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The Kingdom of the Blind by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Part 4 out of 5

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His face was suddenly immovable. He turned his head very slightly.

"Did Granet tell you that?"

She nodded.

"Captain Granet came to see me yesterday afternoon. He seemed as much
surprised as I was. You were a little hard on him, weren't you?"

"I think not!"

"But why were you sent down?" she persisted. "I can't imagine what you have
to do with a Zeppelin raid."

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I really don't think it is worth while your bothering about the bandage," he

"Hugh, you make me so angry!" she exclaimed. "Of course, you may say that I
haven't the right to ask, but still I can't see why you should be so
mysterious. . . . Here's the chemist's. Now come inside with me, please."

He followed her obediently into the shop at the top of Trafalgar Square. She
dressed his wound deftly and adjusted a bandage around his head.

"If you keep that on all day," she said, "I think--but I forgot. I was
treating you like an ordinary patient. Don't laugh at me, sir. I am sure
none of your professional nurses could have tied that up any better."

"Of course they couldn't," he agreed. "By-the-bye, have you obtained your
papers for Boulogne yet?"

"I expect to be going next week. Lady Headley promised to let me know this
afternoon. Now I'll take you down to the War Office, if you like."

He took his place once more by her side.

"Hugh," she inquired, "have you any idea who fired that shot?"

"None whatever," he replied, "no definite idea, that is to say. It was some
one who as driving a low, grey car. Do we know any one who possesses such a

She frowned. The exigencies of the traffic prevented her glancing towards

"Only Captain Granet," she remarked, "and I suppose even your dislike of him
doesn't go so far as to suggest that he is likely to play the would-be
murderer in broad daylight."

"It certainly does seem a rather rash and unnecessary proceeding," he
assented, "but the fact remains that some one thought it worth while."

"Some one with a grudge against the Chief Inspector of Hospitals," she
observed drily.

He did not reply. They drew up outside the War Office.

"Thank you very much," he said, "for playing the Good Samaritan."

She made a little grimace. Suddenly her manner became more earnest. She laid
her fingers upon his arm as he stood on the pavement by her side.

"Hugh," she said, "before you go let me tell you something. I think that the
real reason why I lost some of my affection for you was because you persisted
in treating me without any confidence at all. The little things which may
have happened to you abroad, the little details of your life, the harmless
side of your profession--there were so many things I should have been
interested in. And you told me nothing. There were things which seemed to
demand an explanation with regard to your position. You ignored them. You
seemed to enjoy moving in a mysterious atmosphere. It's worse than ever now.
I am intelligent, am I not--trustworthy?"

"You are both," he admitted gravely. "Thank you very much for telling me
this, Geraldine."

"You still have nothing to say to me?" she asked, looking him in the face.

"Nothing," he replied.

She nodded, slipped in her clutch and drove off. Surgeon-Major Thomson
entered the War Office and made his way up many stairs and along many wide
corridors to a large room on the top floor of the building. Two men were
seated at desks, writing. He passed them by with a little greeting and
entered an inner apartment. A pile of letters stood upon his desk. He
examined them one by one, destroyed some, made pencil remarks upon others.
Presently there was a tap at the door and Ambrose entered.

"Chief's compliments and he would be glad if you would step round to his room
at once, sir," he announced.

Thomson locked his desk, made his way to the further end of the building and
was admitted through a door by which a sentry was standing, to an anteroom in
which a dozen people were waiting. His guide passed him through to an inner
apartment, where a man was seated alone. He glanced up at Thomson's entrance.

"Good morning, Thomson!" he said brusquely. "Sit down, please. Leave the
room, Dawkes, and close the door. Thanks! Thomson, what about this request
of yours?"

"I felt bound to bring the matter before you, sir," Thomson replied. "I made
my application to the censor and you know the result."

The Chief swung round in his chair.

"Look here," he said, "the censor's department has instructions to afford you
every possible assistance in any researches you make. There are just
twenty-four names in the United Kingdom which have been admitted to the
privileges of free correspondence. The censor has no right to touch any
letters addressed to them. Sir Alfred Anselman is upon that list."

Thomson nodded gravely.

"So I have been given to understand," he remarked.

The Chief leaned back in his chair. His cold grey eyes were studying the
other's face.

"Thomson," he continued, "I know that you are not a sensationalist. At the
same time, this request of yours is a little nerve-shattering, isn't it? Sir
Alfred Anselman has been the Chancellor's right-hand man. It was mainly owing
to his efforts that the war loan was such a success. He has done more for us
in the city than any other Englishman. He has given large sums to the various
war funds, his nephew is a very distinguished young officer. Now there
suddenly comes a request from you to have the censor pass you copies of all
his Dutch correspondence. There'd be the very devil to pay if I consented."

Thomson cleared his throat for a moment.

"Sir," he said, "you and I have discussed this matter indirectly more than
once. You are not yet of my opinion but you will be. The halfpenny Press has
sickened us so with the subject of spies that the man who groans about
espionage to-day is avoided like a pestilence. Yet it is my impression that
there is in London, undetected and unsuspected, a marvellous system of German
espionage, a company of men who have sold themselves to the enemy, whose names
we should have considered above reproach. It is my job to sift this matter to
the bottom. I can only do so if you will give me supreme power over the

"Look here, Thomson," the Chief demanded, "you don't suspect Sir Alfred

"I do, sir!"

The Chief was obviously dumbfounded. He sat, for a few moments, thinking.

"You're a sane man, too, Thomson," he muttered, "but it's the most astounding
charge I've ever heard."

"It's the most astounding conspiracy," Thomson replied. "I was in Germany a
few weeks ago, as you know."

"I heard all about it. A very brilliant but a very dangerous exploit, that of
yours, Thomson."

"I will tell you my impressions, sir," the latter continued. "The ignorance
displayed in the German newspapers about England is entirely a matter of
censorship. Their actual information as regards every detail of our military
condition is simply amazing. They know exactly what munitions are reaching
our shores from abroad, they know how we are paying for them, they know
exactly our financial condition, they know all about our new guns, they know
just how many men we could send over to France to-morrow and how many we could
get through in three months' time. They know the private views of every one
of the Cabinet Ministers. They knew in Berlin yesterday what took place at
the Cabinet Council the day before. You must realise yourself that some of
this is true. How does the information get through?"

"There are spies, of course," the Chief admitted.

"The ordinary spy could make no such reports as the Germans are getting hour
by hour. If I am to make a success of my job, I want the letters of Sir
Alfred Anselman."

The Chief considered for several moments. Then he wrote a few lines on a
sheet of paper.

"There'll be the perfect devil to pay," he said simply. "We shall have
Cabinet Ministers running about the place like black beetles. What's the
matter with your head?"

"I was shot at in the Park," Thomson explained. "A man had a flying go at me
from a motor-car."

"Was he caught?"

Thomson shook his head.

"I didn't try," he replied. "I want him at liberty. His time will come when
I break up this conspiracy, if I do it at all."

The Chief looked a little aggrieved.

"No one's even let off a pop-gun at me," he grumbled. "They must think you're
the more dangerous of the two, Thomson. You'd better do what you can with
that order as soon as possible. No telling how soon I may have to rescind

Thomson took the hint and departed. He walked quickly back to his room,
thrust the order he had received into an envelope, and sent it round to the
Censor's Department.


Mr. Gordon Jones, who had moved his chair a little closer to his host's side,
looked reflectively around the dining-room as he sipped his port. The butler
remained on sufferance because of his grey hairs, but the footmen, who had
been rather a feature of the Anselman establishment, had departed, and their
places had been filled by half a dozen of the smartest of parlourmaids, one or
two of whom were still in evidence.

"Yours is certainly one of the most patriotic households, Sir Alfred, which I
have entered," he declared. "Tell me again, how many servants have you sent
to the war?"

Sir Alfred smiled with the air of one a little proud of his record.

"Four footmen and two chauffeurs from here, eleven gardeners and three indoor
servants from the country," he replied. "That is to say nothing about the
farms, where I have left matters in the hands of my agents. I am paying the
full wages to every one of them."

"And thank heavens you'll still have to pay us a little super-tax," the
Cabinet Minister remarked, smiling.

Sir Alfred found nothing to dismay him in the prospect.

"You shall have every penny of it, my friend," he promised. "I have taken a
quart of a million of your war loan and I shall take the sam amount of your
next one. I spend all my time upon your committees, my own affairs scarcely
interest me, and yet I thought to-day, when my car was stopped to let a
company of the London Regiment march down to Charing-Cross, that there wasn't
one of those khaki-clad young men who wasn't offering more than I."

The Bishop leaned forward from his place.

"Those are noteworthy words of yours, Sir Alfred," he said. "There is nothing
in the whole world so utterly ineffective as our own passionate gratitude must
seem to ourselves when we think of all those young fellows--not soldiers, you
know, but young men of peace, fond of their pleasures, their games, their
sweethearts, their work--throwing it all on one side, passing into another
life, passing into the valley of shadows. I, too, have seen those young men,
Sir Alfred."

The conversation became general. The host of this little dinner-party leaned
back in his place for a moment, engrossed in thought. It was a very
distinguished, if not a large company. There were three Cabinet Ministers, a
high official in the War Office, a bishop, a soldier of royal blood back for a
few days from the Front, and his own nephew--Granet. He sat and looked round
at them and a queer little smile played upon his lips. If only the truth were
known, the world had never seen a stranger gathering. It was a company which
the King himself might have been proud to gather around him; serious,
representative Englishmen--Englishmen, too, of great position. There was not
one of them who had not readily accepted his invitation, there was not one of
them who was not proud to sit at his table, there was not one of them who did
not look upon him as one of the props of the Empire.

There was a little rustle as one of the new parlourmaids walked smoothly to
his side and presented a silver salver. He took the single letter from her,
glanced at it for a moment carelessly and then felt as though the fingers
which held it had been pierced by red-hot wires. The brilliant little company
seemed suddenly to dissolve before his eyes. He saw nothing but the marking
upon that letter, growing larger and larger as he gazed, the veritable writing
of fate pressed upon the envelope by a rubber stamp--by the hand, perchance,
of a clerk--"Opened by Censor."

There was a momentary singing in his ears. He looked at his glass, found it
full, raised it to his lips and drained it. The ghastly moment of suspended
animation passed. He felt no longer that he was in a room from which all the
air had been drawn. He was himself again but the letter was there. Mr.
Gordon Jones, who had been talking to the bishop, leaned towards him and
pointed to the envelope.

"Is that yours, Sir Alfred?" he asked.

Sir Alfred nodded.

"Becoming a little more stringent, I see," he observed, holding it up.

"I thought I recognised the mark," the other replied. "A most outrageous
mistake! I am very glad that it came under my notice. You are absolutely
free from the censor, Sir Alfred."

"I thought so myself," Sir Alfred remarked. "However, I suppose an occasional
mistake can scarcely be wondered at. Don't worry them about it, please. My
Dutch letters are simply records of the balances at my different banks, mere
financial details."

"All the same," Mr. Gordon Jones insisted, "there has been gross neglect
somewhere. I will see that it is inquired into to-morrow morning."

"Very kind of you," Sir Alfred declared. "As you know, I have been able to
give you fragments of information now and then which would cease at once, of
course, if my correspondence as a whole were subject to censorship. An
occasional mistake like this is nothing."

There was another interruption. This time a message had come from the
house--Ministers would be required within the next twenty minutes. The little
party--it was a men's dinner-party only--broke up. Very soon Sir Alfred and
his nephew were left alone. Sir Alfred's fingers shook for a moment as he
tore open the seal of his letter. He glanced through the few lines it
contained and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Come this way, Ronnie," he invited.

They left the dining-room and, eschewing the inviting luxuries of the billiard
room and library, passed into a small room behind, plainly furnished as a
business man's study. Granet seized his uncle by the arm.

"It's coded, I suppose?"

Sir Alfred nodded.

"It's coded, Ronnie, and between you and me I don't believe they'll be able to
read it, but whose doing is that?" he added, pointing with his finger to the

"It must have been a mistake," Granet muttered.

Sir Alfred glanced toward the closed door. Without a doubt they were alone.

"I don't know," he said. "Mistakes of this sort don't often occur. As I
Looked around to-night, Ronnie, I thought--I couldn't help thinking that our
position was somewhat wonderful. Does it mean that this is the first breath
of suspicion, I wonder? Was it really only my fancy, or did I hear to-night
the first mutterings of the storm?"

"No one can possibly suspect," Granet declared, "no one who could have
influence enough to override your immunity from censorship. It must have been
an accident."

"I wonder!" Sir Alfred muttered.

"Can't you decode it?" Granet asked eagerly. "There may be news."

Sir Alfred re-entered the larger library and was absent for several minutes.
When he returned, the message was written out in lead pencil:--

Leave London June 4th. Have flares midnight Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's
steps, gardens in front of Savoy. Your last report received.

Granet glanced eagerly back at the original message. It consisted of a few
perfectly harmless sentences concerning various rates of exchange. He gave it
to his uncle with a smile.

"I shouldn't worry about that, sir," he advised.

"It isn't the thing itself I worry about," Sir Alfred said
thoughtfully,--"they'll never decode that message. It's the something that
lies behind it. It's the pointing finger, Ronnie. I thought we'd last it
out, at any rate. Things look different now. You're serious, I suppose? You
don't want to go to America?"

"I don't," Granet replied grimly. "That's all finished, for the present. You
know very well what it is I do want."

Sir Alfred frowned.

"There are plenty of wild enterprises afoot," he admitted, "but I don't know,
after all, that I wish you particularly to be mixed up in them."

"I can't hang about here much longer," his nephew grumbled. "I get the fever
in my blood to be doing something. I had a try this morning."

His uncle looked at him for a moment.

"This morning," he repeated. "Well?"

Granet thrust his hands into his trousers pockets. There was a frown upon his
fine forehead.

"It's that man I told you about," he said bitterly,--"the man I hate. He's
nobody of any account but he always seems to be mixed up in any little trouble
I find myself in. I got out of that affair down at Market Burnham without the
least trouble, and then, as you know, the War Office sent him down, of all the
people on earth, to hold an inquiry. Sometimes I think that he suspects me.
I met him at a critical moment on the battlefield near Niemen. I always
believed that he heard me speaking German--it was just after I had come back
across the lines. The other day--well, I told you about that. Isabel Worth
saved me or I don't know where I should have been. I think I shall kill that

"What did you say his name was?" Sir Alfred asked, with sudden eagerness.


There was a moment's silence. Sir Alfred's expression was curiously tense. He
leaned across the table towards his nephew.

"Thomson?" he repeated. "My God! I knew there was something I meant to tell
you. Don't you know, Ronnie?--but of course you don't. You're sure it's
Thomson--Surgeon-Major Thomson?"

"That's the man."

"He is the man with the new post," Sir Alfred declared hoarsely. "He is the
head of the whole Military Intelligence Department! They've set him up at the
War Office. They've practically given him unlimited powers."

"Why, I thought he was inspector of Field Hospitals!" Granet gasped.

"A blind!" his uncle groaned. "He is nothing of the sort. He's Kitchener's
own man, and this," he added, looking at the letter, "must be his work!"


Surgeon-Major Thomson looked up almost eagerly as Ambrose entered his room the
next morning. The young man's manner was dejected and there were black lines
under his eyes. He answered his chief's unspoken question by a little shake
of the head.

"No luck, sir," he announced. "I spent the whole of last night at it,
too--never went to bed at all. I've tried it with thirty-one codes. Then
I've taken the first line or two and tried every possible change."

"I couldn't make anything of it myself," Thomson confessed, looking at the
sheet of paper which even at that moment was spread out before him. "All the
same, Ambrose, I don't believe in it."

"Neither do I, sir." The other assented eagerly. "I am going to have another
try this afternoon. Perhaps there'll be some more letters in then and we can
tell whether there's any similarity."

Thomson frowned.

"I've a sort of feeling, Ambrose," he said, "that we sha'n't have many of
these letters."

"Why not, sir?"

"I heard by telephone, just before you came," Thomson announced, "that a
certain very distinguished person was on his way to see me. Cabinet Ministers
don't come here for nothing, and this one happens to be a friend of Sir

Ambrose sighed.

"More interference, sir," he groaned. "I don't see how they can expect us to
run our department with the civilians butting in wherever they like. They
want us to save the country and they're to have the credit for it."

There was a knock at the door. A boy scout entered. His eyes were a little
protuberant, his manner betokened awe.

"Mr. Gordon Jones, sir!"

Mr. Gordon Jones entered without waiting for any further announcement.
Thomson rose to his feet and received a genial handshake, after which the
newcomer glanced at Ambrose. Thomson signed to his assistant to leave the

"Major Thomson," the Cabinet Minister began impressively, as he settled down
in his chair, "I have come here to confer with you, to throw myself, to a
certain extent, upon your understanding and your common sense," he added,
speaking with the pleased air of a man sure of his ground and himself.

"You have come to protest, I suppose," Thomson said slowly, "against our

"To protest against nothing, my dear sir," the other interrupted. "Simply to
explain to you, as I have just explained to your Chief, that while we possess
every sympathy with, and desire to give every latitude in the world to the
military point of view, there are just one or two very small matters in which
we must claim to have a voice. We have, as you know, a free censorship list.
We have put no one upon it who is not far and away above all suspicion. I am
given to understand that a letter addressed to Sir Alfred Anselman was opened
yesterday. I went to see your Chief about it this morning. He has referred
me to you."

"The letter," Thomson remarked, "was opened by my orders."

"I happened," Mr. Gordon Jones went on, "to be dining at Sir Alfred's house
when the letter was presented. Sir Alfred, I must say, took it exceedingly
well. At the same time, I have made it my business to see that this does not
occur again."

Thomson made no sign. His eyebrows, however, rose a little higher.

"The country," his visitor continued, "will know some day what it owes to Sir
Alfred Anselman. At present I can only express, and that poorly, my sense of
personal obligation to him. He has been of the greatest assistance to the
Government in the city and elsewhere. His contributions to our funds have
been magnificent; his advice, his sympathy, invaluable. He is a man inspired
by the highest patriotic sentiments, one of the first and most noteworthy of
British citizens."

Thomson listened in silence and without interruption. He met the
well-satisfied peroration of his visitor without comment.

"I am hoping to hear," the latter concluded, with some slight asperity in his
manner, "that the circumstance to which I have alluded was accidental and will
not be repeated."

Major Thomson glanced thoughtfully at a little pile of documents by his side.
Then he looked coldly towards his visitor and provided him, perhaps, with one
of the most complete surprises of his life.

"I am sorry, Mr. Gordon Jones," he said, "but this is not a matter which I can
discuss with you."

The Cabinet Minister's face was a study.

"Not discuss it?" he repeated blankly.

Major Thomson shook his head.

"Certain responsibilities," he continued quietly, "with regard to the safe
conduct of this country, have been handed over to the military authorities,
which in this particular case I represent. We are in no position for
amenities or courtesies. Our country is in the gravest danger and nothing
else is of the slightest possible significance. The charge which we have
accepted we shall carry out with regard to one thing only, and that is our
idea of what is due to the public safety."

"You mean, in plain words," Mr. Gordon Jones exclaimed, "that no requests from
me or say, for instance, the Prime Minister, would have any weight with you?"

"None whatever," Major Thomson replied coolly. "Without wishing to be in any
way personal, I might say that there are statesmen in your Government, for
whom you must accept a certain amount of responsibility, who have been largely
instrumental in bringing this hideous danger upon the country. As a company
of law-makers you may or may not be excellent people--that is, I suppose,
according to one's political opinions. As a company of men competent to
superintend the direction of a country at war, you must permit me to say that
I consider you have done well in placing certain matters in our hands, and
that you will do better still not to interfere."

Mr. Gordon Jones sat quite still for several moments.

"Major Thomson," he said at last, "I have never heard of your before, and I am
not prepared for a moment to say that I sympathise with your point of view.
But it is at least refreshing to hear any one speak his mind with such
frankness. I must now ask you one question, whether you choose to answer it
or not. The letter which you have opened, addressed to Sir Alfred--you
couldn't possibly find any fault with it?"

"It was apparently a quite harmless production," Major Thomson confessed.

"Do you propose to open any more?"

Thomson shook his head.

"That is within our discretion, sir."

Mr. Gordon Jones struggled with his obvious annoyance.

"Look here," he said, with an attempt at good-humour, "you can at least
abandon the official attitude for a moment with me. Tell me why, of all men
in the world, you have chosen to suspect Sir Alfred Anselman?"

"I am sorry," Thomson replied stiffly, "but this is not a matter which I can
discuss in any other way except officially, and I do not recognise you as
having any special claims for information."

The Minister rose to his feet. Those few minutes marked to him an era in his
official life.

"You are adopting an attitude, sir," he said, "which, however much I may
admire it from one point of view, seems to me scarcely to take into account
the facts of the situation."

Thomson made no reply. He had risen to his feet. His manner clearly
indicated that he considered the interview at an end. Mr. Gordon Jones choked
down his displeasure.

"When you are wanting a civil job, Major Thomson," he concluded, "come and
give us a call. Good morning!"


"A lady to see you, sir," Jarvis announced discreetly.

Granet turned quickly around in his chair. Almost instinctively he pulled
down the roll top of the desk before which he was seated. Then he rose to his
feet and held out his hand. He managed with an effort to conceal the
consternation which had succeeded his first impulse of surprise.

"Miss Worth!" he exclaimed.

She came towards him confidently, her hands outstretched, slim, dressed in
sober black, he cheeks as pale as ever, her eyes a little more brilliant. She
threw her muff into a chair and a moment afterwards sank into it herself.

"You have been expecting me?" she asked eagerly.

Granet was a little taken aback.

"I have been hoping to hear from you," he said. "You told me, if you
remember, not to write."

"It was better not," she assented. "Even after you left I had a great deal of
trouble. That odious man, Major Thomson, put me through a regular
cross-examination again, and I had to tell him at last--"

"What?" Granet exclaimed anxiously.

"That we were engaged to be married," she confessed. "There was really no
other way out of it."

"That we were engaged," Granet repeated blankly.

She nodded.

"He pressed me very hard," she went on, "and I am afraid I made some
admissions--well, there were necessary--which, to say the least of it, were
compromising. There was only one way out of it decently for me, and I took
it. You don't mind?"

"Of course not," he replied.

"There was father to be considered," she went on. "He was furious at first--"

"You told your father?" he interrupted.

"I had to," she explained, smoothing her muff. "He was there all the time
that Thomson man was cross-examining me."

"Then your father believes in our engagement, too?"

"He does," she answered drily, "or I am afraid you would have heard a little
more from Major Thomson before now. Ever since that night, father has been
quite impossible to live with. He says he has to being a part of his work all
over again."

"The bombs really did do some damage, then?" he asked.

She nodded, looking at him for a moment curiously.

"Yes," she acknowledged, "they did more harm than any one knows. The place is
like a fortress now. They say that if they can find the other man who helped
to light that flare, he will be shot in five minutes."

Granet, who had been standing with his elbow upon the mantelpiece, leaned over
and took a cigarette from a box.

"Then, for his sake, let us hope that they do not find him," he remarked.

"And ours," she said softly.

Granet stood and looked at her steadfastly, the match burning in his fingers.
Then he threw it away and lit another. The interval had been full of
unadmitted tension, which suddenly passed.

"Shall you think I am horribly greedy," she asked, "if I say that I should
like something to eat? I am dying of hunger."

Granet for a moment was startled. Then he moved towards the bell.

"How absurd of me!" he exclaimed. "Of course, you have just come up, haven't

"I have come straight from the station here," she replied.

He paused.

"Where are you staying, then?"

She shook her head.

"I don't know yet," she admitted.

"You don't know?" he repeated.

She met his gaze without flinching. There was a little spot of colour in her
cheeks, however, and her lips quivered.

"You see," she explained, "things became absolutely impossible for me at
Market Burnham. I won't say that they disbelieved me--not my father, at any
rate--but he seems to think that it was somehow my fault--that if you hadn't
been there that night the thing wouldn't have happened. I am watched the
whole of the time, in fact not a soul has said a civil word to me--since you
left. I just couldn't stand it any longer. I packed up this morning and I
came away without saying a word to any one."

Granet glanced at the clock. It was a quarter past ten.

"Well, the first thing to do is to get you something to eat," he said; ringing
the bell. "Do you mind having something here or would you like to go to a

"I should much prefer having it here," she declared. "I am not fit to go
anywhere, and I am tired."

He rang the bell and gave Jarvis a few orders. The girl stood up before the
glass, took off her hat and smoothed her hair with her hands. She had the air
of being absolutely at home.

"Did you come up without any luggage at all?" he asked.

She shook her head.

"I have a dressing-bag and a few things downstairs on a taxicab," she said.
"I told the man to stop his engine and wait for a time--until I had seen you,"
she added, turning around.

There was a very slight smile upon her lips, the glimmer of something that was
almost appealing, in her eyes. Granet took her hand and patted it kindly.
Her response was almost hysterical.

"It's very sweet of you to trust me like this," he said. "Jarvis will bring
you something to eat, then I'll take you round to your aunt's. Where is it
she lives--somewhere in Kensington, isn't it? Tomorrow we must talk things

She threw herself back once more in the easy-chair and glanced around her.

"I should like," she decided, "to talk them over now."

He glanced towards the door.

"Just as you please," he said, "only Jarvis will be in with your sandwiches

She brushed aside his protest.

"I was obliged," she continued, "to say that I was engaged to you, to save you
from something--I don't know what. The more I have thought about it, the more
terrible it has all seemed. I am not going to even ask you for any
explanation. I--I daren't."

Granet looked at his cigarette for a moment thoughtfully. Then he threw it
into the fire.

"Perhaps you are wise," he said coolly. "All the same, when the time comes
there is an explanation."

"It is the present which has become such a problem," she went on. "I was
driven to leave home and I don't think I can go back again. Father is simply
furious with me, and every one about the place seems to have an idea that I am
somehow to blame for what happened the other night."

"That seems to me a little unjust," he protested.

"It isn't unjust at all," she replied brusquely. "I've told them all lies and
I've got to pay for them. I came to you--well, there really wasn't anything
else left for me to do, was there? I hope you don't think that I am horribly
forward. I am quite willing to admit that I like you, that I liked you from
the first moment we met at Lady Anselman's luncheon. At the same time, if
that awful night hadn't changed everything, I should have behaved just like
any other stupidly and properly brought-up young woman--waited and hoped and
made an idiot of myself whenever you were around, and in the end, I suppose,
been disappointed. You see, fate has rather changed that. I had to invent
our engagement to save you--and here I am," she added, with a little nervous
laugh, turning her head as the door opened.

Jarvis entered with the sandwiches and arranged them on a small table by her
side. Granet poured out the wine for her, mixed himself a whiskey-and-soda
and took a sandwich also from the plate.

"Now tell me," he began, as soon as Jarvis had disappeared, "what is there at
the back of your mind about my presence there at Market Burnham that night?"

She laid down her sandwich. For the first time her voice trembled. Granet
realised that beneath all this quietness of demeanour a volcano was

"I have told you that I do not want to think of that night," she said firmly.
"I simply do not understand."

"You have something in your mind?" he persisted. "You don't believe, really,
that that man Collins, who was found shot--"

She glanced at the door.

"I couldn't sleep that night," she interrupted. "I heard your car arrive, I
saw you both together, you and the man who was shot. I saw--more than that.
I hadn't meant to tell you this but perhaps it is best. I ask you for no
explanation. You see, I am something of an individualist. I just want one
thing, and about the rest I simply don't care. To me, to myself, to my own
future, to my own happiness the rest is very slight, and I never pretend to be
anything else but a very selfish person. Only you know now that I have lied,

"I understand," he said. "Finish your sandwiches and I will take you to your
aunt's. To-morrow I will write to your father."

She drew a little sigh.

"I will do whatever you say," she agreed, "only--please look at me."

He stooped down a little. She seized his wrists, her voice was suddenly

"You weren't pretending altogether?" she pleaded. "Don't make me feel a
perfect beast. You did care a little? You weren't just talking nonsense?"

She would have drawn him further down but he kept away.

"Listen," he said, "when I tell you that I am going to write to your father
to-morrow, you know what that means. For the rest, I must think. Perhaps
this is the only way out. Of course, I like you but the truth is best, isn't
it? I hadn't any idea of this. As a matter of fact, I am rather in love with
someone else."

She caught at her breath for a moment, half closed her eyes as thought to shut
out something disagreeable.

"I don't care," she muttered. "You see how low I have fallen--I'll bear even
that. Come," she added, springing up, "my aunt goes to bed before eleven.
You can drive me down there, if you like. Are you going to kiss me?"

He bent over her a little gravely and his lips touched her forehead. She
caught his face suddenly between her hands and kissed him on the lips. Then
she turned towards the door.

"Of course, I am horribly ashamed," she exclaimed, "but then--well, I'm
myself. Come along, please."

He followed her down into the taxi and they drove off towards Kensington.

"How long have you known the other girl?" she asked abruptly.

"Very little longer than I have known you," he answered.

She took off her glove. He felt her hand steal into his.

"You'll try and like me a little, please?" she begged. "There hasn't been any
one who cared for so many years--not all my life. When I came out--ever since
I came out--I have behaved just like other properly, well-brought-up girls.
I've just sat and waited. I've rather avoided men than otherwise. I've sat
and waited. Girls haven't liked me much. They say I'm odd. I'm twenty-eight
now, you know. I haven't enjoyed the last six years. Father's wrapped up in
his work. He thinks he has done his duty if he sends me to London sometimes
to stay with my aunt. She is very much like him, only she is wrapped up in
missions instead of science. Neither of them seems to have time to be human."

"It must have been rotten for you," Granet said kindly.

Her hand clutched his, she came a little nearer.

"Year after year of it," she murmured. "If I had been good-looking, I should
have run away and gone on the stage. If I had been clever, I should have left
home and done something. But I am like millions of others--I am neither. I
had to sit and wait. When I met you, I suddenly began to realise what it
would be like to care for some one. I knew it wasn't any use. And then this
miracle happened. I couldn't help it," she went on doggedly. "I never thought
of it at first. It came to me like a great flash that the only way to save

"To save me from what?" he asked.

"From being shot as a spy," she answered quickly. "There! I'm not a fool,
you know. You may think I'm a fool about you but I am not about things in
general. Good-bye! This is my aunt's. Don't come in. Ring me up to-morrow
morning. I'll meet you anywhere. Good-bye, please! I want to run away."

He watched her go, a little dazed. A trim parlourmaid came out and, after a
few words of explanation, superintended the disposal of her luggage in the
hall. Then the taxicab man returned.

"Back to Sackville Street," Granet muttered.


Granet, on his return to Sackville Street, paid the taxicab driver, ascended
the stairs and let himself into his rooms with very much the air of a man who
has passed through a dream. A single glance around, however, brought him
vivid realisations of his unwelcome visitor. The little plate of sandwiches,
half finished, the partly emptied bottle of wine, were still there. One of
her gloves lay in the corner of the easy-chair. He picked it up, drew it for
a moment through his fingers, then crushed it into a ball and flung it into
the fire. Jarvis, who had heard him enter, came from one of the back rooms.

"Clear these things away, Jarvis,' his master ordered. "Leave the whiskey and
soda and tobacco on the table. I may be late."

Jarvis silently obeyed. As soon as he was alone, Granet threw himself into
the easy-chair. He was filled with a bitter sense of being entrapped. He had
been a little rash at Market Burnham, perhaps, but if any other man except
Thomson had been sent there, his explanations would have been accepted without
a word, and all this miserable complication would have been avoided. He
thought over Isabel's coming, all that she had said. She had left him no
loophole. She had the air of a young woman who knew her own mind excellently
well. A single word from her to Thomson and the whole superstructure of his
ingeniously built-up life might tumble to pieces. He sat with folded arms in
a grim attitude of unrest, thinking bitter thoughts. They rolled into his
brain like black shadows. He had been honest in the first instance. With
ancestors from both countries, he had deliberately chosen the country to which
he felt the greatest attachment. He remembered his long travels in Germany,
he remembered on his return his growing disapproval of English slackness, her
physical and moral decadence. Her faults had inspired him not with the sorrow
of one of her real sons, but with the contempt of one only half bound to her
by natural ties. The ground had been laid ready for the poison. He had
started honestly enough. His philosophy had satisfied himself. He had felt
no moral degradation in wearing the uniform of one country for the benefit of
another. All this self-disgust he dated from the coming of Geraldine Conyers.
Now he was weary of it all, face to face, too, with a disagreeable and
insistent problem.

He started suddenly in his chair. An interruption ordinary enough, but never
without a certain startling effect, had broken in upon his thoughts. The
telephone on his table was ringing insistently. He rose to his feet and
glanced at the clock as he crossed the room. It was five minutes past twelve.
As he took up the receiver a familiar voice greeted him.

"Is that Ronnie? Yes, this is Lady Anselman. Your uncle told me to ring you
up to see if you were in. He wants you to come round."

"What, to-night?"

"Do come, Ronnie," his aunt continued. "I don't suppose it's anything
important but your uncle seems to want it. No, I sha'n't see you. I'm just
going to bed. I have been playing bridge. I'm sure the duchess cheats--I
have never won at her house in my life. I'll tell your uncle you'll come,
then, Ronnie. . . . Good night!"

Granet laid down the receiver. Somehow or other, the idea of action, even at
that hour of the night was a relief to him. He called to Jarvis and gave him
a few orders. Afterwards he turned out and walked through the
streets--curiously lit and busy it seemed to him--to the corner of Park Lane,
and up to the great mansion fronting the Park, which had belonged to the
Anselmans for two generations. There were few lights in the windows. He was
admitted at once and passed on to his uncle's own servant.

"Sir Alfred is in the study, sir," the latter announced, "if you will kindly
come this way."

Granet crossed the circular hall hung with wonderful tapestry, and passed
through the sumptuously-furnished library into the smaller, business man''
study, in which Sir Alfred spent much of his time. There were telephones upon
his desk, a tape machine, and a private instrument connected with the
telegraph department. There was a desk for his secretary, now vacant, and
beyond, in the shadows of the apartment, winged bookcases which held a
collection of editions de luxe, first editions, and a great collection of
German and Russian literature, admittedly unique. Sir Alfred was sitting at
his desk, writing a letter. He greeted his nephew with his usual cheerful

"Wait before you go, Harrison," he said to his valet. "Will you take
anything, Ronald? There are cigars and cigarettes here but nothing to drink.
Harrison, you can put the whiskey and soda on the side, anyhow, then you can
wait for me in my room. I shall not require any other service to-night. Some
one must stay to let Captain Granet out. You understand?"

"Perfectly, sir," the man replied.

"If you don't mind, Ronnie, I will finish this letter while he brings the
whiskey and soda," Sir Alfred said.

Captain Granet strolled around the room. There was no sound for a moment but
the scratching of Sir Alfred's quill pen across the paper. Presently Harrison
returned with the whiskey and soda. Sir Alfred handed him a note.

"To be sent to-night, Harrison," he directed; "no answer."

The man withdrew, closing the door behind him. Sir Alfred, with his hands in
his pockets, walked slowly around. When he came back he turned out all the
lights except the heavily shaded one over his desk, and motioned his nephew to
draw his easy-chair up to the side.

"Well, Ronnie," he said, "I suppose you are wondering why I have sent for you
at this hour of the night?"

"I am," Granet admitted frankly. "Is there any news?--anything behind the
news, perhaps I should say?"

"What there is, is of no account," Sir Alfred replied. "We are going to talk
pure human nature, you and I for the next hour. The fate of empires is a
matter for the historians. It is your fate and mine which just now counts for

"There is some trouble?" Granet asked quickly,--"some suspicion?"

"None whatever," Sir Alfred repeated firmly. "My position was never more
secure than it is at this second. I am the trusted confidant of the Cabinet.
I have done, not only apparently but actually, very important work for them.
Financially, too, my influence as well as my resources have been of vast
assistance to this country."

Granet nodded and waited. He knew enough of his uncle to be aware that he
would develop his statement in his own way.

"When all has gone well," Sir Alfred continued, "when all seems absolutely
peaceful and safe, it is sometimes the time to pause and consider. We are at
that spot at the present moment. You have been lucky, in your way, Ronnie.
Three times, whilst fighting for England, you have managed to penetrate the
German lines and receive from them communications of the greatest importance.
Since your return home you have been of use in various ways. This last
business in Norfolk will not be forgotten. Then take my case. What Germany
knows of our financial position, our strength and our weakness, is due to me.
That Germany is at the present time holding forty millions of money belonging
to the city of London, is also owing to me. In a dozen other ways my
influence has been felt. As I told you before, we have both, in our way, been
successful, but we have reached the absolute limit of our effectiveness."

"What does that mean?" Granet asked.

"It means this," Sir Alfred explained. "When this war was started, I, with
every fact and circumstance before me, with more information, perhaps, than
any other man breathing, predicted peace within three months. I was wrong.
Germany to-day is great and unconquered, but Germany has lost her opportunity.
This may be a war of attrition, or even now the unexpected may come, but to
all effects and purposes Germany is beaten."

"Do you mean this?" Granet exclaimed incredulously.

"Absolutely," his uncle assured him. "Remember that I know more than you do.
There is a new and imminent danger facing the dual alliance. What it is you
will learn soon enough. The war may drag on for many months but the chances
of the great German triumph we have dreamed of, have passed. They know it as
well as we do. I have seen the writing on the wall for months. To-day I have
concluded all my arrangements. I have broken off all negotiations with
Berlin. They recognise the authority and they absolve me. They know that it
will be well to have a friend here when the time comes for drawing up the

Granet gripped the sides of his chair with his hand. It seemed to him
impossible that with these few commonplace words the fate of all Europe was
being pronounced.

"Do you mean that Germany will be crushed?" he demanded.

Sir Alfred shook his head.

"I still believe that impossible," he said, "but the peace of exhaustion will
come, and come surely, before many months have passed. It is time for us to
think of ourselves. So far as I am concerned, well, there is that one
censored letter--nothing in itself, yet damning if the code should be
discovered. As for you, well, you are safe from anything transpiring in
France, and although you seem to have been rather unlucky there, you appear to
be safe as regards Norfolk. You must make up your mind now to follow my lead.
Take a home command, do the rest of your soldiering quietly, and shout with
the others when the day of peace comes. These last few months must be our
great secret. At heart we may have longed to call ourselves sons of a
mightier nation, but fate is against us. We must continue Englishmen."

"You've taken my breath away," Granet declared. "Let me realise this for a

He sat quite still. A rush of thoughts had crowded into his brain. First and
foremost was the thought of Geraldine. If he could cover up his traces! If
it were true that he was set free now from his pledges! Then he remembered
his visitor of the evening and his heart sank.

"Look here," he confessed, "in a way this is a huge relief. I, like you,
thought it was to last for three months and I thought I could stick it. While
the excitement of the thing was about it was easy enough, but listen, uncle.
That Norfolk affair--I am not really out of that."

"What do you mean?" Sir Alfred demanded anxiously. "This fellow Thomson?"

"Thomson, of course," Granet assented, "but the real trouble has come to me in
a different way. I told you that the girl got me out of it. She couldn't
stand the second cross-examination. She was driven into a corner, and
finally, to clear herself, said that we were engaged to be married. She has
come up to London, came to me to-night. She expects me to marry her."

"How much does she know?" Sir Alfred asked.

"Everything," Granet groaned. "It was she who had told me of the waterway
across the marshes. She saw me there with Collins, just before the flare was
lit. She knew that I lied to them when they found me."

Sir Alfred sighed.

"It's a big price, Ronnie," he said, "but you'll have to pay it. The sooner
you marry the girl and close her mouth, the better."

"If it hadn't been for that damned fellow Thomson," Granet muttered, "there
would never have been a suspicion."

"If it hadn't been for the same very enterprising gentleman," Sir Alfred
observed, "my correspondence would never have been tampered with."

Granet leaned a little forward.

"Thomson is our one remaining danger," he said. "I have had the feeling since
first he half recognised me. We met, you know, in Belgium. It was just when
I was coming out of the German lines. Somehow or other he must have been on
my track ever since. I took no notice of it. I thought it was simply
because--because he was engaged to Geraldine Conyers."

"You are rivals in love, too, eh?" Sir Alfred remarked.

"Geraldine Conyers is the girl I want to marry," Granet admitted.

"Thomson," Sir Alfred murmured to himself,--"Surgeon-Major Hugh Thomson. He
seems to be the only man, Ronnie, from whom we have the least danger to fear.
Personally, I think I am secure. I do not believe that that single letter
will be ever deciphered, and if it is, three-parts of the Cabinet are my
friends. I could ruin the Stock Exchange to-morrow, bring London's credit,
for a time, at any rate, below the credit of Belgrade."

"All the same, it seems to me," Granet declared grimly, "that we should both
be more comfortable if there were no Surgeon-Major Thomson."

The very last dispatches I had to deal with," Sir Alfred continued, "made
allusion to him. They don't love some of his work in Berlin, I can tell you.
What sort of a man is he, Ronnie? Can he be bought? A hundred thousand
pounds would be a fortune to a man like that."

"There is only one way of dealing with him," Granet said fiercely. "I have
tried it once. I expect I'll have to try again."

Sir Alfred leaned across the table.

"Don't be rash, Ronnie," he advised. "And yet, remember this. The man is a
real danger, both to you and to me. He is the only man who has had anything
to do with the Intelligence Department here, who is worth a snap of the
fingers. Now go home, Ronnie. You came here--well, never mind what you were
when you came here. You are going back an Englishman. If they won't send you
to the Front again, bother them for some work here, and stick to it. You will
get no reports nor any visitors. I have strangled the whole system. You and
I are cut loose from it. We are free-lances. Mind, I still believe that in
the end German progress and German culture will dominate the world, but it may
not be in our day. It just happens that we have stuck a little too soon. Let
us make the best of things, Ronnie. You have many years of life. I have some
of unabated power. Let us be thankful that we were wise enough to stop in

Granet rose to his feet. His uncle watched him curiously.

"You're young, of course, Ronnie," he continued indulgently. "You haven't yet
fitted your burden on to your shoulders properly. England or Germany, you
have some of both in you. After all, it isn't a vital matter under which
banner you travel. It isn't quite like that with me. I have lived here all
my life and I wouldn't care to live anywhere else, but that's because I carry
my own country with me. It's English air I breathe but it's a German heart I
still carry with me. Good night, Ronnie! Remember about Thomson."

The two men wrung hands and Granet made his way towards the door.

"About Thomson," he repeated to himself, as the servant conducted him towards
the door.


Ambrose announced a visitor, early on the following morning, with some show of

"Captain Granet to see you, sir. We've a good many notes about him. Would
you like the book?"

Thomson shook his head.

"Thank you," he answered drily, "I have it in my desk but I think I can
remember. Is he outside now?"

"Yes, sir! He said he wouldn't keep you for more than a few minutes, if you
could spare him a short interview."

"Any luck last night?"

Ambrose sighed.

"I was up till three o'clock again. Once I thought I was on the track of it.
I have come to the conclusion now that it's one of those codes that depend
upon shifting quantities. I shall start again to-night on a different idea.
Shall I show Captain Granet in, sir?"

Thomson assented, and a few minutes later Granet entered the room. He made no
attempt to shake hands or to take a seat. Thomson looked at him coldly.

"Well," he asked, abruptly, "what can I do for you?"

"I don't suppose you can do anything," Granet replied, "but I am going to
spend to-day and to-morrow, too, if necessary, in this place, bothering every
one I ever heard of. You have some influence, I know. Get me a job out of
this country."

Thomson raised his eyebrows slightly.

"You want to go abroad again?"

"Anywhere--anyhow! If they won't have me back in France, although heaven
knows why not, can I be sent to the Dardanelles, or even East Africa? I'll
take out Territorials, if you like. I'll do anything sooner than be ordered
to one of these infernal country towns to train young tradespeople. If I
don't worry, I know I shall get a home appointment directly, and I don't want

Thomson studied his visitor, for a moment, carefully.

"So you want to be fighting again, eh?" he remarked.

"I do," Granet answered firmly.

Major Thomson drew a little locked book towards him, unfastened it with a key
from his chain and held his hand over the page. It was noticeable that his
right hand slipped open a few inches the right-hand drawer of his desk.

"You have come to me, Captain Granet," he said, "to ask my aid in getting you
a job. Well, if I could give you one where I was perfectly certain that you
would be shot in your first skirmish, I would give it to you, with pleasure.
Under present conditions, however, it is my impression that the further you
are from any British fighting force, the better it will be fore the safety and
welfare of that force."

Granet's face was suddenly rigid. He had turned a little paler and his eyes

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

Thomson had removed his hand and was glancing at the open page.

"There are a few notes here about you," he said. "I will not read them all
but I will give you some extracts. There is your full name and parentage,
tracing out the amount of foreign blood which I find is in your veins. There
is a verbatim account of a report made to me by your Brigadier-General, in
which it seems that in the fighting under his command you were three times
apparently taken prisoner, three times you apparently escaped; the information
which you brought back led to at least two disasters; the information which
exactly at the time you were absent seemed to come miraculously into the hands
of the enemy, resulted in even greater trouble for us."

"Do you insinuate, then, that I am a traitor?" Granet asked fiercely.

"I insinuate nothing," Thomson replied quietly. "So far as you and I are
concerned, we may as well, I presume, understand one another. You are,
without doubt, aware that my post as inspector of hospitals is a blind. I am,
as a matter of fact, chief of the Intelligence Department, with a rank which
at present I do not choose to use. I have been myself to your
Brigadier-General and bought home this report, and if it is any satisfaction
to you to know it, I brought also an urgent request that you should not be
allowed to rejoin any part of the force under his control."

"It was simply rotten luck," Granet muttered.

"I come here to a few more notes," Thomson proceeded. "I meet you some weeks
ago at a luncheon party at the Ritz. A Belgian waiter, who I learned, by
later inquiries was present as a prisoner in the village where you were being
entertained as a guest at the German headquarters, recognised you and was on
the point of making a disclosure. The excitement, however, was too much for
him and he fainted. He was at once removed, under your auspices, and died a
few days later, at one of your uncle's country houses, before he could make
any statement."

"This is ridiculous!" Granet exclaimed. "I never saw the fellow before in my

"Ridiculous, doubtless, but a coincidence," Major Thomson replied, turning
over the next page of his book. "A little later I find you taking an immense
interest in our new destroyers, trying, in fact, to induce young Conyers to
explain our wire netting system, following him down to Portsmouth and doing
your best to discover also the meaning of a new device attached to his

"That is simply absurd," Granet protested. "I was interested in the subject,
as any military officer would be in an important naval development. My
journey to Portsmouth was simply an act of courtesy to Miss Conyers and her

"I find you next," Thomson went on immovably, "visiting the one French
statesmen whom we in England had cause to fear, in his hotel in London. I
find that very soon afterwards that statesman is in possession of an autograph
letter from the Kaiser, offering peace to the French people on extraordinary
terms. Who was the intermediary who brought that document, Captain Granet?"

Granet's face never twitched. He held himself with cold composure.

"These," he declared, "are fairy tales. Pailleton was a friend of mine.
During my visit we did not speak of politics.

"More coincidences," Major Thomson remarked. "We pass on, then, to that night
at Market Burnham Hall, when a Zeppelin was guided to the spot where Sir
Meyville Worth was experimenting on behalf of the British Government, and
dropped destructive bombs. A man was shot dead by the side of the flare.
That man was one of your companions at the Dormy House Club."

"I neither spoke to him nor saw him there, except as a casual visitor," Granet

"That I venture to doubt," Major Thomson replied. "At any rate, there is
enough circumstantial evidence against you in this book to warrant my taking
the keenest interest in your future. As a matter of fact, you would have been
at the Tower, or underneath it, at this very moment, but for the young lady
who probably perjured herself to save you. Now that you know my opinion of
you, Captain Granet, you will understand that I should hesitate before
recommending you to any post whatever in the service of this country."

Granet made a stealthy movement forward. He had been edging a little closer
to the desk and he was barely two yards away. He suddenly paused. Thomson
had closed the drawer now and he was holding a small revolver very steadily in
his right hand.

"Granet," he said, "that sort of thing won't do. You know now what I think of
you. Besides these little incidents which I have related, you are suspected
of having, in the disguise of an American clergyman, delivered a message from
the German Government to an English Cabinet Minister, and, to come to more
personal matters, I myself suspect you of having made two attempts on my life.
It is my firm belief that you are nothing more nor less than a common and
dangerous German spy. Keep back!"

The veins were standing out like whipcord on Granet's flushed forehead. He
swayed on his feet. Twice he had seemed as though he would spring at his

"Now listen to me," Thomson continued. "On Monday I am going from Southampton
to Boulogne for forty-eight hours, to attend a court martial there. There is
only one decent thing you can do. You know what that is. I'll have you
exchanged, if you are willing, into a line regiment with your present rank.
Your colonel will have a hint. It will be your duty to meet the first German
bullet you can find. If you are content with that, I'll arrange it for you.
If not--"

Major Thomson paused. There was a queer twisted smile at the corners of his

"If not," he concluded, "there is one more little note to add in this book and
the account will be full. You know now the terms, Captain Granet, on which
you can go to the Front. I will give you ten days to consider."

"If I accept an offer like this," Granet protested, "I shall be pleading
guilty to all the rubbish you have talked."

"If it weren't for the fact," Major Thomson told him sternly, "that you have
worn his Majesty's uniform, that you are a soldier, and that the horror of it
would bring pain to every man who has shared with you that privilege, I have
quite enough evidence here to bring your career to a disgraceful end. I give
you your chance, not for your own sake but for the honour of the Army. What
do you say?"

Granet picked up his hat.

"I'll think it over," he muttered.

He walked out of the room without any attempt at farewell, pushed his way
along the corridors, down the steps and out into Whitehall. His face was
distorted by a new expression. A sudden hatred of Thomson had blazed up in
him. He was at bay, driven there by a relentless enemy, the man who had
tracked him down, as he honestly believed, to some extent through jealousy.
The thoughts framed themselves quickly in his mind. With unseeing eyes he
walked across Trafalgar Square and made his way to his club in Pall Mall.
Here he wrote a few lines to Isabel Worth, regretting that he was called out
of town on military business for forty-eight hours. Afterwards he took a taxi
and called at his rooms, walked restlessly up and down while Jarvis threw a
few clothes into a bag, changed his own apparel for a rough tweed suit, and
drove to Paddington. A few minutes later he took his place in the Cornish


Granet emerged from the Tregarten Hotel at St. Mary's on the following
morning, about half-past eight, and strolled down the narrow strip of lawn
which bordered the village street. A couple of boatmen advanced at once to
meet him. Granet greeted them cheerily.

"Yes, I want a boat," he admitted. "I'd like to do a bit of sailing. A
friend of mine was here and had a chap named Rowsell--Job Rowsell. Either of
you answer to that name, by chance?"

The elder of the two shook his head.

"My name's Matthew Nichols," he announced, "and this is my brother-in-law, Joe
Lethbridge. We've both of us got stout sailing craft and all the
recommendations a man need have. As for Job Rowsell, well, he ain't here--not
just at this moment, so to speak."

Granet considered the matter briefly.

"Well," he decided, "it seems to me I must talk to this chap Rowsell before I
do anything. I'm under a sort of promise."

The two boatmen looked at one another. The one who had addressed him first
turned a little away.

"Just as you like, sir," he announced. "No doubt Rowsell will be up this way
towards afternoon."

"Afternoon? But I want to go out at once," Granet protested.

Matthew Nichols removed his pipe from his mouth and spat upon the ground

"I doubt whether you'll get Job Rowsell to shift before mid-day. I'm none so
sure he'll go out at all with this nor-wester blowing."

"What's the matter with him?" Granet asked. "Is he lazy?"

The man who as yet had scarcely spoken, swung round on his heel.

"He's no lazy, sir," he said. "That's not the right word. But he's come into
money some way or other, Job Rowsell has. There's none of us knows how, and
it ain't our business, but he spends most of his time in the public-house and
he seems to have taken a fancy for night sailing alone, which to my mind, and
there are others of us as say the same, ain't none too healthy an occupation.
And that's all there is to be said of Job Rowsell, as I knows of."

"It's a good deal, too," Granet remarked thoughtfully. "Where does he live?"

"Fourth house on the left in yonder street," Matthew Nichols replied, pointing
with his pipe. "Maybe he'll come if you send for him, maybe he won't."

"I must try to keep my word to my friend," Granet decided. "If I don't find
him, I'll come back and look for you fellows again."

He turned back to the little writing-room, scribbled a note and sent it down
by the boots. In about half an hour he was called once more out into the
garden. A huge, loose-jointed man was standing there, unshaven, untidily
dressed, and with the look in his eyes of a man who has been drinking heavily.

"Are you Job Rowsell?" Granet inquired.

"That's my name," the man admitted. "Is there anything wrong with it?"

"Not that I know of," Granet replied. "I want you to take me out sailing. Is
your boat ready?"

The man glanced up at the sky.

"I don't know as I want to go," he grumbled. "There's dirty weather about."

"I think you'd better," Granet urged. "I'm not a bad payer and I can help
with the boat. Let's go and look at her any way."

They walked together down to the harbour. Granet said very little, his
companion nothing at all. They stood on the jetty and gazed across to where
the sailing boats were anchored.

"That's the Saucy Jane," Job Rowsell indicated, stretching out a forefinger.

Granet scrambled down into a small dinghy which was tied to the side of the
stone wall.

"We'd better be getting on board," he suggested.

Rowsell stared at him for a moment but acquiesced. They pulled across and
boarded the Saucy Jane. A boy whom they found on the deck took the boat back.
Rowsell set his sails slowly but with precision. The moment he stepped on
board he seemed to become an altered man.

"Where might you be wanting to go?" he asked. "You'll need them oilskins,

"I want to run out to the Bishop Lighthouse," Granet announced.

Rowsell shook his head.

It's no sort of a day to face the Atlantic, sir," he declared. "We'll try a
spin round St. Mary and White Island, if you like."

Granet fastened his oilskins and stooped for a moment to alter one of the

"Look here," he said, taking his seat at the tiller, "this is my show, Job
Rowsell. There's a five pound note for you at the end of the day, if you go
where I tell you and nowhere else."

The man eyed him sullenly. A few minutes later they were rushing out of the

"It's a poor job, sailing a pleasure boat," he muttered. "Not many of us as
wouldn't sell his soul for five pounds."

They reached St. Agnes before they came round on the first tack. Then, with
the spray beating in their faces, they swung around and made for the opening
between the two islands. For a time the business of sailing kept them both
occupied. In two hours' time they were standing out towards Bishop
Lighthouse. Job Rowsell took a long breath and filled a pipe with tobacco.
He was looking more himself now.

"I'll bring her round the point there," he said, "and we'll come up the
Channel and home by Bryher."

"You'll do nothing of the sort," Granet ordered. "Keep her head out for the
open sea till I tell you to swing round."

Rowsell looked at his passenger with troubled face.

"Are you another of 'em?" he asked abruptly.

"Don't you mind who I am," Granet answered. "I'm on a job I'm going to see
through. If a fiver isn't enough for you, make it a tenner, but keep her
going where I put her."

Rowsell obeyed but his face grew darker. He leaned towards his passenger.

"What's your game?" he demanded hoarsely. "There's some of them on the
island'd have me by the throat if they only knew the things I could tell 'em.
What's your game here, eh? Are you on the cross?"

"I am not," Granet replied, "or I shouldn't have needed to bring you to sea.
I know all about you, Job Rowsell. You're doing very well and you may do a
bit better by and by. Now sit tight and keep a still tongue in your head."

They were in a queer part of the broken, rocky island group. There was a
great indenture in the rocks up which the sea came hissing; to the left, round
the corner, the lighthouse. Granet drew what looked to be a large
pocket-handkerchief from the inner pocket of his coat, pulled down their
pennant with nimble fingers, tied on another and hauled it up. Job Rowsell
stared at him.

"What's that?"

"It's the German flag, you fool," Granet answered.

"I'll have none of that on my boat," the man declared surlily. "An odd fiver
for a kindness--"

"Shut up!" Granet snapped, drawing his revolver from his pocket. "You run the
boat and mind your own business, Rowsell. I'm not out here to be fooled with.
. . .My God!"

Almost at their side the periscope of a submarine had suddenly appeared.
Slowly it rose to the surface. An officer in German naval uniform struggled
up and called out. Granet spoke to him rapidly in German. Job Rowsell
started at them both, then he drew a flask from his pocket and took a long
pull. The submarine grew nearer and Granet tossed a small roll of paper
across the chasm of waters. All that passed between the two men was to Job
Rowsell unintelligible. The last few words, however, the German repeated in

"The Princess Hilda from Southampton, tomorrow at midnight," he repeated
thoughtfully. "Well, it's a big business."

"It's worth it," Granet assured him. "They may call it a hospital ship but it
isn't. I am convinced that the one man who is more dangerous to us than any
other Englishman, will be on board."

"It shall then be done," the other promised. "So!"

He looked upward to the flag and saluted Granet. A great sea bore them a
little apart. Granet pulled down the German flag, tied up a stone inside it
and threw it into the next wave.

"You can take me back now," he told the boatman.

They were four hours making the harbour. Three times they failed to get round
the last point, met at each time by clouds of hissing spray. When at last
they sailed in, there was a little crowd to watch them. Nichols and
Lethbridge stood on one side with gloomy faces.

"It's a queer day for pleasure sailing," Nicholas remarked to Job Rowsell, as
he came up the wet steps of the pier.

"It's all I want of it for a bit, any way," Rowsell muttered, pushing his way
along the quay. "If there's any of you for a drink, I'm your man. What-ho,

Lethbridge muttered something and turned away. Nichols, too, declined.

"I am not sure, Job Rowsell," the latter declared, "that I like your money nor
the way you earn it."

Job Rowsell stopped for a minute. There was an ugly look in his sullen face.

"If you weren't my own bother-in-law, Matthew Nichols," he said, "I'd shove
those words down your throat."

"And if you weren't my sister's husband," Nichols retorted, turning away, "I'd
take a little trip over to Penzance and say a few words at the Police Station

Granet laughed good-humouredly.

"You fellows don't need to get bad-tempered with one another," he observed.
"Look here, I shall have three days here. I'll take one of you each day--make
a fair thing of it, eh? You to-morrow, Nichols, and you the next day
Lethbridge. I'm not particular about the weather, as Job Rowsell can tell
you, and I've sailed a boat since I was a boy. I'm no land-lubber, am I,

"No, you can sail the boat all right," Rowsell admitted, looking back over his
shoulder. "You'd sail it into Hell itself, if one'd let you. Come on, you
boys, if there's any one of you as fancies to drink. I'm wet to the skin."

Nichols' boat was duly prepared at nine o'clock on the following morning.
Lethbridge shouted to him from the rails.

"Gentleman's changed his mind, I reckon. He went off on the eight o'clock
boat for Penzance."

Nichols commenced stolidly to furl his sails again.

"It's my thinking Lethbridge," he said, as he clambered into the dinghy, "that
there's things going on in this island which you and me don't understand. I'm
for a few plain words with Job Rowsell, though he's my own sister's husband."

"Plain words is more than you'll get from Job," Lethbridge replied gloomily.
"He slept last night on the floor at the 'Blue Crown,' and he's there this
morning, clamouring for brandy and pawing the air. He's got the blue devils,
that's what he's got."

"There's money," Nichols declared solemnly, "some money, that is, that does no
one any good."


There was a shrill whistle from the captain's bridge, and the steamer, which
had scarcely yet gathered way, swung slowly around. Rushing up towards it
through the mists came a little naval launch, in the stern of which a single
man was seated. In an incredibly short space of time it was alongside, the
passenger had climbed up the rope ladder, the pinnace had sheered off and the
steamer was once more heading towards the Channel.

The newly-arrived passenger was making his way towards the saloon when a voice
which seemed to come from behind a pile of rugs heaped around a steamer-chair,
arrested his progress.

"Hugh! Major Thomson!"

He stopped short. Geraldine shook herself free from her rugs and sat up.
They looked at one another in astonishment.

"Why, Geraldine," he exclaimed, "where are you off to?"

"To Boulogne, of course," she answered. "Don't pretend that you are
surprised. Why, you got me the appointment yourself."

"Of course," he agreed, "only I had no idea that you were going just yet, or
that you were on this boat."

"They told me to come out this week," she said, as he drew a chair to her
side, "and so many of the nurses and doctors were going by this boat that I
thought I would come, too. I feel quite a professional already. Nearly all
the women here are in nurse's uniform and three-quarters of the men on board
are doctors. Where are you going, Hugh?"

"Just to the Base and back again to-morrow," he told here. "There's a court
martial I want to attend."

"Still mysterious," she laughed. "What have you to do with courts martial,

"Too much, just for the moment," he answered lightly. "Would you like some
coffee or anything?"

She shook her head.

"No, thank you. I had an excellent supper before we started. I looked at
some of the cabins but I decided to spend the night on deck. What about you?
You seem to have arrived in a hurry."

"I missed the train in London," he explained. "They kept me at the War
Office. Then I had to come down in a Government car and we couldn't quite
catch up. Any news from Ralph?"

"I had a letter days ago," she told him. "It was posted at Harwich but he
couldn't say where he was, and of course he couldn't give me any news. Father
came back from the Admiralty very excited yesterday, though. He says that we
have sunk four or five more submarines, and that Ralph's new equipment is an
immense success. By-the-bye, is there any danger of submarines here?"

"I shouldn't think so," Thomson answered. "They are very busy round the
Scilly Islands but we seem to have been able to keep them out of the Channel.
I thought we should have been convoyed, though."

"In any case," she remarked, "we are a hospital ship. I expect they'd leave
us alone. Major Thomson," she went on, "I wonder, do you really believe all
these stories of the horrible doings of the Germans--the way they have treated
drowning people attacked by their submarines, and these hateful stories of
Belgium? Sometimes it seems to me as though there was a fog of hatred which
had sprung up between the two countries, and we could neither of us quite see
clearly what the other was doing."

"I think there is something in that," Major Thomson agreed. "On the other
hand I think it is part of the German principle to make war ruthlessly. I
have seen things in Belgium which I shall never forget. As to the submarine
business, if half the things are true that we have read, they seem to have
behaved like brutes. It's queer, too," he went on, "for as a rule seamen are
never cruel."

They were silent for a time. For some reason or other, they both avoided
mention of the one subject which was in the minds of both. It was not until
after the steward had brought him some coffee and they were more than half-way
across, that Thomson a little abruptly asked her a question.

"Have you seen anything of Captain Granet lately?"

"Nothing," she replied.

He turned his head slightly towards her.

"Would it trouble you very much if he never came to see you again?"

She was watching the misty dawn.

"I do not know," she answered, "but I think the he will come."

"I am not so sure," he told her.

"Do you mean that he is in any fresh trouble?" she asked quickly.

"I don't think he needs any fresh trouble exactly," Thomson remarked, "but
suppose we leave him alone for a little time? Our meeting was so unexpected,
and, for me, such a pleasure. Don't let us spoil it."

"Let us talk of other things," she agreed readily. "Tell me, for instance,
just what does a submarine look like when it pops up out of the sea?"

"I have never seen one close to, he admitted "except on the surface. Why do
you ask?"

She pointed with her forefinger to a little spot almost between two banks of

"Because I fancied just now that I saw something sticking up out of the water
there, something which might have been the periscope of a submarine," she

He looked in the direction which she indicated but shook his head.

"I can see nothing," he said, "but in any case I don't think they would attack
a hospital ship. This is a dangerous area for them, too. We are bound to
have a few destroyers close at hand. I wonder if Ralph--"

He never finished his sentence. The shock which they had both read about but
never dreamed of experiencing, flung them without a moment's warning onto
their hands and feet. The steamer seemed as though it had been lifted out of
the water. There was a report as though some great cannon had been fired off
in their very ears. Looking along the deck, it suddenly seemed to Thomson
that her bows were pointing to the sky. The after portion, where they were
seated, was vibrating and shaking as though they had struck a rock, and only a
few yards away from them, towards the middle of the boat, the end of the cabin
was riven bare to the heavens. Timbers were creaking and splintering in every
direction. There was a great gap already in the side of the steamer, as
though some one had taken a cut out of it. Then, high above the shrieking of
the escaped steam and the cracking of woodwork, the siren of the boat screamed
out its frantic summons for help. Geraldine for the moment lost her nerve.
She began to shriek, and ran towards the nearest boat, into which the people
were climbing like ants. Thomson drew her back.

"Don't hurry," he begged. "Here!"

He threw open the door of a cabin which leaned over them, snatched two of the
lifebelts from the berth and rapidly fastened one on her. There was some
semblance of order on deck now that the first confusion had passed. The men
were all rushing to quarters. Three of the boats had been blown into
splinters upon their davits. The fourth, terribly overloaded, was being
lowered. Thomson, working like a madman, was tying some spare belts on to a
table which had floated out from the cabin. More than once the boat gave a
great plunge and they had to hold on to the cabin doors. A huge wave broke
completely over them, drenching them from head to foot. The top of the rail
now was on a level with the sea. Thomson stood up for a moment and looked
around. Then he turned to Geraldine.

"Look here," he said, "there'll be plenty of craft around to pick us up. This
thing can't sink. Keep the lifebelt on and get your arms through the belt I
have tied on to the table, so. That's right. Now come over to the side."

"You're not going to jump overboard?" she cried.

"We are going to just step overboard," he explained. "It's the only chance.
Throw off your fur cloak. You see, if we stay a moment later we shall be
dragged down after the steamer. We must get clear while we can."

"I can swim," he answered quickly, throwing off his coat and waistcoat. "This
thing will support me easily. Believe me, Geraldine, there's nothing to be
frightened about. We can keep her afloat for half-a-dozen hours, if
necessary, with this only don't let go of it. Keep your arms through, and--by
God! Quick!"

A huge wave broke right over their heads. The boat, which had nearly reached
the level of the water, was overturned, and the air seemed full of the
screaming of women, the loud shouting of orders from the bridge, where the
captain was standing with his hands upon the fast sinking rail. The water was
up to their waists now. In a moment they ceased to feel anything beneath
their feet. Geraldine found herself suddenly buoyant. Thomson, swimming with
one arm, locked the other in their raft.

"Push yourself away from everything as well as you can," he whispered, "and,
Geraldine--if anything should happen to us, I never changed--not for a

"I don't believe I ever did, either," she sobbed, holding out her hand.

Another wave broke over them. They came up, however. He gripped her wet hand
for a moment. All around them were articles of ship's furniture, broken
planks, here and there a man swimming. From close at hand came the shriek of
the vanishing siren.

"Look!" Geraldine cried.

Barely fifty feet away from them was the submarine. The captain and four or
five of the men where on deck. Thomson shouted to him.

"Can't you save some of these women?"

The answer was a laugh--hoarse, brutal, derisive. The submarine glided away.
Thomson's face as he looked after it, was black with anger. The next moment
he recovered himself, however. He had need of all his strength.

"Don't listen to anything, Geraldine," he begged her. "They will nearly all
be saved. Can't you hear the sirens already? There are plenty of ships
coming up. Remember, we can't go down so long as we keep hold here."

"But you've no lifebelt on," she faltered.

"I don't need it," he assured her. "I can keep afloat perfectly well. You're
not cold?"

"No," she gasped, "but I feel so low down. The sky seems suddenly further
away. Oh, if some one would come!"

There were sirens now, and plenty of them, close at hand. Out of the mist
they saw a great black hull looming.

"They're here all right!" he cried. "Courage, Geraldine! It's only another
five minutes."

Thirty miles an hour into a fog of mist, with the spray falling like a
fountain and the hiss of the seawater like devil's music in their ears. Then
the haze lifted like the curtain before the stage of a theatre, and rolled
away into the dim distance. An officer stood by Conyers' side.

"Hospital ship Princess Hilda just torpedoed by a submarine, sir. They're
picking up the survivors already. We're right into 'em sir."

Even as he spoke, the moonlight shone down. There were two trawlers and a
patrol boat in sight, and twenty or thirty boats rowing to the scene of the
disaster. Suddenly there was a shout.

"Submarine on the port bow!"

They swung around. The sea seemed churned into a mass of soapy foam. Conyers
gripped the rail in front of him. The orders had scarcely left his lips
before the guns were thundering out. The covered-in structure on the lower
deck blazed with an unexpected light. The gun below swung slowly downwards,
moved by some unseen instrument. Columns of spray leapt into the air, the
roar of the guns was deafening. Then there was another shout--a hoarse yell
of excitement. Barely a hundred yards away, the submarine, wobbling
strangely, appeared on the surface. An officer in the stern held up the white

"We are sinking!" he shouted. "We surrender!"

For a single second Conyers hesitated. Then he looked downwards. The corpse
of a woman went floating by; a child, tied on to a table, was bobbing against
the side. The red fires flashed before his eyes; the thunder of his voice
broke the momentary stillness. In obedience to his command, the guns belched
out a level line of flame,--there was nothing more left of the submarine, or
of the men clinging on to it like flies. Conyers watched them disappear
without the slightest change of expression.

"Hell's the only place for them!" he muttered. "Send out the boats, Johnson,
and cruise around. There may be something else left to be picked up."

The word of command was passed forward and immediately a boat was lowered.

"A man and a woman clinging to a table, sir," an officer reported to Conyers.
"We're bringing them on board."

Conyers moved to the side of the bridge. He saw Geraldine lifted into the
boat, and Thomson, as soon as she was safe, clamber in after her. He watched
them hauled up on to the deck of the destroyer and suddenly he recognised

"My God!" he exclaimed, as he dashed down the ladder. "It's Geraldine!"

She was standing on the deck, the wet streaming from her, supported by a
sailor on either side. She gasped a little when she saw him. She was quite
conscious and her voice was steady.

"We are both here, Ralph," she cried, "Hugh and I. He saved my life. Thank
heavens you are here!"

Already the steward was hastening forward with brandy. Geraldine sipped a
little and passed the glass to Thomson. Then she turned swiftly to her
brother. There was an unfamiliar look in her face.

"Ralph," she muttered, "don't bother about us. Don't stop for anything else.
Can't you find that submarine? I saw them all--the men--laughing as they
passed away!"

Conyers' eyes blazed for a moment with reminiscent fury. Then his lips parted
and he broke into strange, discordant merriment.

"They'll laugh no more in this world, Geraldine," he cried, in fierce triumph.
"They're down at the bottom of the sea, every man and dog of them!"

She gripped him by the shoulder--Geraldine, who had never willingly hurt and

"Ralph," she sobbed, "thank God! Thank God you did it!"


It was towards the close of an unusually long day's work and Major Thomson
sighed with relief as he realised that at last his anteroom was empty. He lit
a cigarette and stretched himself in his chair. He had been interviewed by
all manner of people, had listened to dozens of suspicious stories. His work
had been intricate and at times full of detail. On the whole, a good day's
work, he decided, and he had been warmly thanked over the wires by a
Brigadier-General at Harwich for his arrest and exposure of a man who had in
his possession a very wonderful plan of the Felixstowe land defences. He lit
a cigarette and glanced at his watch. Just then the door was hurriedly
opened. Ambrose came in without even the usual ceremony of knocking. He held
a worn piece of paper in his hand. There was a triumphant ring in his tone as
he looked up from it towards his chief.

"I've done it, sir!" he exclaimed. "Stumbled across it quite by accident.
I've got the whole code. It's based upon the leading articles in the Times of
certain dates. Here's this last message--'Leave London June 4th. Have flares
midnight Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's steps, gardens in front of Savoy. Your
last report received.'"

"'Leave London June 4th,'" Thomson repeated, glancing at his
calendar,--"to-day! 'Have flares,'--Zeppelins, Ambrose!"

The clerk nodded.

"I thought of them at once, sir," he agreed. "That's a very plain and
distinct warning in a remarkably complicated code, and it's addressed--to Sir
Alfred Anselman."

A smouldering light flashed in Thomson's eyes.

"Ambrose," he declared, "you're a brick. I sha'n't forget this. Just find
out at once if the Chief's in his room, please."

There followed half an hour of breathless happenings. From the Chief's room
Thomson hurried over to the Admiralty. Here he was taken by one of the men
whom he had called to see, on to the flat roof, and they stood there, facing
eastwards. Twilight was falling and there was scarcely a breath of air.

"It's a perfect night," the official remarked. "If they start at the right
time, they'll get here before any one can see them. All the same, we're
warning the whole coast, and our gun-stations will be served all night."

"Shall we have a chance, do you think, of hitting any of them?" Thomson asked.

The sailor winked.

"There are a couple of gun-stations I know of not far from here," he said. "I
tell you they've got armament there which will make our friends tear their
hair' shells that burst in the air, mind, too, which you needn't mind letting
'em have as quick as we can fire 'em off. I shall try and get on to one of
those stations myself at midnight."

"What time do you think they'd attack if they do get over?"

The other took out his watch and considered the subject.

"Of course," he reflected, "they'll want to make the most of the darkness, but
I think what they'll aim at chiefly is to get here unobserved. Therefore, I
think they won't start until it's dark, probably from three or four different
bases. That means they'll be here a little before dawn. I shall just motor
my people up to Harrow and get back again by midnight."

Thomson left the Admiralty, a little later, and took a taxi to Berkeley
Square. The servant hesitated a little at his inquiry.

"Miss Geraldine is in, sir, I believe," he said. "She is in the morning-room
at the moment."

"I shall not keep her," Thomson promised. "I know that it is nearly

The man ushered him across the hall and threw open the door of the little room
at the back of the stairs.

"Major Thomson, madam," he announced.

Geraldine rose slowly from the couch on which she had been seated. Standing
only a few feet away from her was Granet. The three looked at one another for
a moment and no word was spoken. It was Geraldine who first recovered

"Hugh!" she exclaimed warmly. "Why, you are another unexpected visitor!"

"I should not have come at such a time," Thomson explained, "but I wanted just
to have a word with you, Geraldine. If you are engaged, your mother would

"I am not in the least engaged," Geraldine assured him, "and I have been
expecting to hear from you all day. I got back from Boulogne last night."

"None the worse, I am glad to see," Thomson remarked.

She shivered a little. Then she looked him full in the face and her eyes were
full of unspoken things.

"Thanks to you," she murmured. "However," she added, with a little laugh, "I
don't want to frighten you away, and I know what would happen if I began to
talk about our adventure. I am sorry, Captain Granet," she went on, turning
towards where he was standing, "but I cannot possibly accept your aunt's
invitation. It was very good of her to ask me and very kind of you to want me
to go so much, but to-night I could not leave my mother. She has been having
rather a fit of nerves about Ralph the last few days, and she hates being left

"Captain Granet is trying to persuade you to leave London this evening?"
Thomson asked quietly.

"He wants me very much to go down to Lady Anselman's at Reigate to-night,"
Geraldine explained. "I really accepted Lady Anselman's invitation some days
ago, but that was before mother was so unwell. I have written your aunt,
Captain Granet," she continued, turning to him. "Do please explain to her how
disappointed I am, and it was very nice of you to come and ask me to change my

There was brief but rather curious silence. Granet had turned away form
Geraldine as though to address Thomson. He was meeting now the silent, half

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