Part 3 out of 5
and hastened to their rescue. She conversed with the man for a
few minutes in French, while her companion listened admiringly,
and finally, at his solicitation, herself ordered the dinner.
"The news, please, Mr. Fenn?" she asked, as soon as the man had
"News?" he repeated. "Oh, let's leave it alone for a time! One
gets sick of shop."
She raised her eyebrows a little discouragingly. She was dressed
with extraordinary simplicity, but the difference in caste between
the two supplied a problem for many curious observers.
"Why should we talk of trifles," she demanded, "when we both have
such a great interest in the most wonderful subject in the world?"
"What is the most wonderful subject in the world?" he asked
"Our cause, of course," she answered firmly, "the cause of all the
peoples - Peace."
"One labours the whole day long for that," he grumbled. "When the
hour for rest comes, surely one may drop it for a time?"
"Do you feel like that?" she remarked indifferently. "For myself,
during these days I have but one thought. There is nothing else
in my life. And you, with all those thousands and millions of
your fellow creatures toiling, watching and waiting for a sign
from you - oh, I can't imagine how your thoughts can ever wander
from them for a moment, how you can ever remember that self even
exists! I should like to be trusted, Mr. Fenn, as you are
"My work," he said complacently, "has, I hope, justified that
"Naturally," she assented, "and yet the greatest part of it is to
come. Tell me about Mr. Orden?"
"There is no change in the fellow's attitude. I don't imagine
there will be until the last moment. He is just a pig-headed,
insufferably conceited Englishman, full of class prejudices to his
"He is nevertheless a man," she said thoughtfully. "I heard only
yesterday that he earned considerable distinction even in his
"No doubt," Fenn remarked, without enthusiasm, "he has the bravery
of an animal. By the bye, the Bishop dropped in to see me this
"Really?" she asked. "What did he want?"
"Just a personal call," was the elaborately careless reply. "He
likes to look in for a chat, now and then. He spoke about Orden,
too. I persuaded him that if we don't succeed within the next
twenty four hours, it will be his duty to see what he can do."
"Oh, but that was too bad!" she declared. "You know how he feels
his position, poor man. He will simply loathe having to tell
Julian - Mr. Orden, I mean that he is connected with - "
"Well, with what, Miss Abbeway?"
"With anything in the nature of a conspiracy. Of course, Mr.
Orden wouldn't understand. How could he? I think it was cruel to
bring the Bishop into the matter at all."
"Nothing," Fenn pronounced, "is cruel that helps the cause. What
will you drink, Miss Abbeway? You'll have some champagne, won't
"What a horrible idea!" she exclaimed, smiling at him
nevertheless. "Fancy a great Labour leader suggesting such a
thing! No, I'll have some light French wine, thank you."
Fenn passed the order on to the waiter, a little crestfallen.
"I don't often drink anything myself," he said, "but this seemed
to me to be something of an occasion."
"You have some news, then?"
"Not at all. I meant dining with you."
She raised her eyebrows.
"Oh, that?" she murmured. "That is simply a matter of routine. I
thought you had some news, or some work."
"Isn't it possible, Miss Abbeway," he pleaded, "that we might have
some interests outside our work?"
"I shouldn't think so," she answered, with an insolence which was
above his head.
"There is no reason why we shouldn't have," he persisted.
"You must tell me your tastes," she suggested. "Are you fond of
grand opera, for instance? I adore it. 'Parsifal' - 'The Ring'?"
"I don't know much about music," he admitted. "My sister, who
used to live with me, plays the piano."
"We'll drop music, then," she said hastily. "Books? But I
remember you once told me that you had never read anything except
detective novels, and that you didn't care for poetry. Sports? I
adore tennis and I am rather good at golf."
"I have never wasted a single moment of my life in games," he
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Well, you see, that leaves us rather a long way apart, outside
our work, doesn't it?"
"Even if I were prepared to admit that, which I am not," he
replied, "our work itself is surely enough to make up for all
"You are quite right," she confessed. "There is nothing else
worth thinking about, worth talking about. Tell me - you had an
inner Council this afternoon - is anything decided yet about the
He sighed a little.
"If ever there was a great cause in the world," he said, "which
stands some chance of missing complete success through senseless
and low-minded jealousy, it is ours."
"Mr. Fenn!" she exclaimed.
"I mean it," he assured her. "As you know, a chairman must be
elected this week, and that chairman, of course, will hold more
power in his hand than any emperor of the past or any sovereign of
the present. That leader is going to stop the war. He is going
to bring peace to the world. It is a mighty post, Miss Abbeway."
"It is indeed," she agreed.
"Yet would you believe," he went on, leaning across the table and
neglecting for a moment his dinner, "would you believe, Miss
Abbeway, that out of the twenty representatives chosen from the
Trades Unions governing the principal industries of Great Britain,
there is not a single one who does not consider himself eligible
for the post."
Catherine found herself suddenly laughing, while Fenn looked at
her in astonishment.
"I cannot help it," she apologised. "Please forgive me. Do not
think that I am irreverent. It is not that at all. But for a
moment the absurdity of the thing overcame me. I have met some of
them, you know - Mr. Cross of Northumberland, Mr. Evans of South
Wales - "
"Evans is one of the worst," Fenn interrupted, with some
excitement. "There's a man who has only worn a collar for the
last few years of his life, who evaded the board-school because he
was a pitman's lad, who doesn't even know the names of the
countries of Europe, but who still believes that he is a possible
candidate. And Cross, too! Well, he washes when he comes to
London, but he sleeps in his clothes and they look like it."
"He is very eloquent," Catherine observed.
"Eloquent!" Fenn exclaimed scornfully. "He may be, but who can
understand him? He speaks in broad Northumbrian. What is needed
in the leader whom they are to elect this week, Miss Abbeway, is a
man of some culture and some appearance. Remember that to him is
to be confided the greatest task ever given to man. A certain
amount of personality he must have - personality and dignity, I
should say, to uphold the position."
"There is Mr. Miles Furley," she said thoughtfully. "He is an
educated man, is he not?"
"For that very reason unsuitable," Fenn explained eagerly. "He
represents no great body of toilers. He is, in reality, only an
honorary member of the Council, like yourself and the Bishop,
there on account of his outside services."
"I remember, only a few nights ago," she reflected, "I was staying
at a country house - Lord Maltenby's, by the bye - Mr. Orden's
father. The Prime Minister was there and another Cabinet
Minister. They spoke of the Labour Party and its leaderless
state. They had no idea, of course, of the great Council which
was already secretly formed, but they were unanimous about the
necessity for a strong leader. Two people made the same remark,
almost with apprehension: `If ever Paul Fiske should materialise,
the problem would be solved!'
Fenn assented without enthusiasm.
"After all, though," he reminded her, "a clever writer does not
always make a great speaker, nor has he always that personality
and distinction which is required in this case. He would come
amongst us a stranger, too - a stranger personally, that is to
"Not in the broadest sense of the word," Catherine objected.
"Paul Fiske is more than an ordinary literary man. His heart is
in tune with what he writes. Those are not merely eloquent words
which he offers. There is a note of something above and beyond
just phrase-making - a note of sympathetic understanding which
amounts to genius."
Her companion stroked his moustache for a moment.
"Fiske goes right to the spot," he admitted, "but the question of
the leadership, so far as he is concerned, doesn't come into the
sphere of practical politics. It has been suggested, Miss
Abbeway, by one or two of the more influential delegates,
suggested, too, by a vast number of letters and telegrams which
have poured in upon us during the last few days, that I should be
elected to this vacant post."
"You?" she exclaimed, a little blankly.
"Can you think of a more suitable person?" he asked, with a faint
note of truculence in his tone. "You have seen us all together.
I don't wish to flatter myself, but as regards education, service
to the cause, familiarity with public speaking and the number of
those I represent - "
"Yes, yes! I see," she interrupted. "Taking the twenty Labour
representatives only, Mr. Fenn, I can see nothing against your
selection, but I fancied, somehow, that some one outside - the
Bishop, for instance - "
"Absolutely out of the question," Fenn declared. "The people
would lose faith in the whole thing in a minute. The person who
throws down the gage to the Prime Minister must have the direct
mandate of the people."
They finished dinner presently. Fenn looked with admiration at
the gold, coroneted case from which Catherine helped herself to
one of her tiny cigarettes. He himself lit an American cigarette.
"I had meant, Miss Abbeway," he confided, leaning towards her, "to
suggest a theatre to you to-night - in fact, I looked at some
dress circle seats at the Gaiety with a view to purchasing.
Another matter has cropped up, however. There is a little
business for us to do."
"Business?" Catherine repeated.
He produced a folded paper from his pocket and passed it across
the table. Catherine read it with a slight frown.
"An order entitling the bearer to search Julian Orden's
apartments!" she exclaimed. "We don't want to search them, do we?
Besides, what authority have we?"
"The best," he answered, tapping with his discoloured forefinger
the signature at the foot of the, strip of paper.
She examined it with a doubtful frown.
"But how did this come into your possession?" she asked.
He smiled at her in superior fashion.
"By asking for it," he replied bluntly. "And between you and me,
Miss Abbeway, there isn't much we might ask for that they'd care
to refuse us just now."
"But the police have already searched Mr. Orden's rooms," she
"The police have been known to overlook things. Of course, what I
am hoping is that amongst Mr. Orden's papers there may be some
indication as to where he has deposited our property."
"But this has nothing to do with me," she protested. "I do not
like to be concerned in such affairs."
"But I particularly wish you to accompany me," he urged. "You are
the only one who has seen the packet. It would be better,
therefore, if we conducted the search in company."
Catherine made a little grimace, but she objected no further. She
objected very strongly, however, when Fenn tried to take her arm
on leaving the place, and she withdrew into her own corner of the
taxi immediately they had taken their seats.
"You must forgive my prejudices, Mr. Fenn," she said - "my foreign
bringing up, perhaps - but I hate being touched."
"Oh, come!" he remonstrated. "No need to be so stand-offish."
He tried to hold her hand, an attempt which she skilfully
"Really," she insisted earnestly, "this sort of thing does not
amuse me. I avoid it even amongst my own friends."
"Am I not a friend?" he demanded.
"So far as regards our work, you certainly are," she admitted.
"Outside it, I do not think that we could ever have much to say to
"Why not?" he objected, a little sharply. "We're as close
together in our work and aims as any two people could be.
Perhaps," he went on, after a moment's hesitation and a careful
glance around, "I ought to take you into my confidence as regards
my personal position."
"I am not inviting anything of the sort," she observed, with faint
but wasted sarcasm.
"You know me, of course," he went on, "only as the late manager of
a firm of timber merchants and the present elected representative
of the allied Timber and Shipbuilding Trades Unions. What you do
not know" - a queer note of triumph stealing into his tone "is
that I am a wealthy man."
She raised her eyebrows.
"I imagined," she remarked, "that all Labour leaders were like the
Apostles - took no thought for such things."
"One must always keep one's eye on the main chance; Miss Abbeway,"
he protested, "or how would things be when one came to think of
marriage, for instance?"
"Where did your money come from?" she asked bluntly.
Her question was framed simply to direct him from a repulsive
subject. His embarrassment, however, afforded her food for future
"I have saved money all my life," he confided eagerly. "An uncle
left me a little. Lately I have speculated - successfully. I
don't want to dwell on this. I only wanted you to understand that
if I chose I could cut a very different figure - that my wife
wouldn't have to live in a suburb."
"I really do not see," was the cold response, "how this concerns
me in the least."
"You, call yourself a Socialist, don't you, Miss Abbeway?" he
demanded. "You're not allowing the fact that you're an aristocrat
and that I am a self-made man to weigh with you?"
"The accident of birth counts for nothing," she replied"you must
know that those are my principles - but it sometimes happens that
birth and environment give one tastes which it is impossible to
ignore. Please do not let us pursue this conversation any
further, Mr. Fenn. We have had a very pleasant dinner, for which
I thank you - and here we are at Mr. Orden's flat."
Her companion handed her out a little sulkily, and they ascended
in the lift to the fifth floor. The door was opened to them by
Julian's servant. He recognised Catherine and greeted her
respectfully. Fenn produced his authority, which the man accepted
"No news of your master yet?" Catherine asked him.
"None at all, madam," was the somewhat depressed admission. "I am
afraid that something must have happened to him. He was not the
kind of gentleman to go away like this and leave no word behind
"Still," she advised cheerfully, "I shouldn't despair. More
wonderful things have happened than that your master should return
home to-morrow or the next day with a perfectly simple explanation
of his absence."
"I should be very glad to see him, madam," the man replied, as he
backed towards the door. "If I can be of any assistance, perhaps
you will ring."
The valet departed, closing the door behind him. Catherine looked
around the room into which they had been ushered, with a little
frown. It was essentially a man's sitting room, but it was well
and tastefully furnished, and she was astonished at the immense
number of books, pamphlets and Reviews which crowded the walls and
every available space. The Derby desk still stood open, there was
a typewriter on a special stand, and a pile of manuscript paper.
"What on earth," she murmured, "could Mr. Orden have wanted with a
typewriter! I thought journalism was generally done in the
offices of a newspaper - the sort of journalism that he used to
"Nice little crib, isn't it?" Fenn remarked, glancing around.
"Cosy little place, I call it."
Something in the man's expression as be advanced towards her
brought all the iciness back to her tone and manner.
"It is a pleasant apartment," she said, "but I am not at all sure
that I like being here, and I certainly dislike our errand. It
does not seem credible that, if the police have already searched,
we should find the packet here."
"The police don't know what to look for," he reminded her. "We
There was apparently very little delicacy about Mr. Fenn. He drew
a chair to the desk and began to look through a pile of papers,
making running comments as he did so.
"Hm! Our friend seems to have been quite a collector of old
books. I expect second-hand booksellers found him rather a mark.
Some fellow here thanking him for a loan. And here's a tailor's
bill. By Jove, Miss Abbeway, just listen to this! `One dress
suit-fourteen guineas!' That's the way these fellows who don't
know any better chuck their money about," he added, swinging
around in his chair towards her. "The clothes I have on cost me
exactly four pounds fifteen cash, and I guarantee his were no
Catherine frowned impatiently.
"We did not come here, did we, Mr. Fenn, to discuss Mr. Orden's
tailor's bill? I can see no object at all in going through his
correspondence in this way. What you have to search for is a
packet wrapped up in thin yellow oilskin, with `Number 17' on the
outside in black ink."
"Oh, he might have slipped it in anywhere," Fenn pointed out.
"Besides, there's always a chance that one of his letters may give
us a clue as to where he has hidden the document. Come and sit
down by the side of me, won't you, Miss Abbeway? Do!"
"I would rather stand, thank you," she replied. "You seem to find
your present occupation to your taste. I should loathe it!"
"Never think of my own feelings," Fenn said briskly, "when there's
a job to be done. I wish you'd be a bit more friendly, though,
Miss Abbeway. Let me pull that chair up by the side of mine. I
like to have you near. You know, I've been a bachelor for a good
many years," he went on impressively, "but a little homey place
like this always makes me think of things. I've nothing against
marriage if only a man can be lucky enough to get the right sort
of girl, and although advanced thinkers like you and me and some
of the others are looking at things differently, nowadays, I
wouldn't mind much which way it was," he confided, dropping his
voice a little and laying his hand upon her arm, "if you could
make up your mind - "
She snatched her arm away, and this time even he could not mistake
the anger which blazed in her eyes.
"Mr. Fenn," she exclaimed, "why is it so difficult to make you
understand? I detest such liberties as you are permitting
yourself. And for the rest, my affections are already engaged."
"Sounds a bit old-fashioned, that," he remarked, scowling a
little. "Of course, I don't expect - "
"Never mind what you expect," she interrupted, "Please go on with
this search, if you are going to make one at all. The vulgarity
of the whole thing annoys me, and I do not for a moment suppose
that the packet is here."
"It wasn't on Orden," he reminded her sullenly.
"Then he must have sent it somewhere for safe keeping," she
replied. "I had already given him cause to do so."
"If he has, then amongst his correspondence there may be some
indication as to where he sent it," Fenn pointed out, with
unabated ill-temper. "If you don't like the job, and you won't be
friendly, you'd better take the easy-chair and wait till I'm
She sat down, watching him with angry eyes, uncomfortable,
unhappy, humiliated. She seemed to have dropped in a few hours
from the realms of rarefied and splendid thought to a world of
petty deeds. Not one of her companion's actions was lost upon
her. She watched him study with ill-concealed reverence a ducal
invitation, saw him read through without hesitation a letter which
she felt sure was from Julian's mother. And then:
The change in the man was so startling, his muttered exclamation -
so natural that its profanity never even grated. His eyes seemed
to be starting out of his head, his lips were drawn back from his
teeth. Blank, unutterable surprise held him, dumb and spellbound,
as he stared at a half-sheet of type written notepaper. She
herself, amazed at his transformed appearance, found words for the
moment impossible. Then a queer change came into his expression.
His eyebrows drew closer together, his lips turned malevolently.
He pushed the paper underneath a pile of others and turned his
head towards her. Their eyes met. There was something like fear
"What is it that you have found?" she cried breathlessly.
"Nothing," he answered, "nothing of any importance."
She rose slowly to her feet and came towards him.
"I am your partner in this hateful enterprise," she reminded him.
"Show me that paper which you have just concealed."
He laid his hand on the lid of the desk, but she caught it and
held it open.
"I insist upon seeing it," she said firmly.
He turned and faced her. There was a most unpleasant light in his
"And I say that you shall not," he declared.
There was a brief, intense silence. Each seemed to be measuring
the other's strength. Of the two, Catherine was the more
composed. Fenn's face was still white and strained. His lips
were twitching, his manner nervous and jerky. He made a desperate
effort to reestablish ordinary relations.
"Look here, Miss Abbeway," he said, "we don't need to quarrel
about this. That paper I came across has a special interest for
me personally. I want to think about it before I say anything to
a soul in the world."
"You can consult with me," she persisted. "Our aims are the same.
We are here for the same purpose."
"Not altogether," he objected. "I brought you here as my
"Well, have the truth, then!" he exclaimed. "I brought you here
to be alone with you, because I hoped that I might find you a
"I am afraid you have been disappointed, haven't you?" she asked
"I have," he answered, with unpleasant meaning in his tone, "but
we are not out of here yet."
"You cannot frighten me," she assured him. "Of course, you are a
man - of a sort - and I am a woman, but I do not fancy that you
would find, if it came to force, that you would have much of an
advantage. However, we are wandering from the point. I claim an
equal right with you to see anything which you may discover in Mr.
Orden's papers. I might, indeed, if I chose, claim a prior
"Indeed?" he answered, with an ugly scowl on his face. "Mr.
Julian Orden is by way of being a particular friend, eh?"
"As a matter of fact," Catherine told him, "we are engaged to be
married. It isn't a serious engagement. It was entered into by
him in a most chivalrous manner, to save me from the consequences
of a very clumsy attempt on my part to get back that packet. But
there it is. Every one down at his home believes at the present
moment that we are engaged and that I have come up to London to
see our Ambassador."
"If you are engaged," Fenn sneered, "why hasn't he told you more
of his secrets?"
"Secrets!" she repeated, a little scornfully. "I shouldn't think
he has any. I should imagine his daily life could be investigated
without the least fear."
"You'd imagine wrong, then."
"But how interesting! You excite my curiosity. And must you
continue to hold my wrist?"
"Let me pull down the top of this desk, then."
"I intend to examine those papers."
With a quick movement he gained a momentary advantage and shut the
desk down. The key, however, disturbed by the jerk, fell on to
the carpet, and Catherine possessed herself of it. She sprang
lightly back from him and pressed the bell.
"D-n you, what are you going to do now?" he demanded.
"You will see," she replied. "Don't come any nearer, or you may
find that I can be unpleasant."'
He shrugged his shoulders and waited. She turned towards the
servant who presently appeared.
"Robert," she said, "will you telephone for me?"
"Certainly, madam," the man answered.
"Telephone to 1884 Westminster. Say that you are speaking for
Miss Abbeway, and ask Mr. Furley, Mr. Cross, or whoever is there,
to come at once to this address."
"Look here, there's no sense in that," Fenn interrupted.
"Will you do as I ask, please, Robert?" she persisted.
The man bowed and left the room. Fenn strode sulkily back to the
"Very well, then," he conceded, "I give in. Give me the key, and
I'll show you the letter."
"You intend to keep your word?"
"I do," he assured her.
She held out the key. He took it, opened the desk, searched
amongst the little pile of papers, drew out the half-sheet of
notepaper, and handed it to her.
"There you are," he said, "although if you are really engaged to
marry Mr. Julian Orden," he added, with disagreeable emphasis, "I
am surprised that he should have kept such a secret from you."
She ignored him and started to read the letter, glancing first at
the address at the top. It was from the British Review, and was
dated a few days back:
My dear Orden,
I think it best to let you know, in case you haven't seen it
yourself, that there is a reward of 100 pounds offered by some
busybody for the name of the author of the `Paul Fiske' articles.
Your anonymity has been splendidly preserved up till now, but I
feel compelled to warn you that a disclosure is imminent. Take my
advice and accept it with a good grace. You have established
yourself so irrevocably now that the value of your work will not
be lessened by the discovery of the fact that you yourself do not
belong to the class of whom you have written so brilliantly.
I hope to see you in a few days.
Even after she had concluded the letter, she still stared at it.
She read again the one conclusive sentence - "Your anonymity has
been splendidly preserved up till now." Then she suddenly broke
into a laugh which was almost hysterical.
"So this is his hack journalism!" she exclaimed. "Julian Orden -
"I don't wonder you're surprised," Fenn observed. "Fourteen
guineas for a dress suit, and he thinks he understands the working
She turned her head slowly and looked at him. There was a
strange, repressed fire in her eyes. "You are a very foolish
person," she said. "Your parents, I suppose, were small
shopkeepers, or something of the sort, and you were brought up at
a board-school and Julian Orden at Eton and Oxford, and yet he
understands, and you do not. You see, heart counts, and sympathy,
and the flair for understanding. I doubt whether these things are
really found where you come from."
He caught up his hat. His face was very white. His tone shook
"This is our own fault," he exclaimed angrily, "for having ever
permitted an aristocrat to hold any place in our counsels! Before
we move a step further, we'll purge them of such helpers as you
and such false friends as Julian Orden."
"You very foolish person," she repeated. "Stop, though. Why all
this mystery? Why did you try to keep that letter from me?"
"I conceived it to be for the benefit of our cause," he said
didactically, "that the anonymity - of `Paul Fiske' should be
"Rubbish!" she scoffed. "You were afraid of him. Why, what fools
we are! We will tell him the whole truth. We will tell him of
our great scheme. We will tell him what we have been working for,
these many months. The Bishop shall tell him, and you and I, and
Miles Furley, and Cross. He shall hear all about it. He is with
us! He must be with us! You shall put him on the Council. Why,
there is your great difficulty solved," she went on, in growing
excitement. "There is not a working man in the country who would
not rally under `Paul Fiske's' banner. There you have your
leader. It is he who shall deliver your ultimatum."
"I'm damned if it is!" Fenn declared, suddenly throwing his hat
down and coming towards her furiously. "I'm - "
The door opened. Robert stood there.
"The message, madam," he began - and then stopped short. She
crossed the room towards him.
"Robert," she said, "I think I have found the way to bring your
master back to you. Will you take me downstairs, please, and
fetch me a taxi?"
She looked back from the threshold.
"I shall telephone to Westminster in a few minutes, Mr. Fenn," she
said. "I hope I shall be in time to stop the others from coming.
Perhaps you had better wait here, in case they have already
He made no reply. To Catherine the world had become so wonderful
that his existence scarcely counted.
Catherine, notwithstanding her own excitement, found genuine
pleasure in the bewildered enthusiasm with which the Bishop
received her astounding news. She found him alone in the great,
gloomy house which he usually inhabited when in London, at work in
a dreary library to which she was admitted after a few minutes'
delay. Naturally, he received her tidings at first almost with
incredulity. A heartfelt joy, however, followed upon conviction.
"I always liked Julian," he declared. "I always believed that he
had capacity. Dear me, though," he went on, with a whimsical
little smile, "what a blow for the Earl!"
"Do you remember the evening we all talked about the Labour
question? Time seems to have moved so rapidly lately, but it was
scarcely a week ago."
"I remember," the Bishop acknowledged. "And, my dear young lady,"
he went on warmly, "now indeed I feel that I can offer you
congratulations which come from my heart."
She turned a little away.
"Don't," she begged. "You would have known very soon, in any case
- my engagement to Julian Orden was only a pretence."
"I was desperate," she explained. "I felt I must have that packet
back at any price. I went to his rooms to try and steal it.
Well, I was found there. He invented our engagement to help me
"But you went off to London together, the neat day?" the Bishop
"It was all part of the game," she sighed. "What a fool he must
have thought me! However, I am glad. I am riotously, madly glad.
I am glad for the cause, I am glad for all our sakes. We have a
great recruit, Bishop, the greatest we could have. And think!
When he knows the truth, there will be no more trouble. He will
hand us over the packet. We shall know just where we stand. We
shall know at once whether we dare to strike the great blow."
"I was down at Westminster this afternoon," the Bishop told her.
"The whole mechanism of the Council of Labour seems to be
complete. Twenty men control industrial England. They have
absolute power. They are waiting only for the missing word. And
fancy," he went on, "to-morrow I was to have visited Julian. I
was to have used my persuasions."
"But we must go to-night!" Catherine exclaimed. "There is no
reason why we should waste a single second."
"I shall be only too pleased," he assented gladly. "Where is,
Catherine's face fell.
"I haven't the least idea," she confessed. "Don't you know?"
The Bishop shook his head.
"They were going to send some one with me tomorrow," he replied,
"but in any case Fenn knows. We can get at him."
She made a little wry face.
"I do not like Mr. Fenn," she said slowly. "I have disagreed with
him. But that does not matter. Perhaps we had better go to the
Council rooms. We shall find some of them there, and probably
Fenn. I have a taxi waiting."
They drove presently to Westminster. The ground floor of the
great building, which was wholly occupied now by the offices of
the different Labour men, was mostly in darkness, but on the top
floor was a big room used as a club and restaurant, and also for
informal meetings. Six or seven of the twenty-three were there,
but not Fenn. Cross, a great brawny Northumbrian, was playing a
game of chess with Furley. Others were writing letters. They all
turned around at Catherine's entrance. She held out her hands to
"Great news, my friends!" she exclaimed. "Light up the committee
room. I want to talk to you."
Those who were entitled to followed her into the room across the
passage. One or two secretaries and a visitor remained outside.
Six of them seated themselves at the long table - Phineas Cross,
the Northumbrian pitman, Miles Furley, David Sands, representative
of a million Yorkshire mill-hands, Thomas Evans, the South Wales
"We got a message from you, Miss Abbeway, a little time ago,"
Furley remarked. "It was countermanded, though, just as we were
ready to start."
"Yes!" she assented. "I am sorry. I telephoned from Julian
Orden's rooms. It was there we made the great discovery. Listen,
all of you! I have discovered the identity of Paul Fiske."
There was a little clamour of voices. The interest was
indescribable. Paul Fiske was their cult, their master, their
undeniable prophet. It was he who had set down in letters of fire
the truths which had been struggling for imperfect expression in
these men's minds. It was Paul Fiske who had fired them with
enthusiasm for the cause which at first had been very much like a
matter of bread and cheese to them. It was Paul Fiske who had
formed their minds, who had put the great arguments into their
brains, who had armed them from head to foot with potent
reasonings. Four very ordinary men, of varying types, sincere
men, all of plebeian extraction, all with their faults, yet all
united in one purpose, were animated by that same fire of
excitement. They hung over the table towards her. She might have
been the croupier and they the gamblers who had thrown upon the
table their last stake.
"In Julian Orden's rooms," she said, "I found a letter from the
editor of the British Review, warning him that his anonymity could
not be preserved much longer - that before many weeks had passed
the world would know that he was Paul Fiske. Here is the letter."
She passed it around. They studied it, one by one. They were all
a little stunned.
"Julian!" Furley exclaimed, in blank amazement. "Why, he's been
pulling my leg for more than a year!"
"The son of an Earl!" Cross gasped.
"Never mind about that. He is a democrat and honest to the
backbone," Catherine declared. "The Bishop will tell you so. He
has known him all his life. Think! Julian Orden has no purpose
to serve, no selfish interest to further. He has nothing to gain,
everything to lose. If he were not sincere, if those words of
his, which we all remember, did not come from his heart, where
could be the excuse, the reason, for what he stands for? Think
what it means to us!"
"He is the man, isn't he," Sands asked mysteriously, "whom they
are looking after down yonder?"
"I don't know where 'down yonder' is," Catherine replied, "but you
have him in your power somewhere. He left his rooms last Thursday
at about a quarter past six, to take that packet to the Foreign
Office, or to make arrangements for its being received there. He
never reached the Foreign Office. He hasn't been heard of since.
Some of you know where he is. The Bishop and I want to go and
find him at once."
"Fenn and Bright know," Cross declared. "It's Bright's job."
"Why is Bright in it?" Catherine asked impatiently.
Cross frowned and puckered up his lips, an odd trick of his when
he was displeased.
"Bright represents the workers in chemical factories," he
explained. "They say that there isn't a poison in liquid, solid
or gas form, that he doesn't know all about. Chap who gives me
kind of shivers whenever he comes near. He and Fenn run the
secret service branch of the Council."
"If he knows where Mr. Orden is, couldn't we send for him at
once?" Catherine suggested.
"I'll go," Furley volunteered.
He was back in a few minutes.
"Fenn and Bright are both out," he announced, "and their rooms
locked up. I rang up Fenn's house, but he hasn't been back."
Catherine stamped her foot. She was on fire with impatience.
"Doesn't it seem too bad!" she exclaimed. "If we could only get
bold of Julian Orden to-night, if the Bishop and I could talk to
him for five minutes, we could have this message for which we have
been waiting so long."
The door was suddenly opened. Fenn entered and received a little
chorus of welcome. He was wearing a rough black overcoat over his
evening clothes, and a black bowler hat. He advanced to the table
with a little familiar swagger.
"Mr. Fenn," the Bishop said, "we have been awaiting your arrival
anxiously. Tell us, please, where we can find Mr. Julian Orden."
Fenn gave vent to a half-choked, ironical laugh.
"If you'd asked me an hour ago," he said, "I should have told you
to try Iris Villa, Acacia Road, Hampstead. I have just come from
"You saw him?" the Bishop enquired.
"That's just what I did not," Fenn replied.
"Why not?" Catherine demanded.
"Because he wasn't there hasn't been since three o'clock this
"You've moved him?" Furley asked eagerly.
"He's moved himself," was the grim reply. "He's escaped."
During the brief, spellbound silence which followed his
announcement, Fenn advanced slowly into the room. It chanced that
during their informal discussion, the chair at the head of the
table had been left unoccupied. The newcomer hesitated for a
single second, then removed his hat, laid it on the floor by his
side, and sank into the vacant seat. He glanced somewhat
defiantly towards Catherine. He seemed to know quite well from
whence the challenge of his words would come.
"You tell us," Catherine said, mastering her emotion with an
effort, "that Julian Orden, whom we now know to be `Paul Fiske',
has escaped. Just what do you mean?"
"I can scarcely reduce my statement to plainer words," Fenn
replied, "but 1 will try. The danger in which we stood through
the miscarriage of that packet was appreciated by every one of the
Council. Discretionary powers were handed to the small secret
service branch which is controlled by Bright and myself. Orden
was prevented from reaching the Foreign Office and was rendered
for a time incapable. The consideration of our further action
with regard to him was to depend upon his attitude. Owing, no
doubt, to some slight error in Bright's treatment. Orden has
escaped from the place of safety in which he had been placed. He
is now at large, and his story, together with the packet, will
probably be in the hands of the Foreign Office some time
"Giving them," Cross remarked grimly, "the chance to get in the
first blow - warrants for high treason, eh, against the
twenty-three of us?"
"I don't fear that," Fenn asserted, "not if we behave like
sensible men. My proposal is that we anticipate, that one of us
sees the Prime Minister to-morrow morning and lays the whole
position before him."
"Without the terms," Furley observed.
"I know exactly what they will be," Fenn pointed out. "The
trouble, of course, is that the missing packet contains the
signature of the three guarantors. The packet, no doubt, will be
in the hands of the Foreign Office by to-morrow. The Prime
Minister can verify our statements. We present our ultimatum a
little sooner than we intended, but we get our blow in first and
we are ready."
The Bishop leaned forward in his place.
"Forgive me if I intervene for one moment," he begged. "You say
that Julian Orden has escaped. Are we to understand that he is
absolutely at liberty and in a normal state of health?"
Fenn hesitated for a single second.
"I have no reason to believe the contrary," he said.
"Still, it is possible," the Bishop persisted, "that Julian Orden
may not be in a position to forward that document to the Foreign
Office for the present? If that is so, I am inclined to think
that the Prime Minister would consider your visit a bluff.
Certainly, you would have no argument weighty enough to induce him
to propose the armistice. No man could act upon your word alone.
He would want to see these wonderful proposals in writing, even if
he were convinced of the justice of your arguments."
There was a little murmur of approval. Fenn leaned forward.
"You drive me to a further disclosure," he declared, after a
moment's hesitation, "one, perhaps, which I ought already to have
made. I have arranged for a duplicate of that packet to be
prepared and forwarded. I set this matter on foot the moment we
heard from Miss Abbeway here of her mishap. The duplicate may
reach us at any moment."
"Then I propose," the Bishop said, "that we postpone our decision
until those papers be received. Remember that up to the present
moment the Council have not pledged themselves to take action
until they have perused that document."
"And supposing," Fenn objected, "that to-morrow morning at eight
o'clock, twenty-three of us are marched off to the Tower! Our
whole cause may be paralysed, all that we have worked for all
these months will be in vain, and this accursed and bloody war may
be dragged on until our politicians see fit to make a peace of
"I know Mr. Stenson well," the Bishop declared, "and I am
perfectly convinced that he is too sane-minded a man to dream of
taking such a step as you suggest. He, at any rate, if others in
his Cabinet are not so prescient, knows what Labour means"
"I agree with the Bishop, for many reasons," Furley pronounced.
"And I," Cross echoed.
The sense of the meeting was obvious. Fenn's unpleasant looking
teeth flashed for a moment, and his mouth came together with a
"This is entirely an informal gathering," he said. "I shall
summon the Council to come together tomorrow at midday."
"I think that we may sleep in our beds to-night without fear of
molestation," the Bishop remarked, "although if it had been the
wish of the meeting, I would have broached the matter to Mr.
"You are an honorary member of the Council," Fenn declared rudely.
"We don't wish interference. This is a national and international
"I am a member of the Labour Party of Christ," the Bishop said
"And an honoured member of this Executive Council," Cross
intervened. "You're a bit too glib with your tongue to-night,
"I think of those whom I represent," was the curt reply. "They
are toilers, and they want the toilers to show their power. They
don't want help from the Church. I'll go even so far," he added,
"as to say that they don't want help from literature. It's their
own job. They've begun it, and they want to finish it."
"To-morrow's meeting," Furley observed, "will show how far you are
right in your views. I consider my position, and the Bishop's, as
members of the Labour Party, on a par with your own. I will go
further and say that the very soul of our Council is embodied in
the teachings and the writings of Paul Fiske, or, as we now know
him to be, Julian Orden."
Fenn rose to his feet. He was trembling with passion.
"This informal meeting is adjourned," he announced harshly.
Cross himself did not move.
"Adjourned or not it may be, Mr. Fenn," he said, "but it's no
place of yours to speak for it. You've thrust yourself into that
chair, but that don't make you chairman, now or at any other
Fenn choked down the words which had seemed to tremble on his
lips. His enemies he knew, but there were others here who might
yet be neutral.
"If I have assumed more than I should have done, I am sorry," he
said. "I brought you news which I was in a hurry to deliver. The
The little company rose to their feet and moved towards the door,
exchanging whispered comments concerning the news which Catherine
had brought. She herself crossed the room and confronted Fenn.
"There is still something to be said about that news," she
Fenn's attempt at complete candour was only partially convincing.
"There is not the slightest reason," he declared, "why anything
concerning Julian Orden should be concealed from any member of the
Council who desires information. If you will follow me into my
private room, Miss Abbeway, and you, Furley, I shall be glad to
tell you our exact position. And if the Bishop will accompany
you," he added, turning to the latter, "I shall be honoured."
Furley made no reply, but, whispering something in Catherine's
ear, took up his hat and left the room. The other two, however,
took Fenn at his word, followed him into his room, accepted the
chairs which he placed for them, and waited while he spoke through
a telephone to the private exchange situated in the building.
"They tell me," he announced, as he laid down the instrument,
"that Bright has this moment returned and is now on his way
"Is Mr. Bright that awful-looking person who came to the last
"He is probably the person you mean," Fenn assented. "He takes
very little interest in our executive work, but he is one of the
most brilliant scientists of this or any other generation. The
Government has already given him three laboratories for his
experiments, and nearly every gas that is being used at the Front
has been prepared according to his formula."
"A master of horrors," the Bishop murmured.
"He looks it," Catherine whispered under her breath.
There was a knock at the door, a moment or two later, and Bright
entered. He was a little over medium height, with long and lanky
figure, a pronounced stoop, and black, curly hair of coarse
quality. His head, which was thrust a little forward, perhaps
owing to his short-sightedness, was long, his forehead narrow, his
complexion a sort of olive-green. He wore huge, disfiguring
spectacles, and he had the protuberant lips of a negro. He
greeted Catherine and the Bishop absently and seemed to have a
grievance against Fenn.
"What is it you want, Nicholas?" he asked impatiently. "I have
some experiments going on in the country and can only spare a
"The Council has rescinded its instructions with regard to Julian
Orden," Fenn announced, "and is anxious to have him brought before
them at once. As you know, we are for the moment powerless in the
matter. Will you please explain to Miss Abbeway and the Bishop
here just what has been done?"
"It seems a waste of time," Bright replied ill-naturedly, "but
here is the story. Julian Orden left his rooms at a quarter to
six on Thursday evening. He walked down to St. James's Street and
turned into the Park. Just as he passed the side door of
Marlborough House he was attacked by a sudden faintness."
"For which, I suppose," the Bishop interrupted, "you were
"I or my deputy," Bright replied. "It doesn't matter which. He
was fortunate enough to be able to hail a passing taxicab and was
driven to my house in Hampstead. He has spent the intervening
period, until three o'clock this afternoon, in a small laboratory
attached to the premises."
"A compulsory stay, I presume?" the Bishop ventured.
"A compulsory stay, arranged for under instructions from the
Council," Bright assented, in his hard, rasping voice. "He has
been most of the time under the influence of some new form of
anaesthetic gas with which I have been experimenting. To-night,
however, I must have made a mistake in my calculations. Instead
of remaining in a state of coma until midnight, he recovered
during my absence and appears to have walked out of the place."
"You have no idea where he is at the present moment, then?"
"Not the slightest," Bright assured her. "I only know that he
left the place without hat, gloves, or walking stick. Otherwise,
he was fully dressed, and no doubt had plenty of money in his
"Is he likely to have any return of the indisposition from which,
owing to your efforts, he has been suffering?" the Bishop
"I should say not," was the curt answer. "He may find his memory
somewhat affected temporarily. He ought to be able to find his
way home, though. If not, I suppose you'll hear of him through
the police courts or a hospital. Nothing that we have done," he
added, after a moment's pause, "is likely to affect his health
permanently in the slightest degree."
"You now know all that there is to be known, Miss Abbeway," Fenn
said. "I agree with you that it is highly desirable that Mr.
Orden should be found at once, and if you can suggest any way in
which I might be of assistance in discovering his present
whereabouts, I shall be only too glad to help. For instance,
would you like me to telephone to his rooms?"
Catherine rose to her feet.
"Thank you, Mr. Fenn," she said, "I don't think that we will
trouble you. Mr. Furley is making enquiries both at Mr. Orden's
rooms and at his clubs."
"You are perfectly satisfied, so far as I am concerned, I trust?"
he persisted, as he opened the door for them.
"Perfectly satisfied," Catherine replied, looking him in the face,
"that you have told us as much as you choose to for the present."
Fenn closed the door behind Catherine and the Bishop and turned
back into the room. Bright laughed at him unpleasantly.
"Love affair not going so strong, eh?"
Fenn threw himself into his chair, took a cigarette from a paper
packet, and lit it.
"Blast Julian Orden!" he muttered.
"No objection," his friend yawned. "What's wrong now?"
"Haven't you heard the news? It seems he's the fellow who has
been writing those articles on Socialism and Labour, signing them
`Paul Fiske.' Idealistic rubbish, but of course the Bishop and
his lot are raving about him."
"I've read some of his stuff," Bright admitted, himself lighting a
cigarette; "good in its way, but old-fashioned. I'm out for
something a little more than that."
"Stick to the point," Fenn enjoined morosely. "Now they've found
out who Julian Orden is, they want him produced. They want to
elect him on the Council, make him chairman over all our heads,
let him reap the reward of the scheme which our brains have
"They want him, eh? That's awkward."
"Awkward for us," Fenn muttered.
"They'd better have him, I suppose," Bright said, with slow and
evil emphasis. "Yes, they'd better have him. We'll take off our
hats, and assure him that it was a mistake."
"Too late. I've told Miss Abbeway and the Bishop that he is at
large. You backed me up."
Bright thrust his long, unpleasant, knobby fingers into his
pocket, and produced a crumpled cigarette, which he lit from the
end of his companion's.
"Well," he demanded, "what do you want?"
"I have come to the conclusion," Fenn decided, "that it is not in
the interests of our cause that Orden should become associated
with it in any way."
"We've a good deal of power," Bright ruminated, "but it seems to
me you're inclined to stretch it. I gather that the others want
him delivered up. We can't act against them."
"Not if they known," Fenn answered significantly.
Bright came over to the mantelpiece, leaned his elbow upon it, and
hung his extraordinarily unattractive face down towards his
"Nicholas," he said, "I don't blame you for fencing, but I like
plain words. You've done well out of this new Party. I haven't.
You've no hobby except saving your money. I have. My last two
experiments, notwithstanding the Government allowance, have left
me drained. I need money as you others need bread. I can live
without food or drink, but I can't be without the means to keep my
laboratories going. Do you understand me?"
"I do," Fenn assented, taking up his hat. "Come, I'll drive
towards Bermondsey with you. We'll talk on the way."
Julian raised himself slightly from his recumbent position at the
sound of the opening of the door. He watched Fenn with dull,
incurious eyes as the latter crossed the uncarpeted floor of the
bare wooden shed, threw off his overcoat, and advanced towards the
side of the couch.
"Sit up a little," the newcomer directed.
Julian shook his head.
"No strength," he muttered. "If I had, I should wring your damned
Fenn looked down at him for a moment in silence.
"You take this thing very hardly, Mr. Orden," he said. "I think
that you had better give up this obstinacy. Your friends are
getting anxious about you. For many reasons it would be better
for you to reappear."
"There will be a little anxiety on the part of your friends about
you," Julian retorted grimly, "if ever I do get out of this
"You bear malice, I fear, Mr. Orden."
Julian made no reply. His eyes were fixed upon the door. He
turned away with a shudder. Bright had entered. In his hand he
was carrying two gas masks. He came over to the side of the
couch, and, looking down at Julian, lifted his hand, and felt his
pulse. Then, with an abrupt movement, he handed one of the masks
"Look out for yourself," he advised. "I am going to give him an
Bright stepped back and adjusted his own gas mask, while Fenn
followed suit. Then the former drew from his pocket what seemed
to be a small tube with perforated holes at the top. He leaned
over Julian and pressed it. A little cloud of faint mist rushed
through the holes; a queer, aromatic perfume, growing stronger
every moment, seemed to creep into the farthest corners of the
room. In less than ten seconds Julian opened his eyes. In half a
minute he was sitting up. His eyes were bright once more, there
was colour in his cheeks. Bright spoke to him warningly.
"Mr. Orden," he enjoined, "sit where you are. Remember I have the
other tube in my left hand."
"You infernal scoundrel!" Julian exclaimed.
"Mr. Bright," Fenn asserted, "is nothing of the sort. Neither am
I. We are both honest men faced with a colossal situation. There
is nothing personal in our treatment of you. We have no enmity
towards you. You are simply a person who has committed a theft."
"What puzzles me," Julian muttered, "is what you expect I am going
to do about you, if ever I do escape from your clutches."
"If you do escape," Fenn said quietly, "you will view the matter
differently. You will find, as a matter of fact, that you are
powerless to do anything. You will find a new law and a new order
"German law!" Julian sneered.
"You misjudge us," Fenn continued. "Both Bright and I are
patriotic Englishmen. We are engaged at the present moment in a
desperate effort to save our country. You are the man who stands
in the way."
"I never thought," said Julian, "that I should smile in this
place, but you are beginning to amuse me. Why not be more
explicit? Why not prove what you say? I might become amenable.
I suppose your way of saving the country is to hand it over to the
"Our way of saving the country," Fenn declared, "is to establish
Julian laughed scornfully.
"I know a little about you, Mr. Fenn," he said. "I know the sort
of peace you would establish, the sort of peace any man would
propose who conducts a secret correspondence with Germany."
Fenn, who had lifted his mask for a moment, slowly rearranged it.
"Mr. Orden," he said, "we are not going to waste words upon you.
You are hopelessly and intolerably prejudiced. Will you tell us
where you have concealed the packet you intercepted?"
"Aren't you almost tired of asking me that question? I'm tired of
hearing it," Julian replied. "I will not."
"Will you let me try to prove to you," Fenn begged, "that by the
retention of that packet you are doing your country an evil
"If you talked till doomsday," Julian assured him, "I should not
believe a word you said."
"In that case," Fenn began slowly, with an evil glitter in his
"Well, for heaven's sake finish the thing this time!" Julian
interrupted. "I'm sick of playing the laboratory rabbit for you.
If you are out for murder, finish the job and have done with it."
Bright was playing with another tube which he, had withdrawn from
"It is my duty to warn you, Mr. Orden," he said, "that the
contents of this little tube of gas, which will reach you with a
touch of my fingers, may possibly be fatal and will certainly
incapacitate you for life."
"Why warn me?" Julian scoffed. "You know very well that I haven't
the strength of a cat, or I should wring your neck."
"We feel ourselves," Bright continued unctuously, "justified in
using this tube, because its first results will be to throw you
into a delirium, in the course of which we trust that you will
divulge the hiding place of the stolen packet. We use this means
in the interests of the country, and such risk as there may be
lies on your own head."
"You're a canting hypocrite!" Julian declared. "Try your
delirium. That packet happens to be in the one place where
neither you nor one of your tribe could get at it."
"It is a serious moment, this, Mr. Orden," Fenn reminded him.
"You are in the prime of life, and there is a scandal connected
with your present position which your permanent disappearance
would certainly not dissipate. Remember - "
He stopped short. A whistle in the corner of the room was
blowing. Bright moved towards it, but at that moment there was
the sound of flying footsteps on the wooden stairs outside, and
the door was flung open. Catherine, breathless with haste, paused
for a moment on the threshold, then came forward with a little
"Julian!" she exclaimed.
He gazed at her, speechless, but with a sudden light in his eyes.
She came across the room and dropped on her knees by his couch.
The two men fell back. Fenn slipped back between her and the
door. They both removed their masks, but they held them ready.
"Oh, how dared they!" she went on. "The beasts! Tell me, are you
"Weak as a kitten," he faltered. "They've poisoned me with their
Catherine rose to her feet. She faced the two men, her eyes
flashing with anger.
"The Council will require an explanation of this, Mr. Fenn!" she
declared passionately. "Barely an hour ago you told us that Mr.
Orden had escaped from Hampstead."
"Julian Orden," Fenn replied, "has been handed over to our secret
service by the unanimous vote of the Council. We have absolute
liberty to deal with him as we think fit."
"Have you liberty to tell lies as to his whereabouts?" Catherine
demanded. "You deliberately told the Council he had escaped, yet,
entirely owing to Mr. Furley, I find you down here at Bermondsey
with him. What were you going to do with him when I came in?"
"Persuade him to restore the packet, if we could," Fenn answered
"Rubbish!" Catherine retorted. "You know very well that he is our
friend. You have only to tell him the truth, and your task with
him is at an end."
"Steady!" Julian muttered. "Don't imagine that I have any
sympathy with your little nest of conspirators."
"That is only because you do not understand," Catherine assured
him. "Listen, and you shall hear the whole truth. I will tell
you what is inside that packet and whose signatures you will find
Julian gripped her wrist suddenly. His eyes were filled with a
new fear. He was watching the two men, who were whispering
"Catherine," he exclaimed warningly, "look out! These men mean
mischief. That devil Bright invents a new poisonous gas every
day. Look at Fenn buckling on his mask. Quick! Get out if you
Catherine's hand touched her bosom. Bright sprang towards her,
but he was too late. She raised a little gold whistle to her
lips, and its pealing summons rang through the room. Fenn dropped
his mask and glanced towards Bright. His face was livid.
"Who's outside?" he demanded.
"The Bishop and Mr. Furley. Great though my confidence is in you
both, I scarcely ventured to come here alone."
The approaching footsteps were plainly audible. Fenn shrugged his
shoulders with a desperate attempt at carelessness.
"I don't know what is in your mind, Miss Abbeway," he said. "You
can scarcely believe that you, at any rate, were in danger at our
"I would not trust you a yard," she replied fiercely. "In any
case, it is better that the others should come. Mr. Orden might
not believe me. He will at least believe the Bishop."
"Believe whom?" Julian demanded.
The door was opened. The Bishop and Miles Furley came hastily in.
Catherine stepped forward to meet them.
"I was obliged to whistle," she explained, a little hysterically.
"I do not trust either of these men. That fiend Bright has a
poisonous gas with him in a pocket cylinder. I am convinced that
they meant to murder Julian."
The two newcomers turned towards the couch and exchanged amazed
greetings with Julian. Fenn threw his mask on to the table with
an uneasy laugh.
"Miss Abbeway," he protested, "is inclined to be melodramatic.
The gas which Bright has in that cylinder is simply one which
would produce a little temporary unconsciousness. We might have
used it - we may still use it - but if you others are able to
persuade Mr. Orden to restore the packet, our task with him is at
an end. We are not his gaolers - or perhaps he would say his
torturers - for pleasure. The Council has ordered that we should
extort from him the papers you know of and has given us carte
blanche as to the means. If you others can persuade him to
restore them peaceably, why, do it. We are prepared to wait."
Julian was still staring from one to the other of his visitors.
His expression of blank astonishment had scarcely decreased.
"Bishop," he said at last, "unless you want to see me go insane
before your eyes, please explain. It can't be possible that you
have anything in common with this nest of conspirators."
The Bishop smiled a little wanly. He laid his hand upon his
"Believe me, I have been no party to your incarceration, Julian,",
he declared, "but if you will listen to me, I will tell you why I
think it would be better for you to restore that packet to Miss
"Tell that blackguard to give me another sniff of his restorative
gas," Julian begged. "These shocks are almost too much for me."
The Bishop turned interrogatively towards Bright, who once more
leaned over Julian with the tube in his hand. Again the little
mist, the pungent odour. Julian rose to his feet and sat down
"I am listening," he said.
"First of all," began the Bishop earnestly, as he seated himself
at the end of the couch on which Julian had been lying, "let me
try to remove some of your misconceptions. Miss Abbeway is in no
sense of the word a German spy. She and I, Mr. Furley here, Mr.
Fenn and Mr. Bright, all belong to an organisation leagued
together for one purpose - we are determined to end the war."
"Pacifists!" Julian; muttered.
"An idle word," the Bishop protested, "because at heart we are all
pacifists. There is not one of us who would wilfully choose war
instead of peace. The only question is the price we are prepared
"Why not leave that to the Government?"
"The Government," the Bishop replied, "are the agents of the
people. The people in this case wish to deal direct."
"Again why?" Julian demanded.
"Because the Government is composed wholly of politicians,
politicians who, in far too many speeches, have pledged themselves
to too many definite things. Still, the Government will have its
"Explain to me," Julian asked, "why, if you are a patriotic
society, you are in secret and illegal communication with
"The Germany with whom we are in communication," the Bishop
assured his questioner, "is the Germany who thinks as we do."
"Then you are on a wild-goose chase," Julian declared, "because
the Germans who think as you do are in a hopeless minority."
The Bishop's forefinger was thrust out.
"I have you, Julian," he said. "That very belief which you have
just expressed is our justification, because it is the common
belief throughout the country. I can prove to you that you are
mistaken - can prove it, with the help of that very packet which
is responsible for your incarceration here."
"Explain," Julian begged.
"That packet," the Bishop declared, "contains the peace terms
formulated by the Socialist and Labour parties of Germany."
"Worth precisely the paper it is written on?' Julian scoffed.
"And ratified," the Bishop continued emphatically, "by the three
great men of Germany, whose signatures are attached to that
document - the Kaiser, the Chancellor and Hindenburg."
Julian was electrified.
"Do you seriously mean," he asked, "that those signatures are
attached to proposals of peace formulated by the Socialist and
Labour parties of Germany?"
"I do indeed," was the confident reply. "If the terms are not
what we have been led to expect, or if the signatures are not
there, the whole affair is at an end."
"You are telling me wonderful things, sir," Julian confessed,
after a brief pause.
"I am telling what you will discover yourself to be the truth,"
the Bishop insisted. "And, Julian, I am appealing to you not only
for the return of that packet, but for your sympathy, your help,
your partisanship. You can guess now what has happened. Your
anonymity has come to an end. The newly formed Council of Labour,
to which we all belong, is eager and anxious to welcome you."
"Has any one given me away?" Julian asked.
Catherine shook her head.
"The truth was discovered this evening, when your rooms were
searched," she explained.
"What is the constitution of this Council of Labour?" Julian
enquired, a little dazed by this revelation.
"It is the very body of men which you yourself foreshadowed," the
Bishop replied eagerly. "Twenty of the members are elected by the
Trades Unions and represent the great industries of the Empire;
and there are three outsiders - Miss Abbeway, Miles Furley and
myself. If you, Julian, had not been so successful in concealing
your identity, you would have been the first man to whom the
Council would have turned for help. Now that the truth is known,
your duty is clear. The glory of ending this war will belong to
the people, and it is partly owing to you that the people have
grown to realise their strength."
"My own position at the present moment," Julian began, a little
"You have no one to blame for that but yourself," Catherine
interrupted. "If we had known who you were, do you suppose that
we should have allowed these men to deal with you in such a
manner? Do you suppose that I should not have told you the truth
about that packet? However, that is over. You know the truth
now. We five are all members of the Council who are sitting
practically night and day, waiting - you know what for. Do not
keep us in suspense any longer than you can help. Tell us where
to find this letter?"
Julian passed his hand over his forehead a little wearily.
"I am confused," he admitted. "I must think. After all, you are
engaged in a conspiracy. Stenson's Cabinet may not be the
strongest on earth, or the most capable, but Stenson himself has
carried the burden of this war bravely."
"If the terms offered," the Bishop pointed out, "are anything like
what we expect, they are better than any which the politicians
could ever have mooted, even after years more of bloodshed. It is
my opinion that Stenson will welcome them, and that the country,
generally speaking, will be entirely in favour of their
"Supposing," Julian asked, "that you think them reasonable, that
you make your demand to the Prime Minister, and he refuses. What
"That," Fenn intervened, with the officious air of one who has
been left out of the conversation far too long, "is where we come
in. At our word, every coal pit in England would cease work,
every furnace fire would go out, every factory would stand empty.
The trains would remain on their sidings, or wherever they might
chance to be when the edict was pronounced. The same with the
'buses and cabs, the same with the Underground. Not a ship would
leave any port in the United Kingdom, not a ship would be docked.
Forty-eight hours of this would do more harm than a year's civil
war. Forty-eight hours must procure from the Prime Minister
absolute submission to our demands. Ours is the greatest power
the world has ever evolved. We shall use it for the greatest
cause the world has ever known-the cause of peace."
"This, in a way, was inevitable," Julian observed. "You remember
the conversation, Bishop," he added, "down at Maltenby?"
"Very well indeed," the latter acquiesced.
"The country went into slavery," Julian pronounced, "in August,
1915. That slavery may or may not be good for them. To be frank,
I think it depends entirely upon the constitution of your Council.
It is so munch to the good, Bishop, that you are there."
"Our Council, such as it is," Fenn remarked acidly, "consists of
men elected to their position by the votes of a good many millions
of their fellow toilers."
"The people may have chosen wisely," was the grave reply, "or they
may have made mistakes. Such things have been known. By the bye,
I suppose that my durance is at an end?"
"It is at an end, whichever way you decide," Catherine declared.
"Now that you know everything, though, you will not hesitate to
give up the packet?"
"You shall have it," he agreed. "I will give it back into your
"The sooner the better!" Fenn exclaimed eagerly. "And, Mr. Orden,
Julian was standing amongst them now, very drawn and pale in the
dim halo of light thrown down from the hanging lamp. His
answering monosyllable was cold and restrained.
"I trust you will understand," Fenn continued, "that Bright and I
were simply carrying out orders. To us you were an enemy. You
had betrayed the trust of one of our members. The prompt delivery
of that packet meant the salvation of thousands of lives. It
meant a cessation of this ghastly world tragedy. We were harsh,
perhaps, but we acted according to orders."
Julian glanced at the hand which Fenn had half extended but made
no movement to take it. He leaned a little upon the Bishop's arm.
"Help me out of this place, sir, will you?" he begged. "As for
Fenn and that other brute, what I have to say about them will
It was a little more than half an hour later when Julian ascended
the steps of his club in Pall Mall and asked the hall porter for
letters. Except that he was a little paler than usual and was
leaning more heavily upon his stick, there was nothing about his
appearance to denote several days of intense strain. There was a
shade of curiosity, mingled with surprise, in the commissionaire's
"There have been a good many enquiries for you the last few days,
sir," he observed.
"I dare say," Julian replied. "I was obliged to go out of town
He ran through the little pile of letters and selected a bulky
envelope addressed to himself in his own handwriting. With this
he returned to the taxicab in which the Bishop and Catherine were
seated. They gazed with fascinated eyes at the packet which he
was carrying and which he at once displayed.
"You see," he remarked, as he leaned back, "there is nothing so
impenetrable in the world as a club of good standing. It beats
combination safes hollow. It would have taken all Scotland Yard
to have dragged this letter from the rack."
"That is really - it?" Catherine demanded breathlessly.
"It is the packet," he assured her, "which you handed to me for
safe keeping at Maltenby."
They drove almost in silence to the Bishop's house, where it had
been arranged that Julian should spend the night. The Bishop left
the two together before the fire in his library, while he
personally superintended the arrangement of a guest room.
Catherine came over and knelt by the side of Julian's chair.
"Shall I beg forgiveness for the past," she whispered, "or may I
not talk of the future, the glorious future?"
"Is it to be glorious?" he asked a little doubtfully.
"It can be made so," she answered with fervour, "by you more than
by anybody else living. I defy you -you, `Paul Fiske - to impugn
our scheme, our aims, the goal towards which we strive. All that
we needed was a leader who could lift us up above the localness,
the narrow visions of these men. They are in deadly earnest, but
they can't see far enough, and each sees along his own groove. It
is true that at the end the same sun shines, but no assembly of
people can move together along a dozen different ways and keep the
same goal in view."
He touched the packet.
"We do not yet know the written word here," he reminded her.
"I do," she insisted. "My heart tells me. Besides, I have had
many hints. There are people in London whose position forces them
to remain silent, who understand and know."
"Foreigners?" Julian asked suspiciously.
"Neutrals, of course, but neutrals of discretion are very useful
people. The military party in Germany is making a brave show
still, but it is beaten, notwithstanding its victories. The
people are gathering together in their millions. Their voice is
already being heard. Here we have the proof of it."
"But even if these proposed terms are as favourable as you say,"
Julian objected, "how can you force them upon the English Cabinet?
There is America-France. Yours is purely a home demand. A
government has other things to think of and consider."
"France is war-weary to the bone," she declared. "France will
follow England, especially when she knows the contents of that
packet. As for America, she came into this after the great
sacrifices had been made. She demands nothing more than is to be
yielded up. It is not for the sake of visionary ideas, not for
diplomatic precedence that the humanitarians of the world are
going to hesitate about ending this brutal slaughter."
He studied her curiously. In the firelight her face seemed to him
almost strangely beautiful. She was uplifted by the fervour of
her thoughts. The depth in her soft brown eyes was immeasurable;
the quiver of her lips, so soft and yet so spiritual, was almost
inspiring. Her hand was resting upon his shoulder. She seemed to
dwell upon .his expression, to listen eagerly for his words. Yet
he realised that in all this there was no personal note. She was
the disciple of a holy cause, aflame with purpose.
"It will mean a revolution," he said thoughtfully.
"A revolution was established two years ago," she pointed out,
"and the people have held their power ever since. I will tell you
what I believe to-day," she went on passionately. "I believe that
the very class who was standing the firmest, whose fingers grasp
most tightly the sword of warfare, will be most grateful to the
people who will wrest the initiative from their and show them the
way to an honourable, inevitable peace."
"When do you propose to break those seals?" he enquired.
"To-morrow evening," she replied. "There will be a full meeting
of the Council. The terms will be read. Then you shall decide."
"What am I to decide?"
"Whether you will accept the post of spokesman - whether you will
be the ambassador who shall approach the Government."
"But they may not elect me," he objected.
"They will," she replied confidently. "It was you who showed them
their power. It is you whose inspiration has carried them along:
It is you who shall be their representative. Don't you realise,"
she went on, "that it is the very association of such men as
yourself and Miles Furley and the Bishop with this movement which
will endow it with reality in the eyes of the bourgeoisie of the
country and Parliament?"
Their host returned, followed by his butler carrying a tray with
refreshments, and the burden of serious things fell away from
them. It was only after Catherine had departed, and the two men
lingered for a moment near the fire before retiring, that either
of them reverted to the great subject which dominated their
"You understand, Julian," the Bishop said, with a shade of anxiety
in his tone, "that I am in the same position as yourself so far as
regards the proposals which may lie within that envelope? I have
joined this movement - or conspiracy, as I suppose it would be
called - on the one condition that the terms pronounced there are
such as a Christian and a law-loving country, whose children have
already made great sacrifices in the cause of freedom, may
honourably accept. If they are otherwise, all the weight and
influence I may have with the people go into the other scale. I
take it that it is so with you?"
"Entirely," Julian acquiesced. "To be frank with you," he added,
"my doubts are not so much concerning the terms of peace
themselves as the power of the German democracy to enforce them."
"We have relied a good deal," the Bishop admitted, "upon reports
Julian smiled a little grimly.
"We have wasted a good many epithets criticising German
diplomacy," he observed, "but she seems to know how to hold most
of the neutrals in the hollow of her hand. You know what that
Frenchman said? 'Scratch a neutral and you find a German
The Bishop led the way upstairs. Outside the door of Julian's
room, he laid his hand affectionately upon the young man's
"My godson," he said, "as yet we have scarcely spoken of this
great surprise which you have given us - of Paul Fiske. All that
I shall say now is this. I am very proud to know that he is my
guest to-night. I am very happy to think that from tomorrow we
shall be fellow workers."
Catherine, while she waited for her tea in the Carlton lounge on
the following afternoon, gazed through the drooping palms which
sheltered the somewhat secluded table at which she was seated upon
a very brilliant scene. It was just five o'clock, and a packed
crowd of fashionable Londoners was listening to the strains of a
popular band, or as much of it as could be heard above the din of
"This is all rather amazing, is it not?" she remarked to her
The latter, an attache at a neutral Embassy, dropped his eyeglass
and polished it with a silk handkerchief, in the corner of which
was embroidered a somewhat conspicuous coronet.
"It makes an interesting study," he declared. "Berlin now is
madly gay, Paris decorous and sober. It remains with London to be
normal, - London because its hide is the thickest, its sensibility
the least acute, its selfishness the most profound."
Catherine reflected for a moment.
"I think," she said, "that a philosophical history of the war will
some day, for those who come after us, be extraordinarily
interesting. I mean the study of the national temperaments as
they were before, as they are now during the war, and as they will
be afterwards. There is one thing which will always be noted, and
that is the intense dislike which you, perhaps I, certainly the
majority of neutrals, feel towards England."
"It is true," the young man assented solemnly. "One finds it
"Before the war," Catherine went on, "it was Germany who was hated
everywhere. She pushed her way into the best places at hotels,
watering places - Monte Carlo, for instance and the famous spas.
Today, all that accumulated dislike seems to be turned upon
England. I am not myself a great admirer of this country, and yet
I ask myself why?"
"England is smug," the young man pronounced; "She is callous; she
is, without meaning to be, hypocritical. She works herself into a
terrible state of indignation about the misdeeds of her
neighbours, and she does not realise her own faults. The Germans
are overbearing, but one realises that and expects it. Englishmen
are irritating. It is certainly true that amongst us remaining
neutrals," he added, dropping his voice a little and looking
around to be sure of their isolation, "the sympathy remains with
the Central Powers."
"I have some dear friends in this country, too," Catherine sighed.
"Naturally - amongst those of your own order. But then there is
very little difference between the aristocracies of every race in
the world. It is the bourgeoisie which tells, which sets its
stamp upon a nation's character."
Their tea had arrived, and for a few moments the conversation
travelled in lighter channels. The young man, who was a person of
some consequence in his own country, spoke easily of the theatres,
of mutual friends, of some sport in which he had been engaged.
Catherine relapsed into the role which had been her first in life,
- the young woman of fashion. As such they attracted no attention
save a few admiring glances on the part of passers-by towards
Catherine. As the people around them thinned out a little, their
conversation became more intimate.
"I shall always feel," the young man said thoughtfully, "that in
these days I have lived very near great things. I have seen and
realised what the historians will relate at second-hand. The
greatest events move like straws in the wind. A month ago, it
seemed as though the Central Powers would lose the war."
"I suppose," she observed, "it depends very much upon what you
mean by winning it? The terms of peace are scarcely the terms of
victory, are they?"
"The terms of peace," he repeated thoughtfully.
"We happen to know what they are, do we not?" she continued,
speaking almost under her breath,"the basic terms, at any rate."
"You mean," he said slowly, "the terms put forward by the
Socialist Party of Germany to ensure the granting of an
"And acceded to," she reminded him, "by the Kaiser and the two
greatest German statesmen."
He toyed with his teacup, drew a gold cigarette case from his
pocket, selected a cigarette, and lit it.
"You would try to make me believe," he remarked, smiling at his