Part 6 out of 7
Eberhard Amelungen, whose powers of resistance seemed completely
broken in this painful hour, nodded assent.
"I promise both, Herr major!"
Heideck, having left a criminal official with instructions to keep
watch, repaired without delay to the office of Lieutenant-Colonel
Nollenberg, head of the intelligence department for Antwerp. He
informed him of the result of his conversation and examined the
confiscated papers in his presence.
A large number were letters from the Countess Clementine Arselaarts
to Frau Beatrix Amelungen, and their contents were harmless, with
the exception of a few expressions advising watchfulness and
But in a special envelope, sealed several times, there was a sheet
of paper, covered with close writing, which could not be read
offhand, since the letters were apparently jumbled together quite
arbitrarily and irregularly.
"A cipher!" said Heideck. "But we shall soon get to the bottom of
it. You have some capable interpreters at your disposal, and it
might be a good thing if they set to work at once."
He continued his examination, and suddenly the blood rushed to his
face, for in his hands he held a letter, the handwriting of which
he recognised at the first glance as Edith's. Its contents were as
"DEAR BEATRICE,--As you see, I am again in England. You know that
I have returned a widow, and you can believe that my experiences
have been terrible. Your brother met an honourable death at
Lahore; with the utmost difficulty I myself succeeded in getting
away from India under the protection of Attorney-General Kennedy
and his family. I should have to fill a book if I were to tell you
all the horrors of our journey. But this is not the proper time to
complain of the melancholy lot of an individual. We are all
strangers and pilgrims on earth, and must bear the cross that is
laid upon us.
"The immediate reason of my writing to-day is that I want your
opinion on a certain matter. When I arrived at my parents' house,
I heard that uncle Godfrey had died on the 16th of April. I do not
know whether you have already heard of this, as regular
communication with the Continent is interrupted. My uncle Godfrey
has left a will, dividing his property equally between you as his
niece and my deceased husband. His property was larger than my
husband thought. After division, both you and my husband would
have had a yearly income of 5,000 pounds. Now your brother has
died without having disposed of his property. But my lawyer tells
me that, as his sole heiress, I can claim his share of the
inheritance. To arrange about this I have come here to Dover; for
I found that I could only get the letter forwarded to Antwerp with
the assistance of Admiral Hollway, who is charged with the
protection of our coast. To my surprise the Admiral informed me
that your name was known to him, and he willingly undertook to
forward this letter to you. Now please consent to uncle Godfrey's
property being divided between you and me. I do not believe you
will have any objection, but I consider it a duty to obtain your
definite consent. I shall be glad to hear from you that you are
"P.S.--In India I made the acquaintance of a German officer who
rendered me great service during the terrible times of the war and
saved my life more than once. He travelled with the Kennedys and
myself on the Caledonia to Naples. From there he went on to
Berlin, while we continued our voyage on a man-of-war through the
Straits of Gibraltar to Southampton. This officer is a Captain
Heideck of the Prussian General Staff. I should be thankful to you
if you would find out where he is at present. I am very anxious to
know his address. For a time I am staying in Dover. Letters
addressed to Mrs. Jones, 7, St. Paul's Street, will reach me."
The perusal of this letter revived a crowd of painful recollections
in Heideck's mind. He never doubted for a moment that the
postscript, in which his name occurred, explained Edith's real
object in writing. All the rest was certainly a mere pretext; for
he knew how indifferent Edith was in regard to money matters, and
was convinced that she was in no such hurry about the settlement of
the inheritance as might have been thought from her letter.
The Lieutenant-Colonel approached him at this moment.
"It has taken less time to decipher the document than I had
ventured to hope," said he. "I have telegraphed at once to the
police at Schleswig to arrest the writer, one Brodersen, without
delay. Please convince yourself what sort of friends we have
amongst the Danes."
Heideck read as follows:--
"In the harbour of Kiel, the larger warships are the battleships
Oldenburg, Baden, Wurttemberg, Bayern, Sachsen; the large cruisers
Kaiser, Deutschland, Konig Wilhelm; the small cruisers Gazelle,
Prinzess Wilhelm, Irene, Komet, and Meteor, with the torpedo
division boats D 5 and D 6 with their divisions. In addition,
there are about 100 large and small steamers of the North-German
Lloyd, the Hamburg-America Line, the Stettin Company, and others.
All the large steamers are equipped with quick-firing cannon and
machine-guns; the small, only with machine-guns. In the
neighbourhood of Kiel there are 50,000 infantry and artillery from
Hanover, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and the province of Saxony, with
only two regiments of hussars. My friends' opinions differ as to
the plans of the German Government. Possibly ships of the line
will proceed through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal and make a combined
attack with the Russian fleet on the British near Copenhagen.
"It is most probable that the fleet of transports will take on
board the army collected at Kiel and convey it through the Kaiser
Wilhelm Canal into the North Sea, where the German battleships now
at Antwerp will join the French squadrons from Cherbourg. An
attempt would then be made, under cover of the warships, to land
the German army and the French troops from Boulogne at Dover, or
some place near on the English coast.
"I acknowledge the receipt of 10,000 francs from Mynheer van
Spranekhuizen, but must ask you to send a further sum twice that
amount. My agents are risking their lives, and will not work for
"You, too, my dear Brodersen, have risked your life," said the
Lieutenant-Colonel seriously. "I should not like to give much for
it at the present moment."
"These notes are very instructive," observed Heideck. "If we
strengthen Admiral Hollway in the belief that we intend to land the
German troops in England from Antwerp and not from Kiel, our fleet
of transports at Kiel will be able to cross the North Sea all the
more safely and effect the landing in Scotland."
THE FATE OF A SPY
Colonel Mercier-Milon reported from Brussels that he had arrested
Countess Arselaarts and thought he had made a valuable capture.
The Countess was deeply in debt and lived very extravagantly. A
little time ago she had been assisted financially by an exalted
personage, who had left the country. Since then her resources had
become exhausted, and it was supposed that she had acted as a spy
for the English at a high salary. He added that he was on the
point of discovering a widespread network of espionage in France
Herr van Spranekhuizen and Hinnerk Brodersen of Schleswig had also
been arrested the same morning.
"I wish we had trustworthy information as to the strength of the
British fleet," said the Lieutenant-Colonel, who had communicated
the above report to Heideck. "Sometimes I am really inclined to
believe that this fleet is not so effective as all the world has
hitherto assumed. It is almost impossible for outsiders to get a
clear insight into the condition of the English navy. So far as I
can remember, false reports are systematically published about the
fleet--officially, semi-officially, and privately. From time to
time a speaker is put up in Parliament by the Government to deliver
a violent attack on the naval administration. He is contradicted
by a representative of the Admiralty, and dust is again thrown in
the eyes of the world. On one of Queen Victoria's last birthdays a
powerful squadron, as it was called, was assembled for review off
Spithead. But no foreigner was allowed a close inspection of these
imposing fleets, and I am greatly inclined to think that it was
another case of the famous movable villages, which Potemkin showed
the Russian Empress on her journey to the Crimea. Official
statements give the number of English warships as more than four
hundred, not including torpedo-boats, but amongst them is a large
number of obsolete and inefficient vessels."
"If the English fleet were really so efficient as is believed, it
would be difficult to understand why it has not attempted any
decisive action up till now."
"That is also my view. The Copenhagen fleet would have attacked
Kiel harbour long ago. It was said that it was to hold the Russian
fleet in check. But that would be superfluous to start with, as
long as the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland were blocked with ice and
the Russian squadrons were unable to move. This way of making war
reminds me forcibly of the state of things in the Crimean War, when
a powerful English fleet set out with a great flourish of trumpets
against Cronstadt and St. Petersburg, but did nothing except
bombard Bomarsund, a place nobody cared about. The English Press
had great difficulty in excusing the fiasco of its world-renowned
Returning to the previous subject of conversation, Heideck said to
the Lieutenant-Colonel: "I don't think we need trouble ourselves
any more about the communications of Countess Arselaarts and
Messrs. Amelungen and Co. The court-martial may settle with them.
I attach incomparably greater importance to skipper Brandelaar,
whom I hold in my hand, and through whom--perhaps with the help of
Camille Penurot--I hope to obtain information about the British
fleet and its proposed employment. Brandelaar's vessel should now
be off Ternenzen. I will ask you, Herr Lieutenant-Colonel, to have
the man and his crew arrested to-day."
"But how does that agree with your intention of using him as a spy
in our interest?"
"I forgot to tell you that it is an agreement between Brandelaar
and myself. He himself thought it necessary for his own safety; he
was afraid of the crew. Of course it will only be a sham
examination, and the man must be released as soon as possible, on
the ground of insufficient evidence, so that he can return to
The Lieutenant-Colonel promised to do as the Major desired.
The same evening Heideck met Penurot by arrangement at a tavern.
"Our business is somewhat complicated," said Heideck. "There must
be some more people working for your father, hitherto unknown to
"Why do you think that, Herr major?"
"Your father had some letters from Admiral Hollway, which were not
brought by Brandelaar."
"Yes, yes, I know. I can imagine that."
"Do you know who brought them over?"
"I don't know for certain, but I can guess."
"Can't you get me more certain information?"
"I will try."
"How will you set about it?"
"There are some sailors' taverns here, where I hope to get on the
track. But they are desperate fellows, and it is dangerous to
meddle with them."
"If you will point out the taverns to me, I will have all the
customers arrested to-night."
"For Heaven's sake, don't, Herr major! We should ruin everything
by that. These men would let themselves be cut to pieces rather
than betray anything to you. If anyone can get them to speak, it
"Wouldn't you be trusting them too much?"
"No, no. I know best how to deal with them, and I know many ways
of making them open their mouths."
"Well, do what you can. The matter is important. I am very
anxious to find someone to obtain trustworthy information about the
British fleet, and you know we don't spare money."
Penurot was ready to attempt his difficult task at once, and took
leave of Heideck, promising to meet him soon after midnight at the
same tavern. Heideck left the restaurant soon after him, and
walked along the quay Van Dyck, to cool his heated brow. In time
of war the town presented a strangely altered appearance. There
was a swarm of German soldiers in the streets; the usual busy
traffic at the harbour had entirely ceased. There had been no
trade since the German warships, like floating citadels, had been
lying in the Schelde. And yet it was almost incomprehensible, how
the change had come about so rapidly. Antwerp was an almost
impregnable fortress, if the flooding of the surrounding country
was undertaken in time. But the Belgian Government had not even
made an attempt at defence, when the vanguard of the seventh and
eighth army corps had appeared in the neighbourhood of the town.
It had surrendered the fortress at once, with all its strong outer
forts, to the German military commanders and had withdrawn its own
army. The Imperial Chancellor was certainly right in attaching
such importance to the possession of Antwerp by Germany. The
population was almost exclusively Flemish, and Antwerp was thus in
nationality a German town.
From the general political situation Heideck's thoughts returned to
Edith and her letter, and at last he decided to write to her that
To carry out his intention, he went back to the restaurant where he
had met Penurot, and called for ink and paper. When he had
finished his letter, he looked over the words he had written, in
which, contrary to his usual practice, he had given utterance to
his real feelings:--
"MY DEAR EDITH,--In the exercise of my duty, I accidentally came
into possession of your letter to Frau Amelungen. I was looking
for something quite different at the time, and you can imagine how
great was my surprise at the unexpected discovery.
"From the hour when we were obliged to separate and you, possibly
not without resentment and reproach, held out your hand at parting,
I have felt more and more how indispensable you are to me. I
treasure every word you have said to me, every look you have
bestowed upon me, and your image is before my mind, ever brighter,
ever more beautiful. I have never met a woman whose mind was so
beautiful, so refined, so keen as yours. I must confess that your
ideas at first sometimes terrified me. Your views are often so far
removed from the commonplace, so far above the ordinary, that it
needs time to estimate them correctly. If I now recall to mind
what formerly seemed strange to me, it is only with feelings of
admiration. From day to day the impression you made upon me at our
first conversation has sunk deeper into my mind, and the comforting
certainty, that love for you will fill my entire life in the
future, grows more and more unshakable.
"Nevertheless, I may not regret that I had the strength to leave
you at Naples. The beautiful dream of our life together would have
been disturbed too soon by the rude reality. My duty calls me from
one place to another, and as long as this war lasts I am not my own
master for an hour. We must have patience, Edith. Even this
campaign cannot last for ever, and if Heaven has decreed that I
shall come out of it alive, we shall meet again, never more to
"You may not be able to answer this letter, for communication with
Frau Amelungen is interrupted. But I know you will answer me if it
is possible, and I am happy to think that, by letting you know I am
alive, I have given you a pleasure, soon, I hope, to be followed by
the still greater happiness of meeting again. Let us wait
patiently and confidently for that hour!"
He sealed the letter and put it in his pocket, in order to hand it
over to Brandelaar on the following day. He then waited for the
reappearance of Penurot, who had promised to be back at midnight.
But although he waited nearly an hour over the time in the tavern,
he waited in vain. The terms in which Herr Amelungen's natural son
had spoken of the people he intended to look for that evening made
the Major anxious about his fate. Before returning to his
quarters, he paid a visit to the town police office, requesting
that a search might be made in the less reputable sailors' taverns
near the harbour for M. Camille Penurot, of whose appearance he
gave a careful description.
As there was no news of him on the following morning, Heideck felt
almost certain that the affair had turned out disastrously for
Penurot. However, for the moment, he could not stop to investigate
the young man's whereabouts.
He was informed by the Lieutenant-Colonel that Brandelaar, whose
vessel actually lay off Ternenzen, had been arrested with his crew,
examined, and liberated during the course of the night, as had been
agreed between the two officers.
Heideck now set out for Ternenzen to give Brandelaar the
information for Admiral Hollway that had been collected at his
office, together with the private information that was of such
importance to him.
At last, having paid Brandelaar a thousand francs on account,
Heideck also gave him the letter to Edith, with careful
instructions as to its delivery. The skipper, whose zeal for the
cause of Germany was now undoubtedly honourable, repeatedly
promised to carry out his orders conscientiously and to the best of
On returning to Antwerp at noon, Heideck found a communication at
his office from the police to the effect that Camille Penurot's
body had been found in one of the harbour basins, stabbed in
several places in the breast and neck. A search for the assassins
had been immediately set on foot, but up to the present no trace of
them had been discovered.
A WOMAN'S TREACHERY
According to the agreement with Heideck, Brandelaar, on his return
from Dover, was to put in at Flushing, and the Major had instructed
the guardships at the mouth of the West Schelde to allow the smack
to pass unmolested without detention. But he waited for the
skipper from day to day in vain. The weather could not have been
the cause of his delay; certainly it had not been too bad for a man
of Brandelaar's daring. A moderate north wind had been blowing
nearly the whole time, so that a clever sailor could have easily
made the passage from Dover to Flushing in a day.
Consequently, other reasons must have kept him in England. Heideck
began to fear that either his knowledge of men, so often tried, had
deceived him on this occasion, or that Brandelaar had fallen a
victim to some act of imprudence in England.
A whole week having passed since Brandelaar had started, Heideck at
least hoped for his return to-day. The north wind had increased
towards evening; there was almost a storm, and the blast rattled
violently at the windows of the room in the hotel, in which Heideck
sat still writing at midnight.
A gentle knock at the door made him look up from his work. Who
could have come to see him at this late hour? It was certainly not
an orderly from his office, which was open day and night, for
soldiers' fingers as a rule knocked harder.
"Come in!" he said. The door opened slowly, and Heideck saw, in
the dimly-lighted corridor, a slender form in a long oilskin cape
and a large sailor's hat, the brim of which was pressed down over
A wild idea flashed through Heideck's mind. He sprang up, and at
the same moment the pretended young man tore off his hat and held
out his arms with a cry of joy.
"My dear--my beloved friend!"
At this moment all other thoughts and feelings were forgotten by
Heideck in the overpowering joy of seeing her again. He rushed to
Edith and drew her to his breast. For a long time they remained
silent in a long embrace, looking into each other's eyes and
laughing like merry children.
At last, slowly freeing herself from his arms, Edith said--
"You are not angry with me, then, for coming to you, although you
forbade it? You will not send me away from you again?"
Her voice penetrated his ear like sweet, soothing music. What man
could have resisted that seductive voice?
"I should like to be angry with you, my dear, but I cannot--Heaven
knows I cannot!"
"I could not have lived any longer without you, whispered the young
woman. "I was obliged to see you again, or I should have died of
"My sweet, my only love! But what is the meaning of this disguise?
And how did you manage to cross the Channel?"
"I took the way you showed me. And is my disguise so very
displeasing to you?"
She had thrown off the ugly, disfiguring cape and stood before him
in a dark blue sailor's dress. Even in her dress as an Indian
rajah he had not thought her more enchanting.
"The only thing that displeases me is that other eyes than mine
have been allowed to see you in it. But you still owe me an
explanation how you got here?"
"With your messenger of love, your postillon d'amour, who was
certainly rather uncouth and awkward for so delicate a mission."
"What! did you come with Brandelaar?" cried Heideck, in surprise.
"Yes. The moment I received your letter from his clumsy sailor's
fist, my mind was made up. I asked him whether he was returning to
Flushing, and when he said yes, I declared he must take me with
him, cost what it would. I would have paid him all I possessed,
without hesitation, to take me across. But the good fellow did it
for much less."
"You foolish girl!" said Heideck reprovingly. But pride in his
beautiful, fearless darling shone brightly from his eyes. "I shall
have to take Brandelaar seriously to task for playing so reckless a
game. But what made him so long in returning?"
"I believe he had all kinds of private business to see after. And
he was not the only one--I had my business too. I did not want to
come to you empty-handed, my friend."
"Empty-handed? I don't understand."
"I puzzled my brains how I could please you, and appease your anger
at my sudden appearance--that terrible anger, of which I felt so
afraid. And as I heard from Brandelaar that it is your duty to
discover military secrets--"
"The worthy Brandelaar is a chatterer. It seems as if your
beautiful eyes have tempted him to open his whole heart to you."
"And if it had been the case," she asked, with a roguish smile,
"would you not have every reason to be grateful to him as well as
myself? But really--you don't even know what I have brought for
you. Aren't you the least curious?"
"No military secret, I suppose?"
He spoke jestingly, but she nodded seriously.
"Yes--a great secret. Chance helped me, or I should hardly have
got hold of it. There it is! But be sure I shall claim an
adequate reward for it."
She handed him a sealed envelope, which she had kept concealed
under her dress. When Heideck, with growing excitement, spread out
the paper it contained, he recognised at the first glance the blue
stamped paper of the English Admiralty.
No sooner had he read the first lines than he started up in the
most violent excitement. His face had become dark red, a deep
furrow showed itself between his eyebrows.
"What is this?" he ejaculated. "For God's sake, Edith, how did you
come by this paper?"
"How did I come by it? Oh, that's quite a secondary consideration.
The chief thing is, whether it is of any value to you or not. But
aren't you pleased with it?"
Heideck was still staring like one hypnotised at the paper covered
with the regularly formed writing of a practised clerk's hand.
"Incomprehensible!" he murmured. Then, suddenly looking at Edith
almost threateningly, he repeated--
"How did you come by it?"
"You are questioning me like a magistrate. But you may know, for
all I care. The brother of the lady with whom I was staying in
Dover is private secretary to the Admiralty--a poor fellow,
suffering from disease of the lungs, whose one desire was to go to
Egypt or Madeira, to get relief from his sufferings. By finding
him the means for this I have done an act of philanthrophy. I
asked him, in return for a further present of money, to give me the
copy of an important document connected with his department."
She suddenly broke off, and Heideck burst out into a short, sharp
laugh which filled her with surprise and alarm.
"An act of philanthrophy!" he repeated in a tone of unspeakable
bitterness. "Did you know what this man was selling to you?"
"He said it was the English fleet's plan of attack, and I thought
it would interest you."
"But surely you must have known how far-reaching would be the
consequences of your act? Had you no suspicion that irreparable
harm might overtake your country, if this plan came to the
knowledge of its enemies?"
His voice quivered with fearful anxiety, but Edith did not seem to
understand his excitement.
"I understand you less and less," she said impatiently. "It can
only be one of two things. Either this paper is of importance to
you, and then you ought to feel the more grateful to me, the more
important it is. Or the secretary has deceived me as to its value.
Then it isn't worth the trouble of saying any more about it."
"Do you look at it in that light, Edith?" he said, mournfully.
"Only in that light? Did you only think of yourself and me, when
you bribed an unfortunate wretch to commit the most disgraceful of
"Oh, my dearest, what strong language! I was not prepared for such
reproaches. Certainly I was only thinking of you and me, and I am
not in the least ashamed to confess it, for there is nothing in the
world of more importance for me than our love."
"And your country, Edith? is that of no account?"
"My country--what is it? A piece of earth with stones, trees,
animals, and men who are nothing to me, to whom I owe nothing and
am indebted for nothing. Why should I love them more than the
inhabitants of any other region, amongst whom there are just as
many good and bad people as amongst them? I am an Englishwoman:
well, but I am also a Christian. And who would have the right to
condemn me, if the commandments of Christianity were more sacred to
me than all narrow-minded, national considerations? If the
possession of this paper really made you the stronger--if it should
bring defeat upon England, instead of the hoped-for victory which
would only endlessly prolong the war--what would mankind lose
thereby? Perhaps peace would be the sooner concluded, and, justly
proud of my act, I would then confess before all the world."
Heideck had not interrupted her, but she saw that her words had not
convinced him. With gloomy countenance he stood before her,
breathing hard, like one whose heart is oppressed by a heavy
"Forgive me, but I cannot follow your train of thought," said he,
with a melancholy shake of the head. "There are things which
cannot be extenuated however we may try to palliate them."
"Well, then, if you think what I have done so monstrous, what is
there to prevent us from undoing it? Give me back the paper; I
will tear it up. Then no one will be injured by my treachery."
"It is too late for that. Now that I know what this paper
contains, my sense of duty as an officer commands me to make use of
it. You have involved me in a fearful struggle with myself."
"Oh, is that your logic? Your sense of honour does not forbid you
to reap the fruits of my treachery, but you punish the traitress
with the full weight of your contempt."
He avoided meeting her flaming eyes.
"I did not say I despised you, but--"
"Well, what else do you mean?"
"Once again--I do not despise you, but it terrifies me to find what
you are capable of."
"Is not that the same thing in other words? A man cannot love a
woman if he is terrified at her conduct. Tell me straight out that
you can no longer love me."
"It would be a lie if I said so, Edith. You have killed our
happiness, but not my love."
She only heard the last words of his answer, and with brightening
eyes flung herself on his breast.
"Then scold me as you like, you martinet! I will put up with
anything patiently, if only I know that you still love me, and that
you will be mine, all mine, as soon as this terrible war no longer
stands between us like a frightful spectre."
He did not return her caresses, and gently pushed her from him.
"Forgive me, if I must leave you now," he said in a singularly
depressed voice, "but I must be in Antwerp by daybreak."
"Is it really so urgent? May I not go with you?"
"No, that is impossible, for I shall have to travel on an engine."
"And when will you return?"
Heideck turned away his face.
"I don't know. Perhaps I shall be sent on further, so that I shall
have no opportunity of saying good-bye to you."
"In other words, you don't mean to see me again? You are silent.
You cannot have the heart to deceive me. Must I remind you that
you have sworn to belong to me, if you survive this war?"
"If I survive it--yes!"
The tone of his reply struck her like a blow. She had no need to
look at him again, to know what was passing in his mind. Now for
the first time she understood that there was no further hope for
her. Heideck had spoken the truth, when he said he still loved
her, and the horror which he felt at her conduct did not, according
to his conscience, release him from his word. But as he at the
same time felt absolutely certain that he could never make a
traitress to her country his wife, his idea of the honour of a man
and officer drove him to the only course which could extricate him
from this fearful conflict of duties.
He had sworn to marry her, if he survived the war. And since he
could no more keep his oath than break it, he had at this moment
decided to put an end to the struggle by seeking death, which his
calling made it so easy for him to find. With the keen insight of
a woman in love Edith read his mind like an open book. She knew
him so well that she never for a moment cherished the illusion that
she could alter his mind by prayers or tears. She knew that this
man was ready to sacrifice everything for her--everything save
honour. Her mind had never been fuller of humble admiration than
at the moment when the knowledge that she had lost him for ever
spread a dark veil over all her sunny hopes of the future.
She did not say a word; and when her silence caused him to turn his
face again towards her, she saw an expression of unutterable pain
in his features, usually so well controlled. Then she also felt
the growing power of a great and courageous resolution. Her mind
rose from the low level of selfish passion to the height of self-
sacrificing renunciation. But it had never been her way to do by
halves what she had once determined to carry out. What was to be
done admitted no cowardly delay, no tender leave-taking must allow
Heideck to guess that a knowledge of his intentions had decided her
course of action.
With that heroic self-command of which, perhaps, only a woman is
capable in such circumstances, she forced herself to appear
outwardly calm and composed.
"Then I am no longer anxious about our future, my friend," she said
after a long silence, smiling painfully. "I will not detain you
any longer now; for I know that your duties as a soldier must stand
first. I am happy that I have been permitted to see you again.
Not to hinder your doing your duty in this serious time of war, I
give you your freedom. Perhaps your love will some day bring you
back to me of your own accord. And now, farewell."
Her sudden resolution and the calmness with which she resigned
herself to this second separation must have seemed almost
incomprehensible to Heideck after what had passed. But her
beautiful face betrayed so little of the desperate hopelessness she
felt, that, after a brief hesitation, he regarded this singular
change in the same light as the numerous other surprises to which
her mysterious nature had already treated him. She had spoken with
such quiet firmness, that he could no longer look upon her
resolution as the suggestion of a perverse or angry whim.
"For God's sake, Edith, what do you intend to do?"
"I shall try to return to Dover to-morrow. I should only be in
your way here."
"In that case, we should not see each other again before you
"You said yourself that there was little chance of that."
"I am not my own master, and this information--"
"No excuse is necessary; no regard for me should hinder you in the
performance of your official duties. Once again then, good-bye, my
dear, my beloved friend! May Heaven protect you!"
She flung herself on his breast and kissed him; but only for a few
seconds did her soft arm linger round his neck. She did not wish
to give way, and yet she felt that she would not be able to control
herself much longer. She hurriedly picked up her oilskin cape from
the floor and seized her fisherman's hat. Heideck fervently
desired to say something affectionate and tender, but his throat
seemed choked as it were by an invisible hand; he could only utter,
in a voice that sounded cold and dry, the words, "Farewell, my
When he heard the door close behind her, he started up impetuously,
as if he meant to rush after her and call her back. But after the
first step he stood still and pressed his clenched left hand upon
his violently beating heart. His face, as if turned to stone, wore
an expression of inflexible resolution, and the corners of his
mouth were marked by two deep, sharp lines, as if within this
single hour he had aged ten years.
EDITH'S LAST JOURNEY
Skipper Brandelaar had given Edith the name of the inn near the
harbour, where he expected a message from Heideck in the course of
the night; for he felt certain that the Major would be anxious to
speak to him as soon as possible.
But he was considerably surprised when, instead of the messenger he
expected, he saw his beautiful disguised passenger enter the low,
smoke-begrimed taproom. He went to meet Edith with a certain
clumsy gallantry, to shield her from the curiosity and
importunities of the men seated with him at the table, whose
weatherbeaten faces inspired as little confidence as their
clothing, which smelt of tar and had suffered badly from wind and
Utterly surprised, he was going to question Edith, but she
"I must get back to Dover to-night," she said hurriedly, in a low
tone. "Will you take me across? I will pay you what you ask."
The skipper shook his head slowly, but resolutely.
"Impossible. Even if I could leave again, it couldn't be done in
"It must be done. The weather is not so bad, and I know you are
not the man to be afraid of a storm."
"Afraid--no! Very likely I have weathered a worse storm than this
with my smack. But there is a difference between the danger a man
has to go through when he cannot escape it, and that to which he
foolishly exposes himself. When I am on a journey, then come what
pleases God, but--"
"No more, Brandelaar," interrupted Edith impatiently. "If you
cannot, or will not go yourself, surely one of your acquaintances
here is brave and smart enough to earn a couple of hundred pounds
without any difficulty."
The skipper's little eyes twinkled.
"A couple of hundred pounds? Is it really so important for you to
leave Flushing to-day? We have hardly landed!"
"Yes, it is very important. And I have already told you that I
don't care how much it costs."
The skipper, who had evidently begun to waver, rubbed his chin
"H'm! Anyhow, I couldn't do it myself. I have important
information for the Herr major, and he would have a right to blame
me, if I went away without even so much as speaking to him. But
perhaps--perhaps I might find out a skipper who would take the
risk, provided that I got something out of it for myself."
"Of course, of course! I don't want a favour from you for nothing.
You shall have fifty pounds the moment I set foot in the boat."
"Good! And two hundred for the skipper and his men? The men are
risking their lives, you mustn't forget that. Besides, they will
have to manage confoundedly cleverly to get past the German
"Yes, yes! Why waste so much time over this useless bargaining?
Here is the money--now get me a boat."
"Go in there," said Brandelaar, pointing to the door of a little
dark side room. "I will see whether my friend Van dem Bosch will
Before complying with Brandelaar's suggestion, Edith glanced at the
man whom he had indicated with a movement of his head. Externally
this robust old sea-dog was certainly not attractive, but his
alarming appearance did not make Edith falter in her resolution for
"Good--talk to your friend, Brandelaar! And mind that I don't have
to wait too long for his consent."
. . . . . . .
The gallant Brandelaar must have found a very effective means of
persuasion, for in less than ten minutes he was able to inform
Edith that Van dem Bosch was ready to risk the journey on the terms
offered. He said nothing more about the danger of the undertaking,
as if he were afraid of frightening the young Englishwoman from her
plan, so profitable to himself. From this moment nothing more was
said about the matter. It was not far to the place where the
cutter lay at anchor, and Edith struggled on bravely between the
two men, who silently walked along by her side, in the face of the
hurricane from the north, roaring in fitful gusts from the sea.
They rowed across to the vessel in a yawl, and when Brandelaar
returned to the quay he had his fifty pounds all right in his
"If the Herr major asks after me, you may tell him the whole truth
with confidence," Edith had said to him. "And greet him from me--
greet him heartily. Don't forget that, Brandelaar."
. . . . . . .
The skipper's two men, who had been lying fast asleep below deck in
the cutter, were considerably astonished and certainly far from
pleased at the idea of the nocturnal passage. But a few words from
the skipper in a language unintelligible to Edith speedily removed
their discontent. They now readily set to work to set sail and
weigh anchor. The skipper's powerful hands grasped the helm; the
small, strongly-built vessel tacked a little and then, heeling
over, shot out into the darkness.
It passed close by the Gefion, and had it by accident been shown up
by the electric light which from time to time searched the
disturbed surface of the water, the nocturnal trip would in any
case have experienced a very disagreeable interruption. But chance
favoured the rash undertaking. No signal was made, no shout raised
from the guardship, and the lights of Flushing were soon lost in
Since the start Edith had been standing by the mast, looking
fixedly backwards to the place where she was leaving everything
which had hitherto given all its value and meaning to her life.
The skipper and his two men, whom the varying winds kept fully
occupied with their sails, did not seem to trouble about her, and
it was not till a suddenly violent squall came on that Van dem
Bosch shouted to her that she had better go below, where she would
at least be protected against the wind and weather.
But Edith did not stir. For her mind, racked by all the torments
of infinite despair, the raging of the storm, the noise of the rain
rattling down, and the hissing splash of the waves as they dashed
against the planks of the boat, made just the right music. The
tumult of the night around her harmonised so exactly with the
tumult within her that she almost felt it a relief. The close
confinement of a low cabin would have been unbearable. She could
only hold out by drinking in deep draughts of air saturated with
the briny odour of the sea, and by exposing her face to the storm,
the rain, and the foam of the waves. It was a kind of physical
struggle with the brute forces of Nature, and its stirring effect
upon her nerves acted as a tonic to a mind lacerated with sorrow.
She had no thought for time or space. Only the hurricane-like
rising of the storm, the increasingly violent breaking of the
waves, and the wilder rocking of the boat, told her that she must
be on the open sea. In spite of her oilskin cape, she was
completely wet through, and a chill, which gradually spread over
her whole body from below, numbed her limbs. Nevertheless, she
never for a moment thought of retiring below. She had no idea of
danger. She heard the sailors cursing, and twice the skipper's
voice struck her ears, uttering what seemed to be an imperious
command. But she did not trouble herself about this. As if
already set free from everything earthly, she remained completely
indifferent to everything that was going on around her. The more
insensible her body became, paralysed by the penetrating damp and
chill, the more indefinite and dreamlike became all the impressions
of her senses. She seemed to have lost all foothold, to be flying
on the wings of the storm, free from all restrictions of corporeal
gravity, through unlimited space. All the rushing, howling,
rattling, and splashing of the unchained elements seemed to her to
unite in one monotonous, majestic roar, which had no terrors for
her, but a wonderfully soothing influence. As her senses slowly
failed, the tumult became a lofty harmony; she felt so entirely one
with mighty, all-powerful Nature that the last feeling of which she
was conscious was a fervent, ardent longing to dissolve in this
mighty Nature, like one of the innumerable waves, whose foam wetted
her feet in passing.
. . . . . . .
A loud sound, like the sharp report of a gun, was heard above the
confusion of noises--a loud crash--some wild curses from rough
sailors' throats! The boat suddenly danced and tossed upon the
waves like a piece of cork, while the big sail flapped in the wind
as if it would be torn the next minute into a thousand pieces.
The peak-halyard was broken, and the gaff, deprived of its hold,
struck with fearful force downwards. With all the might of his
arms, strong as those of a giant, the skipper pulled at the helm to
bring the vessel to the wind. The two other men worked desperately
to make the sail fast.
In these moments of supreme danger none of the three gave a thought
to the disguised woman in the oilskin cape, who had stood so long
motionless as a statue by the mast. Not till their difficult task
was successfully finished did they notice that she had disappeared.
They looked at each other with troubled faces. The skipper at the
"She has gone overboard. The gaff must have hit her on the head.
There is no more to be done. Why would she stay on deck?"
He cleared his throat and spat into the sea, after the fashion of
The other two said nothing. Silently they obeyed the orders of the
skipper, who made for the mouth of the Schelde again.
They made no attempt to save her. It would have been a useless
THE STOLEN DOCUMENT
The last ordinary train to Antwerp had gone long before Heideck
reached the station. But a short interview with the railway
commissioner sufficed, and an engine was at once placed at the
Major's disposal. When he had mounted to the stoker's place the
station-master saluted and signalled to the driver to start. For a
moment Heideck felt a sharp pain in his heart like a knife when the
grinding engine started. It was his life's happiness that he was
leaving behind him for ever. A dull, paralysing melancholy
possessed his soul. He seemed to himself to be a piece of lifeless
mechanism, like the engine puffing ceaselessly onwards, subject and
blindly obedient to the will of another. All his actions were
decided, no longer by his own resolutions, but by an inexorable,
higher law--by the iron law of duty. He was no longer personally
free nor personally responsible. The way was marked out for him as
clearly and distinctly as the course of the engine by the iron
lines of rails. With tightly compressed lips he looked fixedly
before him. What lay behind was no longer any concern of his.
Only a peremptory "Forward" must henceforth be his watchword.
About six o'clock in the morning he stood before the royal castle
on the Place de Meix, where the Prince-Admiral had fixed his
quarters, King Leopold having offered him the castle to reside in.
In spite of the early hour Heideck was at once conducted to the
"Your Royal Highness," said Heideck, "I have a report of the utmost
importance to make. These orders of the English Admiralty have
fallen into my hands."
The Prince motioned him to a seat by his desk. "Be good enough to
read the orders to me, Herr major."
Heideck read the important document, which ran as follows:--
"The Lords of the Admiralty think it desirable to attack the German
fleet first, as being the weaker. This attack must be carried out
before the Russian fleet is in a position to go to its assistance
in Kiel harbour. Therefore a simultaneous attack should be made on
the two positions of the German fleet on the 15th of July."
"On the 15th of July?" repeated the Prince, who had risen in great
excitement. "And it is the 11th to-day! How did you get
possession of these orders, Herr major? What proof have you that
this document is genuine?"
"I have the most convincing reasons for believing it genuine, your
Royal Highness. You can see for yourself that the orders are
written on the blue stamped paper of the English Admiralty."
"Very well, Herr major! But that would not exclude the idea of a
forgery. How did you come into possession of this paper?"
"Your Royal Highness will excuse my entering into an explanation."
"Then read on."
"On the day mentioned the Copenhagen fleet has to attack Kiel
harbour. Two battleships will take up a position before the
fortress of Friedrichsort and Fort Falkenstein on the west side,
two more before the fortifications of Labo and Moltenort on the
east side of Kiel inlet; they will keep up so hot a fire on the
fortifications that the rest of the fleet will be able to enter the
harbour behind them under their protection.
"In the harbour of Kiel there are about a hundred transports and
some older ironclads and cruisers, which cannot offer a serious
resistance to our fleet. All these ships must be attacked with the
greatest rapidity and vigour. It is of the utmost importance to
send a battleship to the entrance of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, in
order to cut off the retreat of the German ships. All the German
ships in the harbour are to be destroyed. The attack is to be
commenced by some cruisers from the rest of the fleet, which will
enter the inlet in advance, without any consideration of the chance
of their being blown up by mines. These vessels are to be
sacrificed, if necessary, in order to set the entrance free.
"For the attack on the German fleet in the Schelde, which must also
take place on the 15th of July, Vice-Admiral Domvile will form a
fleet of two divisions from the Channel squadrons and the cruiser
"The first division will be formed of the following battleships:
Bulwark (Vice-Admiral Domvile's flagship), Albemarle, Duncan,
Montagu, Formidable, Renown, Irresistible, and Hannibal.
"The cruisers Bacchante (Rear-Admiral Walker), Gladiator, Naiad,
Hermione, Minerva, Rainbow, Pegasus, Pandora, Abukir, Vindictive,
"The destroyers Dragon, Griffin, Panther, Locust, Boxer, Mallard,
Coquette, Cygnet, and Zephyr.
"Two torpedo flotillas.
"Two ammunition ships, two colliers, and a hospital ship are to be
allotted to the division.
"The second division will be formed of the following battleships:
Majestic (Vice-Admiral Lord Beresford), Magnificent (Rear-Admiral
Lambton), Cornwallis, Exmouth, Russell, Mars, Prince George,
Victorious, and Caesar.
"The cruisers St. George (Captain Winsloe), Sutlej, Niobe,
Brilliant, Doris, Furious, Pactolus, Prometheus, Juno, Pyramus, and
"The destroyers Myrmidon, Chamois, Flying Fish, Kangaroo,
Desperate, Fawn, Ardent, Ariel, and Albatross.
"Two torpedo flotillas.
"Two ammunition ships, two colliers, and a hospital ship are to be
alloted to the division.
"A squadron under Commodore Prince Louis of Battenberg (flagship,
Implacable) will remain in reserve to watch for the possible
approach of a French fleet. In case one is seen, the first
division is to unite with this reserve squadron under the supreme
command of Vice-Admiral Domvile, and to attack the French fleet
vigorously, it being left to the second division to give battle to
the German fleet. The general orders given to the fleet for the
attack will then only apply to the second division. His Majesty's
Government expects that the division will be able to defeat the
enemy, even without the help of the first division. As soon as the
scouts of the second division have driven the German guardships
from the mouth of the West Schelde, the left wing of the fighting
ships will open fire on Flushing, the right on the land
fortifications of the south bank. The wings are not to stop, but
to advance with the rest of the fleet, and the entire division will
press on to Antwerp or until it meets the German fighting fleet,
which must be attacked with the greatest vigour.
"The precise details of the manner of attack are left to Vice-
"If, contrary to expectation, the German fleet, at the beginning of
the attack in the mouth of the Schelde, should decide upon an
advance, the admiral commanding must act upon his own judgment,
according to circumstances; but, above all, it should be remembered
that it is of more importance to capture as many German ships as
possible than to destroy them, so that the captured ships may be
used by us during the further course of the war."
The Prince-Admiral had listened in silence while Heideck was
reading. The excitement which what he had heard had caused him was
plainly reflected in his features.
"There seems a strong internal probability that these orders are
genuine," he said thoughtfully; "but I should like to have further
and more positive proof of it; for it is quite possible that it is
intentionally designed to mislead us. Where does this document
come from, Herr major?"
"I have already most humbly reported to your Royal Highness that I
have induced the skipper Brandelaar, whom I arrested as an English
spy, to act for the future in our interest. Brandelaar's boat
brought this order."
"Where is this man?"
"His boat lies in Flushing harbour."
"And how did Brandelaar get possession of it?"
"I did not get it from Brandelaar himself, but from a lady, an
Englishwoman, who crossed with him from Dover. My honour imposes
silence upon me. I must not mention this lady's name, but I am
firmly convinced and believe that I can guarantee that the document
in Admiral Hollway's office has been copied word for word."
"We can soon find means of convincing ourselves whether the British
fleet is preparing to carry out these orders. Then at last the
time for energetic action would have arrived. His Majesty has
foreseen some such advance on the part of the British fleet, and we
have now to carry out the plan of the supreme commander. I thank
you, Herr major!"
Heideck bowed and turned to go. He felt that he could endure it no
longer, and it was only with an effort that he maintained his
erect, military bearing.
When he reached the threshold, the Prince turned to him again, and
said, "I think I shall be doing you an honour, Herr major, if I
give you the opportunity of witnessing, by my side, the events of
that great and glorious day in the life of our youthful fleet.
Report yourself to me on the morning of the 15th of July on board
my flagship. I will see that your present post is provided for."
"Your Royal Highness is very gracious."
"You have a claim on my thanks. Au revoir, then, Herr major."
The Prince immediately summoned the adjutant on duty, and ordered
him to have several copies of the English naval plan of attack
prepared at once.
One of these was intended for the admiral in command of the French
fleet at Cherbourg. The Prince gave the imperial messenger, who
was to convey the document to him, an autograph letter in which he
urged upon the admiral to do his utmost to reach Flushing on the
morning of the 15th with as strong a fighting fleet as possible, so
as to assist the German fleet in its engagement with the
numerically superior fleet of the English.
NEWS OF AN OLD FRIEND
"Dear Friend and Comrade,--Although it is still painful for me to
write, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of being the first to
congratulate you on receiving the Order of St. Vladimir. A friend
in the War Office has just informed me that the announcement has
appeared in the Gazette. I hope that this decoration, which you so
fully earned by your services at the occupation of Simla, will
cause you some satisfaction. You are aware that the Vladimir can
only be bestowed on Russians or foreigners in the service of
Russia, and thus you will be one of the few German officers whose
breast is adorned with this mark of distinction so highly prized in
"You will be surprised that my congratulations are sent from St.
Petersburg; no doubt you thought of me as still in sunny India, the
theatre of our mutual adventures in the war. I should certainly
have remained there till the end of the campaign, had not an
English bullet temporarily put an end to my military activity--all
too soon for my ambition, as you can imagine. Uninjured in two
great battles and a number of trifling skirmishes, I was unhappily
destined to be incapacitated in quite an unimportant and inglorious
encounter. Had I not been saved by an heroic woman, you would have
heard no more of your old friend Tchajawadse, except that he was
one of those who had remained on the field of honour.
"Can you guess the name of this woman, comrade? I do not think you
can have entirely forgotten my supposed page Georgi, and I am
telling you nothing new to-day in lifting the veil of the secrecy,
with which for obvious reasons I was obliged to shroud his
relations to me in India. Georgi was a girl, and for years she has
been dearer to me than anyone else. She was of humble birth, and
possessed little of what we call culture. But, nevertheless, she
was to me the dearest creature that I have ever met on my
wanderings through two continents; a wonderful compound of savagery
and goodness of heart, of ungovernable pride and unselfish, devoted
affection--a child and a heroine. She had given herself to me, and
followed me on my journeys from pure inclination, not for the sake
of any advantage. It had been her own wish to play the part of a
servant. I do not, however, mean to say that she never made use of
the power she possessed over me, for she was proud, and knew how to
"Once, at the beginning of our Indian journey, extremely irritated
by her obstinate pride, I raised my hand against her. One look
from her brought me to my senses before the punishment followed.
Afterwards, when my blood had long cooled, she said to me, her eyes
still blazing with anger, 'If you had really struck me I should
have left you at once, and no entreaties would ever have induced me
to return to you.' I laughed at her words, but from that time
exercised more control over myself. We lived in perfect harmony
till the day when Georgi saved your life in Lahore, my valued
comrade. It was she who brought me the terrible news that you were
being led away to death. I had never seen the girl so fearfully
excited before. Her eyes glistened and her whole frame trembled.
It seemed as if she would have driven me forward with the lash,
that I might not be too late. I myself was too anxious to worry my
head much about the girl's singular excitement. But after you were
happily saved, when you were concealed in my tent, and I looked for
Georgi to tell her of the result of my intervention, she fell into
such a paroxysm of joy that my jealous suspicions were aroused.
Carried away by excitement I flung an insult at her, and then, when
she answered me defiantly--to her misfortune and mine I had my
riding-whip in my hand--I committed a hateful act, which I would
rather have recalled than any of my other numerous follies. She
received the blow in silence. The next moment she had disappeared,
and I waited in vain for her return. Till we left Simla I had her
searched for everywhere, but no trace of her could be found. I
myself then gave her up for lost. After our return to Lahore, when
we were marching on to Delhi, I occasionally heard of a girl
wearing Indian dress who had appeared in the neighbourhood of our
troop and resembled my lost page Georgi. But as soon as I made
inquiries after this girl it seemed as if the earth had swallowed
her up, and under the rapidly changing impressions of the war her
image gradually faded from my mind.
"During a reconnaissance near Lucknow, which I had undertaken with
my regimental staff and a small escort, my own carelessness led us
into an ambuscade set by the English, which cost most of my
companions their lives. At the beginning of the encounter a shot
in the back had unhorsed me. I was taken for dead, and those few
of my companions who were able to save themselves by flight had no
time to take the fallen with them. After lying for a long time
unconscious, I saw, on awaking, a number of armed Indians
plundering the dead and wounded. One of the brown devils
approached me. When he saw me lifting myself up to grasp my
revolver, he rushed upon me brandishing his sword. I parried the
first thrust at my head with my right arm. Defenceless as I was, I
was already prepared for the worst. But at the moment, when the
rascal was lifting up his arm for another thrust, he reeled
backwards and collapsed without uttering a sound. It was Georgi,
who had saved my life by a well-directed shot.
"She had accompanied the dragoons sent from our camp to recover the
dead and wounded, and had got considerably in advance of the
horsemen. Hence it had been possible for her to save me.
"I was too weak to ask her many questions, and my memory is a blank
as to the few moments of this meeting.
"For a week I lay between life and death. Then my iron
constitution triumphed. You can imagine, my dearest friend, how
great my desire was to see Georgi again. But she was no longer in
the camp, and no one could tell me where she was. She disappeared
again as suddenly as she had appeared on that day. This time I
must make up my mind to the conviction that I have lost her for
ever. While on my sick bed I received a command to repair to St.
Petersburg. At the same time I was highly flattered to learn that
I had been promoted, and as soon as my condition permitted it, I
started on my journey.
"Pardon me, dear friend, for lingering so long over a personal
matter, which, after all, can have very little interest for you.
"You are as well informed as myself of the manifold changes of this
war, which has already destroyed the value of untold millions, and
has cost hundreds of thousands of promising human lives. I could
almost envy you for being still spared to be an eyewitness of the
great events, while I am condemned to the role of an inactive
spectator. But I do not believe the struggle will last much
longer. The sacrifices which it imposes on the people are too
great to be endured many months longer. Everything is pressing to
a speedy and decisive result, and I have no doubt what that result
will be. For although the defeats and losses sustained by the
English are partly compensated by occasional successes, one great
naval victory of the allies would finally decide the issue against
Great Britain. Hitherto, both sides have hesitated to bring about
this decisive result, but all here are convinced that the next few
weeks will at last bring those great events on the water, so long
and so eagerly expected.
"To my surprise, I see that our treaty of peace with Japan is still
the subject of hostile criticism in the foreign Press. Certainly,
in the second phase of the campaign, the fortune of war had turned
in our favour, but the struggle for India was so important for
Russia that she was unwilling to divide her forces any longer.
Hence we were able to build a golden bridge for Japan, and hence
the peace of Nagasaki. The German Imperial Chancellor is highly
popular in Russia also, owing to the part he took in the conclusion
of the peace.
"Have you had the opportunity of approaching the Imperial
Chancellor? This Baron Grubenhagen must be a man of strong
"I am sending this letter to you by way of Berlin, for I do not
know where you are at this moment. I hope it will reach you, and
that you will occasionally find time to gladden your old friend
Tchajawadse by letting him know that you are still alive."
Heideck had glanced rapidly through the Prince's letter, written in
French, which he had found waiting for him after his return from
Antwerp. Not even the news of the honourable distinction conferred
by the bestowal of the Russian order had been able to evoke a sign
of joy on his grave countenance. The amiable Russian Prince and
his beautiful page were to him like figures belonging to a remote
past, that lay an endless distance behind him. The events of the
last twenty-four hours had shaken him so violently that what might
perhaps a few days before have aroused his keenest interest now
seemed a matter of indifference and no concern of his.
At this moment the orderly announced a man in sailor's dress, and
Heideck knew that it could only be Brandelaar. The skipper had
already given the information which he had brought from Dover to
the officer on duty who had taken Heideck's place. If they were
not exactly military secrets which by that means became known to
the German military authorities, some items of the various
information might prove of importance as affecting the Prince-
Heideck assumed that Brandelaar had now come for his promised
reward. But as the skipper, after receiving the money, kept
turning his hat between his fingers, like a man who does not like
to perform a painful errand or make a disagreeable request, Heideck
asked in astonishment: "Have you anything else to say to me,
Only after considerable hesitation he replied, "Yes, Herr major, I
was to bring you a greeting--you will know who sent it."
"I think I can guess. You have seen the lady again since yesterday
"The lady came to me last night at the inn and demanded to be taken
back to Dover at once. But I thought you would not like it."
"So then you refused?"
Brandelaar continued to stare in front of him at the floor.
"The lady would go--in spite of the bad weather. And she would not
be satisfied till I had persuaded my friend Van dem Bosch to take
her in his cutter to Dover?"
"This was last night?"
"And what more?" persisted Heideck.
"He came back at noon to-day. They had a misfortune on the way."
Heideck's frame shook convulsively. A fearful suspicion occurred
to him. He needed all his strength of will to control himself.
"And the lady?"
"Herr major, it was the lady who met with an accident. She fell
overboard on the journey."
Heideck clasped the back of the chair before him with both hands.
Every drop of blood had left his face.
"Fell--overboard? Good God, man--and she was not saved?"
Brandelaar shook his hand.
"No, Herr major! She would stay on deck in spite of the storm,
though Van dem Bosch kept asking her to go below. When a violent
squall broke the halyard, she was knocked overboard by the gaff.
As the sea was running high, there was no chance of saving her."
Heideck had covered his face with his hand. A dull groan burst
from his violently heaving breast and a voice within him exclaimed--
"The guilt is yours. She sought death of her own accord, and it
was you who drove her to it!"
His voice sounded dry and harsh when he turned to the skipper and
"I thank you for your information, Brandelaar. Now leave me
THE LANDING IN SCOTLAND
The ninth and tenth army corps had collected at the inlet of Kid
harbour. The town of Kiel and its environs resounded with the
clattering of arms, the stamping of horses and the joyful songs of
the soldiers, who, full of hope, were expecting great and decisive
events. But no one knew anything for certain about the object of
the impending expedition.
From the early hours of the morning of the 13th of July an almost
endless stream of men, horses, and guns poured over the landing-
bridges, which connected the giant steamers of the shipping
companies with the harbour quays. Other divisions of troops were
taken on board in boats, and on the evening of the 14th the whole
field army, consisting of 60,000 men, was embarked.
Last of all, the general commanding, accompanied by the Imperial
Chancellor, proceeded in a launch on board the large cruiser Konig
Wilhelm, which lay at anchor in the Bay of Holtenall. Immediately
afterwards, three rockets, mounting brightly against the dark sky,
went up from the flagship. At this signal, the whole squadron
started slowly in the direction of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal.
The transport fleet consisted of about sixty large steamers,
belonging to the North-German Lloyd, the Hamburg-America, and the
Stettin companies. They were protected by the battleships Baden,
Wurttemberg, Bayern, and Sachsen, the large cruisers Kaiser and
Deutschland, the small cruisers Gazelle, Prinzess Wilhelm, Irene,
Komet, and Meteor, and the torpedo divisions D 5 and D 6,
accompanied by their torpedo-boat divisions.
The last torpedo-boat had long left the harbour, when, about eleven
o'clock in the forenoon of the 15th of July, the dull thunder of
the English ironclads resounded before the fortifications of the
inlet of Kiel, answered by the guns of the German fortress.
Bright sunshine was breaking through the light clouds when the
Konig Wilhelm entered the Elbe at Brunsbuttel. The boats of the
torpedo division, hastening forward, reported the mouth of the
river free from English warships, and a wireless message was
received from Heligoland in confirmation of this.
The squadron proceeded at full speed to the north-west. The
torpedo division D 5 reconnoitred in advance, the small, swift
boats being followed by the cruisers Prinzess Wilhelm and Irene,
which from their high rigging were especially adapted for scouting
operations and carried the necessary apparatus for wireless
telegraphy. The rest of the fleet, whose speed had to be regulated
by that of the Konig Wilhelm, followed at the prescribed intervals.
When the sharp outlines of the red cliffs of Heligoland appeared,
the German cruiser Seeadler came from the island to meet the
squadron and reported that the coast ironclads Aegir and Odin, the
cruisers Hansa, Vineta, Freya, and Hertha, together with the
torpedo-boats, had set out from Wilhelmshaven during the night and
had seen nothing of the enemy. The sea appeared free. All the
available English warships of the North Sea squadron had advanced
to attack Antwerp.
Since the transport fleet did not appear to need reinforcements, it
proceeded on its way west-north-west with its attendant warships,
the Wilhelmshaven fleet remaining at Heligoland.
What was its destination?
Only a few among the many thousands could have given an answer, and
they remained silent. The red cliffs of Heligoland had long since
disappeared in the distance. Hours passed, but nothing met the
eyes of the eagerly gazing warriors, save the boundless, gently
rippling sea and the crystal-clear blue vault of heaven, stretched
above it like a huge bell.
"What is our destination?"
It could not be the coast of England, which would have been reached
long ago. But where was the landing to take place, if not there?
To what distant shore was the German army being taken, the largest
whose destinies had ever been entrusted to the treacherous waves of
When daylight again brought a report from the scouts that the
enemy's ships were nowhere to be seen, the Commander-in-Chief of
the army could not help expressing his surprise to the Admiral that
the English had apparently entirely neglected scouting in the North
Sea, and further, that they did not even see any merchant vessels.
"The explanation of this apparently surprising fact is not very
remote, Your Excellency," replied the Admiral. "We should hardly
sight any merchantmen, since maritime trade is now almost entirely
at a standstill, owing to the insecurity of the seas. We have not
met a flotilla of fishing-boats, since in this part of the North
Sea there are no fishing-grounds. We see none of the enemy's
ships, since the English have most likely calculated every other
possibility except our attempting to land in Scotland."
"Your explanation is obvious, Herr Admiral; nevertheless, it seems
to me that our enemy must have neglected to take the necessary
precautions in keeping a look-out."
"Your Excellency must not draw an offhand comparison between
operations on land and on sea. The conditions in the latter are
essentially different. I do not doubt for a moment that there is a
sufficient number of English scouts in the North Sea; if we have
really escaped their notice, the fortune of war has been favourable
to us. I may tell Your Excellency that, even during our manoeuvres
in the Baltic, where we know the course as well as the speed and
strength of the marked enemy, he has sometimes succeeded in making
his way through, unseen by our scouts. Perhaps this will mitigate
your judgment of this apparent want of foresight on the part of the
At last, on the evening of the 16th of July, land was reported by
the Konig Wilhelm. The end of the journey was in sight, and the
news spread rapidly that it was the coast of Scotland rising from
"We are going to enter the Firth of Forth," was the general
opinion. Even the brave soldiers, who perhaps heard the name for
the first time in their lives, repeated the word with as important
an air as if all the secrets of the military staff had been all at
once revealed to them.
In the red light of the setting sun both shores appeared tinged
with violet from the deep-blue sky and the grey-blue sea, the north
shore being further off than the south. Favoured by a calm sea,
the squadron, extended in close order to a distance of about five
knots, made for the entrance of the Firth of Forth.
Full of expectation, the expeditionary army saw the vast, bold
undertaking develop before its eyes. For nine hundred years no
hostile army had landed on the coast of England. Certainly, in
ancient times Britain had had to fight against invading enemies:
Julius Caesar had entered as a conqueror, Canute the Great, King of
Denmark, had subdued the country. The Angles and Saxons had come
over from Germany, to make themselves masters of the land. Harold
the Fairhaired, King of Norway, had landed in England. But since
the time of William of Normandy, who defeated the Saxons at
Hastings and set up the rule of the Normans in England, not even
her most powerful enemies, neither Philip of Spain nor the great
Napoleon, had succeeded in landing their troops on the sea-girt
soil of England.
Would a German army now succeed?
The outlines of the country became clearer and clearer; some even
believed they could see the lofty height of Edinburgh Castle on the
horizon. But soon the distant view was obscured and darkness
slowly came on.
Hitherto not a single hostile ship had been seen. But now, when
the greater part of the squadron had already entered the bay, the
searchlights discovered two English cruisers whose presence had
already been reported by the advance boats of the torpedo division.
In view of our great superiority, these cruisers declined battle,
and by hauling down their flag, signified their readiness to
surrender. From the sea, nothing remained to hinder the landing of
the troops. The transports approached the south shore of the bay,
on which Edinburgh and the harbour town of Leith are situated; and,
after casting anchor, landed the troops in boats by the electric
light. The infantry immediately occupied the positions favourable
to meet any attack that might be made. But nothing happened to
prevent the landing. The Scottish population remained perfectly
calm, so that the disembarkation was completed without disturbance.
The population of Leith and the inhabitants of Edinburgh, who had
hurried up full of curiosity, beheld, to their boundless
astonishment, a spectacle almost incomprehensible to them, carried
out with admirable precision under the bright electric light from
the German ships.
The people had taken the keenest interest in the great war of
England against the allied Powers--Germany, France, and Russia--but
with a feeling that it was a matter which chiefly concerned the
Government, the Army, and the Navy. They were painfully aware that
things were going worse and worse for them, but were convinced that
the Government would soon overthrow the enemy. Everyone knew that
the Russians had penetrated into India, but the great mass of the
people did not trouble about that. It could only be a passing
misfortune, and trade, which was at present ruined, would soon
revive and be all the more flourishing. But the idea that an
enemy, a continental army, could land on the coast of Great
Britain, that German or French soldiers could ever set foot on
British soil, had seemed to Scotsmen so remote a contingency that
they now appeared completely overcome by the logic of accomplished
About noon on the following day the two army corps were already
south of Leith. A brigade had been pushed forward towards the
south; the rest of the troops had bivouacked, that the men might
recuperate after their two days' sea journey.
The quartermasters had purchased provisions for ready money in the
town, the villages, and the scattered farmhouses. The warships
filled their bunkers from the abundant stock of English coal,
guardships being detached to ensure the safety of the squadron.
The Admiral had ordered that, after coaling, the warships should
take up a position at the entrance to the bay, the transports
remaining in the harbour. In the possible event of the appearance
of a superior English squadron the whole fleet was to leave the
Firth of Forth as rapidly as possible and disperse in all
directions. Certainly in that case the army would be deprived of
the means of returning, but the military authorities were convinced
that the appearance of an army of 60,000 German troops on British
soil would practically mean the end of the war, especially as an
equally strong French corps was to land in the south. The military
authorities consequently thought they need not trouble themselves
further about the possibility of the troops having to return.
The garrison of Edinburgh had surrendered without resistance, since
it would have been far too weak to offer any opposition to the
invading army. Accordingly the German officers and soldiers could
move about in the town without hindrance. A number of despatches
and fresh war bulletins were found which threw some light upon the
strategic position, although they were partly obscure, and partly
contained obvious falsehoods.
A great naval battle was said to have taken place off Flushing on
the 15th of July, ending in the retreat of the German and French
fleets with heavy losses. It was further reported that the British
fleet had destroyed Flushing and bombarded several of the Antwerp
forts. Lastly, according to the newspapers, the English fleet
which had been stationed before Copenhagen had entered Kid harbour
and captured all the German ships inside, the loss of the English
battleships at the Kieler Fohrde being admitted. The German
officers were convinced that only the report of the loss of the two
battleships deserved credit, since the English would hardly have
invented such bad news. Everything else, from the position of
things, bore the stamp of improbability on the face of it.
The trumpets blew, the soldiers grasped their arms, the battalions
began their march. The batteries clattered along with a dull
rumble. In four columns, by four routes, side by side the four
divisions started for the south.
THE BATTLE OF FLUSHING
The strategy of red tape, by which the Commander-in-Chief's hands
were tied, was destined, as in so many previous campaigns, to prove
on this occasion also a fatal error to the English.
Sir Percy Domvile, the British admiral, had received with silent
rage the order of battle communicated to him from London--the same
order that had fallen into the hands of the Germans. More than
once already he had attempted to show the Lords of the Admiralty
what injury might be caused by being tied to strict written orders
in situations that could not be foreseen. He now held in his own
hands the proof how little the officials, pervaded by the
consciousness of their own importance and superior wisdom, were
disposed to allow themselves to be taught. But he was too much of
a service-man not to acquiesce in the orders of the supreme court
with unquestioning obedience. Certainly, if he had been able to
gauge in advance the far-reaching consequences of the mistake
already committed, he would probably, as a patriot, rather have
sacrificed himself than become the instrument for carrying out the
fundamentally erroneous tactics of the plan of battle communicated
to him. For more was now at stake than the proud British nation
had ever risked before in a naval engagement. It was a question of
England's prestige as the greatest naval power in the world,
perhaps of the final issue of this campaign which had been so
disastrous for Great Britain. All-powerful Albion, the dreaded
mistress of the seas, was now fighting for honour and existence. A
great battle lost might easily mean a blow from which the British
lion, wounded to death, would never be able to recover.
. . . . . . .
At the time when the Konig Wilhelm entered the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal
at the head of the German transport fleet, the Prince-Admiral, who
had hoisted his flag on the Wittelsbach, led the fighting fleet
from the harbour of Antwerp into the Zuid Bevelanden Canal, which
connects the East and West Schelde, and separates the island of
Walcheren from Zuid Bevelanden. Anchor was then cast.
His squadron consisted of the battleships of the Wittelsbach class-
-Mecklenburg, Schwaben, Zahringen, Wettin, and Wittelsbach (the
flagship of the Prince-Admiral), and the battleships of the Kaiser
class--Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, Barbarossa, Karl der Grosse,
Wilhelm II., and Friedrich III.
These ironclads were accompanied by the large cruisers Friedrich
Karl, Prinz Adalbert, Prinz Heinrich, Furst Bismarck, Viktoria
Luise, Kaiserin Augusta, and the small cruisers Berlin, Hamburg,
Bremen, Undine, Arcona, Frauenlob, and Medusa.
The torpedo flotilla at the Prince's disposal consisted of the
torpedo-boats S 102 to 107, G 108 to 113, S 114 to 125, with the
division boats D 10, D 9, D 7, and D 8, built on the scale of
The three fast cruisers Friedrich Karl, Prinz Adalbert and Kaiserin
Augusta, with the torpedo-boats S 114 to 120, had been sent on as
scouts, to announce the approach of the enemy in good time. The
cruisers had been ordered to post themselves thirty knots west-
north-west of Flushing at intervals of five knots, while the
torpedo-boats patrolled on all sides to keep a look-out. After
having reported the approach of the English fleet to the main
squadron by wireless telegraphy, the scouts were to retire before
the enemy out of range into the West Schelde, and at the same time
to keep up such a fire in their boilers that the clouds of thick
smoke might deceive the enemy as to the size and number of the
retiring ships. When out of sight of the English, they were to
wheel round and show themselves, and, if circumstances permitted,
take up the positions previously assigned them; otherwise they were
to act according to circumstances.
The object of this manoeuvre, calculated to mislead the enemy, was
A signal informed the Prince-Admiral that the English were in
sight, and a torpedo-boat detached from the scouting squadron
brought more exact information as to the number and formation of
the enemy's ships--information which exactly corresponded with the
instructions given in the order of battle, and was a fresh proof
that it was intended to adhere to them.
This provided a sure foundation for the tactical operations of the
German fleet. No alteration was necessary in the course of action
decided upon at the council of war on the previous day, and no
fresh instructions had to be issued to individual commanders.
The order of battle settled at this council of war ran, in the
main, as follows:--
"The squadron will lie at anchor off Zuid-Beveland, fires banked,
so that they can get up steam in a quarter of an hour. The
battleships will anchor in double line, according to their tactical
numbers. The cruisers between Nord-Beveland and Zuid-Beveland.
The torpedo-boats with their division boats behind.
"At the signal 'weigh anchor' the ships carry out the order
according to their tactical number; the battleships through the
Roompot; the cruisers will re-enter the West Schelde through the
canal and lie off Flushing athwart.
"The two other torpedo-boat divisions will accompany the squadron."
The course of events developed exactly in accordance with these
When the approach of the enemy's ships was announced, the Prince-
Admiral's flaghip signalled: "Weigh anchor! hoist top pennants!
clear for action! follow in the Admiral's wake! cruiser division
and torpedo-boats execute orders!"
Keeping close under the coast of Walcheren, the German squadron,
full steam up, advanced to meet the enemy.
Meanwhile the approaching English, having left their hospital and
munition ships and colliers in the open under the protection of the
cruisers and taken up their appointed positions, opened fire at a
distance of about 6,000 yards on Flushing and Fort Frederik
The English Admiral adhered so strictly to his instructions that,
with an incomprehensible carelessness, he neglected to search the
East Schelde with his second squadron, or even with his scouts.
The entry of the German ships which had been sent back from the
open into the West Schelde, evidently appeared to Sir Percy Domvile
a sufficient confirmation of the assumption that the whole German
fleet was in this arm of the river's mouth, for the clouds of smoke
which they emitted rendered an accurate computation of their
Thus, the Prince-Admiral's squadron was enabled to approach the
enemy so far unobserved that it would be able to take the British
fleet in the flank, when it had reached the west point of
At the signal: "Full steam ahead!" the German ships in the
formation agreed steamed against the surprised English, and opened
fire from their bow-guns. Naturally, the English Admiral at once
ordered the first squadron to take up its position behind the
second, turned left with both, and went to meet the enemy in double
This was the opportune moment, foreseen in the Prince's plan of
battle, for the advance of the cruisers lying in the West Schelde.
In order to deceive the enemy as to their number, they rapidly
approached, accompanied by the torpedo-boats which again sent up
their clouds of smoke. The English Admiral, completely surprised
by the double attack, was obliged to divide his attention.
Certainly this torpedo attack was still a hazardous undertaking,
under existing conditions. The English shot well, and two German
boats were sunk by the enemy's shells. Three others, however, hit
their mark, damaging three of the English ships so severely that
they were incapable of manoeuvring.
It was especially disadvantageous to the English that their
torpedo-boats, owing to the unforeseen change in the formation of
the battleships, were deprived of the necessary protection. The
German destroyers were not slow to make full use of this favourable
situation, and began to chase them. In this engagement, which the
speed of the little vessels rendered especially exciting for those
who took part in it, the pursuers succeeded in destroying four
English torpedo-boats without themselves suffering any damage worth
mentioning. The others escaped, and, for the time, might be
regarded as out of action.
The enemy having altered his front, the Prince-Admiral had turned
right about, so that he might enter into action with all the guns
of one side. The English Admiral also doubled, but the manoeuvre
proved the cause of a fatal misfortune. Whether the disturbance of
the tactical unity by the loss of the three torpedoed vessels was
the cause of it, or whether the first and second divisions were
unaccustomed to manoeuvre together, the Formidable carried out
orders so clumsily, that she was rammed amidships by her neighbour
the Renown, and immediately heeled over and sunk in a few minutes,
carrying hundreds of brave English sailors with her into the deep.
The Renown herself, whose ram had caused the fearful disaster, had
not escaped without severe injury in the collision, which had
shattered the mighty floating fortress in all its joints. The two
first fore compartments, as the bulkheads did not hold together,
had filled with water. This caused the vessel to heel over; her
value as a fighting instrument was thereby sensibly diminished.
Thus the first great catastrophe in the battle was caused, not by
the power of the enemy, but by the clumsy manoeuvring of a friendly
ship. This naturally caused many of the spectators, deeply
affected by the sinking of the magnificent vessel and her gallant
crew, to ask themselves whether the great perfection attained in
the construction of modern ships of war was not to a great extent
counterbalanced by the defects that were combined with the
increasing size and fighting strength of these gigantic ironclads.
No ship of the line, no frigate, not even the little gunboat of
earlier times could have disappeared from the line of battle so
speedily and without leaving a trace behind as the Formidable,
built of mighty dimensions and equipped with all the appliances of
naval technique. No doubt her armour-plate and steel turrets would
have been able successfully to resist a hail of the heaviest
projectiles, but a misunderstood steering order had been sufficient
to send her to the bottom. Neither the double bottoms nor the
division of the bulkheads, which should have prevented the inrush
of an excessive amount of water, had been able to avert the fate
which threatens every modern ironclad when severely damaged below
the water-line. The wooden ship of former times might have been
riddled like a sieve without sinking. But the stability of a
modern ironclad could be endangered by a single leak, whether
caused by a torpedo or a ram, to such an extent that the gigantic
mass of iron would be drawn down into the depths by its own weight
in a few minutes.
A running fire now went on at a distance of about 2,000 yards, in
which the superiority of the Krupp guns was as clearly manifested
as the admirable training of the German artillerists, in which the
English were far inferior. Certainly, the German ships also
suffered various injuries, but no serious damage had as yet
The three torpedoed and helpless English warships offered
especially favourable targets to the German cruisers. The latter,
taking up positions at a suitable distance, kept up such a heavy
fire upon the vessels, which could scarcely move, that their
surrender was inevitable. But before deciding on this, the English
offered an heroic resistance, and many of their shots took effect.
The conning tower of the Friedrich Karl was pierced by a shell, and
the brave commander with those around him found a glorious
soldier's death. Other more or less serious injuries were
sustained, and it was almost a miracle that no vital damage was
done to any part of the ships' hulls.
After the three English ships had been put out of action, it was
unnecessary for the cruiser division to remain any longer in this
quarter of the scene of action. They accordingly proceeded with
the utmost despatch to where the Prince-Admiral was engaged in the
main fight with the battleships. Here, indeed, assistance was
needed. For, although four of the enemy's ships were lost, the
superiority in numbers still remained with the English, especially
as the Mecklenburg had been obliged to sheer off, her steering gear
having been shot to pieces.
When the English Admiral saw the cruisers approaching, so that they
could bring all their bow-guns to bear at once, he recognised that
the decisive moment was at hand.
The cruisers' guns inflicted severe damage on the English, for the
crews had practised shooting rapidly at a gradually diminishing
distance. The high deck structures of the battleships offered an
admirable target, so that in the extended English line of battle
nearly every shot took effect.
For Sir Percy Domvile rapid and energetic action now became a
necessary condition of self-preservation. In the circumstances,
the capture of the German fleet, which according to the order of
battle was to be the object aimed at, was no longer to be thought
of; the only thing left to the Admiral was to endeavour to destroy
as many of the enemy's ships as possible. The British flagship
signalled "Right about," and the commandants knew that this was as
good as an order to ram the German ironclads.
But this manoeuvre, by which alone Sir Percy Domvile could meet the
danger that threatened him in consequence of the attack from two
sides, had been provided for by the Prince-Admiral. It had been
taken into consideration at the council of war held on the previous
evening, and each commander had received instructions as to the
tactics to be pursued in such an event. A special signal had been
agreed upon, and as soon as the English ironclads were observed
wheeling round, it was hoisted on the Admiral's ship. Each of the
German battleships immediately took up the position prescribed by
the plan of battle. The squadron separated into two halves; the
first division, wheeling into line behind the flagship, made "left
about" with it, while the second division, also making "left
about," took up its position between the left wing ship.
These tactics, quite unknown to him, were completely unexpected by
the English Admiral. His purpose was entirely frustrated by the
speedy and clever manoeuvre of the German ships, the plan of
destruction failed, and his own ironclads, while proceeding
athwart, had to stand a terrible fire right and left, which was
especially disastrous to the two ships on the wings. Overwhelmed
by a hail of light and heavy projectiles, and in addition hit by
torpedoes, they were in a few minutes put out of action; one of
them, the Victorious, sharing the fate of the unlucky Formidable,
sank with its crew of more than 700 men beneath the waves.
But the youthful German fleet had also received its baptism of fire
in this decisive battle.
All the means of destruction with which the modern art of war is
acquainted were employed by each of the two opponents to snatch
victory from his adversary. The shells of the heavy guns were
combined with the projectiles of the lighter armament and the
machine-guns posted in the fighting-tops, so that in the real sense
of the word it was a "hail of projectiles," which came down in
passing on the ships wrapped in smoke and steam.
Hermann Heideck had become so thoroughly familiar in India with the
horrors of war on land in their various forms, that he believed his
nerves were completely proof against the horrible sight of death
and devastation. But the scenes which were being enacted around
him in the comparatively narrow space of the magnificent flagship
during this engagement, far surpassed in their awfulness everything
that he had hitherto seen. Heideck was full of admiration for the
heroic courage, contempt of death, and discipline of officers and
men, not one of whom stirred a foot from the post assigned him.
As he only played the part of an inactive spectator in the drama
that had now reached its climax, he was able to move freely over
the ship. Wherever he went, the same spectacle of horrible
destruction and heroic devotion to duty everywhere met his eye.
The men serving the guns in the turrets and casemates were enduring
the pains of hell. In the low, ironclad chambers a fiery heat
prevailed, which rendered even breathing difficult. The terrific
noise and the superhuman excitement of the nerves seemed to have so
dulled the men's senses, that they no longer had any clear idea of
what was going on around them. Their faces did not wear that
expression of rage and exasperation, which Heideck had seen in so
many soldiers in the land battle at Lahore; rather, he observed a
certain dull indifference, which could no longer be shaken by the
horror of the situation.
A shell struck a battery before Heideck's eyes, exploded, and with
its flying splinters struck down nearly all the men serving the
guns. Happy were those who found death at once; for the injuries
of those who writhed wounded on the ground were of a frightful
nature. The red-hot pieces of iron, which tore the unhappy men's
flesh and shattered their bones, at the same time inflicted fearful
burns upon them. Indeed, Heideck would have regarded it as an act
of humanity to have been allowed with a shot from a well-aimed
revolver, to put an end to the sufferings of this or that
unfortunate, whose skin and flesh hung in shreds from his body, or
whose limbs were transformed into shapeless, bloody masses.
But those who had escaped injury, after a few moments'
stupefaction, resumed their duty with the same mechanical precision
as before. Amidst their dead and dying comrades, about whom nobody
could trouble himself for the moment, they stood in the pools of
warm, human blood, which made the deck slippery, and quietly served
the gun which had not been seriously damaged.
A very young naval cadet, who had been sent down to the engine-room
from the Prince-Admiral's conning-tower with an order, met Heideck
on the narrow, suffocatingly hot passage. He was a slender,
handsome youth with a delicate, boyish face. The blood was
streaming over his eyes and cheeks from a wound in the forehead.
He was obliged to lean with both hands against the wall for
support, while, with a superhuman effort of will, he compelled his
tottering knees to carry him forward, his sole thought being that
he must keep upright until he had fulfilled his errand. When
Heideck inquired sympathetically after the nature of his wound, he
even attempted to wreathe his pale lips, quivering with pain, into
a smile, for in spite of his seventeen years he felt himself at
this moment quite a man and a soldier, to whom it was an honour and
a delight to die for his country. But his heroic will was stronger
than his body, wounded to death. In the attempt to assume an erect
military bearing before the Major, he suddenly collapsed. He had
just strength enough to give Heideck the Admiral's order and ask
him to carry it out. Then his senses left him.
In another battery the store of ammunition had been exploded by a
shell. Not a man had escaped alive. Heideck himself, although
since the beginning of the engagement he had recklessly exposed
himself to danger, had hitherto, by a miracle, escaped death that
threatened him in a hundred different forms. He had been