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Title: The Day, or The Passing of a Throne
Author: Fred M. White
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Language: English
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

Title: The Day, or The Passing of a Throne
Author: Fred M. White

*

Published in The West Australian (Perth, WA) in serial format commencing
Saturday 6 March, 1915.

*



CHAPTER I.--On Secret Service.


The two men in the back room behind the little Italian pastrycook's shop
in Stanton-street were making history. As yet they did not know it; they
were to find it out later on. The elder of the two, the man with the
grey moustache ferociously cooked and the cook's cap on the back of his
head, was known locally as Manuel Serano, and his younger companion as
Luigi Serrai; but as a matter of fact the leader was Stuart Hallett, of
the Secret Service, and the other Paul Rosslyn, his chief assistant. It
was what they called early closing day so that they were free to discuss
the knotty problem which had been worrying them for the past month.

"Now what do you make of it?" Hallett asked. "Have you got any further
with the cipher? I suppose you are quite convinced that somebody is
working a pretty powerful wireless within the four-mile radius. The
question is. Can you locate it?"

"I believe I have done so," Rosslyn said quietly. "But don't you think,
sir, it would be a mistake to raid the place? Those people are quite
convinced that we have overlooked them and that their code is absolutely
beyond detection. Well it isn't. As you know, I haven't been making a
study of wireless in connection with aeroplanes the last three years for
nothing. Now I believe I've got one of last night's messages decoded."


Rosslyn took from his pocket what appeared to be a mass of mathematical
formula. As he explained the position and value of certain letters and
figures, Hallett nodded approvingly. A few moments later and he was
reading for himself the last message dispatched from the mysterious
wireless station on the previous evening. He read the message aloud,
slowly and carefully thus:--

"The Mailed Fist is torn and bruised. The steel gauntlet is filled with
its wearer's blood. The time has come to cut it off."

There was no more than that but Hallett laughed aloud in the sheer joy
of discovery. He patted Rosslyn on the back.

"Egad, the chap who sent that message is right there. For three months
now the Mailed Fist has been hammering against Liege and Namur and the
French advance until every nuckle is broken. By gad, who would have
thought three months ago that little Belgium could have held the Mad Dog
by his tongue all this time. And what would the German people say if
they knew the truth?"

"Heaven only knows. It strikes me that the man who sent that message
wants them to know. Any way we are aware of the fact that he is a German
and evidently no friend of the tin Napoleon. No; my theory is this.
Somewhere in the City these people have got an office, or perhaps an
whole building. It would be a building preferably which carried on the
roof a telephone standard sustaining a hundred or two wires. Now you can
quite see how easy it would be to mix up the aerial with these. If you
have a dynamo in the basement with sufficient power you could send
messages any practical distance--certainly as far as Berlin, which is
what our mysterious friend seems to be aiming at."

"Wouldn't the game be spotted?" Hallett asked.

"I don't think so. Let us suppose that the basement is occupied by a
firm of engineers or motor agents, anything to give them a plausible
excuse for running machinery night and day. I don't want to be unduly
sanguine, but I believe I have found the place; anyhow I shall know for
certain to-morrow. The question is are we going to raid the show, or
wouldn't it pay us better to lie low for a bit now that the cipher is no
longer a secret to us? I should like to hear your opinion."

"Festina lente," Hallett said, "I think you are right. Anyhow there is
nothing more to be done for the moment, and now you can go off and dine
with your friend Pierre Leroux and that charming daughter of his. My
dear boy, there is no reason why you should grin so uncomfortably. She
is a most beautiful and fascinating girl, and when you get the
authorities to see the beauties of that now silent aeroplane engine of
yours you will be able to pose as a millionaire. And now good-night, and
a pleasant evening to you."

Rosslyn laughed as he removed his baker's cap and big white apron, and
revealed his dress clothes below. A great deal of information had found
its way to the War Office through the little pastry cook's shop, and as
yet nobody had guessed the identity of the two men who posed as Italian
pastrycooks. Many a spy had been tracked in this way, and many a danger
removed. But for the moment Rosslyn put all this out of his mind. He was
not concerning himself with the troubles of Germany and the hideous
breakdown of the Kaiser's plan. He knew that the war could have but one
end, he knew that Germany was being slowly strangled between the locked
arms of France and Russia, and that the silent sentinels guarding the
Seven Seas were bringing the Teuton to his knees in the throes of
starvation. But that mysterious wireless worried him. What manner of
man, he asked himself, was it who flung these messages out upon the air,
and what was his feeling towards Germany? It sounded like one
revolutionary calling to another. It might have been a warning to
Berlin, sign for the beginning of strife, the trumpet blast summoning a
nation to free itself from the grip of a tyrant. Like other men who knew
the truth, Rosslyn had no enmity in his heart for Germany as a nation.
He knew perfectly well that she would never have gone to war had she not
been dragged into it by the visionary at Potsdam and the gang who
flattered him and fooled him to the top of his bent. He had every
sympathy for a country brow beaten and held in bondage by a madman. He
knew that the destruction of Germany would be the ruin of hundreds of
thousands of Englishmen who had their money invested there. He knew that
Germany wiped out would mean a dislocation of trade so great that the
whole world would reel before it. And in a way his heart went out to the
man who was evidently trying to tell Berlin the truth which was being so
sedulously suppressed.

Still he would know to-morrow for certain, perhaps to-night if one of
his trusted subordinates was successful in obtaining certain
information. He was feeling pleased with the world in general as he rang
the door bell of the flat in Medhurst-gardens.




CHAPTER II.--FOUND!!


Pierre Leroux was a naturalised Englishman who had come over from Alsace
three or four years before to London, where he had established a highly
successful business as a wine importer in the City of London. He
occupied a suite of offices at the top of a building in Cannon-street,
where until the war broke out, he had employed a large staff of clerks.
Now, with the exception of two elderly men, the staff had gone back to
the colours, and the business was at a standstill. Leroux spent most of
his day there and some of his evenings in Cannon-street, but this, as he
observed, was more a matter of habit than anything else.

It was a charming flat that he had in Medhurst-gardens, presided over by
his daughter Vera, and Rosslyn was always certain of a warm welcome
there. He had it now as he entered the cosily-furnished drawing-room
there; it thrilled him to feel the pressure of Vera's slim fingers and
see the light in those lovely hazel eyes of hers. As yet nothing had
been said on either side, but the understanding was there, and Leroux
tacitly encouraged it.

He was a typical Frenchman, a little stout, a little bald, but withal
active enough, and a magnificent hand with a rapier. He discoursed
eloquently on the war as they sat round the perfectly-appointed
diner-table, and, Frenchman though he was, spoke in the kindliest way of
the German people. His deep and abiding hatred was for the Kaiser and
the militant party who had bred all these misfortunes. His eyes gleamed
and his hands shook as he spoke.

"I have scores of good friends in Germany," he cried. "I would do
anything to help them. Ah, to think that all this bloodshed could be
brought about by one man. A man! A moustache! I laugh and I weep in the
same breath when I think of him. And all this while Germany knows not
the truth. They are told lies, lies of imaginary victories, whilst
Berlin is on the verge of starvation. And that fool of a ruler refused
to learn anything from a war which cost you English two hundred millions
of money and a river of your best blood. He laugh and say you English,
you are cowards. He make fun of your Lord Methuen and the defence by the
Boers of Modder River. But he don't laugh no longer when the brave
Belgians show him that there are others not too wise to learn. He does
not laugh when the Belgians smash up his plan of campaign and make
Europe smile at him. Ah, if I could get the truth through to my friends
in Berlin----"

He threw up his hands in an eloquent gesture. Rosslyn hesitated for a
moment before he spoke. They were all friends together.

"I believe somebody's trying to do it," he said.

But Leroux was not listening. He seemed to be utterly carried away by
the force of his passionate anger.

"The Mailed Fist is torn and bruised," he cried. "The Steel Gauntlet is
filled with its wearer's blood. The time has come----"

Rosslyn started as if something had stung him. For here was this
peaceful Frenchman using exactly the same phase as the message which had
been sent over the mysterious wireless. It was a discovery that brought
Rosslyn up all standing and threw him into absolute confusion.

It was only a moment before he recovered himself again, but Vera had
noticed, and there were a dozen questions in her eyes as she watched
him. He saw the blood leave her face all white and anxious. Then she
interrupted her father in his wild tirade.

"Did you hear what Mr. Rosslyn said?" she asked. "He said that there was
someone here in London using a secret wireless station to communicate
with the Kaiser's enemies in his own country. I believe that Mr. Rosslyn
knows all about it."

"Got in himmel, is det so?"

The words burst from Leroux like a shell. It was not a Frenchman who was
speaking now, but a German, and the significance of it went home to
Rosslyn, pierced his brain, and set him instantly on his guard. He
showed no further sign of surprise or agitation. And Leroux, too, was
smiling and apologising in the next breath.

"That is how a German would have put it," he said. "I know so many of
them that I can speak English as they do. Ah, they told me I had a
fortune if I went on the stage."

He turned the conversation adroitly, he chattered with ease as a man of
the world on many things. But the little air of constraint was there,
the chill atmosphere of suspicion. And there had been, too, one
significant glance between father and daughter which had not been lost
on Rosslyn. He felt quite relieved when presently he was summoned to the
telephone to speak to his assistant, who whispered the fact that he had
important news for him.

"I am afraid I shall have to go at once," he explained. "That is the
worst of being the slave of a Government."

"Ah, but you are doing a great work, my boy," Leroux cried. "So make no
excuses. Vera, my child, as our friend is going, I think I will just
walk as far as the club."

But once he had parted from Rosslyn, Leroux turned his steps eastward. A
taxicab deposited him presently at Cannon-street Station, where he took
a first-class ticket to Blackheath. But not for use. He slid unobserved
into a lavatory compartment, and when he emerged a moment later he was
beyond recognition. Then he made his way rapidly to a block of business
buildings, the basements of which, were given over to some engineering
industry, and, late as it was, some machinery was still at work. But
this did not seem to interest Leroux in the least. Quite unobserved he
opened the front door with a latchkey and then toiled silently to the
top of the building. There was a small office in a kind of turret, and
this Leroux entered by passing through a strong door sheathed with steel
on the inside, which he opened with a Chubb key. He flashed on the light
and disclosed what appeared to be an apartment given over entirely to
telegraphy of some kind, for here was everything necessary, including
telephone accessories. Down a ladder leading to the roof a second man
crept, and stood evidently waiting Leroux's instructions. The latter
smiled grimly.

"We are in danger, Ludwig," he said. "And, what's more, the danger comes
from the very man we have the most need of."

"Ach, you don't mean to say that Rosslyn----"

"Indeed I do. He's solved our cipher to begin with. He slipped it out
to-night at dinner. He didn't know that I was watching him, but he
swallowed the bait. And he hopes to lay us by the heels before morning.
I heard what his assistant said, thanks to my extension receiver. At
present my daughter is following him. We may get a message from her at
any moment. Anyway, he knows now that I am no more a Frenchman than you
are. I was fool enough to be taken off my guard for a second, and
although he may not have noticed it, I am taking no risk in that way.
And I know what to do."

"Got the place at once, eh? Get away or be caught like rats in a trap.
Rosslyn will be here presently with the police----"

"Ah, that is where you make a mistake. He will come by himself. Rosslyn
is that sort of man. And when he comes we shall be ready for him. Now
put out the light and leave the door open. When I give you the signal
turn on the light again at once."

They sat there waiting in patience, the minutes dragging slowly on. Yet
Rosslyn did not come. No sound penetrated there, for the City was
deserted like a town of the dead. And yet Rosslyn was not far off. He
was taking his measurements carefully, and he was not going to leave
anything to chance. He was standing there in the street below when boy
seemed to rise from the gutter and thrust an envelope in his hand. He
tore it open and read:----

"I implore you to go no further. If you value your safety, if you would
strike a blow for your country and at the heart of the foe at the same
time, forget what you have heard to-night."

When Rosslyn looked up the boy had vanished. But it was enough for
Rosslyn that the warning was in Vera's handwriting. He hesitated for a
moment, then retraced his steps slowly westward.




CHAPTER III.--"The Spider's Web."


What did it all mean? Rosslyn hesitated between love and duty. He was
convinced in his mind now that Pierre Leroux was a particularly
dangerous German spy who had cleverly passed himself off as a Frenchman
for many years. Beyond all question this man had a powerful secret
wireless installation on the roof of his office in Cannon-street. And
beyond question Vera knew all about it. And yet it seemed almost
impossible to identify the girl with her father's dark and dangerous
business. It seemed hard to believe that these blue eyes which had
smiled so sweetly into his could veil a soul steeped in intrigue and
treachery. He could not bring himself to credit the fact that Vera had
deliberately lured him on to betray his country.

It seemed to him that he loved her at that moment more than he had ever
done before, and none the less because he saw quite plainly that she
could be nothing to him in the future.

Perhaps she cared for him still, at any rate she was taking considerable
risks to save him from a great personal danger. If that letter meant
anything, it was a confession on Vera's part that she was mixed up in a
conspiracy which boded no good to Great Britain. At any rate, she was a
very woman after all, and if she had not cared for Rosslyn she would
never have written that letter. Had she been merely playing with him she
would have abandoned him to his fate, and Rosslyn was too old a hand at
the game to have any delusions on the score of what that fate would be.
None knew better than he that London swarmed with German spies who
carried their lives in their hands, and who were prepared to commit
murder to save their rascally skins. He had sat many a time at Leroux's
table, where he was always a welcome guest, but that was before the
outbreak of the war, and things were very different now. Still, Rosslyn
was grateful enough to the girl who was risking so much to ensure his
safety. He would go and see her, late as it was, and demand an
explanation for that extraordinary letter. He might find Leroux at home,
in which case he would have to alter his tactics a little, but he was
determined to see Vera before he slept. A light was burning in the hall
of the flat in Medhurst-gardens, and almost before the bell had ceased
to ring, the door was flung open by Vera herself.

"Ah!" she cried, "I was afraid of something like this. Oh, why did you
come here? Cannot you understand the risks I took in sending it to you.
If you had only been ready to trust me!"

She threw up her slender hands with the gesture of despair. Her face was
pale and sorrowful, there were dark rings under her anxious eyes. And
yet it seemed to Rosslyn that she had never been so sweet and attractive
before. He smiled bitterly.

"These are strange questions to come from you," he said. "If you will be
good enough to give me a few minutes----"

"Come in, by all means. My father is out, and I don t expect him back
for some time. But this is a mad thing you are doing, Paul."

The Christian name dropped unconsciously from the girl's lips. Paul
smiled bitterly again as he heard it.

"I believe I am mad," he said. "Mad with disappointment and doubt and
cut to the heart by what I have learnt tonight. I am going to be quite
plain with you, Vera. You will not deny that you know how much I love
you."

The girl bent her head and the blood flamed into her cheeks. There were
tears in her eyes, but they did not fall.

"I--I had hoped so," the girl stammered.

"You knew it," Rosslyn said sternly. "For weeks I have made no disguise
of my feelings. And I thought that you cared for me, too. In your
strange way I believe that you do. And yet with all that you have not
hesitated to draw from me secrets that belong to my country. You know
that I occupy a responsible position, and that I should be everlastingly
disgraced if I did anything in any way to help the enemy. I took you and
your father for patriotic French people. I have heard you condemn the
Prussians and speak of the Kaiser with loathing and contempt. Oh, it was
well done--better acting I have never seen."

"It was not acting," Vera whispered shakily.

"But it must have been. Surely in the face of what happened in this very
room an hour or two ago, you are not going to deny that your father is a
German. You are not going to try and persuade me that he is no spy. I am
quite convinced that he is one of the most dangerous ones in London. And
you probably know as much about this intrigue as he does. And you know,
too, that my duty is plain. When I got your note this evening I should
have taken it round to Scotland Yard and told the police everything. By
this time your father would have been arrested and possibly shot, at any
rate a long term of imprisonment would have been inevitable. And you?
Ah, my dear Vera, even your youth and beauty would have been no
protection. England is in no mood now for sickly sentiment. You would
have shared your father's sentence, those little white hands of yours
would have grown hard with menial work. And because I know that, I am
here to-night. I want to save you, because I love you, and because I
shall go on loving you whatever happens. You are young and
impressionable, and this adventure appeals to you. You think you are
striking a blow for Germany, but how feeble and futile a blow it is!
Surely you are not blind to the truth. Surely you know that the Kaiser
is in the trap and that Germany is doomed. Now tell me everything, and I
will do the best I can for you; more than that I will do my best for
your father. I ought to be ashamed to say so, but when I look into those
blue eyes of yours----"

"Oh I cannot, I cannot," Vera cried. "If you only knew how I am
suffering at this minute your heart would bleed for me. I am all that
you say and more, and I am a German patriot to an extent you little
dream of. And it is because of this that my lips are sealed. Won't you
try and believe in me, Paul? Won't you try and judge me kindly? Some day
you will know the truth, but you will not know it if you go on in the
way you are doing. And I do love you just as much as you love me. I have
cared for you from the first, and I told my father so; I implored of him
to set me free from my promise; I begged of him not to use you----"

"Ah, then I am the cat's-paw," Roslyn cried. "Your kindness to me has
not been spontaneous. I have been lured here for a purpose which stills
remains to be seen. Heavens, what a fool I have been! Why am I wasting
my precious moments like this? I will give you one more chance, Vera. I
am to trust implicitly in you, but you do not trust me a single yard.
Tell me everything. Show me I am mistaken in my conclusions that you are
a common spy."

Rosslyn bent down and laid his hands on the girl's shoulders. He could
feel her shrink and tremble, but the melting blue eyes met his firmly
enough.

"I cannot, I dare not," she said. "And I dare not because I know you
will never consent to do as we wish. Oh, it sounds very elusive and
mysterious, but I am not trying to blind you. You must go your way, and
I must go mine, and perhaps, later on----"

"Now what are you two conspiring," a voice broke in gaily. "Really, my
dear Vera, this is something extraordinary in such a proper little
person as yourself. I come to bring a message to your father, and what
do I find? The hall door open, the servants apparently gone to bed,
Monsieur out, and our dear little Vera engaged in a deep flirtation with
my friend Paul Rosslyn."

Rosslyn smiled uneasily. It was quite clear that the unexpected advent
of lady Loxton had put an end to further confidences. The pretty
fair-haired chatterbox dropped into a chair and proceeded to light a
cigarette. Rosslyn turned towards the door.

"Appearances are often deceptive," he said. "I came with a message, too,
but I stayed rather longer than I intended. Really, Lady Loxton. I am
obliged for the interruption. Ladies, permit me to wish you both
good-night."

He saw Vera wince and quiver, but he was himself again now. He turned
away without another word, and left.




CHAPTER IV.--"Vieled Eyes."


The giddy little butterfly known as Lady Loxton occupied a large and
luxurious flat which took up practically the top floor of a block of
buildings known as Medhurst Gardens. She was young and vivacious, always
lively and agreeable, and enviously known as one of the best dressed
women in London. She was deliciously pretty in a Dresden china way, and
apparently lived entirely for pleasure. If she was the possessor of
anything in the way of intelligence she disguised it most effectively,
and her ingenuousness was a constant source of pleasure and amusement to
her quicker-witted friends.

And yet in spite of her innocence of the world, she had done very well
for herself. The gossips who knew were prepared to prove that she had
been the only child of a shady Irish officer, whose service had been
dispensed with, and that in her earlier days she had been on the
Parisian stage, and that she had played in Vaudiville all over the
Continent. Some considerable time before she had married Lord Loxton,
regarded by competent critics as the greatest blackguard in the peerage,
and at his death had found herself amply provided for. People were
surprised to find that Lord Loxton had left so much money, for he had
been looked on as permanently in the ranks of the impecunious, but then
his pretty wife had done much for him, and had found him one or two
powerful friends on the Continent. It was generally understood that
Loxton had done well over his speculations in foreign shares, not that
it mattered much any way, for Society was prepared to take Lady Loxton
as she stood, and her invitations were eagerly sought for.

She made her way upstairs presently to her own flat, and let herself in
with a latchkey. The servants had all retired for the night to their own
quarters, which were at the end of a long corridor, and cut off from the
rest of the flat by a pair of heavy baize doors. The wire of a burglar
alarm ran along the wainscot, and this Lady Loxton carefully connected
before entering the dining-room.

The luxurious apartment, with its old oak panelling and priceless
pictures, was brilliantly flooded with light. Before the clear log fire
a man sat on an arm chair smoking a cigarette. He was very tall and very
thin, with a lean, long face, and head covered with coarse black hair.
This was no less a person than Professor Garzia, one of the greatest
authorities in Europe on music, and a Spaniard of old descent. He
shrugged his shoulders as Lady Loxton entered.

"My child, you have been a long time," he said.

"But not time wasted, Pedro," Lady Loxton laughed. "I did not find
Leroux at home, but behold there was little Vera in the midst of a
passionate love scene with our friend Paul Rosslyn. Of course, I
pretended to see nothing, but there is something in the wind all the
same. But never mind those children. Have you heard from Von Kemp and
our friend Aldeborough?"

"Ah, von Kemp and the others, they are in gaol," Garzia said, with a
shrug of his shoulders. "The little game with the shaded lamps was
spotted and the house raided just after dusk this evening. It is by
great good luck that I got away without being seen. I had managed to
hide the car, or at this moment I should not be enjoying the pleasure of
your charming society."

Lady Loxton hissed something between her little white teeth. Her
expression had entirely changed now, her big innocent eyes twinkled with
malice and cunning. The alert vigour of her face and the outward thrust
of her chin would have astonished her Society friends had they seen her
at that moment. For here was no frivolous butterfly, but a hard,
scheming woman of the world.

"What infernal luck!" she cried. "And I thought that we had planned the
whole thing so carefully. There must have been some bad blundering
somewhere, Pedro. And fancy this coming at a time when we need money
from Berlin so badly. I was promised 200,000 marks if I brought off that
little coup and got those gunboats mixed up with the mines that von Kemp
made, and which have been lying perdu at Aldeborough for the last four
years. And I am reduced to my last 5 note. We shan't get another penny
through Rotterdam until we have pulled something off. Look here."

The speaker took up a copy of a leading newspaper, and indicated an
advertisement appealing for subscriptions towards a children's
convalescent home, of which Lady Loxton appeared to be the president.
The appeal was for children in Germany and Belgium as well as
England--an appeal for the little ones suffering from the war, and
printed in three languages. Lady Loxton smiled as she looked at it.

"What fools these English authorities are," she said. "And yet I flatter
myself that this is an excellent scheme for throwing dust in their eyes.
This advertisement is published in London and Berlin every day. And each
day it is slightly altered. By picking out certain letters I can read
what our friends in Berlin say, and vice versa. To-day's message says
that the Secret Service Department at Potsdam is getting very
dissatisfied with us, and that unless we do something striking, the
money will be cut off. Now can't you think of something? Something
dazzling!"

Garzia frowned moodily. With his intimate knowledge of the coding of the
advertisement he was reading it eagerly between the lines. He looked up
presently, his eyes gleaming like coals.

"This is a great scheme of your's Marie," he exclaimed. "Ah, who would
guess that the frivolous Lady Loxton was the cleverest spy ever trained
in Prussia. You are great my child, the greatest of them all. And yet
they are so full of ingratitude. But that was not what I was going to
say. See, there is another message here. Will you take down the letters
as I pick them out."

Lady Loxton took a sheet of paper, and for the next quarter of an hour
jotted down a series of letters in what appeared to be a meaningless
jumble on a sheet of paper. Her eyes sparkled, and her breath came a
little faster as she divided up the words.

"Listen to this," she cried. "Berlin has got wind of a new aeroplane
invented by our young friend Paul Rosslyn. It is a folding plane, with
something entirely new in the way of a motor, and the whole thing can be
packed in a big portmanteau. Moreover, it is absolutely noiseless. My
word, what an instrument for bomb dropping! Talk about the terror by
night! Now this is in your line, Pedro. You must get hold of the
drawings of that plane and the designs of the engine. What do you
think?"

Garzia smiled as he took a fresh cigarette.

"I dare say," he muttered. "But don't you think it would be quite as
easy to get hold of the aeroplane itself?"




CHAPTER V.--"On The Roof."


For a long time the two conspirators sat there smoking their cigarettes
in silence. There was no patriotism in the mind of either though they
were both German born. They were just spies, brilliant and audacious
mercenaries, prepared to sell the seeds of their dirty work to the
highest bidder. The mere fact that the German Government was prepared to
pay a higher price than any other Government was the one thing that kept
them straight. No other great Power in Europe besides Germany had any
incentive to squander millions of money to purchase strategic secrets,
and well those spies knew it. They were trusted agents of Prussia, and
had known years ago that 'The Day' was inevitable. They knew too, that
the thunderbolt would be launched at harvest time in 1914, and hitherto
their task had been easy. They chuckled over the deluded Peace Party in
Great Britain, and smiled at the country apparently dead to all sense of
danger. Because of this Lady Loxton and her confederate, moving freely
as they did in official circles, had no difficulty in supplying Berlin
with priceless information, which was lavishly paid for.

For years they had lived on the fat of the land, but the sudden outbreak
of hostilities froze the sources of supply, and the confederates were
hard up for the opportunities of making a living.

Probably the authorities of Berlin had traded upon the fact. It had
become a case of no cure no pay, and the failure of the ingenious
Aldeborough scheme had found Lady Loxton and Garzia at the end of their
resources. The mere thought of Rosslyn's aeroplane set their mouths
watering. If they could get hold of the plans and specifications, to say
nothing of the aeroplane itself, then they would be in clover for many a
long day to come.

"We must think this out, Marie," Garzia muttered. "This prize is a rich
one, and others will be put on the scent unless we move quickly.
Meanwhile don't forget that I did not come here to-night merely to talk.
There is work to do before we sleep, and it is getting late. Come, are
you ready?"

The clocks in the sleeping city were striking the hour of two as Lady
Loxton and her companion made their way through a trapdoor on to the
roof of the flat. They were both shrouded from head to foot in black so
that they could crouch behind a mass of chimneys without fear of being
detected by the many searchlights playing across the chill, autumn sky.
Here, too was an iron standard supporting scores of telephone wires, and
from one of these a gleaming strand of copper dangled. To the end of
this filament Garzia attached a telephone receiver. A strand of wire was
in contact now with an official line connected with an intelligence
department, and he was in position to hear everything that passed one
way.

The little scheme had its drawback, but many a priceless bit of
information had been tapped in that way in the dead of the night. It was
Lady Loxton's business to act as amanuensis to Garzia and jot down in
shorthand in a notebook such points as were worthy of record.

They crouched there for a long time, quite an hour or more, and the
notebook was still a dreary blank.

Then Garzia started violently, and Lady Loxton stiffened.

"Here is something at last," Garzia murmured. "Have you got that
notebook ready?"

Lady Loxton muttered that she had. In the excitement of the moment her
German accent clearly betrayed her nationality. But there was no time
now to be wasted in idle chatter, besides, such a thing was highly
dangerous work before daylight.

Garzia did not say any more. He held the receiver to his left ear and
with his right hand ticked off a sort of abbreviated Morse code on the
leads of the flat. The woman by his side translated the sentences
quickly in her notebook. At the end of half an hour Garzia dropped his
receiver, and turned to his companion with an evil grin of triumph on
his face.

"That is about all," he said. "Any way, we have netted a fine lot of
fish to-night, and there is a real beauty amongst them. Now let us go
back to the dining-room, and you shall read it all to refresh your
memory. Then we will get busy."

The pair crept through the trap door and regained the dining-room
without anybody apparently being any the wiser. The burglar-alarm had
not been disturbed, as the state of the indicator proved, and none of
the servants could have left their room without giving the signal.

So far everything had gone off well, and nothing remained for the
present but to read the stolen message.

"I recognised the voice," Garzia exclaimed. "I need not tell you that it
came from the Admiralty, and the speaker was calling up Stuart Hallett,
who I need not tell you is our young friend Paul Rosslyn's chief. They
were talking about that precious aeroplane. But I daresay you have
gathered that."

Lady Loxton's eyes gleamed with joy.

"I did not," she said. "I was too busy taking down your information.
Perhaps I had better read it."

She rattled it off glibly enough. Somebody in authority at the Admiralty
had rung up Stuart Hallett at that late hour in the morning--for it was
three o'clock--and the questioner was evidently anxious to get in
contact with Rosslyn without delay. There was immediate and important
work for him to do, but what it was had not been mentioned over the
telephone. This was somewhat disappointing to the conspirators, and they
would have given a great deal for further particulars, though Garzia had
gathered that Rosslyn's task would have something to do with the new
aeroplane.

This was something disturbing in a way, for it certainly meant more
trouble for the spies. And there was something else that troubled them,
because Garzia could make out from the one sided conversation that
Hallett was uneasy in his mind inasmuch as Rosslyn had gone off on a
dangerous mission, and had not yet returned, though in the ordinary
course of things he should have been back in his rooms long ago. But
against this they had the priceless information of the spot where the
aeroplane was concealed and the combination letters with the lock on the
door of the shed. The Admiralty official had repeated this twice by way
of verifying his notes, and Garzia smiled grimly over this priceless bit
of information.

"Now I wonder if anything has happened to Rosslyn?" he muttered. "I
should not be surprised if he had gone off doing a bit of spy hunting on
his own account. We are not the only people in London who know something
about the work he is doing. What a glorious bit of luck this has been!
Now we can safely rely upon the Admiralty man doing nothing before
to-morrow. He will naturally wait for Rosslyn to turn up after the cool
way officials do lag, and the moment to us will be distinctly precious."

Lady Loxton carefully tore her notes into fragments, and dropped them
into the heart of the burning fire. She never left anything, however
small, to chance, and in the matter of the letter lock combination she
had a devoted faith in her own marvellous memory.

"I see you have something in your mind," she said eagerly. "I should
like to know what you propose to do?"

"Walk off with the aeroplane," Garzia said, coolly. "Start out now and
fetch it. There is nobody in London who knows the roads within a
twenty-mile radius better than you do. Besides, you have not had an
adventure for so long that your nerves must be getting flabby."

Lady Loxton laughed, and the gleam of battle shone in her eyes. For here
was an adventure after her own heart. She was sick of inaction and the
comparative failures of the past few weeks. She stood up live and
graceful, a mass of pluck and courage to her finger tips. She would have
hesitated at nothing, and if the worst came to the worst, she was quite
ready and willing to use a revolver.

"It would be grand," she cried. "Let us start at once. But there are
certain precautions, of course----"

Garzia made light of the suggestion.

"You shall see what you shall see," he said. "Now go and get ready, and
I will fetch the car round."




CHAPTER VI.--A Check All Round.


Like a cat, and as noiselessly, Garzia crept from the flat and made his
way down the flights of stairs. He did not ring for the lift, for he
counted on the night watchman being asleep in his box, and considerately
had no desire to disturb him. He smiled pleasantly to find the forecast
correct, and he slid off in the darkness without a soul being any the
wiser. Even though the streets were empty, Garzia took no risk, and he
used every patch of shadow as if it had been cover on a battlefield. He
came at length to the garage where he kept his car, a motor which he had
excellent reasons for looking after himself. It was supposed to be a
hobby of his but at any rate it avoided a curious chauffeur and enabled
Garzia to get about in all hours of the day and night without having to
make a lot of more or less plausible explanations.

He closed the tightly fitting door and switched on the light. Then he
proceeded rapidly to don a full chauffeur's uniform and a cap that hid
his dark hair. The addition of a pair of goggles changed him beyond all
recognition.

He chuckled as he regarded himself in the looking-glass; then he took up
a spray of brilliant red paint, and in a few moments had transformed his
pale car into a crimson one. All this would wash off quite easily
presently, and when the number-plate had been changed and fresh lamps
added he felt ready to defy the keenest eye. Then he boldly started the
car, and slid along noiselessly till Medhurst Gardens was reached. There
was no occasion to give Marie Loxton the signal, for she was already
waiting in the doorway for the arrival of the car. She had made no
attempt to disguise herself, for there was no occasion. If anybody met
them on the road she would merely be taken for a lady out on urgent
business, who was being driven by her own chauffeur. They slid away
almost noiselessly through the sleeping city, Lady Loxton from time to
time indicating the direction by a wave of her arm. Their destination
was not more than twenty miles, and this should be accomplished by four
o'clock, when it would still be pitch dark. The rest was no great
matter. It would not be a difficult thing to gain access to the hangar
in which the aeroplane was lying, and, with any luck the prize would be
safely housed in Garzia's garage before dawn.

So they hurried along the silent roads, encountering nobody besides an
occasional country policeman. The night was dark and black as the throat
of a wolf, but Garzia slung along easily for he was an accomplished
driver. Lady Loxton laid her hand upon his arm presently, and the car
stopped at the entrance to a narrow lane.

"You had better back her in here," the woman whispered. "We are very
near to our destination. I know that Rosslyn's workshops are in a field
at the bottom of the lane, and the hangar can't be very far off. Shut
down the engine and follow me."

It was not easy work fumbling along the lane in the pitch darkness, but
the journey was accomplished at length, and a white gate loomed like a
ghost a little way ahead. Beyond was a range of buildings dark against
the skyline, and towards these the two adventurers made their way. It
all seemed to be plain sailing now till something snapped under Garzia's
foot, then a gruff voice challenged, and the click of a trigger sounded
ominously near. It was a moment of something more than danger, and
indeed it spelt exposure and disgrace. If the man with the revolver held
them up long enough for assistance to arrive, then their career would be
at an end. Even the ready-witted Garzia was at a loss for the moment.

But not so the woman by his side. She grasped him tensely by the arm and
hissed in his ear.

"Drop," she said, "on your hands and knees at once and get behind the
fellow. He is about five yards straight in front of me, and I saw his
outline for a second against a door. Get behind him, and kill him when
the time comes. Leave him to me."

Garzia needed no second bidding. He dropped like a shot rabbit on the
wet grass, and proceeded to stalk his prey. He heard Marie Loxton utter
a cry of joy and relief, or, at any rate, so it seemed to the sentinel
standing there. It was quite clear that the guardian was unaware of the
fact that there were two trespassers, and under the fond illusion that
he had only a woman to deal with.

"Oh I am so glad I have found somebody," said Marie Loxton in tones of
relief. "I have never been so frightened in my life. I was on the way to
see a friend of mine that was taken suddenly ill, and I was stupid
enough to think that I could drive myself. I managed to steer my car
into a ditch, and if you will be so kind----"

There was no occasion to say any more, for the man standing there gave a
gasp as he dropped senseless from a murderous blow on the back of the
head. Garzia bent over him coolly.

"He won't trouble anybody for an hour or two," he said. "That was very
smart of you, Marie. Now come along, for there is not a moment to be
lost. There is the hangar, and here is my pocket-lamp. Well, so much for
the lock. Now shut the door while I find the switch and turn on the
light. Here we are, and----"

The chuckling speech broke off suddenly, and a yell of rage came from
Garzia's lips For all this toil and all these risks were wasted. The
hanger was empty.

"Now what does all this mean?" Garzia hissed. "There isn't so much here
as a box of matches. And from what I heard over the telephone to-night,
the aeroplane must have been here an hour or two ago. I'd give five
years of my life to know where Rosslyn is just now. He is a lucky
beggar, anyhow."

Had Garzia only known! Hours before Rosslyn had retraced his steps in
the direction Cannon-street with the full intention of knowing the
worst. The cool air of the night chilled the fever in his blood, and he
saw his duty clearly before him. He resolutely put Vera out of his mind,
he would forget her altogether. He had only one object in view and that
was to discover the hidden mystery in a busy city street. He went
cautiously up the stairs presently. He was all ready, nor did he
anticipate any kind of trouble. He would be able to find the switch and
turn on the light.

But all that was done for him in the twinkling of an eye. He had a
fleeting vision of Leroux and a big burley man whom the former addressed
as Ludwig. Then he was carried to the floor, and a pair of handcuffs
snapped upon his wrists.




CHAPTER VII.--The Dead of Night.


It was futile to struggle, vain to regret. It was the old story over
again, the story of Samson and Delilah in another form. Rosslyn cursed
himself as he remembered the many little things he had told Vera Leroux
from time to time, especially the information he had given her as to his
wonderful new aeroplane. He was in the hands of unscrupulous Germans,
who would not hesitate to destroy him if it suited their purpose. They
would probably try and strike a bargain with him, and he waited with
admirable patience to hear it.

"Now listen to me," Leroux said. "You have been trapped. There is no
blame attached to you--a far wiser mind than yours would have failed to
see the bait. And you have precipitated matters yourself. I had no idea
that you were on the track till to-night, or I should have toasted my
cheese in another fashion. Now it is necessary to approach you in a
different way. Ah, things are not so bad as they seem. If you will give
me your word of honour to say nothing of this discovery of yours you are
free to depart. If you are willing to trust me and my friend here for
seven days----"

Rosslyn laughed bitterly.

"Ah, precisely," Leroux smiled. "If I were in your place I should
probably take the same view. It is too late to tell you the truth,
besides you would not have believed me if I did. We want you, and more
especially that wonderful biplane of yours--the marvellous machine that
takes up no more room than a big sea chest, the aerial bird that rises
from the ground like a swallow. Also the engine that makes no more noise
than the drone of a bee. And we get our own way thus."

Leroux raised his hands, and the man called Ludwig came forward. He
carried something that looked like a shining needle, the point of which
he thrust in Rosslyn's arm. The latter drew a deep breath, there was a
click in his throat, then he swayed gently forward and fell, to all
appearance dead, at Leroux's feet. The latter laid him out on the floor
tenderly enough, and proceeded to remove the handcuffs.

"There is no other way, Ludwig," he said, as he busied himself in
stripping his unconscious prisoner. "We should never have convinced him,
and time is precious. Here, hand me those bandages and sheets. This is
where you come in."

It needed but a minute or two to transform Rosslyn into the presentiment
of a man wounded to the point of death. His hands were bandaged across
his chest. His head was enveloped in a cloth which seemed to be soaked
with blood, a few deft touches of a paint brush, and his face assumed
the whiteness of marble. Then the burly Ludwig took up the body as if it
had been no more than a feather weight and carried it down to the
street. The road was empty.

Immediately opposite the doorway stood a huge car flying the Red Cross
flag. A little way further down the street was a light motor ambulance
which appeared to be piled high with stretchers. Leroux gave a grunt of
satisfaction when he saw it.

"Quick," he whispered hoarsely, "there's no time to be lost. You worked
that business very cleverly, my friend. Apparently the forged
instructions came off all right, and that is the biplane behind. Good.
It's now half-past one, and it will not be light before seven. We must
be in Yarmouth safely hidden in the house of our friend long before
them. Now then."

The two cars slid away into the darkness, and through the streets of
London without attracting attention or exciting suspicion. It would have
been all the same if they had, for no preparation had been neglected.
Leroux had his story pat to the last word, documentary evidence properly
signed and vouched to confirm it. If he was stopped later on, then he
was merely conveying a wounded soldier who had just had a dangerous
operation performed upon him back to his own home in Norfolk. He knew
perfectly well that it would be at least eight-and-forty hours before
Rosslyn opened his eyes again, or even gave the faintest sign of life.
At the same time he was piloting an ambulance as far as the hospital
which had recently been established at King's Lynn. The whole delicately
laid scheme planned out so carefully and nourished so skilfully for
nearly three years was not going to break down now. With what patience
Leroux had waited for his chance!

The two cars slid on hour after hour through that chill November night;
there was no challenge, and no delay. Long before daybreak the cars
passed under an archway into a stable yard, and there they lay till
darkness fell again.

It was a few minutes past six when the cars touched the coast at a
lonely spot some five miles north of Yarmouth. It was here that they
approached the zone of actual danger. The sea lay some sixty feet below
at the foot of a sheer cliff. There they pulled up listening intently
till the silence was broken by what appeared to a poaching cat snarling
over a squealing rabbit. Leroux drew a breath of relief.

"It's all right," he whispered. "Coast quite clear. Get the invalid out
and start up the engine and tip the car into the sea. It's a pity, but
we musn't take any risks.. . Good. Now the same with the other one.. .
And that's all right."

With infinite care and some risk Rosslyn's unconscious body was lowered
by ropes into a motor-boat at the foot of the cliff, and the packed
aeroplane swiftly followed. The precious engine came last. Half the task
was accomplished now, and Leroux resigned himself into the hands of the
burly Ludwig, who was a past master in the art of driving any craft with
motor engines. This was where he came in. He proceeded to rig up an
ingenious combination of motor-boat and aeroplane, using Rosslyn's
wonderful invention for this purpose, and working it therefore from the
bows and stern at the same time. He made no mistake; it was evident that
his calculation was working out to the fraction of an inch. He gave a
grunt of satisfaction.

"Absolutely right," he muttered. "By this contrivance we can touch fifty
an hour without the slightest danger. And the man has yet to be born who
knows the course better than I. We, with any luck, should be in
Wilhelmshaven by three o'clock, and Korner's launch will be on the
look-out for us. Here's luck to us all."

Without the glimmer of a light or the shadow of hesitation, Ludwig took
the wheel and steered for the open sea. He seemed to have the eyes of a
cat and a perfect confidence; indeed, he made no idle boast when he
spoke of his knowledge, and he knew, too, that it was a thousand to one
against meeting anything more dangerous than a fishing-smack or a tramp
steamer. Hour after hour the silent machine worked like a thing of life,
a bow wave swirled on either side of the little boat, and yet on the
smooth sea hardly a drop of water was shipped. The two men sat there
motionless and silent, alert and watchful for any threatened danger.
From time to time they could catch the glimmer of lights in the
distance, but nothing came within hailing distance, and presently
Ludwig's keen eyes could make out on the horizon what appeared to be a
bank of clouds, but which knew to be the coast of Germany. Then the boat
slowed down, the aeroplane engine was taken down, and the whole packed
away once more in the semblance of a big pile of stretchers. For the
first time Ludwig showed a light thrice in rapid succession, and cut off
his engine.

It was about an hour before a sea bird cried overhead apparently, and
then out of the velvety darkness a steam launch appeared. A guttural
voice challenged the motor boat cautiously.

"It is all right," Ludwig said. "We have the body of his Imperial
Highness on board. No, he is not dead yet. Here, give me a hand."

The thing was done. The motor-boat was at the bottom of the sea, and in
a room in the citadel Ludwig and Leroux sat talking to Herr von Korner,
commanding the garrison. And on a truckle bed lay the body of Rosslyn,
still lost to consciousness.

"He will wake and make history yet," Leroux smiled.




CHAPTER VIII.--On German Soil.


Colonel von Korner's haggard, anxious face relaxed for a moment. He
looked like a man crushed and broken down by the weight of some great
burden. His moustache dropped, he had none of the self-assured swagger
that is almost the birth right of a German cavalry officer. His uniform
was grimy and soiled, he might have been sleeping in it for weeks, which
indeed was the truth. For the history of the war was no sealed book to
him. The great Over Lord might deem it policy to conceal from a deluded
people the long chapter of failure and reverse which had dogged the
German Army from the start. He might pose before the population in the
heart of his capital as their champion, and pretend that the sword had
not shattered in his grasp, but those in authority knew the truth, and
how terrible a retribution was at hand.

And von Korner was one of the enlightened type of patriot, who had never
cherished any delusions. He had known from the first what it meant to
defy the might of the Triple Entente, what it meant to flaunt defiance
in the face of the British Fleet. He knew how near famine and revolution
were, he knew that the right man in Berlin could start a rebellion which
would drag the Hohenzollern throne from its pedestal and break it in the
dust. He knew that the German Army had gone sullenly to the front with
Socialism eating into its very vitals. He knew this because he was a
Socialist himself, a pure minded and brave patriot who was prepared to
fight, not for the Potsdam clique or the War Gang in the
Friedrichstrasse, but for the coming and inevitable German Republic.

All this he told Leroux and Ludwig as they sat there in that plainly
furnished room. But Leroux knew it already, had known it for the last
three years. It was to strike a blow for the real freedom of the German
people that these men were gathered there to-night.

"So far all has been well," Leroux explained. "As I have just told you,
I have had to use a certain amount of violence, indeed without it
Rosslyn would never have consented to join us. But he will not be so
bitter against me when he knows the truth. Now listen to me, Citizen
Korner. As I always told you, there is no enmity between the British and
German peoples. We are bound together too closely by ties of blood and
money for that. The destruction of Germany would ruin hundreds of
thousands of Englishmen--it would be a two-edged sword reaching half
across Europe. I tell you the English are a great people, and they will
help us to be free. Ah, it is the Kaiser and those he has gathered about
him that the English hate and detest. They say that the Mad Dog of
Europe has for twenty years been a menace to the civilisation and
commerce of the world. It is he they would destroy, he and his
ridiculous navy. Once they are out of the way, and you will see a
friendship between Teuton and Anglo-Saxon such as has not been witnessed
since the overthrow of Napoleon. But I waste time, Ludwig, my friend,
the antidote if you please."

Half an hour later Rosslyn struggled to his feet, and looked about him
in half-blind amazement. He was like a man tired to death yet awakened
after a few moments from deep slumber. He threw off his stupor
presently, he was conscious of no racking headache, nothing beyond a
fierce desire to eat and drink. He was in the hands of the foe, but
there was no reason why he should not make the best of life so long as
it was left to him. With a certain cynical indifference he accepted von
Korner's offer of a cigar.

"Would you mind telling me where I am?" he asked.

"You are in the Fortress of Wilhemshaven," Leroux explained. "It doesn't
matter how you got here, though I've no doubt you could give a pretty
good guess. But you are here, and so is that wonderful aeroplane and
engine of yours. Now let me explain. You regard me as a German spy who
has got the better of you. In a way I am a German spy. But I happen to
be a trusted servant of the Democratic Federation. Now we have our
followers everywhere. They are even in the Palace of Potsdam, in the
office of Bethmann-Holwegg, acting with Von Gwinner without his knowing
it, of course--and listening to the plans of von der Goltz; we are in
workshops of Krupps by the hundred. And we knew three years ago that
this war would take place just at harvest time in nineteen hundred and
fourteen. It was then that I came to London after six years in Paris.
And for three years my London business was no more than a blind. So, my
dear Rosslyn, it was small wonder that you were deceived. To a certain
extent you forced my hand, and when you raided my little establishment
it was too late for explanations. So I had to resort to force. Do you
believe me now?"

"It is a plausible story," Rosslyn said guardedly.

"Then so far, so good," Leroux went on. "The three of us here are the
type of Socialist who would save their country from further useless
bloodshed. And we are going to strike a blow. It is necessary to strike
a blow through the heart of the nation, for it is from the heart that
the arteries are fed. Berlin has been cruelly deceived. They know
nothing of all these reverses, they have not yet realised that Germany
is in a ring of steel, in a kind of chamber of horrors, the walls of
which are gradually closing. They do not know. They do not know that we
are no more than a gigantic beleagured fortress, which must fall in the
end from sheer exhaustion. Now we are going to tell Berlin the truth. We
have all our documents ready, vouched for by the heads of our
Federation, and it should be for you and your aeroplane to fly from here
to Berlin and drop those leaflets by the thousand from the sky over the
capital. Most of the good seed will fall on fertile ground, most of the
inhabitants of Berlin are Socialists. There will be a tremendous
reaction, a great wave of public indignation, arms will spring from
everywhere, and the few troops around the Imperial Palace will be
overpowered. Within eight-and-forty hours the Kaiser and his Army
Council will be prisoners, and the Provisional Government formed. The
flame will spread like wildfire. Now, sir, will you join with us and
permit me to be your passenger?"

Rosslyn saw it all in a flash. These men were in grim earnest, and he
could see no wrong in helping them. It was a chance to strike a blow for
the flag, a chance hitherto only to dream of.

"Then you can count me in," he cried. "I am ready at any moment. Long
life and prosperity to the German Republic."




CHAPTER IX.--The Trustful Britain.


Billy Montague strolled into his club and dropped into an arm chair in
the smoking room with a discontented sigh. He regarded himself as being
one of Fortune's victims, but there were thousands of his own type all
over the country suffering in the same way. Billy was a man of family,
an old Etonian, who had seen a great deal of service with Paget's Horse
during the Boer War.

"It's very rough upon me," he told his friends. "I know I am over fifty,
but I am as hard as nails and I am the equal to any man half my age at
anything outdoors. And yet I can't get a job because I got a bullet
wound in my foot and I am not so spry as some of them. I tell you this
idleness will drive me to drink."

Montague was still harping upon his favourite theme when the little knot
in the smoking-room was added to by the appearance of Stuart Hallett. He
did not look quite so calm and unconcerned as usual, for he was troubled
in his mind over the strange disappearance of Rosslyn and his aeroplane.
Two or three days had elapsed, and it was now Sunday evening, and yet no
sign of Rosslyn had been seen. Nobody knew this as yet, but it would be
necessary to disclose the fact before very long. So Stuart was uneasy in
his mind.

"Well, how goes it, you lucky beggar?" Montague asked cheerfully. "Very
fine to be fully occupied like you are. I say, old chap, can't you give
us any sort of a job? Look at Pascoe yonder. He is positively starving
for work."

The man called Pascoe smiled bitterly. He wondered what Montague would
think if he knew how nearly he had hit the mark. For the terrible war
was pressing hard upon many people who seemed to be beyond its grip. The
nation had responded nobly enough to the call of the Empire in her hour
of need. There were funds for those dependent on the Army and the Fleet,
but no one seemed to have given heed to the vast classes of people
suddenly plunged from prosperity into the abyss of semi-starvation. For
these are the people who suffer in silence and feed on their pride.
These are the people drawn from the ranks of the professions,
solicitors, doctors, stockbrokers, and heads of mercantile houses who
had woke up on that fateful Bank Holiday to find their occupations gone.
Many a man who had deemed himself well off on the Saturday, was face to
face with starvation on the Monday morning.

It seemed incredible, impossible, the dream of some gloomy pessimist.
And yet there it was, there were thousands of hitherto luxurious
households envying the peasant toiling in the fields. And Pascoe, good
fellow and good sportsman as he was, smiled bitterly as he looked about
the smoking room with its electric lights and liveried servants and
thought how glad he would have been to exchange the choice cigar in his
mouth and the liqueur by his side for a square meal of bread and cheese.

He could, of course, accept the cigar offered him by a friend, but he
could not stoop to borrow a few shillings from the same generous
colleague on many a sporting field. For this is one of the million
little tragedies that cling to the skirts of war. The man was well
dressed, apparently prosperous from tip to toe, but all the same no food
had passed his lips since the previous day. Small wonder then that he
looked up eager as a famished wolf when he scents the prey and waited
for Hallett's reply. And Hallett knew pretty well what was passing in
Pascoe's mind. He had his own sources of information.

"Oh, I have not forgotten you chaps," he said. "The papers are making a
good deal of fuss about our system of dealing with German spies. Of
course we don't say much, but there is a great deal more going on than
we like--especially on the East Coast. Now both of you fellows speak
German like natives, and I am sure you would not mind the hardships. I
am enrolling a corps of spy scouts, who will have a free hand to do
pretty well what they please. Of course it will be a paid job under
Government control, and not without an element of danger. If you care to
undertake it----"

"Oh, hang the pay," Montague cried.

"I wish I could say the same," Pascoe murmured. "I'll take on the job
with pleasure, but--oh, hang it, Hallett, I have got to live somehow.
Every penny of my money is invested in my brother-in-law's business in
Bremen. Might just as well be at the bottom of the sea for the moment
you know. And, well, I am dead broke. I'd do anything for an honest
living."

"Oh, it is not a matter of money," Hallett said; he avoided Pascoe's eye
for the moment. "You can draw on me for anything in reason, and don't
spare expenses. Now listen-----"

Hallett dropped his voice to a whisper.

"There is something mysterious going on along the Coast between
Aldeborough and Filey. I don't know what it is, and it will be your
business to find it out. We have had one or two nasty Naval disasters up
there, and it has got to be stopped. If I'd had my way when the War
broke out I would have rounded up every German in the kingdom,
registered or not registered, and packed them all off, from the
millionaire in his castle down to the sweating little Jew tailor in
Whitechapel. We are playing the game much too fairly."

Hallett's words found an echo in the breasts of his companions. More
than once lately Britain had had cause to rue her generosity to the
enemy within her gates. But that had always been her policy. Sure within
the fortress of the seas and relying with a child-like faith on the
Majestic Navy, it seemed to the millions at home a mean and cowardly
thing to seek out the solitary unit for punishment. And deep down in the
heart of the nation was, and is, a profound sympathy for the deluded
German fed with lies and blasphemous philosophy and ground down under
the iron heel of the greatest tyrant since the days of Caligula.

And perhaps it was because of this that the Angel of Mercy still held in
check the iron hand of Necessity. London and the provinces were disposed
to smile at the puny efforts of the spies that crept like flies about
the face of the country. Their pinprick efforts mattered but little.
London was safe, the great cities in the north were intact, people
discussed the probability of an attack by air with smiles upon their
faces. But there were those who knew better, and Stuart Hallett was one
of them.

"That's all right then," he went on. "Now I want you to go up to
Scarborough and get in touch with Inchcliffe. You know him?"

"Oh, Lord, yes," Montague exclaimed. "The latest member of the House of
Lords captured by the musical hall stage. Married Daisy Otter, didn't
he? Seems to have dropped out altogether."

"That's the man," Hallett said. "I am rather sorry for Inchcliffe. When
he got married he went off in that big yacht of his somewhere off the
map, and he managed to drift back to Southampton without hearing a word
of all this trouble. Some of us thought he was shirking, anyway there
was not a single job we could fit him into when he got back, and now he
is brooding over his fate and cursing his unlucky star. Of course his
marriage was a mistake, though Lady Inchcliffe is by no means a bad
sort. Now, as you know, Inchcliffe has a master mariner's certificate
and there is not a living soul who knows more of the East coast waters
than he does. He has got one or two little gems in the way of electric
launches, and it is one of his boasts that he can navigate the coast
blindfold. Your game is to go and see him and root out these spies who
are constantly signalling between Filey and Aldeborough. It will be a
pretty hazardous job, but you won't mind that. I don't mind telling you
that the attempt to scotch the German snake yonder has cost more than
one good life already. I sent young Trevor a fortnight ago, and he has
not been heard of since. He was followed by Nasmith last week, and his
body was picked up in the sea not far from Harwich. We call them
accidents, but you people can draw your own conclusions. I only warn you
that this is going to be no child's play."

Montague nodded, and Pascoe's dark face grew serious.

"And those chaps call this war," the latter broke out angrily. "Upon my
word, I don't see why we should not pay them out in their own coin. I'm
a good bit of a Radical myself and I can't understand how it is that all
the hoard of Socialists in the German Army submit so tamely to be driven
into a war which they hate and loathe. Had we been half smart we should
have had a paid spy in every German regiment preaching the doctrine of a
German Republic. It'll all very well for us to live up to our ideals,
but it is no end of a handicap in times like these. What's that?"

A booming sound that echoed through the smoking room and shook the
windows cut off the rest of Pascoe's speech. One man looked at the other
inquiringly, but nobody moved. Surely there was no danger anywhere near
at hand. London was safe enough, the foe was a long way off, and the
silver sheet of the Channel lay between.

A waiter with nothing to do for the moment strolled leisurely through
the hall and stood on the steps gazing up into the hazy autumn sky. It
was a warm night, though intensely dark, and the streets were thronged
with people. Little or no news had come through from the western army
for some days, and the war fever had for the moment subsided. London's
teeming millions were spending their Sunday in before the outbreak of
hostilities, secure in the belief of absolute safety. It is no easy
matter to frighten a people whose capital has never echoed to the tramp
of the conqueror's foot since her day of glory dawned. So London laughed
and supped, listened to her Sunday concerts, and filled her churches.
The sound of the explosion fell on deaf ears.

The waiter strolled back to the smoking room again.

"No sir, I didn't see anything, sir," he said in answer to Hallett's
question. "Bit of an explosion, sir, I expect."

Then suddenly the noise came again, and every light in the smoking room
shut off, leaving it in blank darkness.




CHAPTER X.--The Terror of the Air.


Still the men seated there hardly moved. Doubtless there had been some
accident, a trouble with the gas-main perhaps, a disturbance which had
short-circuited the electric light. The waiters came out with candles
presently, but though the time went on there was no reappearance of the
welcome rays of light. Outside the cheery hum of voices had grown into
an angry murmur, there were confused shouts from cab and taxi drivers,
police whistles broke out shrill and clear. The three men conversing in
whispers in the corner of the smoking room looked at one another and
rose with common accord. Evidently the trouble was worse than they had
anticipated, for as they stood on the steps of the club presently and
looked out there was not a single light to be seen. London had been
plunged suddenly into the thickest darkness, bewildered drivers had
pulled up helplessly in the road, and on the pavement huddled heaps of
pedestrians stood anxious and uneasy, and not knowing which way to turn.
The voices dropped for a moment, there was a strange feeling in the air,
the sickening expectation of some dire catastrophe.

"What about the spies now?" Hallett muttered. "You see what's happened,
don't you? This is an organised attack, made simultaneously on all our
big electric power stations. I don't suppose there is a single light in
London, bar gas, between Hendon and Woolwich. Seems impossible, does it
not? But not so impossible when you think that it was possibly planned
years ago by fellows that you and me might have shot and dined with."

Hallett's words fell on deaf ears, for the other men were not listening.
They were looking instinctively upwards as if seeking to read the riddle
of the autumn night. Then a long way off, from all four quarters of the
compass pink points of flame seemed to poise like fireflies cutting a
vivid wire into the gloom. They rose higher and higher then burst into
globes of pallid blue flame, hanging there and illuminating London from
above. All this rendered the streets below still more black and inky,
but picking out every object clean and clear cut as a cameo to any
unseen terror that might be riding triumphantly in the sky.

"It's come all right," Mantague cried. "It's the Zeppelins, and you can
bet your life that there are more than one of them. As we can't do
anything, would not we be safer inside?"

Nobody heeded, no one moved; indeed the speaker himself made no effort
to seek the safety of the club. They stepped down on the pavement
instead and gazed eagerly down Pall Mall in the direction of Waterloo
Place. Then there came a vivid sheet of light that showed every object
in the minutest detail, there was a shattering smash that carried the
affrighted crowd off their feet, and after that an explosion that seemed
to shake London to its foundations.

In the twinkling of an eye a spurt of flame jutted out from a house on
the left-hand side of the road, a flame that instantly grew into a
roaring blaze, and then a few people who had kept their heads saw that
the Crimean Memorial had been wiped out as clean as if it had been no
more than a drawing on a slate swept away by a wet sponge. The three men
on the club steps hurried forward, but so far as they could see in the
light of the burning house nobody had been seriously injured. One or two
people stunned by the shock lay in the roadway, a car had been
overturned by the force of the explosion, and the driver, his face
smothered with blood and dust swore vigorously as he crawled from under
his motor. By this time all the streets in immediate vicinity of the
trouble had cleared as if by magic. The doorways were full of people and
a frightened mob surged down Piccadilly pouring into the clubs there
heedless of consequences and madly anxious for the safety of roof over
their heads.

They came, men, women, and children elegantly dressed, they came in
shabby raiment and rags, for in that moment of terror class distinctions
were swept away and social barriers trampled in the dust.

"It's no use staying here," Hallett said. "Let's go and try and do
something. We might go as far as the Admiralty."

The other two agreed eagerly enough. Anything was better than inaction.
They forced their way along the crowded side streets, the darkness lit
up ever and again by those awful spurts of blinding flame followed by
deafening explosions. They seemed to be dropping now in a dozen places,
dropping out of nowhere, flung from the hand of a reckless and
revengeful foe beyond the reach of retaliation. Here and there were long
lanes of light where the streets were illuminated by gas, and here and
there were buildings the windows of which gleamed invitingly, for the
churches and chapels had not yet concluded their evening service, and
they were all packed with huddled heaps of fugitives seeking material
salvation. Anything was better than the terror of that cruel darkness.

Most of the places of worship had their gas supply in case of emergency,
for the supply had not evidently been attacked, and where electric had
failed this had been resorted to. There was not at that moment a
consecrated building in London which was not packed to suffocation with
the panic-stricken mob.

And yet so far as Hallett and his companions could see, the loss of life
was mercifully small. Here and there houses burnt fiercely, but the fire
brigades were doing their work manfully, undeterred by the grim terror
overhead. The ambulance society were out, too, toiling swiftly and
noiselessly, and gradually at the sight of these noble examples
something like order was restored.

There was, however, nothing to be learnt at the Admiralty, except that
the attack had been utterly unexpected. Not that the authorities were
idle, already a fleet of aeroplanes were overhead locating the unseen
foe. As Hallett and his companions emerged into the street they could
hear the wild scream of the propellors overhead. This bold and audacious
attack was evidently not without good result, for the rain of bombs had
ceased now and the silence that followed was almost painful in its
intensity.

Here and there in a murky sky flashes of flame stabbed through the
darkness. They wheeled in turn like great white birds circling and
lifting in a gale of wind. Then there appeared a brighter and more vivid
flame of light moving majestically across the sky, and suddenly the
great dome overhead seemed to bend and reel before a series of
crackening explosions, a great pyrotechnic display as if a thousand gala
nights had been rolled into one.

It was impossible to see anything of this amazing aerial fight the like
of which man had not dreamt in his wildest moments, there was nothing to
indicate what was going on besides the crackle of guns, the vivid
flashes of blue lightning, and the load scream of propellors. Then there
came a deafening roar, louder than all the rest, and a sheet of fire
that showed up against the rugged edge of the clouds and then something
that sounded faint and far away like cheers of triumphant vengeance.

Hallett and his companions stood for a moment or two under the shelter
of the bridge at Ludgate Hill and watched a rain of fiery fragments that
dropped steadily from the darkness. There were fragments, too, of iron
and steel, and with them other fragments that caused the watchers to
shrink and shudder, though it was palpable enough that these charred
remains meant the destruction of one Zeppelin at least, perhaps that the
cowardly attack upon an open town had recoiled on the head of the foe.

There were no women and children to be seen in the streets now, but they
were thronged with men who, now that the shock and panic had passed,
were thirsting to get the foe by the throat. But apparently the danger
was over, and the whisper commenced to run along the streets to the
effect that the foe had been definitely ascertained to consist of two
Zeppelins and that they had been brought down by aeroplanes. One of the
airmen had dropped in Regent's Park, with the cheerful news that the
danger was over, at any rate for the present. The glad news carried
along from lip to lip and the faint cheering broke into a roar.

"Its all them German spies," a voice rose above the din. "They couldn't
have done it without. Got at the electric light mains, they did. We're a
set of generous fools, that's what we are. Now even down my own street
there is a German chap----"

The cheers broke out again and the speaker was carried away on the human
tide drifting up and down the road in a manner which appeared to be
quite aimless.

Almost unconsciously the people were gathered there looking for someone
to blame or someone to wreak their vengeance upon after the aimless
manner of crowds without a leader. And the scapegoat seemed to come out
of nowhere followed by an angry roar in the background which was taken
up by those in front without the vanguard knowing in the least why. It
was much the same as the mob at Epsom roars wildly at the Derby dog,
only the cruel humour was lacking here and the desire to wound strong.

Racing along with the pack at his heels towards the Churchyard and
making for the Cathedral as if the lights inside were an invitation to
the sanctuary was the figure of a man.

This human hare in front of the hounds came along with wet white face
and long dank hair, his affrighted eyes telling plainly enough that he
was fully alive to the peril behind him. He looked lean and half
starved, he wore a pair of tweed trousers almost in rags and his toes
showed through his broken boots.

"Spy, spy," the mob roared. "Cop 'im. Pull 'im down. String 'im up to a
lamppost. Spy!"

Hallett started as he caught sight of the ragged blue-grey tunic that
the fugitive was wearing.

"A German infantry officer," he exclaimed. "Partly in uniform, too. Now,
where on earth----"

The hunted man panted up the steps and darted headlong into the shelter
of St. Paul's Cathedral.




CHAPTER XI.--Inside St. Paul's.


The same City and yet not the same!

It was as if one had passed from a hideous nightmare into a sweet, and
pleasant dream. Outside, London was swaying either in terror or with a
fierce desire to be up and doing, but inside the great Cathedral was
peace, complete and absolute.

A vast congregation had gathered there on that Sunday evening to hear a
sermon preached by one of the great divines of the Free Church. A month
or two ago such a thing would not have been dreamt of. But in the
knitting up of the strands of Empire many things had happened lately,
and the abnormal of yesterday was the commonplace of to-day. A country
that had lived to see the Protestant North of Ireland shoulder to
shoulder with the Roman Catholics of the South saw nothing strange in a
Nonconformist preacher standing in the pulpit at St. Paul's.

For all the old schisms and quarrels were gone, and the day of broader
Christianity had arrived. The change had been going on slowly and
gradually wherever the English tongue was spoken and where the peril of
the German theology was recognised. The menace to civilisation of a
creed inspired by the sword had to be taken by the throat and strangled.
What could one think of a dogma based upon an arrogant assumption of
world-wide power gained at the point of the bayonet and ruthlessly
carried over the dead bodies of women and children.

It was such thoughts as those that had brought people there and filled
St. Paul's to overflowing.

The impressive service was finished, the great organ had ceased to peal,
and all eyes were bent upon the slender figure of the white-haired man
in the pulpit. Strife and trouble seemed a long way off just then. There
was no traffic in the City streets, so that the silence was intense. And
then the man holding his vast congregation in his hand began to speak to
them in his own simple and eloquent way of the new Attilla who had
chosen to plunge a continent into war for his own fleeting ambitions.

"It has pleased the Kaiser," he said, "to stand before Europe for twenty
years as the greater Apostle of Peace. It is his claim that he will go
down to posterity as William the Peaceful. It has been his claim too
that his armed millions have been trained and armed with one pure ideal
only, and that is to protect and fester civilisation and culture and
Christianity.

"And Europe believed him. I believed him. The heads of all the Christian
churches in Europe and America believed him. He preached this humane
doctrine to me five years ago at Potsdam, and I came away happy in the
knowledge that in our time I should never see two great nations locked
in the grip of war.

"It was the same wherever I travelled in Germany, I heard the same
shibboleths from great lawyers, great divines, and famous philosophers.
I did not smile at the delusion that the twentieth century belonged to
Germany as von Bernhardi had proudly boasted, for in this I could see
nothing more harmful than an inflated patriotism. It seemed to me that
the race that bred Martin Luther could not but be a factor for good in
religious progress of the world.

"And all that has been swept away now, the mask has been torn away, and
we see Germany as she really is. No, not as she really is, but as she
thinks she is. We see now how for the last twenty years the great
masters of theology and philosophy have been suborned to build up a wall
of specious words around the soul of Germany and thus deluded her into
the belief that she was destined to overrun the world at the point of
the sword. Wholesale murder had been elevated into something, pure and
holy, and an enlightened nation was content to applaud the Crown
Prince's doctrine that the warlike virtues are the highest form of piety
that a State can know. It is a strange creed, a strange evolution after
two thousand years of Christianity! But is there any vestige of
Christianity in it at all?"

The preacher paused and the vast congregation seemed to sway towards
him. In the dim light of the shaded lamps the figure in the pulpit
seemed to stand out above everything else. His clear voice rang to the
roof, and then when he opened his lips again, there came from somewhere
not far off a roar followed by a shock that seemed to shake the great
building to its foundation. The congregation thrilled uneasily, but
there was not a soul amongst them that showed the slightest sign of
panic. And there was not a soul there who did not realise exactly what
had happened.

"The terror of the night," the preacher said calmly. "The hand of the
foe has reached us from the skies. We are safer here than if we were in
the streets, safer by far than our friends in many a city of France. And
therefore, if I go on with my simple sermon----"

The audience swayed again, and something like a murmur of admiration
followed. The spiritual forces were touched so that there was no room
for fear. Again came one of those shattering explosions, and the lights
grew more dim. But there was no danger of the terror of the night there,
for the church relied upon its own power of illumination. And nobody
moved or stirred.

"But we know now," the preacher went on, "that William of Prussia is a
firm believer in the Divine Right of Kings, we know now that it is one
of his delusions that he has been placed where he is by the Almighty to
lead the Germans as Moses lead the chosen people into the land of
promise. That is the destiny of Germany and the destiny of her leader.
The land of promise in this case is the whole of the civilised world, to
be achieved and conquered, as the warrior priests achieved and conquered
some four thousand years ago. And by this we know that the Kaisers God
is not our God, not the God of mercy and pity, the Heavenly father who
looks down upon us all with a kindly eye, but a great avenging deity and
Lord of Battles speaking to the people of the earth through the lips of
the Potsdam Assassin. The Kaiser's God is the same God who ordered the
destruction of the Warrior Priest who had spared Agag and the best of
the spoil--a god of rigid discipline, a military Jehovah. This is the
Divinity that guides Potsdam on its way.

"And how do we know this? In the first place we know it because this is
the ruthless creed that has brought fire and sword amongst us. But we
know it all the more particularly because it is impossible to trace an
illusion to our Christ in a single one of the Kaiser's speeches. The
Christ as we know Him, the Christ and His teachings which have been our
guiding star all these centuries does not appeal to the Supreme War
Lord. He knows nothing of the spirit that has moved us Christians during
the slow dragging of two thousand years. The Lord's Prayer; the Sermon
on the Mount, the exquisite pathos of Gethsemane, all fall dully on the
ears of William. The god of anger and wrath, the God of battles is his.
The passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, and the destruction
of the Egyptian host, and the spoiling of them is a spectacle far more
pleasing to the War Lord than the story of Christ stilling the waves or
feeding the multitude. And because----"

The preacher suddenly paused. He had been interrupted more than once by
the crashing of shells, and he had gone on coolly as if it had been no
more than a passing tempest. But here was another interruption so
startling and dramatic that he stopped altogether. It was one of those
incidents which in normal times would have been flashed to the far ends
of the earth, but which in these specious days was regarded with no more
than curiosity.

For into the church there came the hunted, ragged figure of a man
staggering along between the rows of chairs in the direction of the
altar as if he expected to find sanctuary there. Behind him surged a
motley mob blindly oblivious to the knowledge that they stood on holy
ground and eager only for their prey. Right under the shadow of the
pulpit the breathless German swayed and looked up pitifully for
protection.

It took the preacher but five seconds to grasp the situation.

"Back, all of you," he commanded. "Recollect where you stand. Are you
mad that you should come here into the House of God----"

It needed no further words, for the realisation of what they were doing
struck the intruders like a blow. They fell back abashed, red with
shame, and muttering to themselves. Then the organist, realising the
situation, touched the keys of his instrument and the whole nave and
transepts were filled with soft and soothing melody. There would be no
further service now, indeed in the strange conditions such a thing would
have been impossible. The vast audience rose to its feet and moved
towards the doors. Just for the moment it looked as if the wretched
German spy had been forgotten. He dropped into a chair sobbing for
breath, his face buried in his hands. Just behind him stood Hallett and
his friends watching for their opportunity. When the two vergers had
hastened forward, but dropped back again after Hallett had shown them
his card, the latter stooped down and laid his hand on the spy's
shoulder.

"You can't stay here, you know," he said. "You had better come with us
and we will do our best to smuggle you into a place of safety. Here take
my overcoat. You must not be seen in the street wearing that tell-tale
tunic."

The German looked up gratefully. His face was terribly pinched and drawn
and the lines of his mouth suggested hunger.

"Ah, this is very good of you," he said in excellent English. "I am most
grateful to you, Mr. Hallett."

Hallett shrugged his shoulders. In the ordinary way he would have been
surprised to find that this hunted spy knew his name, but then nothing
came as a surprise now.

"You are quite right," he said. "You shall tell me who you are all in
good time. Meanwhile I am going to take you round to my rooms, together
with my friends here, and give you the food that you evidently need. We
shall have to walk, I expect--no chance of getting a cab with all this
excitement going on."




CHAPTER XII.--The Tower Bridge.


The German struggled on, secure now in the protection of Hallett and his
friends and the disguise of the long overcoat. He had been told where
his destination was and Hallett did not notice that his prisoner was
perfectly familiar with the way and turned to the right or left without
any guidance from the others.

"This is not your first visit to London," Hallett smiled. "By the way,
you have not told us what your name is?"

"I am Lieutenant von Kemp," the German explained. "I am a Bavarian from
Munich. For four years I was in the engineering department of your Local
Government Board. I am a civil engineer, you see. There is probably no
man in London who knows more about underground London than myself. Your
telephone mains, your gas and electric light and sewerage conduits are
to me an open book. I know them all, and when I say that with a little
assistance I could cut off London's water supply for weeks, I do not
boast."

Von Kemp spoke quite simply and with the air of a man who is calmly
convinced of his power. But he said no more until Hallett's rooms were
reached and a wash and a complete change of clothing had been found for
him. Then he ate wolfishly, like a man who has been deprived of food for
days.

"Take a cigarette," Hallett said hospitably. "Of course, this is all
wrong. After what you have told me it is my plain duty to hand you over
to the authorities to deal with. But, as you are doubtless very well
aware----"

"It is not the English way," von Kemp said quietly. "My dear sir, there
is no one who has a greater admiration for England than myself. But you
are too trustful, you are too anxious always to play the game. Why, at
the present moment there must be at least a thousand trained spies in
London. They are in all ranks of life. I know it because I helped to
organise the campaign. At one time I was proud to do so. Ah, there are
many millions of fools like myself in Germany. And you would be fools
too if you had been fed on lies and deceit from your cradle as I have.
Ach, we are the greatest people on earth. The most brave and warlike,
the most civilised and progressive. They preach it in the churches. It
was told us from the pulpits that we were destined to rule the white
people of the world. And I believed it. I believed that after 'The Day'
was over and the war finished that millions upon millions of people
would thank God on their knees for the blessing of German rule. That was
one of my delusions. I was mad enough to think that all this spying and
treachery was part of the scheme which God had whispered in the ear of
the Kaiser. I weep to think of it."

"Go on," Hallett said as the speaker paused.

"It was going to be a humane war," von Kemp proceeded. "We were going to
make friends all the way. No burning towns, no terrified women and
children, and no slaughter except those who opposed us. But my eyes were
soon opened. I saw my fellow-countrymen slaughtered by the thousand. I
saw that our Prussian rulers cared no more for our blood than they would
care for the blood of so many rabbits. They hurled us on to destruction,
they forced us to try impossible things, knowing that we should never
come back again. And I saw murder and pillage and the destruction of
open towns, and this was not the result of blood fury on our part. We
were commanded to do it. We were driven to do this so as to inspire the
terror of the German name. I tell you that some of us revolted at it. We
grew to hate the name of Prussia and cursed the Junkers who had ground
us down under the iron heel. Now there's a fine confession for a German
officer to make. And there came a time when our spent and weary troops
lay in the trenches cursing the Kaiser and ripe for revolt had there
been anyone to lead them. They fed us with lies, too, lies about German
victories. But I knew better. I had my own way of getting hold of the
English newspapers, and before the end of a month I knew that Germany
was doomed. Unless----"

Von Kemp seemed to hesitate for a moment.

"Well, unless she can be saved through herself," he went on. "You can
take it from me that more than half the German army are Socialists. They
know now what slaves they are. In their heart of hearts they have no
hatred for this country. All they want is to be left in peace to
cultivate their trade, and be happy and prosperous. You don't want to
destroy us. Your one desire is to wipe out Prussian Militarism once and
for all. I know you would help us to form a German Republic and that
your resources would be at our disposal. You are not blind to the
future, you know that your allies of to-day may be your foes in ten
years' time, and then you will be glad that your foresight and
generosity saved mid-Europe from being submerged by France and Russia.
Do you know what my ambition is?"

"No doubt a laudable one," Hallett smiled.

"I want to be a pioneer of the German Republic. If Berlin knew the truth
at this present moment, if they knew the real sentiments of the British
people, half a million resolute men would start the struggle for freedom
to-morrow. When I was taken prisoner and brought to this country I made
up my mind that I would escape at the first possible moment and tell
your authorities all that I know. Had I got away before, I could have
thwarted the Zeppelin attack to-night. Bah, how childlike and futile it
all is! A building destroyed here, a life lost there, but it is so much
waste of energy. Still, it pleases the childish mind of the Kaiser. To
blow up one of your public buildings, say for instance the Tower Bridge.
Ah!"

Von Kemp jumped to his feet excitedly.

"I had forgotten," he cried. "My troubles have made me morbid. To-night
under cover of the Zeppelin attack a raid is to be made on the Tower
Bridge. It only needs three or four resolute men and a stick or two of
dynamite and the thing is done."

Hallett and the others were on their feet in an instant. The telephone
was set going, a taxi was summoned to the door. Hallett turned to the
German and bade him be seated.

"Stay there," he said sternly. "I believe all that you say, but I can
take no risks. I am going to lock you in."

Von Kemp raised no objection. A minute or two later and the cab swayed
along eastward in the direction of the Tower Bridge. The City was quiet
enough now, for the danger was over for the moment, and the only thing
that remained of it were the lights of an airship and the aeroplanes
circling far above in the cold grey sky. The cab pulled up presently
under the shadow of the Tower, and here four men armed and ready came
quietly forward and joined the party. There was no reason to tell them
what was happening, for they had already been advised of the threatened
attack by telephone. They moved forward now taking advantage of every
patch of shadow until they came at length in sight of the bridge. They
stood there just for a moment watching for the first sign of trouble,
straining their ears to catch the faintest sound. A moment or two later
a shadow darted from the doorway of a warehouse and sped rapidly in the
direction of the bridge. Almost immediately afterwards there came a
murmur from the warehouse that sounded like a call for help.

There was risk in it, but Hallett and those under his command moved
forward. Something that looked like two dark stacks lay in the doorway,
and these turned out to be a sergeant of police and a constable firmly
gagged and bound. They had been fallen upon by half a dozen men in the
guise of dock labourers, and had been violently assaulted and overcome
before they could cry for assistance.

Beyond doubt these desperadoes were now down amongst the mechanism which
works the bridge laying their mines for its destruction. On the bridge
itself was a night watchman and two mechanics also gagged and bound, and
showing unmistakable signs of cruel usage. Down below the spies could be
heard at work. They were apparently sure of their ground, for they were
going about their task boldly enough, and Hallett smiled grimly as he
pictured these men being taken in the act.

Then from somewhere near by a whistle sounded and the noise below broke
off abruptly. At the sane instant a revolver began to speak, and a dash
was made behind cover of a perfect fusillade of shots. As Hallett
hurriedly advanced, his foot caught in some wire entanglement, and he
pitched forward on his face. He was up again in a minute, hacking
furiously at the wire, with a pair of champagne nippers which formed
part of his pocket knife. He did not need anyone to tell him that he had
stumbled over the wire connecting the battery to the mine, and he smiled
grimly to himself when he realised that the danger had been averted.
Whatever happened now the dynamite would not be fired, and the little
party could give themselves up with an easy mind to the capture of the
Germans.

It was no light task, for the foe fought with the courage of despair and
the certain knowledge that their lives were forfeit in any case. Shots
were exchanged freely enough but no material damage was done, and at the
end of ten breathless minutes the foe was disarmed and handcuffed.

"That was petty smart work," Hallett gasped as he wiped his heated face.
"I suppose you can manage without us now."

The inspector of police was sure of it. Montague turned and addressed a
remark to Pascoe, but the latter was eagerly watching something that was
taking place under the gas-lamps a little way off. He saw a woman's
figure dart across the road: he heard the hum of a car as it flashed by
them. With nothing more than a word of challenge Hallett fired three
shots, and the car pulled up. The woman driving stepped out, and came
smilingly forward.

"You quite frightened me," she said. "Oh, it's Mr. Hallett. I came out
in the car by myself on a tour of inspection--mad thing to do, of
course, but I love adventure----"

An exclamation of surprise came from Hallett's lips.

"Good gracious!" he cried. "It's Lady Loxton!"




CHAPTER XIII.--The Wells of Truth.


Whilst natters were thus progressing in London, Paul Rosslyn had been by
no means idle. He was sorry enough that he could not communicate with
Hallett, but for the moment that was impossible. Hallett might believe
that something disastrous had happened to his junior that could not be
helped. And it seemed to Rosslyn that he was going to strike a shrewd
blow for the old flag and that his place was exactly where it was.

There was no difficulty in the way now, either. Leroux's frank statement
had dissipated the last lingering doubt at the back of Rosslyn's mind;
it was good to know that Leroux's motives were patriot and honourable,
and above all it was good to know that Vera had not intentionally
deceived him. All the misery of anxious doubt had vanished in thin air,
and Rosslyn was not slow to see the glorious chance that lay before him.
Instead of being the victim of a vile conspiracy he had been favoured
beyond his dreams.

Thus the last difficulty had disappeared, and in future it all looked
like plain sailing. No suspicion would be aroused by the appearance of
Rosslyn's marvellous aeroplane, indeed it could be despatched on its way
under the eyes of the troops at Wilhelmshaven, and apparently with the
sanction of the Commanders there. Afterwards there would probably be
risks, but Rosslyn was cheerfully ready to sacrifice his life for his
country and held it cheap at the price. He was ready to start now.

Leroux's plan was simple enough. The aeroplane would fly in the
direction of Berlin soon after dark on the following day and once over
the City, the Manifesto of the Democratic Federation would be scattered
along the streets in thousands.

"So that is all settled," Leroux said. "We start at six o'clock
to-morrow evening. We fly over Berlin, and whether we come back or not
is in the lap of the gods. Perhaps we do not come back at all. It may
not be necessary. I think you told me that your machine could land on a
piece of ground no bigger than a tennis lawn. Well, I know a house on
the outskirts of Potsdam belonging to one of our most ardent supporters.
There is a certain white post and a flagstaff which he has had erected
at my suggestion. All being well we might spend tomorrow night at my
friend's."

"My machine will do all I claim for it," Rosslyn said. "I can fold the
wings and drop anywhere as safely as a bird drops in the branch of a
tree and quite as noiselessly too. We could hover over Berlin a couple
of hundred feet from the ground, and not a soul would guess what was
there in the darkness. I could remain in the air for a couple of days if
necessary."

Leroux nodded approvingly. It seemed to him that there was no more to be
done. Then at a sign from him, Von Korner removed a brick from inside
the chimney and produced a large sheet of paper.

"This is our manifesto," he said. "They have all been printed and ready
for some time, which is rather fortunate since the Government has seized
every private printing press in the kingdom. They are so desperately
afraid that the people should discover the truth. Never has a country
been so shamefully treated. But it cannot last much longer. You can
boast of your victories, but the hordes of fugitives pouring from the
east into Berlin and the shortage of food tell another story. However, I
had better read the manifesto."

GERMANIA, THOU ART BETRAYED.

TO THE FRIENDS OF THE

GERMAN REPUBLIC. GREETING.

Listen to the truth from the mouth of the Socialistic Brotherhood. You
are being fed with lies. The British Fleet is Mistress of the Seas.
Every civilised country outside the iron ring that binds you is grateful
to Great Britain, who keeps open the Ocean Paths of Commerce and the
food routes of the world. There is no distress anywhere except in
Germany. Scandinavia, Holland, France, Spain, Italy, and the East are
hardly cognisant that war has been declared. From India, from China,
Australia and New Zealand, and the South American States commerce flows
in the same uninterrupted way. There is no strife, no misery or
suffering anywhere save in our own unhappy country. Your Government has
lied to you, the War Council are feeding you with vain delusions. Even
now the hosts of Russia are threatening your Capital, even now your
columns are being hurled back with terrific slaughter from the frontiers
of France. Everywhere is chaos. There is no life in your army, no zeal
and nothing but sullen discontent. Your commerce overseas has been
destroyed, most of your shipping is in the hands of the enemy. Your
boasted Zeppelins are a failure, your battleships are skulking in
harbour and some of them actually sold to neutral powers. You are not a
country fighting for a great cause, but only to gratify the ambitions of
a madman whose delusion is that he is a Napoleon or a Caesar, but who is
in reality no more than a cold-blooded Nero. You are no longer fighting
for honour or glory or for the love of the flag, you are no more than a
beleaguered fortress beseiged on all sides, a fortress which must fall
before long.

"Comrades, even your enemies are sorry for you. As Germany you have no
enemies. To crush you out of existence is not the aim of the
Allies--that would be sheer folly on their part, a check on civilization
and a disgrace. What they fight for is the death and destruction of
Caesarism. They fight to destroy your navy and your military
aspirations, and above all they fight to destroy Wilhelm and the
parasites at Potsdam who have threatened the peace of Europe for twenty
years. They fight to establish here not a military occupation, but to
save a great people from themselves. They fight for the German Republic.
And it is for you to breathe life into the senseless clay.

"It is for you to do it. You say that it shall be done. Long life and
prosperity to the German Republic."

There was a great deal more of it couched in the same strain with many
figures and facts to impress the incredulous. Leroux smiled proudly as
he held up the sheet.

"There," he cried. "What do you think of that? And they can do it in
Berlin if they will. There are few troops there and those are
discontented. Let us drink to the great adventure."

The chill darkness had fallen before the plane rose swift and clean as a
bird with an upward swing that turned Leroux sick and dizzy for a
moment. It seemed impossible that so small a thing could carry her
passengers, but as she rose a longer wing seem to be unfolded much as a
bird stretches her pinions to the uttermost. She swept along in the
darkness with no more noise than that of the hum of an insect. They rose
presently to the height of three thousand feet, then turned in the
direction of Berlin. There were lights twinkling below with occasionally
a brighter speck here and there, and as Leroux's keen eyes noted these
he chuckled.

"All is working well," he said. "Those green lights are signals,
sentinels to guide us on our way. So far as I can see, there is not a
hitch anywhere. Presently when we get near Berlin we will see four green
lights forming a square. It will be there that we shall drop if
everything goes well with us."

Then on again in absolute silence for an hour or more over towns great
and small, over rivers and dells till presently the long lines of flame
and the clusters of lamps here and there bespoke the near presence of
the great town. At a suggestion from Leroux, Rosslyn planed down till
they hovered over the city not more than three hundred feet above the
highest buildings. So far as they could see the streets were packed with
people wandering about restlessly and anxiously. But all the cafes and
public buildings were deserted, there was not a light from a theatre or
place of amusement to be seen. It was a city with the spirit of disaster
brooding over it.

"You see how it is," Leroux murmured. "Berlin is in a state of siege,
and the people know it. Can you hear a laugh, can you hear one cheerful
voice? The places of amusement are closed, the cafes are empty. There is
nothing but light, nothing more to indicate that here is one of the
greatest cities of the world. There is no life in the people, they are
full of anxious dread. And where are the soldiers? There are a few round
the palace, and practically none in the streets. And yet the streets are
packed with people. Come, let us get on with our propaganda. A little
higher, please. And then you circle over the city like some great eagle.
Now."

The plane whirled round in gigantic circles, swift as the flight of a
swallow. Leroux proceeded to throw his handfuls of manifestos far and
wide. They fell amongst the massed people below like fitful snow, they
dropped apparently out of nowhere on the heads of the sullen crowd. At
first they elicited nothing more than a little idle curiosity not
altogether free from panic. Then gradually as the packed masses regained
their nerve, Leroux could see hundreds of people reading the sheets with
living interest. The populace was scrambling for them now, and those
fortunate enough to obtain one were crowded round eagerly and bade to
read it aloud.

The silence had given way to a dense clamour of tongues, on every hand
the contents of the manifesto were read aloud, and Leroux smiled grimly
as he heard those winged words come back echoing to his ears.

"What did I tell you?" he said. "Ah, there are few indeed who understand
my countrymen better than I do. You say to yourself, 'Well why don't
they put an end to it?' You say that they are an enlightened and
educated people who elect their own members of Parliament, where they
are allowed to say what they like. Ah, my friend, that is all they are
allowed to do. Practically every adult German is a soldier, and the
habits of discipline and obedience are like rings of iron riveted about
the soul. But there are limits to the credulity of the most abject slave
who was ever tied to the chariots heels of a tyrant. We have sown the
seeds to-night, and it will not be long to the harvest. Now, confess, is
not this a better way than the horrors of war?"




CHAPTER XIV.--The First Awakening.


"It was truly a most wonderful sight," Rosslyn admitted. "That was a
great conception of yours, and I am more than glad now that I came with
you. I would not have missed this for anything. It will be an adventure
to remember all my life. But the victory will not be won without a
terrible price. The streets of Berlin will run blood as the streets of
Paris did in the days of the Commune. Your patriots will die by the
thousand."

Leroux shrugged his shoulders.

"I know," he said. "The thing is inevitable. But is it not far better
for the martyrs to perish in the saving of hundreds of thousands who are
now dying of wounds and hunger on the frontiers of France? It is the few
to save the many."

"Yes I suppose so," Rosslyn sighed. "But are you sure those people down
there will believe? Won't they be more inclined to think that this is
some cruel hoax?"

"My dear sir, there are scores of people down there who know the cypher
of the Brotherhood," Leroux interrupted. "It will be plain for them to
see, and they will know perfectly well that the manifesto is true to the
last letter."

Rosslyn said no more. He had planed down as far as he dared, near enough
to see the people in the streets and catch the murmur that rose from
them like the hum of a hive of bees disturbed by some mischievous hand.
There were shouts of surprise and some suggestion of anger, little knots
of men gathered on the pavements, and arguing violently with one
another. Those who were timid or frightened or not strong enough to
snatch a copy of that amazing manifesto gathered round certain
strong-voiced men who stood on points of vantage and eagerly cried that
the message from the outer world should be read aloud. It was plain to
the eyes of Leroux that some of these were prominent Socialists and in
one instance at any rate he recognised the speaker's voice. The
aeroplane now had dropped daringly low, and Leroux smiled as his quick
ear caught the shibboleths of the Brotherhood on every hand.

Every now and again some Socialist more hardy and courageous than the
rest would break away, form some new group, and start an audience of his
own. The news was flying from street to street, now doors burst open,
and more and more citizens burst into the roads.

"Ah," Leroux whispered. "I thought it would not be long. Already the
tidings have reached the police, and they are hurrying to clear the
streets and destroy all those dread manifestos. But you can see that for
yourself. It is fortunate that there are but few troops in Berlin, and
the police will have their hands full. Now you will see a nation turning
in its sleep."

The police came along, advancing steadily on the mob. This was not the
first time that the authorities had been in conflict with the desperate
and half-starved poor clamouring for bread, but hitherto they had not
dared to invade the Friederich Strasse as they were now doing. For here
the mob had gathered in dense masses. For once in a way they did not
cower and tremble in the face of authority. By comparison with them the
police were a mere handful, but they came on all the same, trying to
break the ranks of the incipient rioters.

But they might just as well have attempted to force their way through a
stone wall, for the mob was angry now, and every man amongst it was
convinced that he had been deceived. Blows were being struck freely, and
ever and again came the sound of a pistol shot. One of the leading
Socialists threw up his hands and dropped on the pavement with a bullet
in his brain. It was as a torch to the flax, for the mob surged forward,
and in the twinkling of an eye poured over the police as a spring tide
flows over the rippling sand.

Leroux chuckled as he watched.

"So much for the first chapter," he said. "We have dealt the Prussian
tyrant a shrewd blow to-night, but it will be at a price. Our friends
below are full of courage, but it will be another matter presently when
they find themselves face to face with a regiment of soldiers armed with
machine guns. But the right spirit is down there and nothing can
suppress it. My countrymen are fighting for liberty, which is a thing
they have never done before. Listen to that low growling murmur like a
bulldog snarling over a bone. I have handled some big crowds in my time,
and I know what it means."

Rosslyn had noticed this, too. He was so deeply interested in what was
going on down below that more than once he almost lost control of his
machine. The lights below were dim, but occasionally faces were lifted
upwards, white, grim faces lighted by the red eyes. For the moment at
any rate the police had been swept almost out of existence, and the mob
swirled up and down the streets with no rock of authority to stem their
progress. It seemed as if they had the city to themselves, a fact that
the lower element which leavened the rest was not slow to recognise. The
watchers in the air could hear the smashing of glass, followed by a wild
outburst of mocking laughter, and then an ugly rush towards the
provision shops, and the sight of men seated on the window ledges
tearing food and eating it as if they were hungry wolves.

"Not a pretty sight," Leroux whispered. "But what else could one expect?
Day by day the situation gets worse, day by day what you call the
strangle-hold becomes stronger. Ah, my friend the Kaiser has but little
cause to love your fleet; had he stopped to consider, he would have died
peacefully some day in the Royal Palace. But let us get along. I am
tired and weary and hungry, and you must be the same. Steer your plane
towards Potsdam. Perhaps I had better give you the direction. Presently
I will show you where to drop."

Roslyn nodded approvingly. All the same he was loth to go, for the
spirit of adventure was upon him, and he was inspired by the ardour of
the massed patriots down below. He was itching to strike a blow on
behalf of these people who had been so cruelly deceived. And what a
story to tell, what a drama to relate when he alighted on British soil
again! And he himself was taking a hand in bringing to a close the most
cruel and unnecessary war the world had ever seen.

The plane swept along under Leroux's guidance until the dim lights of
Potsdam trembled underneath, and then at length Rosslyn made out the
chosen spot, on which the plane dropped light as a bird and true to an
inch in what appeared to be an enclosed tennis court. The wings were
folded, and the whole thing was packed away in the big summer-house
before Leroux whistled softly, and immediately a big bronzed man with a
black beard and moustache came cautiously from the house into the
garden. His stern features were all broken up now; there were tears in
his dark piercing eyes.

"Ah, and so you have done it," he cried. "Long life to the man who calls
himself Pierre Leroux. I have told the Brotherhood here that we could
rely upon you. Day by day I have sat here patiently waiting, and when I
heard your whistle I knew that my faith had not been misplaced."

"It is good of you to say so," Leroux laughed. "Steinitz, let me make
you acquainted with my brilliant and courageous ally, Mr. Rosslyn,
without whose aid I could have done nothing."

"He flatters me, Herr Steinitz," Rosslyn smiled.

"Oh, I don't. I had to treat Rosslyn abominably, but when he knew the
truth he did not hesitate a moment. By hook or by crook I had to get
hold of that marvellous aeroplane of his; indeed, without it our great
social revolution might have been delayed for months. And yet, because
of it, we have to-night watched the new life of a nation from the
chrysallis to the moth, and all, mark you, in so many minutes. For the
present we shall be safe here. And now, my dear Steinitz, permit me to
remind you that it is many hours since we last ate. We are both
famishing."

Steinitz led the way into the house. It was a beautifully appointed
suburban villa, tastefully furnished, and replete with every comfort.
Rosslyn did not fail to note the luxuriant carpets and well-chosen
pictures as he passed through the hall. And he did not fail to notice
either that the electric lights were not burning, and that here and
there were candles in candlesticks of cheap china. Nor did Steinitz
conduct his guests into any of the fine reception rooms, but took them
into the big kitchen.

"I make no apology," he said. "There is no electric light service
throughout the whole of Germany except the Royal palaces and the
Government Departments. There is no one to get the coal. Every man that
Germany can spare is under arms. My wife and family are in Italy. For
the moment I have no servant, and the house is going to rack and ruin.
All the cooking that is necessary I do myself on the gas stove and even
that supply is limited to three hours a day. But I will do my best to
give you a meal of some kind."

They supped there in the kitchen, and Steinitz was positively grateful
to receive the cigar that Leroux offered him. There was the same
shortage all over Germany, he explained, the same absence of luxuries
and in thousands of instances even the sheer necessities of life. And
Rosslyn listened in respectful silence. He was contrasting all this with
the condition of affairs in London--the busy streets, the unrestricted
flow of trade, the crowds of people happy and well fed, going about
their business and their pleasure as if the grim spectre of war had
never loomed largely before the nation's eyes. He was still pondering on
this vivid contrast when an hour or two later Steinitz piloted him
upstairs, and showed him his bedroom. There were no sheets, the host
explained, for these had been commandeered long before by the military
hospitals.

Once alone, Rosslyn looked curiously round him. There were many
photographs in silver frames around the mantelpiece, and one of the
faces there stood out with strange familiarity. It was the smiling face
of a fair woman, and Rosslyn puzzled over it for a moment.

"Now who on earth is she?" he muttered. "Taken a few years ago
evidently. By jove, it's Lady Loxton. Now what on earth is she doing
here?"




CHAPTER XV.--A City of the Dead.


Rosslyn asked no questions. He had been too well trained for that. Even
now, when he was absolutely convinced of the integrity and sincerity of
his host, he was taking no risks. He would have to find out in some
other way what the connection was between Steinitz and Lady Loxton. He
had never associated the volatile lady in question with the great game
of politics, though he knew her very well, and many a time had lunched
and dined at her flat. She had always assumed an utter indifference to
the serious side of life, and had declared that the mere thought of
politics always gave her a headache. As a matter of fact it was Steinitz
himself who volunteered the information when he came into Rosslyn's
bedroom with hot water on the following morning.

"I am sorry that a hot bath is out of the question," he apologised. "I
have done the best I can for you. If my wife and daughters had been at
home things might have been different."

Steinitz glanced at the mantelpiece as he spoke, and sighed.

"Are those photographs of your family?" Rosslyn suggested.

"Oh, yes. My wife and three daughters, some of my grand-children, and my
two sons who are with the army in the West. And a friend of ours, who
married one of your English noblemen. Did you ever meet a certain Lady
Loxton by any chance?"

"I thought the face was familiar to me," Rosslyn said, indifferently.
"Oh, yes, I know Lady Loxton quite well. She is a prominent figure in
London Society, very wealthy and hospitable, and quite typically Irish
in all her ways."

"So!" Steinitz said, with elevated eyebrows. "But then it was always a
weakness of Marie to pose. She was perhaps the most prominent and
brilliant actress that Germany ever produced. She would have gone far
indeed had she not married. Is she still as fond of excitement and
adventure? Is she still as fascinated by politics? More than once here
she got into serious trouble through her love of intrigue. But perhaps
she has settled now."

Rosslyn presumed so; he appeared to be no more than politely interested
in what his host was saying. But all the same he was giving the little
incident every consideration, for he began to see that he had stumbled
upon what might be valuable information. But there were more important
matters now, as he found after the frugal breakfast that Steinitz had
prepared for them. A thin, attenuated newspaper, printed on common paper
with cloudy ink, represented for the moment the prosperous and
enterprising 'Allemagne Zeitung.' This was as eloquent as anything else
of the desperate state of affairs existing in Berlin. Steinitz smiled
bitterly as he spread out the flimsy rag on the breakfast table.

"This is what they feed us with," he said. "Here is the morning list of
victories in the West and East. And yet Berlin is full of fugitives from
East Prussia, and Dusseldorf is sorely pressed by the Allies. As I
expected, there is not one word here concerning the important event of
last night. And this is the way in which the Government is cutting its
own throat. But we will go into the City presently, Leroux and
myself----"

"I should like to come with you," Rosslyn said eagerly. "I think my
German is good enough to pass muster."

"That is true," Leroux smiled. "But you are essentially the Englishman
of the upper-classes. Still I think I can manage to make you up. I
flatter myself that I am quite a master at that game. A black wig with a
ragged moustache and beard will make all the difference in the world.
Come, Steinitz, you must have at least a dozen disguises here."

Rosalyn felt quite easy in his mind when he stepped off the tram an hour
later in the heart of Berlin. He looked exactly a typical German
tradesman, and for the rest he knew the town thoroughly. As they walked
along he was contrasting it in his mind with London. Only a day or two
before he had walked down Regent street in the sunny afternoon he had
seen the shops teeming with customers, and the full tide of business
filling the streets. And here in this magnificent thoroughfare
everything was dull and listless and inert. The last time Rosslyn had
passed the Brandenburg Gate he had been one of the many thousands
passing to and fro, he had seen a life and prosperity that spoke of a
nation on the top of the wave. But now the leading hotels, such as the
Adlen and the Bristol, were closed altogether and the blinds carefully
drawn. So were all the cafes, and most of the shops, too, and the great
thoroughfare was more or less filled with a listless drifting group,
gaunt and sullen and hollow-eyed, with a spectre of starvation hovering
over them. These stopped from time to time outside the offices of the
'Berliner, Lokal-Anzeiger,' where the windows were filled with flaming
accounts of more victories, but it was only for a moment, without the
least suggestion of enthusiasm, and with doubt in every jaundiced eye.
The countless flags, fluttering in the breeze, were in grim and tragic
contrast with the brooding mob. The crowd began to grow thicker
presently, and its aspect more threatening.

"They are all out of work," Steinitz explained. "In this city of three
million inhabitants seventy per cent. of those who have not gone to the
front have nothing to do. And there will be more before long. Germany
has no trade. We are like rats feeding on one another. We are rats in a
trap. It is a big trap, of course, reaching six hundred miles, but it is
gradually drawing narrower. Could anybody but the madmen of the Army
General Staff expect to defeat the combined forces of four great
nations."

It seemed to Rosslyn that people were beginning to congregate in Unter
den Linden, right away to Brandenburg Gate--right away to the monument
of Freiderich the Great. Their attitude was changing, too, and the moody
discontent giving way to a more threatening aspect. Then one of the
loiterers there recognised Steinitz, and gave a cheer, which was taken
up all around him, for the Socialist leader had been recognised, rather
to his confusion.

"Let us push on," he whispered. "It shall not be said that I started to
disturb them. Not that I am afraid--the authorities would not dare to
arrest any prominent Socialists just now."

As they pressed on they could hear the voices of sedition calling loudly
all round them. Evidently the events of the night before and the wide
distribution of the Manifesto had sunk deep into the hearts of the
people. But there was no further rioting for the moment, and no great
outburst of public feeling.

Presently pushing its way through the mass of workers like some
brilliant scarlet and gold snake came a regiment of the guard. They
pushed the crowd aside almost brutally, a cripple unable to crawl to a
place of safety received a brutal blow with the flat of an officer's
sword. A growl of anger came from those close by, the offending officer
turned with a curling lip and smiled scornfully, contempt in every line
of his face.

"Ah," said Leroux, "evidently a demonstration of force. A gentle
reminder to the starving Socialists that there are still troops in
Berlin. But the Court is no longer here, I understand, and no one quite
knows where the Royal Family and their suite is to be found. I'd like to
live long enough to see the mob wiping their boots on the Persian
carpets and eating off the Royal plate."

"You will see it yet," Steinitz said grimly. "What's that?"

A few younger men more daring than the rest had closed in upon the rear
guard of the soldiers. They were being pressed hard now and had no room
in which to turn. There were only a few hundred altogether surrounded by
thousands, every one of whom knew the Manifesto almost by heart. And the
thought of how they had been tricked and fooled rankled in every breast,
the knowledge that they had been treated like children and had made
these great sacrifices for nothing filled them with fury.

A score of lean and sinewy arms shot out and made a grab for the rifles
of the troops. They were pushed back across the pavement, and then a
furious hand-to-hand fight began. It was in vain that the troops
struggled against overwhelming odds, for it was short-arm fighting, and
the proportion was fifty to one.

"Very fine but utterly useless." Steinitz groaned. "It cannot be done
this way. Still, it only shows you which way the wind blows."

The troops broke and fled amidst the ribald laughter of the mob. The
insurgents were all the more dangerous now because some hundreds of them
were armed. True, they had no ammunition, but there was much that could
be done with the bayonet. Steinitz looked anxious.

"If they are wise they will disperse now," he said.

He stepped into the middle of the road and held up his hands. His
protesting voice rang out loud and far, but he might just as well have
spoken to the storm. The mob was out of hand now, wild and reckless and
ready for anything. 'They swayed up and down the famous thoroughfare
shouting their Socialist songs, they were quite prepared to defy the
whole might of Prussia.

They were too wildly excited to see what was going on down there by the
Brandenburg Gate. For little groups of cavalry had galloped into
position masking a couple of machine guns. Clearly those in authority
had lost no time nor had they hesitated for a moment what to do. From
his superior height Steinitz had seen the light gleaming on the silver
helmets. He had caught his companions by the arms and dragged them
hurriedly into a doorway.

"Don't move if you value your lives," he whispered. "They have got guns
in a position down the road. Ah, what did I tell you?"

Something in the distance seemed to spit and crack, then there was a
steady stammering, and the mob began to drop like so many flies in the
roadway. It was just as if they had been stricken down by some dreadful
disease. Them suddenly the rioters grasped the truth and fled
panic-stricken, anywhere for safety.




CHAPTER XVI.--In the Royal Palace.


It was the old story--discipline triumphant over brute force. The big
thoroughfare was empty now save for a handful of cavalry and two or
three hundred prostrate figures writhing and groaning on the ground.
Some of those figures would stir no more, but the dead were not many,
for the guns had been aimed low, and most of the wounded were hit in the
legs. Then the ambulance train came up, and carried off the victims of
the fray. A little knot of officers, resplendent in their parade
uniform, looked on with almost yawning indifference. It seemed to be
nothing to them that they had been firing on their fellow countrymen; it
was only an incident in the day's work.

The contrast between these aristocratic Prussians, trained in an iron
school and regarding the civilians as so many mongrel curs, was in
striking contrast with the wounded insurrectionists. The eyes of
Steinitz gleamed with a deep and bitter hate as he came forward.

"Ah, that was well and nobly done," he said. "But you might have given
them warning first, von Blume."

The officer thus addressed turned angrily.

"The Socialist Steinitz," he said. "Have a care."

"Von Steinitz, if you please. Do not forget that I, too, have held a
cavalry commission. You dare not lay hand upon me. A month or two ago
and it might have been different. But the day of reckoning is at hand,
and it pleases the Chancellor to be lenient to the Social leaders
to-day. By heavens, if this thing happens again I will raise every
working man in Germany. Go back to your master and tell him what I have
said. There is no War Minister and no Army Council in Berlin to-day. I
know that everything has been left in the hands of von Bethmann-Hollweg.
Go back to him and say that a deputation from the Federation will wait
on him at three o'clock."

Without pausing for reply Steinitz turned his back on the Prussian, and
strode along the road. He had thrown down the gauntlet now, and he was
ready for anyone to take it up. He turned at length into a little cafe,
near the Opera House, and ordered a simple lunch for himself and his
friends.

"They will accept the challenge right enough," he said. "The Chancellor
knows I am found here most afternoons, and no doubt he will send an
escort to fetch us."

"Oh, then I am going too," Leroux asked smilingly.

"As head of the Foreign German Democratic Association, yes," Steinitz
explained. "I think when the Chancellor hears your proper name he will
be somewhat astonished. Mr. Rosslyn, will you wait here or can you find
your way back to my house?"

Roslyn demurred strongly. He wanted to know if he could not accompany
the deputation. He had no fear that his German would betray him, and he
felt quite secure in his disguise. Could he not be given some assumed
name and pass as Steinitz's secretary? He seemed to be so keen and
anxious that Steinitz gave way.

It was nearly three o'clock before the jingling of spurs and the
rattling of sabres outside heralded the advent of the escort. Other
Socialist leaders had been collected on the way, apparently more or less
prisoners, but there was no fear shown and no desire to evade the issue
in the heart of any one of them. Rosslyn strolled resolutely on, filled
with curiosity and the wild joy of adventure. They came to the Palace at
length, where they were conducted in solemn state to the second floor,
and through the east wing to the splendid Schweizer-Saal, originally the
old guard-room, and now used as a reception room on social conscious
Steinitz smiled grimly as he looked round the magnificent chamber.

"Evidently they intend to honour us," he said. "I half expected to find
us locked up in the cellar."

But Rosslyn at any rate was not listening. He wanted to get a clear
mental picture of his surroundings. He had a pleasant consciousness that
he was making history, and indeed the surroundings were attractive
enough. He had not failed to notice the great bronze group of St. George
and the Dragon and the famous portrait of the Great Elector by du Sart.
And here again were the portraits of the great leaders of the Prussian
Military Movement by famous artists, and the old ceiling by Schluter,
which has few equals in the world. It was, indeed, a fine setting to a
historical movement which was going far to change the destinies of a
nation.

And yet with it all, despite all this display of priceless art and other
triumphs of civilisation, the Royal Palace looked forlorn and uncared
for. There was no one left to represent the dignity that hedges round a
throne, for the Kaiserine and her suite had gone somewhere south, and
there was not so much as a scullery maid on the premises. Nearly every
room in the palace had been given over to the civil administration, and
here the Chancellor, with a thousand assistants, was engaged in the
hopeless task of evolving order out of chaos. And all in vain.

The outbreak of rioting in Berlin had been almost the last straw on a
back already bent to the breaking-point. And yet it was a thing that von
Bethmann-Hollweg had dreaded and anticipated for a long time. He knew
that sooner or later the hideous truth must be told. He knew that the
Kaiser's weak and foolish policy of concealment was destined to bear
bitter fruit in the end. But he had been powerless, he was merely a
civilian, a necessary evil, necessary in his place no doubt, but as such
a nobody in the eyes of his Imperial master. Had he not held for the
moment something like absolute power in Berlin, the Socialist leaders
would have been shot out of hand, and the whole thing dismissed as no
more than an unpleasant incident. But the Chancellor had more foreseeing
tact than that.

He came into the Schweizer-Saal presently and greeted his visitors
politely. Rosslyn regarded him curiously. Two years had elapsed since he
had been in Berlin, and had last met von Bethmann-Hollweg. Then he had
been an alert and upright figure, full of life, and vigour, and now he
seemed a bent and broken man. He was palpably nervous, too, though he
assumed an air of blustering threat.

"Now what is the meaning of all this?" he demanded. "Surely it was a
cruel hoax to play upon a patriotic people who have enough trouble as it
is. If it had been true----"

Steinitz brought his hand crashing down upon a table.

"It is true," he cried. "There is not one lie in the whole of our
manifesto. My friend here, who prefers to be known for the present as
Leroux----"

The German Chancellor started violently.

"I could give him another name," he muttered.

"It is quite immaterial for the moment," Steinitz went on. "Leroux is
fresh from England, where they get nothing but the truth. The
correspondents of every country and every leading paper who are in a
position to know are all unanimous. Our army in the West has worn itself
out in a vain endeavour to hold the frontier; it is common knowledge
abroad that the Russian occupation of Berlin is inevitable. The British
Fleet has swept the seas, and not an ounce of food has reached Germany
for weeks. And yet you go on lying, lying, lying. Our case is hopeless.
Already in dead and wounded we have lost over a million of the flower of
our manhood. Our Emperor has poured out life as the grains of sand run
through an hour glass. What is the destruction of regiments to him? I
say it should be impossible for one man, a madman, to plunge two-thirds
of civilisation into a hell like this. And why? We had nothing to fear
from our neighbours. For twenty years they endured the menace of the
Mailed Fist and the Shining Armour in silence. For twenty years
industrial Germany has been bled white to fill the veins of the Prussian
Monster. Again, I ask you why? We were rich and prosperous and happy.
Month by month the trade of the world come more and more our way. The
ports of neutral powers and even those who were our foes to-day were
opened to our commerce. And that commerce was actually protected and
assisted by England's navy. What need, then, was there for us to build a
great navy too? We have no colonies worth speaking of, and even those we
hold by the sword. Ah, well, it is in vain to cry over the past; what we
have to think of is the future. If we struggle on, then Germany will be
wiped off the face of the map. But if you renounce the Prussian Creed,
then the arms of Europe will be held out to help the German Republic."

"Do you know that this is treason?" the Chancellor asked.

"What is treason?" Steinitz demanded. "It is only the name we give to
unsuccessful revolution. In our conceit we flatter ourselves that we are
patriots. The patriotic movement in on foot now, and there is no man who
knows it better than yourself. Then why try to stem it? Why keep the
people in the dark, why not tell them the truth? And that is our demand
for the moment. All this oppression will avail you nothing. The truth
came down from the skies last night mysteriously and strangely, and it
will continue to fall so long as you choose to treat our people like
children. And all the military might of Prussia cannot stop it. If you
shoot us all to-night it would go on just the same. Therefore, it will
pay you to be open and candid, and allow an enlightened nation to know
exactly where it stands. I say no more."

Long and deeply von Bethmann-Hollweg pondered before he replied. He
seemed to be turning over some important problem in his mind.

"It is not always wise to say too much," he said at length. "I give you
gentlemen credit for every patriotic intention, but I don't think you
quite appreciate my position. If you, von Steinitz, and your friend who
calls himself Leroux will favour me with five minutes' conversation in
private I will endeavour to explain. I shall be glad if you will step
this way."

Steinitz expressed his willingness, and together the trio disappeared
into another room. Rosslyn was feeling just a little bit uncomfortable.
It was no policy of his to enter into conversation with these strangers,
so he wandered around the room, and thence into the corridor. A
fashionably dressed woman stopped him, and enquired which was the way to
the office of a certain von Rank. Rosslyn disclaimed knowledge politely,
and the lady passed on.

"Lady Loxton, and here?" he muttered. "Well, it may cost me my life, but
at all risks I am going to follow her."




CHAPTER XVII.--Dog Rob Dog.


Stuart Hallett's feelings were for the moment, at any rate, no more than
surprise and astonishment to find Lady Loxton, above all people in the
world, engaged in a night adventure. He had been for a long time a
constant visitor at her flat, and fully appreciated her pleasant
hospitality. But she had always given him the impression of being timid
and unimaginative--the sort of woman who was afraid of the dark and who
would have recoiled at the prospect of being left alone after sunset.
But she was smiling and gay enough now though it seemed to Hallett that
she was a little ashamed of herself.

"This is a mad thing to do," he said.

"Do you know, I think you are right," Lady Loxton admitted, sweetly. "I
can't understand what possessed me to do it. I suppose I was too
frightened to be afraid, if you know what I mean. Or, perhaps, it is the
Irish strain in my blood. Almost before I knew what I was doing I found
myself round at the garage getting the little car out. Please don't
trouble about me, I shall have no difficulty in finding my way home.
What a wicked shame this all is. It is not as if those brutes had
anything to gain by it."

She was carrying it off gaily and easily now. All the same as she drove
away, her teeth were tightly clenched, and there was an angry gleam in
her eyes. She had been perilously near the verge of discovery, and only
her ready wit had saved her.

The streets were quiet enough now, the excitement had passed away, and
London had got a grip of itself again. The damage to the electric light
had evidently been repaired, for the big lamps under their green shades
were all aglow, and when Lady Loxton reached her flat she found her
electroliers were brightly shining. In the dining room, before the fire,
Garzia was awaiting her.

"Where have you been?" he asked. "I have been here the best part of an
hour. I began to fancy that you were one of the victims of the firework
show."

Lady Loxton smiled contemptuously, as she helped herself to a cigarette.

"Bah," she cried. "What a silly, childish business this is. Merely one
of those theatrical displays which are so dear to the heart of the
Kaiser. Ah, he has missed his vocation--he would have been far more
successful had he been the manager of a circus. Picture to yourself the
insane vanity of the man who, when every moment was worth a mine of
diamonds, diverted three hundred thousand troops after their march to
make a comic opera show in Brussels. Cannot the fool see that he is
going out of his way to put these arrogant British on their guard? And
just at the very moment when the spy fever was abating."

"Oh, what does it matter?" Garzia growled. "Nobody knows better than you
and me that Germany is doomed. It is up to us to make hay while the sun
shines. For the moment I am at my last gasp for money. And so are you,
my dear."

Lady Loxton frowned. The situation was getting desperate. It was no
time, even with her reputation to ask for extended credit. For some
weeks now her tradesmen had been growing clamorous. She looked round the
perfectly appointed room and sighed, as she wondered how long this was
going to last.

"Oh, I have not been idle," she said. "Now, listen to me. I knew a week
ago--and so did you for that matter--of the raid that took place
to-night. That was organised by Paul Lamourg, of course. And very well
he did his work. It is just the sort of spectacle that would appeal to
the Berlin people, and I have no doubt that it will be worth a thousand
pounds to our rival. But after all said and done it leads to nothing. We
want to make these people feel, we want to strike a blow at the
Londoners which will be as bad as a bombardment. To-nights business will
be forgotten in a week. Now suppose we could deprive London of food for
a month. Suppose the town was entirely without water."

The speaker dropped her voice to a whisper, she gazed eagerly and
ardently into Garzia's face.

"It could not be done," the latter said.

"Oh, yes, it could. The greatest genius we ever had in our Espionage
Department was Karl Werner. It was he who taught me all I know, to him I
owe everything. Not long before he died he showed me some amazing plans.
They were entrusted to me to deposit with the authorities in Berlin. I
was a great fool not to keep them, but it is too late to regret that
now. At any rate amongst those plans was one for the destruction of the
Tower Bridge. I have no doubt that Werner said something about this
business to Lamburg. I have been thinking a good deal about it the last
hour or so. My idea was to get Lamburg out of the way. He has been
supplanting us at Berlin and getting in our way generally. I thought if
we could lay him by the heels we should have a clear course in future.
So when the trouble broke out to-night I went down to the Tower with the
full intention of giving the whole game away and betraying Lamburg into
the hands of the police."

The confession was made coolly enough, for there was no false shame
between these two and their dangerous work was purely a matter of
business. They would have betrayed their employers to-morrow had they
benefited to the extent of a solitary five-pound note.

"That was a good idea," Garzia said. "Go on."

"Well, I went down there in the car to see what I could do. I was going
to lock Lamburg and his assistants in the machine-room under the bridge,
and get the police at the nearest call office. But all that trouble was
saved me. I had barely started before I saw some police officers, headed
by one or two civilians, dashing across the road. I was lucky enough to
conceal myself in the darkness, pleased to find that I had been
forestalled, and I had the satisfaction of seeing our friend safely
handcuffed."

"Grand! Fine!" Garzia said. "Any more?"

"No; the rest is not quite so satisfactory," Lady Loxton confessed. "I
suppose I was in too much of a hurry to get away in the car; anyway, I
was spotted, and they fired on me. I had to pull up, of course, and I
was not pleased to find myself face to face with Mr. Stuart Hallett."

Garzia growled uneasily. He had no particular reason for being fond of
Hallett. And it was rather alarming to find that the latter knew so
much, and had gone unerringly to the right spot. Still, there was
consolation in the knowledge that a powerful rival was out of the way,
and that Berlin could not afford to be quite so independent in the
future.

"It is good news on the whole," Garzia admitted. "But I should feel more
satisfied if we could get Hallett out of the way, too. That fellow is
the very devil. He must have put at least a dozen of our best men out of
action in the last three months. And if he once begins to suspect you
and me----"

Lady Loxton laughed aloud.

"My dear Pedro, you are getting nervous," she said. "Who would suspect
the great Spanish musician, and who would dream that the patriotic Lady
Loxton were in the pay of Germany? Why, Hallett and myself are the best
of friends."

But Garzia was not altogether convinced. And he had not yet got over his
disappointment in the matter of Rosslyn and the missing aeroplane. For
the last day or two he had been making all sorts of cautious enquiries,
but he had learnt nothing; indeed, he could not gather anything as to
Rosslyn's whereabouts.

"I cannot see what you are driving at still," he said. "To get Lamburg
out of the way was a fine stroke of business, but it does not leave us
any nearer to a fat cheque. Now, if we could have got hold of that
aeroplane it would have been quite another matter. I could have been in
Berlin by this time, and all our worries would have been over for months
to come."

"Why cry over spilt milk?" Lady Loxton asked. "I think I can show you a
much bigger thing than that. Let me tell you that Rosslyn's
disappearance is as much a mystery to Stuart Hallett as it is to you and
me. I saw Hallett yesterday, and managed to get from him the information
that he has not the least idea where Rosslyn is to be found. He and his
aeroplane seem to have disappeared without leaving the slightest trace
behind them."

"But somebody must know," Garzia said impatiently.

"Precisely," Lady Loxton smiled demurely. "Now, you are a man wise in
the ways of the world, and will probably agree with me when I suggest
that when a young and attractive man disappears leaving no trace behind
him, to say nothing of injuring his career, there is invariably a woman
at the bottom of the mystery. I happen to know that Paul Rosslyn is most
infatuated with that dear little innocent French girl who lives in the
flat below. I am speaking of Vera Leroux. It was only a few days ago
that I interrupted the lovers in the midst of an impassioned scene, and,
well, Rosslyn has not been seen since. Therefore, you can draw your own
conclusions. For myself I have not the slightest doubt that Vera Leroux
has a pretty fair idea as to where Paul Rosslyn is to be found. Vera's
father is away from home just now, and I have invited the girl to lunch
with me to-morrow. Before she leaves me I shall know everything there is
to know. It is therefore possible that we shall commandeer the aeroplane
after all. Patience, my trusted friend, patience. Meanwhile, I start for
Berlin to-morrow night."

"Why do you go there?" Garzia asked.

"I go to Berlin to see those papers Werner deposited with me. I go to
prepare the way for a grand stroke which means a fortune to us. You
heard what I said just now. When I come back I shall have the full
details of Werner's scheme for depriving London of her water supply. Ah,
if we can manage that, then we can retire from business, and lead a
respectable life in the future."

"Excellent," Garzia cried. "Let us have one glass of champagne, and
drink success to the venture."




CHAPTER XVIII.--Towards the North.


Garzia had been quite right when he cynically said that London would
forget the Zeppelin outrage within a week. There had been a certain
amount of indignation and wrath on the part of the Londoners at the
cowardly attack upon an unfortified town, but then the civilised peoples
of the world had grown quite accustomed to Germany's barbarous methods.
They had been warned of the possibility of a Zeppelin raid, but this
warning had been more or less disregarded, because lately the Hun had
been less savage in their methods. They appeared to have learnt
something from the knowledge that they had not a friend in the world,
and that their hopes of gaining the ear of the United States had proved
a dismal failure.

And now, after the first outbreak of anger and contempt, London was
moving on its placid way, the streets were thronged and the theatres and
places of amusement were filled nightly. London asked itself no
questions; it was good to know that the authorities were alert and
vigorous, and that the scoundrels who had laid themselves out to destroy
the Tower Bridge were laid by the heels.

But Hallett, at any rate, was far from contented. He knew that there was
some deep-seated conspiracy here in London that was apparently beyond
his reach. Nor was he altogether satisfied with Lady Loxton and her
ingenious excuse for being in the vicinity of the Tower Bridge on the
night of the attempted outrage. He had no grounds for suspecting her at
all; he had never doubted that she was the Irish widow of a well-known
peer, and he had never found her capable of taking the slightest
interest in politics. But this was a time to suspect everybody, and
Hallett made up his mind to keep his eye on Lady Loxton for the future.

Again, he was worried by the amazing disappearance of Paul Rosslyn. He
had the most implicit faith in the honour and integrity of his junior,
and the idea that there had been any treachery on Rosslyn's part was
absolutely unthinkable. It was just possible that Rosslyn had suddenly
found himself in possession of news of some urgent danger and had gone
off hot foot upon the track. It was possible, too, that he was the
victim of foul play, a thought that worried Hallett exceedingly, for
more than one of his trusted subordinates had met with disaster lately
at the hands of an unseen foe that did not hesitate at murder itself.
But there was one person in London who might possibly be in a position
to throw light upon the mystery, and that person was Vera Leroux.

On this point Hallett had come to the same conclusion as Lady Loxton. He
knew perfectly well what Rosslyn's feelings were so far as the girl was
concerned, and he had been inclined to envy his junior in his good
fortune. At any rate, it would be no harm to call at Medhurst Gardens
and see what could be learnt.

It was something of a coincidence that Hallett walked round to Medhurst
Gardens about midday on the Monday and an hour or so before Vera was to
lunch with Lady Loxton. She explained that her father was away in France
on business for a day or two, and that she was absolutely alone. She was
looking not quite herself, Hallett thought, for she was pale and anxious
and altogether lacked her usual charm and vivacity. She was gay and
fitful from time to time, with occasional lapses into absentmindedness,
indeed it seemed to Hallett that she did not hear half he said.

"I won't detain you many minutes," he said politely. "By the way, do you
know what has become of Paul Rosslyn?"

He put the question abruptly, for he wanted to take the girl off her
guard. He saw her face grow pale, then the vivid pink came back again
into Vera's cheeks. She looked at Hallett with something like terror in
her eyes.

"No," she said. "He has not been here for two or three days. I hope that
nothing has happened to him, because, because----"

Hallett waited eagerly for Vera to go on. But she was recovering from
his sudden attack now, and her courage had come back to her.

"Perhaps I had better be candid," she said. "The last time I saw Mr.
Rosslyn we had a misunderstanding, a foolish one, perhaps, more my fault
than his. Oh, I do hope that nothing has happened to him. We were such
good friends----"

"Nothing more than friends?" Hallett asked audaciously.

Vera's brown eyes met those of Hallett frankly.

"That is a question that no one has a right to ask," she said coldly.
"So far as the world is concerned we are merely friends. But I don't
mind telling you that we were something more than that. Mr. Rosslyn
asked me questions which I could not answer, and we parted without
saying good-bye. I am dreadfully troubled and grieved about it, but this
is a matter that concerns ourselves alone. Don't you think you are
rather cruel to come and question me like this, Mr. Hallett?"

For once the astute Hallett was at a loss for a reply. He could not fail
to recognise that this cross-examination was both vulgar and
impertinent, and he hastened to apologise.

"Believe me," he said, "I had not the least intention of being unkind.
To tell you the truth, Rosslyn has disappeared and I am greatly
concerned about him. I came here hoping that you would be able to give
me some clue----"

Vera rose to her feet and looked meaningly at the clock.

"And so I will," she interrupted. "I firmly believe that Paul is not in
the least danger. I am sure you will hear from him before long. Now
please don't ask me to say any more. Besides, I am going out. I am
lunching with Lady Loxton at one o'clock, and it is now a few minutes to
the hour. Good-bye."

Hallett accepted his dismissal with the best grace he could. He murmured
his apologies, and went away with a curious feeling of mingled relief
and annoyance. He would very much like to have been present at that
little luncheon party, for he had a shrewd suspicion that he might have
learnt something there. And meanwhile he had his work to do; he had to
give his final instructions to Montague and Pascoe, who were starting
that evening on their scouting excursion along the east coast. After a
good deal of anxious thought it had been decided to take Lieut. von Kemp
along. They had satisfied themselves that he was to be trusted that he
was quite sincere in his desire to do anything to frustrate the designs
of Prussia and to forward the interests of the German Republic.

Meanwhile, with feelings just as mixed, Vera was making her way up the
stairs in the direction of Lady Loxton's flat. She had expected to find
the usual cheery, noisy luncheon party gathered there, and was somewhat
relieved when she realised that she was the only guest. Lady Loxton met
her affectionately enough and kissed her on either cheek.

"I did not feel in the mood for company to-day," she explained. "So I
made an excuse to put the others off, and we shall be quite alone. Let
us go into the dining-room and wait upon ourselves. I never like to have
a lot of servants in the room."

It was a dainty little lunch, and Lady Loxton was, if possible, more
sparkling than usual. For the time being Vera forgot all her troubles,
she found herself laughing at her hostess's witty sallies until suddenly
Lady Loxton grew grave and her eyes became tender and sympathetic.

"Oh, dear," she sighed. "How thoughtless I am. It is not that I am
really hard hearted. And yet I am running on like this just as if Paul
Rosslyn were still alive."

"But he is," Vera cried startled out of herself. "At the present moment
Mr. Rosslyn is in Ber----"

Lady Loxton gave a sudden exclamation of annoyance, her champagne glass
had slipped through her fingers and broke upon a plate. It was quite
characteristic of her that this little incident should for a moment
occupy her attention to the exclusion of everything else. But she had
heard the fatal words fall from Vera's lips and her heart was dancing
gaily with triumph. She did not wish to hear any more, she was too
subtle and clever to follow up her first success. And almost immediately
Vera was on her guard again. Naturally she had no suspicion of what was
passing in the mind of her hostess, who, as a matter of fact, she rather
despised. But she had come near to betraying the secret and she was
annoyed with herself accordingly.

"How stupid of me," Lady Loxton said testily. "If there is one thing I
hate more than others it is clumsiness. I cannot stand a clumsy servant
about me. What was I saying, dear? Oh, I know. Such a sad thing about
Paul Rosslyn. You must feel it terribly. I have thought for some time
that you were something more than friends. Not that I wish to be
curious, it would be in such wretched taste just now. They say that poor
Rosslyn started out some days ago with an aeroplane and that he has not
been seen since."

"I would rather not discuss it, if you don't mind," Vera said simply.
"It is too sad to think about."

Lady Loxton was all tenderness and sympathy. But there was a quiet smile
of triumph in her eyes and a hard curve about her lips as she sat
smoking a cigarette at the table long after her guest had gone. She was
sitting there when Garzia arrived.

"Well," he asked. "Is there any news?"

"The most strange and startling," Lady Loxton said. "The child was like
wax in my hands. It was all too easy. And where do you suppose Rosslyn
and his motor are at the present moment? Why, in Berlin. Yes, I thought
I should astonish you. And the best of it is that dear little Vera
hasn't the least idea that she told me. If anyone accused her of doing
so I am sure she would deny it most indignantly. Now what is Rosslyn
doing in Berlin? It sounds like carrying the war into the enemy's
country with a vengeance. I shall most certainly make it my business to
find out."

"You mean to go to Berlin, then?" Garzia asked.

"I am going tonight," Lady Loxton said. "Now go off at once and get the
line all clear for me."




CHAPTER XIX.--The Chartered Vagabonds.


It was all very well, as Hallett pointed out to his assistants, for the
Home Office to announce that the German spy system in England had been
broken up and thus allay public uneasiness, but this did not mean that
the evil was stamped out altogether, and nobody knew better than Hallett
that there were many dangerous organisations still flourishing, and any
small success on their part was handsomely recognised in Berlin. For
instance, there had been one or two exceedingly unpleasant incidents
along the east coast both ashore and afloat and these 'accidents' had
got to be stopped. For instance, a submarine had been lost, several
mines had exploded, and a destroyer had gone ashore in consequence of a
mistake in connection with a signal light. These incidents had been
reported to Berlin, and had been magnified by the German Press into
brilliant naval victories. This was the task that lay before Montague
and the others.

"I have made it as easy for you as I can," Hallett explained. "You are
attached to the Service Department of the Field Telegraph Corps. As a
matter of fact this department has no existence, but your caps will look
like authority, and I will see that the police up and down the coast
give you every assistance. You will travel in a caravan and pretend to
be very busy, so that no clever amateur detective will interfere with
you. You will find your van at Filey, and the sooner you get in contact
with Inchcliffe the better. I don't think I need detain you any longer."

A day or two later Montague and Pascoe, together with von Kemp, set out
upon their errand. They were made up to look like workmen, they wore
army caps with a conspicuous-looking badge. The weather was mild and
clear as they pottered down the coast keeping a sharp eye open for
anything suspicious, and, truth to tell, a little uncertain as to how to
begin. But there was one thing that had struck Pascoe and Montague from
the first, and that was von Kemp's amazing and intimate knowledge of
every cliff and bay and village along the route. They rallied him over
it as they sat outside the caravan eating the lunch which they had
cooked over an oil store.

"It was part of my duty," von Kemp said quietly. "Ah, those were the
days when I believed Germany to be ordained by God to lead the world on
to the new Jerusalem. Honestly I believed it. I had steeped myself in
the doctrines of Nietzsche and the rest of them. I was ready to swallow
open-mouthed anything that the German professors wrote and said. I did
not know then that they were no more than professional journalists."

"Oh, come," Pascoe smiled. "Your professors are far the most profound
writers in Europe."

Von Kemp spat contemptuously on the grass.

"Bah," he cried. "Bosh! We are the nation of shopkeepers--we are what
you were in that respect. We are too prosperous and too fond of pleasure
to think. Can you give me the name of one great scientist, poet,
painter, artist, or musician that Germany has produced in the last
thirty years? I tell you philosophy does not pay, there is no money in
its publications. But there is money in flattering the vanity of a
war-mad nation and pandering to the Kaiser. Ah, our philosophers found
that out. And now they sell their books by the thousands and spend their
winters at Monte Carlo. It's only gutter journalism under another name.
I shall live to see all those books publicly burnt by order of the
German Republic."

They pushed on presently, coming in contact with coastguards now and
again until the pretty town of Filey loomed in the distance some ten
miles away. It was past four o'clock, and the light was beginning to
fade, when von Kemp suggested a halt and the advisability of pitching
camp for the night. There was a fire and suppressed excitement about him
that his comrades did not fail to notice. He shook his head at the
suggestion of tea, and asked Montague if there was such a thing as an
electric torch amongst the equipment.

"Half a dozen," Montagu said. "But why?"

"I am going to show you," von Kemp said. "Now you see that house on the
cliffs about half a mile away. It is a charming and delightful place,
and belongs to a wealthy colonial gentleman, who is an enthusiastic
yachtsman, and passes most of his time deep sea fishing. All of which I
gathered from the coast patrol a little while ago. It is a very nice
thing, my friends, to be a rich colonial who can afford to gratify his
expensive tastes. In this England of yours it is no part of anybody's
business to enquire where his neighbour's money comes from. Now out of
all the rich men you know can you tell me the source of income of one of
them? Oh, I thought not. A new neighbour comes along, he takes a nice
house, he is open-hearted and hospitable, and a good sportsman. The rest
can go to the devil. You are blind-folded, you English."

"Is there anything the matter with the house?" Pascoe asked.

By way of reply von Kemp demanded the electric torch and proceeded to
lead the way down a little cliff path which was so cunningly hidden that
it could not be seen from the top of the cliff. Von Kemp pushed on till
he came at length to a small cave that looked like a mere gash in the
rock, the walls of which were covered with mussels and seaweed. The
guide groped with his hand in the slimy mass, then the back of the cave
seemed to open, disclosing a narrow passage that seemed to lead into the
bowels of the earth.

"Come along," von Kemp said. "We are perfectly safe for the time being.
I could see from the position of the flag floating over our colonial
friend's house that he is not prepared to receive visitors for the
moment. If your police were half sharp that flagstaff would have been
down long ago. This is an old smuggler's cave, the existence of which
has been forgotten by the fishermen here. It used to lead at one time to
an old farmhouse that stood where the colonial gentleman's residence is
to-day."

Von Kemp volunteered no further information, but pushed steadily on
along the throat of the tunnel. Presently they began to rise again
toiling upwards until they saw overhead a wooden trap door, which von
Kemp proceeded to lift cautiously. A moment later and the three
adventurers were standing in a little summer-house fringed by shrubs,
which it was possible to see through and thus get a clear view of the
lawns surrounding the house and in the background the house itself. A
tall man, brown and lean and athletic looking and dressed in a sort of
fisherman's kit, was standing there with a handsome woman by his side.
Her tailor-made costume was covered with a large linen apron, and she
appeared to be feeding a flock of Indian pheasants from a basket of
corn.

Next to the pheasants and fighting for their food was a flock of herring
gulls, big, fierce-looking adult birds without the suggestion of
timidity or fear about them. They dashed in and out amongst the
pheasants, indeed they seemed so tame that the big man standing there
handled them as if they had been so many pigeons. There was a queer
smile on von Kemp's face as he watched.

"Quite an interesting sight," Montague murmured.

"And especially if you know what it means," von Kemp said drily. "In
this queer old world of ours there is nothing that pays like audacity.
If you want to deceive a man, play some trick, the simpler the better,
under his very eyes, and he don't see it. I need hardly tell you that
our colonial friend is a German spy, who passed years in Australia, and
so escaped suspicion. It was he who found all about this underground
passage, and persuaded the German intelligence department to build this
house for him years ago. Ah, we will have some fun with our spy
presently. But not yet, he must not be alarmed. If we hang about this
neighbourhood for a day or two and watch him carefully I shall be
greatly astonished if we don't get some valuable information. I have no
doubt the man yonder could tell us exactly how and why certain naval
disasters have happened."

It was all thrilling and interesting enough, and the situation had just
that spice of danger necessary to give it a charm in the eyes of
Montague and Pascoe. There was the chance of being discovered at any
moment, in which case it might be necessary to use their revolvers with
which Montague and his companions were armed. But anything like violence
would ruin the situation, and therefore von Kemp was allowed to take
command.

A darkness was beginning to fall now, though the glow of the sunset
filled the northern sky with a warm red haze. Apparently there was
nothing more to wait for, but von Kemp did not move.

"Not just yet," he said. "We are perfectly safe. And you mean to say
that you can see nothing significant in what is taking place under your
eyes. It is a new scheme to me, and it appeals to me because it is so
simple and yet so amazingly clever. I saw it at a glance. But then these
tricks and dodges have for so many years formed part of my training. Now
watch."

But the other two could see nothing suspicious. They saw the basket of
food emptied and the pheasants scatter over the lawn. They saw the big
man clapping his hands and driving the gulls into the air. They circled
round screaming and calling like the uneasy spirits of the deep which
they were. Then the man and the woman entered the house and were seen no
more.

"Quick," von Kemp said. "There is no need to go back the way we came.
This belt of shrubs will shield us till we reach the cliffs. Don't ask
any questions, but follow me."

They raced along through the shrubbery and presently gained the open
road. They were on the cliffs now, with the gulls still wheeling and
screaming overhead. As one of them swooped gracefully down close by von
Kemp whipped out a revolver and fired twice rapidly. The bird dropped
dead, almost at his feet.

"What did you do that for?" Pascoe asked.

"Pick it up," von Kemp said. "And if you don't find a cypher message
tied to its leg, then call me a Cockney sports man."

"By Jove," Pascoe cried. "So there is."




CHAPTER XX.--The Abner Lightship.


Here was a revelation to Pascoe and Montagu, and they were both loud in
their praises of the neatness and simplicity of the scheme. As von Kemp
did not fail to point out, this cunning game had been going on right
under the eyes of the coastguard for months. Probably it had been
thought out and tested years before.

"You see how it is," von Kemp said, "The gulls come here for their
evening meal, and probably get their breakfast somewhere on the German
coast. The three or four hundred miles from coast to coast is nothing
for a strong, swiftly flying bird like a gull. And it's such at pretty
sight too, of course to watch those beautiful birds being fed. And I
dare say our colonial friend's wife invites her neighbours' children to
come and watch the dear gulls having their supper. Now isn't it a clever
idea?"

"Almost sorry to spoil it," Montague laughed. "And to think that our
authorities should have been worrying themselves over homing pigeons all
over the country and when this is going on under their innocent noses.
By Jove, Pascoe, we have got a fine chance of distinguishing ourselves
here. Not that it will be any credit to us, but still----"

"No, it's all von Kemp's," Pascoe said. "But we must bag all that brood.
We must have the lot of them. And what about that cypher? Can you make
anything out of it, von Kemp?"

The German shook his head. He explained that the cypher was quite out of
his department, that every spy used his own for obvious reasons, and
that there was a special department in Berlin to look after these
matters. No doubt if the message were sent to London there was some
expert there capable of dealing with the problem. In any case there was
no hurry. The German spy was blissfully ignorant of the fact that he had
been marked down, and even if Montagu and the others were found prowling
about the grounds the badges on their caps would tend to allay all
suspicion.

"Without boasting," von Kemp said, "I know a great deal more about these
things than you do. But what I don't know is what the man that lives
yonder calls himself. He is not the same individual I visited here many
years back. But obviously he is a man well in with the best people in
these parts, and I suggest that we push on at once and see your friend
Lord Inchcliffe. He will be able to help us I have no doubt. Then we can
think out some scheme whereby we can get the best of the enemy."

It was some way to travel, but the caravan started without delay, and it
was somewhere past ten o'clock before Inchcliffe Castle was reached.
There were but few lights in the windows, and apparently the household
had retired for the night, for it was some little time before the big
oak door was opened.

It was Inchcliffe who appeared, yawning and sleepy and disposed to
resent this intrusion. But his face relaxed into a smile as he saw who
his visitors were, and he grasped the hands of Montague and Pascoe with
a welcome that was painful in its sincerity. He was a fine figure of a
man, not in the least intellectual looking, but clean cut and powerful,
a typical specimen of a British sportsman without care and anxiety, and
quite ready to admit that intellectually speaking he was not a success.
But of his courage and integrity there was no doubt. A cloud seemed to
lift from his brow as he showed his visitors before him into the great
dining-room on hospitality bent. He was beaming with pleasure now.

"I knew you chaps were coming," he said. "I heard from Hallet a day or
two ago. Lieutenant von Kemp, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.
Now do help yourselves. You will find everything you want on the
sideboard. Then we will have a long talk, for everybody has gone to bed
including the wife. Lord if you fellows only knew how I have been eating
my heart out with nothing to do! When I got to Southampton after my
honeymoon on the yacht I heard for the first time that war had broken
out. And that after three months mind you. My pals all thought I'd
funked it. I could hardly get a chap to speak to me in the club. Same
thing at the War Office and the Admiralty. There wasn't a job they could
give me anywhere. And me with all my knowledge of the coast, me with the
smartest fleet of electric launches in the North Sea! I could have
stopped one big disaster anyhow. You can imagine my delight when I heard
from Hallett that you chaps were coming up this way. And now tell me
what it is that you want me to do."

Montague proceeded to explain. He told the story of the singular
adventure of the afternoon, and then turned the rest of the narrative
over to von Kemp.

"You know all about me, Lord Inchcliffe," the latter said. "And you know
why I am here and what my ambition is. At any rate you will credit me
with being with you heart and soul. I regard these spy episodes as
beneath contempt. They are absolutely useless and futile. But they
delight the childish mind of the Kaiser, I suppose. Still, these men
must be got rid of, especially along your east coast. We want to clear
that man and his household so that they will vanish and leave no trace
behind them. Do you happen to know him? Does he visit here?"

"Oh, dear, yes," Inchcliffe said. "He is a real good sportsman and quite
a good fellow. Many a day I have had with him both with the gun and the
tiller. There is not the slightest doubt that the man lived for years in
the colonies, for he has had Australians staying with him who are quite
well known. Those people are received in society here with open arms.
The man calls himself Blair Allison, and his wife was born in the
Argentine. They don't look a bit like Germans, and neither of them have
the faintest trace of an accent. Why, bless my soul, I've helped to feed
those gulls many a time. Well it's a clever dodge, and Blair Allison
deserves every credit for it. Do you know that on two or three occasions
quite lately I have had some of our submarine officers up here. You can
get a submarine into my private harbour quite easily. Then the chaps who
know the cliff path creep up here for a drink and a smoke very late, and
no one any the wiser for it. I never have told my wife even. But one
night Blair Allison turned up very late, with the excuse that he had run
out of petrol on his way back from Scarborough, where he had been to the
theatre, and I had got a submarine lieutenant in the dining-room at the
time. It was a bit awkward, but it could not be helped. And a few hours
later that submarine was at the bottom of the sea, and one of the best
fellows that Eton ever turned out went with her. You can guess who I
mean."

Inchcliffe's voice was unsteady and he gulped hastily his whisky and
soda. Then he went on again.

"I never dreamt of associating Blair Allison with that ghastly
business," he said. "But I see quite plainly now that he was at the
bottom of it. Of course he called upon me that night to make sure of his
ground. I'll tell you what, the best thing we can do is to raid the
place some evening when the whole gang is there and shoot the lot of
them. And I'd like to have the shooting of Blair Allison myself, the
murdering scoundrel."

Inchcliffe had grown hot and angry again now, for the knowledge he had
gained stirred him to the depths. He jerked up a blind and opened a long
French window leading to the terrace, beyond which lay the cliffs and
the open sea. Far away in the distance the gleaming eye of the Abner
lightship flashed and twinkled like a star in a hazy sky that grows
brilliant for a moment and then dims again. It was the only sign of life
and movement on the broad bosom of the North Sea. For a time Inchcliffe
stood looking out, and when he turned he was himself once more.

"When shall it be," he asked.

"Oh, don't let's spoil it by being in too much of a hurry!" Pascoe
suggested. "It's a big thing we have stumbled on, thanks to von Kemp,
and I don't feel inclined to tackle it in this casual way. The best
thing we can do is to telegraph to-morrow to Hallett and get him to come
down here. If----"

Pascoe broke off abruptly at a sign from Inchcliffe. The latter seemed
to be listening intently, and presently it seemed to the others, that
they could hear cautious footsteps approaching the house from the
direction of the terrace. A moment later a man with a keen, clean-shaven
face and a pair of alert grey eyes looked eagerly into the dining-room.
He was in naval dress, and was apparently concerned about something, but
he stopped and stepped back with muttered annoyance as he saw that
Inchcliffe was not alone.

"Oh, come in," the latter said. "These people are my friends, and they
are here on the King's business. Gentlemen, this is Lieutenant Nemo, of
his Majesty's ship Nowhere. You can quite understand why I don't mention
names. Anything wrong?"

"Very much so, I'm afraid," the lieutenant said. "I only noticed it
quite by accident as I came up the cliff with the intention of smoking a
cigar with you. There is no man in these parts who knows more of the
North Sea lights than you do. Now come outside for a moment and
carefully watch the Abner lightship. I would have gone and made
inquiries myself, but I have strict orders not to move from my moorings
for the present, and the Abner light is at least ten miles away. Come
on."

Inchcliffe darted eagerly on to the terrace. For a few moments he kept a
steady watch on the lightship.

"You are quite right," he exclaimed. "Beyond all doubt someone is
monkeying with the lantern. It should be three flashes followed by one.
I should not be at all surprised if some signalling was going on. Well,
we shall soon know. I'll get out a launch and go myself to see. Now,
who's out for an adventure? It will be a pretty risky one, but if you
people----"

Montague and Pascoe jumped to their feet eagerly. Here was a chance that
appealed to them irresistibly.




CHAPTER XXI.--The Battle of the Sands.


The three men were eager for the fray now. It was an adventure after the
heart of each, and von Kemp was only too anxious to show his allies how
distinctly in earnest he was. It was by no means the first time that
Montague and Pascoe had been on the face of the midnight waters in one
of Inchcliffe's perfectly appointed boats, and they had every confidence
in the skill and dexterity of their leader. He was perhaps the most
eager of the lot, for it seemed to him that he had a good deal to wipe
off the slate. He had been miserably anxious for some time to justify
himself in the eyes of his friends and show them that he was no shirker.

But there was something to be done yet before starting. There was a deal
of information to be sought before it was possible to set out on that
highly dangerous errand. For instance there were the mines to be
considered, and for some time the little party pored anxiously over the
chart which the submarine commander produced from his pocket. But he was
instructing a man who knew nearly as much about it as himself, and
presently Inchcliffe pronounced himself to be satisfied.

"Not that it's all as it should be," he said. "It seems rather an odd
thing to think that the enemy has managed to thread his way inside our
minefield up to the lightship without being blown into fragments. Its
any odds that the man who calls himself Blair Allison is at the bottom
of this. How do you know that he has not sunk some of your mines? I
don't say he has, but I did hear something a little time ago about a new
mine sinker that could be worked without the slightest danger. However,
there is no time to discuss that now."

They crept silently down the narrow cliff path leading to Inchcliffe's
private harbour, and there said good-bye to the commander of the
submarine. Here lay half-a-dozen motor craft of sorts, and from a shed
hard by Inchcliffe produced four suits of oilskins. Then he set to work
to prepare his little craft for her perilous journey, full of knowledge
that fairly won the admiration of his companions. He worked like a
skilled mechanic, which indeed he was, and presently he announced that
everything was ready for the great adventure. With Inchcliffe at the
helm they slid out into the open sea, driving along in the darkness as
silent as a night bird in its flight. There was peril dire and deep
every moment, but the voyagers did not stop to think of that. Here and
there were shoals and currents to be avoided, but they were as plain to
Inchcliffe as if they had lain upon the surface. He had the lights of
the Abner to guide him so that he could make directly for the signal,
and thus no precious time was lost. There was nothing to be seen and
nothing to be heard, it seemed as if they had left the world behind
them. Presently Inchcliffe cut off his batteries, and the little craft
drifted along with the tide.

"This is jut a bit awkward," whispered Inchcliffe. "In half an hour it
will be dead low water and the lightship will be on the sands. We shall
have to be very careful. We must moor the boat here, and that is where
the danger begins. If we are spotted crossing the sands we are done. As
far as I can see, the best thing is to make a dash for it."

The other three men raised no objection. Inchcliffe was in command of
the expedition and there was nothing for it except for his companions to
obey him implicitly. Fortunately the little motor boat had but a shallow
draught, and when she was anchored up the occupants stepped into water
which hardly came above their knees. They could hear nothing but the
ripple of the tide on the sands and the occasional scream of some sea
bird. It was terribly dreary and lonely there, and the great monotony
appealed eloquently to Pascoe and Montague.

"What a spot," the latter whispered. "Fancy living here for weeks at a
time. I'd rather be in jail. I should be very hard put to it if I
accepted a job like this."

"It is lonely," Inchcliffe said. "The two men here are on shore every
alternate month. But often in the winter they never see a soul from one
month's end to another."

Pascoe nodded thoughtfully. No letters, no papers, with little sleep and
constant danger to face, these brave men guarding the shipping with
unbroken vigilance. It was a phase in naval work, and Pascoe and the
others began dimly to understand what the navy meant and how it stood
between Britain and her foes.

"This is a bit of an object lesson to me," Montague murmured. "It's a
small picture, but it drives the thing home. My word, when this war is
over, nine-tenths of civilisation will begin to know what it owes to the
British Navy."

The others nodded sympathetically. But it was no time for philosophy,
and there was grim work to be done. For a minute or two they crawled
cautiously across the sands, working round to get into the shadow of the
light so as not to be seen, and then at a signal from Inchcliffe, they
rose to their feet and made a dash for the hulk. The sound of their
footsteps was deadened by the low moan of the tide on the sands and so
far all was going well. Then they crept once more on hands and knees
round the dripping bows of the lightship until they found a ladder. So
far it was plain that those on board the boat had no idea that anything
was wrong, for there was no sound from the deck, and silence reigned
everywhere.

It was at this point, then, that the real danger began. Inchcliffe took
his revolver from his pocket and made sure it was fully loaded. Then he
crept very carefully up the ladder and peered cautiously over the side.
The deck was brilliantly lighted by the lantern overhead though there
were patches of shadow here and there behind which it was possible to
hide. But the deck had to be gained first, and Inchcliffe was taking no
risks.

On the hatchway a man was seated reading a newspaper. Obviously he had
been stationed there to guard against a possible surprise.

Inchcliffe passed the news back and whispered to his companions. He
meant, if possible to take that sentry by surprise. If he were
successful then the fellow might be gagged and bound and thrown into the
bottom of the motor boat.

The moments that followed were tense and full of excitement. Yard by
yard Inchcliffe wriggled his way across the deck, watched eagerly by the
others from the top of the ladder. He was in striking distance now
perfectly cool and collected, and seeing his course as clear as crystal
before him. He had no intention at the last moment to spoil everything
by raw haste. Very slowly he dragged himself to his knees and thence to
his feet. Then, swift as a flash, his left hand was locked in the spy's
right and his right arm bent round the neck of the foe and dragged his
head mercilessly backwards until he could hear the ominous click in the
throat that told its red tale of victory. He could see the mans' eyes
roll till the whites were visible, then he caught in his muscular arms
the dead insensible weight of a man past all consciousness. As if the
spy had been no more than a sack Inchcliffe carried him over to the the
ladder and dropped his apparently lifeless burden on the sands.

"I learnt that little trick in Tokio," he whispered. "Bustle him back in
the boat and tie him up safe. You'll find all you want in the locker.
Then come back again and we will tackle those other chaps down below."

It was all done quietly and coolly and without the slightest sign of
bustle or confusion. A little later and Inchcliffe and his companions
were at the foot of the gangway looking into the cabin. Under the
swinging oil lamp at a table there were four men bending over what
appeared to be a chart. Three of them were strangers to the Englishman
but they exchanged glances when the fourth of the intruders looked up
suddenly. It was the man who was known to all of them as the colonial
Blair Allison.

It was not altogether easy now to see what was the next step to be
taken. It might have been a comparatively plain solution to fire a
volley into the men sitting round the table and shoot them down before
they had time to grasp the situation but this was not the English
sporting way and in any case it was better to take these men alive. They
could listen for the present at any rate.

"Yes, I think that's the way," Blair Allison said. "Our fishing boat
puts into Scarborough to-morrow with all the information we require.
What fools these English are. I wonder what they'd say if they knew that
we have got four fishing smacks regularly working this coast, flying the
British flag, and apparently manned by British seamen. That's the beauty
of having had twenty years to prepare for this business. Otherwise we
should not be here to-night. We have done a fine evening's work as those
British cruisers off the Tyne will find to their cost before the week is
out. We can't do any more now, so we had better get back."

"What about those fellows down the hold?" another man asked. "Shall we
leave them there or take them with us and throw them into the sea? They
will starve in any case."

"Oh, no; they won't," Blair Allison said. "People on shore will soon see
that there is something wrong with the lights. Let's get along now
before the trouble begins."

The spy looked up as he spoke and in the mirror at the far end of the
cabin saw the four curious faces peeping in. They were only a blur and
he could recognise no features, but like a flash he was alive to the
danger, for he wheeled round swiftly and his revolver began to speak.
Almost as swiftly one of his companions dashed out the light and the
struggle began in absolute darkness. A sudden rush was made at the cabin
door and for the next few minutes attackers and attacked were mixed up
in a general scrimmage. It was impossible to fire any longer, for such a
course would have been as dangerous to friend as to foe. It was a
hand-to-hand struggle, then a rush across the deck and a scramble of
feet upon the sands.




CHAPTER XXII.--At Bay.


For the moment at any rate Inchcliffe and his companions had had the
worst of the encounter, and they were inclined to regret the instinct
which had prompted them to obey the rules of chivalrous warfare instead
of shooting the murderous rascals in their tracks. But no harm had been
done save a few bruises, and when the lamp was lighted again Inchcliffe
was inclined to smile as he regarded the rueful faces of the others.

"No use worrying about it," he said. "We should have shot the brutes on
sight. As it is they have got off with no end of a lot of valuable
stuff, which might have been worth its weight in gold to the fleet. They
have evidently got a motor boat on the edge of the sands somewhere. But
cheer up, we haven't finished with them yet. It's any odds that they
make their way back to Blair Allison's house, and, if that's so, the
next trick in the game will be ours. Meanwhile, don't forget that
somewhere in the hold the lightship keeper and his mate are prisoners.
We had better go and look for them."

There were two dejected figures fished out of the hold presently, and
released from the cords that bound them. Their tale did not take long to
tell. They had been taken quite unawares at a moment when they had done
their work and had recently finished supper. Down in the cabin they were
passing half-an-hour over a game of cards, when, without the slightest
warning, the big figure of a man strode in and covered them with his
revolver. He had made them throw up their hands on the pain of death,
and, caught like rats in a trap as they were, they had no alternative
but to obey. Three other men had appeared and the unhappy lightship
keeper and his mate had been gagged and bound and thrown into the hold
as if they had been so many sacks of coal. All this was told with much
grinding of teeth and strong language to all of which Inchcliffe
listened anxiously.

"What were they like?" he asked. "I suppose you would be able to
recognise these men if you saw them again."

"No, we shouldn't my lord," said the lightship keeper, who knew
Inchcliffe well. "They were masked, every mother's son of them."

Inchcliffe smiled well satisfied with this reply. He knew now that Blair
Allison and his friends would go off secure in the knowledge that their
identity had not been discovered, and that there was no chance of them
leaving the neighbourhood. He said a few comforting words to the angry
lightship keeper, but he was silent enough on the run home until the
electric craft was safe in its harbour again. Then he turned eagerly to
his companions.

"I am not going to be done like this," he said. "No bed for me till I've
got even with those chaps. It's only just a little past two now, and if
I get out the car we can be at Blair Allison's place in half-an-hour. I
am going to play the same trick upon him that he played on me. My idea
is to drive up to the house in the car, and tell Blair Allison that I
have run out of petrol. If he has gone to bed so much the better. But
I've a pretty shrewd idea that he's done nothing of the sort. We'll
start at once, and I can stop the car just outside Allison's gate. Then
you can get out and hide yourselves by the porch. No, on second thoughts
you had better come with me. We shall be probably asked into the house
to have a drink, and no doubt introduced to the other rascals. Then will
be the time to produce our revolvers, and politely intimate that the
game is up."

"And after that?" Montague asked.

"Bring the blackguards along here, and shove them in one of the vaults
under the Castle. I've got a regular jail down there. Then we can take
possession of Blair Allison's house and search it from top to bottom.
You fellows have got all sorts of powers under that queer commission
that Hallett gave you, so there will be no chance of getting into
trouble. Then we can tell Mrs. Blair Allison that she is under arrest.
We have nothing to fear from the servants, because I happen to know that
they are all English. Blair Allison is much too astute to have any
German servants about him. What do you say?"

No dissentient voice was raised to this suggestion. They discarded their
oilskins, and assumed motor coats instead, and sped along the road in
the direction of Allison's house like men who were making their way
homeward after some pleasant social evening. There were certain
appliances in Inchcliffe's overcoat pocket which he had taken the
precaution to put there for use later on. Half-an-hour later the car
turned crawling slowly and apparently with difficulty along the drive in
the direction of Blair Allison's house. Inchcliffe smiled grimly as he
saw the lights blazing in the dining-room window.

"What did I tell you?" he muttered. "Allison is a very late man and, I
have no doubt that there is a great deal of reason for it. On a clear
night these lights can be seen miles away at sea. But we appear to have
disturbed the busy bees in their nest. They are coming out to see what
this late visit means."

When the blinds had been jerked aside, then the front door was flung
open, and Blair Allison appeared in the porch. He looked just a little
anxious for the moment until he caught sight of Inchcliffe, and his
manner grew friendly.

"Better late than never," he said.

"I did not mean to intrude at this late hour," Inchcliffe explained,
"but one of my idiots forgot to fill up the tank, and I am clean out of
petrol. No, isn't it rather too late to come in? Well, I've no doubt
that a small drink will be acceptable to my friends for we have come a
long way, and it's none too warm."

They followed Blair Allison into the dining-room, where three other men
were seated. Just for a moment or two these others in their turn
appeared a little anxious till they had been reassured by their host. He
introduced them to Inchcliffe, and the rest by English-sounding names,
and, indeed, in ordinary circumstances, they would have passed quite
easily for Englishmen of good class. They were down here, they
explained, for a day or two's wild fowl shooting, to all of which
Inchcliffe listened with apparent sympathy.

"We may have some sport together," he said, drily. "One moment, please.
Did you ever see anything like this?"

As Inchcliffe spoke he whipped out his revolver, and instantly his three
companions did the same. The whole aspect of the scene was changed in a
moment, the smiles and compliments had vanished now, and four grim pairs
of eyes behind those covering weapons looked sternly into four pairs of
shrinking ones. Allison took a step forward menacingly, then thought
better of it.

"Hands up," Inchcliffe cried. "If either of you move another step you
are dead men. You, with the eyeglass, remove your hand from near your
pocket. You can take it from me, Mr. Allison, that the game is finished.
You have got the better of us once this evening, but you are not likely
to do so again."

Allison was fighting for time. Evidently he was the leader of the gang,
and the others were looking to him for some way out of the peril. If he
could keep his opponent at bay for a minute or two, it was just possible
that the tide might turn in his favour.

"Are you joking?" he asked. "Is this some foolish form of ragging that
you Britishers are fond of?"

"You Britishers," Inchcliffe mocked, "How long is it since you ceased to
be a Briton? Oh! there is no joke, I assure you. We saw you to-night
aboard the Abner lightship, and, if we had not been a set of
soft-hearted fools, we should have shot you down there and then. You
raided the lightship, and you have been using the boat for the purpose
of signalling to the enemy. Now, it's no use saying anything. We heard
part of the conversation that took place in the cabin, and I may tell
you that your plan for blowing up those cruisers off the Tyne is going
to be a failure. It was not a bad idea of yours to mask yourselves, so
that you would not be recognised, but you were so sure of your ground
that you forgot the necessary precautions, and we recognised you."

"Oh! this is madness," Allison foamed. "You are suffering from spy on
the brain."

"It will be in the brain if you come a yard further," Inchcliffe cried.
"I tell you the game is up. It has been cleverly played, but you have
come to the end of your tether. Here, you man with the eyeglass, take
this. You need not stare at it as if you hadn't seen such a thing
before. I hold in my hands a pair of handcuffs. Catch please. That was
quite clever. As a wicket-keeper, you have a career before you. Now,
will you kindly put those bracelets on the wrists of Mr. Allison, and he
will return the compliment by doing the same for you. Now, you other
two. Yes, that's right. A few yards of stout whipcord, and the thing is
done. What we propose to do now is to take you with us and lock you up
in the deepest dungeon beneath the castle moat. You make you way out
there, and you are welcome to your freedom. Are you ready?"

There was nothing more to be said or done. Allison ground his teeth in
impotent rage and fury to see how neatly he had been trapped. And all
this at the hands of a man whom he had regarded as no more than an
easy-going idiot, a blind fool of a man who had no brains for anything
but sport. There was no help for it; they were handcuffed without arms
and with four men with revolvers by their side. A little time later they
were making their way down a flight of steps into four cells, where they
were thrust behind iron bars, and more than one iron door clanged
sullenly behind them.

"Well, that's what I call a really good night's work," Inchcliffe said
as he passed the cigars around him. "We have struck a real blow for the
flag to-night, and we have done a big thing for the country. We can go
quietly back to-morrow to Allison's house, and search the place without
any fuss. If we get Hallett down here. Hello, where did that telegram
come from?"

He reached for the orange-coloured envelope, and tore it open hurriedly.
He smiled pleasantly.

"From Hallett," he said. "He is on his way now."




CHAPTER XXIII.--In the Ritter-Saal.


All this time in his own way Paul Rosslyn was striking a blow for the
flag in the heart of Berlin itself. He had been left there in the
corridor overlooking the Lust Garden, whilst Leroux and Steinitz had
retired for their conference with Bethmann-Hollweg. They might be two
hours away, and on the other hand they might not be more than as many
minutes. But be that as it might, Rosslyn was going to take the risk. He
felt quite sure in his disguise and his knowledge of the German
language, and he did not fear for the moment that he would not get
safely back to Potsdam without the assistance of his host. He felt it in
his bones that Lady Loxton was doing no good here and that she was bent
on some mischief. He had never before associated her with the spy
brigade, but on the other hand there was no reason why she should not
have been. It was startling to notice her familiarity with the Royal
Palace, and assuredly she had been there many times before. It would do
no harm to follow her, and Rosslyn lagged behind, gaping out of the
windows like some unintelligent countryman who was regarding the glories
of Potsdam for the first time. But he was watching and taking everything
in keenly enough, and all the time was keeping fairly close to the trim,
elegant figure in front of him. Then he saw Lady Loxton stop and beam in
a most fascinating way on a tall, good-looking officer who came out of
the Ritter-Saal at the same moment.

"Now this is delightful," Lady Loxton said. "How is my friend von Rupert
of the Prussian Guard? And what is he doing here instead of being at the
Front?"

The big man bent down and lifted Lady Loxton's fingers to his lips.
Manifestly he was more than pleased to see her.

"This delightful meeting makes amends," he said. "I got a nasty wound at
Mons and I am just getting over it. We were infernally short-handed
here, so I had to help the Chancellor. We are in no end of a mess in
Berlin and the people are getting nasty. The beggars have discovered
something of the truth and we don't like the look of things at all. I
shall be back in a few minutes. Will you do me the honour to wait in my
office? You know which it is, the small retiring room on the left side
of the Ritter-Saal."

"Oh, yes," Lady Loxton laughed. "You will remember that upon one
occasion I found the tapestry hangings in that room exceedingly useful.
But one moment."

The speaker dropped her voice to a whisper and Rosslyn could hear no
more. But what he had heard had given him the inspiration he needed, and
there was no occasion to wait any longer. Taking advantage of the
whispered conversation between Lady Loxton and her companion, Rosslyn
lounged into the Ritter-Saal still obviously impressed by the
magnificence of his surroundings, he gaped at the Trumpeters' Gallery
and at the magnificent Eosander sideboard still laden with the finest
specimens of plate in the Royal collection, and seemed to be quite
overcome by what he saw about him. He was quite alone there, save for
one or two liveried servants bored and listless and evidently gloomily
disconsolate. The backs of these were turned for a moment, and taking
advantage of this he slipped into the room indicated by the Prussian
Guardsman.

Evidently he had made no mistake, for a great Empire table was littered
with charts and papers, and the walls of the luxuriously appointed room
were hung with priceless Bayeux Tapestry. It was no difficult matter to
drag a chair behind this and so arrange the tapestry that it was
possible to see everything that was going on in the room. And Rosslyn
had not long to wait.

Lady Loxton came in chuckling and smiling, as if she had not a single
trouble in the world. She seated herself in a big armchair and took a
choice cigarette that her companion offered her. She regarded it with a
glance of approbation.

"A real Russian," she said. "Now, how do you manage to get hold of them
these hard times? They told me in London that Berlin was practically
destitute."

"So it will be before long," von Rupert growled. "Day by day the ring
gets narrower, day by day our food grows less. We are surrounded by men
and water. Dear lady, the game is up and the greatest adventure in
military history has failed. Make the most of your time, my little
butterfly, gather your honey, which is to say your pay, as long as you
can. For it is what you call a stalemate. We cannot move France, and
they do not care a straw whether they move us or not. It is the same
with Russia. Why should they lose and suffer when they can just sit
quietly down and starve us out? Still, man must work and women must
weep, as the poet says, and there is much honey yet to be gathered
before the German hive is smoked out. But we shall do a lot of singing
before we are powerless. And I take it you are here after some of the
honey. Tell me what I can do to help you, and remember I am your devoted
slave."

"You always were a darling," Lady Loxton smiled deliciously. "I suppose
you haven't forgotten Karl Werner?"

"Ah! the greatest spy Germany ever had. Let me see, wasn't he the man
who trained you? We have scores of his plans all pigeon-holed in the
Friederich Strasse----"

"My dear boy," Lady Loxton said, eagerly. "That's just what I came to
talk to you about. I want you to find for me amongst these plans a
packet dated 1909, and marked on one envelope with the single word
'London.' No, I'm not going to tell you what's in that envelope. It was
intended for our friends who made that sad attempt a few days ago to
blow up the Tower Bridge. They failed, as you know, and for the next ten
or twelve years they will strike no further blow for the beloved
Fatherland. Therefore, it has devolved upon me and my faithful ally
Pedro Alonzo to carry on the campaign. I am quite sure that you will do
this for me."

But the big guardsman was by no means so sanguine. All this was very
irregular and irregularity from the cast iron Prussian point of view was
almost equivalent of a crime. There would be papers to be signed and at
least a dozen interviews with various officials before the thing could
be done. Just for a moment Lady Loxton's eyes flashed ominously. She had
not come all this way to be thwarted at the last moment and entangled in
the stifling mesh of military red-tape at the finish. Besides, she was
in desperate need of money and the clamour of her creditors in London
was growing louder.

"But you can do this for me if you like," she said.

"Oh! of course, I could. But do you know what the difficulties are. If
you will wait a couple of days----"

"A couple of days," Lady Loxton cried. "What is the man talking about? I
must be back in London by then. Ah, I see I must make a bargain with
you. Now listen."

Lady Loxton's voice was somewhat unsteady as she spoke. For perhaps the
first time in her life she doubted herself, for the first time the
dreadful thought flashed upon her that her charms were beginning to
fail. She was unconscious of feeling any older, her looking-glass still
told a flattering tale even in the early hours of the morning, and yet
there was something in this man's manner that she had never noticed in a
man's manner towards her before. There was another lure which she had
not intended to throw on the face of the waters, and she decided to cast
it now.

"Ah! you are not yourself this afternoon," she said. "You are
dissatisfied; things have not gone well with you. It is true, perhaps,
what little birds whisper in my ear. They say that you have come under
the ban of the Great Man's displeasure. It is muttered that you have
been sent here for your sins. Suppose you could go back again. Suppose
you could take an important document intended for the enemy, it might
even be a dispatch for General French himself. In that case possibly the
Kaiser might welcome you with open arms. With this new weapon----But,
of course, I should expect not a little jar, but a whole hive of honey
for it."

Von Rupert looked up with an eager gleam in his eyes.

"Is this true?" he demanded. "Or are you only fooling me? I have scores,
bitter scores to wipe off, and I am a rich man, as you know. I have
fought for my country, and been disgraced for my pains, and now my one
ambition is to fight my enemies. If you possess anything of the sort,
you speak out and hand it over to me. I will give you a cheque for a
hundred thousand marks. As you know that is three times what the
Intelligence Department will give you.

"Not quite so fast," Lady Loxton smiled. "We will come to the practical
side presently. But I am not boasting. You go to the Wilhelm Strasse
now, and bring me back those papers of Werner's and the money you speak
of in cash, and I will hand over to you the precious document I speak
of."

"You are certainly a wonderful woman," von Rupert said, admiringly. "And
never yet have you made a mistake. But tell me how did you come to gain
possession of English secrets?"

Lady Loxton blew half-a-dozen smoke rings daintily.

"It is so easy when you know all the dear boys," she said. "They come to
sup, make love to me, and pour all their woes into my sympathetic ear.
And when they are what they call bucked with themselves, they cannot
help a tiny bit of swank. One of them has been chosen to go to the Front
with despatches, and he drops vague hints. When I see he is ready for a
journey and looks anxiously at the clock towards eleven or so, and I
know he is departing the same night. A whiff of a drugged cigarette, and
he wakes up presently, blushing and ashamed because he has gone to sleep
in my presence. It's only a minute or two, but the dispatch is in my
hands, and the dummy faithfully copied as to the wrapper is in his.
Voila!"

Lady Loxton flung a packet on the table, and Rosslyn strained his eye to
make out the address.

The name on the envelope was that of General French!




CHAPTER XXIV.--The Eye of the Brotherhood.


Von Rupert's eyes gleamed like those of a wolf as he bent over the
dispatch. Here was the chance he longed for, and which an hour or two
before was beyond his dreams. But he showed no great sign of pleasure;
he merely took the despatch, and tossed it carelessly into a drawer and
placed a handful of papers upon it.

"I will see to my side of the bargain," he said. "Oh, the dispatch will
be quite safe there. If you want to guard a valuable document from
prying eyes leave it carelessly about, so that it can be seen. No doubt
you have read that wonderful story of Edgar Poe's, the story which has
been a lesson to many a spy? I will just run over to the Wilhelm Strasse
and get what you want."

Lady Loxton smiled her thanks. She had gained what she needed and a good
deal more. She sat there for a time restlessly smoking her cigarettes,
then she began to wander about the room. It was an uneasy moment for
Rosslyn, standing behind the tapestry. It was not for him to know that
Lady Loxton was feeling unusually nervous, and he was relieved presently
to see her stroll from the room into the big, resounding Ritter-Saal.
This was the moment to take risks, and he did not hesitate. He crept out
of the room presently with the despatch in his pocket, and smiled to
himself as he saw that Lady Loxton's back was turned towards him. Before
she could finish her restless walk to the end of the room Rosslyn was
close behind her, gaping about in the same bucolic way. The woman's
quick eye took him in, for there was little that escaped her gaze, and
she smiled as she addressed a few patronising words to him.

"Well, so far so good," Rosslyn thought. He had done exceedingly well,
and up to now fortune had smiled upon him. So far as he had ascertained
there was no chance of Steinitz and the others returning from the
conference for some time to come. Nor did Rosslyn care to remain idling
about there with the rest of the Deputation. He knew a little restaurant
not far from the New Museum, where he could get a cup of tea and smoke a
cigar. Naturally he had not failed to take possession of the precious
dispatch from the open drawer, and already he had sketched out a plan
for depositing the missive in its proper hands. Leaving a message for
Steinitz with one of the Deputation he strolled out into the gloomy
street.

It was an hour or more later before an official-looking person entered
the Cafe and began a whispered conversation with the head waiter. It was
apparent to Rosslyn's alert eye that he was the subject of the
discourse, a fact that did not tend to decrease his natural anxiety. No
sooner had the official departed than he asked for his bill, which was
an unreasonable time in coming. As Rosslyn rang the bell again half a
dozen soldiers, great-coated and wearing bayonets, came on to the
restaurant in charge of a sergeant. They marched across to Rosslyn, and
it seemed to him that his hour had come. He was not armed, indeed any
weapon would have been useless in the circumstances. He could only wait
upon events and trust to his good fortune to pull him through.

"You must come this way," the sergeant said, roughly. "You are wanted at
once at the Royal Palace."

"But what have I done?" Rosslyn asked stupidly.

"You're wanted at the Royal Palace, at once," the sergeant repeated
mechanically. "It is not for me to say why. My orders were to come with
a file of soldiers and escort you back."

The word 'back' sounded ominent to Rosslyn's ears. No doubt he had been
noticed wandering about the Ritter-Sal. Von Rupert had missed the
dispatch, and probably some spy had been able to put him on the right
track. Rosslyn was conscious of a sudden queer feeling about the knees
as he realised what this meant to him. Neither Steinitz nor the Social
Brotherhood could save him now. There would be no fuss and no bother, he
would be taken out into the Palace garden at daybreak and shot. And that
damning dispatch at that moment was in the breast pocket of his overcoat
hanging on a peg behind his table. He would have to make the best of it,
and he was quite cool and and altogether collected now.

He had even a smile for the waiter who stood anxiously by his side,
evidently more concerned with collecting his account than anything else.
In spite of his deadly peril, Rosslyn could not resist a smile at this
typically German attitude. But all the same he did not fail to notice
that the waiter's apparent respectful touch of his shoulder covered a
grip with a meaning in it.

"Your bill, mein Herr?" the waiter said significantly.

Rosslyn affected to glance at it carelessly, at the same time hoping to
find some message written there. And there was.

It was a hasty scrawl to the effect that the writer was one of the
Brotherhood and was well aware of the fact that his customer was a
friend of Steinitz. It went on to tell Rosalyn that he was being
arrested for stealing an important document, which it was known that he
had in his overcoat pocket.

"Hand me a mark and tell me to keep the change," the message went on.
"Then, when I am putting on your overcoat for you, I will remove the
dispatch. It will be quite as safe in my hands as in those of Steinitz,
to whom it will be handed as soon as possible. For the rest I can only
wish you good fortune."

Rosslyn shrugged his shoulders with assumed indifference. He crumpled up
the bill and threw it on the floor, at the same time handing a mark to
the waiter. The latter took down the overcoat and politely helped his
customer into it. A second later the dispatch had vanished, concealed in
the waiter's napkin. There might have been risk in this, but there was
no time to debate this vital question. With the same air of utter
indifference, Rosslyn moved towards the door, and then into the gloomy
street.

It was quite dark now, and the clocks were striking six before Rosslyn
found himself once more crossing the Ritter-Saal with the escort closely
following on his heels. Von Rupert's office was brilliantly lighted, and
the big guardsman lumped to his feet with a growl of satisfaction as he
turned to his captive.

"Oh, so this is the rascal, is it?" he said. "You can go, sergeant, I am
quite capable of dealing with him. Now, you scoundrel, who are you, and
what is your name?"

Rosslyn was taking it all quietly enough, though he would have given
much to grip the bully by the throat and have it with him. But he was
fairly safe now, as long as he kept his temper. There was nothing
incriminating on him now and no chance of fastening any crime upon his
shoulders. He gave the name which had been agreed upon between Steinitz
and himself, and asked with an innocent air what he had done to incur
the Captain's displeasure.

"You can drop that," von Rupert snarled savagely. "You came here this
afternoon with a deputation of idle vagabonds demanding to see the
Chancellor. If I had my way I would string the lot of you up to the
nearest lamp posts. You insolent scum! But never mind that for the
moment. You were seen hanging about the Ritter-Saal, and shortly after
you had gone an important document was missing from this room. Now give
it me at once."

"I have no document," Rosslyn said.

"But you must have. You were followed from the moment you left the
Palace till you were arrested. One of our spies had his eye upon you the
whole time. Not one of your Brotherhood, as you call them can wink an
eye without it being reported to us. Give me that document, and if it is
unopened, you shall go free."

"I repeat, I have no document." Rosslyn said.

Von Rupert pressed upon the bell on his table passionately. As two
servants in uniform came in he turned towards them.

"Strip this man!" he hissed. "Strip the brute to his last rag. And by
Heaven, if I find anything on him I'll have him thrashed like the dog
that he is."

There was no help for it, it was useless to fight against this
humiliation. Besides, there was more than the chance of Rosslyn's
disguise coming away if he showed fight. Sorely against the grain, he
proceeded to remove his clothing, and still he stood there without a
shred of apparel upon him. He was quivering from head to foot with
impotent fury, but there was the grim satisfaction of knowing that all
this was in vain. The veins stood out on von Rupert's forehead, knotted
veins of baffled fury, and his hands itched to get at Rosslyn's throat.
The bluff had failed, and the time had come to try some more drastic
method.

"You men can go," he said. "And as for you, I know how to deal with your
sort. Dress yourself again and listen to me. I am going to leave you
here to your own thoughts. You will remain where you are, locked in till
midnight. Perhaps when you have spent a few hours and you are cold and
hungry you will be less stubborn. By that time you may be disposed to
tell me how you managed to get away with that despatch so cleverly. You
have got no chance of escape, for the windows are barred, and between
the woodwork of the door there is a steel lining."

Rosslyn inclined his head, silently. There was nothing more to be said
or done; he had taken a big risk, and he did not complain. And there was
the satisfaction of knowing that by this time the precious despatch was
in the hands of his friends. Steinitz might not understand the true
inwardness of it, but at any rate he would guard the document carefully
in the meantime.

It grew very dark and very cold there, the hours dragged tortuously
along until twelve o'clock struck, and immediately after it seemed to
Rosslyn that he could hear steps approaching the door of his prison. He
would have welcomed anybody at that moment, even von Rupert himself. But
it wasn't that haughty Prussian, it was a footman resplendant in the
Royal livery.

"Come this way," he whispered. "Quietly and silently as you value your
life. You need not fear to trust me, because I, too, belong to the Order
of the Brotherhood."




CHAPTER XXV--A Crowded Night.


Rosslyn asked no questions. He knew that it was quite futile to do
anything of the sort, and he was particularly anxious to do nothing and
say nothing to get his good friends into trouble. Perhaps his guide
might give him a hint, and he did.

"You are a brave man," he said. "You would be seeing that you are a
friend of our leader Steinitz. And I tell you, sir, that you will want
all your courage now. If I could smuggle you into a place of safety, I
would, but any rashness on my part might be fatal to you. I say no more
than that you have friends watching you, and that Steinitz will be
informed of everything that is going on. I say no more for the walls of
this place have ears."

Rosslyn murmured his thanks. He was quite sure that this man was in
deadly earnest, and that he spoke in all sincerity. His accent and his
well-chosen words did not exactly tally with the livery he was wearing,
but this was all in his favour. He led the way along apparently
interminable passages, down silent corridors, past magnificent suites of
apartments until it seemed to Rosslyn that he had lost himself, and then
the presence of sentries here and there denoted the fact that they were
nearing the Royal apartments.

At this point Rosslyn's guide turned abruptly on his heel and handed him
over to the Captain of the Guard. A contemptuous smile and the prod of a
sword in his back brought the blood into Rosslyn's cheeks, but he wisely
said nothing. He knew now that he was on the edge of the great adventure
of his life, and all sense of dread and nervousness left him. He was
passing through one luxuriously brilliantly lighted room after another
until he found himself thrust into an apartment so bare and mean that
the contrast almost bewildered him. It was a small room, the walls lined
with numbered pigeon-holes, there was only a strip of oilcloth on the
floor, and these things, together with a few chairs and a desk, made up
all the furniture in the place.

At the table by the light of a shaded lamp the solitary occupant of the
room was busily engaged in writing. Rosslyn could see that he wore the
plainest of grey uniforms, but that was not the fact that attracted his
attention. He knew the outline of that figure, he had seen it standing
out conspicuously, smothered with gold lace and orders on more than one
mimic battlefield, and it needed no obsequious voice to to tell Rosslyn
that he was standing there in the presence of the Mad Dog of Europe, the
Kaiser himself.

He had expected something big, but nothing so important as this. The
first shock of surprise passed away almost before it could touch the
fringe of his brain, and then a blind, unreasoning rage shook Rosslyn as
if he had been a reed in the wind. Instinctively he felt for his
revolver. He wanted to shoot his man, to put a bullet in that
bloodthirsty heart of his and in one flash avenge ten thousand mourning
homes and ten times as many lives. It was only for a moment, and then
this murderous impulse was gone.

For here was not the Kaiser he had known, here was an old man no longer
pulsating with the vigour of life, no great general flushed with
victory. He seemed to have grown smaller, strangely lined with grey, his
eyes were dull and brooding, and as he turned to Rosslyn it was as if he
saw nothing except a blank wall.

"Well," he said abruptly, "what is your name?"

"Emden will do as well as any other, sir," Rosslyn said.

"Ah, yes, you are a brave man," Wilhelm said with a certain grudging
admiration. "I admire a brave man, even though he be a traitor to his
country. The true German spirit is there. But I have means to make you
speak."

"I think not, sir," Rosslyn said. "You can shoot me if you like, and
when you have shot me I shall be dead. Just a few seconds of mental
torture, then I am beyond even the reach of the Emperor of Germany. Ah,
it would be better for Germany if she had a few more traitors like me.
But I waste your time."

The Kaiser turned in his chair and regarded Rosslyn curiously. Never
since the days of his pampered boyhood had he been addressed like this.
But there was something in Rosslyn's defiance which did not displease
him.

"You are determined not to speak, then?" he asked.

"I am. It matters nothing where I came from and who my parents are. I am
one of the Brotherhood pledged to stop this war, all of which you
already know. If I can help Germany in any way apart from taking up arms
my services are yours. But not in any other way, sir. And when I say
that I have said all."

The Emperor smiled.

"Perhaps you can help," he said. "Now listen, I came back here to-night
for a few hours at the earnest request of the Chancellor. I do not
under-rate the Social outbreak, I regard this discontent as ominous. But
you and your friends cannot possibly do any good by stealing dispatches
for the enemy which fell into our hands quite legitimately. You will
hand me that dispatch."

Rosslyn shook his head resolutely.

"It is beyond my power to do so, sir," he said. "Surely your officer von
Rupert has told you that. One does not carry incriminating paper about.
You can shoot me if you like----"

"Oh, you said that before," the Emperor said angrily. "Well, why do you
interrupt me like this?"

Bethmann-Hollweg came into the room hurriedly. He was white and
breathless, and his lips were trembling. He appeared about to speak when
he caught sight of Rosslyn. He turned with stammering apologies, but the
Emperor sternly called him back.

"What's the matter now?" he demanded. "You need not be afraid to speak
in the presence of our friend here. He is a blind fanatical fool, but he
is a German all the same."

"Your Majesty," the Chancellor faltered, "the Socialists here have gone
mad. They are wild with rage at what they call the murder of their
comrades. They have destroyed practically every telephone in Berlin, the
trunk lines have been cut for miles. It is the same with the telegraph.
A dozen or more bridges have been blown up, and Berlin is isolated from
the rest of the world. The civil population will rise tomorrow and seize
the capital. They will then proclaim the German Republic."

The Kaiser laughed aloud. All this to him was nothing more than a cheap
theatrical display on some suburban stage. He would not have believed
that there was any heart in it even had he stood looking on from the
Schlosplatz watching the manhood of Berlin in arms. The idea of anything
like open revolt in his capital would have moved him to sardonic
laughter. But such a thing had been foreseen and provided for by those
at the head of the greatest war machine the world had ever seen, and
therefore Wilhelm could afford to smile in the face of his uneasy and
anxious Chancellor.

"Pure exuberance of spirits," he said. "The brave fellows must be doing
something to show their grit. They will be laughing at themselves
to-morrow. Still, it was a fine chance for the scum of the population,
and you will see----"

"But, your Majesty," the Chancellor protested, "you cannot make light of
the catastrophe in that way. Have you forgotten that there is not a
spoonful of petrol within twenty miles of where we are standing. Is that
a joke?"

Wilhelm's mood changed with lightning swiftness. He burst into a roaring
torrent of fury, he cursed the cowering Chancellor, and there for the
first time the real wild man stood revealed. It was as if some human
fragment of civilisation had been stripped to reveal the untutored
savage beneath. For here was the war madman filled with the lust of
slaughter and reeking with the blood of an outraged country. He had
quite forgotten for the moment why he was there, and the peril that
played like summer lightning outside. Then he dropped into his chair
panting and exhausted like a tiger that had spent its fury against the
bars of its cage.

"Scum," he cried. "I'll show the reptiles what it means to oppose me.
They have dared to come in contact with my will, and they can suffer.
But this is a serious matter, Bethmann-Hollweg. Are you actually serious
when you tell me that there is no petrol left? And yet there must be
millions of barrels at Wilhelmshaven. Without it we are lost. And that
reminds me, I told you that the petrol yonder was in danger, that it was
within striking distance of that amazing Indian Cavalry. God, to think
of a whole great nation like this being in peril for want of a few
barrels of petroleum! You have warned them at Wilhelmshaven, of course?
You sent the telephone message I gave you?"

"I couldn't, your Majesty," the Chancellor groaned. "I tried the trunk,
but there was no reply. I was equally unsuccessful with the post office.
At this moment I could not send a telephone message from here across the
street. This was the disturbing information I came to bring you. I
implore your Majesty to tell me what can be done. I know that petrol is
in danger. I know that the Northern French army is aware of its
existence. Now the oil wells of Galicia are in the hands of the
Russians, and the British Fleet has rendered it impossible for us to get
fresh supplies through Scandinavia. Without it a branch of our service
is paralysed. And by this time to-morrow----"

"Oh, stop your croaking," the Kaiser cried. "Something must be done at
once. Here is danger that no man could have possibly foreseen. It means
no Zeppelins, no aeroplanes--ah, I had forgotten that. From what you say
it is impossible to send an aeroplane to Wilhelmshaven. Is that really
so?"

The Chancellor shook his head sadly.

"I'm afraid, so, sir," he said. "We can only trust to our luck to pull
us through."




CHAPTER XXVI.--The Road to Freedom.


Rosslyn stood there with his back to the others trying to conceal the
satisfaction that would show on his face. But he need not have been
anxious on that score, for the Kaiser and his Chancellor had forgotten
his very existence for the moment. There were flashes every now and
again when Rosslyn wondered whether or not he was asleep, and this some
fantastic dream. For here he was, a servant of the English Secret
Service, actually standing in the presence of the War Lord himself, and
listening to secrets of vast importance. By sheer chance he had been
wafted, a mere straw on the flowing tide of destiny, into this
sanctuary, and he could not as yet realise his own amazing good fortune.

And here he was to all purposes the master of the situation. Out of the
three million inhabitants of Berlin he was the one man who could get the
tidings of the peril to Wilhelmshaven and save Germany from the greatest
disaster which up to now had overtaken her. And he knew only too well
what the loss of that petrol meant.

For the strangle hold of the British Navy was growing more suffocating
every day. For a fortnight now not a drop of petrol had been smuggled
through German ports, and the foe had been at the end of its resources
when the great consignment reached her through the Baltic. Now, if the
Allies seized this then it meant the absolute breakdown of Germany's
transport service. There would be no motor waggons, no cars, or cycles.
No further shells of a certain type and, worst of all, no aeroplanes or
Zeppelins.

"This is dreadful," the Kaiser muttered. "An aeroplane would be worth
its weight in diamonds now. Is there nobody----"

His voice trailed off into a whisper, he looked very old and worn and
haggard as he sat there huddled up in the chair like some spent idealist
who has outlived his dreams. And indeed he had.

For he had seen his ally Austria crushed and tossed at one side like a
piece of tissue paper, he had seen the Russian host eating into the
heart of his empire like some gigantic slug, he had seen the flower of
his troops rolled back from France, he had seen the iron dissolve into
water. And now he was beginning to see, too, the grim twin spectres of
hunger and famine hovering over the land that had smiled so happily only
a few months before. He had started out on the conquering march of all
the ages only to find himself now praying for a few spoonfuls of petrol.

Standing in the shadow there, Rosslyn was making up his mind. Here was a
chance thrown into his lap from the hands of the Gods. He began to see
the road to freedom lying openly before him, and at the end of it the
chance of striking a blow which would echo from one side of the world to
the other. It was a blow, too, that would go far towards ending the war
and enabling the German Republic to lift its head above the political
horizon.

And Rosslyn was troubled with no scruples. He would trick and fool this
man as he had tricked and fooled Europe in his day. It would be a source
of abiding satisfaction to get the best of the man who had not only
betrayed and ruined Belgium, but who had callously intended to do so
long before the time was ripe to plunge a whole continent into a
devastating war.

Rosslyn's mind was made up now. He advanced boldly to the table.

"Would your Majesty listen to me a moment?" he asked. "You loathe my
politics and I loathe yours. Still, you have paid me the compliment of
telling me that I am a good German, and indeed, I have the interests of
the country at heart more than you know. If you will give me the
despatch you want delivered then I will see that it gets through."

"Ah," the Kaiser cried. "Is it possible you can find an aeroplane and
the petrol with which to run it?"

"More things are possible to the Brotherhood than your Majesty imagines.
More than that I cannot, indeed, I will not tell you. It is for you, sir
to decide."

The simplicity of the words and the utter absence of all boastfulness
visibly impressed the Kaiser.

He drew Bethmann-Hollweg aside, and for a little time they conversed in
whispers. Then the Kaiser scribbled something on a sheet of paper and
placed it in an envelope, which he impressed with his own seal. He was
in one of his most haughty and distant moods now, for it seemed to him
that the situation was saved, and that he must impress his own
magnificent personality upon this humble Socialist. Rosslyn bowed
gravely as he took the letter.

"There is only one stipulation I make, your Majesty," he said. "I am not
to be followed by your spies."

"You hear that, Bethmann-Hollweg," said the Kaiser. "It is a reasonable
request. See that it is granted."

He jerked his thumb over his shoulder, and Rosslyn knew that he was
dismissed. He was piloted into the silent street by the Chancellor
himself, and a minute or two later half-a-dozen men who had been hanging
listlessly about the entrance of the Palace seemed to dissolve into thin
air. Rosslyn went on his way coolly and deliberately enough, but he
found it hard to contain himself in that moment of triumph. It seemed
almost incredible to believe that he had done all this, and that he was
walking down the streets of Berlin safe and sound, with that tremendous
secret in the back of his mind. It was a good hour later before he found
himself in Steinitz's garden, and cautiously tapped the kitchen window,
where a light was still burning. Just as cautiously Steinitz admitted
him, and gave him a welcome both sincere and hearty.

"I was getting nervous about you," he said. "Yes, I got that dispatch
that you took such risks to get, and you can have it whenever you like.
Where did you get it from? And how did you know that it was in von
Rupert's room."

"I hope you won't be offended if I decline to say," Rosslyn said. "I am
with you and your people heart and soul, but this dispatch concerns the
English Secret Service exclusively, and I should be guilty of a great
breach of faith if I disclosed it to anybody."

"Oh, quite so, quite so," Leroux agreed heartily. "Mind, we have not
been neglecting you. Nearly every servant in the Palace is one of us,
and we have had several reports in the course of the evening. But is it
really true that you have been honoured by the presence of the War Lord
himself?"

"Absolutely," Rosslyn laughed. "I have been learning all sorts of State
secrets. You people have certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons by
cutting off the telegraphs and telephones. There isn't a gallon of
petrol in Berlin, and every barrel that Germany possesses is bonded near
Wilhelmshaven. I understand there is no more likely to come, and if we
could destroy what there is, then it would go a long way to stop the
war."

"Well, go and do it," Steinitz suggested coolly. "After all, there is
one man in Berlin who has an aeroplane."

"Meaning myself, of course," Rosslyn went on. "Behold in me the trusted
servant of the Emperor, who flies to Wilhelmshaven with a warning in the
Royal hand to the effect that a large body of Indian cavalry is almost
in touch with that vast petrol store. Our Indian troops may not know it,
but it's a fact all the same. I should feel easy in my mind if you two
were safe out of the way. Any shortcomings on my part may be visited
upon you."

Steinitz threw back his head and laughed.

"You need not be in the least alarmed," he said. "We are perfectly safe
in any case. Besides, they can't associate you with us. If you fail,
then it should be because your Indian troops have got there first. And
who are we that we should consider our two lives to the prejudice of a
blow for freedom like this? My dear young friend, you go your own way,
and leave us two old campaigners to look after ourselves. Let me tell
you that the authorities have decided to take us seriously, and that the
Emperor is seeing a deputation of us to-morrow. You must see how highly
desirable it is that the outbreak here should be kept a secret. What
would America say if she knew that the peaceful Berlin citizens were
being mowed down by machine guns. Why, the war party would lose the last
shred of sympathy that still remains in the United States. Go your way
and cover yourself with glory."

Rosslyn hesitated no longer. He could now put the trouble entirely out
of his mind. There was no time to be lost, either. He partook hastily of
a hearty meal, and after saying good-bye to his comrades, tilted up the
nose of his machine, and rose in ever winding circles over the sleeping
town. He knew every inch of the country, for he had been making a
careful study of it during the last two years. For whatever delusions
England had entertained on the subject of German friendship, no such
vain thing had been suffered amongst the trusted agents of the Secret
Service.

Rosslyn swept on mile after mile until he knew by certain dim landmarks,
together with the aid of his compass and the stars, that he was within a
mile or two of his destination. He could see lights down below, and
catch the occasional rumble of heavy guns, for down there somewhere a
desultory night attack was going on. It was strategy, no doubt, but it
enabled Rosslyn to make out which were the British lines probably
defended by Indian troops.

He planed a little higher, and then suddenly showed a brilliant light.
For a moment or two the eccentric stream of flame passed unnoticed, and
then it seemed to Rosslyn that somewhere under his feet a flare was
answering him. Once he was satisfied with this he got off his message,
and the O.K. was flared back.

"Good," Rosslyn muttered. "And now to deliver the dispatch, so kindly
provided by Lady Loxton."




CHAPTER XXVII.--The Refugees.


It was no difficult matter for lady Loxton to get to and from the
Continent without exciting the slightest suspicion. True, she was always
careful even as regarded the minutest details, but her system was so
elaborate and at the same time so simple that detection had been reduced
to a minimum. And now circumstances had conspired to render her task
easier than ever. Once she had crossed the German frontier, there was
nothing to fear, and she could cross it with no questions asked at a
given point, where she was perfectly well known to the authorities, so
that she was almost as free as she would have been in times of profound
peace.

There was another factor in her favour, and this lay in the constant
stream of refugees trickling into England from Belgium and the north of
France. These people for the most part were indigent, though they
contained a fair sprinkling of the well-to-do. And here was the golden
opportunity for which Lady Loxton was waiting.

She had no difficulty in obtaining from von Rupert the plans and
documents she needed, and once they were in her possession she began to
move slowly towards the coast. She was in ample funds again now, for her
scheme had been warmly approved by the German War Office, where she had
been informed that she could draw for as much money in reason as she
needed.

She reached Ostend a few days later in company with two or three hundred
unhappy Belgians, and with these she mingled freely. She was loud in her
sympathy and lavish with her money. There was no one more indignant than
herself, and no more bitter against the Kaiser. She was especially
tender and considerate towards the most ragged and destitute of the
refugees, and it was she who expressed a determination to find a home
for them. She picked out about twenty altogether, and mentioned her plan
to the captain of the boat. Could he manage at Folkestone to get a
special carriage reserved for these poor creatures? The beautiful woman
with the sympathetic eyes fairly won the heart of the captain. It was
therefore somewhat later in the day that Lady Loxton stood on the
platform at Victoria distributing little slips of paper amongst her
ragged regiment. No doubt the police would see them to their
destinations, where they would find board and lodging waiting for them
for the next few days. It was an interesting picture, and touched the
hearts of the spectators when they learnt what was going on. Lady Loxton
was known to one or two people there, and she appeared almost
embarrassed by the compliments showered upon her dainty head. But the
smile on her lips changed curiously as she entered her car and was
driven away towards the flat in Medhurst Garden.

The faithful Alonso was there waiting for her, but she declined to say
anything till she had dined.

"I must have a decent meal first," she said. "Why is it that the Germans
are such gross feeders? It seems ages since I had a daintily cooked
dish."

She turned to her correspondence eagerly. There were several letters in
envelopes bearing the imprint of her international society for the
alleviation of distress amongst children, and every one of these
contained vital information. On the face of them they were no more than
reports from the various branch secretaries, but the cypher was plain
enough to practised eyes, and Lady Loxton smiled proudly as she thought
of her own clever invention. There were other letters, too, in envelopes
which had been boldly forged and bore the magic letters O.H.M.S. across
the top. It was part of Lady Loxton's creed that nothing succeeds like
audacity, and she had found this to be a trump card all her life.

"So far so good," she said. "Every thing is going exceedingly well. If
you will pass me those cigarettes I will talk to you."

"Was it alright in Berlin?" Alonso asked.

"My dear friend, nothing could have been better. I was in a position to
do von Rupert a service, and in return he helped me all he could. I
copied the plans on tracing paper, and they are at present wrapped up in
a cardboard box apparently as nothing more dreadful than a few
cigarettes. They are actually in that cigarette box on the table there.
It will amuse you for the next few hours to take those plans and
reproduce them on a larger scale."

"What are these plans?" Alonzo asked.

"Stupid! Why the plan's of London's water supply, of course. What else
did I go to Berlin for?"

Alonso pulled thoughtfully at his cigarette.

"It will be a deuce of a business," he said.

"Yes, and will mean a fortune to us. My trusted colleague, if this thing
is a success then we shall be independent for many a long day to come."

"Ah, in your case that means about a year," Alonso grinned. "I am not
saying it isn't a great idea, because it is. But we shall want at least
a score of resolute men ready to do what they are asked implicitly and
no questions. Perhaps you will tell me where these fellows are coming
from. I don't believe there are three spies in London to-day except
ourselves. Somebody has been giving the game away, for there has been a
regular clear out the last day or two. There is no fuss and no
bother--the men have just vanished. I wanted four or five units this
morning, and I called my numbers over the telephone. I did not get a
reply from a single one of them. I tell you I don't like it, Marie.
Anyway, we can do nothing without an efficient corps of assistants."

Lady Loxton smiled behind her cigarette.

"The difficulty you speak of does not exist,"' she said. "All the same I
must confess that it looked like an insuperable obstacle at one time.
Then I had a happy inspiration. I was waiting for my boat at Ostend
watching the refugees struggling to get away. It came to me like a
flash. There were hundreds of German spies all round, men in various
disguises, and most of them with some English and a good knowledge of
London. I went back to Brussels and saw Beingart. I told him I must have
a score of his best men at once, and that they must leave on the next
boat disguised as Belgian refugees. They were to take their tip from me
and do implicitly what they were told. In return for that I engaged to
find them board and lodging here, and Beingart gave me their official
numbers. They are all comfortably housed by this time, with instructions
to lie low and watch the personal column in the 'Times' every day. I
need not tell you any more for the moment, for you know now that we have
all the men we want ready to our hand ready to get the signal."

Alonzo was warm in his approval.

"This is good," he said. "Very good indeed. The way in which you grasp
your opportunities is marvellous. And now, if you don't mind, I will
take those innocent looking cigarettes away and get out the plans on a
proper scale. It is now eight o'clock, and with any luck I shall be
finished by midnight. Then I will come round again and we will go into
details."

He put the little cardboard box in his overcoat pocket and sauntered
lazily along in the direction of his rooms. He met more than one
acquaintance he knew with whom he discussed music and the drama,
anything but the war, which lacerated his tender heart to such an extent
that he was moved to tears. He did not know when he was going to give
another concert, no one seemed to be in a mood for music just now.

It was all cleverly done, but in reality there was no music in Alonzo's
mind just then. He was thinking what fools these English were and how
easily any tale of distress blunted their suspicions. In no other
country in the world could these nameless refugees drift into a land in
the casual way in which they were doing now. Alonzo smiled grimly to
himself to think how easily Lady Loxton had thrown dust into the eyes of
the authorities.

It was a great coup these two were planning, and one only possible to an
unscrupulous and daring mind. It sounded stupendous enough, but in
reality is was not so difficult as it seemed. Properly organised the
attack could take place in four or five different centres at the same
time, and the skilful handling of explosives would be responsible for
the rest. And behind it all was an enormous reward, by far the greatest
that had ever been paid since Moses sent his spies into Canaan to report
on the Promised Land. For if this thing could be carried through then
Berlin would have reached out an arm and dealt London a blew far heavier
and more stunning that the efforts of a dozen Zeppelins. As Alonzo
worked there in his room with the door locked carefully behind him he
began to realise how comparatively easy the plan was. None knew better
than he how the mains and reservoirs supplying London were guarded, and
that one sentry at several vital points was doing the work of a dozen
men. And moreover, Alonso knew perfectly well that these were no raw
recruits that the head centre at Brussels had placed under Lady Loxton's
instructions. They were bold and resolute men, who knew that their pay
was in proportion to the services they rendered and who were in a
general way ready to commit any crime for money. And they knew more than
this, they knew that they could expect no help in case of detection, and
that their fate would be a blank wall in front of a rifle in the early
morning.

It was close on midnight before Alonzo finished his task. He was not
fond of documents or plans of any kind, he had seen many a brilliant spy
come to hopeless grief through a careless handling of documents. He had
made five duplicate copies, or rather five sections, for these would
have to be passed on when the campaign reached its final stage. For the
moment these would be handed over to Lady Loxton, and if they were found
in her possession so much the worse for her. Alonzo was no coward, but
he breathed freely to find himself safely under Lady Loxton's roof.




CHAPTER XXVIII.--Cut Off.


The two conspirators bent eagerly over the plans that Alonzo proceeded
to lay on the dining-room table. There was no chance of interruption,
for the servants had retired long before, but all the same Lady Loxton
had taken the precaution of darkening the dining-room windows and
turning the light out in the hall. She was ready now to give her whole
attention to the business in hand.

"I think I have mastered the whole of the details now," Alonzo said.
"Now, look here. Here is a section showing the New River system from the
head reservoirs down to the mains. As far as I can see here is the weak
spot; where my pencil point is. Of course I shall have to ascertain how
the place is guarded, and if I am right in my surmise half a dozen
resolute men with the requisite amount of dynamite can do the trick. And
our men won't even have to carry that stuff about with them. According
to the instructions of this section of the plan, the mine is already
there, in fact it has been there for years. I could find it in the
day-time quite easily. Exactly the same remark applies to the Lea
reservoirs, also all those along the Thames Valley, including the great
watershed at Kingston. In every case the mines are already laid. And all
this time the authorities here have been asleep. It looks to me as if we
have a very simple thing on here. Only it will take a little time, it
must not be rushed. I will try and get over the whole ground to-morrow,
or at any rate a section or two of it, and come back here in the evening
and report progress. Directly that is done we can begin to drill our
various squads. I should say about four men each to a squad. And here I
see the first difficulty. We must have those men to ourselves in some
place where we can talk freely without the chance of being overheard.
You can't do that in the various lodging houses you have got for those
chaps, and you can't bring them here without attracting attention. But
you know that."

Lady Loxton smiled confidently.

"The point has not escaped my attention," she said. "But as each section
is working independently there is no reason why the night after
to-morrow I should not have some of them here. Suppose they come along
to call upon me, say, about tea-time merely to express their gratitude
for what I have done for them. I could do no less than give them some
tea, you know. I leave it to you to put an advertisement in the 'Times'
the day after to-morrow merely asking numbers one, two, three, and four
to call round on Wednesday at five o'clock. The units will be looking
out for their instructions, so that the mysterious advertisements will
be no puzzle to them."

For the moment at any rate there was no more to be said or done. It was
a busy day that followed for Alonzo, and he was tired enough when he
dropped into Lady Loxton's flat for one of her dainty little dinners and
a glass of champagne, but he had the air of a man who had not been
wasting his time. He stretched out his long legs presently and puffed
luxuriously at his cigarette.

"I have done the whole lot," he explained. "It was not easy in one or
two instances, for most of the main points were guarded. Still, so far
as I can ascertain, this sentry-go has grown very slack and in no case
are there more than two sentinels. Our fellows ought not to have the
slightest trouble."

"Did you locate the mines?" Lady Loxton asked.

"Oh, yes; I did that too. As a matter of fact it was the easiest part of
my task, for in no case did I find the wires within more than two
hundred yards of the point to be attacked. With the aid of a few
sketches our little army will be able to attack quite successfully. And
I have not forgotten that little advertisement in the 'Times.' I cannot
for the life of me understand why it is that those personnels are
allowed to be continued in the daily papers. Conceive the authorities
shutting an eye to such a thing in Berlin for instance."

Lady Loxton laughed merrily.

"There is no need for us to worry about it," she said. "Those said
columns have helped us many a time, and never better than at the present
moment. You will drop in tomorrow afternoon of course, I must introduce
my good friend to our refugees."

Shortly before five the following afternoon four timid-looking and
haggard men presented themselves to the hall-porter at Medhurst Gardens,
and humbly besought him in broken English to convey their respects to
Lady Loxton and beseech her to be good enough to see them. They
explained that they were refugees who but for Lady Loxton's great
kindness would at the present moment be destitute wanderers in the
streets of London. The police had kindly shown them the way, which was
indeed the fact, and the so called refugees grinned at the thought of it
as they followed the porter into the lift.

It was all a great nuisance of course, and Lady Loxton shrugged her
shoulders as the porter delivered the message. She had not expected
anything like this, but she had not the heart to disappoint the poor
men, and the porter was told to admit them. He was quite affected
himself by the outburst of gratitude which he could not help
overhearing.

Tea was served presently in the dining-room and, once the servants were
dismissed and Alonzo had arrived, the conspirators got down to business.
They were intelligent men and trained engineers to whom Alonso explained
his plans, and half-an-hour sufficed his purpose. He was gratified to
find that more than one of that ragged regiment had made a study of
London's water supply. And neither did it strike the hall porter at
Medhurst Gardens as singular that on the three following afternoons
other tattered refugees turned up, all tearfully anxious to thank their
beautiful benefactress. Meanwhile the previous visitors had been over
their allotted ground and had made their reports through the medium of
their advertisements to Alonzo. So far all was going well enough, and on
the Saturday evening Alonzo was able to report to Lady Loxton that
everything was ready and the exact moment fixed for the attack.

"A la bonne heure," Lady Loxton cried gaily. "What a pity that we should
get no fame out of this glorious exploit. And yet how we should be feted
and flattered in Berlin if they only knew the truth there. We must
console ourselves with the reflection that so many of the world's
greatest heroes have been nameless."

"But not always unrewarded," Alonzo grinned.

"True, my dear friend. It is a wonderfully soothing balm, that cheque
book. After to-night there need be no worry for money for many a day to
come. A great weight has been taken from my mind, I feel as if I were
walking on air. We will put all business and cares on one side to-night
and enjoy ourselves. You shall take me to the theatre, Pedro. We will go
and see something light and frivolous, something in keeping with our
careless butterfly natures. And after tonight I must look up my friends
again. I feel as if I sorely needed a holiday."

They went off presently in a light and easy mood, there was nothing to
indicate for a moment that they had just planned one of the most amazing
and audacious schemes that the great war had evolved. The piece was a
popular one, and a typical Saturday night audience filled the theatre to
overflowing. Had some Rip van Winkle suddenly found himself in that
light-hearted crowd he would never have known himself to be in the heart
of a great nation that was in the midst of a desperate struggle for its
very existence. He could never have guessed that here was one of a
combination of four great powers banded together to smash and pulverise
the greatest military tyranny the world had ever seen. The dashing
acting on the stage, the spontaneous ripple of mirth, the shimmer of
draperies and the glistening of diamonds, all pointed to a nation
absolutely contented and entirely at ease.

Alonzo whispered something of this to his companion, and she showed her
teeth in a flashing smile. Well, perhaps they would alter this shortly.
London wanted rousing, and she was going to get something of a shock
before many hours had passed. Lady Loxton had no doubts as to the
ultimate issue of the titanic struggle, and in her humorous way she was
telling herself that she and Alonzo were doing England service.
Something of this kind was needed to give Kitchener the extra men he was
asking for.

The streets were still crowded with people making their way homewards,
there was no sign of anxiety or distress or misery anywhere, and no
suggestion of the blow that was about to fall. Lady Loxton parted with
her companion outside Medhurst Gardens and took her way upwards in the
lift. She was happily tired and looking forward to a few weeks of the
idle butterfly existence she loved so well. She smoked a final cigarette
in bed and read a few pages of a French novel, and then dropped into a
sleep as sound and sweet as that of a child. When she woke her maid was
bending over her with an expression of bewilderment upon her face.

"You are early with my tea this morning Annette," Lady Loxton said. "Why
this punctuality?"

"But no, Madam," the maid said with a shrug of her shoulders, "it is not
that I have made the tea, because I cannot do it. Behold there is no
water in the taps at all. I try everywhere. Then I go down to the hall
porter, and there is no water again. They say there is none in the
buildings at all. I ask ze hall porter to explain, and he say something
go wrong with ze works."

Very languidly, yet thrilling with excitement, Lady Loxton sat up and
called for her dressing gown. Gradually she would hear the great block
of flats beginning to hum with excitement. Looking down Lady Loxton saw
the streets were full of people. A newsboy was yelling something at the
top of his voice.

"Dastardly outrage by German spies," he yelled. "London's water supply
entirely destroyed. Press Bureau Official."




CHAPTER XXIX.--"The City of Dreadful Night."


Picture it if you please!

An incredible thing, a gloomy picture almost beyond belief.

London without water! Six millions of souls without the element which to
mortals is of more vital importance than food and fire. Ask the man, and
there are many of them, who has passed days and nights after some
terrible mining disaster cut off from the world down there below, which
he suffered from most--hunger or thirst? There would only be one reply,
and that to the effect that the pangs of hunger are as nothing compared
with the torture of thirst.

It might be argued that such a thing could not happen except in the
pages of a story. And yet it could happen easily enough. It is
impossible to conceive that the elaborate German spy campaign could
overlook the chances of launching a thunderbolt like this. It is
inevitable as the sun will rise to-morrow that many an hour had been
spent in Berlin studying the strength and weakness of England's water
supply. A successful attack upon this meant a far greater catastrophe
than the landing of a couple of German Army Corps on the South Coast.
And the thing could be done with the help of a handful of desperate men
properly trained for the work.

We know now that near many French towns the German Intelligence
Department had prepared concrete beds for their siege guns, under the
very eyes of their unsuspecting neighbours. And it needed no elaborate
siege train here to cut the teaming millions of London from contact with
the water supply. Reservoirs for the most part are placed on high and
open ground, and the surroundings are eagerly sought for building sites.
What suspicion would be excited then when Herr Hamburger, the
respectable and mild-mannered stockbroker, announces to his friends that
he was building himself a house on a large piece of land he had bought
incidently in the neighbourhood of some great water-shed? What more
natural than that he should spend his Saturday afternoons placidly
fishing in the great reservoir? There would be nothing to prevent him
from excavating here and draining there, and at the same time laying his
secret mine to be lost underground perhaps for years.

At any rate the thing was done, and that slender little woman in the
silk dressing gown, looking down upon the excited mob below, had brought
the catastrophe about. Her's was the weak hand that had pressed the
button and set the deadly machine in motion. There was no triumph on her
face, merely an amused smile on her lips, for she was no
self-sacrificing patriot, and this stupendous thing had been done
entirely in the way of business. She was pleased because she had earned
her pay, and the rest mattered nothing. It would be inconvenient, of
course, to leave London just now when it was thronged with people, but
it was no far cry to Brighton, and the journey by car would be a
pleasant one.

She would wait a day or two until the nuisance became intolerable, and
then she would repair to the Queen of watering-places for the winter.
She turned to her bewildered maid, and demanded that her hair should be
done.

"I suppose we must make the best of it," she smiled. "What a horrid
nuisance those Germans are! They are always doing something silly. It's
horrible not to be able to have a bath, but I must put up with it. And
no tea either. I daresay the trouble is greatly exaggerated. These
Sunday papers are always so full of scares."

Down below the crowd was getting thicker. There was no panic as yet,
nothing but a feeling of stupor and amazement, and in one or two
frivolous quarters a disposition to regard the trouble as a joke. But as
the morning wore on, and the papers came out with special editions, the
full extent of the cataclysm began to manifest itself. The fountain
heads of all the big reservoirs had been blown away, and though the
damage was local and capable of repair it would have been quite
sufficient to cut of the supply and empty huge lakes over the
surrounding country.

Later on in the day other catastrophes were mentioned. Some of the
suburbs were flooded out, and a great many of the houses were up to the
first floor in water. In other districts the force of the flood had
washed scores of houses away, and it was reported that many lives had
been lost. It seemed strange, and a tragedy in its way, that the cause
of this mischief was the precious fluid which in other districts was
worth its weight in gold. True, there was the Thames to fall back upon,
but already the medical authorities had issued warnings urgently
impressing upon London the necessity of not drinking from any open
steam.

And indeed this recklessness on the part of people constituted in itself
a fresh and terrible danger. In any case London was terribly short of
doctors, hundreds had gone to the Front to aid the wounded, and whole
battalions of them had been drafted to the big temporary hospitals all
over the country.

By afternoon it became known that no water supply could be expected in
London under a fortnight. The reservoirs were all empty now, and it was
possible to ascertain the full extent of the damage. The waters had
subsided, and in many districts, houses of all kinds had to be abandoned
in consequence of the enormous amount of silt and mud that had been
brought down with the flood. There had been no rain either to speak of
for months. The Thames and its tributaries were very low, and the
reservoirs correspondingly so, or the disaster would have been still
greater.

The crowd in the streets got thicker and thicker as the true inwardness
of the trouble came home to the minds of the people. The idle and the
curious began to realise it when the time for mid-day meal came, the
Sunday dinner which is a national institution with the average Briton,
and the knowledge that there was nothing but bread and meat, as it was
quite impossible to cook anything in the way of vegetables. This was a
blow that struck right into the heart of things. Would there be any
bread on the morrow, people began to wonder. For bread cannot be made
without water, and bread was the staple food of thousands of them.

And again, the possession of a joint of meat in the future had no
attractions, seeing that is could only be cooked in an oven or a frying
pan. It was only by these slow degrees that London began to feel the
cold grip round the heart of it.

There were perhaps only two people in the Metropolis at that moment who
could afford a smile at all this misery. Lady Loxton was one of these,
and Alonzo was the other. Alonzo strolled round about luncheon time to
find his fellow-conspirator daintily lunching on a game pie and drinking
a glass of champagne with it.

"No, thank you," Alonzo said. "I lunched at the Grand Imperial. They
have their own water supply, and, therefore, I managed to get my share
of vegetables. I shan't be able to stay here, Marie. I eat practically
no meat, as you know, and without plenty of vegetables the most devoted
of your slaves would pine and die. But we have given them something to
think about."

"They are just beginning to think," Lady Loxton laughed. "It is a great
achievement to make an Englishman think. They are so sure of themselves,
so certain of their ground, that any big disaster does not enter into
their calculations. I went out after breakfast, and I have been
wandering about for hours. Never have I seen the streets of London so
full. For the moment all class distinctions seem to have been forgotten.
And in the common misery the lord and the chimney sweep are brothers.
And the worst is yet to come."

"That's all right," Alonzo said carelessly. "But what are you going to
do? London will be a howling wilderness, a city of the dead for weeks to
come. Everybody who can get away will go."

"Oh, I am off to Brighton," Lady Loxton said, gaily. "All the same, I
shall stay as long as I can. I am curious to see the result of our
exploit. I am proud of it in a way, proud to think that a woman could
plunge the greatest city in the world into woe. I shall be all
right--don't worry about me."

Alonzo was not worrying in the least. Nor was he in the least curious to
study London in its new aspect. Winter was drawing near now, and the
wily cosmopolitan scoundrel was beginning to pine for the sun. He had
done wonderfully well, and it seemed to him than this latest exploit was
the crowning point of his career. He had 'made good,' and now he was in
touch with something like a fortune. He was making up his mind as to
which bright and sunny Spanish health resort he should repair to at any
rate till the war was over. He knew what London would be like.

"I couldn't stand it," he said. "Who was the English poet who wrote
about the city of dreadful night? Well, my dear Marie, that is what
London is going to be. The police will not have to go about prosecuting
people for exhibiting brilliant lights. There won't be any at all. You
can't manufacture gas without engines, and you can't run engines without
steam, and you can't make steam without water. Neither can you have
electricity without the necessary machine to make it. Oh, I dare say
that some of the big stations have their tanks full, but how long will
that supply last? Picture to yourself London in total darkness for
fourteen hours on end. By to-morrow all lamps and paraffin will be at
famine prices. Oh, no. I have no use for London like that. And,
therefore, I am getting away without delay and taking all my petrol in
the car with me."

Lady Loxton refused to accept this gloomy picture.

"Your sketch has no terrors for me," she said. "This will be something
to talk about till one's dying day. I shall go and see everything, shall
mix with the people, and all the time I shall say to myself this thing
was done by little me. You may laugh, but there is a certain
satisfaction in it; oh, yes."




CHAPTER XXX.--In Palace Yard.


As the shades of night began to fall over a London so did the spirits of
the people droop. The catastrophe had gone right home to them now, and
as the minutes crept on so the outlook grew darker and darker. It was
maddening to stand there on the Embankment watching the broad river
flowing to the sea and to realise that not one drop of that precious
fluid was available. No doubt to a certain extent the Thames would be
used; but only for driving machinery and such kindred purposes. The
people were beginning to walk about in dejected attitudes, but here and
there were signs of excitement, struggling masses of men hustling and
shouting as if they had found some precious treasure for which they were
madly striving.

Lady Loxton, wandering from place to place, found herself suddenly
tangled in with the human mob at the corner of Park Lane. She was tossed
hither and thither like a cork on a stream. Not that she was in the
least frightened, she was too full of curiosity and the queer sense of
elation for that. She realised that this mob of some hundreds were
gathered outside a big house there, the doors of which were open. On the
steps a handful of footmen were striving in vain to keep a the mob back.
Strangely enough the attitude of the intruders was not a threatening
one. It did not suggest that they were looting, and Lady Loxton
abandoned the theory that the people were pillaging the house of some
wealthy German spy.

Presently a big man with a keen, alert face and a heavy moustache, burst
from the house and fought his way down the steps. He was evidently not
the master of the place, nor did he appear to have any quarrel with the
mob. As far as Lady Loxton could see he was intent upon guarding some
gleaming object which he held in his left hand.

As he burst into the roadway Lady Loxton saw to her surprise that the
man was Lord Stranmouth, a well-known sporting peer of her acquaintance.
She made her way towards him smilingly.

"What is the meaning of this?" she asked.

"Why, it's Lady Loxton," Stranmouth exclaimed. "This is no place for a
timid little thing like you."

"Perhaps not," Lady Loxton said. "But I'm not afraid. But tell me, where
did you steal that magnificent toilet jug from? It looks to me like real
Sevres."

"I dare say it is," Stranmouth said coolly. "My dear lady, all London
has gone mad. We are like a lot of dogs on the verge of hydrophobia.
'Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink,' as the poet says. My
womenkind were dying for a cup of tea, and they implored me to get them
some water. Then I suddenly thought of my plutocratic friend
Sandersgate, yonder. I knew that he had an artesian well in his palace,
so I stepped over to borrow some. The handiest thing I could find was a
big water jug. So I just carried it to my place round the corner, never
dreaming that I should be spotted, but by gad, I was, like a shot by
some people and now apparently half London is on the job. I am sorry for
Sandersgate, but it can't be helped. Oh, no, you don't, my friend. Oh,
no, you don't."

Stranmouth turned upon two men who attempted to snatch the precious jug
from his grasp. They were not street loafers of the usual predatory
class that appear like flies in the sunshine at the first breath of
national calamity, but men exceedingly well dressed and bearing every
evidence of prosperity. Stranmouth's hand shot out, and his opponents
looked down the barrel of a revolver.

"I'm not riled," the former said. "I'm only looking after myself like
all the rest of us. By Jove why you are the man who beat me in the final
tie of the St. William Challenge Vase at Sandwich last year."

One of the two men laughed good-temperedly.

"That's all right," he said. "All's fair in love and war, you know. My
family also are dying for a cup of tea, and my friend here, who is
staying with me, suggested that we should commandeer your jug. Glad you
bear no malice."

"Not a scrap," Stranmouth said, cheerfully. "But you don't get any of
this water all the same. I managed to smuggle across a few jugs full to
go on with, but I'm not likely to get any more. Why don't you take a
taxi and go down to the City and make your way into one of the breweries
down there? They have all got their own wells. Go and fill a cask or two
and you will be all right for some days to come. Or--stop! What's the
matter with the House of Commons--they have got an ample supply there."

The two men took up the suggestion with enthusiasm. They turned away
without another word, intent upon being first in the field. But
Stranmouth's clear, penetrating voice had carried further than he had
intended, and his suggestion was soon passed from lip to lip.

"The House of Commons," the word ran round. "Plenty of water in the
House of Commons. Come on."

It was a motley crowd that turned away and made their way along by the
shortest route in the direction of the Embankment. There could not have
been less than a thousand of them altogether, men and women, carrying
all sorts of utensils and seeing nothing wild or strange in this amazing
raid. They were all well clad, all people who lived in flats and houses
round about the neighbourhood of Park Lane. It was a moneyed mob, an
eager regiment of people accustomed to every luxury, to their motors,
their country houses, and their Scotch moors. But all their wealth and
all their influence at that moment could not procure a jug of water
wherewith to make a cup of tea. It was a strange sight, without doubt
the strangest sight that London had witnessed any time in the last five
hundred years.

They streamed along, reaching their destination at length, and hammered
on the doors of the House of Commons, both in Palace Yard and the
entrance leading to the Lobby. The guard inside hastened to see what was
the cause of this unseemly disturbance, but they were swept aside, and
the mob in ever-increasing numbers flowed along the passages and thence
into the Chamber itself.

Just for a moment it looked as if violence would be done, for the guard
was alarmed, and, moreover, armed. Then a tall man, broad and
commanding, pushed his way forward, and in a few words explained the
situation.

"We have only come here after water," he said. "As you know, there is
not a drop to be had in London. The calamity is bad enough to people in
good health, but for invalids it is terrible."

It was useless for the guard to protest, useless to argue with the mob
that filled the Chamber to overflowing. They dropped into the green
covered seats, they a occupied the Treasury bench, they lounged upon the
table, a curious sight in the most decorous national house of assembly
in the world. And all this on a quiet and peaceful Sunday afternoon,
nearly two thousand years after the advent of Christianity.

Presently they moved along towards the kitchens, and down below to where
the taps and water mains had been established. It was useless to attempt
to preserve any semblance of order, it was a case of the weakest going
to the wall. And all the time the mob was getting more dense, as the
rumour spread far and wide that there was water to spare within the
sacred precincts of the House of Commons. For two hours they strove and
sweated there, until Palace Yard was one black mass, and the police came
in force and pulled them back. Breathless and a giddy, Lady Loxton found
herself presently clinging to the railings and holding on to them as if
she had been a rock in the midst of a torrent that was sweeping her
headlong to destruction. Her dress was in rags, her blouse had been half
torn away, and her hair was hanging in shining masses down her back.
Still, she was not afraid, she was still humanly curious and fully alive
to the scene that was going on round her. She saw strong men who would
in the ordinary course of things have shrunk from such brutality,
snatching jugs and bottles out of the the hands of women. She saw a
woman, fat and stout and smothered with diamonds, almost on her knees
before a ragged urchin offering him a sovereign for a whisky bottle
filled with the precious water.

The small boy eyed the glittering coin stolidly.

"Not me," he said. "Go on, you greedy old beast. If you wants water go
and get it yourself."

He turned his back resolutely did that small waif of humanity who had
never handled a sovereign in his life, and who had perhaps never yet
known what it was to eat a hearty meal. And all this in the early hours
of the great catastrophe. What would it then be before a week had
passed?

All these and many more curious phases of humanity Lady Loxton watched
before the roaring crowd had moved on and she was free to follow them.
In spite of her callousness, she was beginning to feel something of her
great responsibility. She knew that there was far worse to come, she
knew what a drab and dingy crowd this would be before the end of the
week. In her mind's eye she could see the smart London business man
going to work with his collar and his linen as grimy and dirty as that
of a labourer on a Saturday night. For no laundry work would be
possible, white garments of every kind would be things of the past. This
was a small matter by comparison but one that would appeal essentially
to the female mind. And then there came another incident that opened up
a fresh field, a new disaster that loomed over London like a hideous
spectre. For there came a blowing of whistles and a great clatter of
hoofs, and a fire engine flashed by like a great red and gold comet.
Fire! And London without a drop of water.




CHAPTER XXI.--The Mystery Ship.


Even Lady Loxton, hard and greedy as she was, felt a passing pang of
regret as she saw the fire engine plunging down the street. It was all a
matter of business with her, she held no brief for the German nation,
and if she could have commanded a higher price from England, she would
have turned her back upon her old employers without the slightest
hesitation. But she was a woman, after all, and had a heart somewhere.
Any great outburst of fire might mean the loss of many thousands of
innocent lives, and there was no getting rid of the feeling that she was
responsible.

But, of course, something like this had been foreseen and provided for.
It was comforting, therefore, late in the evening to hear from the lips
of Stuart Hallett that no precautions had been neglected. Lady Loxton
dropped into the adjoining flat of a friend to condole with her upon
this terrible misfortune, and it so happened that Stuart Hallett was
snatching a hasty supper there. He wondered what the fair visitor would
have said had she known his precise opinion of her. For Stuart Hallett
had been making some searching inquiries which had lead him a great deal
further than he had expected. He had just come back from Inchcliffe
Castle, where he had had an adventure or two which had not found their
way into the papers. He had discovered an interesting document or two
when the premises of the man called Blair Allison were raided, and he
would know how to use these when the time came. Meanwhile, he shook
hands with Lady Loxton and appeared genially glad to see her.

"You are always so sanguine and cheerful," he said. "Upon my word you
are as good as a tonic."

"I don't always feel so," Lady Loxton said. "Of course, I try to appear
happy, but this last dreadful business really has tried my nerves. I
don't mind confessing to you that I am horribly afraid of fire. Fancy
being caught at the top of a great big block of buildings like mine. You
may call me a coward if you like, but I shall really have to get away
for a few days. Now, what are the authorities doing to cope with the
situation."

Hallett explained that they had not been been idle. A big corps of
engineers had been called into concentration and already they had
ascertained where they could put their hands upon every private water
supply within the metropolitan area. It was quite gratifying to find how
large the supply was. For instance, there were hundreds of great
establishments dotted about all over London that possessed their own
wells. It was hoped in a day or two to connect all these up with miles
of hose-pipes and establish hundreds of sentinels in the streets, where
the public could collect enough water for cooking and the like, but, of
course, there could be no waste, and for the time being London would
have to do without baths or anything in the way of laundry work. For
other purposes there was the Thames to fall back upon, and London would
soon get used to the sight of its leading citizens fetching their water
as in the poorer districts folks fetched their supper beer.

"You see it's an object lesson," Hallett smiled. "These little
misfortunes that bind rich and poor in one common bond and make for the
welfare of the Empire. You remember at the beginning of the war how our
Tommies and their women-kind sneered at what they called the toffs and
wanted to know if England expected them to do all the work on a shilling
a day, but later on, when Algy was lying alongside Tommy sharing the
same blanket and the same food, ah, that was quite another thing. You
have only got to read the letters from our rank and file at the Front.
But I am getting away from the point."

Hallett proceeded to explain that already a vast organisation to deal
with the fire peril had been organised. Volunteers had been asked for in
every street to undertake sentry duty for four hours, so that constant
watch could be kept in every London thoroughfare against a possible
outbreak. This meant that both by day and night even the meanest
buildings would not escape attention. And already the local authorities
had had more offers than they needed. The Salvage Corps had been
strengthened, and if necessary, would not hesitate to use dynamite.

"It all sounds very comforting," Lady Loxton sighed. "I shall sleep more
comfortably after what you have said, Mr. Hallett. By the way, has
anything been heard of Mr. Rosslyn? Such a sad thing, wasn't it? Such a
promising young man. He was telling me something last time I saw him
about a new invention of his--I think it had something to do with an
aeroplane. But I am so stupid about those kind of things. I never could
understand mechanics."

Hallett listened gravely enough. But all the same he was amused at the
efforts this woman was making to draw him out. No one was better aware
of the fact than he that Rosslyn was the last man in the world to
discuss business secrets with anyone, much less a woman. In those
apparently simple questions Lady Loxton had given away her case
entirely, and Hallett was not slow to see it. The strange disappearance
of Rosslyn still worried him, and it was rather startling to find that
Lady Loxton knew so much with regard to the aeroplane. Perhaps she could
tell him a good deal more, at any rate he decided to risk it.

"Yes," he said, "I don't mind confessing to you that our friend Rosslyn
had invented something entirely new in the ways of a flying machine. I
can't go into details, of course. I don't mind saying that I have reason
to believe that my friend Rosslyn is still alive, and that he is putting
his machine to a useful test."

"You have heard from him?" Lady Loxton asked eagerly.

"Indeed I have not," Hallett said. "But I infer it from a most
interesting letter published in an evening paper to-night, from a
special correspondent somewhere in Germany. It was so interesting that I
cut it out, indeed I have it in my pocket now. Perhaps you would like to
read it for yourself."

Indeed, Lady Loxton would. Anything to do with that dear clever boy was
of the deepest interest to her. Hallett took the slip of paper from his
pocket, and handed it across the table. He watched Lady Loxton keenly as
she read as follows:--

BIG BLOW FOR GERMANY.

SEVEN MILLION BARRELS OF PETROL

DESTROYED.

I am just in possession of some remarkable information, which I can
personally vouch for. I am somewhere in Germany, not a long way from
Wilhelmshaven, and in close contact with the Indian troops. We are in
the nature of an advanced guard, and the thrilling and daring things I
have seen lately would fill a book. I am not in a position to say what
strength we are in and precisely what we are doing, but within a league
of where I am writing is a strong force of the finest cavalry the world
has ever seen. We have also on this flying expedition a body of
infantry, and we are under the command of an officer who was at one time
the greatest cover point of his day.

A night or two ago I was lying under cover with some friends of mine who
belonged to the signalling corps. There had been a certain amount of
desultory fighting, but it died out somewhere about three o'clock in the
morning, and we were about to snug down under the blankets when one of
us declared that he could see a light in the sky. We all turned out to
look, and sure enough in the east, a blaze twinkled far overhead like a
great star on a frosty night. But the star was not stationary, it
wheeled round in big circles, then it began to zigzag to and fro and up
and down, as if signalling. My friend in command was slightly puzzled.
It was obvious to him that here was no airship, for the craft, whatever
it was, moved too swiftly and easily for that. On the other hand, there
was not the slightest sound, though the scream of an aeroplane propeller
at that distance should easily have been heard in the stillness.

Just for a moment we had no idea as to whether this noiseless craft was
signalling to us or to the foe, who lay in front of us on the open
ground a mile or two away. But at any rate, if the signal was intended
for us, it was not a difficult matter to decide. We immediately turned
on a small electric flare lamp from behind the shadow of a hedge and
challenged the stranger. Almost directly the strange craft overhead
responded, and the message began to come slowly. We could see by the
look in the eyes of the signaller that he was getting something of
importance, and when he shut off he turned to us almost breathlessly
excited.

He did not know who had been calling him, he did not care. All he did
know was that the man up there in the darkness was British and that he
had a message both startling and unexpected. Not more than two miles
ahead of us, and none too strongly guarded, was practically the whole of
the enemy's supply of petrol. They were being hard pressed on their left
flank, and they had almost denuded their right to meet the attack.

Here was a chance! Millions of gallons of petrol which was ours for the
asking. If we could not capture it at any rate we could destroy it. We
looked up again, but by this time the mysterious craft had disappeared.
Ten minutes later and our cavalry were dashing forward in force. It
seemed hours before they reached their destination, but in reality it
was only a matter of minutes.

And then it came. I would describe it if I could. It was as if the whole
world had burst into flame, as if the gates of light had been opened and
the universe was flooded with it. But more of this in the next letter.




CHAPTER XXXII.--On the Track.


Lady Loxton sighed as she laid down the cutting.

"That was a great exploit," she said. "What a blow to Germany. But do
you really think that the mysterious man in the strange airship was Paul
Rosslyn?"

"Well, I can't be sure, of course," Hallett said. "I would not mind
making a small bet that I am right. If I am wrong, then there are two
men who have invented entirely noiseless aeroplanes at the same time,
and two Englishmen at that. Now in my particular position such a thing
so far as this country is concerned would be impossible to pass
unnoticed. Besides, I like to try and feel that Rosslyn is alive."

Lady Loxton murmured something to the effect that she hoped that Hallett
was right. In her heart of hearts she knew that he was. It was not, of
course, for her to say so, and she did not know whether to be pleased or
annoyed now that the proof was before her. She had got over her
disappointment with regard to the aeroplane, and she could afford to
forget her chagrin now. She was about to ask further questions, but
Hallett glanced at his watch and declared that he had not a moment to
spare.

As a matter of fact, he was going no distance. He merely dropped down to
the floor below in the lift, and knocked at the door of Leroux's flat.
It was Vera herself, who appeared and bade her visitor to enter. Hallett
was struck at once by the change in the girl's appearance. She had lost
all her listlessness, her colour had come back into her cheeks, and her
eyes were sparkling.

"You have had good news from somewhere?" Hallett asked.

Vera laughed as she pushed a chair in front of the fire and bade Hallett
be seated. She was sorry he had supped, but she placed a whisky and soda
and cigarettes on the table, and bade him help himself. Her father was
still away, and she did not expect him back for some days. She was not
in the least frightened or alarmed by recent startling events in London;
in fact, it seemed to Hallett as if Vera were another girl.

"I am sure you have had good news," he persisted. "When a girl looks as
bright and happy as you do then I am sure that the heart has something
to do with it. Now confess."

"You are a wonderful man," Vera said demurely. "After all there is no
reason why I should not tell you, though you were abominably rude to me
the last time you were here."

"I thought you had forgiven that long ago," Hallett laughed. "My dear
young lady, I am almost as deeply interested in Paul Rosslyn as you are.
That is why I am here to-night. I have go on the track of our
friend----"

"Do you really mean that?" Vera gasped.

"Oh! I don't wish to pry into your secrets. I got on the track through
one of today's papers. Directly I read it I knew that Rosslyn was alive.
I knew that he and his aeroplane were doing good work. And you have
heard from him. Even if you denied it that happy light in your eyes
would betray you."

"Well, I have heard from him," Vera confessed. "I had a telegram this
afternoon from Paris. He knows everything now, and has quite forgiven
me----"

She broke off abruptly, conscious of Hallett's keen eyes upon her face.
The blood flamed into her cheeks.

"Well, go on," Hallett said coolly. "You are as exasperating as a
newspaper serial story. Why do you break off just in the most
interesting part?"

"Because I very nearly said something foolish," Vera confessed. "I was
on the verge of betraying a tremendous secret. I know you don't
altogether trust me, and for a short time I think you were a bit
suspicious of Paul. But you must know that he couldn't do anything
wrong, and you must know that he could never care for a girl who tried
to tempt him from the path of duty. Anyway, I am not going to discuss it
any further. Paul is quite safe, and so is that wonderful machine of
his. Now I have finished."

Hallett had no further questions to ask. He was quite easy in his mind
now, though he knew that he had still a lot to learn. And he had to
approach another subject.

"On that point I am dumb," he said. "I assure you that you enjoy all my
confidence. I am going to ask you to help me. Is not Lady Loxton a
friend of yours?"

"Oh yes," Vera said. "We are very friendly. Since my father has been
away I have seen a great deal of her. She is always so bright and
lively, you know. Some people say she is empty-headed and frivolous, but
she can be quite serious if she likes."

"So I should have imagined," Hallett said. "Do you ever discuss serious
matters? Politics and all that?"

"Very rarely. But why do you ask these questions? Is there any reason
why you should suspect Lady Loxton?"

Hallett pondered over his cigarette for a moment.

"Yes, there is," he said. "I have reason to believe that Lady Loxton is
a clever spy in the pay of Germany. There is no doubt that she is
married to an English nobleman, but all the same I can find no trace of
that Irish father of her's, indeed, I decline to believe that she is
Irish at all. Now I want you to try and remember. Has she ever tried to
draw you out on the subject of Rosslyn?"

It was on the tip of Vera's tongue to say no. Then she suddenly
remembered that day when she lunched with Lady Loxton, and how suddenly
the latter had brought in Paul's name, and spoken of him as one dead,
and she remembered too, how near she had come to betraying Paul as to a
knowledge of his whereabouts. The little incident of the broken wine
glass came back to her mind now with vivid force. No doubt that had been
done to change the conversation rapidly, and cause Vera to forget how
perilously near her tongue had been to betraying, her. Hallett listened
to this significant little incident attentively. There was no doubt in
his mind.

"Unquestionably she was trying to pump you," he said. "I am afraid she
got what she wanted, not that it matters much now. That woman is mixed
up with a dangerous gang, a fact that I shall have no difficulty in
proving in a court of law. But it would be bad policy to arrest her and
that picturesque fiddler friend of hers just now. Oh, yes, they are both
in it. I am going to give them all the rope I need, and at the same time
keep a careful eye upon them. Now I want to know if you wouldn't mind
helping me. You would be doing the country of your adoption a great
service if you will. I am not asking you to undertake anything dangerous
or to place yourself in an unpleasant position. But you have the run of
Lady Loxton's flat, and if you keep your eyes open you are sure to find
out something before long. Now what do you say?"

Vera was only too eager to be of service. She wanted to strike a blow
for England, and at the same time retrieve the error which she had made.
Her pride was touched now, she was angry at her own stupidity, and eager
to do everything to get even with the plausible spy who had posed as her
friend.

"Anything I can do I will do gladly," she said. "I feel quite proud to
think that you have confided in me. Besides, I have a little score of my
own to wipe off."

Hallett smiled grimly. He had counted on that when he had broached the
subject to Vera.

"That's good," he said. "After all, it might have been a great deal
worse. That clever little woman might have betrayed you into all sorts
of indiscretions. And now I really must go. With all deference, I have
stayed here too long already."

"But not wasted your time," Vera said sweetly. "Good-night."

The girl had not long to wait for her opportunity. In the middle of the
morning two days later Lady Loxton burst with her accustomed vivacity
into the flat. She was lively and detached, beautifully dressed as
always, and evidently arrayed for travel. She looked her very best clad
to the throat in luxurious furs. Down below in the street Vera could
hear the purr of a motor.

"Are you going for a run?" she asked.

"Perhaps I am going to run so far that I shall never get back," Lady
Loxton laughed.

"This London is a wonderful place to live in, and if I had any young
grandchildren I would stay here as a sort of insurance against becoming
a bore in my old age. I should always have so much to tell them that
they would never regard me as a nuisance. But, my dear, the place is
getting on my nerves. I am the most zealous of patriots, but at the same
time even patriots must have baths if they are to preserve their
self-respect. I am getting so tired of being told there is no water in
the house. And my servants are getting rebellious. They have letters
from friends pointing out to them what a paradise Brighton is just now.
So to keep my treasured maids with me I have decided to retire to the
south coast. I have secured my rooms at the Metropole, and I am going at
once. Why not come along?"

"I wish I could," Vera sighed. "But my father may be back at any moment.
Are you going to close your flat altogether? If there is anything that I
can do for you----"

"'Oh, yes," Lady Loxton said. "I'm in trouble about the post--they are
so lax about re-directing letters. Now if you wouldn't mind collecting
my correspondence and sending it on I shall be so grateful. Behold, here
is the key."

Vera's eyes gleamed as she took the Yale key in her hand. Here was a
glorious opportunity to act.




CHAPTER XXXIII.--The House on the Cliff.


Hallett had gone North feeling that he was on the verge of big things.
He had got away at the last possible moment in his car, and hoped with
ordinary luck to reach the Castle some time before daylight. This would
be on the night of the raid on Blair Allison's house, though Hallett was
to learn that later on.

It was somewhere about two o'clock when he ran his car silently up to
the Castle and shut of the engine. Inchcliffe greeted him, cordially
refusing to say anything until Hallett had eaten and drunk and was
placed in a comfortable chair with a cigar. It was very late, but no one
thought of going to bed, and besides there might be more work to do
before daylight.

"Oh, yes, we have had a wonderfully successful time," Inchcliffe said in
response to an eager question from Hallett. "I must tell you that we owe
practically everything to von Kemp. Without him we should have been like
children playing in the dark. The whole story sounds like a sensational
novel. It seems almost impossible to think that such things could happen
in this peaceful England of ours. But, let me tell you the story."

Hallett listened eagerly enough to the thrilling details from the first
discovery in connection with the house on the cliff down to the moment
of the capture of Allison and his confederates. He smiled grimly as he
thought of those men lying down below powerless for further evil. The
first thing at any rate was to see if anything could be made out of the
cypher message which had been taken from the leg of the herring gull by
von Kemp.

For a long time Hallett puzzled over it.

"This is decidedly clever," he said. "I never saw anything like it
before. And I have been making a study of cryptograms ever since I was a
boy at school. There is no system with which I am not familiar. But this
fairly has me."

It was indeed a remarkable cypher. It was clearly and firmly drawn on a
sheet of parchment some four inches square, and had been originally
enclosed in a piece of oiled silk. The first line of the cypher
consisted of a number of miniature Union Jacks flying from a flagpole.
The poles appeared to be of exactly the same length, but in every case
the flags did not occupy the same position on the mast. Below these
flags was a row of seagulls, and beneath these again three other birds
that looked like gigantic swallows. The first of these lay on its side
as if dead or wounded, but the other two appeared to be uninjured.

"Now what do you make of that?" Hallett said. "It conveys nothing to me,
I am afraid. I have got an intelligent grip upon the flags, and in the
knowledge of recent events I can appreciate the significance of those
gulls. But what are these little beggars at the bottom? They might be
anything. You know pretty nearly every bird that flies in these parts
Inchcliffe. Perhaps you can help."

Inchcliffe was equally puzzled.

"I'm hanged if I know," he said. "They are evidently considerably
smaller than the gulls and they might be intended for sea swallows,
curlews perhaps. But what's the meaning of the dead one?"

Nobody replied because nobody knew. All they could make out was that
they were quick-flying birds, but the puzzle was to get to the inner
meaning of the dead one. Hallett gave it up presently with a sigh of
disappointment.

"I'm stuck for the moment," he said. "It's just possible of course that
I shall run up against something before long that will give me a clue. I
dare say when I have had a good look over Blair Allison's premises I
shall find something. Meanwhile we must smuggle those prisoners of yours
off the premises and get them safe in jail. For the present I don't want
a soul to know that we have laid them by the heels. But of course that
can easily be managed. Now, what I want to do first is to allay the
suspicions of Allison's wife. We must have the run of the house, and she
must be quite innocent of the reason why. I have not the slightest doubt
that she is accustomed to being alone for days together, I mean that
Allison is often called away suddenly at a moment's notice. So we will
just despatch her a telegram from Scarborough in his name telling her
that he won't be back for a week. Then we will make some excuse for
calling at the house some time to-morrow evening about the time that
those birds are fed. I don't mind telling you that I am exceedingly
curious to see those gulls having their supper."

"So far you are quite satisfied?" Pascoe asked.

"My dear fellow, I am more than satisfied," Hallett said. "We are under
a deep debt of gratitude to von Kemp. Now as you know, several very
nasty things have happened lately within fifty or sixty miles of where
we are seated. We have lost at least four cruisers in the most
mysterious fashion. If you ask the Admiralty they will answer you that
there are no mines within thirty miles of the east coast between Harwich
and Rosyth. They will tell you that the cruisers Hindhead and Haslemere
were sunk by submarines. That was the Official Press Bureau statement.
At the time they honestly believed it. They could tell you a different
story now. Both those cruisers were sunk by mines. Between ourselves,
that tragedy took place not more than ten miles from here. We have got
to find four fishing boats apparently British manned and certainly
flying the British flag--I mean the fishing boats which you overheard
Blair Allison allude to on the Abner lightship. Now in my opinion those
fishing boats are mine-layers, and I should not at all wonder if the
mines are not far of. Those chaps need not carry them at all so long as
they can pick them up at certain spots."

"It seems almost incredible," Montagu murmured. "Do you suppose those
fishermen really are Englishmen?"

"Why not?" Hallett asked cynically. "There are traitors in every
country, callous criminals who value money before everything. And there
is no doubt about the money. Germany will pay anything to destroy our
Fleet unit by unit. It's no use talking about it. Every nation has its
scum and its traitors, and it will always be the same. Let's get to bed
and snatch a few hours of sleep. To-morrow looks to me like being a very
busy day."

In a big, rambling place like Inchcliffe Castle it was no difficult
matter to smuggle the captives out and get them conveyed to jail without
the servants being any the wiser. The forged telegram was duly
dispatched to the leading spy's wife, and there was nothing for it now
but to wait till the evening, then it would be the proper time to
interview the mistress of the house on the cliff. Hallett had decided
that Inchcliffe and himself would be enough, and that the other three
might employ their day in prospecting for fresh information. It was
Inchcliffe's idea that he and Hallett should potter round the cliffs in
the afternoon with their guns as if in search of rare wildfowl, and drop
into the house on the cliff somewhere about four o'clock, ostensibly to
see Blair Allison and beg the favour of a cup of tea. The plan seemed
shrewd enough, and it had Hallett's approval. They would excite no
suspicion as they wandered along the cliffs and at the same time kept a
sharp look out for anything suspicious in connection with the house on
the cliff.

Hallett seated himself from time to time, and made good use of his
glasses. He smiled every now and again with the air of a man who is
pleased with himself. Inchcliffe turned to him curiously.

"What are you trying to get at?" he asked.

"Well, I am watching the Union Jack an the flag-staff yonder," Hallett
explained. "Incidentally why the local authorities allow the flag-staff
or the flag I can't make out. But that's a detail. Now if you take these
glasses and look carefully you will see that the flag-staff is a most
elaborate affair, and is painted in alternate bands of red, white and
blue. These stripes of colour are each about a foot wide. A little time
ago and that flag was within two colours breath of the top of the pole.
Now it is four breaths down. It has been changed at least three times
since we came out."

"That is very interesting," Inchcliffe said.

"I should think it is. Goodness knows how long this sort of thing has
been going on. I should like to know why it has not been spotted before.
The woman yonder is signalling to someone, of course. We don't know who
to or where to, but it might quite easily be an enemy's submarine. But,
that is what we have got to find out. I'd give a trifle to know where
those fishing boats are."

"We shall see them in all good time," Inchcliffe said. "It seems to me
this is where I come in. With my electric motor boats and my knowledge
of the coast, I ought to be of considerable assistance. Between you and
me--ah, Hallett, I can smell a rat. Unless I am greatly mistaken I have
found out something of importance. Put your gun down and come here
quietly. Now look over the edge of yon cliff, and tell me what you see
down there."

Hallett did as directed. All he could see was a flat rock some twenty or
forty feet below where a flock of birds were squatting and evidently
enjoying the last few moments of sunshine. They were beautiful birds,
silver-grey, with a touch of dove colour in them, and as one or two of
them wheeled and darted round a rock they looked the absolute picture of
grace and speed.

"What do you make of them?" Inchcliffe asked.

Hallett admitted that he could see no significance in these beautiful
creatures. He did not know what they were.

"Terns," Inchcliffe said curtly. "And so are the birds on that cypher. I
ought to have spotted it before."




CHAPTER XXXIV.--The Dead Bird.


It was a small point but it was something gained at any rate, and
Hallett was too profound a master of his own game to despise the
smallest fragment of information. He had so often seen the apparently
trivial grow into the all important that he carefully memorised
everything that came under his eye. At any rate the difference between
the gulls and the terns must convey something to the people for whom the
cypher was intended.

"I'll not forget it," Hallett said. "It is quite evident that the cypher
was outward bound because you got hold of it on that side of the water
after the gulls had been fed. No doubt Blair Allison set it going never
dreaming that the bird would be brought down by von Kemp. So keep your
eye open this evening, and with any luck we may be able to intercept
another message on its way to Germany. You never know."

"In that case we had better be moving," Inchcliffe suggested. "Now,
shall we call formally at the front door or shall we drop in casually by
way of the cliffs?"

The casual visit struck Hallett as being the most plausible. If they
approached the house that way it would look much more friendly, besides
if they chose the proper moment they could cross the lawn at the very
time when the birds were being fed. All they had to do was to hang about
concealed by the shrubbery until they saw Mrs. Blair Allison come out of
the house with a basket of corn.

She came presently, a tall, graceful figure in blue, and whistled
softly. Almost immediately the Indian pheasants started out of the
shrubbery on to the lawn, and a moment or two later a flock of screaming
wheeling gulls dropped out of the sky. Hallett tapped Inchcliffe on the
shoulder, and the latter nodded. The time to move had come, and they
advanced across the lawn towards Mrs. Blair Allison. As she saw them an
unmistakable flush of annoyance rose to her cheeks. It was only for the
fraction of a second, but it was not lost upon Hallett. Then it vanished
and the spy's wife was her gracious smiling self once more.

"Pray don't let us interrupt you, Mrs Allison," Inchcliffe cried. "I
know how fond you are of your birds, and that this duty is one of your
daily pleasures. Blair Allison is in the gunroom, I suppose? I'll just
run round and dig him out. I daresay you will be good enough to give us
a cup of tea in a few minutes."

"My husband is in London," Mrs. Blair Allison said with just a sign of
hesitation in her manner. "Some tiresome business in connection with our
Australian property. He went off quite early this morning, but if you
and your friend----"

"A thousand pardons," Inchcliffe cried. "I am forgetting. Mrs. Allison,
will you allow me to introduce my friend, Mr. Stuart Hallett. He is
spending a few days with me and I came over this afternoon to see if I
could fix up a little shoot."

"At any rate I can fix you up a cup of tea," the lady smiled. "Now will
you be good enough to walk straight into the drawing-room and ring the
bell and order the tea. I will join you directly I have finished with
these somewhat troublesome pets of mine."

Hallett, however, did not move.

"I am going to be impertinent, Mrs. Blair Allison," he said. "I am going
to ask you if I might stay here instead. This is one of the most
interesting sights I have seen for a long time. Therefore, if you don't
mind, I would like to watch."

Mrs. Blair Allison smiled graciously. In the circumstances she could do
nothing less. Yet it seemed to Hallett's keen eyes that she appeared a
little restless and suspicious. He was quite sure that the ruse of the
telegram had been successful, and that this woman knew nothing of the
fate that had overtaken her husband and his confederates. But obviously
she wanted to be by herself for some reason, and Hallett was determined
to find out what it was. He saw that every now and again the mistress of
the birds was glancing upwards as if expecting something, there was a
little frown on her forehead and a pucker between those white brows of
hers. Then her face cleared as another flock of birds appeared, about
half a dozen of them altogether and settled on the lawn near by. They
did not appear to mingle with the others, but eagerly picked up the
handful of grain thrown to them by Mrs. Blair Allison. Hallett had not
been slow to grasp the fact that these birds were terns, which in itself
was highly significant.

"Those are beautiful creatures," he said. "I am quite ignorant on the
subject of sea birds. I must get you to tell me what they are."

The woman seemed to be quite easy in her mind now, something had
happened to relieve her anxiety, and she turned to Hallett with one of
her most fascinating smiles.

"They are terns," she said. "To my mind the most beautiful birds that
fly. See how wonderfully light and graceful they are. They are fast as
swallows and never tire. I am trying to get them as tame as the gulls,
but up to now I have been anything but successful. They are so terribly
wild and shy. The gulls are such greedy pigs that you can do anything
with them. In cold weather they will follow me into the house. But the
terns are a different matter altogether. I hope to do a good deal with
those two in front there who are a little bolder than the rest. I have
managed to get them to take food from one of my chicken boxes, and once
or twice I have kept them for the night. I was going to try again this
afternoon, but since you and Lord Inchcliffe have turned up I will leave
it for another day. So if you please-----"

"Oh, never mind the tea," Hallett cried. "This is far more interesting.
Now can I help you? Is that the chicken-run you speak of by the bushes
yonder?"

Mrs. Blair Allison indicated that it was. Her basket of food was nearly
exhausted now, and she began to bustle the greedy birds across the lawn
with the evident intention of heading them off from the terns. Hallet
joined in this movement with the zest of a schoolboy with a new hobby.
He had not exaggerated in the least when he declared that he was deeply
interested. He thought that there was some mystery underlying this
anxiety as to the smaller birds, and at the same time was keeping a
sharp look out to see if he could discover anything like a message
attached to one of the gulls. There was apparently nothing in the wind
just now, nothing but the usual evening routine of feeding the birds and
keeping them in hand. The pheasants were driven off presently, and then
slowly and carefully Mrs. Blair Allison began to scatter food in a trail
that led up to the chicken-run on the other side of the lawn. Two of the
terns, a little bolder than the rest, followed slowly until they were
actually within the wire netting. Then the trap was dropped behind them,
and for the moment at any rate they were prisoners. Still they went on
eating their scraps of food unconcernedly, and Hallett smiled. It needed
no great intelligence on his part to see that those birds were not
inside that wire mesh for the first time. He turned to his hostess.

"Are you going to keep them prisoners?" he asked.

"Just for to-night," Mrs. Blair Allison explained. "They will be quite
comfortable. They will go through that trap door into the little
roosting house, where they have a warm bed of hay. Then I shall give
them some food in the morning and let them go. If you lift up the trap
door at the back you will see for yourself what nice snug sleeping
quarters they are."

Hallett raised the trap door as requested. He had his little reasons for
looking inside, not that he expected to see anything. But when he was
investigating he left absolutely nothing to chance. He appeared to look
casually inside, then he dropped the flap again and smiled at his
hostess.

"Very comfortable," he said. "I only just had a peep, as I was afraid
the birds might get out. Thank you very much Mrs. Blair Allison," he
said. "This has been a most interesting object lesson to me. Whilst you
are kindly giving us a cup of tea, perhaps you will tell me how you
first started your experiments."

Mrs. Blair Allison appeared to be only too willing. She had lost all
trace of nervousness and anxiety, and was now playing the part of the
hostess to perfection. Hallett could quite understand her popularity
with her friends and neighbours.

"That's a wonderful woman," he told Inchcliffe as they strolled
homewards. "No wonder the German spy system is so perfect when they
bring so much intelligence to bear upon it. It's lucky for us that you
were so successful in your raid here. It's quite evident that our
charming friend knows nothing of what has happened to her husband. And
she is not aware how much she has taught us this afternoon."

"She hasn't taught me anything," Inchcliffe laughed. "Mean to say that
you have picked something up?"

"Certainly I have," Hallett exclaimed. "In the light of the cypher, I
have been able to read a good deal between the lines. And I have to
thank you for telling me that those birds were terns. Now in the cypher
there are three terns, two living and one dead. In that trap we saw two
living birds. Now what had become of the third one shown in the cypher?
That puzzled me, at least it did till I pulled up the trap. What do you
think I saw lying on the hay there? Why, another tern lying half hidden
and stiff--the dead bird of the cypher beyond the shadow of a doubt."




CHAPTER XXXV.--The Lace Curtains.


The first faint streaks of dawn found Hallett on the cliffs in front of
the Blair Allison establishment. He had been up half the night working
at the mysterious cypher until he had satisfied himself that he had an
intelligent grip on it. He knew what to do now, and he needed nobody at
present to help him. Therefore, without saying a word to anyone he had
stepped away from the castle at dawn, and gone off on his solitary
exploration.

It was still quite dark when lights began to twinkle in the windows. The
servants were getting up, but this did not particularly concern Hallett.
He was taking no particular stock of those single windows on the second
floor, but he was interested presently, when seven windows were suddenly
catching the light so strong that from where he was hidden Hallett could
almost make out the time by his watch. These windows were on the first
floor in the middle of the house, and behind the art blinds were draped
with fine lace curtains. The elaborate edgings were cut out sharp and
clear as if they had been engraved on the blinds.

Hallett smiled grimly as he took out his glasses and carefully examined
this elaborate and artistic hanging. His glasses were so good that he
could almost count the stitches in the patterns. He knew that he was not
wasting his time.

Surely but slowly, he was feeling his way up towards the solution of a
great mystery. But just for the moment he was wondering why Mrs. Blair
Allison was rising so early. There was nothing doing at this time of
year, no cub hunting or anything of that kind, and it was not usual for
the mistress of an important establishment to be getting up at the same
time as her servants. In any case there was no necessity for all those
lights, especially as the master of the house was away, and no guests
were staying there. It was quite obvious, too, that one master switch
controlled the whole lighting arrangement of the seven rooms. Hallett
had been making inquiries and knew what these rooms were--the two best
bedrooms and dressing-rooms opening into a bathroom, in fact, the suite,
occupied by the master and mistress of the house. Hallett was beginning
to see his way now, the mystery was growing clearer.

He waited there patiently hour after hour; he lay till the sun came up.
From where he was hiding he could see Mrs. Blair Allison breakfasting in
the sunny morning-room, the French windows of which opened on to the
lawn. It all looked very pleasing and inviting, a typical English
homestead of the better kind and not in the least suggestive of sinister
tragedy.

Mrs. Blair Allison crossed the lawn presently and strolled in the
direction of the chicken-run, where the terns were confined. She was
carrying something in her hand that looked like a strip of folded
ribbon. As she stooped over the cage, Hallet appeared.

"You are out early this morning," he said.

The woman started and changed colour. Hastily she thrust the little
parcel she was carrying into her bag. Hallett's first impulse was to
snatch it, but he thought better of that. He knew that it would come
into his possession all in good time; he knew that it was nothing less
than a message intended for one of the birds.

"You rather startled me," Mrs. Blair Allison said.

"Yes, I'm afraid I did. But then you see I am not altogether my own
master. I had to come here on business. Now, Mrs. Blair Allison, you are
a woman, and I will do my best not to forget it. But these are stern
times, and I have my duty to fulfill. Might I suggest that you ask me
into the house?"

The woman looked at him steadily. She had quite recovered herself; she
showed no signs of fear save that the pupils of her eyes dilated and one
of the pulses in her temple throbbed like a piston.

"This is very strange," she said. "Surely it is most unusual for a
gentleman to intrude upon a lady at this time of the morning."

"Well, it is," Hallett admitted. "And it is also strange to find a house
like this in the heart of England inhabited by a German spy and his
wife. It is just as well for me to speak plainly, perhaps. Now don't you
think it would be far better for us to discuss this matter indoors? I
want to make things as easy for you as I can, but I have my duty to do
all the same."

The woman turned and walked slowly in the direction of the house, and
Hallett followed. Once they were in the morning room and the door
closed, Mrs. Blair Allison's manner changed. Hallett could see by the
expression in her face that she was going to make a fight for it. She
breathed hard, there was an evil gleam in her eyes, a certain suggestion
of the tiger in the way in which she moved across the room and reached
for the bell. Hallett's hand dropped on her wrist gently, but none the
less firmly for that.

"It is quite useless," he said. "If you persist in ringing that bell,
then I shall have to expose you before your servants. They are all
honest English folk and you will get very little sympathy from them. As
a matter of fact, I can't allow you to communicate with anybody."

"Oh, then I am a prisoner in my own house?"

"For the moment, yes. Before long I am afraid I shall have to deprive
you even of that consolation. I may tell you that your husband and his
friends are prisoners. They were caught after their raid on the Abner
lightship and are now in jail. We know all about your clever scheme in
connection with the birds; in fact we know everything. Now, listen to me
and give us your assistance your own sentence will no doubt----"

The woman burst into a torrent of angry words.

"Never!" she cried. "Never! So someone has betrayed us. Well, we shall
have to take our punishments. We have not wasted our time here, as your
Admiralty can testify. Oh, it was fine sport to have your ships here and
send them to the bottom. Do with me as you please. I am only a woman,
but I have struck more than one blow for the Fatherland. Put me in
prison, but it will not be for long. A few weeks and the Kaiser's guns
will be destroying your cities--it is only a matter of time. And now, if
you will permit me to go and dress----"

"I can permit you to do nothing," Hallett said. "You can summon your
maid if you like, but I must hear every word that passes between you. I
understand that you and your husband are in the habit of going to London
at a moment's notice and staying a day or two in your flat there. Tell
your maid you are going at once and ask her to send on the things you
need. I would suggest some warm clothing. You will get them through the
police. Then you can order round one of your cars and I will drive you
to York and hand you over to the authorities there. You can leave me to
deal with your servants later on. I shall so contrive it that they learn
nothing. Leave your bag on the table, please. Now, shall I ring the bell
for you?"

The murderous look crept into the woman's eyes again, she clenched her
fingers, in imagination she could feel her claws tearing the flesh from
Hallett's cheeks. But it was all useless, all in vain. With an effort
she controlled herself, she gave her directions to the maid without a
tremble in her voice. She was going away for a day or two, she wanted
certain things forwarded, the car must be round in five minutes to take
her as far as York. She smiled quite pleasantly as she thanked Hallett
before the maid for all the trouble he was taking; she hoped that he
would use the car to bring him back to Inchcliffe Castle. It seemed to
Hallett almost a pity that a woman with talents and courage like this
should be wasting herself as a mere spy. He was not sorry when his
mission to York was finished, and he was once more back at the house on
the cliff.

He wanted to keep all this as quiet as possible, it was imperative not a
word of it should find its way into the Press. He meant to strike a
crushing blow at the heart of the elaborate East Coast spy system before
the rest of the infamous brotherhood realised that one of the most
important centres had been broken up. It was not a difficult matter to
represent that he had a telegram from Blair Allison to say that he and
his wife had been called abroad urgently, and that the house would be
closed for a month or so and the servants sent away on holiday. They
would be only too glad of the opportunity of taking a holiday at their
employers' expense, then one of Hallett's subordinates would be
installed as a caretaker and see to it that the house had every aspect
of being fully occupied.

"You see what I shall gain by this," Hallett said when, later on, he was
explaining the matter to his friends. "Blair Allison and his gang were
expecting the visit of three or four fishing smacks any night. What the
game is will be for us to find out, we must get hold of all these smacks
some way and lay their crews by the heels. They have not the remotest
notion of anything wrong so far, which is all in our favour. If they
happen to come along tonight, say, and drop anchor outside then it is up
to us to see that the house on the cliff is lighted just the same as
usual. There are five of us, we are all well armed, and quite able to
cope with the lot of them. The less people we have in this business the
better. I don't want any local police, which is bound to lead to gossip.
We will keep a close eye on those smacks, and find out exactly what they
are doing, then we can lure the crews up here, and trap them like so
many rats. By the bye, I have got another of those code signals in my
pocket, but we will come to that presently. They are intended for long
distance work, but I have dropped on a much bigger thing than that. Come
up to the house with me and I will show you."




CHAPTER XXXVI.--"Made in Germany."


By five o'clock all the servants in the house on the cliff had
disappeared, and the solo occupants of the place were a caretaker and
his wife, both of them trusted servants of Hallett's, and imported for
the occasion. There had been no gossip and no mystery, the domestic
staff had been paid their wages for two months and departed fully under
the impression that they were coming back again. The blinds were all
drawn and most of the lights on when Hallett and his companions
cautiously made their way in by way of the cliffs. The first thing to do
was to make a rigid search of the whole house from top to bottom. An
hour or two of this work served to bring nothing to light, as Hallett
expected.

"Blair Allison is too old a bird to be caught like that," he said. "I
was not in the least sanguine of finding anything. Now I have been
studying the cypher message that Mrs. Blair Allison intended to send off
this morning, and I think I have made it out. Something went wrong when
that particular tern was killed. But the flying code has been
re-established, and from what I can understand we shall have several
German submarines knocking about here for the next day or two. Their
game will be to wait till those cruisers off the Tyne come feeling their
way down here. The attack will be made by submarines and mines. But the
mines are not laid yet, and those fishing smacks are coming here to do
the trick. They will get their information from this house, but it won't
be the information they expect if I can find what I am looking for. The
answer to the sum is somewhere on the premises; in fact it must be, or
they could not signal to the smacks. And now I will show you something.
Inchcliffe, just run upstairs and switch on the lights in the bedroom
suites occupied by Blair Allison and his wife. When you have done that
come down and you will find us on the far side of the lawn."

Inchcliffe obeyed eagerly enough. A minute or two later and the rest
were standing in the darkness gazing at the row of brilliantly-lighted
windows against which were delicate lace curtains with their elaborate
edgings standing out clear and distinct.

"Now, I don't suppose you see anything peculiar about those curtains."
Hallett said. "But if you look at them closely you will see that
two-thirds of the fancy edging bears a strong resemblance to letters,
big bold letters in Roman characters. When once you have noticed them
they jump to the eye. You can plainly read them from here and with a
good glass they could be made out miles at sea. Now what do you think of
that for a signalling dodge?"

"But they would always be the same letters," Pascoe said. "And the same
pattern for the matter of that."

"Not necessarily. It would be the easiest thing in the world to change
the edgings, indeed perhaps there is no question to do that. We will
suppose that the letters are loose, that they can be removed or changed.
A couple of dozen of them arranged in code could convey quite a long
message."

"No use to us without the code," Montagu said.

"I know that," Hallett admitted. "But the code must be in the house
somewhere, and only a woman quick and neat at a needle could work it.
Therefore I am justified in assuming that the arrangement of those codes
was in Mrs. Blair Allison's department. Now come back in the house and
we will have a thorough search for the code in Mrs. Blair Allison's
bedroom."

It was a long and weary job, and an hour or more had elapsed before
anything came to light. One or two of them had palpably given it up, and
Montague had found nothing more appropriate to the occasion than an
elaborate handsomely printed catalogue of household requisite issued by
a firm in Berlin. The German characters held no suggestion, and he flung
the volume on the dressing-table with disgust.

"That's all I can find," he said. "Oh, it's only a catalogue of linen
and all that sort of thing."

"Eh, what's that?" Hallett asked sharply. "Just an advertisement of a
German firm of house furnishers? My dear fellow, you have a good deal to
learn about the game yet. Where the German spy's concerned the more
innocent it looks the more dangerous it is. Let me have it. Um! A very
artistic production. This must have cost them a good deal of money. Now,
let me see."

He flickered over the pages rapidly, then he smiled.

"This is where the scent begins to get warm," he said. "What have we
here? Several pages devoted to high class window curtains. And a bit
further along pages of beautifully designed lace letters and monograms
for all sorts of drapery, from hangings down to pocket handkerchiefs. On
the same pages we have what appears to be the various prices opposite
sample monograms. It all looks beautifully simple and very innocent, but
as a matter of fact the cypher code is staring us in the face. Now mark
the amazing thoroughness of the German methods. This catalogue must have
cost hundreds of pounds, for all the blocks and drawings were made on
purpose for it, and probably this is the only copy in existence. And yet
a few months ago if a scheme like this had been worked into a story
everybody would have laughed at it. But we don't laugh at anything since
that big gun concrete platform was found in Edinburgh the other day. No
matter; just give me an hour or so to get the hang of the thing, then we
will go outside in the garden and read the message on the innocent
window curtains which can at the present moment be seen by any floating
enemy for at least ten miles."

Hallett was not boasting when he stated than an hour would be all the
time he would require, for he came downstairs well within the time
apparently on good terms with himself.

"Very clever," he said. "And like all clever things, very simple. Now
come along and we shall see what we shall see. It's pretty sure to be
interesting anyhow."

They stood there for a little time in the darkness whilst Hallett worked
out the code.

"It's nothing very illuminating, after all," he said. "It is evidently
intended for those fishing smacks, or perhaps for any submarine that
happens to be on the look out. It says that the mines are ready, but
before anything is done the people in this house would like to have a
few words with the captain of the D3. I take it that this is a
submarine."

"But you will not leave it at that?" von Kemp suggested. "We are not
ready, Mr. Hallett. What we want is to gain time. It is evident that
there are mines somewhere in the neighbourhood, and I should not be
surprised to find that they are concealed somewhere on shore. Probably
they have been hidden here for years. If we could keep the enemy hanging
about for a day or two we might discover all sorts of things. Therefore
I beg to suggest that you alter the signal before we sleep. And suppose
we give the sign of danger and order the fishing smacks and the German
submarine to lie off and wait. It is well to be cautious."

Hallett was disposed to fall in with the suggestion. He was master of
the situation now, he had the enemy's citadel in his hands and the rest
of the infamous gang on the East Coast had not the least idea of it. If
he could once break the chain, then sooner or later all the links of it
must fall into his hands. He must get one or two of the crew of the
trawlers safely landed in jail and persuade them to speak. He had the
poorest opinion of the mean traitor who was prepared to sell his country
for gold, he knew what cowards such men were and how ready they were to
betray their companions to save their own miserable skins.

"You are quite right," he said. "We will go and make the necessary
alterations and leave the foe out there in the darkness to make the best
he can of it. Then we will get my man to keep the light on till
midnight, and go back to the castle and get some sleep. I don't mind
admitting that I am quite done up. I have had no sleep to speak of for
two nights, besides we are doing no good here now." The desired
alteration was made in the signal then Hallett and the rest made their
way along the cliffs in the direction of the castle. Hallett detained
von Kemp a moment and took him by the arm.

"I have not had an opportunity of thanking you before," he said. "But it
was a good day for us when we met you that night in that startling
fashion in St. Paul's Cathedral."

"It was a good thing for me, too," von Kemp said.

"Well, let's call it mutual. At any rate you have done us a great
service and without you I doubt very much if we should have come upon
the track of this great conspiracy. You have done England a glorious
service von Kemp, and at the same time you have struck a shrewd blow for
your German Republic. I will see that you are properly rewarded when the
time comes."

Von Kemp protested in all sincerity that he needed no reward. He was
quite sure that there were thousands of his fellow-countrymen who felt
as he did and who held that they were the true patriots and not those
who were howling for Prussian military supremacy. They were still
discussing this when the Castle was reached, and they walked through the
great hall towards the dining-room, where a cold supper was laid out for
them. Inchcliffe sniffed suspiciously.

"Who has been smoking cigarettes here?" he asked. "And my best
cigarettes, too. Hello?"

A figure sat before the fire smoking calmly. Hallett broke into an
exclamation of delight and hurried forward with outstretched hand and a
welcome gleaming in his eyes.

"Rosslyn!" he cried. "Rosslyn, by all that's glorious!"




CHAPTER XXXVII.--Brothers in Arms.


So far Rosslyn had successfully performed his mission. It was something
to remember, something to speak of in the days to come, though it was
beyond the power of mortal man to paint in cold words the awful
spectacle that he could see beneath him. It was as if the whole world
was in flames, as if a great crater had been opened belching widespread
destruction from one side of Europe to another. It was too great to last
long, and almost as speedily as they had arisen the flames subsided, and
Rosslyn found himself enveloped in a whirl of black smoke so dense that
he could only breathe with difficulty, and so overpowering that he
utterly lost control of his machine. He was like a migrating bird
carried on by blind instinct and wondering where he would emerge. He was
unconscious of the fact that he was travelling in wide circles and
gradually getting closer to the ground. He was sick and giddy, it was
almost impossible to think coherently, and his eyes were smarting
terribly.

And it seemed to him that the fog was lifting, though in reality he had
dropped beneath that blinding blanket, and before he knew what had
happened one of the wings of the plane came in contact with the branch
of a tree and brought the machine to the ground.

Here was a new and unexpected peril. Rosslyn was badly shaken but not
hurt, and after a few breathless moments he had sufficiently recovered
himself to stagger to his feet and investigate the damage.

So far as he could see there was not much harm done, merely a rent in
one of the wings, which he could repair in an hour or two. The engine
was all right, and there was enough petrol in the tanks to carry him to
London if necessary. He had no notion where he was, and he would have
given a good deal to know whether he had fallen in the British or German
lines. It would be prudent perhaps to hide himself till daybreak and get
the machine under cover. This was not a difficult matter, for the spot
where Rosslyn had fallen was littered with straw covered hurdles, which
no doubt had been used by the troops as temporary shelters. He folded up
his machine and piled some hurdles upon it. Then he moved forward
cautiously, and a moment later fell headlong over a barbed wire
entanglement and came down heavily in a trench, where about half-a-dozen
men were keeping a fitful watch. Rosslyn would have turned and made a
fight of it directly he caught a glimpse of the blue-grey uniforms by
the fitful light of the lantern, but just in time he recollected his
disguise. He had fallen in with the Germans, and for the time being at
any rate he must play his part. Therefore he smiled as a bayonet touched
his breast and intimated that he was a friend.

It was boldly and swiftly done, for the bayonet at any rate was dropped,
and Roslyn was subjected instead to many searching questions. These were
easily parried, for he knew a good deal about the German private and his
ways. He spoke haughtily and with the manner of a man who carried
authority behind him. He wanted to see an officer, he had important
information which must be delivered without delay. For a moment or two
the men whispered together then one of them climbed grumblingly out of
the trench and asked Rosslyn to follow him. They came presently to a
kind of hut formed of thatched hurdles and lighted by a solitary candle.
Here was a tall officer in Bavarian uniform pouring over a map. He
looked thin and worn as if his bones were struggling to get through his
flesh. Over him there brooded a profound melancholy, his dark eyes were
hopeless, and his mind seemed to be far away. It took him some little
time to grasp what the soldier was saying.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" he said. "A spy undoubtedly. Take him out and
shoot him."

"I am no spy," Rosslyn said boldly.

For the first time the melancholy officer looked at him. Rosslyn's
German was good enough to pass anywhere, and his disguise was intact. By
this time he had made up his mind what to do and how to act. He could
see that his bold manner and excellent German were not without their
effect upon the Bavarian, and this gave him courage.

"Don't you think you had better hear what I have to say, captain?" he
suggested. "I came here to-night on important business connected with
your petrol supply."

"We have no petrol supply," the officer growled.

"Well, it's not my fault that I am too late," Rosslyn went on. "Send
your man away, what I have to say is not for his ears. If you refuse to
listen to me you will find yourself in serious trouble. Have you ever
seen this handwriting before or this seal?"

As he spoke Rosslyn took from his pocket the letter which he had had
from the Kaiser and showed it to the Bavarian. The latter started, and
then curtly dismissed Rosslyn's escort.

"I beg your pardon," he said. "I begin to see that I have made a
mistake. But at times like these one cannot be too careful. Apparently
you are here on behalf of the Emperor, and that letter should go to my
General at once. But I fear that is impossible. We were pushed forward
to guard the petrol supply without supports and we are entirely cut off
by the enemy's cavalry. They will find it out in the course of a few
hours, and out of the three thousand of us not one will be alive
to-morrow night."

The Bavarian spoke with the air of a man who had lost all hope and
confidence and who had seen his fate before him from the first. It was
impossible, he said, to get the dispatch through, though he might be
able to signal it. Had Rosslyn any idea what it contained? Did he feel
justified in laying rude hands on that sacred envelope?

"I don't think so," Rosslyn said, for he had no intention of parting
with his precious safeguard. "As a matter of fact it is too late. The
whole dispatch refers to the petrol supply. That has now been destroyed
and any errand here is in vain. But I don't feel in the least disposed
to part with the Emperor's envelope. You see I came here from Berlin at
a great personal risk, and I don't want to end up by being shot as a
common spy."

The gloomy Bavarian nodded approvingly. Rosslyn wondered if every
commissioned officer there along the Prussian frontier was in the same
state of collapse and dejection.

"Are things going badly with you?" he ventured.

A bitter laugh broke from the lips of the Bavarian officer.

"Are they going well in Berlin?" he countered. "Sit down, my friend, and
I will give you a cigar. Now as to Berlin. We hear rumours sometimes
that all is not gay in the capital. They say that the Socialist
Brotherhood is busy."

As the officer spoke he made the sign of the Brotherhood, and Rosslyn
lost no time in responding.

"So you are one of us, too?" the Bavarian said. "Well, I have fought
none the less sincerely because I hate this strife and because it should
never have taken place. There are thousands of us who would turn our
backs to-morrow upon it if we could."

"That does not sound like a Prussian officer," Rosslyn smiled.

"Ah, that is your little joke. You know perfectly well that I do not
belong to the Prussian caste. But Hanover, Saxony, and Bavaria, ah, that
is another matter. To Hell with Prussia, I say. It is the pride and
arrogance of those brutes that has brought this about. In Germany proper
we are more enlightened and peaceably disposed. And what has made
Germany? Her trade and her commerce. We have sweated and slaved so that
all our money may be taken by Prussia and spent in arms. Our life's
blood is drained by those tyrants. And so it always has been. Who bore
the brunt of the fighting in the Franco-Prussian war? The Bavarians, and
why? So that Prussia might be saved up in case we revolted against
Wilhelm I. of Prussia being crowned Emperor of Germany. At the end of
that war we were exhausted and Prussia was fresh. And that was the birth
of the German Empire brought about by Bismarck."

The Bavarian spat furiously on the floor.

"I was quite ready to fight," he went on, "A man might hate the war and
his rulers who brought it about, but when he sees that his country is
going to be destroyed there is only one thing to be done. I tell you
that the bulk of Germany hates Prussia. If we could only break through
the iron ring we should be at their throats to-morrow. Ah, Bavaria does
not forget. Ludwig II. was the one man who fought to stay outside the
Federation in 1870. They called him mad. He was no more mad than you
are. The whole thing was a vile conspiracy got up by Bismarck with the
connivance of Luitpold, who afterwards became Regent. They say that
Ludwig committed suicide, but really he was drowned whilst escaping from
his asylum. I am telling you no secret, for the true story is known to
thousands of Bavarians. But our day will come. When this war is over,
and Prussia is smashed under the heel of the Allies, you will see that
Bavaria will be glad. If you live long enough you will see Bavaria a
nation yet."

Rosslyn listened with respectful attention. Still, this was a strange
confession to hear from the lips of a German officer within sight of the
enemy's lines. And yet they were the words of a patriot and the thinker
working and striving in the best interests of his own country.

"Are there many in the army who think and speak like you?" Rosslyn
asked. "I am learning things to-night."

The Bavarian smiled grimly.

"To-morrow I may be able to show you," he said. "That is, of course, if
the enemy gives us a chance. Now tell me something about Berlin. It is
months since we heard a word from the capital."




CHAPTER XXXVIII.--A Safe Return.


It was the Bavarian's turn to listen now. Rosslyn told him all he knew
with regard to the progress of the Brotherhood and their efforts in the
direction of the German Republic, and the other man smiled approvingly
as he listened. It was good to know that at last the Emperor was taking
the new movement seriously, and that there was no great danger of
further bloodshed in Berlin.

"It was bound to come," the Bavarian said thoughtfully. "It will be a
blessing in disguise, it will prevent anarchy and eternal revolution. We
have nearly shot our bolt, the great war machine is crumbling. All our
boasts have been in vain. Our press romancers say Germany can put eleven
million men in the field. Rubbish! there are not more than thirty
million males in the country and half of these are children and old men.
Take out the physically unfit and the delicate men, and add to these the
millions necessary for the upkeep of the country, and you will find that
the utmost limit we can place in the field is five million. You could
not run a country like Germany with less than ten million men. Those of
us who took the trouble to think saw clearly from the first that this
was going to be a war of exhaustion. For every capable soldier we can
turn out the Allies can produce five. It is a simple matter of
arithmetic, and even the Kaiser cannot alter the laws that govern
mathematics."

But Rosslyn was no longer listening. He was tired and worn out now, and
slept the sleep of utter exhaustion on the litter of straw that lined
the hut. It seemed to him that he had only spent a few minutesasleep
before he came to himself and the knowledge that the Bavarian was
leaning over him. He saw that it was already broad daylight, he could
hear the commotion in the lines and the harsh words of command. But on
the whole it seemed strangely peaceful there and far remote from war
until Rosslyn ventured outside. On the hills a mile or two away clear
cut against the sky Rosslyn could see a great body of cavalry moving.
His heart gave a leap and a thrill of pride filled him as he recognised
the Indian Horse. They swept along easily and swiftly, deploying over
the shoulder of the hill till they were lost in the valley below. Then
there came other troops, dusky sons of the East, all there eager to
strike a blow for the Empire, and Rosslyn had to repress a wild desire
to thrown up his cap and cheer those gallant troops to the echo.

"Ah, I know what you are thinking about," the Bavarian said in his ear.
"I know what's in your mind."

Rosslyn thought not. He wanted to laugh at the suggestion but he
contrived to maintain a grave face.

"The finest cavalry in the world," the Bavarian went on. "Those fellows
are demons. They don't know the meaning of fear, and they cover the
ground like lightning. They seem to have mastered the art of living
without food. And yet we were told that India's millions would rise
against England at the first sign of trouble. We shall wake presently."

"They are certainly very daring," Rosslyn said as quietly as possible.
"Do they always ignore your guns like that?"

"We have no guns," the Bavarian said indifferently. "They know that. And
that is why they have given us an hour to surrender. We are hopelessly
cut off without the slightest chance of help. We refuse to surrender, as
I expect we shall; then you will have the chance of seeing what war
really is. Hell could not be worse. But come along the lines with me and
see for yourself. I can give you no breakfast--we have had no food for
two days."

The fact was evident enough as Rosslyn could see for himself. Here were
horses a veritable mass of skin and bone, some of them lying down from
pure exhaustion and others broken kneed cropping eagerly at the filthy
straw. Here were men spent and weary with hollow eyes and drawn cheeks,
what should have been splendid manhood, on the verse of collapse. There
was no life anywhere, nothing but dull apathy and stolid indifference.
It seemed impossible to believe that these were troops who only a few
months before had gone into the fray full of zeal and enthusiasm. Most
of them had been hurt, for there were scores of bloodstained bandages to
be seen. The wounded were lying about utterly uncared for, here and
there a body rotted as if it had been so much carrion. Medical service,
there was none; no sign of an ambulance or the suggestion of a Red
Cross. And on the crisp, falling air there hung like some deadly miasma,
a foetid odour that turned Rosslyn sick and giddy and caused him to
close his eyes with a shudder of disgust. Over the whole scene brooded a
silence that was ominous with the shadow of coming disaster. Then a
shell burst overhead and a little knot of men a few yards away vanished
as if they had been the victims of some dire and diabolical magic.

"A gentle reminder that the hour is up," the Bavarian said grimly. "But
I expect you have seen enough. You had better find cover somewhere.
Fortunately we are not short of that."

It was no difficult matter to find a hole in the ground partly protected
with a sheet of iron in the neighbourhood where Rosslyn had hidden his
aeroplane, and there he lay minute after minute while the rain of death
hurled itself down from the clear winter sky. For a few moments Rosslyn
knew to the full the meaning of the word fear. His eyes were blinded
with smoke and dust and flying fragments, he could see whole boughs of
trees torn away, as if some great knife had sheared them. Then he began
to worry over the fate of his aeroplane and the sense of terror left him
as suddenly as it had come. Days appeared to have elapsed, though it was
not more than half-an-hour altogether before the rain of lead ceased and
the bugle call broke out somewhere in the distance. Peeping over the
edge of his cover cautiously Rosslyn could see a white flag fluttering
in the breeze. The fight was over.

As he emerged from his hiding-place, he could see to his great delight
that the spot where his aeroplane was concealed had remained untouched
by shot or shell. He began to have visions now of a successful flight
homewards. He decided to make no further attempt to communicate with the
commander of the British forces. To begin with he might never get there,
he might be brought down by a chance shot, and, without egotism, it
seemed to him that his life just now was a valuable one to his country.
On the whole, it would be far better to carry the precious dispatch
straight back to the War Office and explain there how it had come into
his possession.

But all that would come in good time. He stood now deeply interested in
watching the surrender of the unfortunate Germans. In listless fashion
they were piling their arms methodically and carefully, for even in that
moment of humiliation they were still mere units in the well-drilled
machine, and everything was done lifelessly and mechanically. Rosslyn
could see his Bavarian friend with his right arm in a sling and a
blood-stained handkerchief bound round his forehead. He seemed as
apathetic and as listless as the rest.

"Well, what do you think of it?" he asked. "It was madness to go on any
longer. This is the end of it so far as I am concerned, and I honestly
believe that is the feeling of the lot. At any rate we shall know what
peace and quietness are. It's rather rough upon you to be taken this
way, but it is the fortune of war, and you will have to make the best of
it."

Rosslyn shook his head. He had something far more important than himself
to think about, and the aeroplane was on his mind.

"I am going to risk it," he said. "I'll take my chance. And if we don't
meet again----"

But the Bavarian had already turned away and Rosslyn dropped back into
his hiding place again. It was weary work lying there hour after hour
hungry and thirsty and without the smoke he was longing for. It was
getting towards four o'clock before it seemed to him that the coast was
clear enough to get to work on the damaged aeroplane. So far as he could
see there was not a soul within miles of where he stood, so that he set
about his task with a will, and in less than half an hour he was ready
for a fresh flight.

A moment later a genuine British whoop cut into the startled air and a
dozen figures in khaki, with fixed bayonets appeared out of nowhere, and
Rosslyn was surrounded by a ring of grinning faces. It did his heart
good to see those fresh-looking, healthy boys again, hearty and
wholesome and well fed, crammed with the joy of life and eager for
adventure. They seemed made of different flesh and blood to the listless
captives he had found himself amongst a few hours ago.

He tore off his disguise and responded to the cry heartily. He looked
about him for someone in command of the squad, someone to whom he might
explain, then he heard himself called by name.

"Rosslyn, by all the gods," the cheery voice cried. "Now I should like
to know what the dickens you are doing here?"

"It's Godwin," Rosslyn said. "We've met in a few queer places, but never
in a queerer place than this. Send your chaps away and I'll explain.
It's a long story."

Captain Godwin, one time Roslyn's fag, listened eagerly to the story. He
was all sympathy at once, he would do anything he could, but meanwhile
Rosslyn must come and have something to eat. It was an hour later before
he rose in the aeroplane and turned his face in the direction of home.
He was tired and worn out, but the thought of what was before him
cheered him on. And then at length he saw far below him dim lights, and
there rose to his ears the low murmur of the sea breaking on the shore.
He knew now that he was passing over Dover, and that the great adventure
was nearing its end. And to-morrow he would see Vera again!




CHAPTER XXXIX.--The Face of the Envelope.


All this time Vera Leroux had waited patiently in London for the news
which she had expected from Berlin. But the days went by without any
sign from her father or Rosslyn, and she had to bear her anxiety with
what patience and fortitude she could. She had not many friends, she had
made few since she left school, for at that time her father had taken
her into his confidence, and she had devoted herself almost entirely to
furthering the interests of the German Republic. Young as she was she
was well versed in politics and history, and more than once she had been
entrusted with dangerous and difficult tasks. The present inaction was
trying to her, and she would have been far happier had her father left
her something to do.

It was terribly trying to sit there day after day wondering what had
become of Paul Rosslyn and whether he had forgiven her now that he knew
the truth.

London was dreary enough, too. There was very little going on, the
theatres were practically closed, and by nine o'clock the great city
seemed to sleep under its pall of darkness. By this time the damage to
the water supply had been sufficiently repaired to afford almost a
normal flow, and indeed the damage had been considerably less than was
at first reported. People were creeping back again to London from the
provinces now that the danger was past and it began to dawn on the more
thoughtful that the peril of the air was not so formidable a thing as
they had imagined.

For the Germans were beginning to learn things. The studied brutality
which had been intended to strike terror into the Belgian nation and
bring it to its knees had been worse than a failure. It had indeed
brought out the finest qualities of courage and endurance, and after all
these months the German host had had to fall back baffled and broken on
the rock of Belgium's courage. The former began to see the magnitude of
the debt they would have to pay, and that the destruction of Louvain and
other towns had turned the whole wide population of the world against
them. The dropping of bombs on open towns had caused a flood of
indignation from one end of America to the other, and it would have been
hard indeed to find a dozen disciples of civilisation ready to hold out
a helping hand. And it was from America that Germany had had hopes of
borrowing the money that she was beginning to sorely need.

Hence her change of policy, hence the new diplomacy of the polite spider
and the unsuspecting fly. But the unsuspecting fly had had a bitter
lesson, and he preferred to stay outside. But all these unnecessary
atrocities had gradually ceased, and London was beginning to feel that
the danger of the air had been exaggerated. The West End was filling up
again, and trade was growing normal. Still, Vera felt the metropolis
dull enough. She was aching for something to do and eagerly looking for
some channel through which she could help. And then she recollected all
that Hallett had told her about Lady Loxton, and that she had the keys
of the fascinating spy's flat in her possession, and was a wasted
opportunity which must be repaired----

For two days now it had been raining, and Vera had not been outside the
house. She could hear the dripping of the water from the eaves, the
gardens looked depressed, and London lay under it's cloak of mist and
moisture. No word from Lady Loxton had reached Vera, there was no sign
of life in the flat overhead, and here therefore was the opportunity to
do something. After what Hallett had told her Vera had no hesitation in
acting the part of the detective. She took the key in her hand and
climbed the stairs to Lady Loxton's flat. So far as she could see the
mouth of the letter box was choked by advertising circulars, and once
inside she found that several letters had been pushed out of the wire
framework and were lying on the floor. Evidently Lady Loxton had not
countermanded her order for the newspapers, for they had been pushed
under the door and littered about the tiled floor. Evidently somewhere
overhead a trap had been left open or a skylight had been broken, for
the papers and letters lay in a pool of water, wet and sodden, so that
Vera had to be careful as to how she picked them up.

There appeared to be nothing of importance here beyond a few
communications, mostly with crests and monograms upon the face, no doubt
invitations and the like from Lady Loxton's society friends. They were
all so wet and sodden that Vera would not have had the least difficulty,
in opening them. Before doing anything else she gathered up the mass of
correspondence and carried it downstairs to dry. She laid the letters on
a sheet of blotting paper, and with a handkerchief pressed them
carefully.

She came presently to a square envelope with a Brighton postmark, which
was impressed upon two halfpenny stamps.

Careful as Vera was, she could not prevent the gum on the edge of the
wet stamps from adhering to the handkerchief, and when she lifted her
hand the stamps were no longer on the envelope. And then her quick eyes
took in the fact that in the space where the stamps had been something
had been written with a fine pen and in a hand so small that the
characters were unreadable without the aid of a magnifying glass. But it
was writing all the same.

Vera smiled to herself as she made this discovery. Here at any rate was
something to go upon at last. Her first feeling was one of admiration of
a scheme of communication so clever, and yet as the same time so simple.
Not the most expert of detectives could ever have guessed at a device
like that. And by pure chance really through her own carelessness, Vera
had solved the problem where so many people cleverer than herself would
have failed.

She might be useful now at any rate. Perhaps she would find the same
thing under other stamps, and she hastened to remove them before it was
too late. But nothing else rewarded her search and the stamps were
quickly replaced.

Then she proceeded to procure a magnifying glass and make an exact copy
of the message on the envelope. It was mysterious enough, and conveyed
but little to Vera when she had finished. The cryptic information ran as
follows:--

"Between Tell Camp and Brighton. About ninety yards inland, and then to
boundary stone marked L.L. Then in again for a mile or so towards
golf-links and on windmill. Old stone quarry. Abandoned. Wooden doors
covered with blackberry brambles. Some time next week, if you would only
let me know at the old address."

There was nothing more except a long row of figures of which Vera could
make nothing. It was possible, with care, to open the flap of the
envelope and examine the letter inside. This proved disappointing, for
it was merely an appeal type-written, though signed personally from a
society personage, asking for a donation to one of the numerous war
funds. Evidently the circular had been re-used so as to convey an
innocent impression if by chance the envelope happened to fall into
hostile hands.

But on the whole Vera was quite satisfied with her discovery. She dried
the letters carefully and replaced the telltale stamps, after which she
packed up the whole and forwarded it on to Lady Loxton at the Hotel
Metropole, Brighton, together with a few words explaining why the
letters had been so damaged. She was about to go to the upper flat
again, when the door of the dining-room opened, and then in a moment
Lady Loxton and her schemes were forgotten.

"Paul?" Vera cried. "Is it really you?"

Rosslyn stood there, brown and smiling, and with no trace of anger in
his eyes. It was as if the past had been wiped out entirely, as if there
had never been a cloud between them.

"You are surprised to see me," he said. "Surprised and glad, I hope. Are
you glad."

"Oh, you know I am," Vera murmured. "I feel so ashamed of myself that I
hardly know what to say."

Paul came forward and laid his hands upon the girl's shoulders.

"I understand many things now that puzzled me before I went away," he
said. "I thought that I had been deceived. I might have known better. I
might have known, however much appearances were against you, that you
were good and true. Still, it was a bitter time for me, how bitter no
one will ever know."

"But I couldn't tell you, Paul," Vera urged. "If we had told you the
whole truth you never would have consented to undertake that journey to
Berlin. You would have called it madness."

"Well, so it was," Paul smiled. "One of the maddest things ever
attempted in the history of Europe."

"Oh, I dare say. Still, you would have refused. You would have declined
to do anything until you had a chance of consulting Mr. Hallett. And he
would have put his foot down upon the whole thing. He would have called
it an act of insanity to trust any German. As you are under his orders
more or less, there would have been an end of the whole thing. That is
why I had to behave in a way against which my whole soul revolted. From
the moment when you found yourself in the trap till now I have known
nothing but misery. If ever you can fully forgive me----"

"My dear girl," Rosslyn cried, "I am not quite sure yet that I have
forgiven myself. It certainly was a blow to my vanity to find how easily
and blindly I had walked into the trap. And yet from your point of view
there was no other way. At any rate I have the consolation of knowing
that your motives were nothing but patriotic and good and pure."




CHAPTER XL.--All Eyes To The North.


Vera smiled for the first time, for she knew now that she was forgiven.
She could feel Rosslyn's arms about her and his lips warm on hers. She
lay there just for a little time, content with all the world and utterly
forgetful of the strife and trouble that was going on all around her. It
was a strange betrothal, for no words of love had passed between them,
nothing but a perfect understanding that was perhaps too deep for
speech.

It was Vera who spoke first.

"I want to forget the past few days," she said. "I don't want to allude
to it. You have been more than good and kind to me, and this very
goodness is my worst punishment. But, tell me, was my treachery to you
worth while?"

"Oh, I am quite a convert," Rosslyn laughed. "I parted with your father
the very best of friends. He is a wonderful man, and is doing a
wonderful work. In the first place I took him for a most extraordinarily
clever spy. Then I began to think that he was a kind of comic opera
lunatic. It was like a chapter from some sensational novel. All the
ingredients were there. There was the unscrupulous German and the
Englishman with a wonderful new aeroplane. There was the binding and the
drugging and the final landing in a German fortress. After that the
thing became real enough. I knew then that your father was in deadly
earnest and that he was taking his life in his hands for his country. If
ever there was a genuine patriot he is one. So is his friend Steinitz
and thousands of others in Berlin."

"But were you successful?" Vera asked eagerly.

"Far more successful than I ever anticipated," Rosslyn said. "Those
manifestos that came so mysteriously out of the sky were wonderfully
effective. I don't suppose a word of the truth has reached England, but
we literally set Berlin on fire. There were riots, of course, and
considerable bloodshed, but the authorities thought better of it, and
your father and Steinitz and the rest demanded--yes, actually
demanded--an audience with the Chancellor at the Royal Palace, and got
it. I know all about that, because I went with them. And there I had a
most extraordinary adventure. When I was waiting at the palace to hear
the result of the conference I ran up against a lady whom we both know
quite well, and who to my amazement turned out to be a spy. Fortunately
I was disguised, so she did not recognise me. She is the last woman in
the world anyone would identify with the spying business, and if I told
you her name you would be equally astounded."

Vera looked up eagerly.

"Let me guess," she cried. "Not that it's guess work at all. You are
speaking of Lady Loxton."

"Now, how on earth did you know that?" Rosslyn asked. "I am speaking of
Lady Loxton. And what is more she had in her possession a dispatch
intended for Sir John French. I had to get my hands on that at any risk,
and I was successful. Not that I managed it without trouble, because I
didn't. But perhaps I had better tell you the whole story from the
moment when I saw Lady Loxton till I said good-bye to the Emperor of
Germany."

"I shall wake up presently," Vera smiled. "Really, Paul, you ought to
thank me for putting all these adventures in your way. But, do go on
with your story, and when you are finished I shall have something to say
which you will find interesting."

Paul told his tale simply enough, and Vera listened with rapt attention.
It seemed strange to her to realise that London's last and greatest
misfortune had been brought about by the woman with whom she had been so
friendly. There could no longer be any doubt in the face of what Paul
had heard in the Berlin Royal Palace that Lady Loxton had been
responsible for the attack on the water supply.

"And now it is my turn to ask questions," Paul said. "I want to know
where you gleaned all your information with regard to Lady Loxton. Did
your father know that she was a spy. Have you and he been keeping a
close watch upon her?"

"My father had not the least suspicion," Vera went on. "We both regarded
her as a good-natured, silly little woman none too well endowed with
brains. And now I will show you what I found and how I found it quite by
the merest accident."

Rosslyn listened attentively to all that Vera had to say. With the aid
of the magnifying glass he read the message of the stamps until he had
got it almost by heart.

"One can't help admiring a scheme like that," he said. "The very
simplicity of it appeals to me. I must show this to Hallett. I went
round to see him just now, but from what I can gather, he is up in the
north staying with Inchcliffe. I am going up there by an evening train,
and, if you don't mind, I will take this message with me."

"Can you make anything of it?" Vera asked.

"Well speaking off hand, I should say that it points to some secret
hiding-place. We know that a great many of such have been unearthed the
last few weeks, and this looks like another of them. But anyway there is
plenty of time. I'll let you know if anything happens, and I'll
telegraph you my address. And now, I really must go for I have so many
things to attend to."

"I wish I had," Vera said longingly. "You cannot think how utterly dull
it is for me here. I have so few friends, and I miss my father terribly.
You see I was entirely in his confidence, I knew everything that was
going on, and life was so full of interest and excitement. I feel like a
girl who has had a good time in the world, and who has been sent back to
school again. Can't you find me some thing to do, Paul? You can rely
upon me implicitly. I want something with a spice of danger in it, if
possible."

She looked so slight and fragile that Paul could not repress a smile.
The idea of associating her with some live peril seemed ridiculous. And
yet her eyes were firm and steadfast, and Rosslyn knew that she did not
lack the necessary courage.

"I will see what can be done," he said. "From what I gather there is
some serious business going on along the East coast. One or two very
good men are up there, and I fancy that Hallett has gone to take
command. If there is some way of fitting you in there you can rely upon
me to do my best."

With that for the moment Vera had to be content. At any rate she was
happy enough now, the interview she had longed for and yet dreaded was
over, and not one word of reproach had fallen from Rosslyn's lips. He
had gone away as her warm admirer, and he had come back, despite the way
in which he had been treated, as her avowed lover. And everything was
going on wonderfully well in Berlin. The seeds of revolution had been
started, and the light was spreading far and wide. It would take all the
forces of Prussian militarism to stop the movement now. The citizens of
Berlin for the first time since the war began knew the bitter truth,
knew how they had been betrayed, knew the dreadful fate in store for
them unless they could show the world that Germany was in earnest and
that the new Republic stood for peace and progress and against ambition.

If this could be done and Europe convinced of its sincerity then a great
people would be saved. The Prussians had forced to arms every man
capable of bearing a rifle, also they boasted that there were at least
ten millions remaining at home to look after the internal economy of the
State, and it was to these that the Brotherhood looked to, to come
forward in the great fight for freedom from the yoke and emancipation
from the Prussian tyranny.

And so far as Vera could gather his great movement was now on foot. Once
well started, no grinding force of arms could stop it. The whole thing
was still a secret well guarded in Berlin, and at the moment the Kaiser
could ill afford to spare any troops to put the revolt down. Soon the
smouldering fire would break out and carry far beyond the confines of
the capital, and a new chapter in the history of Europe would be
written. For the moment at any rate Vera would have to content herself
with this knowledge.

But meanwhile Rosslyn had other things to think of. He had to report
such progress as he had made, he had to see that his aeroplane was
repaired, for he had shrewd knowledge that it would be required again
before long. Before all this had been done it was too late for him to go
north that evening, and indeed it was far into the next day before
everything was settled to his satisfaction. He would be glad enough to
join forces with Hallett again, for there appeared to be nothing doing
in London for the moment, and if there was one thing that Rosslyn hated
more than another, it was inaction. He caught the express train to the
north the next day, and dropped into his seat with the feeling that he
would soon be at work again.

For the next day or two Vera waited patiently for news from the north.
There had been some sort of satisfaction in making a thorough search of
Lady Loxton's flat, an occupation not entirely devoid of danger, but
disappointing inasmuch as nothing in the least suspicious came to light.
Then towards the evening of the third day there came a telegram with the
Filey post-mark. It was from Rosslyn, and ran as follows:--

"Meet me as soon as possible at Grand Hotel here. Come prepared to stay
for a week at least."

Vera's heart leapt within her. This sounded like adventure, and she
turned her face northwards eager for the fray.




CHAPTER XLI.--A Nation's Nerves.


It seemed to Vera as if her turn had come at last. All this time she had
been longing to do something to show her gratitude towards the country
of her adoption. It was not that she loved Germany less, she was
patriotic to the core, but her way had not been along the path of blood
and iron, but towards a different goal altogether. She had been trained
to think of Germany free from the hand of the sword ever since she was
capable of comprehending what was meant by the destines of Europe. She
was not blind to the trivialities as she found them, but she knew that
everyone could help a little, and here was her chance.

She pulled back the blind and looked out into the dark and gloomy
street. There was just a flicker of contempt on her lips as she tried to
penetrate the murky darkness. From the very first this policy of keeping
London under a blanket of fog and smoke had filled her with the greatest
contempt. What on earth was London afraid of? What could she gain by
this frank admission that she had been scared by the German bogey? It
needed only the upturned flash of a motor headlight here and there to
show the foe overhead unerringly where the right spots lay. Given London
its usual lightness and brightness and stabbing points of vivid flame it
would be impossible for any foreign airman to select one particular
object for attack. More than one expert had already told the Government
this, but the lesson had passed unheeded. The present condition of
things was an absolute premium on destruction. A child with a lantern,
or a woman with a bicycle lamp could have indicated St. Paul's or
Westminster Abbey, and none any the wiser for the information other than
the brooding terror hovering overhead in the darkness.

The terror had apparently been manufactured, it was playing right into
the hands of the Potsdam bully, who no doubt chuckled to himself as he
read what had happened. And yet all this time, if all that was said
about the boasted Zeppelins was true, then he might have had Paris at
his mercy. Paris, Boulogne, Dieppe, all the fairest towns in Northern
France, might have lain open to destruction, and yet there was not a
Frenchman in every million who had even so much as seen a Zeppelin.
Those clumsy monsters, at the mercy of every wind and helpless before
the attack of a couple of biplanes, were almost as grotesque as a candle
in a hollow turnip, and yet they had sufficed to plunge London into
darkness and give her the semblance of a city of the dead. If the six
millions of Londoners did not fear the darkness, then it was no fault of
the authorities.

Vera was turning away with a bitter feeling in her heart when it seemed
to her that one of the windows overhead had suddenly blazed out into
light. That window she knew was in Lady Loxton's flat, and therefore
somebody must be using it.

Perhaps Lady Loxton had come back. No doubt she had another latch-key;
if not, then burglars were at work. The darkening of London was a rare
opportunity for the prowling nightbirds, and here was a practical
instance to prove the fact. Very quietly Vera crept up the stairs and
tried the door of the flat. The latch was down, and there was no light
in the hall, but she could see a glimmer through the keyhole, which
seemed to come from the dining-room. She did not hesitate a moment, she
took the Yale key from her pocket and noiselessly turned it in the lock.
A moment later she was inside creeping along the darkened hall in the
direction of the dining-room. The door was open and she peeped inside.


Sitting in an armchair with an ugly frown upon her face, was lady
Loxton. Opposite her was Alonzo, apparently angry and annoyed.

"I tell you I won't do anything of the kind," Lady Loxton was saying.
"Why should I? I have got more money than I want and I mean to enjoy
myself. Fancy bringing me up from Brighton to a dismal hole like this.
The streets are so dismal that the mere sight of them moves me to
tears."

"It amuses me," Alonzo said cynically.

"Oh, well, it is funny," Lady Loxton admitted. "These dear English they
have no sense of humour. Now what do they suppose those Zeppelins were
built for? Berlin boasts that each of them is capable of wiping out an
army corps. They could destroy a city or fort in five minutes. But they
don't do it, my friend, they don't even frighten small flies from a
rotten apple. Oh no, the Zeppelin is dead, it was slain by the Brothers
Wright when they invented the first real aeroplane. It is as a hornet to
a bluebottle, a hawk compared to a pouter pigeon. And yet London shakes
her head and forgets that she is taking the bread out of the mouths of
the half-million of people who live by her amusements. Suppose some
adventurous Zeppelin did chip a few corners from St. Paul's, what is
that in comparison with half-a-million people without employment? I say
that the boasters of Berlin have struck a shrewd blow at London with
their mouths alone. No wonder----"

"Don't you think you might make a leading article of it?" Alonzo
sneered. "My dear Marie, I know all this as well as you do. But that is
not the point. My instructions are to seek your assistance in that
business on the south coast and the sooner we are off the better. If you
refuse to come----"

"What, are you going to threaten me?"

"Is there any occasion? You know perfectly well what will happen if you
turn your back on this business. Headquarters at Berlin will say that
you have got too big for your work. They will lay a little trap for you
and before you know where you are you will be in the hands of Scotland
Yard. The case will be overwhelming, and the dainty Lady Loxton will
find herself scrubbing floors in Portland for the next five years. Ah,
the German Intelligence Department knows how to deal with its servants
who kick over the traces. It is all part of the game, and nobody knows
it better than the people of Scotland Yard."

"But they made me a solemn promise," Lady Loxton protested. "I was told
when I reported the success of our attack on London's water supply I
could regard myself in future as my own mistress."

Alonzo shrugged his shoulders indifferently.

"Oh, very well," he said. "Please yourself. Only don't say I have not
warned you. You know perfectly well that it is a favourite dodge on the
part of our masters in Berlin to betray people like ourselves when they
happen to know too much. So therefore I propose to go down to Brighton
alone."

Lady Loxton sighed impatiently.

"Perhaps you are right," she said. "On the whole, I think I had better
go with you. Tell me precisely what this latest absurdity is. If it is
destined to be a fortune, so much the better for us. It will be one way
out."

"Don't you know what the scheme is?" Alonzo asked.

"Oh, I've got some vague idea. I suppose it is the invasion bogey over
again. I saw something to the effect that the egregious General von
Ardenne had been at it again. According to the 'Saxon State Gazette,'
the invasion of England is practically an accomplished fact. All sorts
of calamities must first happen to the English Navy, but that is a
detail. Assuming that the English Fleet is manned by idiots and
imbeciles, von Ardenne's plan is a brilliant one. But then any rubbish
is good enough to tell the people in Berlin just now apparently. Ah, I
should not like to be in Berlin in an official capacity when the people
there learn how they have been tricked and fooled and deceived."

Vera smiled as she listened. She might have enlightened the conspirators
in that respect had she pleased.

"You are right there," Alonzo muttered. "As a matter of fact you are not
far from the truth. It is a cheap affair and will probably end in
failure, but it will create a sensation and cause something like a
panic. No doubt it will please the little mind of the Imperial Barnum
who has engineered the whole German circus and very likely cause more
unemployment. Now, are you coming or not? It will be rough work, but I
understand that those keys were sent to you and they were personally
delivered to Brighton this afternoon."

"Quite right," Lady Loxton said. "I wanted to refuse them, but the
messenger was so insistent that I kept them. That is why I telegraphed
to you to meet me here this evening."

"You wasted two or three hours," Alonzo grumbled. "Well, its no use
grumbling about that now. We have still got a margin to spare, time
enough for you to dress for the part and for us to get some supper. I
brought in a sort of picnic basket and I have relied upon you to provide
the drinks. Only we must be off smart when the car comes. I don't know
what's going on, but I have not seen so many people at night in the
London streets for I don't know how long. There was a disturbance going
on in Haymarket when I came through, but I don't know what it was about;
that is why I wanted to be ready to start at twelve to the tick."

Vera waited to hear no more. She had just over an hour to spare and time
was too precious to be wasted. Very quietly she crept away and closed
the outer door of the flat behind her. Five minutes later she was
hurrying down the street.




CHAPTER XLII.--"Light, Light, More Light!"


Vera had no settled plan in her mind. The little adventure had come upon
her too suddenly to give her much time to think. What these conspirators
were about she had not the least idea, except that it was some dark and
black mischief under cover of the night. If she could prevent it she
would but she naturally shrunk from taking her story direct to Scotland
Yard. Many questions would be asked there, she might have to prove her
nationality, a step which would probably lead to serious consequences
for her father and the rest of the friends of the new German Republic.
Pierre Leroux, the respectable French merchant and his innocent daughter
were one thing, but a foreigner in touch with the big international spy
system spelt danger. Therefore it would be impossible to go to Scotland
Yard. Rosslyn was away from London, and therefore Vera wandered on more
or less aimlessly trying to think of the name of a friend to whom she
could turn in the hour of her need.

Perhaps she was making much of little after all. The German invasion
business sounded to her like the story of a comic opera. For nearly
forty years Germany had planned and schemed and spent countless millions
on the army which was to fall upon hapless France and crush her while
she slept. And now the great adventure had failed and Germany was the
laughing-stock of the civilised world. In the face of a miserable
disaster and fiasco like this it was characteristic that the foaming
braggarts at Potsdam should roar and swagger and proclaim their
intention of turning the impossible into the commonplace. The threat
carried its repudiation on the face of it. The Kaiser had been beaten at
his own game by the noisy von Ardenne, who had spoilt his whole sombre
prophecy by communicating even the most minute details of the scheme to
the German Press. And yet there was a certain method in his madness, for
if the people of England's capital could be scared into darkness by the
threat of a peril that had hitherto only brought disaster to its own
creator, then even the smallest attempt at invasion might send the panic
spreading wider still.

Vera went on and on conscious of the fact that the streets were crowded
with people despite the gloom. They seemed to be restless and
discontented, nodding to one another and disposed to resent the attempts
of the police to move them on. The police were but a shade of their
former selves, for many of them were doing a great work elsewhere, and
the special constables could do no more than their best.

As Vera neared Oxford-street she saw a big ark light flash out vividly,
then there came a rousing cheer followed by an ugly rush as the police
were swept backwards by the crowd.

"Let it blaze," someone cried. "The police can't stop us. Let's have
something to see what we are doing by."

The cheers rose again cheers mingled with ironic laughter which might
easily have been changed to real wrath. Up and down the great
thoroughfare more and more of the big lights appeared. The faces of the
mob were plain enough to Vera now, it was a typical London crowd, from
the better classes in their evening dress down to the skulkers and
prowlers, the hungry social jackals ever on the look-out for prey. Up
one of the lamp-posts swarmed a slight figure of a man with clean-shaven
face and hawk-like features.

"Keep it going," he cried. "Turn the lights up all over London. Flood
the theatres and the restaurants with it. I dare say there are a few of
you down below who know me."

"It's Frankland," someone whispered close to Vera. "Roland Frankland,
the actor. They say he is as good in a biplane as he is in a comedy. He
is going to make a speech."

The speaker was quite right.

"Now, listen to me," the man on the lamp-post cried. "Six months ago I
was happy and comfortable and envied no man. For three months now I have
not earned a penny. If it had not been for my friends, my wife and
family would be starving. It was bad enough to play on half salaries.
But when this terror came it practically closed the theatres altogether.
Oh, I dare say you have all got your troubles, but I want you to listen
to ours for a few minutes. Think of the hundreds of theatres and
music-halls and the like in London. Think of the hundreds employed
there, from the star down to the poor devil who carries a sandwich-board
in the street. I challenge anybody to contradict me when I say that this
no light order is affecting the bread of half-a-million. And London is
not the only place on the map of England. Look here, wouldn't the Kaiser
be pleased to know that his troops have done something that means the
starvation of a million or two of us here? Would not the Berlin press
gloat over it? And yet, by Heaven, he has done it without striking a
blow or losing a single man. It has been done for him, done by our
authorities here who have shown us that they are in deadly fear of those
Zeppelins. What else is the darkening of London but a confession of
fear? Why should our public buildings be protected when no special
precautions have been taken to guard the average citizen from harm? I
tell you that Westminster Abbey is nothing in comparison with one
innocent life. Besides, the whole thing is so futile. London is a huge
mark, and if it were even as dark as pitch no Zeppelin could possibly
miss some vital spot. Where, oh, where, are our umbrellas?"

The listening mob roared with laughter. Then the speaker held up his
hand and went on again.

"I am speaking about what I know," he said. "I have been over London
many a time and oft in an aeroplane. I have sailed over London in the
evening thousands of feet in the air when the town lights have flared
flauntingly, and I tell you it is more difficult to pick out any
building from the hazy glare than it is to-night. You could not do it
three months ago. But now, if you will give me a confederate below on a
motor cycle with a strong head-light, I will lay any building you like
to name in ruins in half-an-hour. The authorities have created this
danger, not averted it. Zeppelins? A fig for your Zeppelins. Ten years
ago they were a danger. Ten years ago the Germans honestly thought that
they had found a weapon capable of paralyzing our navy. Yes, we thought
so too. And then there came Wilbur Wright, the man who invented the
first real aeroplane. That killed the Zeppelin, and no one knew the fact
better than the German General Staff. It is not part of their policy of
brag and bluster to tell the German nation so. They have spent millions
on their Zeppelins, and they have kept the bogey alive till to-day. But
the aeroplane is the master of the Zeppelin and well the Kaiser knows
it. We could have built these airships, too. And why didn't we do so?
Because every military man in this country worthy of the name believes
them to be useless. When I see a Zeppelin doing real damage on the west
of the German frontier, then I will eat my words, but not till then.
Therefore----"

The speech was cut short by an angry roar as the reinforced police
pushed back the crowd. Vera was caught up in the swaying mob, and before
she was firmly on her feet again had been carried some way down
Regent-street. She caught hold of a pillar projecting in front of a shop
and swung herself into a doorway. There were half-a-dozen other women
there watching the swirling tide of humanity tossing down the street and
here and there holding the police whilst more and more lamps were being
lighted.

One of the women there turned to Vera. Her face was white and her eyes
were glitting strangely.

"A funny sight, isn't it?" she whispered hoarsely. "I don't wish the
police any harm nor yet those special constables. For after all, they
are only doing their duty. But I pray God that London gets its own way
over this business. I sat on this very doorstep last night in the
darkness and wished that I was dead."

"Does it make all that difference to you?" Vera asked.

"All the difference in the world my dear. I am in the profession. I am
nothing big, you understand; not on the bills, but just in the chorus
with two quid a week for me and the kiddy, and my Sam at the front doing
his duty by his country. And then comes this order and down go those
lights and it's three matinees a week that nobody comes to and the
notices up last Friday night. It took all I had got to find a home for
my boy. The only good the darkness did me was to find me a corner where
I could sleep out without being moved by the police. And it isn't as if
London was afraid. It's only those who ought to know better who are
afraid. Well, perhaps things will take a turn now the people have taken
them in their own hands. Good luck to them, I say."

Vera was hardly listening. She was watching all that was going on around
her with rapt attention. Then suddenly above the din she heard a clock
striking somewhere, and she saw that it wanted but a quarter of an hour
till midnight. She struggled on into the comparative quietude of
Waterloo-place and hurried homeward. There was no time to be lost for
Alonzo's car was already at the door of the flats.




CHAPTER XLIII.--On the Brighton-Road.


It was a desperate resolve that fastened itself upon Vera's mind. She
had no one to help her, not a soul that she could fall back upon, but
all the same she was not going to allow these people out of her sight
until she had discovered what black business they were engaged upon. The
spirit of adventure had fallen upon her now; she was longing to be up
and doing something. But how?

She looked at the car, a long affair capable of seating seven people at
least. The hood was thrown back, and it might be possible for her to
hide herself under that, or at any rate secrete herself in its folds.
She had a pretty shrewd idea that Lady Loxton and Alonzo would leave
London alone, though possibly they might pick up other conspirators on
the way. In that case she would be comparatively safe and if there was
any ultimate risk, she must rely upon her own resources later on. It
would be a fine thing if she could go north to-morrow, and be in a
position to prove that she had done something for the good cause
unaided.

She flew upstairs only to return a minute or two later clad from head to
foot in a thick coat and skirt and a pair of serviceable boots. She wore
a cap on her head, and a heavy overcoat lined with fur. So far as she
could see the streets were entirely deserted, and she felt convinced
that no one saw her as she hid herself amidst the folds of the hood. She
lay there snug and warm, listening to all that passed between the two
conspirators as the car sped along. It was a source of satisfaction to
Vera that her judgment had been correct, and that it was evidently not
intended to pick up any passengers on the way. The car was clear of the
town presently, and speeding along through the open country in the
direction of Brighton. It was getting on towards two o'clock when the
car swung into the London-road, under the big railway arch, past the
pavilion, and from thence along the Front by way of the Aquarium. Vera
could just make out the dim outline of Kingscliff, with the fine houses
in Sussex Square, but it was only a glimpse, for the lights were low and
dim, and then the car climbed the hill in front of East Brighton Golf
Club. On the right was the sea, and on the left the wide lonely expanse
of the Downs broken only by the large range of buildings which formed
Reedson School.

"That would make an excellent barracks," Alonzo chuckled, "or, perhaps,
a hospital. A strategic point any way."

"It would be more likely to be occupied by the General Staff," Lady
Loxton smiled. "What would they say and do to-morrow morning if this mad
business turns out successful."

"Ah! those delightful English girls, they have no reason to be afraid,"
Alonzo said. "Of all Kaiser Wilhelm's mad schemes this is the wildest.
He is like the little boy who wraps himself up in a sheet and says 'boo'
to frighten his companions. I tell you, my dear Marie. I am ashamed to
be connected with such an enterprise." Alonzo said no more till the
narrow bypath leading up to Tell Camp was reached. Here the car was
driven into a maze of blackberry bushes connected by a number of gorsed
hurdles. Vera's eyes had got accustomed to the gloom now, and she could
see fairly well what was going on. Alonzo had taken nothing from the
car, not so much as a weapon. And he and Lady Loxton commenced to ascend
the slope towards the crest of the Downs. As they gained the higher
ground a shoulder of the hill hid Rottingdean from sight whilst in front
the dim lights of Brighton showed the outline of the great town. It was
quite a desolate spot where the conspirators paused at length, and but
for the twinkling flame in the distance might have been miles from
civilisation. It was as lonely as the Cumberland Fells and as deserted
except in the spring, when the watchful shepherds were tending their
lambs. It was so quite and lonely that Vera felt a certain nervousness
lest she should be discovered.

If she were she knew perfectly well what her fate would be. Those two
people whose footsteps she was dogging would not hesitate a moment to
end her life. They would shoot her, perhaps, and throw her over the
cliffs into the sea with her clothing so weighted that her body would
never be found. And they would do this without the slightest hesitation,
do it for their own protection and not from any devotion to the
Fatherland.

"You've got the keys?" Alonzo asked.

"Of course I have," Lady Loxton said pettishly. "What else did I come
for except to bring them? Lets get this stupid business over. I was
never engaged for this class of work. My business is in fashionable
hotels and country houses, and my best work is done after dinner; if I
am not warm and luxurious I can't think properly. I have got as much
pluck as most people, but if you left me here by myself to-night I
should die of fright. So do push on and get it over and run me back to
town as soon as possible. I should be just as satisfied if you dropped
me at the Metropole."

Alonzo made no reply. He turned presently into a kind of natural
amphitheatre, which might at one time have been a disused chalk pit or
something of that kind. It had evidently been many years since it was
last worked commercially, though someone had within recent memory been
making excavations, probably unsuccessfully, for here was a certain
amount of machinery now rusty and abandoned.

At the back of the natural basin was a rude attempt at boarding, much as
if someone had tried to make a natural barn there. Most of the paint was
off the boards now, and the whole front of it was overgrown with long
trailing brambles. Alonzo flashed a light upon it just for a moment.

"There you are," he said. "About six or seven years ago a party of
Germans leased this place under the pretence of starting a lead industry
here. Perhaps it was not lead but it does not matter. Our friends began
the enterprise and abandoned it after spending a few hundred pounds.
People laughed at them, and the incident was soon forgotten. People did
not know that the same enterprise was started all along the south coast.
I think to-night that the good people of Kent and Sussex will have
something to talk about."

Lady Loxton laughed in spite of her annoyance. Vera lay hidden in some
bushes anxiously waiting the next development. She heard Alonzo give a
low whistle, and immediately afterwards half a dozen men appeared and
stood within the ring of light cast by Alonzo's electric torch. They
began to talk in German, every word of which was of course intelligible
to Vera's ears.

"Are you all ready?" Alonzo asked.

"We are all ready, sir, yes," the leader of the Germans said. "Down
below at the foot of the cliff our boat is waiting. It is a motor boat
ready to convey us back to the fishing smack. In half an hour we could
be eight or ten miles away, and behold once more we are fishermen on
board a Newhaven trawler. It is just the same all along the coast. We
are ready for your orders."

Alonzo wasted no time in further questions. At his suggestion Lady
Loxton produced a couple of keys from her pocket and handed them over to
him. He seemed to be doing something with a lock in the doorway. And
then the woodwork flew noiselessly back and disclosed the mouth of a
cave behind. Almost immediately the little knot of Germans dashed into
the cave and appeared to be doing something without the aid of lights.
They were evidently a well-trained lot, for there was no noise or
confusion, and they did not appear in the least to be in each other's
way.

"That is good," Alonzo muttered. "The sooner we make a start the sooner
the thing will be over."

Upon this something seemed to move from the mouth of the cave and take
up its place on the level platform just outside. Vera was prepared for
something startling, and therefore she was not in the least surprised to
see the outline of a gun. Presently there were three of them altogether,
a battery of field artillery properly equipped and manned and amply
supplied with ammunition as Vera could see for herself. And then she
understood.

Here was a bold attempt, and apparently a successful one to bombard
Brighton. The mischief could not last long, but in the course of half an
hour a terrible amount of damage might be done. So far as Vera had
heard, the same bold raid was going on at that very moment along the
whole of the south coast. For all practical purposes nothing would be
gained by this spectacular effect, but many lives would be lost and a
profound impression created. It was little more than a theatrical effect
to tickle the vanity of the Kaiser, but there it was, and before it
could be stopped Brighton might be more or less reduced to a heap of
ruins. Vera regretted now that she had not left the car by the roadside
and hurried along westward till she could find some coastguard or road
patrol to whom he could have appealed for assistance.

But that was too late now, and the worst of it was that for a long time
to come the people of Brighton would be utterly helpless and would not
have the faintest idea of the direction from which the rain of death was
being directed. The distance might be anything between three and six
miles, and anywhere along the range of downs that command the town.

There the guns were all gleaming and ready, and not lacking so much as a
drop of oil anywhere. Vera could see the ammunition handed out, then she
rose from her hiding place and raced down the hill towards the nearest
coastguard station.




CHAPTER LXIV.--Under Fire.


Surely there must be some coastguard station handy here. Vera knew
Brighton well enough, and she had made many a trip to Rottingdean in the
old days. She was trying to locate in her mind now and presently it
began to come back to her. She ran along the road for a quarter of a
mile or so, then turned sharply to the right and climbed the hill. Here
she found a dozen or more whitewashed cottages close together, and
behind them she could make out the outline of a flagstaff. There were
lights in one or two of the houses, some of them in the downstairs
windows, and Vera knocked at the door. It seemed to her that she could
hear someone moving inside, though no attempt was made to answer her
summons. She tried the door handle, and it gave to her touch. Then she
walked inside.

On the table was a cheap oil lamp, and on the floor two men lay gagged
and bound. They were local coastguards who had evidently been taken by
surprise, and it needed no great intelligence on Vera's part to know
that these were not the only victims.

She asked no questions, she searched about till she found a knife and
cut away the cords from the angry prisoners. She might be in time yet,
though she much doubted it. Even as she knelt at work there came to her
ears the quick roar of one of the guns, then a second and a third. The
bombardment of Brighton had begun.

The town was asleep at that moment, thinking no evil and secure in the
strip of sea that lay between her and the theatre of war. Brighton had
laughed at the threat of the Kaiser to throw a force of men across the
channel and lay London in ruins. The Madman of Potsdam had his hands
full enough as it was, the thing was ridiculous to the verge of
absurdity. But they had underrated the Kaiser's aptitude for dangerous
mischief. They had forgotten that the great adventure had been planned
for forty years. And, there and then, as Brighton lay asleep the terror
was at her gates.

There was no occasion for that reckless band of gunners to need any
range finder for the field pieces which had lain hidden there for years.
All that had been planned and worked out to the minutest detail years
before. The first shell fell in the open square just in front of the
Aquarium, and the clock tower crumbled into a heap of ruins. The second
shell fell crashing on the pavilion at the end of the Palace Pier, and a
second later there uprose a roaring column of flame that lighted up the
whole front with a glow of crimson.

Meanwhile Vera set the two prisoners free. The story they had to tell
was a brief one. Someone had disturbed them an hour or two before and
immediately they had shown their faces outside they had been fallen upon
by half a dozen armed men, who had promptly gagged and bound them. No
doubt the same thing had happened to the patrols all along the coast
between Brighton and Rottingdean.

"Are there any other men here?" Vera asked.

"They are all out on duty, miss," the coastguard explained. "But I
expect they have all been served the same way as we have. Perhaps you
can tell us what's going on."

Vera told her story in as few words as possible. Even as she spoke she
could hear the quick crack of the guns not more than half a mile away.
She had been disappointed to find so little assistance here. She had
looked forward to the help of a dozen men or more, but here she was with
but two of the coastguards, and though they had their rifles and knew
how to use them, the odds were tremendously heavy. The men were willing
enough, and spoke with modesty as to their ability to use a rifle, but
they could not hope to cope successfully with perhaps a dozen desperate
men who had come ready to give up their lives and indeed never sanguine
of getting away in safety. Meanwhile the bombardment was going steadily
on, and panic had Brighton in its grasp. The streets were full of people
now, running about here and there and asking questions that no one could
possibly answer. So far no damage had been done to the gas or power
stations, and the terror of darkness had not been added to the live
peril of the moment. But no one could give any advice, for the simple
reason that not a soul had the least idea of the direction whence the
terror came. There were troops in the town, bodies of which would be
pushed out presently in all directions to try and locate the death
dealing batteries, but it would be quite impossible to strike anything
like an effective blow before daylight.

As soon as the authorities had got an intelligent grip of the position
and chaos began to dissolve itself into order, the first scouting
outposts began to move towards the downs from the Devil's Dyke to
Rottingdean. The inhabitants were driven in doors except for the hardy
few who remained in the streets and defied the police. Presently the
telephones began to ask questions from all along the coast, but they
were exactly the same questions that Brighton was asking herself, and
evidently all along the channel the same thing was happening. High over
the back of the town like a great fiery cross of warning to a sleeping
people the grandstand on the race course blazed as a beacon fire to half
the county of Sussex. Here and there the shells were falling, dealing
out the hail of death, and strong men swore impotently, for it was as if
the rain of terror was dropping from the sombre skies.. .. .

"We must do something!" Vera said. "You must not both of you attempt to
pick off those gunners. If you both get killed, who is going to summon
assistance? I will take one of you up the footpath at Tell Camp and show
you where the battery is located. The other one must go into Brighton at
once on his bicycle and bring back assistance. It is a matter of life
and death. A dozen resolute men who can shoot could put an end to the
peril in half an hour. We are wasting time now."

They raced down the slope into the main road until they came to the
pathway near to the spot where Alonzo's motor was hidden. Then one of
the coastguards mounted his bicycle and pedalled madly off in the
direction of Brighton. The other man, trailing his rifle behind him,
followed Vera until the masked battery was in sight. There was just
enough light to see what was going on. The coastguard raised his rifle
and covered one of the gunners.

"Not yet," Vera whispered. "Not yet. You can kill the man I know, but
that would only give the alarm. Now, we want to capture every one of
those men, if possible. We shall have to be patient."

The man with the rifle grunted something and lowered his weapon. It was
trying to lie there without striking a blow whilst those shells were
being poured into Brighton. Meanwhile they would have to sit there until
relief came, which could not possibly be in less than half an hour. No
doubt half a dozen fleet cars would be available within a few minutes of
the location of the battery reaching Brighton but they were long and
weary minutes, in which the work of destruction was going on without the
slightest interruption. It seemed a long long time before Vera sat up
and listened. She could hear muffled footsteps on the grass, and the
whispering of voices. Here and there in the gloom shadowy figures stood
out, somebody was whispering a word of command. The man by Vera's side
could stand it no longer.

He carefully sighted his rifle and turned it on a big gunner with a
heavy black moustache. There was a crack and a spit of flame, and the
German fell like a limp rag, over the breach of his gun. Then the rifle
spoke twice more in rapid succession, and two other gunners rolled over
and lay motionless on the grass.

Further concealment was useless. The handful of Territorials rose to
their feet and yelled as they charged forward. Three minutes later not a
single German remained alive.

The danger was over now, and it behoved Vera to think of herself. The
last thing she wanted was that her name should be mentioned in
connection with this affair. She shrank back into the long grass, and
gradually edged into a patch of gorse, where she could hear everything
without being seen. Her friend the coastguard was vigorously describing
everything that had happened before relief came.

"It was a young lady who came and told us," he said. "I should say she
was a mistress from the school yonder. Gone back again probably. But
there was a woman with those Germans and a tall, foreign-looking chap
with a black beard. I don't see either of them about."

For the moment Vera had forgotten about Alonzo and Lady Loxton. No doubt
they had managed to hide themselves somewhere. Perhaps they were waiting
till the coast was clear before making any attempt to regain the motor
car and return to London, which would not be a difficult matter in the
excitement of the moment.

Vera made her way slowly downwards, and hid herself somewhere near the
car. An hour or two went slowly by before the conspirators reappeared.
Vera had barely time to reach her hiding place in the hood before the
car was started.

"Which way are you going?" Lady Loxton asked.

"Not through Brighton," Alonzo muttered. "Over the downs by way of Lewes
and so to Town. I suppose you know you were recognised to-night. I heard
your name mentioned and mine."

"Then what's to be done?" Lady Loxton asked.

"East Coast," Alonzo snapped. "Take refuge with Blair Allison and leave
the rest to Providence."




CHAPTER XLV.--The Night of Terror.


Long before Vera had completed her perilous journey to London details of
the amazing happenings on the South Coast had begun to reach the
Metropolis. At first the people were inclined to regard the whole thing
as a hoax, but when the telephones began to speak from all directions a
different view prevailed. After all the thing was possible. There would
be no amazing difficulty in landing a score of resolute men along the
coast line extending from Dover beyond Portsmouth, especially if
everything was ready for them. All along the sea-board fishing was going
on night and day, and the signs of lanterns drifting up and down would
not excite suspicion anywhere. The news began to trickle in just as the
great daily papers were going to press, and most of them were being held
back till the last possible moment.

When London was reached, and the car finally pulled up at Medhurst
Gardens, the streets were unusually thronged for that hour of the
morning. It was quite evident that something was wrong, as Vera could
see directly she found an opportunity of slipping out from her hiding
place and making her way up the stairs. She was only just in time, for
apparently Alonzo had forgotten something, for she met him hurrying down
the stairs into the hall.

He looked at her suspiciously.

"You are out very late, Miss Leroux," he said.

"I might say the same thing of you," Vera smiled. "I have been seeing
some friends at Hamstead, and the car in which I was coming home was
stopped and taken by the authorities, and I had to walk the rest of the
way back. They hardly waited to apologise to me. I hope there is nothing
seriously wrong."

"Some ridiculous talk of a German raid," Alonzo said. "The streets are
full of people discussing it. I dare say it is some silly attempt on the
Kaiser's part to frighten people. So far as our charming friend Lady
Loxton is concerned it seems to have succeeded. She telephoned to me in
a great hurry just now, and asked me to come round with my car and drive
her somewhere inland where she would be quite safe with her friends. Of
course, I am delighted to be of service, and if you are feeling
nervous----"

Alonzo finished with a shrug of his shoulders. It was all so easily and
cleverly done that Vera could not help admiring the man's
self-possession. But she knew better. She knew perfectly well why that
car was waiting there, and that Alonzo and his companion would be on
their way to the north in a few minutes. And it was up to her to do all
that she could to prevent their departure. She might have gone at once
with her story to Scotland Yard or the War Office, but she did not want
to do that. The spirit of adventure was strong upon her still. She was
longing to take part in the raid which Roslyn and Hallett had planned on
the East Coast, and she was anxious to see Lady Loxton and Alonzo caught
in that particular net. If the worst came to the worst, and Alonzo got
away on his journey North, then she would inform the authorities. But
their was many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip, and Alonzo might be
detained after all. With the possibility of this in her mind, Vera
lingered in the hall waiting for Alonzo to return. Then she would go up
in the lift with him, and it would be no fault of her's if she did not
manage to find her way into Lady Loxton's flat. What she would do when
she got there did not in the least matter for the moment. There was a
chance of picking up a bit of valuable information. What Vera
particularly wanted to do was to meet Paul Rosslyn, and warn him what
was taking place before these arch-conspirators had arrived. She was
still turning over the prospects of this in her mind when her attention
was diverted to an angry altercation going on in the road outside. She
could hear Alonzo protesting passionately, and she crept across the hall
to listen.

"What's the good of arguing?" the voice protested. "You will gain
absolutely nothing by abusing me. Besides, you are not an Englishman.
You might be a German spy."

"Ah," Alonzo spluttered. "How suspicions you English are. I have given
you my name, and you say that it is familiar to you. Let me tell you it
is a name known all over the world. Every child knows that I am a
Spaniard. Call the hall porter. He will tell you that I am speaking the
truth."

Vera could see now what was going on. On the pavement stood a
muscular-looking young Englishman in a serviceable blue serge suit, and
wearing on his arm the badge of a special constable. He stood between
Alonzo and the car quietly and good-temperedly, but at the same time
quite determined.

"Now look here," he said. "My orders are quite strict, and I am going to
obey them. There has been trouble on the South Coast, and we have all
had instructions to see that no car enters or leaves London by any road
without a permit. If you try that on you will be shot. I shall have to
telephone your description to the suburbs, and if you like to run the
risk so much the worse for you. Possibly late in the afternoon you may
get a permit, but, seeing you are a foreigner, I should very much doubt
it."

The speaker turned away, and strolled along the street. Vera was easier
in her mind now. It was quite plain that Alonzo was not going to get
away for many hours to come, and with any luck she would be up in the
North in time to warn Rosslyn. She could go to bed with an easy mind,
secure in the knowledge that she had struck a blow for freedom, and that
the bold and adventurous career of Alonzo and Lady Loxton had reached
its end.

Nevertheless she was down early the following morning, and eager to see
the papers. They were practically filled with the story of the German
raid, to the exclusion of everything else. In every case the plan of
campaign was identical, in every case the attack had been made from some
lonely spot near the various coast towns which had been selected by the
German spies. It was the same at Brighton and Littlehampton, the same at
Hastings and Eastbourne. The latter town had been quite a typical
example. The lonely stretch of downs at the back of Willingdon Golf Club
had afforded an ideal spot for the attack on the town. It had been no
difficult matter to land the gunners at Pevensey, whence they had made
their way over the marshes to the high ground. Here also was a disused
quarry, which had been fitfully worked by foreigners a few years ago,
and subsequently abandoned. The scheme was ridiculously simple and easy,
so easy that no suspicion had ever been aroused. The guns hidden there
were somewhat of an old pattern, no doubt, but they were powerful enough
to destroy an open town in a few hours.

And they had done damage enough in all consciousness. They had had a
free hand for the best part of two hours or more before the troops
training at Cooden Beach and Hastings were got on the way, and the high
ground behind the town from Beachy Head away past Willingdon had been
thoroughly scoured and the deadly battery unmasked. For the most part
the German gunners had got away safely enough, leaving their guns and
ammunition behind them, which they had done with a light heart, seeing
that they had been successful beyond their wildest dreams. They had done
their work successfully enough, and for once in a way Berlin would be
able to tell the truth.

The papers there would be able to say that the invasion of England was
an accomplished fact, and that batteries had been landed and planted on
a score of positions commanding as many English towns. They would be
able to say that the terror had come in the night, and that many a
prosperous watering-place had been unmercifully shelled. They would say,
of course, that the South of England had been destroyed, and that
millions of terrified fugitives were fleeing towards London. London
would be next, and for the first time in many months Berlin would have
something to rejoice over.

Fortunately the loss of life was not great. Streets were injured here
and there, and one or two hotels on the sea front badly damaged. In most
cases the audacious Germans had got away, but they had had to leave
everything behind them, so that there was no chance of a further raid
taking place. Vera was still engaged over these details when Lady Loxton
came gliding into the room.

"Oh, this is a nice thing," she said. "One thing I am thankful for is
that I was not in Brighton last night. I see that the hotel Metropole is
in ruins. I suppose it will be London's turn next. You may call me a
coward if you like, but I am not going to stay here. I am going to the
North. I should have gone early this morning, only those stupid people
actually refused me a permit for the car. They told Alonzo, who kindly
offered to drive me, that no permits will be issued until after
to-morrow. I suppose I shall have to stay till to-morrow afternoon. Are
you staying too?"

Vera was not sure. It would have been unwise to speak of her movements
to this woman. All the same she knew exactly what she was going to do.
She was leaving London by a fast train soon after lunch, and she hoped
to meet Rosslyn at Filey somewhere about tea time. She shook Lady Loxton
off, and went on hurriedly with her preparations for departure. As she
anticipated, the trains were running as usual and she soon reached her
destination.

Rosslyn was there on the platform awaiting her.

"We are going straight to Inchcliffe Castle," he said. "Come on, I have
got a car waiting."




CHAPTER XLVI.--The Other Spider.


Vera asked no questions. She knew that the broad road of adventure lay
before her, and that there was yet much to be done, but it was good to
know that she was amongst friends, and that no longer would she have to
make her way alone. It was a warm welcome that awaited her from Lady
Inchcliffe, who in a way reminded Vera of Lady Loxton. She was small,
and fair and vivacious, always cheery and good-tempered and absolutely
devoid of brains. In fact, she was typically a musical comedy lady, to
whose charms so many of the younger aristocracy had fallen victims
during the last few years.

"I hear all sorts of wonderful things of you," she said, as she settled
Vera down in a great chair before the hall fire. "Now I want you to make
yourself perfectly happy here, and do just as you like. You are one of
the conspirators, I understand. I believe that all sorts of mysterious
things are going on of which Inchcliffe tells me nothing. He says it is
utterly impossible for me to keep a secret of any kind, and, really, he
is quite right. People come and go in the middle of the night, and Mr.
Hallett and his friends never seem to go to bed, and that is about all I
know. So if I ask you any questions you don't want to answer don't do
so. Now have some more tea."

Vera smiled at this unconventional reception. But all the same it made
her easy in her mind, and later on, when Inchcliffe turned his wife
unceremoniously out of the library with an intimation that she was not
wanted, Vera did not feel in the least uncomfortable.

"You have just come straight from town, haven't you?" Inchcliffe asked.
"No more trouble there, I hope?"

"As a matter of fact, Miss Leroux knows all about it," Rosslyn said.
"She had adventures thrilling enough for yellow covers. She saw the raid
on Brighton from start to finish. Don't be shy, Vera. Tell these people
all about it."

Vera stammered out the history of her wonderful trip. It did not occur
to her that she had done anything calling for marvellous courage and
resolution, and her cheeks crimsoned as she listened to the chorus of
praise from her listeners.

"It was just good luck," she said. "Mr. Hallett put me on the track; and
after that fortune favoured me in the most extraordinary way. Absolutely
nothing went wrong. Now do tell me what's going on here, and how I can
help. It's so dreadfully lonely working by oneself. I think I can be
useful."

"You can be of the greatest possible assistance," Hallett said. "Now
listen to what I have to say."

In a few words Hallett explained the course of events during the last
day or two. He had managed to decipher the code of the window curtains
with the aid of the catalogue, and now had the whole thing at his
fingers' ends. It was no part of his scheme to take the conspirators
single-handed, for he preferred, if possible, to capture the whole of
them at one fell swoop.

"We have contrived for the moment to put them entirely off their guard,"
he said. "They think the arrangements have broken down for the time
being, and that there is reason for delay. We know that there are
several hostile fishing smacks hanging about in the bay outside waiting
for orders, and we know that these boats are connected with the laying
of mines. We have every reason to believe that the mines are not on
board the boats. That would be a rather dangerous proceeding in case of
a search. But the mines are somewhere handy where they can be taken on
board at a moment's notice, and it is this hiding place that we want to
discover. If we can put our hands on those and the crews of the fishing
boats at the same time, then I think we can break up this gang
altogether."

"Where can I help?" Vera asked.

"I was just coming to that," Hallett went on. "I am going to ask you to
be good enough to spend most of to-morrow mastering the cipher of the
window curtains. I will give you the key and I have no doubt you will
learn the whole thing in the course of the day. You see our great
difficulty has been to change the letters on the curtains in the same
neat way as they have been altered hitherto. I have used tiny spots of
gum, but what we want is a woman who is quick and neat with a needle."

"I make all my own blouses," Vera smiled.

"Excellent," Hallett exclaimed. "I was quite sure you would be most
useful. You will be able to make all the necessary changes without the
slightest trace of clumsiness. Now I am laying a little trap for these
people to-morrow night and I shan't be able to spare one of my friends
here to work the signals from the house on the cliff. They will have to
be changed from time to time at certain specified hours, and this it the
task that I propose to put in your hands, Miss Vera. I know you won't
shrink from it."

"I don't think I shall," Vera said quietly. "Now let me clearly
understand. You are going to give me a series of messages to tack on the
window curtains and these things are to be altered and changed according
to a time-table. The lights will go up and down as I am doing my work.
Shall I be alone in the house?"

"Not altogether," Hallett explained. "One of my trusted subordinates and
his wife are in the house acting as caretakers. They don't know much,
though they are both old hands at the game. It won't interfere with you
unless something quite unexpected happens, some unforeseen danger and
all that sort of thing. My man is a resolute fellow, quite capable of
using a revolver. Of course, no one about has the least notion of what
has happened. People are under the impression that Blair Allison and his
wife have gone abroad on business and the servants are having a
holiday."

There was no more to be said or done for the moment and Vera went away
wearily to bed. She was utterly tired out with the toil and excitement
of the last eight-and-forty hours, and only too ready to rest. But she
was up betimes in the morning and hard at work with the cipher directly
after breakfast. All this sort of thing was child's play to her, so that
by lunch time she had the whole thing by heart and was quite capable of
working the secret code without any reference to the ingenious
catalogue.

"Splendid," Hallett said. "The way you picked that up is wonderful. I
don't know what we should have done without you. Now do take a rest this
afternoon and don't think any more about it until after dinner. About
half-past ten you had better announce your intention of retiring for the
night, then come down again and meet us in the hall. Put on something
warm and serviceable; you need not be afraid of meeting the servants,
because they will all be sent to bed by that time."

Vera was glad enough to have an hour or two to herself to wander about
the grand old house and make herself agreeable to Lady Inchcliffe. It
seemed strange to stroll up and down the magnificent terrace in front of
the castle, to look out over the ancient park where the deer were lying
peacefully under the trees, and realise the deadly intrigue which was
going on only a mile or two away. It seemed to Vera that she was leading
two separate lives. She sat in the drawing-room presently listening to
Lady Inchcliffe's pleasant frivolous chatter and all the time longing
for the moment of action to arrive. She could hear the men talking in
the billiard-room, she could hear the click of the balls and someone
calling the score. All this was such a long way from the trouble and
strife that Vera could not altogether grasp the connection between the
two. Then the time came for her to bid her hostess good-night, and a
quarter of an hour later with Hallett and the rest she was making her
way across the park in the direction of the house on the cliff. They did
not touch the road at any point, and just as a clock somewhere was
striking the hour of eleven the discreet caretaker opened the door and
admitted them.

"Nobody been here, I suppose?" Hallett asked. "That's all right. No, we
are not coming in. We have work to do elsewhere. But we are leaving this
lady behind and you will do anything she asks. Please show her into the
suite of bedrooms and bathrooms in the front of the house and point out
where the controlling switch of the electric light is. I think that's
all."

The discreet subordinate bowed respectfully and asked Vera if she would
be good enough to follow him. She had nothing with her, not even the key
to the cipher, for she already knew that by heart. She asked her guide a
few simple questions, then when she had satisfied herself that the box
of embroidered letters and needle and cotton were handy, she closed the
door and proceeded to study the card on which Hallett had tabulated his
messages and the various times they were to be signalled by means of the
window curtains. It was a somewhat monotonous job, requiring a certain
amount of patience and at intervals the putting out of the light whilst
the necessary letters were being altered. But at length the messages
drew to a close and the last one had just been signalled when there came
a low tap at the door and the caretaker looked anxiously in.

"I don't quite know what to do miss," he said. "Some visitors have just
turned up asking to see Mr. Blair Allison. I had to say I was only here
taking another man's place and that I'd inquire. If only Mr. Hallett was
here."

A sudden fear flashed into Vera's mind.

"Did these people give any names?" she asked.

"Oh, yes, miss. I asked for names, and the gentleman calls himself
Alonzo, and the other as Lady Loxton."




CHAPTER XLVII.--The Hour That Mattered.


Vera had quite forgotten both Lady Loxton and Alonzo. They had gone
clean out of her mind from the moment that she had left London, and she
never thought of saying anything to Hallett about them. Of course
Hallett had been informed that the two spies had been present at the
attack on Brighton and that in point of fact they had engineered the
whole thing, but she had never got far enough in her story to reach the
point when Alonzo had proclaimed the fact that he and his companion had
been recognised and had suggested that they should fly to Blair Allison
for protection.

And here they were at the door clamouring for admission. The reason for
their coming was perfectly plain. They had been unfortunately recognised
by someone and were fully alive to the fact that so far as they were
concerned the game was up and England was no longer a place of safety.
They had probably come with a view to getting away on one of the fishing
smacks to the Dutch coast. Once there they were safe enough even though
their story was known to every peasant in Holland.

That was one of the advantages of being a spy. Once beyond an enemy's
frontier, and he could laugh at the country he had betrayed. And so it
was with Alonzo and his companion. They had come up here knowing that
Blair Allison would hide them until they could be smuggled across the
sea. In a way without knowing it they had delivered themselves into the
hands of the foe, and indeed in the circumstances they could have chosen
no more unfortunate hiding-place. But even at this moment they were very
near to discovering the truth, and this was what Vera had to prevent.
She must allay the suspicions of these people, she must account for her
own presence there, and keep the spies until help came.

She took in the caretaker at a glance. She liked the look of him, she
liked his resolute face and determined jaw. And, moreover, Hallett had
told her that she could confide in his subordinate if anything like
danger presented itself.

"You have done quite well so far," she said. "Those people downstairs
are unscrupulous. They have come here under a misapprehension. They come
here to hide themselves until they can leave the country. They must not
be allowed to leave, indeed Mr. Hallett would be terribly annoyed if
they slipped through his fingers. Invite them into the house, tell them
Mr. Blair Allison is away but that the lady of the house will be down
presently. You had better suggest that she had gone to bed but that on
hearing their names she had decided to come downstairs. That will give
us a quarter of an hour's delay at least. If they get really suspicious
then you will have to show your hand and detain them. Do not hesitate to
show violence if necessary."

The man tapped his pocket significantly.

"You needn't be afraid, miss," he said. "Mr. Hallett and me, we have
been in many a tight place together, and we have always come out on top.
But what do you propose to do, miss?"

"I am going to see if I can find Mr. Hallett, or some of them," Vera
said. "I don't suppose they are very far off. I'll come back as soon as
I can. You had better go and give my message to the visitors and ask
them into the house. Put them in a room if you can where there is only
one window, a room you could lock them in if you wanted to. Make escape
as difficult as possible. And if you can steal out presently and damage
the car they came in it would be perhaps just as well. Now go along."

The caretaker favoured Vera with an admiring glance and departed on his
errand. Vera had fortunately finished sending her messages now, so that
she was able to act as she pleased. She stole very cautiously down the
stairs and into the hall. It would never do for her to meet Lady Loxton
or Alonzo at that moment, and she was pleased to see that all the doors
leading out of the hall were closed and that the caretaker was standing
there apparently listening. As Vera came forward he smiled significantly
and jerked his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the
morning-room. Vera could hear the murmur of voices as she smiled in
reply and then made her way out on to the lawn. It was very dark there,
and just for a moment she hardly knew which way to turn. She was trying
to memorise the route by which she had come, and it seemed to her
presently that she had got it clear. Then she moved cautiously across
the lawn in the direction of the cliffs until it seemed to her that she
could make out a figure advancing in her direction.

Her eyes were getting accustomed to the gloom now and she was sure that
here was Hallett on his way back to the house.

"Oh, I am so thankful to have met you," she exclaimed. "A most
extraordinary thing has happened. I know that I am greatly to blame, but
I quite forgot to tell you that Lady Loxton and Alonzo were recognised
during that Brighton affair; in fact, I overheard Alonzo telling Lady
Loxton. They made up their minds to come up here for shelter, and they
are here. The worst part of it is that I knew they were coming. I cannot
understand how I can have been so foolish as to have forgotten to tell
you. At any rate, here they are and I should like to know what I am to
do with them?"

"Actually in the house?" Hallett asked.

"Yes, both of them. They are under the impression that Blair Allison is
away somewhere and that Mrs. Blair Allison, who is supposed to be in
bed, is hastily dressing to receive them. Couldn't you come back with me
at once----"

"No, I couldn't," Hallett said curtly. "Don't think I am rude; but I am
risking the success of the whole of our campaign by leaving my post for
a moment. I will scribble on this bit of paper a fresh signal which I
want you to display at once. It will be the last to-night, but it must
be got through at all hazards. I was coming back to give it you, even
though I spoilt everything by leaving my post. You must do the best you
can with those people, try and fool them, say and do anything you like
for the next hour or so, by which time I shall be free to act."

Hallett turned abruptly away and disappeared in the darkness. He seemed
to be restless and uneasy about something which did not detract from
Vera's own feeling of nervousness. But without a moment's delay she flew
back to the house again and flashed past the caretaker who was still
standing on guard in the hall. He made a significant motion as she
passed, from which she inferred that the car had been put out of action.
She ran lightly up the stairs and a few moments later the fresh signal
stood out boldly from the window with the brilliant glare of the
electric light behind it.

The feeling of nervousness had left her now, and she was quite herself
as she made her way down the stairs. The people she was about to meet
had lived well and luxuriously all these years by lying and trickery and
they were going to be met by their own weapons now. In the ordinary way
it would have been an unequal contest, but forewarned is forearmed, and
it seemed to Vera that she had all the leading cards in her hand.

She walked smilingly into the morning-room and held out her hand to Lady
Loxton. She seemed to take it all for granted, and there was a
suggestion of mischief in her eyes.

"This is quite a pleasant surprise," she said. "Now who would have
thought of meeting you here? And who would have thought that Lady Loxton
was one of us?"

The other woman hesitated and stammered.

"I don't know what you mean," she said.

"My dear Lady Loxton, there is no reason for any caution under this
roof. When the man brought me your name I was fairly staggered for the
moment. I had no idea you were a spy like the rest of us. As a matter of
fact, both the Blair Allisons are away on important business. I didn't
know that till I got here yesterday and found the house in charge of a
caretaker and his wife. No doubt the servants have been sent away for
some good reason, but nobody in the neighbourhood suspects anything and
you will be just as safe here as anywhere else. Now, fancy you and I
being friends this long time and neither of us knowing that the other
was a spy! If you knew my fathers real name you would be astonished. But
you look troubled and worried, and not a bit like your usual self. If
there is any way I can help you I shall be delighted."

Lady Loxton smiled for the first time. Evidently she had not the
slightest suspicion of Vera's object, and even Alonzo no longer regarded
Vera with a hostile glance.

"We are in trouble," Lady Loxton said. "It is the old story of the
pitcher that goes once too often to the well. We were in than Brighton
business, and somebody unfortunately recognised us. So we came here on
the chance of finding one of those fishing boats in which we could get
over to Holland. We thought we could hide here until the opportunity
came."

"Ah, I am afraid I don't know anything at all about that," Vera said.
"It is out of my line altogether. And now let me get you something to
eat. I am sure you must need it. Oh, no trouble. I have only to ring the
bell."

The bell was answered a moment or two later. But the man standing there
was not the caretaker, but Hallett.




CHAPTER XLVIII.--Beyond the Power of Evil.


With an oath Alonzo flung aside the cigarette he had lighted and jumped
to his feet. He had seen the trap like a flash, and he moved a pace
forward as if he would have fallen on Vera and choked the life out of
her. It was maddening to be fooled by a child like that, to be deluded
by her smiles and innocence. It was all very well to sneer over many a
wise man who had been snared by Lady Loxton's artlessness, but it was
quite another matter now that the same weapons were turned upon himself.
And moreover he was not armed. He had always despised the class of spy
who travelled with a revolver in his pocket. And he knew, too, the
determined character of the man who stood there smiling grimly in the
doorway.

"You have done exceedingly well, Miss Leroux," Hallett said. "Let me
congratulate you on the way you have managed this little affair. Will
you kindly sit down, Senor Alonzo. You will gain in nothing by violence.
Lady Loxton I regret to say that you are my prisoner. A few days ago I
arrested Mrs. Blair Allison in this very room. I might as well tell you
that she and her husband are both in custody as also are Allison's
confederates. It was very unfortunate that you should come here."

Lady Loxton showed her teeth in a brilliant smile. She could not forget
her blandishments even now.

"We came to see our friends," she said.

"No doubt," Hallett replied. "But the real reason why you came here was
because you were recognised in connection with that Brighton affair, and
you were astute enough to see that your career in England was finished.
You will stay here till to-morrow, when you will both be handed over to
the police. As doubtless you have both been here before you are aware of
those armoured turrets in the roof. They will make two very efficient
cells, where you will be perfectly safe till the morning. Now, Lady
Loxton, will you please go first. Senor Alonzo after you."

Alonzo crept along unwillingly into the hall. He glared round him with
some desperate idea of escape in his mind, but the sight of the
caretaker standing there stolidly fingering a revolver caused him to
change his mind. A moment or two later and the two spies were locked
securely away in the steel-lined turret bedrooms, which no doubt had
been erected at some time as a possible platform for machine guns. Vera
breathed more freely when the keys were turned upon them and they were
powerless for further harm.

"That was well done," Hallett said. "Uncommonly well done. We are making
a bigger bag than I anticipated."

"It was a pure accident," Vera said. "I cannot see how I can take any
praise from it. They were so easily deceived, and you came back just at
the right time. I do hope everything is going well outside."

"Splendidly," Hallett explained. "Nothing could be better. That last
message of yours has done the trick beautifully. In addition to the four
fishing smacks we have lured in a ship which would be rather difficult
to describe. She is a sort of combination between a hospital craft and a
mission vessel flying the flags of all nations. She has been hanging
about for weeks and nobody seems to have had the slightest suspicion of
her. But the last hour Inchcliffe has been cruising about in one of his
motor boats picking up a heap of information. It was he who suggested
that I should fish for the stranger with one of the code signals, and
your last message was responded to at once. Now the whole lot are there
together in the bay, and almost at any moment the crews may come here
for instructions. Our idea is to tackle them one by one as they come in
and lay them out. There won't be more than thirty of them altogether and
we have got plenty of room for them in the big turret bedroom, where
they will be as safe as if they were in York jail. And that reminds me
that this will be no place for you, Miss Vera. You had better let my man
here escort you back to the castle----"

"Oh, I must stay," Vera said. "I should like to see the finish of this
thing. You never know if my services might be useful."

Hallett demurred, but finally gave way, much against his better
judgment. He was half disposed to argue the point further when the front
door opened and the others came in.

They looked smiling and confident enough, they had the air of men who
have done big things.

"So all goes well?" Hallett asked.

"Couldn't be better," Inchcliffe said. "That third signal of yours did
the trick, I mean the one about the mines, I left Montague and the other
two at the foot of the cliff just by the side of the caves, and as I set
off on my little trip round the smacks I caught a glimpse of a boat
coming in. There was only one man in it, and I felt quite sure that he
was coming to get those mines ready. Montagu will tell you what happened
afterwards."

"We spotted the beggar all right," Montague took up the story. "We
followed him across the sands and saw him enter one of the caves. He
produced a lantern, after which, with the aid of a lever, he lifted a
spring trap and a lot of big rocks flung back on hinges and disclosed a
cavern beyond. Really a most ingenious affair, but that's not the point.
Inside the cave were quite a hundred mines all ready for use. Then we
dropped on our man, who showed fight. We did not want any noise of
revolvers, so we promptly shot him and put an end to that game. Oh, yes,
we killed him right enough. Then Inchcliffe came back and expounded a
little idea of his own. We filled up his motor boat and the spy's boat
with mines, and for the last hour we have been doing a little laying of
our own."

"Rather a dangerous game," Hallett observed.

"It might be in less expert hands than mine," Inchcliffe said coolly.
"But I know what I am doing, as you will see presently. When my little
programme comes off there won't be any of those mines left to damage
anybody."

Hallett let it go at that. He knew that in Inchcliffe he had an ally who
could read the sea and who understood the strategic side of it like an
open book. Moreover, there was no time to argue, for at any moment the
crews of the smacks and the sham hospital ship might be arriving for
their instructions.

"We can discuss the point later," Hallett said. "Meanwhile it seems to
me that I can hear steps on the gravel outside. Your are all armed,
aren't you? Good! Open the door."

The caretaker flung the door back and four men slouched in. By the way
they advanced it was evident that this was by no means their first
visit, for they made straight for the dining-room quite unaware of the
fact that they were flanked by six resolute armed men. They turned
sharply as Hallett spoke.

"Stop!" he said. "Put up your hands everyone of you. The first man who
moves pays the penalty."

There was no help for it, there was nothing for it but to obey.
Bewildered and dismayed by this unexpected attack under the roof of a
man whom they had regarded as their friend, they took it as docilely as
if they had been so many children caught in some act of mischief. In a
few minutes they had been thoroughly searched and stripped of their
weapons. Before the next batch had arrived they were safe in the
turret-room, powerless for future mischief.

They came one after the other, each of them straight into the trap, so
that not a shot was fired; there was not even the semblance of a
struggle. Hallett stood there with a grim smile of satisfaction on his
face until the fifth batch of spies arrived from the so-called hospital
ship, and then his eyes gleamed with satisfaction as they fell on a tall
man with an upturned moustache.

"At last!" Hallett cried. "It's a good many years since we last met Mr.
Charles Steinburg, but I always told you that I should have you in the
end. I might have known that this little business was your planning. I
hope you are proud of it; I hope you are proud when you think of your
English birth."

The man thus addressed merely shrugged his shoulders and said nothing.
The others looked at him interested and fascinated by the sight of the
most infamous international spy the world had ever seen. But even that
desperate character knew when he was beaten and submitted to be searched
without a word of protest.

It was all over now, the spies had been rounded up, there had not been a
single hitch in the whole programme. Hallett smiled as he took out his
cigarette case and passed it round.

"We can go back to the castle now," he said. "These people are all safe
and I know that my man will make an efficient warder."

"Hold on a minute," Inchcliffe said. "We haven't finished my experiment
yet. Hallett, would you mind running upstairs and giving the signal. You
know what it is."

Ten minutes later the successful raiders were walking along the cliffs
in the direction of the castle. They were happy enough in the knowledge
of the good work done, all except Inchcliffe, who appeared to be anxious
about something. Then a sudden cry broke from his lips and he pointed
out to sea.

Five or six great blinding flashes lifted themselves from the face of
the waters and as many stunning explosions followed.

"Got the lot!" Inchcliffe cried. "Four smacks and the hospital ship.
Been a great night, hasn't it?"




CHAPTER XLIX.--What of the Harvest?


There was no popular excitement and no jubilation over the destruction
of the so called hospital ship and the fishing smacks in the North Sea.
One or two local correspondents picked up a few crumbs of information
which duly found their way into the hands of the news agencies, but all
this was looked upon as so much gossip, and in a day or two was
forgotten. Nor were the spies as yet brought before any tribunal. The
haul, made by Hallett and those under him was too far reaching and
important to be made public as yet. But a day or two later a very great
personage turned up unexpectedly and asked to see Inchcliffe at once.

He went into his own vast drawing-room in his own majestic home, a great
man in his way and looked up to by his own people, feeling very much
like a small boy unexpectedly summoned into the presence of a dreaded
headmaster.

"I am greatly honoured my lord," he stammered. "I am sorry to bring you
so far out of your way, and I would have come to you immediately if you
had sent for me."

The great man disguised a smile.

"I am not coming out of my way at all," he said. "I should have come up
here in any case. I have had a long report from Mr. Hallett, which has
interested me greatly."

"I hope it pleased your lordship," Inchcliffe murmured.

The great man relaxed visibly.

"It pleased me very much indeed," he said. "Now, look here, Inchcliffe,
I want you to forget for a moment who I am, or rather what I am, and
only remember me as your father's dearest and most intimate friend. When
the war broke out I sent for you and you did not come. I had a special
mission for you, and I don't mind telling you I was annoyed, very much
annoyed indeed."

"But my lord," Inchcliffe protested, "I never got your message. I was
off on my honeymoon----"

"Oh, yes, yes," the big man said testily. "I know that now. I refused to
see you, in which I was wrong. Hallett tells me that you knew nothing of
the war till you got to Southampton. Since then, however.. .. .. Of
course I can't make it public yet, but your splendid services are now
known in the proper quarters, and I have come down here to put a really
big thing into your hands. The way you tackled those smacks and that
bogus hospital ship would have been a credit to any officer of the
British Navy. In short, I am proud of you, my boy, and anything you like
to ask for you can have."

The great man shook hands heartily with Inchcliffe, and departed as
abruptly as he had come. It was later in the same day that Inchcliffe
sought Vera out and gave her a couple of newspapers. They were brown and
wrinkled, and evidently had been in the water for some little time. Vera
could see at a glance that they were German newspapers in fact, very
recent copies of the 'Berliner Zeitung.'

"Where did you get these from?" Vera asked.

"They were found just now on a body which was washed up this morning,
evidently a victim of the explosion," Inchcliffe explained. "Between
ourselves, I am anxious to get that body buried, because it is all that
remains of a famous German who shall be nameless. I can make much out of
the German myself, but it looks to me as if great happenings are taking
place in Berlin, and one or two names are mentioned which will be
familiar to you."

It seemed to Vera, when she came to read those newspapers in the
quietness of her bedroom, that she was dreaming. It seemed almost
impossible to believe that those amazing headlines could have come from
the office of so Pan-German an organ as the 'Berliner Zeitung.' Had the
editor suddenly gone mad, she wondered. Or had he suddenly become
converted to the side of the Democratic Federation? For the sheet that
she held in her hand was frankly and openly revolutionary. It was no
longer the slave of the German War Office, no longer a mere servile rag
humbly printing the mandate of the tyrants, but a fearless,
self-respecting journal speaking it's mind on the subject of the day,
and appealing to the German people. Some of the headlines stretched all
across the paper, thus--

BERLIN FREE.

THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

PROCLAIMED AT LAST.

REPUBLIC OR MONARCHY?

'There are no soldiers in Berlin!

'For the first time in its history Berlin is a free city. For the first
time since the foundation of the German Empire it is permitted to the
humblest of us to speak his mind freely without fear or the knowledge of
punishment to follow. Berlin is awake.

'For years we have slumbered, for years we have deluded ourselves that
we are the freest and most enlightened race on the face of the earth.
That has been our nightmare. Under the spell of that hideous nightmare
we have allowed the chains to be bound about us and our limbs fettered
by the Prussian tyrant. And not only were we physically in chains but we
were bound spiritually as well. We have been traitors to ourselves, but
not such accursed traitors as those whose duty was to lead us along in
the paths of Christianity and progress. There has been no soul in
Germany for years, it was stifled long ago. For nearly half a century we
have been drunk with conquest, and our spiritual physicians have
drenched us with poppies when they should have purged us with herbs. And
why? Because they have been bought body and soul by Prussian gold. They
preferred the purple and fine linen and the stalled ox to the dinner of
herbs.

'Now, where has all this brought us to? Are we marching victoriously
towards Paris and London and Petrograd, with the foe at our knee begging
for mercy? Oh, no. We have lost over a million precious lives, there is
not a house in Germany where eyes are dry, we are penned in like
starving rats in a cage. And we are on the verge of starvation, too. The
immense volume of trade, which we have steadily built up in the last
forty years has gone. We are at our last gasp, and still those bloody
Prussian tyrants take the best that is left of us like so many human
faggots and pile them on the funeral pyre, which is supposed to light
the dark way to London.

'It was only a few days ago that we began to see the light, began to
know how we were being deceived and how we were likely to lose the last
handful of our manhood if the tyrant of Potsdam had his way.

'It is only a few days since Berlin, like another Rip van Winkle, awoke
from her drugged sleep to the realisation of things as the are. We knew
nothing, in lieu of the bread we needed we were fed day by day with
stories of victories that were no more than defeats in disguise. We knew
nothing of the slaughter that was going on. Then suddenly out of the
skies there dropped the Manifesto of the Social Brotherhood. It burst
like a bombshell over Berlin. And it bore the stamp of truth upon it, so
that every man could read it for himself. The effect was instantaneous,
the social revolution coursed in the veins of Berlin as if she had been
one human body and one only. One moment and we were a military nation
filled with pride and ambition, the next we were the heart of the German
Republic only asking for the peace and goodwill of our neighbours.

'It was in vain that the police interfered, in vain the troops lined the
streets and drenched them with blood. With that we cemented the
foundations of the new Republic.

'And the Government saw the red light. There was no more violence after
the first day or two. Bethmann-Hollweg saw to that. And for once in his
life the king of Prussia listened to reason. We call him the king of
Prussia, because he is Emperor of Germany no longer. Our leaders forced
him to meet them, they forced him to promise that he would bring this
mad conflict to an end.

'That was the promise he made, but what of the fulfilment? The weary
conflict is still going on, though every man in Berlin is now solid for
the Republic. We have here three hundred thousand resolute citizens
ready to shed the last drop of their blood for their deluded country.
Our manifestos are prepared for delivery to every capital in Europe, but
there are powerful reasons why the movement fails. Unless we can get
assistance from without those appeals can never reach their destination.
Our new President, Steinitz, and his cabinet of patriots are doing the
best they can, but we lack a means of communication with the outer
world. It is whispered amongst those who know that a mysterious
aeroplane from England came to Berlin in the dead of night and
distributed the manifestos which were, so to speak, the seeds from which
the Revolution sprung.

'May the good friend who served us so well on that occasion reappear in
our midst. Already the good fruit is ripening in the army, already our
troops are turning their back on the tyrant's flag, and so making
shelter across the frontiers. We know that our troops are wearied and
broken down and bitterly conscious that they are but pawns in the vile
game prayed by the tyrant of Potsdam and his gang. So far have we got
but no further. And if these words should ever find their way into the
hands of the friend who helped us so gallantly that fateful night
perhaps they may move him to further effort, for civilisation and
freedom.'

All this and much more Vera read breathlessly. So far as she could see
the struggle for freedom had commenced, and the real soul of Germany was
awake. There were pages and pages devoted to the struggle, events that
thrilled Vera to the core, but there was one thing that stood out like a
flaming sword. Paul Rosslyn was needed now as he had never been needed
by her friends before.




CHAPTER L.--The Harvest Ripens.


With this amazing newspaper in her hand Vera set out in search of
Rosslyn. Hallett had gone back to London, together with Pascoe and
Montague leaving von Kemp behind. The latter had no desire to return to
London, where he might be recognised, and, though his work was
practically finished, there were a few little outstanding matters in
which he might be useful. Inchcliffe was happy enough, and was only
waiting now for his promised appointment. Rosslyn had nothing before him
for the moment and he and Vera had a most pressing invitation to remain
at the castle as long as possible.

"Here is a most extraordinary thing," Vera said. "I wish you would look
at this paper, Paul. It is quite a recent copy of the 'Berliner
Zeitung,' which up to the other day was one of the most rabid war organs
in Germany. It appears now to be the official organ of the new German
Republic. Berlin is in the hands of the Social Brotherhood. Berlin is
armed and determined to carry the socialist programme through. Steinitz
has been proclaimed President, and there is serious disaffection in the
army. The Republic has issued a manifesto which it is anxious to get
into the hands of the European Cabinets. This is the point where they
fail, but read the paper carefully for yourself. There is a message for
you there, unless I am greatly mistaken."

Paul grasped the paper eagerly. He sat there for a long time reading,
with Vera by his side. Her head was on his shoulder, and his arm about
her waist. And yet Rosslyn was so deeply engrossed with his reading that
he was only half conscious of Vera's presence. Then presently he looked
into her earnest eyes and smiled.

"You are quite right," he said. "The message stands out in letters of
flame. It is quite evident that the military authorities have taken the
greatest pains to prevent the rest of the world from discovering the
truth, so far as Berlin is concerned. But that message was intended for
me all the same. It was probably inspired by your father or Steinitz in
the hope that it would meet my eyes. Probably this particular paper was
brought from Berlin by one of the master spies who met his death in the
hospital ship. Anyway the arrow shot at a venture has found its mark."

Vera's face lit up with a glorious smile.

"Ah, I expected to hear you speak like that," she said. "I knew that you
would not hesitate a moment."

"I am going this very night," Paul said. "What an extraordinary business
this has been altogether. And what a story it will make when it comes to
be told. My dearest girl, I am just as keen on it as you are. I am
killing two birds with one stone. I am helping my country and Germany at
the same time. This means the death of Prussian militarism. I shall be
off after dark this evening, and long before you awake in the morning I
shall have seen your father and Steinitz. I shall bring back with me the
documents they want to send out to various European capitals, in fact I
shall do everything I can to make myself useful."

"How splendid it sounds," Vera cried. "Fancy one man having so much in
his power. It makes me feel almost afraid lest something should happen
to you. Is it prudent to go alone?"

"I have hardly given it a thought," Rosslyn said. "But since you mention
it, I have an idea. I am going to take von Kemp with me. He is a very
keen Republican, and he has done some magnificent work for us here. Now
that his task is finished he might prove exceedingly useful in Berlin.
At any rate, he shall have the chance of going there. Of his courage
there is no doubt."

Vera smiled approvingly. She was more glad at Rosslyn's decision than
she cared to say. She hated the idea of Paul travelling all those miles
through the dark and perilous night on his long flight to Berlin. What
he was going to attempt now out of sheer love for her and regard for her
father was a tremendously different hazard than the flight from
Wilhelmshaven to Berlin in company with a German subject ready to
guarantee his bona fides. On this occasion he was going to start from
somewhere near London; he was going to run the gauntlet of a dozen air
and sea planes, which would pursue him as relentlessly as if he had been
an avowed enemy. Once he was across the North Sea then the fact that he
was carrying a German passenger would be distinctly to his advantage.

But at any rate he was going. This mission was entirely his own, and he
did not feel disposed to confide in anybody. He meant to sink or swim,
and if there was to be any kudos in this midnight adventure then he was
going to have it all to himself.

"It's all right," he said. "You need not be in the least afraid. I would
fly that little plane of mine without hesitation to the North Pole. All
the same, I am going to take von Kemp with me. I know he will be useful,
and I am certain that he will jump at the idea. I will go and tell him
now. I'll get Inchcliffe to motor us over to York, and with any luck we
shall be in London by six. About nine o'clock this evening, if you stand
on the terrace, you can imagine me sliding silently out over the North
Sea at that moment. Oh, I shall be safe enough. Don't forget that my
engine is absolutely noiseless, and that I shall be passing seaward ten
thousand feet up without a soul being any the wiser."

Von Kemp rose eagerly enough to Rosslyn's suggestion. His thin, sallow
face flushed with triumph as he eagerly read the paper handed to him. He
smote his fist on it vigorously.

"At last," he cried. "At last. The scales have been washed from
Germany's eyes, but it has taken a river of blood to do it. Ah, before
long you will see the German walking arm in arm with the Englishman
again, and their children playing side by side on the sands. Not
Prussia, mind you, for that is another story. Yes, I will come with you
to-night gladly. I am only too grateful to you for the opportunity."

It was shortly after six when they reached London, and nearly nine
o'clock before the little plane was ready. The clock was just striking
the hour as the machine rose and Rosslyn set out on his long and
perilous journey. It was bitterly cold and strangely dark up there when
they reached the zone of safety, and the aeroplane pointed like an arrow
to the North Sea. Rosslyn knew exactly where he was going, many a time
had he been as far as the coast of Germany and back again, so that every
odd speck of light down below meant something to him, and spoke with no
uncertain language.

"You are not afraid?" he asked von Kemp.

"I am not in the least afraid," von Kemp said. "Though I have never been
in an aeroplane before I feel just as safe as if I were on the back of a
horse. But this is a wonderful machine of yours. There is no vibration
and no noise, nothing that suggests movement hardly. What time do you
expect to reach Berlin?"

"We can travel, if I like, at over ninety miles an hour," Rosslyn
explained. "At that rate we ought to reach Berlin somewhere about three.
If you strain your eyes you will see there below you the lights on the
Dutch coast. When we have passed those I shall have to rely entirely on
my compass."

They streamed on against the wind hour after hour through the thickness
of the night, passing over long lines of light, where the struggling
battalions were face to face, and ever and again over some town throwing
long ribbons from the searchlights far up into the murky sky. But the
aeroplane, like some black nightbird, was beyond the reach of these,
sailing swift and silently in the direction of Berlin. It was somewhere
near the hour of two when Rosslyn slackened speed and commenced to
descend in huge spirals near to the earth. One by one little stars began
to show, then long parallel points of flame marked in squares here and
there, and after these greater lights shimmering in purple splendour one
by one.

"Can you make anything out of it?" Rosslyn asked.

"Berlin," von Kemp whispered. "But why all these lights? I thought they
were short of power."

"Oh, I suppose the Brotherhood is responsible for that," Rosslyn smiled.
"You may depend upon it that they are making every effort to get
industrial Germany going again. We will go down closer if you like. This
looks a different Berlin to the city I was over not so many days ago. It
is alive now."

Rosslyn spoke no more than the truth. Late as it was, the streets were
humming with light and movement. Lights were blazing everywhere, and
though the cafes and theatres had long since been closed, the streets
were full of people hurrying to and fro like countless ants as if
everybody had something definite to do, and were going about their
business with a clear object. There was no listless, sullen crowd, no
sign of anger or discontent, and no sign of a uniform to be seen
anywhere. For some time the interested spectators watched, trying to
realise that they were looking down upon a city, the capital of a State
that was in deadly grips with half a score enemies. It was a moving and
fascinating sight, and Rosslyn turned the plane away from it with
considerable reluctance.

"I hope to see it by daylight to-morrow," he said. "Meanwhile, we had
better be getting on to the end of the journey."

They dropped presently in Steinitz's garden, and housed the plane. But
it was not Steinitz who came to the door, but another man, who smiled as
von Kemp gave the sign of the Brotherhood.

"Ah!" he said. "Surely you are Herr Rosslyn? We dared to hope that you
would see our message and come to us. Von Steinitz and the rest of them
are not here--they are established at the Royal Palace."

"Long live the Republic," Rosslyn cried.




CHAPTER LI.--The Day Dawns.


The man standing in the doorway of Steinitz's house smiled. He was gaunt
and haggard and drawn with lines about the corners of his mouth that
gave him almost a wolfish look despite the kindly expression in his
eyes. Rosslyn had seen that look before, and he knew exactly what it
meant. He knew now that Berlin was on the verge of starvation, and that
the man in front of him had eaten little or nothing for days. Still
Steinitz's trusted servant bade him enter and placed a meal of sorts
before him and von Kemp.

"I am quite alone in the house," he explained. "I should not be here now
only Steinitz was quite sure that you would come sooner or later, and it
was necessary that someone should welcome you. I am sorry there is no
better fare for you."

The dinner on the table consisted of some exceedingly dry looking bread
and the heel of a Dutch cheese. This, together with an onion or two, and
a bottle of some thin Rhine wine, completed the entertainment. Poor and
uninviting as it was, Rosslyn could see the wolfish gleam in the eyes of
the other man as they swept over the table.

"I am not in the least hungry," he said. "Neither is my friend von
Kemp."

Von Kemp protested that he could eat nothing. Steinitz's friend flushed
uncomfortably.

"You fear there is nothing else?" he asked.

"Oh, it isn't that," Rosslyn said hastily. "Very well, then, we will
have a mouthful supper on the strict understanding that you join us.
Come along, my friend."

The man sat down at the table and ate wolfishly. Then he caught
Rosslyn's eye upon him and he changed colour.

"I see you understand," he said. "I have eaten nothing to-day. And I
dared not touch the little food I had in case you came. It is the same
all over Berlin. A few days ago they boasted that there were stores
enough here to feed the population for a year. They said it was the same
in every city in Germany. We were encouraged by visions of vast
granaries and frozen meat and tinned food stored away in Government
buildings. And we believed it. We were still credulous even when the
authorities suggested that they should be left to distribute the food
because they controlled the organisation. But the food got less, and the
Cabinet of the new Republic insisted upon looking into things
themselves. They found all the stores empty. Everything that could be
raked together had gone to support the troops. Berlin today is on
rations, and a week at the outside will exhaust them. When I think how
we have been fooled I could snatch up a gun and shoot the first man in
authority I meet. We have been fed for months on lies and imaginary
victories. And now the day of reckoning is come."

"I think I understand," Rosslyn said. "This war of yours is no more than
a great adventure. It has been built up on supposition. The War Staff
had quite made up their minds that your armies in the East and West were
going to provision themselves. They were to squat down in the enemy's
country like two bloated spiders, and the French and the Russian people
were destined to be their diet of flies. Meanwhile you were to live on
the fat of the land, and the stream of gold was to flow into Berlin from
both sides of Europe. And now the bubble is pricked, the rosy dream has
proved to be a stern reality. Every man in Europe besides the Germans
could see how the adventure would end."

"We know it now," the listener said sadly.

"Ah well, it it not too late to put matters right yet," Rosslyn said
cheerfully. "If you can throw off your yoke, then many a man who hates
you now, millions of foes of yours will hold out the hand of fellowship
and lift you from your knees. But so long as this strife goes on so long
will you suffer."

"The strife is practically over," said the man eagerly. "But the
Prussian tyrants are till keeping up their bluff, and what looks like
the iron front is now no more than tin. Our armies are fair and handsome
fruit outside but putrid and rotten at the core. Not one in every fifty
of our reserves are on the way to the front. Our boasted volunteer force
has crumbled like sand. When it became known that we had been betrayed
over our food supply all the heart went out of us. Not one hand was held
up to help our army. Men in uniform are straggling into Berlin by the
hundred, men who have laid down their weapons and refused to fight any
more. They were shot at first, but you can't go on shooting a whole
army. To-morrow morning you shall go through the streets of Berlin and
see for yourself. I will show you sights that the other capitals of
Europe little dream of."

Rosslyn and his companion were up betimes next morning despite their
fatiguing journey the night before. They were anxious to get into Berlin
to see how the new Republic was getting on. Steinitz's servant had
actually found them something in the way of a breakfast, which he
explained was owing to the fact that a provision train had been smuggled
over the frontier and that another one was on the way. He shook his head
doubtfully.

"It was allowed to come through, of course," he said. "There are Russian
spies in our midst who know all that is going on, and it is to Russia's
interests to keep us going so that we can fight the Prussian caste. So
this morning I can give you coffee and bacon and hot rolls that I have
made."

A little later and Rosslyn and his companion were in the streets of
Berlin. They had to walk the whole distance from Potsdam, for there was
no sign of a tram anywhere to be seen. There were no omnibuses either,
and during the whole of the long walk Rosslyn saw no sign of a horse. No
dog crossed his path either. It seemed strange, and he mentioned the
matter to Steinitz's servant.

"When starvation comes it comes rapidly," the latter said grimly. "It
fell upon as so suddenly as an eastern night. We were like a millionaire
who has lost all his money. One day it seemed that we were in the midst
of plenty and the next day starvation. After I have told you this you
will not want to know what has become of our horses and our dogs."

Rosslyn shuddered. His question indeed had been answered. He was
wondering what had become of those who had been in authority when this
dreadful fact came to light. Had the people risen up in their wrath and
hanged the Kaiser's gang who had kept the dreadful truth from the ears
of the people? Steinitz's servant seemed to see what was passing in
Rosslyn's mind.

"No," he said. "There was no great outbreak. The people here were too
stunned for that. But every member of the Government and the local
administration here were arrested and imprisoned. They will be brought
up for trial presently, they will be all in dock together, and I hope
the Kaiser will stand there with them."

The man spoke with a concentrated bitterness that seemed to snap off the
tip of his tongue. Rosslyn smiled grimly.

"Oh," he said. "Is it as bad as all that?"

"The Kaiser could have stopped it," the man cried. "He could have
prevented war. He knew that Serbia had humiliated herself in the dust,
he knew that she was prepared for further punishment. But he forced the
war on and then, like the coward that he is, went whining to
Christianity and taking God to witness that this trouble had been forced
upon him, the blasphemous liar. I tell you that he brought about all
this bloodshed and misery and designedly as a bird builds her nest. Did
he not boast that he was prepared to lose a million men to bring Europe
to his feet? You can multiply that million by two. There is not one
house in Germany that does not mourn its slain to-day. There are
thousands of houses in which not one man remains. So let that devil
stand in the dock with the rest, I say. Strip him of his uniform and his
gold lace and silver helmet take away all the bits of ribbon and tin
breastplates he likes to hang upon his coat, and let him stand there in
the dock with the rest in a dirty shirt with a crust of bread that he
has picked up out of the gutter between his famished lips. To Hell with
him."

All this in a loud voice in the Friederich Strasse as if it had been
some sermon thundered in a clarion voice from a pulpit. Just for a
moment Rosslyn's guide had forgotten himself, just for a moment he was
speaking from the bitterness of his heart. All round him the gaunt,
hollow-eyed crowd jostling and streaming down the streets turned to
listen and applaud. Here and there along the pavement were the soldiers
in soiled and ragged uniforms crawling along listlessly their eyes
brooding and vengeful. For the most part they were almost without boots
and their filthy feet bulging through the burst soles. And some of
these, as Rosslyn could see by their facings, belonged to the famous
Prussian guard.

The shops were closed, there was practically no place of business open.
The women, too, were conspicuous by their absence, so that there was no
great show of mourning save that nearly every man in the crowd wore a
black band round his arm.

Here was Nemesis, here was the bleeding heart of a nation torn open so
that the onlooker could see how vital was the wound. Hard and stern as
he was, hating the system that had brought this about as he did, Rosslyn
was moved to an infinite pity.

"I am tired of this," he said. "Take me to the Royal Palace at once. It
will not be my first visit there. And how different the circumstances
are!"




CHAPTER LII.--The Real Day.


This was a very different Royal Palace to the one that Rosslyn had last
visited. All the extravagant hangings, all the pictures and objects of
art had been removed till the great rooms were as bare and gaunt as
those of a barracks. But every room was occupied now by scores of
earnest men writing at desks and tables. Every one of them seemed to
have some appointed task and everything seemed to be moving quite
smoothly. In one of the inner apartments usually devoted to the personal
staff of the Kaiser, Steinitz and Leroux sat busily engaged on the large
map in front of them. They jumped up with exclamations of pleasure as
Rosslyn entered.

"Now this is a glorious surprise," Leroux exclaimed. "We had an idea
that you would come to our assistance. We felt certain that a copy of
one of our newspapers must reach you sooner or later. Oh, yes, all the
Berlin press are on our side now. And the same remark applies to nearly
every newspaper in Germany. But the military party is still
comparatively strong, and we have had the greatest difficulty in getting
the news past the frontiers. Now tell me, how did you get to know?"

Rosslyn proceeded to explain. He introduced von Kemp and gave him his
due mead of praise. He told Leroux also that he had seen Vera, and how
splendidly she had played her part in the great adventure.

"That is good," he exclaimed. "Very good indeed. I am sure you are glad
now that we dragged you into this."

"You may be certain of that," Rosslyn smiled. "Now is there anything
else I can do for you?"

"You can do a great deal," Steinitz cried. "In the first place you can
take the story of the last few days and let Europe know it. For the time
being at any rate the war is going on. We see that the Allies are taking
no risks, but if they liked to assume a bold offensive now, then the
defence on both frontiers must break like a bubble. I tell you our army
will not fight. They have had enough of it. There may be a Prussian
regiment here and there ready to persist till the last moment, but they
are few and far between. Heavens, what fools we have been. We might have
become the greatest nation in the world. We might have carried our
products under every flag that crosses the seas, we might have had all
the ports and marts of the Globe at no expense to ourselves. We might
have won in time by sheer weight of money. But that did not please the
Imperial Showman who was once so powerful here. I tell you, my dear
young friend----"

"You are wasting time," Leroux interrupted. "Listen to me, Rosslyn.
Russia is helping us. She is sending us food because she knows we must
win, and therefore it is not necessary to sacrifice any further lives.
There will be no more lives sacrificed if we can only prevent further
munitions of war leaving Krupps' Works at Essen. We want to cut of the
output of gun and ammunition there, and if we can do that the war is
automatically ended. The people there are on the Kaiser's side because
they are being paid enormous wages and because the food supply stored
there keeps them in every luxury. There are forty-five thousand men in
those factories, and their wives and children who live in the suburbs
have nothing to worry about and no anxiety. Now look here. I don't
suppose there is an aeroplane in Germany at the present moment capable
of flying, and if there were we have no petrol. Now don't reply without
thinking. But you must see for yourself that if you could drop a dozen
bombs on the Essen arsenals not so much as a cartridge could leave there
for months. You might be brought down, you might be killed, but if you
succeeded then almost single-handed you would have put an end to the
cruelest war that the world has ever seen."

Rosslyn's blood flamed at the mere suggestion. Here was an exploit after
his own heart, here was a chance of covering himself with everlasting
glory. He did not hesitate a moment, he was ready now to run the risk.

"I'll do it," he cried. "I am grateful for the opportunity. I believe I
can carry at least four hundred pounds weight of explosives. Of course I
could not carry a passenger. The question is, have you the explosives?
If so, I could be off in an hour."

Steinitz rose excitedly his feet.

"The bombs are ready," he said. "They are in my house. We will go and
find then now if you like."

Rosslyn would have asked nothing better. An hour later with the bombs
attached to his aeroplane, he shot up into the air in great wheeling
circles until he was eight or nine thousand feet above the capital.
There were thousands of curious eyes that watched him start, but none of
them standing down below guessed the meaning of that flight. He had with
him his glasses, together with a large scale map, and he knew exactly
which direction he had to steer. It was a clear bright winter's morning
with not so much as a cloud in the sky, and the whole country lay picked
out in dazzling sunshine down below him. Then he turned to the west and
darted like a great bird of prey on his errand of destruction. It was no
great distance that he had to go, not more then three hundred miles at
the outside, and at the rate he was flying he calculated that his
journey would be accomplished within three hours. He passed over one
town after another an object of wonder and fear to those below him, but
he held steadily on his track till presently the great belching chimneys
and huge workshops of Essen lay below him. He poised over the huge
arsenal like a hawk that's about to pounce upon his prey. He dropped
lower and lower quite regardless of the storm of bullets flung upwards,
for his plane was armoured at an angle so acute that the missiles
glanced off quite harmlessly.

Then he took a sheet of paper from his pocket-book and scribbled a
message to those below. He weighted this with a couple of pennies from
his pocket and threw it down. With his powerful glasses he could see a
man climbing a ladder to a roof whereon the message lodged, he saw a
little knot of people scanning it, and he saw the a women and children
streaming wildly towards the suburbs. They were followed presently by
the men, veritable army corps of them, for it was useless to stay there
and court destruction when one man up there like a speck in the sky held
the town and all its mighty output in the hollow of his hand.

Rosslyn smiled to himself as he thought of it. He was measuring his
distance now and working it out to an inch with the aid of his large
scale map. Then he reached for one of the pear-shaped canisters attached
to the side of the plane and dropped it. He saw the dread messenger of
death fall like a plummet down, down until it struck a steel roof at the
base of a cluster of tall chimneys. There was a flash no greater to
Rosslyn's eyes than would have been made by a heliograph, and no report
reached his ears, but he could see that the clump of chimneys had been
wiped out and a huge area of shedding burst into flames. The aeroplane
circled over the doomed city dropping those pear-shaped terrors at
intervals, and wherever they fell swift and sudden destruction followed.
Very soon the great works below were one roaring ring of flame and
drifting columns of vapour, then there came an explosion that seemed to
lift to the heavens and set the wings of the plane quivering as if they
had been smitten by a sudden gale. A canopy of smoke as black as night
uprose, and for a time the aeroplane was enveloped in it as if it had
been some dusky blanket. It drifted Eastward on the light breeze, and as
it did so Rosslyn could see that his work of destruction had been
accomplished. Nothing lay below him but a heap of ruins. With a smile on
his lips and a feeling of triumph in his heart he raced back to Berlin.
It was still daylight when he folded the wings of his plane and hurried
off to the Royal Palace to report what he had done. But the story had
already preceded him. The streets of Berlin were crowded with an eager,
excited throng discussing the message which somehow or other had found
its way through from Essen. It mattered little to the frantic mob there
whether the good work had been accomplished by a friend or a foe. The
devil's factory had been destroyed, and the disastrous war was near its
end.

Rosslyn pushed his way through the yelling mob until he reached the
Royal Palace. He had no occasion to be dissatisfied with his welcome
there, for he was grasped by the hands almost painfully, and indeed it
was quite a long time before he was allowed to sit down and describe his
exploit in detail.

"We got it through by means of our secret telephone service," Steinitz
explained. "We have friends even in Essen. As far as we can understand
you did not leave one stone of the factory standing on another. Some day
in the future Germany will know what she owes to the splendid genius and
undaunted bravery of Paul Rosslyn. Ah, my dear friend--What's that?"

There was a strange ominous roar from down below and four men suddenly
burst into the room. They were dressed as civilians, though they wore
military tunics and carried rifles with fixed bayonets. Between them was
man in the uniform of a general officer, though all his gold lace had
been cut away and buckled on his side was an empty scabbard. He glanced
defiantly at his captors, but his lips were quivering strangely and his
eyes were full of fear.

"What have we here?" Steinitz cried. "A prisoner?"

"Yes, Mr. President. We beg to say we have captured Wilhelm
Hohenzollern, once called the Emperor of Germany."




CHAPTER LIII.--The Evening of "The Day."


Rosslyn started back. In the circumstances he was particularly anxious
that the kaiser should not recognise him. He had all an Englishman's
repugnance against gloating over a man when he is down. The last time
that these two had met the Emperor had been in the full flower of his
pride and arrogance, and now he was an utterly broken man. There was not
a private in the once great German army who would have changed places
with him at that moment. And then Rosslyn remembered that during the
previous meeting under this very roof he had been disguised, and passed
successfully for a German. There was no occasion, therefore, why he
should be in the least reticent. He was going to hear something that
might, indeed probably would, change the history of the world.

Already in imagination he could see himself speeding across the North
Sea, carrying home the glad tidings that the war was over and everything
was going to be fine.

But all that would come presently. Meanwhile the living drama was moving
under his very eyes. He could see the Kaiser flush with rage, and his
hand go to his empty scabbard. He bitterly resented the way in which he
had been spoken to. But even his superb insolence and threatening
demeanour had no effect upon the two men sitting there on the other side
of the table.

"Ah, this is good," Steinitz said. "Where did you find this man? And who
brought him here?"

"This is intolerable," the Kaiser cried. "Are you mad that you presume
to treat me in this fashion. And have you forgotten that you are seated
there in the presence of your sovereign?"

"If we are mad," Steinitz said, "then it is the madness of despair. It
is the madness of a people driven to the verge of starvation by a
bloodthirsty tyrant who was only too ready to sacrifice a great people
on the altar of his ambition. A few months ago we were happy and
prosperous, a few months ago we had the trade of the world in our hands.
We did not want war, at least such of us as come from South Germany. And
Saxony and Bavaria thought as we did. But we were blind, we were so
engrossed in our trade that we left the leading strings in the hands of
Prussia. We did not even stop to find out the truth when the bombshell
of war burst in our midst. We were drunk with victory and mad with
pride. We did not know then that you and your accursed wolves had been
planning this campaign for years. We did not know that you had made up
your minds to violate the neutrality of Belgium in any case. How could
we guess that you meant to level those glorious old towns to the ground!
We talked glibly enough of making the world quake with terror at the
mention of the German name, and we quote Bismarck with a smile on our
lips. You see, we never thought that the Iron Chancellor really meant it
when he said that a conquered people should be left only with their eyes
to weep with. But that was part of your damned gospel. You took it
literally, and so did your army. We said nothing in the hour of our
peril, but there are thousands of us in this country aghast at the
atrocities that you were perpetrating in the name of Christianity. When
this war commenced we were a civilised and respected nation; to-day the
world turns from us with a shudder, and places us outside the pale of
civilisation. But that for the moment is not the point. You have not
only betrayed the trust that was placed in you, but you have betrayed
your own people. You have treated us like children. You have bled us
white with taxation. You have taken our money to spend on arms. You have
treated us with utmost contempt. You told us we should be in Paris in a
fortnight. The months have gone on and now the Allies in the West are
far over our Frontier. You told us that the Russians were beaten, and
that your army would winter in Warsaw. And now the Russians are within
one day of Berlin, with nothing but a ragged hoard of refugees to oppose
them. You told us how your boasted Zeppelins would lay London in ruins
and destroy the British Fleet. And yet London smiles proudly to-day, and
the British Fleet are so far from being destroyed that your crown could
not purchase a bag of flour in Berlin to-day. But I had forgotten, you
have no crown."

The words came from Steinitz' lips with a bitterness and contempt that
caused the Kaiser to flush angrily.

"You have lost your senses," he cried. "My capital is out of its mind.
As I was dragged through the streets the people hooted me, hooted ME the
greatest sovereign Germany has ever had. Now listen----"

"We are in no mood to listen," Steinitz said. "You will understand in
time. The German Empire is dead, buried under a heap of ruins, and you
are the Samson who pulled down the Temple. Not that it matters much,
because the house of swords was bound to fall some day. You cannot keep
a whole nation in slavery. And Germany has been your slave for
twenty-six years. Now listen to me, Wilhelm Hohenzollern. I am the
President of the new German Republic. I was chosen for that post by the
unanimous wish of every man in Berlin. There are hundreds and thousands
of your soldiers here, and they, too, were allowed a voice in the
selection."

"Deserters," Wilhelm said bitterly. "Traitors."

"What is a traitor?" Steinitz asked. "If he takes part in a rebellion,
and the revolt is crushed, then he is a traitor and liable to be shot.
But if the revolution is successful, then he is a patriot, and may some
day sit upon the throne himself. We are all patriots here, if you
please. We are not going to be starved any longer. We are not going to
watch our women-kind droop and die so that your troops who still follow
you may be fed. And when we heard that you and your suite were skirting
round the edge of the capital that you dared not visit just now----"

"Dared!" the Emperor cried, "Dared!"

He advanced to the table, and smote upon it with his fist vigorously.
Steinitz jumped to his feet, and glared at the man who had once been his
sovereign. Just for a moment he looked like violence.

"Do you challenge me to repeat the word?" he asked. "Were you not
implored come and see us! You have with you a retinue of five hundred
men. You had your general staff, your gilded parasites, and your gold
laced hangers-on. Where are they now? They fled before a handful of
citizens armed with a rifle, and they left you to be brought here like
some disgraced private. And mark you, it means disgrace. The Republic
has been proclaimed, the movement has spread from East to West, and we
can count millions whose arms are ready to back us. You laughed at the
movement when you heard of it first, you boasted to your general staff
of the lesson you would read to the citizens of Berlin. And they held
back the truth from you for their own purposes. But where is the King of
Bavaria now, where are the rulers of Saxony and Hanover? They have gone
back to their own people to save their faces and keep their crowns
whilst the eagles are gathered together over the spoil. They know only
too well that it is Prussia that the Allies are going to destroy to the
last stone. We have been prevented as yet from going to the great powers
and suing for peace in the name of the German Republic. We have found
the means now, and all Europe will know the truth to-morrow. If you are
wise, you will sign this document that we have prepared for you, and
abdicate the throne here and now. It is your one means of salvation."

The Kaiser laughed bitterly. He had made no attempt to realise his
position, it did not even seem to occur to him even now that he was a
prisoner in the hands of his own people. Not for a moment did the
amazing egotism of the man desert him. The people of Berlin had gone
mad, they were in the throes of temporary insanity, and they would wake
up on the morrow in sack cloth and ashes.

"You are not really serious?" he asked.

Steinitz shrugged his shoulders impatiently

"Berlin has known what it is to be without food," he said. "We have had
to thank our enemies for the bread which is in our mouths to-day. And
the enemy is at our gates. It will be no fault of ours if a single shot
is fired. And we can have good terms. We shall surrender that useless
fleet that you bled us to build, the fleet which is only a menace to
England. We shall have to part with our colonies and restore to France
her stolen provinces. Our colonial empire, such as it is, has ceased to
exist. To Belgium we have to give a hundred millions, and Russia and
England will force us to pay the cost of the war."

"And is that all?" the Kaiser sneered.

"And cheap enough, too," Steinitz cried. "Your beloved Prussia will
become part of Poland. Your military caste will be deprived of their
status and compelled to take up honest work like the rest of us. Do you
understand that, Wilhelm Hohenzollern?"

The Kaiser looked around him defiantly. He was trying to grasp the fact
that this bitter humiliation was being thrust upon him under his own
roof. He could see around him evidence enough of the glory and power of
his race, could see it in the pictures and statuary and the hangings on
the walls. He could hear it, too, coming up in volumes of sound from the
streets, could catch roars of cheers, and presently the regular tramp of
many feet.

"My soldiers," he cried. "My loyal troops! Ah! we shall see who is
master in Berlin now."

"Troops indeed," Leroux cried. "But not yours. Look, and you will see
the advance guard of the Russian army."




CHAPTER LIV.--What of the Morrow?


It was even as Leroux had said. The streets were filled with a hoard of
cavalry, followed presently by regiment after regiment of infantry, each
headed by its band. All Berlin had turned out to meet the conqueror, but
there was no sign of humiliation or hate or a desire for vengeance on
the part of the black masses of humanity below. For the people of Berlin
were awake now and fully alive to the way in which they had been
treated. They knew that the invader came not in the shape of a
conquering oppressor, but as a deliverer after twenty odd years of
grinding and military tyranny. They stood for food and safety and the
continuation of a great people. They would exact their price, of course,
they would make their nation pay for the sins of their rulers, but they
would sleep comfortably in beds now knowing that there was hope for the
morrow. But Germany was not yet dead, she would rise again like some new
and resplendent Phoenix from her own ashes, once the hand of Caesar was
removed.

"Look and see for yourself," Steinitz said sternly. "We are all glad to
see those men there, though at the same time the sense of shame
oppresses us. But we do not forget that they are deliverers from you and
the like of you. And it is not you that they have to deal with. I tell
you they will make terms with the German Republic. And when peace comes
to be signed here in Berlin the streets will be lined, not only with the
troops of the Allies, but with German soldiers who are on the side of
the Republic. It is the only way to save us from destruction, it is the
only way in which we can hold up our heads again. By to-night Berlin
will be under the control of a Russian Governor. He will send for me and
my Cabinet, and he will offer us certain terms. Our task will be much
easier when I say that I am representing the German Republic, and that
the Emperor has formally abdicated."

"That will never be," the Kaiser cried.

"Well, it makes little difference," Steinitz said coolly. "In that case
we shall have to treat you the same way as the French treated Napoleon
III. After all, a throne rests entirely on the goodwill of the people.
You refuse to sign?"

The Kaiser took the sheet of paper lying on the table before him, and in
a frenzy of rage tore it to fragments. He was beside himself with anger,
but all this was wasted on Steinitz and his companion. The former rang a
bell, and a file of soldiers entered. They did not quail before the man
whom they had once looked upon as a connecting link between Earth and
Heaven, they merely turned to Steinitz and obediently waited his orders.

"Take the prisoner below," he said. "See that he has what he needs, but
do not forget that he is a prisoner, and a traitor to the Republic. Now
go."

It seemed almost incredible, and Rosslyn rubbed his eyes to make quite
sure that he was awake. It seemed years to him since he had seen Wilhelm
in all his pride and power, and yet it was no more than a matter of
days. He was sorry and yet glad that Nemesis had stepped down from her
high place and grasped this bloodthirsty tyrant by the throat. He could
hear the dragging footsteps of Germany's late master dying away in the
distance, then his ears seemed to be filled with the tramp of armed men
as they swept like some mighty machine through the streets. What would
all Europe think when they learnt all this to-morrow, he wondered. He
turned eagerly to Steinitz.

"You don't want me to stay any longer?" he asked.

"I don't," Steinitz said. "It might be better for you to stay and hear
the official terms of peace. Within an hour the Czar's representatives
will be here, and formally demand what they have already suggested
unofficially. Of course, we shall accept them, indeed, there is nothing
else to do. To think that I should live to be actually glad to see a
foreign army in Berlin! Well, it is no disgrace to us. Our army has made
a big fight, and the German is as good a man as ever. But we need not go
into that now. What we have to do is to make as honourable peace as
possible and start building up the Empire afresh. You had better stay
here and see what happens. And if you want to go back to London to-night
there ought to be nothing to stop you."

The hours dragged on, and more and more troops poured into
Berlin--Russian soldiers and the German troops pushed before them, to
say nothing of the thousands of men in uniform straggling in from the
western frontier. These for the most part were in uniform, ragged and
tired, and half starved, and ready to barter all they had for a mouthful
of food. They came unarmed, they came with stories of disaster in the
north and west, narratives of big guns abandoned in a wild flight for
home, and the desire to throw in their lot with the new Republic.
Russian and German stood side by side in the common bondage of humanity,
field kitchens had been set up in the streets, and the starving troops
were fed by their well-equipped foe. There was no sign of strife now,
for passions had been worn threadbare, and the lust of slaughter had
trickled away till the stream no longer ran.

All this Rosslyn watched from the windows of the palace, where he
lounged smoking his cigarettes in rooms hitherto sacred to the greatest
of autocratic monarchs and his supple sycophants. He felt perfectly at
home there rejoicing in the knowledge that he had had so powerful a hand
in bringing this about. He was anxious to get back to London now, and
carry the good news. He waited hour after hour until Steinitz and Leroux
returned.

"It is just as I told you," the former said. "The terms are precisely
those I outlined to the late Kaiser, subject to the conformation of
England and France, of course. And now, as I see you are anxious to be
off, I will give you a minute of the terms in my own handwriting, and
you can go."

"Am I to have the pleasure of taking you?" he asked.

"My dear boy it is quite impossible," Leroux explained. "My place is
here, and I should be a traitor if I turned my back upon it. Germany
will know some day the debt she owes to you. Meanwhile you can return to
London, and, if you start now you will be in time for these marvellous
happenings to appear on the breakfast tables of every Englishman
to-morrow morning. Give my love to Vera, tell her I am well and happy,
and that I will send for her in the course of a few days. Perhaps I will
come and fetch her, for I shall have much to do in London. The
Englishman is a generous foe, and much of the vast hoards of gold we
shall need will come from his pocket."

It was barely dark before Rosslyn set his aeroplane going and circled
widely over the city. Then he turned towards the west, and set out on
his lonely journey. There was nothing to stop him now, and no peril to
fear and it was barely 12 o'clock before the plane settled down outside
its resting place. An hour later and Rosslyn was setting the telephones
humming in all directions. It was no part of his programme to confine
his information to any one newspaper, and therefore he found his rooms
occupied by a score of excited journalists directly he set foot inside
them. For the next hour he spoke amid a silence that was broken only by
the scratching of pencils and the fluttering of notebooks. He told the
whole story simply and without embellishment. It was a narrative so
thrilling and graphic that it actually gained in strength from its very
simplicity. Then, utterly tired and worn out, Rosslyn threw himself upon
a couch and slept soundly.

He was out betimes in the morning, and made his way directly to Vera's
flat. Already the streets were astir with a wildly excited mob that had
already heard the news. It was evident enough that no work would be done
in London that day. A few minutes later and every street and
thoroughfare was fluttering flags and banners. People were beginning to
congregate in vast numbers cheering and shouting and forming into long
processions that streamed through the streets. For the moment, at any
rate all social barriers were broken down. Here was the well-dressed
city man arm in arm with the hawker of toys, here was the aristocratic
club lounger hobnobbing with the man who brought the coals. There were
thousands of women in the procession laughing and crying in the same
breath, in fact here was human nature untrammelled and unrestrained,
giving vent to their feelings as if the years had fallen from their
shoulders and they were children once again. For a long time Vera and
Rosslyn watched this amazing spectacle as it rolled by in a never ending
stream until they grew dizzy and turned to one another for relief.

"I shall be able to grasp it presently," Vera whispered. "It seems too
wonderful to be true. And to think that you with that wonderful
aeroplane of yours should have done so much towards bringing about this
wonderful result! If it had not been for you the misery and bloodshed
might have dragged along for months more. Ah, Paul, if I could only tell
you how proud I am of you!"

She smiled through her tears and held out her hands to Rosslyn. He took
her in his arms and kissed her tenderly.

"I have been more than rewarded," he said. "Of course I am glad and
proud, but after all you are you, and the rest it is nothing by
comparison. The end is here----"

"But is it the end?" Vera asked.

The end perhaps, or only the beginning? But be that as it might,
Rosslyn, looking forward, could see beyond the clouds the first faint
streaks of a wide and glorious dawn.



THE END



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