Part 9 out of 9
in the Bronx; going straight from here to the bank. So you can begin
to draw against us within an hour. And--hello!--will three millions
see you through?"
From Wall Street there came no answer, but from the hands of the
barkeeper a glass crashed to the floor.
The young man regarded the barkeeper with puzzled eyes.
"He doesn't answer," he exclaimed. "He must have hung up."
"He must have fainted!" said the barkeeper.
The white-haired one pushed a bill across the counter. "To pay
for breakage," he said, and disappeared down Pelham Parkway.
Throughout the day, with the bill, for evidence, pasted against
the mirror, the barkeeper told and retold the wondrous tale.
"He stood just where you're standing now," he related, "blowing
in million-dollar bills like you'd blow suds off a beer. If I'd
knowed it was him, I'd have hit him once and hid him in the
cellar for the reward. Who'd I think he was? I thought he was
a wire-tapper, working a con game!"
Mr. Carroll had not "hung up," but when in the Bronx the
beer-glass crashed, in Wall Street the receiver had slipped from
the hand of the man who held it, and the man himself had fallen
forward. His desk hit him in the face and woke him--woke him
to the wonderful fact that he still lived; that at forty he had been
born again; that before him stretched many more years in which,
as the young man with the white hair had pointed out, he still
could make good.
The afternoon was far advanced when the staff of Carroll and
Hastings were allowed to depart, and, even late as was the hour,
two of them were asked to remain. Into the most private of the
private offices Carroll invited Gaskell, the head clerk; in the
main office Hastings had asked young Thorne, the bond clerk,
to be seated.
Until the senior partner has finished with Gaskell young Thorne
must remain seated.
"Gaskell," said Mr. Carroll, "if we had listened to you, if we'd run
this place as it was when father was alive, this never would have
happened. It hasn't happened, but we've had our lesson. And
after this we're going slow and going straight. And we don't need
you to tell us how to do that. We want you to go away--on a month's
vacation. When I thought we were going under I planned to send the
children on a sea voyage with the governess--so they wouldn't see the
newspapers. But now that I can look them in the eye again, I need
them, I can't let them go. So, if you'd like to take your wife on an
ocean trip to Nova Scotia and Quebec, here are the cabins I reserved
for the kids. They call it the royal suite--whatever that is--and the trip
lasts a month. The boat sails to-morrow morning. Don't sleep too late
or you may miss her."
The head clerk was secreting the tickets in the inside pocket of
his waistcoat. His fingers trembled, and when he laughed his
"Miss the boat!" the head clerk exclaimed. "If she gets away from
Millie and me she's got to start now. We'll go on board to-night!"
A half-hour later Millie was on her knees packing a trunk, and
her husband was telephoning to the drug-store for a sponge-bag
and a cure for seasickness.
Owing to the joy in her heart and to the fact that she was on her
knees, Millie was alternately weeping into the trunk-tray and
offering up incoherent prayers of thanksgiving. Suddenly she
sank back upon the floor.
"John!" she cried, "doesn't it seem sinful to sail away in a
'royal suite' and leave this beautiful flat empty?"
Over the telephone John was having trouble with the drug clerk.
"No!" he explained, "I'm not seasick now. The medicine I want is
to be taken later. I know I'm speaking from the Pavonia; but the
Pavonia isn't a ship; it's an apartment-house."
He turned to Millie. "We can't be in two places at the same
time," he suggested.
"But, think," insisted Millie, "of all the poor people stifling
to-night in this heat, trying to sleep on the roofs and fire-escapes;
and our flat so cool and big and pretty--and no one in it."
John nodded his head proudly.
"I know it's big," he said, "but it isn't big enough to hold all
the people who are sleeping to-night on the roofs and in the
"I was thinking of your brother--and Grace," said Millie. "They've
been married only two weeks now, and they're in a stuffy hall
bedroom and eating with all the other boarders. Think what our
flat would mean to them; to be by themselves, with eight rooms
and their own kitchen and bath, and our new refrigerator and the
gramophone! It would be heaven! It would be a real honeymoon!"
Abandoning the drug clerk, John lifted Millie in his arms and
kissed her, for, next to his wife, nearest his heart was the
The younger brother and Grace were sitting on the stoop of the
boarding-house. On the upper steps, in their shirt-sleeves, were
the other boarders; so the bride and bridegroom spoke in whispers.
The air of the cross street was stale and stagnant; from it rose
exhalations of rotting fruit, the gases of an open subway, the
smoke of passing taxicabs. But between the street and the hall
bedroom, with its odors of a gas-stove and a kitchen, the choice
"We've got to cool off somehow," the young husband was saying,
"or you won't sleep. Shall we treat ourselves to ice-cream sodas
or a trip on the Weehawken ferry-boat?"
"The ferry-boat!" begged the girl, "where we can get away from
all these people."
A taxicab with a trunk in front whirled into the street, kicked
itself to a stop, and the head clerk and Millie spilled out upon
the pavement. They talked so fast, and the younger brother and
Grace talked so fast, that the boarders, although they listened
intently, could make nothing of it.
They distinguished only the concluding sentences:
"Why don't you drive down to the wharf with us," they heard the
elder brother ask, "and see our royal suite?"
But the younger brother laughed him to scorn.
"What's your royal suite," he mocked, "to our royal palace?"
An hour later, had the boarders listened outside the flat of the
head clerk, they would have heard issuing from his bathroom the
cooling murmur of running water and from his gramophone the
jubilant notes of "Alexander's Rag-time Band."
When in his private office Carroll was making a present of the
royal suite to the head clerk, in the main office Hastings, the
junior partner, was addressing "Champ" Thorne, the bond clerk.
He addressed him familiarly and affectionately as "Champ." This
was due partly to the fact that twenty-six years before Thorne had
been christened Champneys and to the coincidence that he had
captained the football eleven of one of the Big Three to the
"Champ," said Mr. Hastings, "last month, when you asked me to
raise your salary, the reason I didn't do it was not because you
didn't deserve it, but because I believed if we gave you a raise
you'd immediately get married."
The shoulders of the ex-football captain rose aggressively; he
snorted with indignation.
"And why should I not get married?" he demanded. "You're a fine
one to talk! You're the most offensively happy married man I ever
"Perhaps I know I am happy better than you do," reproved the
junior partner; "but I know also that it takes money to support a
"You raise me to a hundred a week," urged Champ, "and I'll make
it support a wife whether it supports me or not."
"A month ago," continued Hastings, "we could have promised you a
hundred, but we didn't know how long we could pay it. We didn't
want you to rush off and marry some fine girl--"
"Some fine girl!" muttered Mr. Thorne. "The finest girl!"
"The finer the girl," Hastings pointed out, "the harder it would
have been for you if we had failed and you had lost your job."
The eyes of the young man opened with sympathy and concern.
"Is it as bad as that?" he murmured.
Hastings sighed happily.
"It was," he said, "but this morning the Young Man of Wall Street
did us a good turn--saved us--saved our creditors, saved our homes,
saved our honor. We're going to start fresh and pay our debts, and
we agreed the first debt we paid would be the small one we owe you.
You've brought us more than we've given, and if you'll stay with us
we're going to 'see' your fifty and raise it a hundred. What do you
Young Mr. Thorne leaped to his feet. What he said was: "Where'n
hell's my hat?"
But by the time he had found the hat and the door he mended his
"I say, 'Thank you a thousand times,"' he shouted over his
shoulder. "Excuse me, but I've got to go. I've got to break the
He did not explain to whom he was going to break the news; but
Hastings must have guessed, for again he sighed happily and then,
a little hysterically laughed aloud. Several months had passed
since he had laughed aloud.
In his anxiety to break the news Champ Thorne almost broke his
neck. In his excitement he could not remember whether the red
flash meant the elevator was going down or coming up, and sooner
than wait to find out he started to race down eighteen flights of
stairs when fortunately the elevator-door swung open.
"You get five dollars," he announced to the elevator man, "if you
drop to the street without a stop. Beat the speed limit! Act like
the building is on fire and you're trying to save me before the
Senator Barnes and his entire family, which was his daughter
Barbara, were at the Ritz-Carlton. They were in town in August
because there was a meeting of the directors of the Brazil and
Cuyaba Rubber Company, of which company Senator Barnes was
president. It was a secret meeting. Those directors who were
keeping cool at the edge of the ocean had been summoned by
telegraph; those who were steaming across the ocean, by wireless.
Up from the equator had drifted the threat of a scandal, sickening,
grim, terrible. As yet it burned beneath the surface, giving out only
an odor, but an odor as rank as burning rubber itself. At any moment
it might break into flame. For the directors, was it the better wisdom
to let the scandal smoulder, and take a chance, or to be the first to give
the alarm, the first to lead the way to the horror and stamp it out?
It was to decide this that, in the heat of August, the directors and the
president had foregathered.
Champ Thorne knew nothing of this; he knew only that by a miracle
Barbara Barnes was in town; that at last he was in a position to ask
her to marry him; that she would certainly say she would. That was
all he cared to know.
A year before he had issued his declaration of independence.
Before he could marry, he told her, he must be able to support a
wife on what he earned, without her having to accept money from
her father, and until he received "a minimum wage" of five thousand
dollars they must wait.
"What is the matter with my father's money?" Barbara had demanded.
Thorne had evaded the direct question.
"There is too much of it," he said.
"Do you object to the way he makes it?" insisted Barbara. "Because
rubber is most useful. You put it in golf balls and auto tires and
galoshes. There is nothing so perfectly respectable as galoshes.
And what is there 'tainted' about a raincoat?"
Thorne shook his head unhappily.
"It's not the finished product to which I refer," he stammered; "it's
the way they get the raw material."
"They get it out of trees," said Barbara. Then she exclaimed with
enlightenment--"Oh!" she cried, "you are thinking of the Congo.
There it is terrible! That is slavery. But there are no slaves on the
Amazon. The natives are free and the work is easy. They just tap
the trees the way the farmers gather sugar in Vermont. Father has
told me about it often."
Thorne had made no comment. He could abuse a friend, if the
friend were among those present, but denouncing any one he
disliked as heartily as he disliked Senator Barnes was a public
service he preferred to leave to others. And he knew besides that
if the father she loved and the man she loved distrusted each
other, Barbara would not rest until she learned the reason why.
One day, in a newspaper, Barbara read of the Puju Mayo atrocities,
of the Indian slaves in the jungles and backwaters of the Amazon,
who are offered up as sacrifices to "red rubber." She carried the
paper to her father. What it said, her father told her, was untrue,
and if it were true it was the first he had heard of it.
Senator Barnes loved the good things of life, but the thing he
loved most was his daughter; the thing he valued the highest was
her good opinion. So when for the first time she looked at him in
doubt, he assured her he at once would order an investigation.
"But, of course," he added, "it will be many months before our
agents can report. On the Amazon news travels very slowly."
In the eyes of his daughter the doubt still lingered.
"I am afraid," she said, "that that is true."
That was six months before the directors of the Brazil and Cuyaba
Rubber Company were summoned to meet their president at his
rooms in the Ritz-Carlton. They were due to arrive in half an hour,
and while Senator Barnes awaited their coming Barbara came to
him. In her eyes was a light that helped to tell the great news. It
gave him a sharp, jealous pang. He wanted at once to play a part
in her happiness, to make her grateful to him, not alone to this
stranger who was taking her away. So fearful was he that she
would shut him out of her life that had she asked for half his
kingdom he would have parted with it.
"And besides giving my consent," said the rubber king, "for which
no one seems to have asked, what can I give my little girl to make
her remember her old father? Some diamonds to put on her head,
or pearls to hang around her neck, or does she want a vacant lot
on Fifth Avenue?"
The lovely hands of Barbara rested upon his shoulders; her lovely
face was raised to his; her lovely eyes were appealing, and a little
"What would one of those things cost?" asked Barbara.
The question was eminently practical. It came within the scope of
the senator's understanding. After all, he was not to be cast into
outer darkness. His smile was complacent. He answered airily:
"Anything you like," he said; "a million dollars?"
The fingers closed upon his shoulders. The eyes, still frightened,
still searched his in appeal.
"Then, for my wedding-present," said the girl, "I want you to take
that million dollars and send an expedition to the Amazon. And I
will choose the men. Men unafraid; men not afraid of fever or
sudden death; not afraid to tell the truth--even to you. And all the
world will know. And they--I mean you--will set those people free!"
Senator Barnes received the directors with an embarrassment which
he concealed under a manner of just indignation.
"My mind is made up," he told them. "Existing conditions cannot
continue. And to that end, at my own expense, I am sending an
expedition across South America. It will investigate, punish, and
establish reforms. I suggest, on account of this damned heat, we
do now adjourn."
That night, over on Long Island, Carroll told his wife all, or
nearly all. He did not tell her about the automatic pistol. And
together on tiptoe they crept to the nursery and looked down at
their sleeping children. When she rose from her knees the mother
said: "But how can I thank him?"
By "him" she meant the Young Man of Wall Street.
"You never can thank him," said Carroll; "that's the worst of it."
But after a long silence the mother said: "I will send him a
photograph of the children. Do you think he will understand?"
Down at Seabright, Hastings and his wife walked in the sunken
garden. The moon was so bright that the roses still held their
"I would like to thank him," said the young wife. She meant the
Young Man of Wall Street. "But for him we would have lost this."
Her eyes caressed the garden, the fruit-trees, the house with wide,
hospitable verandas. "To-morrow I will send him some of these
roses," said the young wife. "Will he understand that they mean
At a scandalously late hour, in a scandalous spirit of independence,
Champ Thorne and Barbara were driving around Central Park in a
"How strangely the Lord moves, his wonders to perform," misquoted
Barbara. "Had not the Young Man of Wall Street saved Mr. Hastings,
Mr. Hastings could not have raised your salary; you would not have
asked me to marry you, and had you not asked me to marry you,
father would not have given me a wedding-present, and--"
"And," said Champ, taking up the tale, "thousands of slaves would
still be buried in the jungles, hidden away from their wives and
children and the light of the sun and their fellow men. They
still would be dying of fever, starvation, tortures."
He took her hand in both of his and held her finger-tips against
"And they will never know," he whispered, "when their freedom
comes, that they owe it all to you."
On Hunter's Island, Jimmie Reeder and his bunkie, Sam Sturges,
each on his canvas cot, tossed and twisted. The heat, the moonlight,
and the mosquitoes would not let them even think of sleep.
"That was bully," said Jimmie, "what you did to-day about saving
that dog. If it hadn't been for you he'd ha' drownded."
"He would not!" said Sammy with punctilious regard for the truth;
"it wasn't deep enough."
"Well, the scout-master ought to know," argued Jimmie; "he said
it was the best 'one good turn' of the day!"
Modestly Sam shifted the lime-light so that it fell upon his
"I'll bet," he declared loyally, "your 'one good turn' was a
Jimmie yawned, and then laughed scornfully.
"Me!" he scoffed. "I didn't do nothing. I sent my sister to the
"SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE"
Marie Gessler, known as Marie Chaumontel, Jeanne d'Avrechy,
the Countess d'Aurillac, was German. Her father, who served
through the Franco-Prussian War, was a German spy. It was
from her mother she learned to speak French sufficiently well
to satisfy even an Academician and, among Parisians, to pass
as one. Both her parents were dead. Before they departed,
knowing they could leave their daughter nothing save their
debts, they had had her trained as a nurse. But when they
were gone, Marie in the Berlin hospitals played politics,
intrigued, indiscriminately misused the appealing, violet
eyes. There was a scandal; several scandals. At the age of
twenty-five she was dismissed from the Municipal Hospital,
and as now-save for the violet eyes--she was without resources,
as a compagnon de voyage with a German doctor she travelled
to Monte Carlo. There she abandoned the doctor for Henri
Ravignac, a captain in the French Aviation Corps, who,
when his leave ended, escorted her to Paris.
The duties of Captain Ravignac kept him in barracks near the
aviation field, but Marie he established in his apartments on the
Boulevard Haussmann. One day he brought from the barracks a
roll of blue-prints, and as he was locking them in a drawer, said:
"The Germans would pay through the nose for those!" The remark
was indiscreet, but then Marie had told him she was French, and
any one would have believed her.
The next morning the same spirit of adventure that had exiled her
from the Berlin hospitals carried her with the blue-prints to the
German embassy. There, greatly shocked, they first wrote down her
name and address, and then, indignant at her proposition, ordered
her out. But the day following a strange young German who was
not at all indignant, but, on the contrary, quite charming, called
upon Marie. For the blue-prints he offered her a very large sum,
and that same hour with them and Marie departed for Berlin. Marie
did not need the money. Nor did the argument that she was serving
her country greatly impress her. It was rather that she loved intrigue.
And so she became a spy.
Henri Ravignac, the man she had robbed of the blue-prints, was tried
by court-martial. The charge was treason, but Charles Ravignac, his
younger brother, promised to prove that the guilty one was the girl,
and to that end obtained leave of absence and spent much time and
money. At the trial he was able to show the record of Marie in
Berlin and Monte Carlo; that she was the daughter of a German
secret agent; that on the afternoon the prints disappeared Marie,
with an agent of the German embassy, had left Paris for Berlin.
In consequence of this the charge of selling military secrets was
altered to one of "gross neglect," and Henri Ravignac was sentenced
to two years in the military prison at Tours. But he was of an ancient
and noble family, and when they came to take him from his cell in the
Cherche-Midi, he was dead. Charles, his brother, disappeared. It was
said he also had killed himself; that he had been appointed a military
attache in South America; that to revenge his brother he had entered
the secret service; but whatever became of him no one knew. All that
was certain was that, thanks to the act of Marie Gessler, on the rolls
of the French army the ancient and noble name of Ravignac no longer
In her chosen profession Marie Gessler found nothing discreditable.
Of herself her opinion was not high, and her opinion of men was
lower. For her smiles she had watched several sacrifice honor, duty,
loyalty; and she held them and their kind in contempt. To lie, to
cajole, to rob men of secrets they thought important, and of secrets
the importance of which they did not even guess, was to her merely
an intricate and exciting game.
She played it very well. So well that in the service her advance
was rapid. On important missions she was sent to Russia, through
the Balkans; even to the United States. There, with credentials
as an army nurse, she inspected our military hospitals and
unobtrusively asked many innocent questions.
When she begged to be allowed to work in her beloved Paris,
"they" told her when war came "they" intended to plant her
inside that city, and that, until then, the less Paris knew of
her the better.
But just before the great war broke, to report on which way Italy
might jump, she was sent to Rome, and it was not until September
she was recalled. The telegram informed her that her Aunt
Elizabeth was ill, and that at once she must return to Berlin.
This, she learned from the code book wrapped under the cover
of her thermos bottle, meant that she was to report to the general
commanding the German forces at Soissons.
From Italy she passed through Switzerland, and, after leaving Basle,
on military trains was rushed north to Luxemburg, and then west to
Laon. She was accompanied by her companion, Bertha, an elderly
and respectable, even distinguished-looking female. In the secret
service her number was 528. Their passes from the war office
described them as nurses of the German Red Cross. Only the
Intelligence Department knew their real mission. With her, also,
as her chauffeur, was a young Italian soldier of fortune, Paul
Anfossi. He had served in the Belgian Congo, in the French
Foreign Legion in Algiers, and spoke all the European languages.
In Rome, where as a wireless operator he was serving a commercial
company, in selling Marie copies of messages he had memorized,
Marie had found him useful, and when war came she obtained
for him, from the Wilhelmstrasse, the number 292. From Laon,
in one of the automobiles of the General Staff, the three spies
were driven first to Soissons, and then along the road to Meaux
and Paris, to the village of Neufchelles. They arrived at midnight,
and in a chateau of one of the Champagne princes, found the
colonel commanding the Intelligence Bureau. He accepted their
credentials, destroyed them, and replaced them with a laissez-
passer signed by the mayor of Laon. That dignitary, the colonel
explained, to citizens of Laon fleeing to Paris and the coast had
issued many passes. But as now between Laon and Paris there were
three German armies, the refugees had been turned back and their
"From among them," said the officer, "we have selected one for
you. It is issued to the wife of Count d'Aurillac, a captain of
reserves, and her aunt, Madame Benet. It asks for those ladies
and their chauffeur, Briand, a safe-conduct through the French
military lines. If it gets you into Paris you will destroy it and
assume another name. The Count d'Aurillac is now with his
regiment in that city. If he learned of the presence there of his
wife, he would seek her, and that would not be good for you. So,
if you reach Paris, you will become a Belgian refugee. You are
high-born and rich. Your chateau has been destroyed. But you
have money. You will give liberally to the Red Cross. You will
volunteer to nurse in the hospitals. With your sad story of ill
treatment by us, with your high birth, and your knowledge of
nursing, which you acquired, of course, only as an amateur, you
should not find it difficult to join the Ladies of France, or the
American Ambulance. What you learn from the wounded English
and French officers and the French doctors you will send us through
the usual channels."
"When do I start?" asked the woman.
"For a few days," explained the officer, "you remain in this chateau.
You will keep us informed of what is going forward after we
"Withdraw?" It was more of an exclamation than a question. Marie
was too well trained to ask questions.
"We are taking up a new position," said the officer, "on the
The woman, incredulous, stared.
"And we do not enter Paris?"
"You do," returned the officer. "That is all that concerns you.
We will join you later--in the spring. Meanwhile, for the winter
we intrench ourselves along the Aisne. In a chimney of this
chateau we have set up a wireless outfit. We are leaving it intact.
The chauffeur Briand--who, you must explain to the French, you
brought with you from Laon, and who has been long in your
service--will transmit whatever you discover. We wish especially
to know of any movement toward our left. If they attack in front
from Soissons, we are prepared; but of any attempt to cross the
Oise and take us in flank you must warn us."
The officer rose and hung upon himself his field-glasses,
map-cases, and side-arms.
"We leave you now," he said. "When the French arrive you will
tell them your reason for halting at this chateau was that the owner,
Monsieur Iverney, and his family are friends of your husband. You
found us here, and we detained you. And so long as you can use the
wireless, make excuses to remain. If they offer to send you on to Paris,
tell them your aunt is too ill to travel."
"But they will find the wireless," said the woman. "They are sure to
use the towers for observation, and they will find it."
"In that case," said the officer, "you will suggest to them that
we fled in such haste we had no time to dismantle it. Of course,
you had no knowledge that it existed, or, as a loyal French woman,
you would have at once told them." To emphasize his next words
the officer pointed at her: "Under no circumstances," he continued,
"must you be suspected. If they should take Briand in the act,
should they have even the least doubt concerning him, you must
repudiate him entirely. If necessary, to keep your own skirts clear,
it would be your duty yourself to denounce him as a spy."
"Your first orders," said the woman, "were to tell them Briand had
been long in my service; that I brought him from my home in Laon."
"He might be in your service for years," returned the colonel,
"and you not know he was a German agent."
"If to save myself I inform upon him," said Marie, "of course you
know you will lose him."
The officer shrugged his shoulders. "A wireless operator," he
retorted, "we can replace. But for you, and for the service you
are to render in Paris, we have no substitute. You must not be
found out. You are invaluable."
The spy inclined her head. "I thank you," she said.
The officer sputtered indignantly.
"It is not a compliment," he exclaimed; "it is an order. You must
not be found out!"
Withdrawn some two hundred yards from the Paris road, the
chateau stood upon a wooded hill. Except directly in front,
trees of great height surrounded it. The tips of their branches
brushed the windows; interlacing, they continued until they
overhung the wall of the estate. Where it ran with the road the
wall gave way to a lofty gate and iron fence, through which those
passing could see a stretch of noble turf, as wide as a polo-field,
borders of flowers disappearing under the shadows of the trees;
and the chateau itself, with its terrace, its many windows, its
high-pitched, sloping roof, broken by towers and turrets.
Through the remainder of the night there came from the road to
those in the chateau the roar and rumbling of the army in retreat.
It moved without panic, disorder, or haste, but unceasingly. Not
for an instant was there a breathing-spell. And when the sun rose,
the three spies--the two women and the chauffeur--who in the great
chateau were now alone, could see as well as hear the gray column
of steel rolling past below them.
The spies knew that the gray column had reached Claye, had stood
within fifteen miles of Paris, and then upon Paris had turned its
back. They knew also that the reverberations from the direction
of Meaux, that each moment grew more loud and savage, were the
French "seventy-fives" whipping the gray column forward. Of what
they felt the Germans did not speak. In silence they looked at each
other, and in the eyes of Marie was bitterness and resolve.
Toward noon Marie met Anfossi in the great drawing-room that
stretched the length of the terrace and from the windows of which,
through the park gates, they could see the Paris road.
"This, that is passing now," said Marie, "is the last of our rear-guard.
Go to your tower," she ordered, "and send word that except for
stragglers and the wounded our column has just passed through
NeufchelIes, and that any moment we expect the French." She
raised her hand impressively. "From now," she warned, "we
speak French, we think French, we are French!"
Anfossi, or Briand, as now he called himself, addressed her in
that language. His tone was bitter. "Pardon my lese-majesty," he
said, "but this chief of your Intelligence Department is a dummer
Mensch. He is throwing away a valuable life."
Marie exclaimed in dismay. She placed her hand upon his arm, and
the violet eyes filled with concern.
"Not yours!" she protested.
"Absolutely!" returned the Italian. "I can send nothing by this
knapsack wireless that they will not learn from others; from airmen,
Uhlans, the peasants in the fields. And certainly I will be caught.
Dead I am dead, but alive and in Paris the opportunities are unending.
From the French Legion Etranger I have my honorable discharge. I
am an expert wireless operator and in their Signal Corps I can easily
find a place. Imagine me, then, on the Eiffel Tower. From the air I
snatch news from all of France, from the Channel, the North Sea.
You and I could work together, as in Rome. But here, between the
lines, with a pass from a village sous-prefet, it is ridiculous. I am
not afraid to die. But to die because some one else is stupid, that is
Marie clasped his hand in both of hers.
"You must not speak of death," she cried; "you know I must carry out
my orders, that I must force you to take this risk. And you know that
thought of harm to you tortures me!"
Quickly the young man disengaged his hand. The woman exclaimed
"Why do you doubt me?" she cried.
Briand protested vehemently.
"I do not doubt you."
"My affection, then?" In a whisper that carried with it the
feeling of a caress Marie added softly: "My love?"
The young man protested miserably. "You make it very hard,
mademoiselle," he cried. "You are my superior officer, I am your
servant. Who am I that I should share with others--"
The woman interrupted eagerly.
"Ah, you are jealous!" she cried. "Is that why you are so cruel?
But when I tell you I love you, and only you, can you not feel it
is the truth?"
The young man frowned unhappily.
"My duty, mademoiselle!" he stammered.
With an exclamation of anger Marie left him. As the door slammed
behind her, the young man drew a deep breath. On his face was the
expression of ineffable relief.
In the hall Marie met her elderly companion, Bertha, now her
aunt, Madame Benet.
"I heard you quarrelling," Bertha protested. "It is most indiscreet.
It is not in the part of the Countess d'Aurillac that she makes love
to her chauffeur."
Marie laughed noiselessly and drew her farther down the hall. "He
is imbecile!" she exclaimed. "He will kill me with his solemn face
and his conceit. I make love to him--yes--that he may work the
more willingly. But he will have none of it. He is jealous of the
Madame Benet frowned.
"He resents the others," she corrected. "I do not blame him. He is
"And the others," demanded Marie; "were they not of the most
noble families of Rome?"
"I am old and I am ugly," said Bertha, "but to me Anfossi is
always as considerate as he is to you who are so beautiful."
"An Italian gentleman," returned Marie, "does not serve in
Belgian Congo unless it is--the choice of that or the marble
"I do not know what his past may be," sighed Madame Benet,
"nor do I ask. He is only a number, as you and I are only numbers.
And I beg you to let us work in harmony. At such a time your
love-affairs threaten our safety. You must wait."
Marie laughed insolently. "With the Du Barry," she protested, "I
can boast that I wait for no man."
"No," replied the older woman; "you pursue him!"
Marie would have answered sharply, but on the instant her
interest was diverted. For one week, by day and night, she had
lived in a world peopled only by German soldiers. Beside her
in the railroad carriage, on the station platforms, at the windows
of the trains that passed the one in which she rode, at the grade
crossings, on the bridges, in the roads that paralleled the tracks,
choking the streets of the villages and spread over the fields of
grain, she had seen only the gray-green uniforms. Even her
professional eye no longer distinguished regiment from regiment,
dragoon from grenadier, Uhlan from Hussar or Landsturm.
Stripes, insignia, numerals, badges of rank, had lost their meaning.
Those who wore them no longer were individuals. They were not
even human. During the three last days the automobile, like a
motor-boat fighting the tide, had crept through a gray-green
river of men, stained, as though from the banks, by mud and
yellow clay. And for hours, while the car was blocked, and in
fury the engine raced and purred, the gray-green river had rolled
past her, slowly but as inevitably as lava down the slope of a
volcano, bearing on its surface faces with staring eyes, thousands
and thousands of eyes, some fierce and bloodshot, others filled
with weariness, homesickness, pain. At night she still saw them:
the white faces under the sweat and dust, the eyes dumb, inarticulate,
asking the answer. She had been suffocated by German soldiers, by
the mass of them, engulfed and smothered; she had stifled in a land
inhabited only by gray-green ghosts.
And suddenly, as though a miracle had been wrought, she saw upon
the lawn, riding toward her, a man in scarlet, blue, and silver. One
man riding alone.
Approaching with confidence, but alert; his reins fallen, his hands
nursing his carbine, his eyes searched the shadows of the trees, the
empty windows, even the sun-swept sky. His was the new face at
the door, the new step on the floor. And the spy knew had she
beheld an army corps it would have been no more significant,
no more menacing, than the solitary chasseur a cheval scouting
in advance of the enemy.
"We are saved!" exclaimed Marie, with irony. "Go quickly," she
commanded, "to the bedroom on the second floor that opens upon
the staircase, so that you can see all who pass. You are too ill
to travel. They must find you in bed."
"And you?" said Bertha.
"I," cried Marie rapturously, "hasten to welcome our preserver!"
The preserver was a peasant lad. Under the white dust his cheeks
were burned a brown-red, his eyes, honest and blue, through much
staring at the skies and at horizon lines, were puckered and
encircled with tiny wrinkles. Responsibility had made him older
than his years, and in speech brief. With the beautiful lady who
with tears of joy ran to greet him, and who in an ecstasy of
happiness pressed her cheek against the nose of his horse, he was
unimpressed. He returned to her her papers and gravely echoed her
answers to his questions. "This chateau," he repeated, "was
occupied by their General Staff; they have left no wounded here;
you saw the last of them pass a half-hour since." He gathered up
Marie shrieked in alarm. "You will not leave us?" she cried.
For the first time the young man permitted himself to smile.
"Others arrive soon," he said.
He touched his shako, wheeled his horse in the direction from
which he had come, and a minute later Marie heard the hoofs
echoing through the empty village.
When they came, the others were more sympathetic. Even in
times of war a beautiful woman is still a beautiful woman. And
the staff officers who moved into the quarters so lately occupied by the enemy found in the presence of the Countess d'Aurillac
nothing to distress them. In the absence of her dear friend,
Madame Iverney, the chatelaine of the chateau, she acted as their
hostess. Her chauffeur showed the company cooks the way to the
kitchen, the larder, and the charcoal-box. She, herself, in the
hands of General Andre placed the keys of the famous wine-cellar,
and to the surgeon, that the wounded might be freshly bandaged,
intrusted those of the linen-closet. After the indignities she had
suffered while "detained" by les Boches, her delight and relief at
again finding herself under the protection of her own people would
have touched a heart of stone. And the hearts of the staff were not
of stone. It was with regret they gave the countess permission to
continue on her way. At this she exclaimed with gratitude. She
assured them, were her aunt able to travel, she would immediately
"In Paris she will be more comfortable than here," said the kind
surgeon. He was a reservist, and in times of peace a fashionable
physician and as much at his ease in a boudoir as in a field
hospital. "Perhaps if I saw Madam Benet?"
At the suggestion the countess was overjoyed. But they found
Madame Benet in a state of complete collapse. The conduct of
the Germans had brought about a nervous breakdown.
"Though the bridges are destroyed at Meaux," urged the surgeon,
"even with a detour, you can be in Paris in four hours. I think it is
worth the effort."
But the mere thought of the journey threw Madame Benet into
hysterics. She asked only to rest, she begged for an opiate to
make her sleep. She begged also that they would leave the door
open, so that when she dreamed she was still in the hands of the
Germans, and woke in terror, the sound of the dear French voices
and the sight of the beloved French uniforms might reassure her.
She played her part well. Concerning her Marie felt not the least
anxiety. But toward Briand, the chauffeur, the new arrivals were
less easily satisfied.
The general sent his adjutant for the countess. When the adjutant
had closed the door General Andre began abruptly:
"The chauffeur Briand," he asked, "you know him; you can vouch
"But, certainly!" protested Marie. "He is an Italian."
As though with sudden enlightenment, Marie laughed. It was
as if now in the suspicion of the officer she saw a certain
reasonableness. "Briand was so long in the Foreign Legion
in Algiers," she explained, "where my husband found him,
that we have come to think of him as French. As much French
as ourselves, I assure you."
The general and his adjutant were regarding each other
"Perhaps I should tell the countess," began the general, "that we
The signal from the adjutant was so slight, so swift, that Marie
barely intercepted it.
The lips of the general shut together like the leaves of a book.
To show the interview was at an end, he reached for a pen.
"I thank you," he said.
"Of course," prompted the adjutant, "Madame d'Aurillac understands
the man must not know we inquired concerning him."
General Andre frowned at Marie.
"Certainly not!" he commanded. "The honest fellow must not know
that even for a moment he was doubted."
Marie raised the violet eyes reprovingly.
"I trust," she said with reproach, "I too well understand the
feelings of a French soldier to let him know his loyalty is
With a murmur of appreciation the officers bowed and with a
gesture of gracious pardon Marie left them.
Outside in the hall, with none but orderlies to observe, like a cloak
the graciousness fell from her. She was drawn two ways. In her
work Anfossi was valuable. But Anfossi suspected was less than
of no value; he became a menace, a death-warrant.
General Andre had said, "We have learned--" and the adjutant
had halted him. What had he learned? To know that, Marie
would have given much. Still, one important fact comforted her.
Anfossi alone was suspected. Had there been concerning herself
the slightest doubt, they certainly would not have allowed her to
guess her companion was under surveillance; they would not have
asked one who was herself suspected to vouch for the innocence of
a fellow conspirator. Marie found the course to follow difficult.
With Anfossi under suspicion his usefulness was for the moment
at an end; and to accept the chance offered her to continue on to
Paris seemed most wise. On the other hand, if, concerning
Anfossi, she had succeeded in allaying their doubts, the results
most to be desired could be attained only by remaining where they
Their position inside the lines was of the greatest strategic
value. The rooms of the servants were under the roof, and that
Briand should sleep in one of them was natural. That to reach or
leave his room he should constantly be ascending or descending
the stairs also was natural. The field-wireless outfit, or, as he
had disdainfully described it, the "knapsack" wireless, was
situated not in the bedroom he had selected for himself, but in
one adjoining. At other times this was occupied by the maid of
Madame Iverney. To summon her maid Madame Iverney, from her
apartment on the second floor, had but to press a button. And it
was in the apartment of Madame Iverney, and on the bed of that
lady, that Madame Benet now reclined. When through the open
door she saw an officer or soldier mount the stairs, she pressed
the button that rang a bell in the room of the maid. In this way,
long before whoever was ascending the stairs could reach the top
floor, warning of his approach came to Anfossi. It gave him time
to replace the dustboard over the fireplace in which the wireless
was concealed and to escape into his own bedroom. The arrangement
was ideal. And already information picked up in the halls below
by Marie had been conveyed to Anfossi to relay in a French cipher
to the German General Staff at Rheims.
Marie made an alert and charming hostess. To all who saw her
it was evident that her mind was intent only upon the comfort of
her guests. Throughout the day many came and went, but each
she made welcome; to each as he departed she called "bonne
Efficient, tireless, tactful, she was everywhere: in the
dining-room, in the kitchen, in the bedrooms, for the wounded
finding mattresses to spread in the gorgeous salons of the
Champagne prince; for the soldier-chauffeurs carrying wine into
the courtyard, where the automobiles panted and growled, and the
arriving and departing shrieked for right of way. At all times an
alluring person, now the one woman in a tumult of men, her smart
frock covered by an apron, her head and arms bare, undismayed
by the sight of the wounded or by the distant rumble of the guns,
the Countess d'Aurillac was an inspiring and beautiful picture.
The eyes of the officers, young and old, informed her of that
fact, one of which already she was well aware. By the morning
of the next day she was accepted as the owner of the chateau.
And though continually she reminded the staff she was present
only as the friend of her schoolmate, Madame Iverney, they
deferred to her as to a hostess. Many of them she already
saluted by name, and to those who with messages were
constantly motoring to and from the front at Soissons she
was particularly kind. Overnight the legend of her charm,
of her devotion to the soldiers of all ranks, had spread from
Soissons to Meaux, and from Meaux to Paris. It was noon of
that day when from the window of the second story Marie saw
an armored automobile sweep into the courtyard. It was driven
by an officer, young and appallingly good-looking, and, as was
obvious by the way he spun his car, one who held in contempt
both the law of gravity and death. That he was some one of
importance seemed evident. Before he could alight the adjutant
had raced to meet him. With her eye for detail Marie observed
that the young officer, instead of imparting information, received
it. He must, she guessed, have just arrived from Paris, and his
brother officer either was telling him the news or giving him his
orders. Whichever it might be, in what was told him the new
arrival was greatly interested. One instant in indignation his
gauntleted fist beat upon the steering-wheel, the next he smiled
with pleasure. To interpret this pantomime was difficult; and,
the better to inform herself, Marie descended the stairs.
As she reached the lower hall the two officers entered. To the
spy the man last to arrive was always the one of greatest
importance; and Marie assured herself that through her friend,
the adjutant, to meet with this one would prove easy.
But the chauffeur-commander of the armored car made it most
difficult. At sight of Marie, much to her alarm, as though
greeting a dear friend, he snatched his kepi from his head and
sprang toward her.
"The major," he cried, "told me you were here, that you are Madame
d'Aurillac." His eyes spoke his admiration. In delight he beamed
upon her. "I might have known it!" he murmured. With the
confidence of one who is sure he brings good news, he laughed
happily. "And I," he cried, "am 'Pierrot'!"
Who the devil "Pierrot" might be the spy could not guess. She
knew only that she wished by a German shell "Pierrot" and his
car had been blown to tiny fragments. Was it a trap, she asked
herself, or was the handsome youth really some one the Countess
d'Aurillac should know. But, as from his introducing himself it
was evident he could not know that lady very well, Marie took
courage and smiled.
"Which 'Pierrot'?" she parried.
"Pierre Thierry!" cried the youth.
To the relief of Marie he turned upon the adjutant and to him
explained who Pierre Thierry might be.
"Paul d'Aurillac," he said, "is my dearest friend. When he married
this charming lady I was stationed in Algiers, and but for the war
I might never have met her."
To Marie, with his hand on his heart in a most charming manner,
he bowed. His admiration he made no effort to conceal.
"And so," he said, "I know why there is war!"
The adjutant smiled indulgently, and departed on his duties, leaving
them alone. The handsome eyes of Captain Thierry were raised to
the violet eyes of Marie. They appraised her boldly and as boldly
expressed their approval.
In burlesque the young man exclaimed indignantly: "Paul deceived
me!" he cried. "He told me he had married the most beautiful woman
in Laon. He has married the most beautiful woman in France!"
To Marie this was not impertinence, but gallantry.
This was a language she understood, and this was the type of man,
because he was the least difficult to manage, she held most in
"But about you Paul did not deceive me," she retorted. In
apparent confusion her eyes refused to meet his. "He told me
'Pierrot' was a most dangerous man!"
She continued hurriedly. With wifely solicitude she asked
concerning Paul. She explained that for a week she had been
a prisoner in the chateau, and, since the mobilization, of her
husband save that he was with his regiment in Paris she had heard
nothing. Captain Thierry was able to give her later news. Only
the day previous, on the boulevards, he had met Count d'Aurillac.
He was at the Grand Hotel, and as Thierry was at once motoring
back to Paris he would give Paul news of their meeting. He hoped
he might tell him that soon his wife also would be in Paris. Marie
explained that only the illness of her aunt prevented her from that
same day joining her husband. Her manner became serious.
"And what other news have you?" she asked. "Here on the
firing-line we know less of what is going forward than you in
So Pierre Thierry told her all he knew. They were preparing
despatches he was at once to carry back to the General Staff,
and, for the moment, his time was his own. How could he
better employ it than in talking of the war with a patriotic
and charming French woman?
In consequence Marie acquired a mass of facts, gossip, and
guesses. From these she mentally selected such information as,
to her employers across the Aisne, would be of vital interest.
And to rid herself of Thierry and on the fourth floor seek
Anfossi was now her only wish. But, in attempting this, by
the return of the adjutant she was delayed. To Thierry the
adjutant gave a sealed envelope.
"Thirty-one, Boulevard des Invalides," he said. With a smile he
turned to Marie. "And you will accompany him!"
"I!" exclaimed Marie. She was sick with sudden terror.
But the tolerant smile of the adjutant reassured her.
"The count, your husband," he explained, "has learned of your
detention here by the enemy, and he has besieged the General
Staff to have you convoyed safely to Paris." The adjutant glanced
at a field telegram he held open in his hand. "He asks," he continued,
"that you be permitted to return in the car of his friend, Captain
Thierry, and that on arriving you join him at the Grand Hotel."
Thierry exclaimed with delight.
"But how charming!" he cried. "To-night you must both dine with
me at La Rue's." He saluted his superior officer. "Some petrol,
sir," he said. "And I am ready." To Marie he added: "The car will
be at the steps in five minutes." He turned and left them.
The thoughts of Marie, snatching at an excuse for delay, raced
madly. The danger of meeting the Count d'Aurillac, her supposed
husband, did not alarm her. The Grand Hotel has many exits, and,
even before they reached it, for leaving the car she could invent
an excuse that the gallant Thierry would not suspect. But what
now concerned her was how, before she was whisked away to Paris,
she could convey to Anfossi the information she had gathered from
Thierry. First, of a woman overcome with delight at being reunited
with her husband she gave an excellent imitation; then she exclaimed
in distress: "But my aunt, Madame Benet!" she cried. "I cannot leave
"The Sisters of St. Francis," said the adjutant, "arrive within an hour
to nurse the wounded. They will care also for your aunt."
Marie concealed her chagrin. "Then I will at once prepare to go,"
The adjutant handed her a slip of paper. "Your laissez-passer to
Paris," he said. "You leave in five minutes, madame!"
As temporary hostess of the chateau Marie was free to visit
any part of it, and as she passed her door a signal from Madame
Benet told her that Anfossi was on the fourth floor, that he was
at work, and that the coast was clear. Softly, in the felt slippers
she always wore, as she explained, in order not to disturb the
wounded, she mounted the staircase. In her hand she carried
the housekeeper's keys, and as an excuse it was her plan to return
with an armful of linen for the arriving Sisters. But Marie never
reached the top of the stairs. When her eyes rose to the level
of the fourth floor she came to a sudden halt. At what she saw
terror gripped her, bound her hand and foot, and turned her blood
At her post for an instant Madame Benet had slept, and an officer
of the staff, led by curiosity, chance, or suspicion, had, unobserved
and unannounced, mounted to the fourth floor. When Marie saw
him he was in front of the room that held the wireless. His back
was toward her, but she saw that he was holding the door to the
room ajar, that his eye was pressed to the opening, and that
through it he had pushed the muzzle of his automatic. What
would be the fate of Anfossi Marie knew. Nor did she for an
instant consider it. Her thoughts were of her own safety; that
she might live.
Not that she might still serve the Wilhelmstrasse, the Kaiser, or
the Fatherland; but that she might live. In a moment Anfossi
would be denounced, the chateau would ring with the alarm, and,
though she knew Anfossi would not betray her, by others she might
be accused. To avert suspicion from herself she saw only one way
open. She must be the first to denounce Anfossi.
Like a deer, she leaped down the marble stairs and, in a panic
she had no need to assume, burst into the presence of the staff.
"Gentlemen!" she gasped, "my servant--the chauffeur--Briand is a
spy! There is a German wireless in the chateau. He is using it!
I have seen him." With exclamations, the officers rose to their
feet. General Andre alone remained seated. General Andre was
a veteran of many Colonial wars: Cochin-China, Algiers, Morocco.
The great war, when it came, found him on duty in the Intelligence
Department. His aquiline nose, bristling white eyebrows, and
flashing, restless eyes gave him his nickname of l'Aigle.
In amazement, the flashing eyes were now turned upon Marie. He
glared at her as though he thought she suddenly had flown mad.
"A German wireless!" he protested. "It is impossible!"
"I was on the fourth floor," panted Marie, "collecting linen for
the Sisters. In the room next to the linen-closet I heard a strange
buzzing sound. I opened the door softly. I saw Briand with his
back to me seated by an instrument. There were receivers clamped
to his ears! My God! The disgrace! The disgrace to my husband and
to me, who vouched for him to you!" Apparently in an agony of
remorse, the fingers of the woman laced and interlaced. "I cannot
The officers moved toward the door, but General Andre halted
them. Still in a tone of incredulity, he demanded: "When did you
Marie knew the question was coming, knew she must explain how
she saw Briand, and yet did not see the staff officer who, with his
prisoner, might now at any instant appear. She must make it plain
she had discovered the spy and left the upper part of the house
before the officer had visited it. When that was she could not
know, but the chance was that he had preceded her by only a
"When did you see this?" repeated the general.
"But just now," cried Marie; "not ten minutes since."
"Why did you not come to me at once?"
"I was afraid," replied Marie. "If I moved I was afraid he might hear
me, and he, knowing I would expose him, would kill me-and so
escape you!" There was an eager whisper of approval. For silence,
General Andre slapped his hand upon the table.
"Then," continued Marie, "I understood with the receivers on his
ears he could not have heard me open the door, nor could he hear
me leave, and I ran to my aunt. The thought that we had harbored
such an animal sickened me, and I was weak enough to feel faint.
But only for an instant. Then I came here." She moved swiftly to
the door. "Let me show you the room," she begged; "you can take
him in the act." Her eyes, wild with the excitement of the chase,
swept the circle. "Will you come?" she begged.
Unconscious of the crisis he interrupted, the orderly on duty
opened the door.
"Captain Thierry's compliments," he recited mechanically, "and is
he to delay longer for Madame d'Aurillac?"
With a sharp gesture General Andre waved Marie toward the door.
Without rising, he inclined his head. "Adieu, madame," he said.
"We act at once upon your information. I thank you!"
As she crossed from the hall to the terrace, the ears of the spy were
assaulted by a sudden tumult of voices. They were raised in threats
and curses. Looking back, she saw Anfossi descending the stairs.
His hands were held above his head; behind him, with his automatic,
the staff officer she had surprised on the fourth floor was driving him
forward. Above the clinched fists of the soldiers that ran to meet him,
the eyes of Anfossi were turned toward her. His face was expressionless.
His eyes neither accused nor reproached. And with the joy of one who
has looked upon and then escaped the guillotine, Marie ran down the
steps to the waiting automobile. With a pretty cry of pleasure she leaped
into the seat beside Thierry. Gayly she threw out her arms. "To Paris!"
she commanded. The handsome eyes of Thierry, eloquent with
admiration, looked back into hers. He stooped, threw in the clutch,
and the great gray car, with the machine gun and its crew of privates
guarding the rear, plunged through the park.
"To Paris!" echoed Thierry.
In the order in which Marie had last seen them, Anfossi and the
staff officer entered the room of General Andre, and upon the
soldiers in the hall the door was shut. The face of the staff
officer was grave, but his voice could not conceal his elation.
"My general," he reported, "I found this man in the act of giving
information to the enemy. There is a wireless-"
General Andre rose slowly. He looked neither at the officer nor
at his prisoner. With frowning eyes he stared down at the maps
upon his table.
"I know," he interrupted. "Some one has already told me." He
paused, and then, as though recalling his manners, but still
without raising his eyes, he added: "You have done well, sir."
In silence the officers of the staff stood motionless. With surprise
they noted that, as yet, neither in anger nor curiosity had General
Andre glanced at the prisoner. But of the presence of the general
the spy was most acutely conscious. He stood erect, his arms still
raised, but his body strained forward, and on the averted eyes of the
general his own were fixed.
In an agony of supplication they asked a question.
At last, as though against his wish, toward the spy the general
turned his head, and their eyes met. And still General Andre was
silent. Then the arms of the spy, like those of a runner who has
finished his race and breasts the tape exhausted, fell to his sides.
In a voice low and vibrant he spoke his question.
"It has been so long, sir," he pleaded. "May I not come home?"
General Andre turned to the astonished group surrounding him. His
voice was hushed like that of one who speaks across an open grave.
"Gentlemen," he began, "my children," he added. "A German spy, a
woman, involved in a scandal your brother in arms, Henri Ravignac.
His honor, he thought, was concerned, and without honor he refused
to live. To prove him guiltless his younger brother Charles asked
leave to seek out the woman who had betrayed Henri, and by us was
detailed on secret service. He gave up home, family, friends. He lived
in exile, in poverty, at all times in danger of a swift and ignoble death.
In the War Office we know him as one who has given to his country
services she cannot hope to reward. For she cannot return to him the
years he has lost. She cannot return to him his brother. But she can
and will clear the name of Henri Ravignac, and upon his brother
Charles bestow promotion and honors."
The general turned and embraced the spy. "My children," he said,
"welcome your brother. He has come home."
Before the car had reached the fortifications, Marie Gessler had
arranged her plan of escape. She had departed from the chateau
without even a hand-bag, and she would say that before the shops
closed she must make purchases.
Le Printemps lay in their way, and she asked that, when they
reached it, for a moment she might alight. Captain Thierry
readily gave permission.
From the department store it would be most easy to disappear,
and in anticipation Marie smiled covertly. Nor was the picture
of Captain Thierry impatiently waiting outside unamusing.
But before Le Printemps was approached, the car turned sharply
down a narrow street. On one side, along its entire length, ran a
high gray wall, grim and forbidding. In it was a green gate studded
with iron bolts. Before this the automobile drew suddenly to a halt.
The crew of the armored car tumbled off the rear seat, and one of
them beat upon the green gate. Marie felt a hand of ice clutch at her
throat. But she controlled herself.
"And what is this?" she cried gayly.
At her side Captain Thierry was smiling down at her, but his
smile was hateful.
"It is the prison of St. Lazare," he said. "It is not becoming,"
he added sternly, "that the name of the Countess d'Aurillac
should be made common as the Paris road!"
Fighting for her life, Marie thrust herself against him; her
arm that throughout the journey had rested on the back of the
driving-seat caressed his shoulders; her lips and the violet eyes
were close to his.
"Why should you care?" she whispered fiercely. "You have me! Let
the Count d'Aurillac look after the honor of his wife himself."
The charming Thierry laughed at her mockingly.
"He means to," he said. "I am the Count d'Aurillac!"
In Salonika, the American consul, the Standard Oil man, and
the war correspondents formed the American colony. The
correspondents were waiting to go to the front. Incidentally,
as we waited, the front was coming rapidly toward us. There
was "Uncle" Jim, the veteran of many wars, and of all the
correspondents, in experience the oldest and in spirit the
youngest, and there was the Kid, and the Artist. The Kid
jeered at us, and proudly described himself as the only Boy
Reporter who jumped from a City Hall assignment to cover a
European War. "I don't know strategy," he would boast; "neither
does the Man at Home. He wants 'human interest' stuff, and I give
him what he wants. I write exclusively for the subway guard and
the farmers in the wheat belt. When you fellows write about the
'Situation,' they don't understand it. Neither do you. Neither does
Venizelos or the King. I don't understand it myself. So, I write my
people heart-to-heart talks about refugees and wounded, and what
kind of ploughs the Servian peasants use, and that St. Paul wrote
his letters to the Thessalonians from the same hotel where I write
mine; and I tell 'em to pronounce Salonika 'eeka,' and not put
the accent on the 'on.' This morning at the refugee camp I found
all the little Servians of the Frothingham unit in American Boy
Scout uniforms. That's my meat. That's 'home week' stuff. You
fellows write for the editorial page; and nobody reads it. I write
for the man that turns first to Mutt and Jeff, and then looks to see
where they are running the new Charlie Chaplin release. When
that man has to choose between 'our military correspondent' and
the City Hall Reporter, he chooses me!"
The third man was John, "Our Special Artist." John could write
a news story, too, but it was the cartoons that had made him
famous. They were not comic page, but front page cartoons, and
before making up their minds what they thought, people waited to
see what their Artist thought. So, it was fortunate his thoughts
were as brave and clean as they were clever. He was the original
Little Brother to the Poor. He was always giving away money.
When we caught him, he would prevaricate. He would say the man
was a college chum, that he had borrowed the money from him,
and that this was the first chance he had had to pay it back. The Kid
suggested it was strange that so many of his college chums should
at the same moment turn up, dead broke, in Salonika, and that
half of them should be women.
John smiled disarmingly. "It was a large college," he explained,
"and coeducational." There were other Americans; Red Cross
doctors and nurses just escaped through the snow from the
Bulgars, and hyphenated Americans who said they had taken
out their first papers. They thought hyphenated citizens were
so popular with us, that we would pay their passage to New York.
In Salonika they were transients. They had no local standing. They
had no local lying-down place, either, or place to eat, or to wash,
although they did not look as though that worried them, or place
to change their clothes. Or clothes to change. It was because we
had clothes to change, and a hotel bedroom, instead of a bench in
a cafe, that we were ranked as residents and from the Greek police
held a "permission to sojourn." Our American colony was a very
close corporation. We were only six Americans against 300,000
British, French, Greek, and Servian soldiers, and 120,000 civilian
Turks, Spanish Jews, Armenians, Persians, Egyptians, Albanians,
and Arabs, and some twenty more other races that are not listed.
We had arrived in Salonika before the rush, and at the Hotel Hermes
on the water-front had secured a vast room. The edge of the stone
quay was not forty feet from us, the only landing steps directly
opposite our balcony. Everybody who arrived on the Greek
passenger boats from Naples or the Piraeus, or who had shore
leave from a man-of-war, transport, or hospital ship, was raked
by our cameras. There were four windows--one for each of us
and his work table. It was not easy to work. What was the use?
The pictures and stories outside the windows fascinated us, but
when we sketched them or wrote about them, they only proved
us inadequate. All day long the pinnaces, cutters, gigs, steam
launches shoved and bumped against the stone steps, marines
came ashore for the mail, stewards for fruit and fish, Red Cross
nurses to shop, tiny midshipmen to visit the movies, and the
sailors and officers of the Russian, French, British, Italian,
and Greek war-ships to stretch their legs in the park of the Tour
Blanche, or to cramp them under a cafe table. Sometimes the
ambulances blocked the quay and the wounded and frost-bitten
were lifted into the motor-boats, and sometimes a squad of marines
lined the landing stage, and as a coffin under a French or English
flag was borne up the stone steps stood at salute. So crowded
was the harbor that the oars of the boatmen interlocked.
Close to the stone quay, stretched along the three-mile circle,
were the fishing smacks, beyond them, so near that the anchor
chains fouled, were the passenger ships with gigantic Greek flags
painted on their sides, and beyond them transports from Marseilles,
Malta, and Suvla Bay, black colliers, white hospital ships, burning
green electric lights, red-bellied tramps and freighters, and, hemming
them in, the grim, mouse-colored destroyers, submarines, cruisers,
dreadnaughts. At times, like a wall, the cold fog rose between us
and the harbor, and again the curtain would suddenly be ripped
asunder, and the sun would flash on the brass work of the fleet,
on the white wings of the aeroplanes, on the snow-draped
shoulders of Mount Olympus. We often speculated as to how
in the early days the gods and goddesses, dressed as they were,
or as they were not, survived the snows of Mount Olympus. Or
was it only their resort for the summer?
It got about that we had a vast room to ourselves, where one
might obtain a drink, or a sofa for the night, or even money to
cable for money. So, we had many strange visitors, some half
starved, half frozen, with terrible tales of the Albanian trail,
of the Austrian prisoners fallen by the wayside, of the mountain
passes heaped with dead, of the doctors and nurses wading
waist-high in snow-drifts and for food killing the ponies. Some
of our visitors wanted to get their names in the American papers
so that the folks at home would know they were still alive,
others wanted us to keep their names out of the papers, hoping
the police would think them dead; another, convinced it was of
pressing news value, desired us to advertise the fact that he had
invented a poisonous gas for use in the trenches. With difficulty
we prevented him from casting it adrift in our room. Or, he had
for sale a second-hand motor-cycle, or he would accept a position
as barkeeper, or for five francs would sell a state secret that, once
made public, in a month would end the war. It seemed cheap at
Each of us had his "scouts" to bring him the bazaar rumor, the
Turkish bath rumor, the cafe rumor. Some of our scouts journeyed
as far afield as Monastir and Doiran, returning to drip snow on
the floor, and to tell us tales, one-half of which we refused to
believe, and the other half the censor refused to pass. With each
other's visitors it was etiquette not to interfere. It would have
been like tapping a private wire. When we found John sketching
a giant stranger in a cap and coat of wolf skin we did not seek
to know if he were an Albanian brigand, or a Servian prince
incognito, and when a dark Levantine sat close to the Kid,
whispering, and the Kid banged on his typewriter, we did not
So, when I came in one afternoon and found a strange American
youth writing at John's table, and no one introduced us, I took
it for granted he had sold the Artist an "exclusive" story, and
asked no questions. But I could not help hearing what they said.
Even though I tried to drown their voices by beating on the Kid's
typewriter. I was taking my third lesson, and I had printed, "I
Amm 5w writjng This, 5wjth my own lilly w?ite handS," when I
heard the Kid saying:
"You can beat the game this way. Let John buy you a ticket to the
Piraeus. If you go from one Greek port to another you don't need
a vise. But, if you book from here to Italy, you must get a permit
from the Italian consul, and our consul, and the police. The plot
is to get out of the war zone, isn't it? Well, then, my dope is to get
out quick, and map the rest of your trip when you're safe in Athens."
It was no business of mine, but I had to look up. The stranger
was now pacing the floor. I noticed that while his face was
almost black with tan, his upper lip was quite white. I noticed
also that he had his hands in the pockets of one of John's blue
serge suits, and that the pink silk shirt he wore was one that
once had belonged to the Kid. Except for the pink shirt, in the
appearance of the young man there was nothing unusual. He was
of a familiar type. He looked like a young business man from our
Middle West, matter-of-fact and unimaginative, but capable and
self-reliant. If he had had a fountain pen in his upper waistcoat
pocket, I would have guessed he was an insurance agent, or the
publicity man for a new automobile. John picked up his hat,
and said, "That's good advice. Give me your steamer ticket, Fred,
and I'll have them change it." He went out; but he did not ask
Fred to go with him.
Uncle Jim rose, and murmured something about the Cafe Roma,
and tea. But neither did he invite Fred to go with him. Instead,
he told him to make himself at home, and if he wanted anything
the waiter would bring it from the cafe downstairs. Then the Kid,
as though he also was uncomfortable at being left alone with us,
hurried to the door. "Going to get you a suit-case," he explained.
"Back in five minutes."
The stranger made no answer. Probably he did not hear him. Not a
hundred feet from our windows three Greek steamers were huddled
together, and the eyes of the American were fixed on them. The
one for which John had gone to buy him a new ticket lay nearest.
She was to sail in two hours. Impatiently, in short quick steps,
the stranger paced the length of the room, but when he turned and
so could see the harbor, he walked slowly, devouring it with his
eyes. For some time, in silence, he repeated this manoeuvre; and
then the complaints of the typewriter disturbed him. He halted
and observed my struggles. Under his scornful eye, in my
embarrassment I frequently hit the right letter. "You a
newspaper man, too?" he asked. I boasted I was, but
begged not to be judged by my typewriting.
"I got some great stories to write when I get back to God's country,"
he announced. "I was a reporter for two years in Kansas City before
the war, and now I'm going back to lecture and write. I got enough
material to keep me at work for five years. All kinds of stuff--
specials, fiction, stories, personal experiences, maybe a novel."
I regarded him with envy. For the correspondents in the
greatest of all wars the pickings had been meagre. "You
are to be congratulated," I said. He brushed aside my
congratulations. "For what?" he demanded. "I didn't go
after the stories; they came to me. The things I saw I had
to see. Couldn't get away from them. I've been with the
British, serving in the R. A. M. C. Been hospital steward,
stretcher bearer, ambulance driver. I've been sixteen months
at the front, and all the time on the firing-line. I was in the
retreat from Mons, with French on the Marne, at Ypres, all
through the winter fighting along the Canal, on the Gallipoli
Peninsula, and, just lately, in Servia. I've seen more of this
war than any soldier. Because, sometimes, they give the soldier
a rest; they never give the medical corps a rest. The only rest I
got was when I was wounded."
He seemed no worse for his wounds, so again I tendered
congratulations. This time he accepted them. The recollection
of the things he had seen, things incredible, terrible, unique in
human experience, had stirred him. He talked on, not boastfully,
but in a tone, rather, of awe and disbelief, as though assuring
himself that it was really he to whom such things had happened.
"I don't believe there's any kind of fighting I haven't seen," he
declared; "hand-to-hand fighting with bayonets, grenades, gun
butts. I've seen 'em on their knees in the mud choking each
other, beating each other with their bare fists. I've seen every
kind of airship, bomb, shell, poison gas, every kind of wound.
Seen whole villages turned into a brickyard in twenty minutes;
in Servia seen bodies of women frozen to death, bodies of babies
starved to death, seen men in Belgium swinging from trees; along
the Yzer for three months I saw the bodies of men I'd known
sticking out of the mud, or hung up on the barb wire, with the
crows picking them.
"I've seen some of the nerviest stunts that ever were pulled off
in history. I've seen real heroes. Time and time again I've seen
a man throw away his life for his officer, or for a chap he didn't
know, just as though it was a cigarette butt. I've seen the women
nurses of our corps steer a car into a village and yank out a wounded
man while shells were breaking under the wheels and the houses
were pitching into the streets." He stopped and laughed consciously.
"Understand," he warned me, "I'm not talking about myself, only of
things I've seen. The things I'm going to put in my book. It ought
to be a pretty good book-what?"
My envy had been washed clean in admiration.
"It will make a wonderful book," I agreed. "Are you going to
syndicate it first?"
Young Mr. Hamlin frowned importantly.
"I was thinking," he said, "of asking John for letters to the magazine
editors. So, they'll know I'm not faking, that I've really been through
it all. Letters from John would help a lot." Then he asked anxiously:
"They would, wouldn't they?"
I reassured him. Remembering the Kid's gibes at John and his
numerous dependents, I said: "You another college chum of John's?"
The young man answered my question quite seriously. "No," he said;
"John graduated before I entered; but we belong to the same fraternity.
It was the luckiest chance in the world my finding him here. There was
a month-old copy of the Balkan News blowing around camp, and his
name was in the list of arrivals. The moment I found he was in Salonika,
I asked for twelve hours leave, and came down in an ambulance. I made
straight for John; gave him the grip, and put it up to him to help me."
"I don't understand," I said. "I thought you were sailing on the
The young man was again pacing the floor. He halted and faced the
"You bet I'm sailing on the Adriaticus," he said. He looked out at
that vessel, at the Blue Peter flying from her foremast, and grinned.
"In just two hours!"
It was stupid of me, but I still was unenlightened. "But your twelve
hours' leave?" I asked.
The young man laughed. "They can take my twelve hours' leave,"
he said deliberately, "and feed it to the chickens. I'm beating it."
"What d'you mean, you're beating it?"
"What do you suppose I mean?" he demanded. "What do you
suppose I'm doing out of uniform, what do you suppose I'm lying
low in the room for? So's I won't catch cold?"
"If you're leaving the army without a discharge, and without
permission," I said, "I suppose you know it's desertion."
Mr. Hamlin laughed easily. "It's not my army," he said. "I'm an
"It's your desertion," I suggested.
The door opened and closed noiselessly, and Billy, entering,
placed a new travelling bag on the floor. He must have heard my
last words, for he looked inquiringly at each of us. But he did
not speak and, walking to the window, stood with his hands in his
pockets, staring out at the harbor. His presence seemed to encourage
the young man. "Who knows I'm deserting?" he demanded. "No
one's ever seen me in Salonika before, and in these 'cits' I can get on
board all right. And then they can't touch me. What do the folks at
home care how I left the British army? They'll be so darned glad to
get me back alive that they won't ask if I walked out or was kicked
out. I should worry!"
"It's none of my business," I began, but I was interrupted. In
his restless pacings the young man turned quickly.
"As you say," he remarked icily, "it is none of your business.
It's none of your business whether I get shot as a deserter, or
go home, or--"
"You can go to the devil for all I care," I assured him. "I
wasn't considering you at all. I was only sorry that I'll never
be able to read your book."
For a moment Mr. Hamlin remained silent, then he burst forth
with a jeer.
"No British firing squad," he boasted, "will ever stand me up."
"Maybe not," I agreed, "but you will never write that book."
Again there was silence, and this time it was broken by the Kid.
He turned from the window and looked toward Hamlin. "That's
right!" he said.
He sat down on the edge of the table, and at the deserter pointed
"Son," he said, "this war is some war. It's the biggest war in
history, and folks will be talking about nothing else for the next
ninety years; folks that never were nearer it than Bay City, Mich.
But you won't talk about it. And you've been all through it.
You've been to hell and back again. Compared with what you
know about hell, Dante is in the same class with Dr. Cook. But
you won't be able to talk about this war, or lecture, or write a
book about it."
"I won't?" demanded Hamlin. "And why won't I?"
"Because of what you're doing now," said Billy. "Because
you're queering yourself. Now, you've got everything." The
Kid was very much in earnest. His tone was intimate, kind, and
friendly. "You've seen everything, done everything. We'd give
our eye-teeth to see what you've seen, and to write the things you
can write. You've got a record now that'll last you until you're
dead, and your grandchildren are dead-and then some. When
you talk the table will have to sit up and listen. You can say 'I
was there.' 'I was in it.' 'I saw.' 'I know.' When this war is
over you'll have everything out of it that's worth getting-all
the experiences, all the inside knowledge, all the 'nosebag'
news; you'll have wounds, honors, medals, money, reputation.
And you're throwing all that away!"
Mr. Hamlin interrupted savagely.
"To hell with their medals," he said. "They can take their medals
and hang 'em on Christmas trees. I don't owe the British army
anything. It owes me. I've done my bit. I've earned what I've
got, and there's no one can take it away from me."
"You can," said the Kid. Before Hamlin could reply the door
opened and John came in, followed by Uncle Jim. The older
man was looking very grave, and John very unhappy. Hamlin
turned quickly to John.
"I thought these men were friends of yours," he began, "and
Americans. They're fine Americans. They're as full of human
kindness and red blood as a kippered herring!"
John looked inquiringly at the Kid.
"He wants to hang himself," explained Billy, "and because we
tried to cut him down, he's sore."
"They talked to me," protested Hamlin, "as though I was a
yellow dog. As though I was a quitter. I'm no quitter! But,
if I'm ready to quit, who's got a better right? I'm not an
Englishman, but there are several million Englishmen haven't
done as much for England in this was as I have. What do you
fellows know about it? You write about it, about the 'brave
lads in the trenches'; but what do you know about the trenches?
What you've seen from automobiles. That's all. That's where
you get off! I've lived in the trenches for fifteen months, froze
in 'em, starved in 'em, risked my life in 'em, and I've saved other
lives, too, by hauling men out of the trenches. And that's no airy
He ran to the wardrobe where John's clothes hung, and from the
bottom of it dragged a khaki uniform. It was still so caked with
mud and snow that when he flung it on the floor it splashed like
a wet bathing suit. "How would you like to wear one of those?" he
Demanded. "Stinking with lice and sweat and blood; the blood of
other men, the men you've helped off the field, and your own
As though committing hara-kiri, he slashed his hand across his
stomach, and then drew it up from his waist to his chin. "I'm
scraped with shrapnel from there to there," said Mr. Hamlin.
"And another time I got a ball in the shoulder. That would have
been a 'blighty' for a fighting man--they're always giving them
leave--but all I got was six weeks at Havre in hospital. Then it
was the Dardanelles, and sunstroke and sand; sleeping in sand,
eating sand, sand in your boots, sand in your teeth; hiding in
holes in the sand like a dirty prairie dog. And then, 'Off to
Servia!' And the next act opens in the snow and the mud!
Cold? God, how cold it was! And most of us in sun helmets."
As though the cold still gnawed at his bones, he shivered.
"It isn't the danger," he protested. "It isn't that I'm getting
away from. To hell with the danger! It's just the plain
discomfort of it! It's the never being your own master, never
being clean, never being warm." Again he shivered and
rubbed one hand against the other. "There were no bridges
over the streams," he went on, "and we had to break the ice
and wade in, and then sleep in the open with the khaki frozen
to us. There was no firewood; not enough to warm a pot of tea.
There were no wounded; all our casualties were frost bite and
Pneumonia. When we take them out of the blankets their toes
fall off. We've been in camp for a month now near Doiran, and
it's worse there than on the march. It's a frozen swamp. You can't
sleep for the cold; can't eat; the only ration we get is bully beef,
and our insides are frozen so damn tight we can't digest it. The
cold gets into your blood, gets into your brains. It won't let you
think; or else, you think crazy things. It makes you afraid." He
shook himself like a man coming out of a bad dream.
So, I'm through," he said. In turn he scowled at each of us, as
though defying us to contradict him. "That's why I'm quitting,"
he added. "Because I've done my bit. Because I'm damn well fed
up on it." He kicked viciously at the water-logged uniform on the
floor. "Any one who wants my job can have it!" He walked to the
window, turned his back on us, and fixed his eyes hungrily on the
Adriaticus. There was a long pause. For guidance we looked at
John, but he was staring down at the desk blotter, scratching on it
marks that he did not see.
Finally, where angels feared to tread, the Kid rushed in. "That's
certainly a hard luck story," he said; "but," he added cheerfully,
"it's nothing to the hard luck you'll strike when you can't tell
why you left the army." Hamlin turned with an exclamation,
but Billy held up his hand. "Now wait," he begged, "we haven't
time to get mussy. At six o'clock your leave is up, and the troop
train starts back to camp, and--"
Mr. Hamlin interrupted sharply. "And the Adriaticus starts at
Billy did not heed him. "You've got two hours to change your
mind," he said. "That's better than being sorry you didn't the
rest of your life."
Mr. Hamlin threw back his head and laughed. It was a most
unpleasant laugh. "You're a fine body of men," he jeered.
"America must be proud of you!"
"If we weren't Americans," explained Billy patiently, "we
wouldn't give a damn whether you deserted or not. You're
drowning and you don't know it, and we're throwing you a
rope. Try to see it that way. We'll cut out the fact that you
took an oath, and that you're breaking it. That's up to you.
We'll get down to results. When you reach home, if you can't
tell why you left the army, the folks will darned soon guess.
And that will queer everything you've done. When you come
to sell your stuff, it will queer you with the editors, queer you
with the publishers. If they know you broke your word to the
British army, how can they know you're keeping faith with them?
How can they believe anything you tell them? Every 'story' you
write, every statement of yours will make a noise like a fake.
You won't come into court with clean hands. You'll be licked
before you start.
"Of course, you're for the Allies. Well, all the Germans at home
will fear that; and when you want to lecture on your 'Fifteen
Months at the British Front,' they'll look up your record; and
what will they do to you? This is what they'll do to you. When
you've shown 'em your moving pictures and say, 'Does any
gentleman in the audience want to ask a question?' a German
agent will get up and say, 'Yes, I want to ask a question. Is it
true that you deserted from the British army, and that if you
return to it, they will shoot you?'"
I was scared. I expected the lean and muscular Mr. Hamlin to
fall on Billy, and fling him where he had flung the soggy uniform.
But instead he remained motionless, his arms pressed across his
chest. His eyes, filled with anger and distress, returned to the
"I'm sorry," muttered the Kid.
John rose and motioned to the door, and guiltily and only too
gladly we escaped. John followed us into the hall. "Let me talk
to him," he whispered. "The boat sails in an hour. Please don't
come back until she's gone."
We went to the moving picture palace next door, but I doubt if
the thoughts of any of us were on the pictures. For after an
hour, when from across the quay there came the long-drawn
warning of a steamer's whistle, we nudged each other and rose
and went out.
Not a hundred yards from us the propeller blades of the
Adriaticus were slowly churning, and the rowboats were falling
away from her sides.
"Good-bye, Mr. Hamlin," called Billy. "You had everything and
you chucked it away. I can spell your finish. It's 'check' for yours."
But when we entered our room, in the centre of it, under the
bunch of electric lights, stood the deserter. He wore the
water-logged uniform. The sun helmet was on his head.
"Good man!" shouted Billy.
He advanced, eagerly holding out his hand.
Mr. Hamlin brushed past him. At the door he turned and glared
at us, even at John. He was not a good loser. "I hope you're
satisfied," he snarled. He pointed at the four beds in a row. I
felt guiltily conscious of them. At the moment they appeared so
unnecessarily clean and warm and soft. The silk coverlets at the
foot of each struck me as being disgracefully effeminate. They
made me ashamed.
"I hope," said Mr. Hamlin, speaking slowly and picking his words,
"when you turn into those beds to-night you'll think of me in the
mud. I hope when you're having your five-course dinner and your
champagne you'll remember my bully beef. I hope when a shell or
Mr. Pneumonia gets me, you'll write a nice little sob story about
the 'brave lads in the trenches.' "
He looked at us, standing like schoolboys, sheepish, embarrassed,
and silent, and then threw open the door. "I hope," he added,
"you all choke!"
With an unconvincing imitation of the college chum manner,
John cleared his throat and said: "Don't forget, Fred, if there's
anything I can do--"
Hamlin stood in the doorway smiling at us.
"There's something you can all do," he said.
"Yes?" asked John heartily.
"You can all go to hell!" said Mr. Hamlin.
We heard the door slam, and his hobnailed boots pounding down
the stairs. No one spoke. Instead, in unhappy silence, we stood
staring at the floor. Where the uniform had lain was a pool of
mud and melted snow and the darker stains of stale blood.