
In fact, the Royal Arthur continued her course northwards,
maintaining an incessant fire upon the Chanzy and the destroyer,
which still kept on the watch in the rear, and made for the Forbin,
on which she immediately opened fire with her bow-guns.
As the scene of action thus shifted further and further north, the
captain of the Caledonia resolved to turn westwards again. It did
not seem advisable to call at Malta, but assuming that the Royal
Arthur could hold the French ships for a considerable time, he
might fairly hope to reach Brindisi, his original destination.
But the course of events disappointed his hopes. A ship was
reported ahead, which proved to be the Arethuse, bearing down
straight on the Caledonia. To avoid meeting her the captain
immediately headed northwards. This brought the Caledonia closer
to the scene of action than had been intended, so close that a
British shell, discharged at the destroyer lying to the east, flew
over the low French vessel, and fell into the sea right before the
bows of the Caledonia, raising great jets of water.
A few seconds later the French destroyer moved rapidly in the
direction of the Royal Arthur, and the passengers of the Caledonia,
and all the sailors on the now more restricted field of operations,
witnessed a fearful sight. The destroyer had seized the right
moment to attack, and from one of its tubes had launched a torpedo
with splendid aim against the enemy. In the centre of the Royal
Arthur, just above the water-line, a tiny cloud of smoke was seen,
and then a large column of water spurting up. At the same time a
dull, loud report was heard that shook the air for a considerable
distance round and drowned the thunder of the guns.
It looked as if the cruiser was being torn asunder by the hands of
giants. The enormous hull split in two. Slowly the prow leaned
forwards, the stern backwards. Immediately afterwards both parts
righted themselves again, as if they would close up over the gaping
breach. But this movement only lasted a few seconds. Then the
weight of the water rushing in drew the gigantic hull into the
depths. The Royal Arthur sank with awe-inspiring rapidity. Now
only her three funnels were seen above the surface of the water; a
few minutes later nothing was visible save the top of the mast and
the top-pennants hoisted for battle. Then a mighty, foaming billow
rose on high, and only the breaking of the waves marked the spot
where the proud cruiser lay.
The guns had ceased firing, and deep silence reigned on all the
ships. The passengers were paralysed by overwhelming horror. The
captain ordered all the boats to be launched to go to the
assistance of the crew of the Royal Arthur. The Chanzy also was
seen to be letting down boats. The O'Hara fled, to avoid falling
into the hands of the superior French forces, and withdrew from the
scene of action in an easterly direction, pursued by the Forbin,
which sent shot after shot after her. If the captain of the
Caledonia had abandoned all idea of flight, he was not only
following the dictates of humanity, but obeying the signals of the
destroyer, ordering him to bring to. He knew that there was no
longer any chance of escape for the steamer entrusted to his care,
since the shells of the Royal Arthur had ceased to threaten the
The struggles of the unhappy men, who had reached the surface from
the gloomy depths, and were now making desperate efforts to save
themselves, presented an affecting sight. Those who could not swim
soon went under, unless they succeeded in getting hold of some
floating object. Every second more of the numerous heads, which
had been seen above the water immediately after the sinking of the
cruiser, disappeared, and there was no doubt that the crews of the
boats, though working heroically, would only be able to save a
small part of the crew.
Meanwhile the commander of the Chanzy's gig lay to at the gangway
of the Caledonia. The first officer, with four marines and a non-
commissioned officer, boarded the steamer and saluted the captain
with naval politeness.
"I greatly regret, sir, to be compelled to inconvenience you and
your passengers. But I am acting under orders, and must ask you to
show me your papers and to allow me to search the ship."
"It is yours to command, as things are," replied the Englishman
He then went down with the Frenchman into the cabin, while the non-
commissioned officer remained with the soldiers on the gangway.
The proceedings lasted nearly two hours, during which the work of
rescuing the crew of the Royal Arthur was continued unremittingly.
A hundred and twenty soldiers and sailors and five officers,
besides the commander, were saved. Most of the officers and crew
Unusual steps were taken to secure the prize. The captain, with
the first and second officers, was taken on board the Chanzy. The
first officer of the Chanzy took command of the ship, and two
lieutenants and fifty men were transferred to the Caledonia. These
precautions were sufficiently justified by the great value of the
cargo. According to the ship's papers, the Caledonia carried no
less than 20,000,000 rupees, some in specie, others in silver bars,
consigned from Calcutta to England. The French commander was
naturally very anxious to take so valuable a cargo safely to
A further triumph fell to the lot of the French. The British
gunboat, flying the tricolour in place of the Union Jack, was
brought back to the scene of action by the Forbin. All four French
ships accompanied the two captive vessels on the voyage to Toulon--
full steam ahead.
THE ADVENTURES OF THE CALEDONIA
The passengers of the Caledonia were in a state of hopeless
dejection and violent exasperation. An attempt was made to throw
the blame of their misfortune on the unpardonable carelessness of
the responsible military authorities, rather than attribute it to
an accident that could not have been reckoned upon.
"Here we have another striking example of English lack of
foresight," said Mr. Kennedy. "The idea of allowing the Caledonia
to travel without protection! Think of all the men-of-war lying
idle at Bombay, Aden, and Port Said! And yet nobody thought there
was any occasion to send one or more of them to escort this
splendid ship, with nearly a thousand Englishmen on board, and a
cargo worth more than a million. Had our commanders no suspicion
that the French ships were so near?"
"Our commanders relied upon there being enough English ships
cruising in the Mediterranean to prevent such enterprises," said
But this excuse was not accepted, and bitter were the reproaches
hurled at the English way of managing the war. When night came on
the majority of the passengers, utterly exhausted by the exciting
events they had gone through, retired to their cabins. But Heideck
remained on deck for some time, cooling his heated forehead in the
delightful night breeze. The squadron quickly pursued its course
through the gently rushing waves, the position of each ship being
clearly defined by the sidelights. On the right was the Chanzy, on
the left the Arethuse, in the rear the Forbin and the O'Hara,
manned by a French crew. Nothing could be seen of the destroyer.
At length Heideck, tired of hearing the regular steps of the French
sentries pacing up and down the deck, went down to his cabin. He
was soon asleep, but his rest was broken by uneasy dreams. The
battle, of which he had been a spectator, was fought again. His
dreams must have been very vivid, for he thought he heard, without
cessation, the dull roar of the guns. He rubbed his eyes and sat
up in his narrow berth. Was it a reality or only a delusion of his
excited senses? The dull thunder still smote on his ear; and,
having listened intently for a few moments, he jumped up, slipped
on his clothes, and hurried on deck. On the way he met several
passengers, who had also been woke by the report of the guns. As
soon as he reached the deck, he saw that another violent naval
engagement was in progress.
The night was rather dark, but the flash from the guns showed
fairly the position of the enemy, which became perfectly clear,
when a searchlight from the Arethuse played over the surface of the
water with dazzlingly clear light. The huge hulks of two
battleships, white and glittering, emerged from the darkness. In
addition, there were to be seen five smaller warships and several
small, low vessels, the torpedo-boats of the British squadron,
which was advancing to meet the French. Then, bright as a
miniature sun, a searchlight was turned on also by the English. It
was an interesting spectacle to notice how the two electric lights,
slowly turning round, as it were lugged each ship out of the
darkness, showing the guns where to aim.
The French squadron, whose commander was well aware of the enemy's
superiority, began to bestir itself rapidly. All the vessels, the
Caledonia included, turned round and retreated at full speed. But
the heavy English shells from the guns of the battleships were
already beginning to fall amongst them, although the distance might
have been three knots. Suddenly, when the Caledonia, in the course
of a turning manoeuvre, showed a broadside to the British fire, a
sharp, violent shock was felt, followed by the report of a violent
explosion. The Caledonia stopped dead, and loud cries of agony
were heard from the engine-room. The passengers, frightened to
death, ran about the deck. It could not be concealed from them
that the ship had been struck by a shell, which had exploded.
But it proved that the Caledonia, although badly injured, was in no
immediate danger. Only her speed and manoeuvring capacity had
suffered considerably owing to a steampipe having been hit.
The French warships retired as rapidly as possible, leaving the
Caledonia and the prize crew on board to their fate, since it was
impossible to take her with them. They were obliged to abandon the
valuable prize and rest content with their great success in the
destruction of the Royal Arthur and the capture of the O'Hara. The
Caledonia, being recognised by the searchlight thrown upon her, had
no fear of being shot at again. She moved slowly northwards, and
in the early morning was overtaken by two British cruisers. An
officer came on board, declared the French prize crew prisoners of
war, and was informed by the third officer, who was now in command,
of the events of the last twenty-four hours.
While the British squadron followed the French ships the Caledonia,
only travelling eight knots an hour, made for Naples, which was
reached without further incidents. The passengers were
disembarked, the large sum of money was deposited in the Bank of
Naples to the credit of the English Government, and only the cargo
of cotton, carpets, and embroidered silkstuffs was left on board.
The Kennedys and Mrs. Irwin went to the Hotel de la Riviera. They
were accompanied by Heideck, who intended to stay only one day at
Naples, and then to take the through train to Berlin.
Although he had said nothing to her about going to Berlin Edith
suspected his intention. A few hours later she spoke to him in the
reading-room, where he was eagerly studying the papers.
"Any news of importance?"
"Everything is new to me. Up to the present we have only had a
glimpse of what has been going on; these papers have given me a
comprehensive view of events for the first time."
"And now, of course, your only desire is to see your colours again?
I know that it is only ambition that guides you."
"Can you reproach an officer for that?"
"Yes, if he forgets humanity as well. But make your mind easy, I
shall not attempt to hinder you. I will not stand in the way of
your ambition, but neither will I sacrifice myself to it."
"Certainly you should not do so. We shall be happy when the war is
over. I will be as true to you as to my duty. If I return alive
my existence shall be devoted to making you happy."
"Love is like a bird; it must not be allowed too much freedom.
Remember, I have always told you I will never leave you."
"But, dearest Edith, that is utterly impossible! Have you any idea
what war is like?"
"I should have thought I had seen enough of it."
"Yes, in India and on sea. But in Europe war is carried on
somewhat differently. Every seat in the trains is calculated
exactly; it is the same in barracks, cantonments, and bivouacs.
There is no room for a woman. What would my comrades say of me if
I appeared in your company?"
"You can say I am your wife."
"But, Edith, the idea is not to be seriously thought of. As a
Prussian officer I need permission before I can marry. How can I
join my regiment in the company of a lady? Or how could I now get
leave to marry?"
"Quite easily. Many officers marry at the beginning of a war."
"Well, but even if I get leave now, according to the law we could
not be married for some months. I have already proposed that you
should go to my relatives at Hamburg and wait there till the war is
over, and I still think that is the only right thing to do."
"But I will not go to your relatives at Hamburg."
"And why not?"
"Do you think that I, an Englishwoman, would go and live in a
German family to be stared at? Do you think I could bear to read
all the lies about England in the German newspapers?"
"My uncle and aunt are people of great tact, and my cousins will
show you due respect."
"Cousins! No, thank you! I should be out of place in the midst of
the domestic felicity of strangers."
"If you won't go there, you might stop at a pension in Berlin."
"No, I won't do that either. I will stay with you."
"But, dearest Edith, how do you think this could be managed?"
"I will have nothing to do with conventionalities; otherwise life
in Germany would be intolerable. I should die of anxiety in a
pension, thinking every moment of the dangers to which you are
exposed. No, I couldn't endure that. I have lived through too
much--seen too much that is terrible. My nerves would not be
strong enough for me to vegetate in a family or a Berlin pension in
the midst of the trivialities of everyday life. Have pity on me,
and don't leave me! Your presence is the only effectual medicine
for my mind."
"Ah! dearest Edith, my whole heart is full of you, and I would
gladly do as you wish. But every step we take must be practical
and judicious. If you say you will stay with me, you must have
some idea in your mind. How, then, do you think we can manage to
be together? Remember that on my return I shall be an officer on
service, and shall have to carry out the orders I receive."
"I have already thought of a way. Prince Tchajawadse had a page
with him; I will be your page."
"What an absurd idea! Prussian officers don't take pages with them
on active service."
"Never mind the name. You must have servants, like English
officers; I will be your boy."
"With us soldiers are told off for such duties, my dear Edith."
"Then I will go with you as a soldier. I have already gone as a
Heideck knitted his brows impatiently. The young woman, whose keen
eyes had noticed it, went on impetuously: "Although it seems you
are tired of me, I will not leave you. Distance is love's worst
enemy, and you are the only tie that binds me to life."
Heideck cast down his eyes, so as not to betray his thoughts.
Since he had read the papers, which gave him a clearer idea of the
political situation, his mind was fuller than before of warlike
visions. He loved Edith, but love did not fill his life so
completely as it did hers. The news in the Italian and French
papers had put him into a regular fever after his long absence from
Europe. The dissolution of the Triple Alliance, and Germany's new
alliance with France and Russia, had caused a complete alteration
in the political horizon. He heard the stamping of horses, the
clash of arms, the thunder of cannon. The war was full of
importance and boundless possibilities.
It was a question of Germany's existence! Her losses up to the
present were estimated at more than three milliards. All the
German colonies had been seized by the English, hundreds of German
merchant-men were lost, German foreign trade was completely
paralysed, German credit was shaken. Unless Germany were finally
victorious, the war meant her extinction as a great Power.
He sprang up.
"It must be, dearest Edith; we must soon part!"
She turned pale. With a look of anguish she caught at his hand and
held it fast.
"Do not leave me!"
"I must have perfect freedom--at present. After the war I belong
entirely to you."
"No, no, you cannot be so cruel! You must not leave me!"
"We shall meet again! I love you and will be true to you. But now
I ask a sacrifice from you. I am a German officer; my life now
belongs to my country."
She slid from her chair to the ground and clasped his knees.
"I cannot leave you; it will bring you no happiness, if you destroy
"Be strong, Edith. I always used to admire your firm, powerful
will. Have you all at once lost all sense, all reason?"
"I have lost everything," she cried, "everything save you. And I
will not give you up!"
"Mrs. Irwin!" cried a voice of horror at this moment, "can it be
Edith got up hurriedly.
Mrs. Kennedy and her daughter had entered unobserved. They had
witnessed the singular situation with utter astonishment and heard
Edith's last words.
"Good Heavens, can it be possible?" stammered the worthy lady;
then, turning to her daughter, she added, "Go, my child."
Edith Irwin had quickly recovered her composure. Standing up, her
head proudly raised, she faced the indignant lady.
"I beg you to remember, Mrs. Kennedy, that no one should pass
judgment without knowing the real state of things."
"I think what I have seen needs no explanation."
"If there is anything blameworthy in it, I alone am responsible,"
interposed Heideck. "Spare me a few minutes in private, Mrs.
Kennedy, and I will convince you that no blame attaches to Mrs.
"I want no one to defend me or intercede for me!" cried Edith
passionately. "Why should we any longer conceal our love? This
man, Mrs. Kennedy, has saved my life and honour more than once, and
it is no humiliation for me to go on my knees before him."
Perhaps there was something in her face and the tone of her voice
that touched the Englishwoman's heart, in spite of her outraged
sense of propriety. The stern expression disappeared from her
features, and she said with friendly, almost motherly gentleness--
"Come, my poor child! I have certainly no right to set up for a
judge of your actions. But I am certainly old enough for you to
trust in me."
Edith, overcome by this sudden kindness, leaned her head on Mrs.
Kennedy's shoulder. Heideck felt it would be best to leave the two
ladies to themselves.
"If you will permit me, ladies, I will leave you for the present."
With a rapid movement Edith laid her hand upon his arm.
"You give me your word, Captain Heideck, that you will not leave
without saying good-bye to me?"
"I give you my word."
He left the room in a most painful state of mind. It seemed as if,
in the fulfilment of his duty, he would have to pass over the body
of the being who was dearest to him on earth.
In the evening Mrs. Kennedy's maid brought him a short note from
Edith, asking him to come to her at once. He found her in her
dimly-lighted room on the couch; but as he entered she got up and
went to meet him with apparent calmness.
"You are right, my friend; I have in the meantime come to my senses
again. Nothing else is possible--we must part."
"I swear to you, Edith--"
"Swear nothing. The future is in God's hands alone."
She drew from the ring-finger of her left hand the hoop-ring, set
in valuable brilliants, which had given rise to their first serious
"Take this ring, my friend, and think of me whenever you look at
it." Tears choked her utterance. "Have no anxiety for me and my
future. I am going with the Kennedys to England."
A SUSPICIOUS FISHING-SMACK
A raw north wind swept over the island of Walcheren and the mouth
of the West Schelde, ruffling into tiny waves the water of the
broad stream, which in the twilight looked like a shoreless sea.
Only those acquainted with the ground knew that the flashing lights
of the beacons at Flushing on the right and at Fort Frederik
Hendrik on the left marked the limits of the wide mouth of the
harbour. Here, in 1809, when Holland was under the rule of
Napoleon Bonaparte, a powerful English fleet had entered the
Schelde to attack Flushing, and take the fortress. In the centre,
between the two lights, which were about three miles apart, the
German cruiser Gefion lay tossing at anchor. On the deck stood
Heideck, who on his return had been promoted to major and appointed
to the intelligence department for the coast district of Holland.
In the afternoon he had seen a vessel entering the Schelde, which
the pilot had identified as one of the fishing-smacks plying
between the Shetland Islands and the Dutch ports. Heideck had
informed the captain of the Gefion of his suspicion that the smack
might be intended for another purpose than trading in herrings.
The little vessel had put in on the left bank, between the villages
of Breskens and Kadzand, and Heideck decided to row across to it.
Six marines and four sailors, under the command of a mate, manned
one of the Gefion's boats, and set out for the left bank in the
direction of the suspected vessel. It cost the oarsmen, struggling
with the tide and wind which came howling from the sea, nearly half
an hour's hard work before they saw the dark hull of the smack
emerging clearly outlined before them. A hoarse voice from on
board asked what they wanted.
"His Majesty's service!" answered Heideck, and, as the boat lay to,
he threw off his cloak, so as to spring on deck more easily. Three
men, in the dark, woollen smock and tarpaulined hat of coast
fishermen, approached him and, in answer to his inquiry for the
master, told him, in an unintelligible mixture of Dutch and German,
that he had gone ashore.
"What is the name of this vessel?"
The answers were given with hesitation and sullenly, and the three
men showed such evident signs of irritation that Heideck felt they
would have gladly thrown him overboard had it not been for the
respect inspired by his uniform.
"Where from?" he asked.
"We are going to sell our herrings. We are respectable people,
"Where are you going to sell your herrings?"
"Where we can. The skipper has gone to Breskens. He intended to
be back soon."
Heideck looked round. The smack had put to in a little bay, where
the water was quiet. The village of Breskens and the little
watering-place, Kadzand, were both so near that the lighted windows
could be seen. It was nine o'clock--rather late for the business
which Maaning Brandelaar intended to transact at Breskens.
Heideck sent the marines on deck with orders to see that no one
left the ship before the captain returned. He then ordered a
lantern to be lighted to examine below. It was a long time before
the lantern was ready, and it burned so dully that Heideck
preferred to use the electric lamp which he always carried with him
as well as his revolver. He climbed down the stairs into the hold
and found that the smell of pickled herrings, which he had noticed
on deck, was sufficiently explained by the cargo. In the little
cabin two men were sitting, drinking grog and smoking short clay
pipes. Heideck greeted them courteously and took a seat near them.
They spoke English with a broad Scotch accent, and used many
peculiar expressions which Heideck did not understand. They
declared they were natives of the island of Bressay. Heideck
gathered from their conversation that the smack belonged to a
shipowner of Rotterdam, whose name they appeared not to know or
could not pronounce. They were very guarded and reserved in their
statements generally. Heideck waited half an hour, an hour--but
still no signs of the captain. He began to feel hungry, and
throwing a piece of money on the table, asked whether they could
give him anything to eat.
The fishermen opened the cupboard in the wall of the cabin and
brought out a large piece of ham, half a loaf of black bread, and a
knife and fork. Heideck noticed two small white loaves in the
cupboard amongst some glasses and bottles. "Give me some white
bread," said he. The man who had brought out the eatables murmured
something unintelligible to Heideck and shut the cupboard again
without complying with his request. His behaviour could not help
striking Heideck as curious. He had, as a matter of fact, only
asked for white bread because the black was old, dry, and
uncommonly coarse; but now the suspicion forced itself upon him
that there was some special meaning behind the rude and
contemptuous manner in which his request had been received.
"You don't seem to have understood me," he said. "I should like
the white bread."
"It belongs to the captain," was the reply; "we mustn't take it."
"I will pay for it. Your captain will certainly have no
The men pretended not to hear.
Heideck repeated his request in a stern and commanding tone. The
men looked at each other; then one of them went to the cupboard,
took out the white bread, and set it on the table. Heideck cut it
and found it very good. He ate heartily of it, wondering at the
same time why the men had been so disobliging about it at first.
When he took up the bread again to cut himself off a second piece,
it occurred to him that it was remarkably heavy. He cut into the
middle and, finding that the blade of the knife struck on something
hard, he broke the loaf in two. The glitter of gold met his eyes.
He investigated further and drew out, one after the other, thirty
golden coins with the head of the Queen of England upon them.
Thirty pounds sterling had been concealed in the loaf.
"Very nourishing bread of yours," said he, looking keenly at the
men, who merely shrugged their shoulders.
"What has it to do with us how the captain keeps his money?" said
one of them.
"You are quite right. What has it to do with you? We will wait
till the captain comes. There, put the bread and the money back
into the cupboard, and then make a nice glass of grog for my men,
the poor fellows will be frozen. Here are three marks for you."
The men did as they were asked. One of them went upstairs with the
smoking jug, bringing it back empty some time afterwards, with the
thanks of the Herr major's men.
A few minutes later one of the soldiers appeared at the cabin door
and announced that two men were approaching from land. "Good,"
said Heideck; "keep quiet, till they are on deck; then don't let
them go down again, but tell them to come here."
Almost immediately steps and voices were heard above, and in a few
minutes two men entered the cabin. The first, who wore the dress
of a skipper, was of unusually powerful build, broad-shouldered,
bull-necked, with a square weather-beaten face, from which two
crafty little eyes twinkled. The second, considerably younger, was
dressed rather foppishly, and wore a beard trimmed in the most
"Mynheer Brandelaar?" queried Heideck.
"That's me," replied the man with the broad shoulders, in a
brusque, almost threatening tone.
"Very glad to see you, mynheer. I want to speak to you on a matter
of business; I have been waiting for you more than an hour. May I
ask you to introduce me to this gentleman?"
The Dutchman was slow in answering. It was evident that he was in
a very bad temper and did not quite know what to do. The officer's
quiet, somewhat mocking tone obviously disconcerted him.
He signed to the two sailors to withdraw, then turned to Heideck.
"This gentleman is a business friend. And I should like to know
what I and my affairs have got to do with you at all. I am here to
sell my herrings. I suppose that isn't forbidden?"
"Certainly not. But if you have your business, mynheer, I have
mine. And I think it would be pleasantest for both of us if we
could settle the matter here at once without having to row over to
"To the Gefion? What's the meaning of that? What right have you
to use force with me? My papers are in order; I can show them to
"I should like to see them. But won't you be kind enough to tell
me this gentleman's name? It is really of interest to me to make
your business friend's acquaintance."
The second visitor now thought it advisable to introduce himself.
"My name is Camille Penurot," said he; "I am a grocer in Breskens.
Maaning Brandelaar has offered to sell me his cargo, and I have
come with him to inspect the goods."
"And no doubt night is the best time for that," rejoined Heideck in
a sarcastic tone, but with an imperturbably serious air. "Now let
me see your papers, Mynheer Brandelaar."
Just as he had expected, the papers were in perfect order. The
fishing smack Bressay, owner Maximilian van Spranekhuizen of
Rotterdam, sailing with a cargo of pickled herrings from Lerwick.
Captain, Maaning Brandelaar. Attested by the English harbour
officials at Lerwick. Everything perfectly correct.
"Very good," said Heideck. "Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Hollway of
Dover has not endorsed them, but that was not necessary at all."
These words, uttered with perfect calmness, had an astounding
effect upon the two men. Penurot's pale face turned almost green;
Brandelaar's hard features were frightfully distorted in a grimace
of rage. Half choking in the effort to keep down a furious curse,
he drew a deep breath, and said--
"I don't know any Admiral Hollway, and I have never been in Dover
in my life."
"Well, well! Let us talk about your business--or yours, M.
Penurot. Of course the cargo of herrings which you want to buy is
not meant to be sold at Breskens, but to some business friend at
Antwerp? isn't it so?"
No answer was given. Heideck, as if it were the most natural thing
in the world, turned to the cupboard and, before the others had
grasped his intention, took out the second white loaf and broke it
in two. This time a folded paper came to light. Heideck spread it
out and saw that it was covered with a long list of questions
written in English.
"Look here," said he, "the gentleman who had this paper baked with
your breakfast bread must be confoundedly curious. 'How strong is
the garrison of Antwerp? What regiments? What batteries? Who are
the commanders of the outer fort? What is the exact plan of the
flooded district? How is the population disposed towards the
German troops? How many German men-of-war are there in the harbour
and in the Schelde? How are they distributed? Exact information
as to the number of cannon and crews of all the men-of-war. How
many and which ships of the German navigation companies are
allotted to the German fleet? How many troops are there on the
island of Walcheren? How many in the neighbourhood of Antwerp?
How are the troops distributed on both banks of the Schelde? Are
troops ready to be put on board the men-of-war and transports? Has
a date been settled for that? Is there a plan for employing the
German fleet? What is said about the German fleet joining the
French?' That is only a small portion of the long list; but it is
quite enough for anyone to guess at the nature of the rest of the
questions. What the deuce! Admiral Hollway would like to learn
everything for his paltry thirty pounds! or were they only a little
on account? I cannot believe, M. Penurot, that your Antwerp
correspondent would be willing to sell so much for thirty pounds."
The two men were clearly overwhelmed by the weight of the
unexpected blow. For a moment, when Heideck drew the paper out of
the bread, it looked as if Brandelaar would have thrown himself
upon him and attempted to tear it from him by force. But the
thought of the soldiers probably restrained him opportunely from
such an act of folly. He stood where he was with tightly
compressed lips and spitefully glistening eyes.
"I don't understand you, Herr major," exclaimed Penurot with a
visible effort. "I know nothing whatever about this paper. I am
an honest business man."
"And of course, Herr Brandelaar, you had no suspicion of the
important stuffing in your white bread? Now, I am not called upon
to investigate the matter further. It will be for the court-
martial to throw light on the affair."
The grocer turned as pale as death, and lifted up his hands
"Mercy, Herr major, mercy! As true as I live, I am innocent."
Heideck pretended not to have heard his assertion.
"Further, I must tell you, gentlemen, that you are confoundedly bad
men of business, to risk your lives for a miserable thirty pounds.
That was an inexcusable folly. If ever you wanted to make money in
that way, really you would have done better to work for us. We
would pay a man five times as much without haggling, if he would
furnish us with really trustworthy information of this kind about
the English fleet and army."
At these words, spoken almost in a jovial tone, a gleam of hope
showed itself in the countenance of the two men. The grocer had
opened his mouth to reply, when Heideck signed to him to be silent.
"Be so good as to go on deck for a while, Penurot," said he. "I
will call you when I want to continue the conversation. You shall
give me your company first, Brandelaar. I should like a few words
with you in private."
The man with the fashionably pointed beard obeyed. Then Heideck
turned to the Dutchman--
"This Penurot is the guilty party, isn't he? As a skipper you have
probably never troubled yourself much about politics during your
lifetime: you scarcely had a correct idea of the risk you were
running. If the court-martial condemns you, you will only have
your friend Penurot to thank for it."
"What you say is quite true, sir," replied Brandelaar with well-
acted simplicity. "I have my cargo to sell for the firm of Van
Spranekhuizen, and I don't care a damn for war or spying. I beg
the Herr major to put in a good word for me. I had no suspicion of
what was inside the bread."
"So this Penurot has drawn you into the affair without your knowing
it. Did he intend to go with you to Antwerp?"
"I will tell you the whole truth, Herr major! Admiral Hollway at
Dover, who is in control of the intelligence department for the
Channel and the coast from Cuxhaven to Brest, gave me the two
loaves for Camille Penurot. That is all I know of the matter."
"Was it the first time you had to carry out such commissions for
"So help me God, the first time!"
"But Penurot was not meant to keep these peculiar loaves for
himself? He, like yourself, is only an agent? If you want me to
speak for you, you must tell me unreservedly everything you know
"Penurot has a business friend in Antwerp, as the Herr major has
"What is he?"
"A wholesale merchant. My cargo is intended for him."
"And how is he connected with Penurot?"
"I don't know. Penurot is an agent who does all kinds of
"Oh! and what does the owner, Mynheer van Spranekhuizen, say to
your having anything to do with such things as the conveyance of
"Mynheer van Spranekhuizen and Mynheer Amelungen are near
"In other words, these two gentlemen have agreed to send the
Bressay from the Shetlands to Dover, and from Dover to Antwerp."
"I know nothing about that, Herr major. I have told you everything
I know. No vessel can go further up the Schelde than Ternenzen,
and I can unload at Breskens just as well as at Ternenzen and send
the goods by rail to Antwerp."
"Now, Brandelaar, go upstairs again and send M. Penurot down to
With heavy tread the skipper mounted the narrow ladder, and almost
at once Penurot entered. Heideck, with a wave of his hand, invited
him to sit down opposite and began to speak.
"From what I have seen of Brandelaar I am convinced that he is an
arrant rascal. It was very imprudent on your part to have anything
to do with a man like that. If you are brought before a court-
martial, you have him to thank for it."
"For God's sake, Herr major--my life isn't in danger? I implore
you, have pity on me!"
"It will matter little whether personally I have pity on you. You
will go with me to the Gefion and be brought before a court-martial
at Flushing. The fact that you have been Brandelaar's accomplice
cannot be got rid of. He has just now declared definitely that the
two loaves were intended for you."
"For me? That is a vile lie. I have never received a penny from
"Well--but, without special reasons, a man doesn't amuse himself by
paying a visit to a herring-smack at night. The cargo could have
been delivered to Herr Eberhard Amelungen without your inspection."
"Don't pretend to be so ignorant. Brandelaar has already confessed
so much, that you can easily admit the rest. Amelungen and Van
Spranekhuizen are in a conspiracy to carry on a regular system of
espionage in the interests of England. You are used as an agent,
and Maaning Brandelaar is trying to get out of it by sacrificing
"So it seems, really. But I am quite innocent, Herr major. I know
nothing of all that. The last time Brandelaar left the Schelde, he
came to see me here in Breskens and told me that he would soon be
back again and that it would be a good business for me."
"When did that happen?"
"Three weeks ago. I had no reason to distrust Brandelaar, since he
had often supplied goods for Amelungen."
"But why did you come on board to-day?"
"Brandelaar wanted it. He said I could look at the cargo and
discuss whether it should be unloaded here or at Ternenzen."
"Now, M. Penurot, I will tell you something. You will go with me
to Antwerp, where I will call on Herr Amelungen and convince myself
whether you are really as innocent as you say, and as I shall be
glad to believe you are for the present."
The grocer appeared to be getting still more uneasy.
"But you won't take me before the court-martial?"
"That remains to be seen. I can promise you nothing. Everything
will depend on the information which Herr Amelungen gives me about
you, and on your future behaviour. I will now have Brandelaar down
again, and you will remain silent while I speak to him."
"Of course, I will do everything the Herr major tells me."
Brandelaar having been summoned to the cabin, Heideck addressed him
"Listen to me, Maaning Brandelaar. I know everything, and I need
not tell you that it is more than enough to put your neck in danger
according to martial law. But I will show you a way to save
yourself. Go to-morrow to Ternenzen and wait there till you hear
from me. I will make it easy for you to execute your commission; I
will write the answers to Admiral Hollway's questions myself. You
can then take them to Dover to your customer. But at the same time
I will give you a number of questions, to which you will bring me
trustworthy answers at Flushing. If you carry out this mission to
my satisfaction, I will pay you 3,000 marks on your return. As you
will also have your fee from the Admiral, you will make a very good
thing out of it. But beware of attempting to betray me; it would
turn out an extremely bad job for you. I know where I can catch
you, and you would be imprisoned as soon as you showed yourself
anywhere on the Dutch coast. So you had better think it over
The skipper's broad countenance had gradually brightened, and at
these words a cunning grin overspread his features.
"Three thousand marks! If that's a bargain, Herr major, you can
count upon my serving you honourably."
"Perhaps it isn't so much a matter of your honour as of your
cleverness. Unless the information you bring me corresponds with
my expectations, of course the payment will suffer accordingly.
The price depends upon the quality of the goods."
"Oh, you will be satisfied with me. I have connexions over there,
and if you want anything else, you shall see what Brandelaar can
"Good! It will be to your own interest to serve me well and
Suddenly the skipper again looked thoughtful.
"There is still one thing that troubles me, Herr major."
"What is that?"
"My men have seen an officer and soldiers visit my ship. Suppose
they talk about it over in England and the Admiral should suspect
"He will have no reason to do so, if he is convinced that your
information is correct. He will have other sources of information
besides yourself, and if he finds your statements confirmed, he
will have complete confidence in you."
These words did not allay Maaning Brandelaar's uneasiness.
"Yes, but--you don't mean to give me correct information?"
"Certainly I do. Everything I write for you will be perfectly
This reply was clearly too much for the skipper to understand. He
stared in speechless amazement at Heideck, who proceeded quietly--
"The Admiral wants to know the strength of the German army at
Antwerp, and I will tell you the condition of affairs. We have
120,000 men in Holland and the small portion of Belgian territory
which we have occupied round Antwerp. In the fortress itself there
are 30,000 men; on the island of Walcheren only 5,000, in
occupation of Flushing and other important points. These are
entirely trustworthy facts."
The Captain shook his head.
"If it were not disrespectful, I should think you were making a
fool of me."
"No, my friend, I have no reason to do so; you can go bail for
everything I write, and your fee will be honourably earned. It
would be somewhat different with the news you might take over to
the Admiral on your own responsibility."
"I understand, Herr major, and I will act accordingly. But I must
certainly get a fresh crew; these men know too much; that is bad,
and they might make it unpleasant for me."
"No, no, that would be quite a mistake. Keep your men and make no
fuss. When I get to Ternenzen, I will have you and the crew
arrested. You will be examined by me and in a few days set at
The skipper did not seem to relish this prospect.
"But suppose you should change your mind in the meantime, and take
me before the court-martial?"
"You may confidently trust my word. It will only be a sham
examination to prevent your men getting unprofitable ideas into
their heads and betraying anything which might arouse suspicion
across the water. On the contrary, it will look as if you had had
to endure all kinds of dangers and disappointments; and if my
estimate of you is correct, my worthy Brandelaar, you will not lose
the opportunity of extracting an extra fee from the Admiral to make
up for the anxiety you have suffered."
When Heideck and his prisoner, Penurot, reached the Gefion he found
the Commander on deck, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour.
He reported himself, and asked him to treat Penurot as a guest.
"I was getting anxious about you," said the Captain, "and was on
the point of sending the steam pinnace after you. Have you found
out anything important?"
"I believe I have. The two rascals whom I caught there don't seem
to belong to the ordinary class of spies. They are the skipper
Brandelaar and the man I have brought with me."
"Didn't you arrest the skipper as well?"
"I intend to use them in our interest, and hope that Admiral
Hollway will find himself caught in his own net."
"Isn't that rather a risky game? If the fellows have betrayed
Admiral Hollway, you may rely upon it they will do the same by us."
"I trust to their fears and selfishness more than their honour. To
take information about us to the English they must return here
again, and so I hold them in my hand."
"But the converse is true. I confess I have very little faith in
such double-dealing spies."
"Of course, I feel the same; but I believe I have at last found the
way to the headquarters of the English system of espionage. In
order to get to the bottom of the matter I cannot do without the
aid of the two spies."
"Yes. The underlings who risk their lives are always of
subordinate importance. It is, above all, necessary to find out
the persons of higher rank who prudently contrive to keep
themselves in the background."
"I wish you success."
"Before going to Antwerp, whither M. Penurot is to accompany me to-
morrow, I should like to make a report to the Imperial Chancellor.
May I ask you to let me have a boat to-morrow morning to go to
"Certainly. You can have any boat you like."
"Then I should like the steam pinnace."
"Perhaps you know whether the Chancellor intends to stay long at
"I cannot say. In many ways Antwerp would certainly be a better
place; but he has gone to Flushing to make a demonstration."
"To make a demonstration?" repeated the Commander in a tone of
"The English, of course, know that he is there, and his presence at
Flushing is bound to strengthen their belief that our main base of
operations will be the mouth of the Schelde."
"Is it not surprising that our Chancellor is always at the centre
of operations, though he is neither a general nor an admiral?"
"We have seen the same before in the case of Bismarck. If we
follow the history of the wars of 1864, 1866, and 1870-71 we get
the impression that Bismarck was in like manner the soul of all the
operations, although his military title was only an honorary one."
"That is true; but the circumstances are essentially different.
Bismarck was a trained official, diplomatist, ambassador, before he
became Chancellor. His authority was great in military matters,
independently of the generals; but our new Chancellor comes from
quite a different sphere."
"But he has the power of a strong personality, and it is that which
turns the scale in all great matters. The fine instinct of the
people feels that the Emperor has chosen rightly, and the
Chancellor's general popularity insures him powerful support even
against the generals. Besides, everyone must admire his practical
understanding and his wide range of vision. Is not the occupation
of Antwerp a fresh proof of it? The rest of Belgium is occupied by
the French army, but the Chancellor has arranged with the French
Government for us to hold Antwerp, since our fleet is in the
Schelde. And I am sure we shall never give it up again.
The Commander shook his head doubtfully.
"You really think we shall be able to keep Antwerp without further
"We must, and shall, have Antwerp. Belgium and the Netherlands may
continue to exist, for we cannot with any justification annex them.
But the Netherlands and Antwerp will enter into closer political
relations with the German Empire for the sake of their own
interests. Their Governments are too weak to put down
revolutionary movements in their countries for any length of time.
We are moving irresistibly towards the formation of larger states.
The fact that war in its attendant manifestations is a means of
promoting the union of peoples seems to me to some extent to
mitigate its cruelty."
"That sounds very fanciful, Herr major," said the Captain, turning
the conversation. "But what sort of information do you propose to
send by your agents to Dover?"
"I propose to confirm the Admiral in the idea that we intend to
leave the Schelde with the fleet and a number of our private
companies' steamers, and, with the support of the French fleet, to
throw an army across to Dover."
"I am surprised that the English have not even attempted to force
our positions. One is almost tempted to believe that the English
navy is as inefficient as the English army. If our enemies felt
strong enough, they would have appeared long ago before Brest,
Cherbourg, Flushing, Wilhelmshaven, or Kiel. Heligoland could not
stop a fleet of ironclads from forcing its way into the Elbe; it
ought rather to be a welcome object of attack for the English
fleet. If I were in command, I should set out against Heligoland
with the older ironclads--Albion, Glory, Canopus, Coliath, Ocean,
and Vengeance. The little island could hardly resist these six
battleships for long, and the German North Sea fleet--supposing one
to exist--would be obliged to come out from Wilhelmshaven to save
"The reason they do nothing of the sort is not so much the
consciousness of their own weakness, as the fact that they have no
one whose genius would be equal to the situation. Certainly, they
have several capable admirals, but there is no Nelson among them.
Perhaps our war also would have remained in abeyance, had not the
Emperor discovered in our new Chancellor the genius needed by the
times. The wars against Denmark, Austria, and France would hardly
have taken place without Bismarck's initiative. Even under a most
wretched government which commits the grossest blunders great
states can exist for a long time; but advancement, real progress is
only possible through the intervention of a strong personality."
"I am not quite of your opinion. I am convinced that it is
economic conditions that from time to time force on great
revolutions. Do you think, for instance, that the Russians would
have conquered India if the economic conditions of the natives had
"Certainly not. Even a great man must have the soil prepared on
which to prove his strength. And I think that our Chancellor has
appeared on the scene just at the right moment."
Heideck took leave of the Commander and retired to his cabin to
draw up a report and take a well-deserved rest.
When he sent for M. Camille Penurot on the following morning, he
found a striking alteration in him. That foppish gentleman no
longer showed the dejection of the day before, his dark eyes were
bright and full of confidence. By daylight, Heideck saw that his
captive was a good-looking man about thirty years of age, more like
a Spaniard than a Netherlander.
He bowed politely to Heideck and then asked, with a certain amount
of confidence, "Pardon me, Herr major, if I serve the German Empire
well, may I count on an adequate reward?"
"I have already told you, M. Penurot, that we are prepared to pay
more than the English."
"Oh, that was not what I meant. You mustn't class me with Maaning
Brandelaar and people of that sort."
"Will you be good enough to tell me, then, M. Penurot, with whom I
am to class you?"
"I am willing from this moment to devote all my energies to the
cause of the allies."
"Granted. But what are your wishes in the matter of reward?"
"I should like you to use your influence to obtain me the honour of
Heideck was unable to conceal his astonishment at this strange
"Such distinctions are, as a rule, only given in Germany for acts
of bravery or for services which cannot be adequately requited in
"What I am willing to do requires bravery."
"You are only going to help me to find out the spies in Antwerp."
"But they are dangerous people to make enemies of--people whose
tools would be capable of anything."
"Rest assured, M. Penurot, that your reward will correspond with
the services rendered. You know that I have no order to bestow,
and besides, I do not quite understand of what importance a
decoration can be to you."
"You rate my sense of honour too low, Herr major! But in order
that you may understand me, I will tell you a secret. I am in love
with a lady of very good family, and her people would be more ready
to welcome me, if I had an order."
"Then you have fixed your affections very high, I suppose?"
"That's as one takes it. In the matter of birth, I am in that
painful situation which is the inheritance of all children born out
of wedlock. My mother was a Spanish dancer, my father is the
wealthy Amelungen. He is fond of me and provides for me. It was
he who bought the business in Breskens for me. But his wife, who
is English, has no liking for me."
"I understand you even less than before. If you have such
resources at your disposal, why on earth do you mix yourself up in
such dangerous undertakings?"
"Herr Amelungen wished it."
"So, then, he really is the guilty party?"
"For God's sake, Herr major, you won't abuse my confidence. I
should never forgive myself if anything I said were to harm Herr
"Do not be unnecessarily anxious. Nothing will happen either to
you or to Herr Amelungen, if you can induce him to change sides and
help us for the future instead of the English."
Penurot hung down his head and remained silent.
"And how about Herr van Spranekhuizen in Rotterdam?" continued
Heideck. "Of course he belongs to the league."
"He is my father's brother-in-law. His wife is an Amelungen."
"And what is the real reason why these two gentlemen, who I hear
are wealthy merchants, have undertaken to act as spies for
"Oh, there is nothing so wonderful in that, Herr major. France has
occupied Belgium, Germany the Netherlands. Of course they are very
bitter about it."
"That may be. But well-to-do merchants are not in the habit of
risking their lives out of pure patriotism in such circumstances.
As a rule, only those people do that who have little to lose."
"I have already told you that my father's wife is English. For
love of her he does a great deal which certainly nothing else would
induce him to do."
At this moment Heideck, being informed that the pinnace was ready,
requested Penurot to accompany him on board. In the harbour of
Flushing he took leave of him for a while, with instructions to
call upon him in an hour at his office, having told him exactly
where it was. He had no fear that Penurot would attempt flight.
He felt absolutely sure of this gentleman.
On arriving at his office close to the Duke of Wellington Hotel,
Heideck found his staff extremely busy. One lieutenant was looking
through the French and German newspapers for important information;
another was studying the Russian and English journals. The last
were few in number and not of recent date, limited to those which
had been smuggled across from England by daring skippers and
fishermen. There were several despatches from St. Petersburg,
containing news of fresh victories in India.
The Russian army had pushed on to Lucknow without any further
engagement worth mentioning having taken place since the battle of
Delhi. It seemed as if the English were for the time unwilling to
meet the enemy in the open field. They apparently calculated that
the heat and the enormous length of their line of communication
would prevent the Russians from reaching the southern provinces in
sufficient strength to overcome an energetic resistance there. But
Heideck no longer believed in the possibility of such a resistance,
concluding from the announcement of a stream of reinforcements
arriving through the Khyber Pass that all the Russian losses would
be speedily made up. In his opinion, practically the only thing
left for the English was to embark the remnants of their army at
Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, and to get a portion at least of
their beaten forces safely out of India.
While he was in his office, despatches were continually arriving
from Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Brest, and Cherbourg. The intelligence
department of the entire north coast was under Heideck's control.
Except for isolated naval engagements, the strategic position had,
on the whole, remained unaltered for months. Both sides hesitated
to risk a decisive battle. The English fleets did not venture to
attack the enemy's harbours; the combined squadrons of the
continental Powers seemed no more inclined to try their fortune on
the open sea. Each was endeavouring to get in touch with the
other, waiting for the favourable moment when his adversary's
weakness might offer the prospect of successful action.
"The risks these dwellers on the coast run are astonishing," said
one of Heideck's staff. "They cross the Channel in their fishing-
boats and slip by the warships. The man who brought the last
English papers told me that he passed close by them to give the
impression that there was nothing wrong. It needed considerable
courage to risk that."
"But the enemy's spies are equally efficient. Yesterday, more by
accident than any merit of my own, I caught a herring fisher in the
mouth of the Schelde who was in English pay; I think I have hit on
an apparently important clue, which I intend to follow up in
Antwerp, after reporting myself to the Chancellor."
"He is no longer in Flushing. He has left for Antwerp with the
Minister for War and the chief of the General Staff; I am told he
has matters of importance to arrange with the chief of the French
"Have you heard anything more definite as to the nature of these
"Only that the question of further mobilisation is to be discussed.
Apparently, however, the six army corps, which we now have on a war
footing, are thought to be enough on our side. We are not waging
war by land; why then should the burden of a further mobilisation
be imposed upon the people?"
"Certainly, the sacrifices entailed by this war are enormous
without that; trade and industry are completely ruined."
"The only gainer by this universal conflagration is America. Since
the war broke out, the United States has supplied England with
everything she used to get from the Continent."
"Well, it will all come right in the end. Now, as there seems
nothing urgent for me to do here, it is time I went to Antwerp."
. . . . . . .
Eberhard Amelungen was unable to conceal his confusion, when an
officer in the uniform of the Prussian General Staff appeared at
the door of his private office.
Amelungen was a man about sixty years of age, a typical specimen of
a substantial, respectable merchant.
"I am somewhat surprised, sir," he said in measured tones. "What
can I do for you?"
Heideck introduced himself, and without wasting words told him the
reason of his visit.
"I have reason to believe, Herr Amelungen, that you hold in your
hands some, if not all, of the chief meshes of a widespread net of
espionage. And I think it would be to your interest to tell me the
whole truth of your own accord. We know so much already that
presumably it will be of little use to you to have recourse to
Amelungen played with his penholder, but his hands trembled
visibly, and words failed him. His face had turned ashy pale, and
Heideck could not help feeling sorry for him.
"I regret that my duty obliges me to proceed against you," he
continued. "I can easily understand your motives. You are a
Netherlander and a patriot, and, as perhaps you do not quite
understand the political situation, the occupation of your country
by a foreign power appears to you an act of violence, which fills
you with anger and hatred against us. Therefore I think I may
promise you that you will be treated as leniently as possible, if
you make my task easy by an open confession."
Eberhard Amelungen shook his head.
"I know nothing of what you charge me with," he said feebly. "You
have the power, and can do as you please with me. But I have
nothing to confess."
"Not if I tell you that my information comes from the mouth of your
The merchant stared at the speaker with wide-open eyes full of
"From the mouth of my own son? But--I have no son."
"Then M. Camille Penurot also was lying when he said you were his
"For God's sake be merciful! Don't torture me! What is the matter
with Camille? Where is he?"
"He has been caught spying. What will happen to him depends on
your own behaviour."
Eberhard Amelungen sank back in his stool in a state of collapse.
"My God! you don't mean to put him in prison? or to shoot him?"
"As you may imagine, his fate is not in my hands alone. But in
this instance my influence may perhaps be considerable, and it
would certainly have weight if I threw it into the scale in your
favour and his. Therefore I again ask you to consider whether, as
things are, it would not be best for you to be perfectly frank with
me. Those who are behind you can no longer protect you, and your
only hope lies in the leniency of the German authorities. Do not
reject the possibility of securing this leniency."
The merchant was evidently carrying on a severe struggle with
himself. After a few moments he raised his head, and in an
altered, defiant tone replied--
"Do what you like with me, I have nothing to confess."
Heideck then assumed a sterner, official demeanour.
"Then you must not complain if I begin to search your house."
"Do as you think fit. The victor can take what liberties he
Heideck opened the door and summoned two of the Berlin criminal
police, who at his request had been ordered to Antwerp on this
affair with a large number of policemen. Certainly he felt sure in
advance that they would find nothing, for Eberhard Amelungen would
have been very foolish not to have reckoned long ago on the
possibility of such a visit, and to have taken precautions
accordingly. The Major, in bringing the police with him, had
thought more of the moral impression of the whole procedure. His
knowledge of men told him that it had its effect.
"One thing more, Herr Amelungen," said he. "About the same time as
the search begins here, another will take place in your private
house. I expect the report of those entrusted with it at any
Amelungen breathed hard. He looked nervously at Heideck, as if
trying to read his thoughts. Then, after a brief struggle with
himself, he whispered--
"Send these men out, Herr major! I should like to speak to you
When Heideck had complied with his request, Amelungen continued,
speaking hastily, and bringing out his words with difficulty: "In
me you see a man who deserves compassion, a man who has been,
entirely against his will and inclination, compromised. If anyone
is guilty in this matter, it is my brother-in-law Van Spranekhuizen
and a lady correspondent of my wife in Brussels. Occasionally I
have acted as agent, when it was a matter of forwarding letters, or
of handing over sums of money to the Countess--to the lady; but I
have never personally taken any part in the matters in question."
"That statement is not enough for me. I do not doubt the truth of
what you say, but I must be informed of all the details before I
can drop further proceedings against you. Who is the lady you
"A former maid of honour to the late Queen."
"Countess Clementine Arselaarts."
"How did you come to know her?"
"She is a friend of my wife, who made her acquaintance last year
when staying in Brussels."
"And your wife is English?"
"Yes; her maiden name was Irwin."
At the sound of this name a flood of painful recollections rushed
over Heideck's mind.
"Irwin?" he repeated. "Has the lady by chance any relatives in the
"I had a brother-in-law, who was a captain in the Indian Lancers.
But, according to the news that has reached us, he was killed at
the battle of Lahore."
The Major found it hard to control his excitement, but as if he had
already allowed himself to be too long diverted from his duty, he
hastily returned to the real subject of his examination.
"You said that you have handed over certain sums of money to
Countess Arselaarts. By whose order? and on whose account?"
"On account of the English Government and on the order of an
English banking house with which I have had business dealings for
"Were the sums large?"
"Latterly, on an average about 10,000 francs a month."
"And how were they paid?"
"Sometimes I sent the amount in cash, often by cheque on Brussels
"Have you any evidence on the point--a receipt signed by the
"I strongly advise you to keep nothing back from me. So much is at
stake for you and your relatives who are involved in this affair
that it is of the utmost consequence that you should secure lenient
treatment by a frank confession."
"Well, then, I have some receipts."
"Please let me see them."
Amelungen pulled open a drawer in his writing-table, pressed a
spring, and a secret compartment at the back flew open.
"There they are!" said he, handing a small bundle of sheets of
paper to Heideck. But the Major's keen eye had noticed, as he
glanced rapidly at the compartment, that it contained some other
papers, which he politely but firmly demanded to see.
"They are private letters of no importance," objected Amelungen,
"some of my wife's correspondence, which she accidentally left in
my office. I don't know what they are about myself."
"Be assured that harmless private correspondence will not be
abused. But I must claim the absolute right to convince myself of
the correctness of your assertions by examining them."
The merchant could see that there was no chance of getting out of
it, and, visibly excited, handed the little roll over to Heideck.
The Major took it, without examining the contents more closely at
"You definitely assure me, Herr Amelungen, that you have nothing
else referring to this matter?"
"Nothing! I give you my word, Herr major."
Heideck got up.
"I charge you not to attempt to leave the town or in any other way
evade the German authorities. You will guarantee this not only as
regards yourself, but also as regards your wife; and you will
further promise me to break off at once all relations with the
persons involved in this espionage affair, unless at our order, or
in agreement with us."