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The Kingdom of the Blind by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Part 2 out of 5

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The General shook his head.

"I don't want to disappoint you, young fellow," he continued, "but I heard
from your Brigadier only yesterday. He has been obliged to fill up your place
and I don't think he has room for any one on his staff."

Granet looked a little hurt.

"I thought he might have made a temporary appointment," he said gloomily.

"This is no time to consider individuals," the General pointed out. "What
about finding you a billet at home for a time, eh? You've seen a bit of the
rough side of the war, you know."

"I'd sooner go out and dig trenches!"

Thomson had risen slowly from his place and, with a sheet of foolscap in his
hand, closely covered with writing, crossed the room.

"You might get taken prisoner again, Captain Granet," he remarked drily.

There was a moment's rather tense silence. The young man's lips had come
together, his eyes flashed.

"I did not recognise you, Major Thomson," he said calmly. "Have you found a
new billet?"

"My old one is sufficiently absorbing just at present," the other replied
laying his calculations on the General's desk. "Forgive my interrupting you,
sir, but you told me to let you have this as soon as I had finished. That is
my estimate of the number of beds we could stow away in the cubic feet you
offer us."

The General glanced at the paper and nodded.

"Don't go, Thomson," he said. "I'll talk to you about this later on. Well,
Captain Granet," he added, "you'd better leave things in my hands. I'll do
the best I can for you."

"I shall be very disappointed if I don't get out to the Front again soon,
sir," the young man declared simply.

"I'll do the best I can," the General repeated, touching his bell.

Granet was shown out and the door was closed. General Brice turned towards
his companion.

"Thomson," he said, "frankly, I can't believe it. However, we'll find him a
billet where he can't possibly do any mischief."

"If you found him a billet where I should like to see him," Surgeon-Major
Thomson observed bitterly, "he would never do any more mischief in this world!
Any dispatches from the Front, sir?"

General Brice raised his eyebrows.

"Are you off again?" he asked.

"I am going to see that young man's General," Thomson replied. "I shall cross
over to-day and be back to-morrow night or Saturday morning."

General Brice nodded thoughtfully.

"Perhaps you are right," he assented. "Yes, I shall have a few reports.
You'd better let them know at the Admiralty, and what time you want to go

Surgeon-Major Thomson shook hands with the General and turned towards the

"When I come back," he said, "I hope I'll be able to convince even you, sir."


Surgeon-Major Thomson awoke about twelve hours later with a start. He had
been sleeping so heavily that he was at first unable to remember his
whereabouts. His mind moved sluggishly across the brief panorama of his
hurried journey--the special train from Victoria to Folkestone; the destroyer
which had brought him and a few other soldiers across the Channel, black with
darkness, at a pace which made even the promenade deck impossible; the landing
at Boulogne, a hive of industry notwithstanding the darkness; the clanking of
waggons, the shrieking of locomotives, the jostling of crowds, the occasional
flashing of an electric torch. And then the ride in the great automobile
through the misty night. He rubbed his eyes and looked around him. A grey
morning was breaking. The car had come to a standstill before a white gate,
in front of which was stationed a British soldier, with drawn bayonet.
Surgeon-Major Thomson pulled himself together and answered the challenge.

"A friend," he answered,--"Surgeon-Major Thomson, on his Majesty's service."

He leaned from the car for a moment and held out something in the hollow of
his hand. The man saluted and drew back. The car went along a rough road
which led across a great stretch of pastureland. On the ridge of the hills on
his right, little groups of men were at work unlimbering guns. Once or twice,
with a queer, screeching sound, a shell, like a little puff of white smoke,
passed high over the car and fell somewhere in the grey valley below. In the
distance he could see the movements of a body of troops through the trees,
soldiers on the way to relieve their comrades in the trenches. As the morning
broke, the trenches themselves came into view--long, zig-zag lines, silent,
and with no sign of the men who crawled about inside like ants. He passed a
great brewery transformed into a canteen, from which a line of waggons, going
and returning, were passing all the time backwards and forwards into the
valley. Every now and then through the stillness came the sharp crack of a
rifle from the snipers lying hidden in the little stretches of woodland and
marshland away on the right. A motor-omnibus, with its advertisement signs
still displayed but a great red cross floating above it, came rocking down the
road on its way to the field hospital in the distance. As yet, however, the
business of fighting seemed scarcely to have commenced.

They passed several small houses and farms, in front of each of which was
stationed a sentry. Once, form the hills behind, a great white-winged
aeroplane glided over his head on its way to make a reconnaissance. Queerest
sight of all, here and there were peasants at work in the fields. One old man
leaned upon his spade and watched as the car passed. Not a dozen yards from
him was a great hole in the ground where a shell had burst, and a little
further away a barn in ruins. The car was forced to stop here to let a
cavalcade of ammunition waggons pass by. Surgeon-Major Thomson leaned from
his seat and spoke to the old man.

"You are not afraid of the German shells, then?" he asked.

"Monsieur," the old man answered, "one must live or die--it does not matter
which. For the rest, if one is to live, one must eat. Therefore I work.
Four sons I have and a nephew away yonder," he added, waving his hand
southwards. "That is why I dig alone. Why do you not send us more soldiers,
Monsieur l'Anglais?"

"Wait but a little time longer," Thomson answered cheerfully.

The old man looked sadly at his ruined barn.

"It is always 'wait,'" he muttered, "and one grows old and tired. Bonjour,

The car passed on again and suddenly dropped into a little protected valley.
They came to a standstill before a tiny chateau, in front of which stretched
what might once have been an ornamental garden, but which was now torn to
pieces by gun carriages, convoy waggons, and every description of vehicle.
From the top of the house stretched many wires. A sentry stood at the iron
gates and passed Major Thomson after a perfunctory challenge. An office with
mud-stained boots and wind-tossed hair, who looked as though he had been out
all night, stood on the steps of the house and welcomed Thomson.

"Hullo, Major," he called out, "just across, eh?"

"This moment," Thomson assented. "Anything fresh?"

"Nothing to speak of," the other replied. "We've just had a message in that
the French have been giving them a knock. We've had a quit time the last two
days. They're bringing up some more Bavarians, we think."

"Do you think I could have a few words with the General?" Major Thomson asked.

"Come in and have some coffee. Yes, he'll see you, of course. He is in his
own room with two of the flying men, just for the moment. I'll let you know
when you can go in."

They passed into an apartment which had once been the dining-room of the
chateau, and in which a long table was laid. One or two staff officers
greeted Thomson, and the man who had brought him in attended to his wants.

"The General had his breakfast an hour ago," the latter observed. "We're
pretty well forward here and we have to keep on the qui vive. We got some
shells yesterday dropped within a quarter of a mile of us. I think we're
going to try and give them a push back on the left flank. I'll go in and see
about you, Thomson."

"Good fellow! You might tell them to give my chauffeur something. The
destroyer that brought me over is waiting at Boulogne, and I want to be in
London to-night."

One of the officers from the other side of the table, smiled queerly.

"London! My God!" he muttered. "There is still a London, I suppose? Savoy
and Carlton going still? Pall Mall where it was?"

"And very much as it was," Thomson assured him. "London's wonderfully
unchanged. You been out long?"

"September the second," was the cheerful reply. "I keep on getting promised a
week but I can't bring it off."

"He's such a nut with the telephones," the man by his side explained, helping
himself to marmalade. "The General positively can't spare him."

"Oh, chuck it!" the other exclaimed in disgust. "What about you?--the only
man with an eye to a Heaven-ordained gun position, as old Wattles declared one
day. We're all living wonders, Major," he went on, turning to Thomson, "but
if I don't get a Sole Colbert and a grill at the Savoy, and a front seat at
the Alhambra, before many weeks have passed, I shall get stale--that's what'll
happen to me."

"Hope you'll have your hair cut before you go back, a man from the other end
of the table remarked. "Your own mother wouldn't know you like that--much
less your sweetheart."

The young man fingered his locks reflectively.

"Chap who was going to cut it for me got shot yesterday," he grumbled.
"Anything doing as you came over the ridge, Major?"

Thomson shook his head.

"One aeroplane and a few shells."

"That would be Johnny Oates going out in his Bleriot," some one remarked.
"He'll be back here before long with a report."

The officer who had met Thomson in the garden, re-entered the room.

"General says he'll see you at once," he announced.

Thomson followed his guide into a small back room. An officer was seated
before a desk, writing, another was shouting down a telephone, and a third was
making some measurements upon a large Ordnance map nailed upon one of the
walls. The General was standing with his back to the fire and a pipe in his
mouth. He nodded cheerily to Thomson.

"When did you leave London?" he asked.

"Nine o'clock last evening, sir," Thomson replied. "Rather a record trip. We
had a special down and a destroyer over."

"And I'm going to tell you what you want to know," the General continued
glancing at a document in his hand. "Well, close the door, Harewood. Out
with it?"

"It's about Captain Granet of Harrison's staff," Thomson began.

The General frowned and knocked the ashes from his pipe.

"Well," he asked, "what is it?"

"We've reasons of our own for wishing to know exactly what you meant by asking
the War Office not to send him back again," Thomson continued.

The General hesitated.

"Well, what are they?"

"They are a little intangible, sir," Thomson confessed, "but exceedingly
important. Without any direct evidence, I have come to the conclusion that
Captain Granet is a mysterious person and needs watching. As usual, we are in
trouble with the civil authorities, and, to be frank with you, I am trying to
strengthen my case."

The General shrugged his shoulders.

"Very well," he decided, "under the circumstances you have the right to know
what my message meant. We sent Granet back because of a suspicion which may
be altogether unjustifiable. The suspicion was there, however, and it was
sufficiently strong for me to make up my mind that I should prefer not to have
him back again. Now you shall know the facts very briefly. Granet was taken
prisoner twice. No one saw him taken--as a matter of fact, both of the
affairs were night attacks. He seemed suddenly to disappear--got too far
ahead of his men, was his explanation. All I can say is that he was luckier
than most of them. Anything wandering about loose in a British uniform--but
there, I won't go on with that. He came back each time with information as to
what he had seen. Each time we planned an attack on the strength of that
information. Each time that information proved to be misleading and our
attack failed, costing us heavy losses. Of course, dispositions might have
been changed since his observations were made, but there the fact remains.
Further," the General continued, filling his pipe slowly and pressing in the
tobacco, "on the second occasion we had four hundred men thrown forward into
the village of Ossray. They were moved in the pitch darkness, and silently.
It was impossible for any word of their presence in Ossray to have been known
to the Germans. Yet the night of Granet's capture the village was shelled,
and those who escaped were cut off and made prisoners. Follow me, Major?"

"Yes, sir!" Thomson acquiesced.

"Those are just the facts," the General concluded. "Now on the other hand,
Granet has handled his men well, shown great personal bravery, and has all the
appearance of a keen soldier. I hate to do him a wrong even in my thoughts
but there were others besides myself to whom these coincidences seemed
amazing. We simply decided that they'd better give Granet a billet at home.
That's the reason of my message."

"I am very much obliged to you, sir," Thomson said slowly. "You have given me
exactly the information which we desire."

The General was called away for a moment to give some instructions to the
young officer who was sitting in a distant corner of the room with a telephone
band around his head. He signed to Thomson, however, to remain.

"Now that I have gratified your curiosity," he said, when he returned,
"perhaps you will gratify mine? Will you tell me just how you over in England
have come to have suspicions of this man?"

"That," Thomson explained, "is almost a personal matter with me. Three months
ago I spent the night with the Third Army Corps up by Niemen. I was there on
other business, as you may imagine, but there was some hot fighting and I went
out to help. I was attending to some of our fellows and got very near to the
German lines. I became separated from the others a little and was groping
about when I heard voices talking German within a few feet of me. I couldn't
hear what they said but I could just distinguish two figures. One of them
made off towards the German lines. The other, after standing still for a
moment, came in my direction. I took out my revolver, and to tell you the
truth I very nearly fired on sight, for it would have been an exceedingly
awkward matter for me to have been taken prisoner just then. Just as my
finger was on the trigger, I became conscious that the man who was approaching
was humming 'Tipperary.' I flashed my light on his face and saw at once that
he was a British officer. He addressed me quickly in German. I answered him
in English. I fancied for a moment that he seemed annoyed. 'We'd better get
out of this,' he whispered. 'We're within a hundred yards of the German
trenches and they are bringing searchlights up.' 'Who were you talking to
just now?' I asked, as we stole along. 'No one at all,' he answered. I
didn't take the thing seriously for the moment, although it seemed to me
queer. Afterwards I regretted, however, that I hadn't set myself to discover
the meaning of what was apparently a deliberate lie. The next time I met
Granet was at a luncheon party at the Ritz, a few days ago. I recognised his
face at once, although I had only seen it by the flash of my electric lamp.
From that moment I have had my suspicions."

The General nodded. He was looking a little grave.

"It's a hateful thing to believe," he said, "that any one wearing his
Majesty's uniform could ever play such a dastardly part. However, on the
whole I am rather glad that I passed in that request to the War Office.
Anything more we can do for you, Major?"

Thomson took the hint and departed. A few minutes later he was in his car and
on his way back to Boulogne.


Olive Moreton gave a little start as the long, grey, racing car came
noiselessly to a standstill by the side of the kerbstone. Captain Granet
raised his hat and leaned from the driving seat towards her.

"Hope I didn't frighten you, Miss Moreton?"

"Not at all," she replied. "What a perfectly lovely car!"

He assented eagerly.

"Isn't she! My uncle's present to me to pass away the time until I can do
some more soldiering. They only brought it round to me early this morning.
Can I take you anywhere?"

"I was just going to see Geraldine Conyers," she began.

"Do you know, I guessed that," he remarked, leaning on one side and opening
the door. "Do let me take you. I haven't had a passenger yet."

She stepped in at once.

"As a matter of fact," she told him, "I was looking for a taxicab. I have had
a telegram from Ralph. He wants us to go down to Portsmouth by the first
train we can catch this morning. He says that if we can get down there in
time to have lunch at two o'clock, he can show us over the 'Scorpion.' After
to-day she will be closed to visitors, even his own relations. I was just
going to see if Geraldine could come."

Granet was thoughtful for a moment. He glanced at the little clock on the
dashboard opposite to him.

"I tell you what," he suggested, "why not let me motor you and Miss Conyers
down? I don't believe there's another fast train before one o'clock, and we'd
get down in a couple of hours, easily. It's just what I'm longing for, a good
stretch into the country."

"I should love it," the girl exclaimed, "and I should think Geraldine would.
Will you wait while I run in and see her?"

"Of course," Granet replied. "Here we are, and there's Miss Conyers at the
window. You go in and talk her over and I'll just see that we've got lots of
petrol. I'll have you down there within two hours, all right, if we can get
away before the roads are crowded."

She hurried into the house. Geraldine met her on the threshold and they
talked together for a few moments. Then Olive reappeared, her face beaming.

"Geraldine would simply love it," she announced. "She will be here in five
minutes. Could we just stop at my house for a motor-coat?"

"Certainly!" Granet agreed, glancing at his watch. "This is absolutely
ripping! We shall be down there by one o'clock. Why is this to be Conyers'
last day for entertaining?"

"I don't know," she answered indifferently. "Some Admiralty regulation, I

He sighed.

"After all," he declared, "I am not sure whether I chose the right profession.
There is so much that is mysterious about the Navy. They are always inventing
something or trying something new."

Geraldine came down the steps, waving her hand.

"This is the most delightful idea!" she exclaimed, as Granet held the door
open. "Do you really mean that you are going to take us down to Portsmouth
and come and see Ralph?"

"I am not going to worry your brother," he answered, smiling, "but I am going
to take you down to Portsmouth, if I may. We shall be there long before you
could get there by train, and--well, what do you think of my new toy?"

"Simply wonderful," Geraldine declared. "Olive told me that your uncle had
just given it you. What a lucky person you are, Captain Granet!"

He laughed a little shortly as they glided off.

"Do you think so?" he answered. "Well, I am lucky in my uncle, at any rate.
He is one of those few people who have a great deal of money and don't mind
spending it. I was getting bored to death with my game leg and arm, and
certainly this makes one forget both of them. Six cylinders, you see, Miss
Conyers, and I wouldn't like to tell you what we can touch if we were

"You won't frighten us," Geraldine assured him.

Granet glanced once more at the clock in front of him.

"For a time," he remarked, "I am your chauffeur. I just want to see what
she'll do--to experiment a little."

>From that point conversation became scanty. The girls leaned back in their
seats. Granet sat bolt upright, with his eyes fixed upon the road. Shortly
before one o'clock they entered Portsmouth.

"The most wonderful ride I ever had in my life!" Geraldine exclaimed.

"Marvelous!" Olive echoed. "Captain Granet, Ralph promised that there should
be a pinnace at number seven dock from one until three."

Granet pointed with his finger.

"Number seven dock is there," he said, "and there's the pinnace. I shall go
back to the hotel for lunch and wait for you there."

"You will do nothing of the sort," Geraldine insisted. "Ralph would be
furious if you didn't come with us."

"Of course!" Olive interposed. "How could you think of anything so
ridiculous! It's entirely owing to you that we were able to get here."

Captain Granet looked for a moment doubtful.

"You see, just now," he explained, "I know the regulations for visiting ships
in commission are very strict. Perhaps an extra visitor might embarrass your

"How can you be so absurd!" Geraldine protested. "You--a soldier! Why, of
course he'd be delighted to have you."

Granet swung the car around into the archway of a hotel exactly opposite the

"All right," he agreed. "We'll leave the car here. Of course, I'd like to
come all right."

They crossed the cobbled street and made their way to the dock. The pinnace
was waiting for them and in a very few minutes they were on their way across
the harbour. The "Scorpion" was lying well away from other craft, her four
squat funnels emitting faint wreaths of smoke. She rode very low in the water
and her appearance was certainly menacing.

"Personally," Geraldine observed, leaning a little forward to look at her, "I
think a destroyer is one of the most vicious, the most hideous things I ever
saw. I do hope that Ralph will be quick and get a cruiser."

"Is that the Scorpion just ahead of us?" Granet asked.

Geraldine nodded.

"Did you ever see anything so ugly? She looks as though she would spit out
death from every little crevice."

"She's a fine boat," Granet muttered. "What did your brother say she could

"Thirty-nine knots," Geraldine replied. "It seems wonderful, doesn't it?"

The officer in charge of the pinnace smiled.

"Our speeds are only nominal, any way," he remarked. "If our chief engineer
there ad the proper message, there's none of us would like to say what he
could get out of those new engines."

He turned and shouted an order. In a moment or two they swung around and drew
up by the side of the vessel. Ralph waved his hand to them from the top of
the gangway.

"Well done, you people!" he exclaimed. "Hullo Granet! Have you brought the
girls down?"

"In the most wonderful racing car you ever saw!" Geraldine told him, as they
climbed up the gangway. "We shouldn't have been here for hours if we had
waited for the train."

"I met Captain Granet this morning by accident," Olive explained, as she
stepped on deck, "and he insisted on bringing us down."

"I hope I'm not in the way at all?" Granet asked anxiously. "If I am, you
have only to say the word and put me on shore, and I'll wait, with pleasure,
until the young ladies come off. I have a lot of pals down here, too, I could
look up."

"Don't be silly, Conyers replied. "Our dear old lady friend Thomson isn't
here to worry so I think we can make you free of the ship. Come along down
and try a cocktail. Mind your heads. We're not on a battleship, you know.
You will find my quarters a little cramped, I'm afraid."

They drank cocktails cheerfully, and afterwards Geraldine exclaimed, taking a
long breath. "If Olive weren't so fearfully in love, she'd be suffocated."

Granet paused and looked before him with a puzzled frown.

"What in heaven's name is this?"

Exactly opposite to them was an erection of light framework, obviously built
around some hidden object for purposes of concealment. A Marine was standing
on guard before it, with drawn cutlass. Granet was in the act of addressing
him when an officer ran lightly down the fore part of the ship, and saluted.

"Very sorry, sir," he said, "but would you mind keeping to the other side?
This deck is closed, for the present."

"What on earth have you got there?" Granet asked good-humouredly,--"that is if
it's anything a landsman may know about?"

The young officer piloted them across to the other side.

"It's just a little something we are not permitted to talk about just now," he
replied. "I didn't know the commander expected any visitors to-day or we
should have had it roped off. Anything I can show you on this deck?" he
inquired politely.

"Nothing at all, thanks," Geraldine assured him. "We'll just stroll about for
a little time."

They leaned over the rail together. The young officer saluted and withdrew.
A freshening breeze blew in their faces and the sunshine danced upon the
foam-flecked sea. The harbour was lively with small craft, an aeroplane was
circling overhead, and out in the Roads several warships were lying anchored.

"I was in luck this morning," Granet asserted.

"So were we," Geraldine replied. "I never enjoyed motoring more. Your new
car is wonderful."

"She is a beauty, isn't she?" Granet assented enthusiastically. "What she
could touch upon fourth speed I wouldn't dare to say. We were going over
sixty plenty of times this morning, and yet one scarcely noticed it. You see,
she's so beautifully hung."

"You are fortunate," she remarked, "to have an appreciative uncle."

"He is rather a brick," Granet acknowledged. "He's done me awfully well all
my life."

She nodded.

"You really are rather to be envied, aren't you, Captain Granet? You have
most of the things a man wants. You've had your opportunity, too of doing
just the finest things a man can, and you've done them."

He looked gloomily out seawards.

"I am lucky in one way," he admitted. "In others I am not so sure."

She kept her head turned from him. Somehow or other, she divined quite well
what was in his mind. She tried to think of something to say, something to
dispel the seriousness which she felt to be in the atmosphere, but words
failed her. It was he who broke the silence.

"May I ask you a question, Miss Conyers?"

A question? Why not?"

"Are you really engaged to Major Thomson?"

She did not answer him at once. She still kept her eyes resolutely turned
away from his. When at last she spoke, her voice was scarcely raised above a

"Certainly I am," she assented.

He leaned a little closer towards her. His voice sounded to her very deep and
firm. It was the voice of a man immensely in earnest.

"I am going to be an awful rotter," he said. "I suppose I ought to take your
answer to my question as final. I won't that's all. He came along first but
that isn't everything. It's a fair fight between him and me. He hates me and
takes no pains to hide it. He hates me because I care for you--you know that.
I couldn't keep it to myself even if I would."

She drew a little away but he forced her to look at him. There was something
else besides appeal in her eyes.

"You've been the victim of a mistake," he insisted, his hand resting upon
hers. "I don't believe that you really care for him at all. He doesn't seem
the right sort for you, he's so much older and graver. You mustn't be angry.
You must forgive me, please, if I have said more than I ought--if I say more
now--because I am going to tell you, now that we are alone together for a
moment, that I love you."

She turned upon him a little indignantly, though the distress in her face was
still apparent.

"Captain Granet!" she exclaimed. "You should not say that! You have no
right--no right at all."

"On the contrary, I have every right, he answered doggedly. "It isn't as
though Thomson were my friend. He hates me and I dislike him. Every man has
a right to do his best to win the girl he cares for. It's the first time I've
felt anything of this sort. I've never wanted the big things before from any
woman. And now--"

She turned impetuously away from him. Over their head an electric message was
sparkling and crackling. She stood looking up, her hand outstretched as
though to keep him away.

"I cannot listen any more," she declared. "If you say another word I shall go

He remained for a moment gloomily silent. A young officer stepped out of the
wireless room and saluted Geraldine.

"Very sorry for you people, Miss Conyers," he announced, "but I am afraid
we'll have to put you on shore. We've an urgent message here from the
flag-ship to clear off all guests."

"But we haven't had lunch yet!" Geraldine protested.

Conyers suddenly made his appearance in the gangway, followed by Olive.

"What's the message, Howard?" he inquired.

The officer saluted and handed over a folded piece of paper. Conyers read it
with a frown and stepped at once out on to the deck. He gave a few orders,
then he turned back to his guests.

"Gels," he explained, "and you, Granet, I'm frightfully sorry but I can't keep
you here another second. I have ordered the pinnace round. You must get on
shore and have lunch at the 'Ship.' I'll come along as soon as I can.
Frightfully sorry, Granet, but I needn't apologise to you, need I? War's war,
you know and this is a matter of urgency."

"You're not going out this tide?" Geraldine demanded breathlessly.

Conyers shook his head.

"It isn't that," he replied. "We've got some engineers coming over to do some
work on deck, and I've had a private tip from my chief to clear out any guests
I may have on board."

"Is it anything to do with this wonderful screened-up thing?" Olive asked,
strolling towards the framework-covered edifice.

Conyers shrugged his shoulders.

"Can't disclose Government secrets! Between just us four--our friend Thomson
isn't here, is he?" he added, smiling,--"we are planning a little Hell for the

They glanced curiously at the mysterious erection. Granet sighed.

"Secretive chaps, you sailors," he observed. "Never mind, I have a pal in the
Admiralty who gives me a few hints now and then. I shall go and pump him."

"Don't you breathe a word about having been board the 'Scorpion,'" Conyers
begged quickly. "They wink at it down here, so long as it's done discreetly,
but it's positively against the rules, you know."

"Righto!" Granet agreed. "There isn't a soul I'm likely to mention it to."

"I'll come over to the Ship as soon as I can get away," Conyers promised.

They raced across the mile of broken water to the landing-stage. They were
all a little silent. Olive was frankly disappointed, Geraldine was busy with
her thoughts. Granet's gaze seemed rivetted upon the "Scorpion." Another
pinnace had drawn up alongside and a little company of men were boarding her.

"I only hope that they really have hit upon a device to rid the sea of these
cursed submarines!" he remarked, as they made their way across the dock. "I
see the brutes have taken to sinking fishing boats now."

"Ralph believes that they have got something," Olive declared eagerly. "He is
simply aching to get to work."

"Sailors are all so jolly sanguine," Granet reminded her. "They are doing
something pretty useful with nets, of course, in the way your brother was
beginning to explain to me when Major Thomson chipped in, but they could only
keep a fixed channel clear in that way. What they really need is some way of
tackling them when they are under water. Here we are at last. I hope you
girls are as hungry as I am."

They lunched in leisurely fashion, Olive in particular glancing often towards
the door, and afterwards they sat about in the lounge, drinking their coffee.
Granet had seemed to be in high spirits throughout the meal, and told the
girls many little anecdotes of his adventures at the Front. Afterwards,
however, he became silent, and finally, with a word of excuse, strolled off
alone. Olive looked once more at the clock.

"Ralph doesn't seem to be coming back, does he?" she sighed. "Let's walk a
little way down to the landing-stage."

The two girls strolled out and made their way towards the harbour. They could
see the "Scorpion" but there was no sign of any pinnace leaving her.
Reluctantly they turned back towards the hotel.

"I wonder what has become of Captain Granet?" Olive asked.

Geraldine stopped short. There was a little frown gathering upon her
forehead. She pointed up to the roof of the hotel, where a man was crouching
with a telescope glued to his eyes. He lowered it almost as they paused, and
waved his hand to them.

"Can't see any sign of Conyers," he shouted. "I'm waiting for the pinnace.
Come up here. There's such a ripping view."

They entered the hotel in silence.

"I don't believe," Geraldine remarked uneasily, "that Ralph would like that."

They made their way to the top of the house and were escorted by a buxom
chambermaid to what was practically a step-ladder opening out on to a
skylight. From here they crawled on to the roof, where they found Granet
comfortably ensconced with his back to a chimney, smoking a cigarette.

"This is rather one on your brother," he chuckled.

"Where did you find the telescope?" Geraldine asked.

"I borrowed it from downstairs," he answered. "Do come and have a look. You
can see the Scorpion quite distinctly. All the officers seem to be gathered
around that mysterious structure on the upper deck. I thought at first it was
a stand for a gun but it isn't."

Olive held out her hand for the telescope but Geraldine shook her head. There
was a troubled expression in her eyes.

"I suppose it's awfully silly, Captain Granet," she said, "but honestly, I
don't think Ralph would take it as a joke at all if he knew that we were up
here, trying to find out what was going on."

Olive set down the telescope promptly.

"I didn't think of that," she murmured.

Granet laughed easily.

"Perhaps you are right," he admitted. "All the same, we are a little
exceptionally placed, aren't we?--his sister, his fiancee, and--"

He broke off suddenly. A hand had been laid upon his shoulder. A small, dark
man, who had come round the corner of the chimney unperceived, was standing
immediately behind him.

"I must trouble you all for your names and addresses, if you please," he
announced quietly.

The two girls stared at him, dumbfounded. Granet, however, remained perfectly
at his ease. He laid down the telescope and scrutinised the newcomer.

"I really don't altogether see," he remarked good humouredly, "why I should
give my name and address to a perfect stranger just because he asks for it."

The man opened his coat and displayed a badge.

"I am on Government service, sir."

"Well, I am Captain Granet, back from the Front with dispatches a few days
ago," Granet told him. "This is Miss Conyers, sister of Commander Conyers of
the 'Scorpion,' and Miss Olive Moreton, his fiancee. We are waiting for
Commander Conyers at the present moment, and we were just looking to see if
the pinnace had started. Is it against the law to use a telescope in

The man made a few notes in his pocket-book. Then he opened the trapdoor and
stood on one side.

"No one is allowed out here, sir," he said. "The hotel people are to blame
for not having the door locked. I shall have to make a report but I have no
doubt that your explanation will be accepted. Will you be so good as to
descend, please?"

Granet struggled to his feet and turned towards his companions.

"The fellow's quite right," he decided. "I am only glad that the Government
are looking after things so. The Admiralty are much more go-ahead in this way
than we are. I vote we have out the car and go down the front to
Southsea--unless we are under arrest?" he added pleasantly, turning towards
the man who had accosted them.

"You are at liberty to do whatever you please, sir," was the polite reply.
"In any case, I think it would be quite useless of you to wait for Commander

"Why?" Olive asked quickly.

"The Scorpion has just received orders to leave on this evening's tide,
madam," the man announced. "You can see that she is moving even now."

They looked out across the harbour. The smoke was pouring from the funnels of
the destroyer. Already she had swung around and was steaming slowly towards
the Channel.

"She's off, right enough!" Granet exclaimed. "Nothing left for us, then, but


Geraldine, a few hours later, set down the telephone receiver with a little
sigh of resignation. Lady Conyers glanced up inquiringly from her book.

"Was that some one wanting to come and see you at this time of night,
Geraldine?" she asked.

Geraldine yawned.

"It's Hugh," she explained. "He has rung up from the War Office or
somewhere--says he has just got back from France and wants to see me at once.
I think he might have waited till to-morrow morning. I can scarcely keep my
eyes open, I am so sleepy."

Lady Conyers glanced at the clock.

"It isn't really so late," she remarked, "and I dare say, if the poor man's
been travelling all day, he'd like to say good-night to you."

Geraldine made a little grimace.

"I shall go into the morning room and wait for him," she announced. "He'll
very likely find me asleep."

The Admiral looked up from behind the Times.

"Where's that nice young fellow Granet?" he asked. "Why didn't you bring him
in to dinner?"

"Well, we didn't get back until nearly eight," Geraldine reminded her father.
"I didn't think he'd have time to change and get back here comfortably."

"Fine young chap, that," Sir Seymour remarked. "The very best type of young
English soldier. We could do with lots like him."

Geraldine left the room without remark. She could hear her father rustling
his paper as she disappeared.

"Can't think why Geraldine didn't pick up with a smart young fellow like
Granet instead of an old stick like Thomson," he grumbled. "I hate these Army
Medicals, anyway."

"Major Thomson has a charming disposition," Lady Conyers declared warmly.
"Besides, he will be very well off some day--he may even get the baronetcy."

"Who cares about that?" her husband grunted. "Gerald has all the family shee
needs, and all the money. How she came to choose Thomson from all her
sweethearts, I can't imagine."

Geraldine, notwithstanding her fatigue, welcomed her lover very charmingly
when he arrived, a few minutes later. Major Thomson was still in travelling
clothes, and had the air of a man who had been working at high pressure for
some time. He held her fingers tightly for a moment, without speaking. Then
he led her to the sofa and seated himself beside her.

"Geraldine," he began gravely, "has what I say any weight with you at all?"

"A good deal," she assured him.

"You know that I do not like Captain Granet, yet you took him with you down to
Portsmouth today and even allowed him to accompany you on board the Scorpion."

Geraldine started a little.

"How do you know that already?" she asked curiously.

He shook his head impatiently.

"It doesn't matter. I heard. Why did you do it, Geraldine?"

"In the first place, because he offered to motor us down after we had missed
the train. There are heaps of other reasons."

"As, for instance?"

"Well, Olive and I preferred having an escort and Captain Granet was a most
agreeable one. He took us down in a car his uncle has just given him--a sixty
horse-power Panhard. I never enjoyed motoring more in my life."

"You are all very foolish," Thomson said slowly. "I am going to tell you
something now, dear, which you may not believe, but it is for your good, and
it is necessary for me to have some excuse for the request I am going to make.
Granet is under suspicion at the War Office."

"Under suspicion?" Geraldine repeated blankly.

"Nothing has been proved against him," Thomson continued, "and I tell you
frankly that in certain quarters the idea is scouted as absurd. On the other
hand, he is under observation as being a possible German spy."

Geraldine for a moment sat quite still. Then she broke into a peal of
laughter. She sat up, a moment later, wiping her eyes.

"Are you really serious, Hugh?" she demanded.

"Absolutely," he assured her, a little coldly.

She wiped her eyes once more.

"Hugh, dear," she sighed, patting his hand, "you do so much better looking
after your hospitals and your wounded than unearthing mare's-nests like this.
I don't think that you'd be a brilliant success in the Intelligence
Department. As to the War Office, well, you know what I think of them.
Captain Granet a German spy, indeed!"

"Neither the War Office nor I myself," Thomson continued, "have arrived at
these suspicions without some reason. Perhaps you will look at the matter a
little more seriously when I tell you that Captain Granet will not be allowed
to return to the Front."

"Not be allowed?" she repeated. "Hugh, you are not serious!"

"I have never been more serious in my life," he insisted. "I am not in a
position to tell you more than the bare facts or I might disclose some
evidence which even you would have to admit throws a rather peculiar light
upon some of this young man's actions. As it is, however, I can do no more
than warn you, and beg you," he went on, "to yield to my wishes in the matter
of your further acquaintance with him."

There was a moment's rather curious silence. Geraldine seemed to be gazing
through the walls of the room. Her hands were clenched in one another, her
fingers nervously interlocked.

"I shall send for him to come and see me the first thing to-morrow morning,"
she decided.

"You will do nothing of the sort," Thomson objected firmly.

She turned her head and looked at him. He was conscious of the antagonism
which had sprung up like a wall between them. His face, however, showed no

"How do you propose to prevent me?" she asked, with ominous calm.

"By reminding you of your duty to your country," he answered. "Geraldine,
dear, I did not expect to have to talk to you like this. When I tell you that
responsible people in the War Office, officials whose profession it is to
scent out treachery, have declared this young man suspect, I am certainly
disappointed to find you embracing his cause so fervently. It is no personal
matter. Believe, me," he added, after a moment's pause, "whatever my personal
bias may be, what I am saying to you now is not actuated in the slightest by
any feelings of jealousy. I have told you what I know and it is for you to
make your choice as to how much or how little in the future you will see of
this young man. But I do forbid you, not in my own name but for our country's
sake to breathe a single word to him of what I have said to you."

"It comes to this, then," she said, "that you make accusations against a man
and deny him the right of being heard?"

"If you choose to put it like that, yes," he assented. "Only I fancied that
considering--considering the things between us, you might have taken my word."

He leaned a little towards her. If she had been looking she could scarcely
have failed to have been touched by the sudden softness of his dark eyes, the
little note of appeal in his usually immobile face. Her eyes, however, were
fixed upon the diamond ring which sparkled upon her third finger. Slowly she
drew it off and handed it to him.

"Hugh," she said, "the things you speak of do not exist any more between us.
I am sorry, but I think you are narrow and suspicious. You have your own work
to do. It seems to me mean to spend your time suspecting soldiers who have
fought for their king and their country, of such a despicable crime."

"Can't you trust me a little more than that, Geraldine?" he asked wistfully.

"In what way?" she demanded. "I judge only by the facts, the things you have
said to me, your accusations against Captain Granet. Why should you go out of
your way to investigate cases of suspected espionage?"

"You cannot believe that I would do so unless I was convinced that it was my

"I cannot see that it is your business at all," she told him shortly.

He rose from his place.

"I am very sorry, Geraldine," he said. "I will keep this ring. You are quite
free. But--look at me."

Against her will she was forced to do as he bade her. Her own attitude, which
had appeared to her so dignified and right, seemed suddenly weakened. She had
the feeling of a peevish child.

"Geraldine," he begged, "take at least the advice of a man who loves you.

Even when he had opened the door she felt a sudden inclination to call him
back. She heard him go down the hall, heard the front door open and close.
She sat and looked in a dazed sort of way at the empty space upon her finger.
Then she rose and went into the drawing-room, where her father and mother were
still reading. She held out her hand.

"Mother," she announced, "I am not engaged to Major Thomson any more."

The Admiral laid down his newspaper.

"Damned good job, too!" he declared. "That young fellow Granet's worth a
dozen of him. Never could stick an Army Medical. Well, well! How did he
take it?"

Lady Conyers watched her daughter searchingly. Then she shook her head.

"I hope you have done wisely, dear," she said.


At a little after noon on the following day Captain Granet descended from a
taxicab in the courtyard of the Milan Hotel, and, passing through the swing
doors, made his way to the inquiry office. A suave, black-coated young clerk
hastened to the desk.

"Can you tell me," Granet inquired, "whether a gentlemen named Guillot is
staying here?"

The young man bowed.

"Monsieur Guillot arrived last night, sir," he announced. "He has just rung
down to say that if a gentlemen called to see him he could be shown up. Here,
page," he went on, turning to a diminutive youth in the background, "show this
gentleman to number 322."

Granet followed the boy to the lift and was conducted to a room on the third
floor. The door was opened by a tall, white-haired Frenchman.

"Monsieur Guillot?" Captain Granet inquired pleasantly. "My name is Granet."

The Frenchman ushered him in. The door was closed and carefully locked. Then
Monsieur Guillot swung around and looked at his visitor with some curiosity.
Granet was still wearing his uniform.

"France must live," Granet murmured.

The Frenchman at once extended his hand.

"My friend," he confessed, "for a moment I was surprised. It did not occur to
me to see you in this guise."

Granet smiled.

"I have been out at the Front," he explained, "and am home wounded."

"But an English officer?" Monsieur Guillot remarked dubiously. "I do not
quite understand, then. The nature of the communication which I have come to
receive is known to you?"

Granet nodded and accepted the chair which his host had offered.

"I do not think that you should be so much surprised," he said simply. "If
the war is grievous for your country, it is ruin to mine. We do not, perhaps,
advertise our apprehensions in the papers. We prefer to keep them locked up
in our own brain. There is one great fact always before us. Germany is
unconquerable. One must find peace or perish."

Monsieur Guillot listened with a curious look upon his face. His forefinger
tapped the copy of the Times which was lying upon the table. The other nodded

"Yes," he continued, "I know that our Press is carrying on a magnificent
campaign of bluff. I know that many of the ignorant people of the country
believe that this war is still being prosecuted with every hope of success.
We who have been to the Front, especially those who have any source of
information in Germany, know differently. The longer the war, the more
ruinous the burden which your country and mine will have to bear."

"It is my opinion also," Monsieur Guillot declared, "and furthermore, listen.
It is not our war at all, that is the cruel part of it. It is Russia's war
and yours. Yet it is we who suffer most, we, the richest part of whose
country is in the hands of the foe, we whose industries are paralysed, my
country from whom the life-blood is being slowly drained. You English, what
do you know of the war? No enemy has set foot upon your soil, no Englishman
has seen his womankind dishonoured or his home crumble into ashes. The war to
you is a thing of paper, an abstraction--that same war which has turned the
better half of my beloved country into a lurid corner of hell."

"Our time has not yet come," Granet admitted, "but before long, unless
diplomacy can avert it, fate will be knocking at our doors, too. Listen. You
have friends still in power, Monsieur Guillot?--friends in the Cabinet, is it
not so?"

"It is indeed true," Monsieur Guillot assented.

"You have, too," Granet continued, "a great following throughout France. You
are the man for the task I bring to you. You, if you choose, shall save your
country and earn the reward she will surely bestow upon you."

Monsieur Guillot's cheeks were flushed a little. With long, nervous fingers
he rolled a cigarette and lit it.

"Monsieur," he said, "I listen to you eagerly, and yet I am puzzled. You wear
the uniform of an English officer, but you come to me, is it not so, as an
emissary of Germany?"

"In bald words that may be true," Granet confessed, "yet I would remind you of
two things. First, that the more dominant part of the personality which I
have inherited comes to me from Alsatian ancestors; and secondly, that this
peace for which I am striving may in the end mean salvation for England, too."

"I hear you with relief," Monsieur Guillot admitted. "In this transaction it
is my great desire to deal with a man of honour. As such I know perceive that
I can recognise you, monsieur."

Granet bowed gravely and without any shadow of embarrassment.

"That assuredly, Monsieur Guillot," he said. "Shall I proceed?"

"By all means."

Granet drew a thin packet from the breast pocket of his coat. He laid it on
the table between them.

"I received this," he announced, "less than three weeks ago from the hands of
the Kaiser himself."

Monsieur Guillot gazed at his companion incredulously.

"It was very simple," Granet continued. "I was taken prisoner near the
village of Ossray. I was conducted at once to headquarters and taken by
motor-car to a certain fortified place which I will not specify, but which was
at that time the headquarters of the German Staff. I received this document
there in the way I have told you. I was then assisted, after some very
remarkable adventures, to rejoin my regiment. You can open that document,
Monsieur Guillot. It is addressed to you. Guard it carefully, though, for it
is signed by the Kaiser himself. I have carried it with me now for more than
a fortnight in the inner sole of my shoe. As you can imagine, its discovery
upon my person would have meant instant death."

Monsieur Guillot was engrossed in reading the few lines of the missive. When
he had finished, he covered the paper with the palm of his hand and leaned
forward. There was a queer light in his eyes.

"Germany will give up Alsace and Lorraine," he said hoarsely, "and will retire
within her own frontiers. She will ask for no indemnity. What is the meaning
of it?"

"Simple enough," Granet pointed out. "A great politician like you should
easily realise the actual conditions which prompt such an offer. What good is
territory to Germany, territory over which she must rule by force, struggling
always against the accumulated hatred of years? Alsace and Lorraine have
taught her her lesson. It is not French territory she wants. Russia has far
more to give. Russia and England between them can pay an indemnity which will
make Germany rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Form your party, Monsieur
Guillot, spread your tidings in any way that seems fit to you, only until the
hour comes, guard that document as you would your soul. Its possession would
mean death to you as it would to me."

Monsieur Guillot took the document and buttoned it up in his inside pocket.

"Supposing I succeed," he said quietly, "what of your country then?"

"My country will make peace," Granet replied.

"It will be a peace that will cost us much, but nothing more than we deserve.
For generations the war has been the perfectly obvious and apparent sequence
of European events. It threw its warning shadow across our path for years,
and our statesmen deliberately turned their heads the other way or walked
blindfolded. Not only our statesmen, mind, but our people, our English
people. Our young men shirked their duty, our philosophers and essayists
shirked theirs. We prated of peace and conventions, and we knew very well
that we were living in times when human nature and red blood were still the
controlling elements. We watched Germany arm and prepare. We turned for
comfort towards our fellow sinners, America, and we prattled about conventions
and arbitration, and hundred other silly abstractions. A father can watch the
punishment of his child, Monsieur Guillot. Believe me, there are many other
Englishmen besides me who will fell a melancholy satisfaction in the
chastisement of their country, many who are more English, even, than I."

Monsieur Guillot passed away from the personal side of the matter. Already
his mind was travelling swiftly along the avenues of his own future greatness.

"This is the chance which comes to few men," he muttered. "There is Dejane,
Gardine, Debonnot, Senn, besides my own followers. My own journal, too! It
is a great campaign, this which I shall start."

Granet rose to his feet.

"After to-day I breathe more freely," he confessed. "There have been enemies
pressing closely around me, I have walked in fear. To-day I am a free man.
Take care, monsieur. Take care especially whilst you are in England."

Monsieur Guillot extended his hand.

"My young friend," he said, "in the years to come you and I shall perhaps meet
in our wonderful Paris, and if I may not tell the world so, I shall yet feel,
as we look upon her greatness, that you and I together have saved France.

Granet made his way along the empty corridor, rang for the lift and descended
into the hall. A smile was upon his lips. The torch at last was kindled! In
the hall of the hotel he came across a group of assembling guests just
starting for the luncheon room. A tall, familiar figure stepped for a moment
on one side. His heart gave a little jump. Geraldine held out her
pearl-gloved hand.

"Captain Granet," she said, "I wanted to tell you something."

"Yes?" he answered breathlessly.

She glanced towards where the little group of people were already on their way
to the stairs.

"I must not stay for a second, she continued, dropping her voice, "but I
wanted to tell you--I am no longer engaged to Major Thomson. Goodbye!"

A rush of words trembled upon his lips but she was gone. He watched her slim,
graceful figure as she passed swiftly along the vestibule and joined her
friends. He even heard her little laugh as she greeted one of the men who had
waited for her.

"Decidedly," Granet said to himself triumphantly as he turned towards the
door, "this is my day!"


Monsieur Guillot was a man of emotional temperament. For more than an hour
after Granet had left him, he paced up and down his little room, stood before
the high windows which overlooked the Thames, raised his hands above his head
and gazed with flashing eyes into the future--such a future! All his life he
had been a schemer, his eyes turned towards the big things, yet with himself
always occupying the one glorified place in the centre of the arena. He was,
in one sense of the word, a patriot, but it was the meanest and smallest
sense. There was no great France for him in which his was not the commanding
figure. In every dream of that wonderful future, of a more splendid and
triumphant France, he saw himself on the pinnacle of fame, himself acclaimed
by millions the strong great man, the liberator. France outside himself lived
only as a phantasy. And now at last his chance had come. The minutes passed
unnoticed as he built his way up into the future. He was shrewd and
calculating, he took note of the pitfalls he must avoid. One by one he
decided upon the men whom gradually and cautiously he would draw into his
confidence. Finally he saw the whole scheme complete, the bomb-shell thrown,
France hysterically casting laurels upon the man who had brought her
unexpected peace.

The door-bell rang. He answered it a little impatiently. A slim, fashionably
dressed young Frenchman stood there, whose face was vaguely familiar to him.

"Monsieur Guillot?" the newcomer inquired politely.

Guillot bowed. The young man handed him a card.

"I am the Baron D'Evignon," he announced, "second secretary at the Embassy

Monsieur Guillot held the card and looked at his visitor. He was very
puzzled. Some dim sense of foreboding was beginning to steal in upon him.

"Be so kind as to come in, Monsieur le Baron," he invited. "Will you not be
seated and explain to me to what I am indebted for this honour? You do not,
by any chance, mistake me for another? I am Monsieur Guillot, lately, alas!
Of Lille."

The Baron smiled ever so slightly as he waved away the chair.

"There is no mistake, Monsieur Guillot," he said. "I come to you with a
message from my Chief. He would be greatly honoured if you would accompany me
to the Embassy. He wishes a few minutes' conversation with you."

"With me?" Monsieur Guillot echoed incredulously. "But there is some

"No mistake, I assure you," the young man insisted.

Monsieur Guillot drew back a little into the room.

"But what have I to do with the Ambassador, or with diplomatic matters of any
sort?" he protested. "I am here on business, to see what can be saved from
the wreck of my affairs. Monsieur the Ambassador is mistaking me for

The Baron shook his head.

"There is no mistake, my dear sir," he insisted. "We all recognise," he
added, with a bow, "the necessities which force the most famous of us to live
sometimes in the shadow of anonymity. If the Chief could find little to say
to Monsieur Guillot of Lille, he will, I am sure, be very interested in a
short conversation with Monsieur Henri Pailleton."

There was a brief, tense silence. The man who had called him self Guillot was
transformed. The dreams which had uplifted him a few minutes ago, had passed.
He was living very much in the present--an ugly and foreboding present. The
veins stood out upon his forehead and upon the back of his hands, his teeth
gleamed underneath his coarse, white moustache. Then he recovered himself.

"There is some mistake," he said, "but I will come."

In silence they left the hotel and drove to the Embassy, in silence the young
man ushered his charge into the large, pleasant apartment on the ground floor
of the Embassy, where the ambassador was giving instructions to two of his
secretaries. He dismissed them with a little wave of his hand and bowed
politely to his visitor. There was no longer any pretext on the part of
Monsieur Guillot. He recognised its complete futility.

"Monsieur Pailleton," the ambassador began, "will you take a seat? It is very
kind of you to obey so quickly my summons."

"I had no idea," the latter remarked, "that my presence in England was known.
I am here on private business."

The ambassador bowed suavely.

"Precisely, my friend! You see, I use the epithet 'my friend' because at a
time like this all Frenchmen must forget their differences and work together
for the good and honour of their country. Is it not so, monsieur?"

"That is indeed true," Monsieur Pailleton admitted slowly. "We may work in
different ways but we work towards the same end."

"No one has ever doubted your patriotism, Monsieur Pailleton," the ambassador
continued. "It is my privilege now to put it to the test. There is a little
misunderstanding in Brazil, every particular concerning which, and the views
of our Government, is contained in the little parcel of documents which you
see upon this table. Put them in your pocket, Monsieur Pailleton. I am going
to ask you to serve your country by leaving for Liverpool this afternoon and
for Brazil to-morrow on the steamship Hermes."

Monsieur Pailleton had been a little taken aback by the visit of the Baron.
He sat now like a man temporarily stupefied. He was too amazed to find any
sinister significance in this mission. He could only gasp. The ambassador's
voice, as he continued talking smoothly, seemed to reach him from a long way

"It may be a little contrary to your wishes, my friend," the latter proceeded,
"to find yourself so far from the throb of our great struggle, yet in these
days we serve best who obey. It is the wish of those who stand for France
that you should take that packet and board that steamer."

Monsieur Pailleton began in some measure to recover himself. He was still,
however, bewildered.

"Monsieur," he protested, "I do not understand. This mission to Brazil of
which you speak--it can have no great importance. Cannot it be entrusted to
some other messenger?"

"Alas! No, my dear sir," was the uncompromising reply. "It is you--Monsieur
Pailleton--whom the President desires to travel to Brazil."

The light was breaking in upon Pailleton. He clenched his fists.

"I am to be got out of the way!" he exclaimed. "The President fears me
politically, he fears my following!"

The ambassador drew himself a little more upright, a stiff unbending figure.
His words seemed suddenly to become charged with more weight.

"Monsieur Pailleton," he said, "the only thing that France fears is

Pailleton gripped at the back of his chair. The room for a moment swam before
his eyes.

"Is this an insult, Monsieur l'Ambassadeur?" he demanded.

"Take it as an insult if in your heart there is no shadow of treachery towards
the France that is today, towards the cause of the Allies as it is to-day,"
was the stern answer.

"I refuse to accept this extraordinary mission," Pailleton declared, rising to
his feet. "You can send whom you will to Brazil. I have greater affairs
before me."

The ambassador shrugged his shoulders.

"I shall not press you," he said. "I shall only put before you the
alternative. You are at this present moment upon French soil. If you refuse
this mission which has been offered to you, I shall detain you here until I
have the means of sending you under escort to France."

"Detain me? On what charge?" Pailleton exclaimed angrily.

"On the charge of treason," was the quiet reply. "I shall have you stripped
and searched in this room. I shall have your luggage and your room searched
at the Milan Hotel. And now, Monsieur Pailleton?"

Once more the man was bewildered. This time, however, it was bewilderment of
a different sort. He thought for a moment steadfastly. Who was there who
could have betrayed him?

"What is the nature of this document, monsieur, which you expect to find
amongst my belongings?" he demanded.

"An authorised offer of peace from Germany to the French people," the
ambassador answered slowly. "It is the second attempt which has been made.
The first was torn into fragments before the face of the person who had the
effrontery to present it. The second, Monsieur Pailleton, is in your
possession. You may keep it if you will. In Brazil you will find it of
little use."

Monsieur Pailleton folded his arms.

"I am a Frenchman," he proclaimed. "What I may do, I do for France."

"You refuse my mission, then?"

"I refuse it."

The ambassador struck a bell upon his table. One of his secretaries promptly

"Send Colonel Defarge to me at once," his chief ordered.

There was a brief pause. The ambassador was busy writing at his table.
Pailleton, who was breathing heavily, said nothing. Presently an officer in
French uniform entered.

"Monsieur le Colonel," the ambassador said, stretching out his hand towards
Pailleton, "you will accept the charge of this man, whom you will consider
under arrest. I take the full responsibility for this proceeding. You will
conduct him to your rooms here and you will search him. Any document found in
his possession you will bring to me. When you have finished, let me know and
I will give you an authority to proceed to his apartments in the Milan Hotel.
You understand?"

"Certainly, my chief."

The officer saluted and moved to Pailleton.

"You will come quietly, monsieur, is it not so?" he asked.

Pailleton waved him away. He turned to the ambassador.

"Monsieur," he decided, "I will go to Brazil."



The Admiralty report that they received last night a message from Commander
Conyers of the destroyer "Scorpion," announcing that he has destroyed German
submarines U 22 and 27, with all hands.

"Well, I'm damned!" the Admiral exclaimed, as he laid down the newspaper a few
mornings later. "Ralph's done it this time, and no mistake."

Geraldine looked over his shoulder, her cheeks aglow.

"I knew at seven o'clock," she declared. "Harris brought me the paper up.
They are all so excited about it in the kitchen. You'd just gone out in the

"I want to know how it was done," the Admiral speculated. "Can't have been
ramming if he bagged two of them, and they surely never came to the surface
voluntarily, with a destroyer about."

Geraldine glanced around the room to be sure that they were alone.

"Don't you remember when Olive and I were at Portsmouth?" she said. "Ralph
has been absolutely dumb about it but he did just give us a hint that he had a
little surprise in store for the submarines. There was something on deck,
covered all up and watched by a sentry, and just before we sat down to lunch,
you know, we were turned off and had to go to the Ship. Ralph wouldn't tell
us a word about it but I'm sure he's got some new contrivance on the Scorpion
for fighting the submarines."

"There may be something in it," the Admiral admitted cheerfully. "I noticed
the Morning Post naval man the other day made a very guarded reference to some
secret means of dealing with these vermin."

Lady Conyers sailed into the room, a telegram in her hand.

"A wireless from Ralph," she announced. "Listen."

Have sunk two of the brutes. More to come. Love.

They pored over the telegram and the newspaper until the breakfast was cold.
The Admiral was like a boy again.

"If we can get rid of these curses of the sea," he said, settling down at last
to his bacon and eggs, "and get those Germans to come out, the war will be
over months before any one expected. I shall go down to the Admiralty after
breakfast and see if they've got anything to tell. Ralph gave me a hint about
the net scheme but he never even mentioned anything else."

The telephone rang in the next room and a servant summoned Geraldine.

Captain Granet wishes to speak to Miss Conyers," he announced.

Geraldine left her place at once and hastened into the library. She took up
the receiver.

"Is that you, Captain Granet?" she asked.

"I felt that I must ring you up," he declared, "to congratulate you, Miss
Conyers, upon your brother's exploit. I have had half a dozen soldier fellows
in already this morning to talk about it, and we're simply mad with curiosity.
Do you think we shall be told soon how it was done?"

"Father's going down to the Admiralty to try and find out," Geraldine replied.
"Ralph doesn't say a word except that he sunk them. We've had a wireless from
him this morning."

"It really doesn't matter much, does it," Granet went on, "so long as we get
rid of the brutes. I was perfectly certain, when we were down at Portsmouth,
that your brother had something up his sleeve. Does give one a thrill,
doesn't it, when one's ashore and doing nothing, to read of things like this?"

"You'll soon be at work again," she told him encouragingly.

"I don't know," he sighed. "They talk about giving me a home job and I don't
think I could stick it. Are you walking in the Park this morning, Miss

She hesitated for a moment.

"No, I am playing golf at Ranelagh."

Might I call this afternoon?"

"If you like," she assented. "After four o'clock, though, because I am
staying out to lunch."

"Thank you so much," he replied gratefully.

She set down the receiver again and went back to the breakfast-room.

"Captain Granet just wanted to congratulate us all," she announced, "and to
know if he could come in to tea this afternoon."

"Better ask him to dinner, my dear," the Admiral suggested hospitably. "He's
a fine young fellow, Granet. Very thoughtful of him to ring us up."

Lady Conyers made no comment. Geraldine was bending over her plate. The
Admiral rose to his feet. He was much too excited to pursue the

"I shall walk down to the Admiralty and see if I can get hold of old Wilcock,"
he continued. "If he won't tell me anything, I'll wring the old beggar's

The Admiral left the house a few minutes later and Lady Conyers walked arm in
arm with her daughter into the pleasant little morning-room which looked out
upon the Square. The former paused for a moment to look at Thomson's
photograph, which stood upon one of the side tables. Then she closed the

"Geraldine," she said, "I am not very happy about you and Hugh."

"Why not, mother?" the girl asked, looking out of the window.

"Perhaps because I like Hugh," Lady Conyers went on quietly, "perhaps, too,
because I am not sure that you have done wisely. You haven't given me any
reason yet, have you, for breaking your engagement?"

Geraldine was silent for a moment. Then she came back and sat on the rug at
her mother's feet. She kept her face, however, a little turned away.

"It's so hard to put it into words, mother," she said thoughtfully, "only Hugh
never seemed to give me any of his confidence. Of course, his is very dull
work, looking after hospitals and that sort of thing, but still, I'd have
liked to try and take an interest in it. He must have seen exciting things in
France, but it is only by the merest chance that one ever realises that he has
been even near the Front. He is so silent, so secretive."

Lady Conyers took up her knitting.

"Some men are like that, dear," she remarked. "It is just temperamental.
Perhaps you haven't encouraged him to talk."

"But I have," Geraldine insisted. "I have asked him no end of questions, but
before he has answered any of them properly, I find him trying to change the

"Men don't like talking about the war, you know," Lady Conyers went on.
"There was that nice Major Tyndale who was back from the Front the other day
with a V. C. and goodness knows what. Not a word would he say about any one
of the fights, and he is cheery enough in a general way, isn't he, and fond of

"Even then," Geraldine protested, "Hugh's work is different. I can understand
why he doesn't like to talk a lot about the wounded and that sort of thing,
but he must have had some interesting adventures.""
"I don't think," Lady Conyers said, "the very nicest men talk about their

Geraldine made a little grimace.

"Hugh doesn't talk about anything," she complained. "He goes about looking as
though he had the cares of the world upon his shoulders, and then he has
the--well, the cheek, I call it, to lecture me about Captain Granet. He does
talk about Captain Granet in the most absurd manner, you know, mother."

"He may have his reasons," Lady Conyers observed.

Geraldine turned her head and looked at her mother.

"Now what reasons could he have for not liking Captain Granet and suspecting
him of all manner of ridiculous things?" she asked. "Did you ever know a more
harmless, ingenuous, delightful young man in your life?"

"Perhaps it is because you find him all these things," Lady Conyers suggested,
"that Hugh doesn't like him."

"Of course, if he is going to be jealous about nothing at all--"

"Is it nothing at all?"

Lady Conyers raised her head from her knitting and looked across at her
daughter. A little flush of colour had suddenly streamed into Geraldine's
face. She drew back as though she had been sitting too near the fire.

"Of course it is," she declared. "I have only known Captain Granet for a very
short time. I like him, of course--every one must like him who knows him--but
that's all.

"Do you know," Lady Conyers said, a moment later, "I almost hope that it is

"And why, mother?"

"Because I consider Hugh is a great judge of character. Because we have known
Hugh since he was a boy, and we have known Captain Granet for about a week."

Geraldine rose to her feet.

"You don't like Captain Granet, mother."

"I do not dislike him," Lady Conyers replied thoughtfully. "I do not see how
any one could."

"Hugh does. He hinted things about him--that he wasn't honest--and then
forbade me to tell him. I think Hugh was mean."

Lady Conyers glanced at the clock.

"You had better go and get ready, dear, if you have promised to be at Ranelagh
at half-past ten," she said. "Will you just remember this?"

"I'll remember anything you say, mother," Geraldine promised.

"You're just a little impulsive, dear, at times, although you seem so
thoughtful," Lady Conyers continued. "Don't rush at any conclusion about
these two men. Sometimes I have fancied that there is a great well of feeling
behind Hugh's silence. And more than that--that there is something in his
life of which just now he cannot speak, which is keeping him living in great
places. His abstractions are not ordinary ones, you know. It's just an idea
of mine, but the other day--well, something happened which I thought rather
queer. I saw a closed car turn into St. James's Park and, evidently according
to orders, the chauffeur drove very slowly. There were two men inside,
talking very earnestly. One of them was Hugh; the other was--well, the most
important man at the War Office, who seldom, as you know, speaks to any one."

"You mean to say that he was alone, talking confidentially with Hugh?"
Geraldine exclaimed incredulously.

"He was, dear," her mother assented, "and it made me think. That's all. I
have a fancy that some day when the time comes that Hugh is free to talk, he
will be able to interest you--well, quite as much as Captain Granet. . . . Now
then, dear, hurry. There's the car at the door for you and you haven't your
hat on."

Geraldine went upstairs a little thoughtfully. As she drew on her gloves, she
looked down at the empty space upon her third finger. For a moment there was
almost a lump in her throat.


The two men who had walked up together arm in arm from Downing Street, stood
for several moments in Pall Mall before separating. The pressman who was
passing yearned for the sunlight in his camera. One of the greatest
financiers of the city in close confabulation with Mr. Gordon Jones, the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, was an interesting, almost an historical sight.

"It is a source of the greatest satisfaction to me, Sir Alfred," the Minister
was saying earnestly, "to find such royal and whole-hearted support in the
city. I am afraid," he went on, with a little twinkle in his eyes, "that
there are times when I have scarcely been popular in financial circles."

"We have hated you like poison," the other assured him, with emphasis.

"The capitalists must always hate the man who tries to make wealth pay its
just share in the support of the Empire," Mr. Gordon Jones remarked. "The
more one has, the less one likes to part with it. However, those days have
passed. You bankers have made my task easier at every turn. You have met me
in every possible way. To you personally, Sir Alfred, I feel that some day I
shall have to express my thanks--my thanks and the thanks of the nation--in a
more tangible form."

"You are very kind," the banker acknowledged. "Times like this change
everything. We remember only that we are Englishmen."

The Minister hailed a passing taxi and disappeared. The banker strolled
slowly along Pall Mall and passed through the portals of an august-looking
club. The hall-porter relieved him of his coat and hat with great deference.
As he was crossing the hall, after having exchanged greetings with several
friends, he came face to face with Surgeon-Major Thomson. The latter paused.

"I am afraid you don't remember me, Sir Alfred," he said, "but I have been
hoping for an opportunity of thanking you personally for the six ambulance
cars you have endowed. I am Surgeon-Major Thomson, chief inspector of Field

Sir Alfred held out his hand affably.

"I remember you perfectly, Major," he declared. "I am very glad that my gift
is acceptable. Anything one can do to lessen the suffering of those who are
fighting our battle, is almost a charge upon our means."

"It is very fortunate for us that you feel like that," the other replied.
"Thank you once more, sir."

The two men separated. Sir Alfred turned to the hall-porter.

"I am expecting my nephew in to dine," he said,--"Captain Granet. Bring him
into the smoking-room, will you, directly he arrives."

"Certainly, sir!"

Sir Alfred passed on across the marble hall. Thomson, whose hand had been
upon his hat, replaced it upon the peg. He looked after the great banker and
stood for a moment deep in thought. Then he addressed the hall-porter.

"By-the-bye, Charles," he inquired, "if you ask a non-member to dinner, you
have to dine in the strangers' room, I suppose?"

"Certainly, sir," the man replied. "It is just at the back of the general

"I suppose an ordinary member couldn't dine in there alone?"

"It is not customary, sir."

Surgeon-Major Thomson made his way to the telephone booth. When he emerged,
he interviewed the head-waiter.

"Keep a small table for me in the strangers' room," he ordered. "I shall
require dinner for two."

"At what time, sir?"

Major Thomson seemed for a moment deaf. He was looking through the open door
of the smoking-room to where Sir Alfred was deep in the pages of a review.

"Are there many people dining there to-night?" he asked.

"Sir Alfred has a guest at eight o'clock, sir," the man replied. "There are
several others, I think, but they have not ordered tables specially."

"At a quarter past eight, if you please. I shall be in the billiard-room,
Charles," he added, turning to the hall-porter.

Sir Alfred wearied soon of the pages of his review and leaned back in his
chair, his hands folded in front of him, gazing through the window at the
opposite side of the way. A good many people, passing backwards and forwards,
glanced at him curiously. For thirty years his had been something like a
household name in the city. He had been responsible, he and the great firm of
which he was the head, for international finance conducted on the soundest
principles, finance which scorned speculation, finance which rolled before it
the great snowball of automatically accumulated wealth. His father had been
given the baronetcy which he now enjoyed, and which, as he knew very well,
might at any moment be transferred into a peerage. He was a short, rather
thick-set man, with firm jaws and keen blue eyes, carefully dressed in
somewhat old-fashioned style, with horn-rimmed eyeglass hung about his neck
with a black ribbon. His hair was a little close-cropped and stubbly. No one
could have called him handsome, no one could have found him undistinguished.
Even without the knowledge of his millions, people who glanced at him
recognised the atmosphere of power.

"Wonder what old Anselman's thinking about," one man asked another in an
opposite corner.

"Money bags," was the prompt reply. "The man thinks money, he dreams money,
he lives money. He lives like a prince but he has no pleasures. >From ten in
the morning till two, he sites in his office in Lombard Street, and the pulse
of the city beats differently in his absence."

"I wonder!" the other murmured.

Other people had wondered, too. Still the keen blue eyes looked across
through the misty atmosphere at the grey building opposite. Men and women
passed before him in a constant, unseen procession. No one came and spoke to
him, no one interfered with his meditations. The two men who had been
discussing him passed out of the room presently one of them glanced backwards
in his direction.

"After all, I suppose," he observed, as he passed down the hall, "there is
something great about wealth or else one wouldn't believe that old Anselman
there was thinking of his money-bags. Why, here's Granet. Good fellow! I'd
no idea you'd joined this august company of old fogies."

Granet smiled as he shook hands.

"I haven't," he explained. "You have to be a millionaire, don't you, and a
great political bug, before they'd let you in? No place for poor soldiers! I
have to be content with the Rag."

"Poor devil!" his friend remarked sympathetically,--"best cooking, best wines
in London. These Service men look after themselves all right. What are you
doing here, anyhow, Granet?"

"I'm dining with my uncle," Granet replied, quickly.

"Sir Alfred's in there, waiting for you," his friend told him, indicating the
door,--"he has been sitting at the window watching for you, in fact. So

The two men passed out and Granet was ushered into the smoking-room. Sir
Alfred came back from his reverie and was greeted by his nephew cordially.
The two men sat by the window for a few moments in silence.

"An aperitif?" Sir Alfred suggested. "Capital!"

They drank mixed vermouth. Sir Alfred picked up an evening paper from his

"Any news?" he asked.

"Nothing fresh," Granet replied. "The whole worlds excited about this
submarine affair. Looks as though we'd got the measure of those Johnnies,
doesn't it?"

"It does indeed," Sir Alfred agreed. "Two submarines, one after the other,
two of the latest class, too, destroyed within a few miles and without a word
of explanation. No wonder every one's excited about it!"

"They're fearfully bucked at the Admiralty, I believe," Granet remarked. "Of
course, they'll pretend that they had this new dodge or whatever it may be, up
their sleeves all the time."

Sir Alfred nodded.

"Well," he said, "come in to dinner, young fellow. You shall entertain me
with tales of your adventures whilst you compare our cuisine here with your
own commissariat."

They passed on into the strangers' dining-room, a small but cheerful apartment
opening out of the general dining-room. The head-waiter ushered them
unctuously to a small table set in the far corner of the room.

"I have obeyed your wishes, Sir Alfred," he announced, as they seated
themselves. "No one else will be dining anywhere near you."

Sir Alfred nodded.

"Knowing how modest you soldiers are in talking of your exploits," he remarked
to Granet, "I have pleaded for seclusion. Here, in the intervals of our being
served with dinner, you can spin me yarns of the Front. The whole thing
fascinates me. I want to hear the story of your escape."

They seated themselves, and Sir Alfred studied the menu for a moment through
his eyeglass. After the service of the soup they were alone. He leaned a
little across the table.

"Ronnie," he said, "I thought it was better to ask you here than to have you
down at the city."

Granet nodded.

"This seems all right," he admitted, glancing around. "Well, one part of the
great work is finished. I have lived for eleven days not quite sure when I
wasn't going to be stood up with my back to the light at the Tower. Now it's

"You've seen Pailleton?"

"Seen him, impressed him, given him the document. He has his plans all made."

"Good! Very good!"

Sir Alfred ate soup for several moments as though it were the best soup on
earth and nothing else was worth consideration. Then he laid down his spoon.

"Magnificent!" he said. "Now listen--these submarines. There was a Taube
close at hand and I can tell you something which the Admiralty here are
keeping dark, with their tongues in their cheeks. Both those submarines were
sunk under water."

"I guessed it," Granet replied coolly. "I not only guessed it but I came very
near the key of the whole thing."

A waiter appeared with the next course, followed by the wine steward, carrying
champagne. Sir Alfred nodded approvingly.

"Just four minutes in the ice," he instructed, "not longer. What you tell me
about the champagne country is, I must confess, a relief," he added, turning
to Granet. "It may not affect us quite so much, but personally I believe that
the whole world is happier and better when champagne is cheap. It is the
bottled gaiety of the nation. A nation of ginger ale drinkers would be doomed
before they reached the second generation. 1900 Pommery, this, Ronnie, and I
drink your health. If I May be allowed one moment's sentiment," he added,
raising his glass, "let me say that I drink your health from the bottom of my
hear, with all the admiration which a man of my age feels for you younger
fellows who are fighting for us and our country."

They drank the toast in silence. In a moment or two they were alone again.

"Go on, Ronnie," his uncle said. "I am interested."

"I met Conyers the other day," Granet proceeded, "the man who commands the
'Scorpion.' I managed to get an invitation down to Portsmouth to have lunch
with him on his ship. I went down with his sister and the young lady he is
engaged to marry. On deck there was a structure of some sort covered up. I
tried to make inquires about it but they headed me off pretty quick. There
was even a sentry standing on guard before it--wouldn't let me even feel the
shape of it. However, I hadn't given up hope when there came a wireless--no
guests to be allowed on board. Conyers had to pack us all off back to the
hotel, without stopping even for lunch. From the hotel I got a telescope and
I saw a pinnace with half-a-dozen workmen, and a pilot who was evidently an
engineer, land on board. They seemed to be completing the adjustments of some
new piece of mechanism. Then they steamed away out of sight of the land."

"A busy life, yours, Ronnie," Sir Alfred remarked, after a moments pause.
"What about it now? I've had two urgent messages from Berlin this morning."

"It's pretty difficult," Granet acknowledged. "The Scorpion's out in the
Channel or the North Sea. No getting at her. And I don't believe there's
another destroyer yet fitted with this apparatus, whatever it may be."

"They must be making them somewhere, though," Sir Alfred remarked.

His nephew nodded.

"To think," he muttered, "that we've two hundred men spread out at Tyneside,
Woolwich and Portsmouth, and not one of them go on to this! A nation of
spies, indeed! They're mugs, uncle."

"Not altogether that," the banker replied. "We have some reports, although
they don't go far enough. I can put you on to the track of the thing. The
apparatus you saw is something in the nature of an inverted telescope, with
various extraordinary lenses treated by a new process. You can see forty feet
down under the surface of the water for a distance of a mile, and we believe
that attached to the same apparatus is an instrument which brings any moving
object within the range of what they call a deep-water gun."

"Did that come from reports?" Granet asked eagerly.

"It did," Sir Alfred said. "Further than that, the main part of the
instrument is being made under the supervision of Sir Meyville Worth, in a
large workshop erected on his estate in a village near Brancaster in Norfolk."

"I take it back," Granet remarked.

"The plans of the instrument should be worth a hundred thousand pounds," Sir
Alfred continued calmly. "If that is impossible, the destruction of the
little plant would be the next consideration."

"Do I come in here?" Granet inquired.

"You do, Ronnie," his uncle replied. "The name of the village where Sir
Meyville Worth lives is Market Burnham, which, as I think I told you, is
within a few miles of Brancaster. Geoffrey, at my instigation, has arranged a
harmless little golf party to go to Brancaster the day after to-morrow. You
will accompany them. In the meantime, Miss Worth, Sir Meyville Worth's only
daughter, is staying in London until Wednesday. She is lunching with your
aunt at the Ritz to-morrow. I have made some other arrangements in connection
with your visit to Norfolk, which will keep for the present. I see that some
strangers have entered the room. Tell me exactly how you came by the wound in
your foot?"

Granet turned a little around. There was a queer change in his face as he
looked back at his uncle.

"Do you know the man at that corner table?" he asked.

Sir Alfred glanced across the room.

"Very slightly. I spoke to him an hour ago. He thanked me for some
ambulances. He is the chief inspector of hospitals, I think--Major Thomson,
his name is."

"Did you happen to say that I was dining with you?"

Sir Alfred reflected for a moment.

"I believe that I did mention it," he admitted. "Why?"

Granet struggled for a moment with an idea and rejected it. He drained his
glass and leaned across the table.

"He's a dull enough person really," he remarked, a little under his breath,
"but I seem to be always running up against him. Once or twice he's given me
rather a start."

Sir Alfred smiled. He called the wine steward and pointed to his nephew's

"The best thing in the world," he observed drily, as he watched the wine being
poured out, "for presentiments."


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