Part 5 out of 5
not leave off fighting until we'd done it. There was nothing said
then about conserving millions of men. It was to be fought out to
the end, whatever it cost."
"And you were once a pacifist!"
"Pacifist!" the man repeated passionately. "Every human being
with common sense was a pacifist when the war started."
"But the war was forced upon us," Julian reminded him. "You can't
"No one wishes to, sir. It was forced upon us all right, but who
made it necessary? Why, our rotten government for the last twenty
years! Our politicians, Mr. Julian, that are prating now of peace
before their job's done! Do you think that if we'd paid our
insurance like men and been prepared, this war would ever have
come? Not it! We asked for trouble, and we got it in the neck.
If we make peace now, we'll be a German colony in twenty years,
thanks to Mr. Stenson and you and the rest of them. A man can be
a pacifist all right until his head has been punched. Afterwards,
there's another name for him. Is there anything more I can get
you to-night before I leave, sir?"
"Nothing, thanks. I'm sorry about Fred."
Julian, conscious of an intense weariness, undressed and went to
bed very soon after the man's departure. He was already in his
first doze when he awoke suddenly with a start. He sat up and
listened. The sound which had disturbed him was repeated, - a
quiet but insistent ringing of the front-door bell. He glanced at
his watch. It was barely midnight, but unusually late for a
visitor. Once more the bell rang, and this time he remembered
that Robert slept out, and that he was alone in the flat. He
thrust his feet into slippers, wrapped his dressing gown around
him, and made his way to the front door.
Julian's only idea had. been that this might be some messenger
from the Council. To his amazement he found himself confronted by
"Close the door," she begged. "Come into your sitting room."
She pushed past him and he obeyed, still dumb with surprise and
the shock of his sudden awakening. Catherine herself seemed
unaware of his unusual costume, reckless of the hour and the
strangeness of her visit. She wore a long chinchilla coat,
covering her from head to foot, and a mantilla veil about her
head, which partially obscured her features. As soon as she
raised it, he knew that great things had happened. Her cheeks
were the colour of ivory, and her eyes unnaturally distended. Her
tone was steady but full of repressed passion.
"Julian," she cried, "we have been deceived - tricked! I have
come to you for help. Are the telegrams sent out yet?"
"They go at eight o'clock in the morning," he replied.
"Thank God we are in time to stop them!"
Julian looked at her for a moment, utterly incredulous.
"Stop them?" he repeated. "But how can we? Stenson has declared
"Thank heaven for that!" she exclaimed, her voice trembling.
"Julian, the whole thing is an accursed plot. The German
Socialists have never increased their strength except in their own
imaginations. They are absolutely powerless. This is the most
cunning scheme of the whole war. Freistner has simply been the
tool of the militarists. They encouraged him to put forward these
proposals and to communicate with Nicholas Fenn. When the
armistice has been declared and negotiations begun, the three
signatures will be repudiated. The peace they mean to impose is
one of their own dictation, and in the meantime we shall have
created a cataclysm here. The war will never start again. All
the Allies will be at a discord."
"How have you found this out?" Julian gasped.
"From one of Germany's chief friends in England. He is high up in
the diplomatic service of - of a neutral country, but he has been
working for Germany many ever since the commencement of the war.
He has been helping in this. He has seen me often with Nicholas
Fenn, and he believes that I am behind the scenes, too. He
believes that I know the truth, and that I am working for Germany.
He is absolutely to be relied upon. Every word that I am telling
you is the truth."
"What about Fenn?" Julian demanded breathlessly.
"Nicholas Fenn has had a hundred thousand pounds of German money
within the last few months," she replied. "He is one of the
foulest traitors who ever breathed. Freistner's first few letters
were genuine enough, but for the last six weeks he has been
imprisoned in a German fortress - and Fenn knows it."
"Have you any proof of all this?" Julian asked. "Remember we have
the Council to face, and they are all girt for battle."
"Yes, I have proof," she answered, "indirect but damning enough.
This man has sometimes forwarded and collected for me letters from
connections of mine in Germany. He handed me one to-night from a
distant cousin. You know him by name General Geroldberg. The
first two pages are personal. Read what he says towards the end,"
she added, passing it on to Julian.
Julian turned up the lamp and read the few lines to which she
By the bye, dear cousin, if you should receive a shock within the
next few days by hearing that our three great men have agreed to
an absurd peace, do not worry. Their signatures have been
obtained for some document which we do not regard seriously, and
it is their intention to repudiate them as soon as a certain
much-looked for event takes place. When the peace comes, believe
me, it will be a glorious one for us. What we have won by the
sword we shall hold, and what has been wrested from us by cunning
and treachery, we shall regain.
"That man," Catherine declared, "is one of the Kaiser's intimates.
He is one of the twelve iron men of Germany. Now I will tell you
the name of the man with whom I, have spent the evening. It is
Baron Hellman. Believe me, he knows, and he has told me the
truth. He has had this letter by him for a fortnight, as he told
me frankly that he thought it too compromising to hand over.
To-night he changed his mind."
Julian stood speechless for a moment, his fists clenched, his eyes
Catherine threw herself into his easy-chair and loosened her coat.
"Oh, I am tired!" she moaned. "Give me some water, please, or
He found some hock in the sideboard, and after she had drunk it
they sat for some few minutes in agitated silence. The street
sounds outside had died away. Julian's was the topmost flat in
the block, and their isolation was complete. He suddenly realised
"Perhaps," he suggested, with an almost ludicrous return to the
commonplace, "the first thing to be done is for me to dress."
She looked at him as though she had noticed his dishabille for the
first time. For a moment their feet seemed to be on the earth
"I suppose I seem to you crazy to come to you at such an hour,"
she said. "One doesn't think of those things, somehow."
"You are quite right," he agreed. "They are unimportant."
Then suddenly the sense of the silence, of their solitude, of
their strange, uncertain relations to one another, swept in upon
them both. For a moment the sense of the great burden she was
carrying fell from Catherine's shoulders. She was back in a
simpler world. Julian was no longer a leader of the people, the
brilliant sociologist, the apostle of her creed. He was the man
who during the last few weeks had monopolised her thoughts to an
amazing extent, the man for whose aid and protection she had
hastened, the man to whom she was perfectly content to entrust the
setting right of this ghastly blunder. Watching him, she suddenly
felt that she was tired of it all, that she would like to creep
away from the storm and rest somewhere. The quiet and his
presence seemed to soothe her. Her tense expression relaxed, her
eyes became softer. She smiled at him gratefully.
"Oh, I cannot tell you," she exclaimed, "how glad I am to be with
you just now! Everything in the outside world seems so terrible.
Do you mind-it is so silly, but after all a woman cannot be as
strong as a man, can she? - would you mind very much just holding
my hand for a moment and staying here quite quietly. I have had a
horrible evening, and when I came in, my head felt as though it
would burst. You do not mind?"
Julian smiled as he leaned towards her. A kind of resentment of
which he had been conscious, even though in some measure ashamed
of it, resentment at her unswerving loyalty to the task she had
set herself, melted away. He suddenly knew why he had kissed her,
on that sunny morning on the marshes, an ecstatic and
incomprehensible moment which had seemed sometimes, during these
days of excitement, as though it had belonged to another life and
another world. He took both her hands in his, and, stooping down,
kissed her on the lips.
"Dear Catherine," he said, "I am so glad that you came to me. I
think that during these last few days we have forgotten to be
human, and it might help us - for after all, you know, we are
"But that," she whispered, "was only for my sake."
"At first, perhaps," he admitted, "but now for mine,"
Her little sigh of content, as she stole nearer to him, was purely
feminine. The moments ticked on in restful and wonderful silence.
Then, unwillingly, she drew away from his protecting arm.
"My dear," she said, "you look so nice as you are, and it is such
happiness to be here, but there is a great task before us."
"You are right," he declared, straightening himself. "Wait for a
few minutes, dear. We shall find them all at Westminster - the
place will be open all night. Close your eyes and rest while I am
"I am rested," she answered softly, "but do not be long. The car
is outside, and on the way I have more to tell you about Nicholas
If the closely drawn blinds of the many windows of Westminster
Buildings could have been raised that night and early morning, the
place would have seemed a very hive of industry. Twenty men were
hard at work in twenty different rooms. Some went about their
labours doubtfully, some almost timorously, some with jubilation,
one or two with real regret. Under their fingers grew the more
amplified mandates which, following upon the bombshell of the
already prepared telegrams, were within a few hours to paralyse
industrial England, to keep her ships idle in the docks, her
trains motionless upon the rails, her mines silent, her forges
cold, her great factories empty. Even the least imaginative felt
the thrill, the awe of the thing he was doing. On paper, in the
brain, it seemed so wonderful, so logical, so certain of the
desired result. And now there were other thoughts forcing their
way to the front. How would their names live in history? How
would Englishmen throughout the world regard this deed? Was it
really the truth they were following, or some false and ruinous
shadow? These were fugitive doubts, perhaps, but to more than one
of those midnight toilers they presented themselves in the guise
of a chill and drear presentiment.
They all heard a motor-car stop outside. No one, however, thought
it worth while to discontinue his labours for long enough to look
out and see who this nocturnal visitor might be. In a very short
time, however, these labours were disturbed. From room to room,
Julian, with Catherine and the Bishop, for whom they had called on
the way, passed with a brief message. No one made any difficulty
about coming to the Council room. The first protest was made when
they paid the visit which they had purposely left until last.
Nicholas Fenn had apparently finished or discontinued his efforts.
He was seated in front of his desk, his chin almost resting upon
his folded arms, and a cigarette between his lips. Bright was
lounging in an easy-chair within a few feet of him. Their heads
were close together; their conversation, whatever the subject of
it may have been, was conducted in whispers. Apparently they had
not heard Julian's knock, for they started apart, when the door
was opened, like conspirators. There was something half-fearful,
half-malicious in Fenn's face, as he stared at them.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded. "What's wrong?"
Julian closed the door.
"A great deal," he replied curtly. "We have been around to every
one of the delegates and asked them to assemble in the Council
room. Will you and Bright come at once?"
Fenn looked from one to the other of his visitors and remained
silent for a few seconds.
"Climbing down, eh?" he asked viciously.
"We have some information to communicate," Julian announced.
Fenn moved abruptly away, out of the shadow of the electric lamp
which hung over his desk. His voice was anxious, unnatural.
"We can't consider any more information," he said harshly. "Our
decisions have been taken. Nothing can affect them. That's the
worst of having you outsiders on the board. I was certain you
wouldn't face it when the time came."
"As you yourself," Julian remarked, "are somewhat concerned in
this matter, I think it would be well if you came with the
"I am not going to stir from this room," Fenn declared doggedly.
"I have my own work to do. And as to my being concerned with what
you have to say, I'll thank you to mind your own business and
leave mine alone."
"Mr. Fenn," the Bishop interposed, "I beg to offer you my advice
that you join us at once in the Council room."
Julian and Catherine had already left the room. Fenn leaned
forward, and there was an altered note. in his tone.
"What's it mean, Bishop?" he asked hoarsely. "Are they ratting,
"What we have come here to say," the Bishop rejoined, "must be
said to every one."
He turned away. Fenn and Bright exchanged quick glances.
"What do you make of it?" asked Fenn.
"They've changed their minds," Bright muttered, "that's all.
They're theorists. Damn all theorists! They just blow bubbles to
destroy them. As for the girl, she's been at parties all the
evening, as we know."
"You're right," Fenn acknowledged. "I was a fool. Come on."
Many of the delegates had the air of being glad to escape for a
few minutes from their tasks. One or two of them entered the
room, carrying a cup of coffee or cocoa. Most of them were
smoking. Fenn and Bright made their appearance last of all. The
latter made a feeble attempt at a good-humoured remark.
"Is this a pause for refreshments?" he asked. "If so, I'm on."
Julian, who had been waiting near the door, locked it. Fenn
"What the devil's that for?" he demanded.
"Just a precaution. We don't want to be interrupted."
Julian moved towards a little vacant space at the end of the table
and stood there, his hands upon the back of a chair. The Bishop
remained by his side, his eyes downcast as though in prayer.
Catherine had accepted the seat pushed forward by Cross. The
atmosphere of the room, which at first had been only expectant,
"My friends," Julian began, "a few hours ago you came to a
momentous decision. You are all at work, prepared to carry that
decision into effect. I have come to see you because I am very
much afraid that we have been the victims of false statements, the
victims of a disgraceful plot."
"Rubbish!" Fenn scoffed. "You're ratting, that's what you are."
"You'd better thank Providence," Julian replied sternly, "that
there is time for you to rat, too - that is, if you have any care
for your country. Now, Mr. Fenn, I am going to ask you a
question. You led us to believe, this evening, that, although all
letters had been destroyed, you were in constant communication
with Freistner. When did you hear from him last - personally, I
"Last week," Fenn answered boldly, "and the week before that."
"And you have destroyed those letters?"
"Of course I have! Why should I keep stuff about that would hang
"You cannot produce, then, any communication from Freistner,
except the proposals of peace, written within the last - say -
"What the mischief are you getting at?" Fenn demanded hotly. "And
what right have you to stand there and cross-question me?"
"The right of being prepared to call you to your face a liar,"
Julian said gravely. "We have very certain information that
Freistner is now imprisoned in a German fortress and will be shot
before the week is out."
There was a little murmur of consternation, even of disbelief.
Fenn himself was speechless. Julian went on eagerly.
"My friends," he said, "on paper, on the facts submitted to us, we
took the right decision, but we ought to have remembered this.
Germany's word, Germany's signature, Germany's honour, are not
worth a rap when opposed to German interests. Germany,
notwithstanding all her successes, is thirsting for peace. This
armistice would be her salvation. She set herself out to get it
- not honestly, as we have been led to believe, but by means of a
devilish plot. She professed to be overawed by the peace desires
of the Reichstag. The Pan-Germans professed a desire to give in
to the Socialists. All lies! They encouraged Freistner to
continue his negotiations here with Fenn. Freistner was honest
enough. I am not so sure about Fenn."
Fenn sprang to his feet, a blasphemous exclamation broke from his
lips. Julian faced him, unmoved. The atmosphere of the room was
"I am going to finish what I have to say," he went on. "I know
that every one will wish me to. We are all here to look for the
truth and nothing else, and, thanks to Miss Abbeway, we have
stumbled upon it. These peace proposals, which look so well on
paper, are a decoy. They were made to be broken. Those
signatures are affixed to be repudiated. I say that Freistner has
been a prisoner for weeks, and I deny that Fenn has received a
single communication from him during that time. Fenn asserts that
he has, but has destroyed them. I repeat that he is a liar."
"That's plain speaking," Cross declared. "Now, then, Fenn, lad,
what have you to say about it?"
Fenn leaned forward, his face distorted with something which might
have been anger, but which seemed more closely to resemble fear.
"This is just part of the ratting!" he exclaimed. "I never keep a
communication from Freistner. I have told you so before. The
preliminary letters I had you all saw, and we deliberated upon
them together. Since then, all that I have had have been friendly
messages, which I have destroyed."
There was a little uncertain murmur. Julian proceeded.
"You see," he said, "Mr. Fenn is not able to clear himself from my
first accusation. Now let us hear what he will do with this one.
Mr. Fenn started life, I believe, as a schoolmaster at a parish
school, a very laudable and excellent occupation. He subsequently
became manager to a firm of timber merchants in the city and
commenced to interest himself in Labour movements. He rose by
industry and merit to his present position - a very excellent
career, but not, I should think, a remunerative one. Shall we put
his present salary down at ten pounds a week?"
"What the devil concern is this of yours?" the goaded man shouted.
"Of mine and all of us," Julian retorted, "for I come now to a
certain question. Will you disclose your bank book?"
Fenn reeled for a moment in his seat. He affected not to have
heard the question.
"My what?" he stammered.
"Your bank book," Julian repeated calmly. "As you only received
your last instalment from Germany this week, you probably have not
yet had time to purchase stocks and shares or property wherever
your inclination leads you. I imagine, therefore, that there
would be a balance there of something like thirty thousand pounds,
the last payment made to you by a German agent now in London."
Fenn sprang to his feet. He had all the appearance of a man about
to make a vigorous and exhaustive defence. And then suddenly he
swayed, his face became horrible to look upon, his lips were
"Brandy!" he cried. "Some one give me brandy! I am ill!"
He collapsed in a heap. They carried him on to a seat set against
the wall, and Catherine bent over him. He lay there, moaning.
They loosened his collar and poured restoratives between his
teeth. For a time he was silent. Then the moaning began again.
Julian returned to the table.
"Believe me," he said earnestly, "this is as much a tragedy to me
as to any one present. I believe that every one of you here
except - " he glanced towards the sofa - "except those whom we
will not name have gone into this matter honestly, as I did.
We've got to chuck it. Tear up your telegrams. Let me go to see
Stenson this minute. I see the truth about this thing now as I
never saw it before. There is no peace for us with Germany until
she is on her knees, until we have taken away all her power to do
further mischief. When that time comes let us be generous. Let
us remember that her working men are of the same flesh and blood
as ours and need to live as you need to live. Let us see that
they are left the means to live. Mercy to all of them - mercy,
and all the possibilities of a free and generous life. But to
Hell with every one of those who are responsible for the poison
which has crept throughout all ranks in Germany, which, starting
from the Kaiser and his friends, has corrupted first the proud
aristocracy, then the industrious, hard-working and worthy middle
classes, and has even permeated to some extent the ranks of the
people themselves, destined by their infamous ruler to carry on
their shoulders the burden of an unnatural, ungodly, and unholy
ambition. There is much that I ought to say, but I fancy that I
have said enough. Germany must be broken, and you can do it. Let
the memory of those undispatched telegrams help you. Spend your
time amongst the men you represent. Make them see the truth.
Make them understand that every burden they lift, every time they
wield the pickaxe, every blow they strike in their daily work,
helps. I was going to speak about what we owe to the dead. I
won't. We must beat Germany to her knees. We can and we will.
Then will come the time for generosity."
Phineas Cross struck the table with the flat of his hand.
"Boys," he said, "I feel the sweat in every pore of my body.
We've nigh done a horrible thing. We are with you, Mr. Orden.
But about that little skunk there? How did you find him out?"
"Through Miss Abbeway," Julian answered. "You have her to thank.
I can assure you that every charge I have made can be
There was a little murmur of confidence. Everyone seemed to find
"One word more," Julian went on. "Don't disband this Council.
Keep it together, just as it is. Keep this building. Keep our
association and sanctify it to one purpose victory."
A loud clamour of applause answered him. Once more Cross glanced
towards the prostrate form upon the sofa.
"Let no one interfere," Julian enjoined. "There is an Act which
will deal with him. He will be removed from this place presently,
and he will not be heard of again for a little time. We don't
want a soul to know how nearly we were duped. It rests with every
one of you to destroy all the traces of what might have happened.
You can do this if you will. To-morrow call a meeting of the
Council. Appoint a permanent chairman, a new secretary, draw out
a syllabus of action for promoting increased production, for
stimulating throughout every industry a passionate desire for
victory. If speaking, writing, or help of mine in any way is
wanted, it is yours. I will willingly be a disciple of the cause.
But this morning let me be your ambassador. Let me go to the
Premier with a message from you. Let me tell him what you have
"Hands up all in favour!" Cross exclaimed.
Every hand was raised. Bright came back from the couch, blinking
underneath his heavy spectacles but meekly acquiescent.
"Let us remember this hour," the Bishop begged, "as something
solemn in our lives. The Council of Labour shall justify itself,
shall voice the will or the people, fighting for victory."
"For the Peace which comes through Victory!" Julian echoed.
The Bishop and Catherine, a few weeks later, walked side by side
up the murky length of St. Pancras platform. The train which they
had come to meet was a quarter of an hour late, and they had
fallen into a sort of reminiscent conversation which was not
without interest to both of them.
"I left Mr. Stenson only an hour ago," the Bishop observed. "He
could talk about nothing but Julian Orden and his wonderful
speeches. They say that at Sheffield and Newcastle the enthusiasm
was tremendous, and at three shipbuilding yards on the Clyde the
actual work done for the week after his visit was nearly as much
again. He seems to have that extraordinary gift of talking
straight to the hearts of the men. He makes them feel."
"Mr. Stenson wrote me about it," Catherine told her companion,
with a little smile. "He said that no dignity that could be
thought of or invented would be an adequate offering to Julian for
his services to the country. For the first time since the war,
Labour seems wholly and entirely, passionately almost, in earnest.
Every one of those delegates went back full of enthusiasm, and
with every, one of them, Julian, before he has finished, is going
to make a little tour in his own district."
"And after to-morrow," the Bishop remarked with a smile, "I
suppose he will not be alone."
She pressed his arm.
"It is very wonderful to think about," she said quietly. "I am
going to try and be Julian's secretary - whilst we are away, at
"It isn't often," the Bishop reflected, "that I have the chance of
a few minutes' quiet conversation, on the day before her wedding,
with the woman whom I am going to marry to the man I think most of
"Give me some good advice," she begged.
The Bishop shook his head.
"You don't need it," he said. "A wife who loves her husband needs
very few words of admonition. There are marriages so often in
which one can see the rocks ahead that one opens one's
prayer-book, even, with a little tremor of fear. But with you and
Julian it is different."
"There is nothing that a woman can do for the man whom she loves,"
she declared softly, "which I shall not try to do for Julian."
They paced up and down for a few moments in silence. The Bishop's
step was almost buoyant. He seemed to have lost all that weary
load of anxiety which had weighed him down during the last few
months. Catherine, too, in her becoming grey furs, her face
flushed with excitement, had the air of one who has thrown all
anxiety to the winds.
"Julian's gift of speech must have surprised even himself," the
Bishop remarked. "Of course, we always knew that 'Paul Fiske',
when he was found, must be a brilliant person, but I don't think
that even Julian himself had any suspicion of his oratorical
"I don't think he had," she agreed. "In his first letter he told
me that it was just like sitting down at his desk to write, except
that all the dull material impedimenta of paper and ink and walls
seemed rolled away, and the men to whom he wished his words to
travel were there waiting. Of course, he is wonderful, but
Phineas Cross, David Sands and some of the others have shown a
positive genius for organisation. That Council of Socialism,
Trades Unionism, and Labour generally, which was formed to bring
us premature peace, seems for the first time to have brought all
Labour into one party, Labour in its very broadest sense, I mean."
"The truth of the matter is," the Bishop pronounced, "that the
people have accepted the dictum that whatever form of
republicanism is aimed at, there must be government. A body of
men who realise that, however advanced their ideas, can do but
little harm. I am perfectly certain - Stenson admits it himself -
that before very long we shall have a Labour Ministry. Who cares?
It will probably be a good ministry - good for the country and
good for the world. There has been too much juggling in
international politics. This war is going to end that, once and
for ever. By the bye," he went on, in an altered tone, "there is
one question which I have always had in my mind to ask you. If I
do so now, will you please understand that if you think it best
you need not answer me?"
"Certainly," Catherine replied.
"From what source did you get your information which saved us
"It came to me from a man who is dead," was the quiet answer.
The Bishop looked steadily ahead at the row of signal lights.
"There was a young foreigner, some weeks ago," he said "a Baron
Hellman - quite a distinguished person, I believe - who was
discovered shot in his rooms."
She acquiesced silently.
"If you were to go to the Home Office and were able to persuade
them to treat you candidly, I think that you could discover some
wonderful things," she confided. "I wish I could believe that the
Baron was the only one who has been living in this country,
unsuspected, and occupying a prominent position, who was really in
the pay of Germany."
"It was a very subtle conspiracy," the Bishop remarked
thoughtfully, "subtle because, in a sense, it appeared so genuine.
It appealed to the very best instincts of thinking men."
"Good has come out of it, at any rate," she reminded him.
"Westminster Buildings is now the centre of patriotic England.
Labour was to have brought the war to an end - for Germany. It is
Labour which is going to win the victory - for England."
The train rolled into the station and rapidly disgorged its crowd
of passengers, amongst whom Julian was one of the first to alight.
Catherine found herself trembling. The shy words of welcome which
had formed themselves in her mind died away on her lips as their
glances met. She lifted her face to his.
"Julian," she murmured, "I am so proud - so happy."
The Bishop left them as they stepped into their cab.
"I am going to a mission room in the neighbourhood," he explained.
"We have war talks every week. I try to tell them how things are
going on, and we have a short service. But before I go, Mr.
Stenson has sent you a little message, Julian. If you go to your
club later on to-night, you will see it in the telegrams, or you
will find it in your newspapers in the morning. There has been
wonderful fighting in Flanders to-day. The German line has been
broken at half a dozen points. We have taken nearly twenty
thousand prisoners, and Zeebrugge is threatened. Farther south,
the Americans have made their start and have won a complete
victory over the Crown Prince's picked troops."
The two men wrung hands.
"This," Julian declared, "is the only way to Peace."