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The Kingdom of the Blind by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Part 5 out of 5

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contemptuous challenge of the latter's eyes.

"Captain Granet is showing great consideration for your comfort and safety,"
Thomson remarked.

Granet for a moment forgot himself. His eyes flashed. He was half angry,
half terrified.

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

Thomson made no immediate answer. He seemed to be pondering over his words,
his expression was inscrutable. Geraldine looked from one to the other.

"There is something between you two which I don't understand," she declared.

"There is a very great deal about Captain Granet which I am only just
beginning to understand," Thomson said calmly. "You should find his
solicitude about your movements this evening a great compliment, Geraldine.
It arises entirely from his desire to spare you the shock of what may turn out
yet to be a very lamentable catastrophe."

"You two men are quite incomprehensible," Geraldine sighed. "If only either
of you would speak plainly!"

Thomson bowed.

"Perhaps I may be able to indulge you presently," he observed. "Since you
have failed to persuade Miss Conyers to leave London, Captain Granet," he went
on, turning towards the latter, "may I ask what your own movements are likely
to be?"

"You may not," was the passionate reply. "They are no concern of yours."

"They are unfortunately," Thomson retorted, "my very intimate concern. This,
you will remember, is your ninth day of grace. It is not my desire that you
should suffer unduly for your humane visit here, but I might remind you that
under the circumstances it is a little compromising. No, don't interrupt me!
We understand one another, I am quite sure."

Granet had taken a step backwards. His face for a moment was blanched, his
lips opened but closed again without speech. Thomson was watching him

"Precisely," he went on. "You have guessed the truth, I can see. We have
been able, within the last few hours, to decode that very interesting message
which reached your uncle some little time ago."

Geraldine's bewilderment increased. Granet's almost stupefied silence seemed
to amaze her.

"Hugh, what does it all mean?" she cried. "Is Captain Granet in trouble
because he has come here to warn me of something? He has not said a word
except to beg me to go down into the country tonight."

"And he as begged you to do that," Thomson said, "because he is one of those
privileged few who have been warned that to-night or to-morrow morning is the
time selected for the Zeppelin raid on London of which we have heard so much.
Oh! He knows all about it, and his uncle, and a great many of the guests they
have gathered together. They'll all be safe enough at Reigate! Come, Captain
Granet, what have you to say about it?"

Granet drew himself up. He looked every inch a soldier, and, curiously
enough, he seemed in his bearing and attitude to be respecting the higher rank
by virtue of which Thomson had spoken.

"To-morrow, as you have reminded me, is my tenth day, sir," he said. "I shall
report myself at your office at nine o'clock. Good-bye, Miss Conyers! I hope
that even though I have failed, Major Thomson may persuade you to change your

He left the room. Geraldine was so amazed that she made no movement towards
ringing the bell. She turned instead towards Thomson.

"What does it mean? You must tell me!" she insisted. "I am not a child."

"It means that what I have told you all along is the truth," Thomson replied
earnestly. "You thought, Geraldine, that I was narrow and suspicious. I had
powers and an office and responsibilities, too, which you knew nothing of.
That young man who has just left the room is in the pay of Germany. So is his

"What, Sir Alfred Anselman?" she exclaimed. "Are you mad, Hugh?"

"Not in the least," he assured her. "These are bald facts."

"But Sir Alfred Anselman! He has done such wonderful things for the country.
They all say that he ought to have been in the Cabinet. Hugh, you can't be

"I am so far serious," Thomson declared grimly, "that an hour ago we succeeded
in decoding a message from Holland to Sir Alfred Anselman, advising him to
leave London to-day. We are guessing what that means. We may be right and we
may be wrong. We shall see. I come to beg you to leave the city for
twenty-four hours. I find Granet on the same errand."

"But they may have warned him--some personal friend may have done it," she
insisted. "He is a man with world-wide friends and world-wide connections."

"They why didn't he bring the warning straight to the Admiralty?" Thomson
argued. "If he were a patriotic Englishman, do you think that any other
course was open to him? It won't do, Geraldine. I know more about Captain
Granet than I am going to tell you at this moment. Shall we leave that
subject? Can't we do something to persuade your mother to take you a little
way from town? You can collect some of your friends, if you like. You ought
to take Olive, for instance. We don't want a panic, but there is no reason
why you shouldn't tell any of your friends quietly."

The door was suddenly opened. The Admiral put his head in.

"Sorry!" he apologised. "I thought I heard that young Granet was here."

"He has been and gone, father," Geraldine told him. "You'd better see what
you can do with father," she added, turning to Thomson.

"What's wrong, eh? What's wrong? What's wrong?" the Admiral demanded.

"The fact is, Sir Seymour," Thomson explained, "we've had notice--not exactly
notice, but we've decoded a secret dispatch which gives us reason to believe
that a Zeppelin raid will be attempted on London during the next twenty-four
hours. I came round to try and induce Geraldine to have you all move away
until the thing's over."

"I'll be damned if I do!" the Admiral grunted. "What, sneak off and leave
five or six million others who haven't had the tip, to see all the fun? Not
I! If what you say is true, Thomson,--and I am going straight back to the
Admiralty,--I shall find my way on to one of the air stations myself, and the
women can stay at home and get ready to be useful."

Geraldine passed her hand through her father's arm.

"That's the sort of people we are," she laughed, turning to Thomson. "All the
same, Hugh, it was very nice of you to come," she added. "I couldn't see us
scuttling away into the country, you know. I shall go round and persuade
Olive to stay with me. I am expecting to return to Boulogne almost at once,
to the hospital there, to bring some more wounded back. I may get a little
practice here."

Thomson picked up his hat.

"Well," he said quietly, "I cannot complain of your decision. After all, it
is exactly what I expected."

He made is adieux and departed. The Admiral sniffed as he glanced after him.

"Very good chap, Thomson," he remarked, "but he doesn't quite understand. I
bet you that fine young fellow Granet would never have suggested our running
away like frightened sheep! Come along, my dear, we'll go and dine."


About three o'clock the next morning Thomson was awakened by a light touch
upon his shoulder. He sprang up from the couch upon which he had thrown
himself. Ambrose was standing over him. He was still in his room at the War
Office, and fully dressed.

"Mr. Gordon Jones has rung up from Downing Street, sir," he announced. "He is
with the Prime Minister. They want to know if you could step across."

"I'll go at once," Thomson agreed,--"just sponge my eyes and have a brush up.
Nothing else fresh, Ambrose?"

"Nothing at all sir," the young man replied. "All the newspapers in London
have rung up but of course we have not answered any of them. You'll be
careful outside, please? There isn't a single light anywhere, and the streets
are like pitch. A man tried to use an electric torch on the other side of the
way just now, and they shot him. There's a double line of sentries all round
from Whitehall corner."

"No flares this time, eh?" Thomson muttered. "All right, Ambrose, I think I
can feel my way there."

He descended into the street but for a few moments he found himself hopelessly
lost at sea. So far as he could see there was no light nor any glimmer of
one. He reached the corner of the street like a blind man, by tapping the
kerbstone with his cane. Arrived here, he stood for a moment in the middle of
the road, bareheaded. There was not a breath of wind anywhere. He made his
way carefully down towards Downing Street, meeting few people, and still
obliged to grope rather than walk. Along Downing Street he made his way by
the railings and rang the bell at last at the Premier's house. He was shown
at once into the council room. The four or five men who were seated around a
table, and who looked up at his entrance, bore every one of them, household
names. The Premier held out his hand.

"Good evening, Major Thomson," he began. "Please sit down and join us for a

Thomson was a little surprised at the gathering.

"You'll forgive my suggesting that this is likely to be a marked spot
to-night," he said.

The Premier smiled.

"Well, you could scarcely expect us to hide, could you, Major Thomson?" he
remarked. "In any case, there is not one of us who is not prepared to share
what the other citizens of London have to face. The country for the women and
children, if you please. We gather, sir, that it is chiefly through you that
we are in the fortunate position of being prepared to-night."

"It was through my action in a matter which I understand has been subjected to
a great deal of criticism," Thomson replied.

"I admit it frankly," the statesman acknowledged. "That particular matter,
the matter of your censorship of a certain letter, has been the subject of a
grave and earnest conference here between us all. We decided to send for you.
We telephoned first of all to the Chief but he told us that you were entirely
head of your department and responsible to no one, that you had been--forgive
me--a brilliant success, and that it was his intention to interfere in no
possible way with any course you chose to take. I may say that he intimated
as much to me when I went to him, simply furious because you had removed a
certain person from the list of those whose correspondence is free from

"What can I do for you, gentlemen?" Thomson asked.

"Listen to us while we put a matter to you from a common-sense point of view,"
Mr. Gordon Jones begged. "You see who we are. We are those upon whose
shoulders rests chiefly the task of ruling this country. I want to tell you
that we have come to a unanimous decision. We say nothing about the moral or
the actual guilt of Sir Alfred Anselman. How far he may have been concerned
in plotting with our country's enemies is a matter which we may know in the
future, but for the present--well, let's make a simple matter of it--we want
him left alone."

"You wish him to continue in his present high position?" Thomson said
slowly,--"a man who is convicted of having treasonable correspondence with our

"We wish him left alone," Mr. Gordon Jones continued earnestly, "not for his
own sake but for ours. When the time comes, later on, it may be possible for
us to deal with him. To-day, no words of mine could explain to you his exact
utility. He has a finger upon the money-markets of the world. He has wealth,
great wealth, and commands great wealth in every city. Frankly, this man as
an open enemy today could bring more harm upon us than if any neutral Power
you could name were to join the Triple Alliance. Remember, too, Major
Thomson, that there may be advantages to us in this waiting attitude. Since
your warning, his letters can be admitted to censorship. You have the control
of a great staff of military detectives; the resources of Scotland Yard, too,
are at your service. Have him watched day and night, his letters opened, his
every movement followed, but don't provoke him to open enmity. We don't want
him in the Tower. The scandal and the shock of it would do us enormous harm,
apart from the terrible financial panic which would ensue. We will see to it
that he does no further mischief than he may already have done. We make an
appeal to you, all of us here to-night. Be guided entirely by us in this
matter. You have rendered the country great service by your discovery.
Render it a greater one, Major Thomson, by keeping that discovery secret."

"I will not make conditions with you," Thomson replied gravely. "I will say
at once that I am perfectly willing to yield to your judgement in this matter.
In return I ask something. I have more serious charges still to bring against
Sir Alfred's nephew. Will you leave the matter of dealing with this young man
in my hands?"

"With pleasure," the Premier agreed. "I think, gentlemen," he added, looking
around the table, "that we need not detain Major Thomson any longer? We
others have still a little business to finish."

It was all over in those few minutes and Thomson found himself in the street
again. He guided his way by the railings into Whitehall. The blackness
seemed to him to be now less impenetrable. Looking fixedly eastward he seemed
to be conscious of some faint lightening in the sky. He heard the rumbling of
carts in the road, the horses mostly being led by their drivers. Here and
there, an odd taxicab which had escaped the police orders came along with one
lamp lit, only to be stopped in a few yards and escorted to the edge of the
pavement. All the way up Whitehall there was one long line of taxicabs,
unable to ply for hire or find their way to the garages until daylight. The
unusualness of it all was almost stimulating. At the top of the broad
thoroughfare, Thomson turned to the left through the Pall Mall Arch and passed
into St. James's Park. He strolled slowly along until he came to the
thoroughfare to the left, leading down to the Admiralty. There he paused for
a moment, and, turning around, listened intently. He was possessed of
particularly keen hearing and it seemed to him as though from afar off he
could hear the sound of a thousand muffled hammers beating upon an anvil; of a
strange, methodical disturbance in the air. He grasped the railing with one
hand and gazed upward with straining eyes. Just at that moment he saw
distinctly what appeared to be a flash of lightning in the sky, followed by a
report which sounded like a sharp clap of thunder. Then instinctively he
covered his eyes with his hands. From a dozen places--one close at hand--a
long, level stream of light seemed to shoot out towards the clouds. There was
one of them which came from near the Carlton Hotel, which lit up the whole of
the Pall Mall Arch with startling distinctness, gave him a sudden vision of
the Admiralty roof, and, as he followed it up, brought a cry to his lips. Far
away, beyond even the limits of the quivering line of light, there was
something in the sky which seemed a little blacker than the cloud. Even while
he looked at it, from the Admiralty roof came a lurid flash, the hiss and
screech of a shell as it dashed upwards. And then the sleeping city seemed
suddenly to awake and the night to become hideous. Not fifty yards away from
him something fell in the Park, and all around him lumps of gravel and clods
of earth fell in a shower. A great elm tree fell crashing into the railings
close by his side. Then there was a deafening explosion, the thunder of
falling masonry, and a house by the side of the arch broke suddenly into
flames. A few moments later, a queer sight amongst all these untoward and
unexpected happenings, a fire engine dashed under the arch, narrowly missing
the broken fragments of brick and stone, swung around, and a dozen fire-hoses
commenced to play upon the flaming building.

The darkness was over now, and the silence. There were houses on the other
side of the river on fire, and scarcely a moment passed without the crash of a
falling bomb. The air for a second or two was filled with piteous shrieks
from somewhere towards Charing-Cross, shrieks drowned almost immediately by
another tremendous explosion from further north. Every now and then, looking
upwards in the line of the long searchlights, Thomson could distinctly see the
shape of one of the circling airships. Once the light flashed downwards, and
between him and Buckingham Palace he saw a great aeroplane coming head
foremost down, heard it strike the ground with a tremendous crash, heard the
long death cry, a cry which was more like a sob, of the men who perished with
it. . . .

Every moment the uproar became more deafening. From all sorts of unsuspected
places and buildings came the lightning quiver of the guns, followed by the
shrieking of the shells. Right on to the tops of the houses between where he
was standing and the Carlton, another aeroplane fell, smashing the chimneys
and the windows and hanging there like a gigantic black bat. There was not a
soul anywhere near him, but by the occasional flashes of light Thomson could
see soldiers and hurrying people in the Admiralty Square, and along the Strand
he could hear the patter of footsteps upon the pavement. But he himself
remained alone, a silent, spellbound, fascinated witness of this epic of
slaughter and ruin.

Then came what seemed to him to be its culmination. High above his head he
was suddenly conscious of a downward current of air. He looked up. The
shouting voices, apparently from the falling clouds, voices unfamiliar and
guttural, warned him of what was coming. The darkness which loomed over him,
took shape. He turned and ran for his life. Only a little way above his head
a storm of shrapnel now was streaming from the lowered guns of the Admiralty.
Turning back to look, he saw, scarcely fifty yards above him, the falling of a
huge Zeppelin. He felt himself just outside its range and paused, breathless.
With a crash which seemed to split the air, the huge structure fell. The far
end of it, all buckled up, rested against the back of the Admiralty. The
other end was only a few yards from where Thomson stood, at the bottom of the
steps leading up into Pall Mall. A dozen searchlights played upon it. Men
suddenly appeared as though from underneath. Some of them stood for a moment
and swayed like drunken men, others began to run. Round the corner from the
Admiralty Square a little company of soldiers came with fixed bayonets. There
was a shout. Two of the men ran on.

Thomson heard the crack of a rifle and saw one of them leap into the air and
collapse. The other one staggered and fell on his knees. A dozen of them
were there together with their hands stretched to the skies. Then Thomson was
conscious that one of the oil-clad figures was coming in his direction, making
for the steps, running with swift, stealthy gait. A flash of light gleamed
upon the fugitive for a moment. He wore a hat like a helmet; only his face,
blackened with grease, and his staring eyes, were visible. He came straight
for Thomson, breathing heavily.

"Hands up!" Thomson cried.

The man aimed a furious blow at him. Thomson, who quite unconsciously had
drawn a revolver from his pocket, shot him through the heart, watched him jump
up and fall, a senseless, shapeless heap upon the bottom of the steps, and,
with a queer instinct of bloodthirstiness, ran down the line of the wrecked
Zeppelin, seeking for more victims. The soldiers were coming up in force now,
however, and detachments of them were marching away their prisoners. Another
company was stationed all around the huge craft, keeping guard. Thomson
walked back once more towards the Admiralty. The sky was still lurid with the
reflection of many fires but the roar of the guns had diminished, and for
several minutes no bomb had been thrown. With the revolver in his hand still
smoking, he ran into a man whom he knew slightly at the Admiralty.

"Thomson, by God!" the man exclaimed. "What are you doing with that

"I don't know," he answered. "I've just shot one of those fellows from the
Zeppelin. How are things going?"

"There are six Zeppelins down in different parts, and a couple of dozen
aeroplanes," the other replied. "Woolwich is safe, and the Houses of
Parliament and Whitehall. Heaps of reports to come in but I don't believe
they've done much damage."

Thomson passed on. It was lighter now and the streets were thronged with
people. He turned once more towards the Strand and stood for a moment in
Trafalgar Square. One wing of the National Gallery was gone, and the Golden
Cross Hotel was in flames. Leaning against the Union Club was another fallen
aeroplane. Men and women were rushing everywhere in wild excitement. He made
his way down to the War Office. It seemed queer to find men at work still in
their rooms. He sent Ambrose for an orderly and received a message from

"Damage to public buildings and property not yet estimated. All dockyards and
arsenals safe, principal public buildings untouched. Only seventeen dead and
forty injured reported up to five minutes ago. Great damage done to enemy
fleet; remainder in full retreat, many badly damaged. Zeppelin just down in
Essex, four aeroplanes between here and Romford."

Thomson threw down his revolver.

"Well," he muttered to himself, "perhaps London will believe now that we are
at war!"


"London, too, has its scars, and London is proud of them," a great morning
paper declared the next morning. "The last and gigantic effort of German
'frightfulness' has come and passed. London was visited before dawn this
morning by a fleet of sixteen Zeppelins and forty aeroplanes. Seven of these
former monsters lie stranded and wrecked in various parts of the city, two are
known to have collapsed in Essex, and another is reported to have come to
grief in Norfolk. Of the aeroplanes, nineteen were shot down, and of the rest
so far no news has been heard. The damage to life and property, great though
it may seem, is much less than was expected. Such losses as we have sustained
we shall bear with pride and fortitude. We stand now more closely than ever
in touch with our gallant allies. We, too, bear the marks of battle in the
heart of our country."

Thomson paused to finish his breakfast, and abandoning the leading article
turned to a more particular account.

"The loss of life," the journal went on to say, "although regrettable, is, so
far as accounts have reached us, not large. There are thirty-one civilians
killed, a hundred and two have been admitted into hospitals, and, curiously
enough, only one person bearing arms has suffered. We regret deeply to
announce the death of a very distinguished young officer, Captain Ronald
Granet, a nephew of Sir Alfred Anselman. A bomb passed through the roof of
his house in Sackville Street, completely shattering the apartment in which he
was sitting. His servant perished with him. The other occupants of the
building were, fortunately for them, away for the night."

The paper slipped from Thomson's fingers. He looked through the windows of
his room, across the Thames. Exactly opposite to him a fallen chimney and
four blackened walls, still smouldering, were there to remind him of the great
tragedy. He looked down at the paper again. There was no mistake. It was
the judgment of a higher Court than his!

He made his way down to the War Office at a little before ten o'clock. The
streets were crowded with people and there were throngs surrounding each of
the places where bombs had been dropped. Towards the PallMall Arch the people
were standing in thousands, trying to get near the wreck of the huge Zeppelin,
which completely blocked all the traffic through St. James's Park. Thomson
paused for a moment at the top of Trafalgar Square and looked around him. The
words of the newspaper were indeed true. London had her scars, yet there was
nothing in the faces of the people to show fear. If anything, there was an
atmosphere all around of greater vitality, of greater intensity. The war had
come a little nearer at last than the columns of the daily Press. It was the
real thing with which even the every-day Londoner had rubbed shoulders. From
Cockspur Street to Nelson's Monument the men were lined up in a long queue,
making their way to the recruiting office.

Admiral Conyers paid his usual morning visit to the Admiralty, lunched at his
club and returned home that evening in a state of suppressed excitement. He
found his wife and Geraldine alone and at once took up his favourite position
on the hearth-rug.

"Amongst the other surprises of the last twenty-four hours," he announced, "I
received one to-day which almost took my breath away. It had reference to a
person whom you both know."

"Not poor Captain Granet?" Lady Conyers asked. "You read about him, of

"Nothing to do with Granet, poor fellow," the Admiral continued. "Listen, I
was walking, if you please, for a few yards with the man who is practically
responsible to-day for the conduct of the war. At the corner of Pall Mall we
came face to face with Thomson. I nodded and we were passing on, when to my
astonishment my companion stopped and held out both his hands. 'Thomson, my
dear fellow,' he said, 'I came round to your rooms to-day but you were engaged
three or four deep. Not another word save this--thanks! When we write our
history, the country will know what it owes you. At present, thanks!'"

"Major Thomson?" Lady Conyers gasped.

"Hugh?" Geraldine echoed.

The Admiral smiled.

"We passed on," he continued, "and I said to his lordship--'Wasn't that
Thomson, the Inspector of Field Hospitals?' He simply laughed at me. 'My
dear Conyers,' he said, 'surely you knew that was only a blind? Thomson is
head of the entire Military Intelligence Department. He has the rank of a
Brigadier-General waiting for him when he likes to take it. He prefers to
remain as far as possible unknown and unrecognised, because it helps him with
his work.' Now listen! You've read in all the papers of course, that we had
warning of what was coming last night, that the reason we were so successful
was because every light in London had been extinguished and every gun-station
was doubly manned? Well, the warning we received was due to Thomson and no
one else!"

"And to think," Lady Conyers exclaimed "that we were half afraid to tell your
father that Hugh was coming to dinner!"

Geraldine had slipped from the room. The Admiral blew his nose.

"I hope Geraldine's going to be sensible," he said. "I've always maintained
that Thomson was a fine fellow, only Geraldine seemed rather carried away by
that young Granet. Poor fellow! One can't say anything about him now, but he
was just the ordinary type of showy young soldier, not fit to hold a candle to
a man like Thomson."

Lady Conyers was a little startled.

"You have such sound judgement, Seymour," she murmured.

Thomson was a few minutes late for dinner but even the Admiral forgave him.

"Just ourselves, Thomson," he said, as they made their way into the
dining-room. "What a shock the Chief gave me to-day! You've kept things
pretty dark. Inspector of Hospitals, indeed!"

Thomson smiled.

"That was my excuse," he explained, "for running backwards and forwards
between France and England at the beginning of the war. There's no particular
secret about my position now. I've had a very hard fight to keep it, a very
hard fight to make it a useful one. Until last night, at any rate, it hasn't
seemed to me that English people realised that we were at war. Now, I hope at
last that we are going to take the gloves off. Do you know," he went on, a
little later, "that in France they think we're mad. Honestly, in my position,
if I had had the French laws at my back I believe that by to-day the war would
have been over. As it is, when I started even my post was a farce. We had to
knuckle under the whole of the time, to the civil authorities. They wanted to
fine a spy ten shillings or to bind him over to keep the peace! I've never
had to fight for anything so hard in my life as I've had to fight once or
twice for my file of men at the Tower. At the beginning of the war we'd catch
them absolutely red-handed. All they had to do was to surrender to the civil
authorities, and we had a city magistrate looking up statutes to see how to
deal with them."

"There are a good many things which will make strange reading after the war is
over," the Admiral said grimly. "I fancy that my late department will provide
a few sensations. Still, our very mistakes are our justification. We were
about as ready for war as Lady Conyers there is to play Rugby football for

"It has taken us the best part of a year to realise what war means," Thomson
assented. "Even now there are people whom one meets every day who seem to be
living in abstractions."

"Last night's raid ought to wake a few of them up," the Admiral grunted. "I
should like to have shown those devils where to have dropped a few of their
little toys. There are one or two men who were making laws not so long ago,
who'd have had a hole in their roofs."

Geraldine laughed softly.

"I really think that dad feels more bloodthirsty when he talks about some of
our politicians than he does about the Germans," she declared.

"Some of our worst enemies are at home, any way," Sir Seymour insisted, "and
we shall never get on with the war till we've weeded them out."

"Where did the nearest bomb to you drop?" Thomson inquired.

"The corner of St. James's Street," Sir Seymour replied. "There were two
houses in Berkeley Street alight, and a hole in the roof of a house in Hay
Hill. The bomb there didn't explode, though. Sad thing about young Granet,
wasn't it? He seems to be the only service man who suffered at all."

Lady Conyers shivered sympathetically.

"It was perfectly ghastly," she murmured.

"A very promising young officer, I should think," the Admiral continued, "and
a very sad death. Brings things home to you when you remember that it was
only yesterday he was here, poor fellow!"

Geraldine and her mother rose from their places, a few minutes later. The
latter looked up at Thomson as he held open the door.

"You won't be long, will you?" she begged.

"You can take him with you, if you like," the Admiral declared, also rising to
his feet. "He doesn't drink port and the cigarettes are in your room. I have
to take the Chair at a recruiting meeting at Holborn in a quarter of an hour.
The car's waiting now. You'll excuse me, won't you, Thomson?"

"Of course," the latter assented. "I must leave early myself. I have to go
back to the War Office."

Geraldine took his arm and led him into the little morning-room.

"You see, I am carrying you off in the most bare-faced fashion," she began,
motioning him to a seat by her side, "but really you are such an elusive
person, and only this morning, in the midst of that awful thunder of bombs,
when we stood on the roof and looked at London breaking out into flames, I
couldn't help thinking--remembering, I mean--how short a time it is since you
and I were face to face with the other horror and you saved my life. Do you
know, I don't think that I have ever said 'thank you'--not properly?"

"I think the words may go," he answered, smiling. "It was a horrible time
while it lasted but it was soon over. The worst part of it was seeing those
others, whom we could not help, drifting by."

"I should have been with them but for you," she said quietly. "Don't think
that I don't know it. Don't think that I don't regret sometimes, Hugh, that I
didn't trust you a little more completely. You are right about so many
things. But, Hugh, will you tell me something?"

"Of course!"

"Why were you so almost obstinately silent when father spoke of poor Captain
Granet's death?"

"Because I couldn't agree with what he said," Thomson replied. "I think that
Granet's death in exactly that fashion was the best thing that could possibly
have happened for him and for all of us."

She shivered as she looked at him.

"Aren't you a little cruel?" she murmured.

"I am not cruel at all," he assured her firmly. "Let me quote the words of a
greater man--'I have no enemies but the enemies of my country, and for them I
have no mercy.'"

"You still believe that Captain Granet--"

"There is no longer any doubt as to his complete guilt. As you know yourself,
the cipher letter warning certain people in London of the coming raid, passed
through his hands. He even came here to warn you. There were other charges
against him which could have been proved up to the hilt. While we are upon
this subject, Geraldine, let me finish with it absolutely. Only a short time
ago I confronted him with his guilt, I gave him ten days during which it was
my hope that he would embrace the only honourable course left to him. I took
a risk leaving him free, but during the latter part of the time he was watched
day and night. If he had lived until this morning, there isn't any power on
earth could have kept him from the Tower, or any judge, however merciful, who
could have saved him from being shot."

"It is too awful," she faltered, "and yet--it makes me so ashamed, Hugh, to
think that I could not have trusted you more absolutely."

He opened his pocket-book and a little flush of colour came suddenly into her
cheeks. He drew out the ring silently.

"Will you trust yourself now and finally, Geraldine?" he asked.

She held out her finger.

"I shall be so proud and so happy to have it again," she whispered. "I do
really feel as though I had behaved like a foolish child, and I don't like the
feeling at all, because in these days one should be more than ordinarily
serious, shouldn't one? Shall I be able to make it up to you, Hugh, do you

He stooped to meet her lips.

"There is an atonement you might make, dear," he ventured. "Do you remember a
suggestion of mine at one of those historic luncheons of Lady Anselman's?"

She laughed into his eyes for a moment and then looked away.

"I was wondering whether you had forgotten that," she confessed.

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