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Title: The Box with Broken Seals
Author: Oppenheim, E. Phillips (Edward Phillips), 1866-1946
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Box with Broken Seals" ***

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THE BOX WITH BROKEN SEALS

BY

E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM

1919



CHAPTER I


James Crawshay, Englishman of the type usually described in
transatlantic circles as "some Britisher," lolled apparently at his
ease upon the couch of the too-resplendent sitting room in the Hotel
Magnificent, Chicago. Hobson, his American fellow traveler, on the
other hand, betrayed his anxiety by his nervous pacing up and down the
apartment. Both men bore traces in their appearance of the long
journey which they had only just completed.

"I think," Crawshay decided, yawning, "that I shall have a bath. I
feel gritty, and my collar--heavens, what a sight! Your trains,
Hobson, may be magnificent, but your coal is filthy. I will have a
bath while your friend, the policeman, makes up his mind whether to
come and see us or not."

His companion treated the suggestion with scant courtesy.

"You will do nothing of the sort," was his almost fierce objection.
"We've got to wait right here until Chief of Police Downs comes along.
There's something crooked about this business, something I don't
understand, and the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better."

The Englishman pacified himself with a whisky and soda which a waiter
had just brought in. He added several lumps of ice and drained the
contents of the tumbler with a little murmur of appreciation.

"It will be confoundedly annoying," he admitted quietly, "if we've had
all this journey for nothing."

Hobson moistened his dry lips with his tongue. The whisky and soda and
the great bucket of ice stood temptingly at his elbow, but he appeared
to ignore their existence. He was a man of ample build, with a big,
clean-shaven face, a square jaw and deep-set eyes, a man devoted to
and wholly engrossed by his work.

"See here, Crawshay," he exclaimed, "if that dispatch was a fake, if
we've been brought here on a fool's errand, they haven't done it for
nothing. If they've brought it off against us, you mark my words,
we're left--we're bamboozled--we're a couple of lost loons! There's
nothing left for us but to sell candy to small boys or find a job on
a farm."

"You're such a pessimist," the Englishman yawned.

"Pessimist!" was the angry retort. "I'll just ask you one question, my
son. Where's Downs?"

"I certainly think," Crawshay admitted, "that under the circumstances
he might have been at the station to meet us."

"He wouldn't even talk through the 'phone," Hobson pointed out. "I had
to explain who we were to one of his inspectors. No one seemed to know
a goldarned thing about us."

"They sent for him right away when you explained who you were,"
Crawshay reminded his companion.

Hobson found no comfort whatever in the reflection.

"Of course they did," he replied brusquely. "There's scarcely likely
to be a chief of police of any city in the United States who wouldn't
get a move on when he knew that Sam Hobson was waiting for a word. I
haven't been in the Secret Service of this country for fifteen years
for nothing. He'll come fast enough as soon as he knows I'm waiting,
but all the same, what I want to know is, if that dispatch was on the
square, why he wasn't at the station to meet us, and if it wasn't on
the square, how the hell do we come out of this?"

Their conversation was interrupted by the tinkle of the telephone
which stood upon the table between them, the instrument which both men
had been watching anxiously. Hobson snatched up the receiver.

"Police headquarters speaking? Right! Yes, this is Sam Hobson. I'm
here with Crawshay, of the English Secret Service. We got your
dispatch.--What's that?--Well?--Chief Downs is on the way, eh?--Just
started? Good! We're waiting for him."

Hobson replaced the receiver upon the instrument.

"Downs is coming right along," he announced. "I tell you what it is,
Mr. Crawshay," he went on, recommencing his walk up and down the
apartment, "I don't feel happy to be so far away from the coast.
That's what scares me. Chicago's just about the place they'd land us,
if this is a hanky-panky trick. We're twenty hours from New York, and
the _City of Boston_ sails to-morrow at five o'clock."

The Englishman shook himself and rose from his recumbent position upon
the sofa. He was a man of youthful middle-age, colourless, with
pleasant face, a somewhat discontented mouth, but keen grey eyes. He
had been sent out from Scotland Yard at the beginning of the war to
assist in certain work at the English Embassy. So far his
opportunities had not been many, or marked with any brilliant success,
and it seemed to him that the gloom of failure was already settling
down upon their present expedition.

"You don't believe, then, any more than I do, that when a certain box
we know of is opened at the Foreign Office in London, it will contain
the papers we are after?"

"No, sir, I do not," was the vigorous reply. "I think they have been
playing a huge game of bluff on us. That's why I am so worried about
this trip. I wouldn't mind betting you the best dinner you ever ate at
Delmonico's or at your English Savoy that that box with the broken
seals they all got so excited about doesn't contain a single one of
the papers that we're after. Why, those blasted Teutons wanted us to
believe it! That's why some of the seals were broken, and why the old
man himself hung about like a hen that's lost one of its chickens.
They want us to believe that we've got the goods right in that box,
and to hold up the search for a time while they get the genuine stuff
out of the country. I admit right here, Mr. Crawshay, that it was you
who put this into my head at Halifax. I couldn't swallow it then, but
when Downs didn't meet us at the depot here, it came over me like a
flash that you were right that we were being flimflammed."

"We ought, perhaps, to have separated," the Englishman ruminated. "I
ought to have gone to New York and you come here. On the other hand,
you must remember that all the evidence which we have managed to
collect points to Chicago as having been the headquarters of the whole
organisation."

"Sure!" the American admitted. "And there's another point about it,
too. If this outsider who has taken on the job for them should really
turn out to be Jocelyn Thew, I'd have banked on his working the scheme
from Chicago. He knows the back ways of the city, or rather he used
to, like a rat. Gee, it would be a queer thing if after all these
years one were to get the bracelets on him!"

"I don't quite see," Crawshay remarked, "how such a person as this
Jocelyn Thew, of whom you have spoken several times, could have become
associated with an affair of this sort. Both the Germans and the
Austrians at Washington had the name of being exceedingly particular
with regard to the status of their agents, and he must be entirely a
newcomer in international matters. From the _dossier_ you handed me,
Jocelyn Thew reads more like a kind of modern swashbuckler spoiling
for a fight than a person likely to make a success of a secret
service job."

"Don't you worry," Hobson replied. "Jocelyn Thew could hold his own at
any court in Europe with any of you embassy swaggerers. There's
nothing known about his family, but they say that his father was an
English aristocrat, and he looks like it, too."

"It was you yourself who called him a criminal, the first time you
spoke of him," Crawshay reminded his companion.

"And a criminal he is at heart, without a doubt," the American
declared impressively.

"Has he ever been in prison?"

"He has had the luck of Old Harry," Hobson grumbled. "In New York they
all believed that it was he who shot Graves, the Pittsburg
millionaire. The Treasury Department will have it that he was the head
of that Fourteenth Street gang of coiners, and I've a pal down at
Baltimore who is ready to take his oath that he planned the theft of
the Vanderloon jewels--and brought it off, too! But I tell you this,
sir. When the trouble comes, whoever gets nabbed it's never Jocelyn
Thew. He's the slickest thing that ever came down the pike."

"He is well off, then?"

"They say that he brought half a million from Mexico," Hobson
declared. "How he brought money out of that country, neither I nor
anybody else on the Force can imagine. But he did it. I know the
stockbroker down-town who handles his investments.--Here's our man
at last!"

The door was opened by the floor waiter, who held it while a thin,
dark man, dressed in civilian clothes of most correct cut, passed in.
Hobson gripped him at once by the hand.

"Chief Downs," he said, "this is my friend Mr. Crawshay, who is
connected with the English Embassy over here. You can shake hands with
him later. We're on a job of business, and the first thing before us
is to get an answer from you to a certain question. Did you send this
dispatch or did you not?"

Hobson handed over to the newcomer the crumpled telegraph form which
he had just produced from his pocket. The latter glanced through it
and shook his head.

"It's a plant," he announced. "I'm sorry if the use of my name has
misled you in any way, but it was quite unauthorised. I know nothing
whatever about the matter."

Hobson remained for a moment silent, silent with sick and angry
astonishment. Crawshay had glanced towards the clock and was standing
now with his finger upon the bell.

"Is it a big thing?" the Chicago man enquired.

"It's the biggest thing ever known in this country," Hobson groaned.
"It's what is known as the Number Three Berlin plant."

"You didn't get the stuff at Halifax, then?" Downs asked.

"We didn't," Hobson replied bitterly. "We've sent a representative
over to sit on the box with the broken seals till they can open it at
the Foreign Office in London, but I never believed they'd find
anything there. I'm damned certain they won't now!"

A waiter had answered the bell.

"Don't have our luggage brought up," Crawshay directed. "We are
leaving for New York to-night. That's so, isn't it, Hobson?" he added,
turning to his companion.

"You bet!" was the grim reply. "I'd give a thousand dollars to be
there now."

"The Limited's sold out," the man told them. "There are two or three
persons who've been disappointed, staying on here till to-morrow."

"I'll get you on the train," Downs promised. "I can do as much as that
for you, anyway. I'll stop and go on to the station with you from
here. I'm very sorry about this, Hobson," he continued, fingering the
dispatch. "We shall have to get right along to the station, but if
there's anything I can do after you've left, command me."

"You might wire New York," Hobson suggested, as he struggled into his
overcoat. "Tell 'em to look out for the _City of Boston_, and to hold
her up for me if they can. I've got it in my bones that Jocelyn Thew
is running this show and that he is on that steamer."

"Those fellows at Washington must have collected some useful stuff,"
Chief Downs observed, as the three men left the room and stepped into
the elevator. "They've been working on their job since before the war,
and there isn't a harbour on the east or west coast that they haven't
got sized up. They've spent a million dollars in graft since January,
and there's a rumour that the new Navy Department scheme for dealing
with submarines, which was only adopted last month, is there among
the rest."

"Anything else?" Crawshay asked indolently.

The Chief of Police glanced first at his questioner and then at
Hobson.

"What else should there be?" he enquired.

"No idea," the Englishman replied. "Secret Service papers of the usual
description, I suppose. By-the-by, I hear that this man Jocelyn Thew
has stated openly that he is going to take all the papers he wants
with him into Germany, and that there isn't a living soul can
stop him."

Hobson's square jaw was set a little tighter, and his narrow eyes
flashed.

"That's some boast to make," he muttered. "Kind of a challenge, isn't
it? What do you say, Mr. Crawshay?"

Crawshay, who had been gazing out of the window of the taxicab, looked
back again. His tone was almost indifferent.

"If Chief Downs can get us on the Limited," he said, "and if we catch
the _City of Boston_, I think perhaps we might have a chance of making
Mr. Jocelyn Thew eat his words."

The Chief smiled. The taxicab had turned in through the entrance gates
of the great station.

"I have heard men as well-known in their profession as you, Hobson,
and you too, Mr. Crawshay, speak like that about Jocelyn Thew, but
when the game was played out they seem to have lost the odd trick.
Either the fellow isn't a criminal at all but loves to haunt shady
places and pose as one, or he is just the cleverest of all the crooks
who ever worked the States. Some of my best men have thought that they
had a case against him and have come to grief."

"They've never caught him with the goods, because they've never been
the right way about it," Hobson declared confidently.

"And you think you are going to break his record?" Downs asked, with a
doubtful smile. "If you find him on the _City of Boston_, you know,
the stuff you're after won't be in his pocketbook or in the lining of
his steamer trunk."

The three men were hurrying out to the platform now, where the great
train, a blaze of light and luxury, was standing upon the track.
Captain Downs made his way to where the Pullman conductor was standing
and engaged him in a brief but earnest conversation. A car porter was
summoned, and in a few moments Crawshay and Hobson found themselves
standing on the steps of one of the cars. They leaned over to make
their adieux to Chief Downs. Crawshay added a few words to
his farewell.

"I quite appreciate all your remarks about Jocelyn Thew," he said.
"One is liable to be disappointed, of course, but I still feel that if
we can catch that steamer it might be an exceedingly interesting voyage."

"If you're on time you may do it," was the brief reply. "All the
same--"

The gong had sounded and the train was gliding slowly out of the
station. Crawshay leaned over the iron gate of the car.

"Go on, please," he begged. "Don't mind my feelings."

Chief Downs waved his hand.

"I'm afraid," he confessed, "that my money would be on Jocelyn Thew."



CHAPTER II


At just about the hour when Crawshay and Hobson were receiving the
visit of Chief Downs in the Chicago hotel an English butler accepted
with due respect the card of a very distinguished-looking and
exceedingly well-turned-out caller at the big, brownstone Beverley
house in Riverside Drive, New York.

"Miss Beverley is just back from the hospital, sir," the former
announced. "If you will come this way, I will see that your card is
sent to her at once."

The caller--Mr. Jocelyn Thew was the name upon the card--followed the
servant across the white stone circular hall, with its banked-up
profusion of hothouse flowers and its air of elegant emptiness, into a
somewhat austere but very dignified apartment, the walls of which were
lined to the ceiling with books.

"I will let Miss Beverley have your card at once, sir," the man
promised him again, "if you will be so kind as to take a seat for a
few moments."

The visitor, left to himself, stood upon the hearthrug with his hands
behind his back, waiting for news of the young lady whom he had come
to visit. At first sight he certainly was a most prepossessing-looking
person. His face, if a little hard, was distinguished by a strength
which for the size of his features was somewhat surprising. His chin
was like a piece of iron, and although his mouth had more sensitive
and softer lines, his dark-blue eyes and jet-black eyebrows completed
a general impression of vigour and forcefulness. His figure was a
little thin but lithe, and his movements showed all the suppleness of
a man who has continued the pursuit of athletics into early
middle-life. His hair, only slightly streaked with grey, was thick and
plentiful. His clothes were carefully chosen and well tailored. He had
the air of a man used to mixing with the best people, to eating and
drinking the best, to living in the best fashion, recognising nothing
less as his due in life. Yet as he stood there waiting for his
visitor, listening intently for the sound of her footsteps outside, he
permitted himself a moment of retrospection, and there was a gleam of
very different things in his face, a touch almost of the savage in the
clenched teeth and sudden tightening of the lips. One might have
gathered that this man was living through a period of strain.

The entrance of the young lady of the house, after a delay of about
ten minutes, was noiseless and unannounced. Her visitor, however, was
prepared for it. She came towards him with an air of pleasant enquiry
in her very charming face--a young woman in the early twenties, of
little more than medium height, with complexion inclined to be pale,
deep grey eyes, and a profusion of dark brown, almost copper-coloured
hair. She carried herself delightfully and her little smile of welcome
was wonderfully attractive, although her deportment and manner were a
little serious for her years.

"You wish to see me?" she asked. "I am Miss Beverley--Miss Katharine
Beverley." "Sometimes known as Sister Katharine," her visitor
remarked, with a smile.

"More often than by my own name," she assented. "Do you come from the
hospital?"

He shook his head and glanced behind her to be sure that the door was
closed.

"Please do not think that my coming means any trouble, Miss Beverley,"
he said, "but if you look at me more closely you will perhaps
recognise me. You will perhaps remember--a promise."

He stepped a little forward from his position of obscurity to where
the strong afternoon sunlight found its subdued way through the
Holland blinds. The politely interrogative smile faded from her lips.
She seemed to pass through a moment of terror, a moment during which
her thoughts were numbed. She sank into the chair which her visitor
gravely held out for her, and by degrees she recovered her powers
of speech.

"Forgive me," she begged. "The name upon the card should have warned
me--but I had no idea--I was not expecting a visit from you."

"Naturally," he acquiesced smoothly, "and I beg you not to discompose
yourself. My visit bodes you no harm--neither you nor any one
belonging to you."

"I was foolish," she confessed. "I have been working overtime at the
hospital lately--we have sent so many of our nurses to France. My
nerves are not quite what they should be."

He bowed sympathetically. His tone and demeanour were alike
reassuring.

"I quite understand," he said. "Still, some day or other I suppose
you expected a visit from me?"

"In a way I certainly did," she admitted. "You must let me know
presently, please, exactly what I can do. Don't think because I was
startled to see you that I wish to repudiate my debt. I have never
ceased to be grateful to you for your wonderful behaviour on that
ghastly night."

"Please do not refer to it," he begged. "Your brother, I hope, is
well?"

"He is well and doing famously," she replied. "I suppose you know that
he is in France?"

"In France?" he repeated. "No, I had not heard."

"He joined the Canadian Flying Corps," she went on, "and he got his
wings almost at once. He finds the life out there wonderful. I never
receive a letter from him," she concluded, her eyes growing very soft,
"that I do not feel a little thrill of gratitude to you."

He bowed.

"That is very pleasant," he murmured. "And now we come to the object
of my visit. Your surmise was correct. I have come to ask you to
redeem your word."

"And you find me not only ready but anxious to do so," she told him
earnestly. "If it is a matter--pardon me--of money, you have only to
say how much. If there is any other service you require, you have only
to name it."

"You make things easy for me," he acknowledged, "but may I add that it
is only what I expected. The service which I have come to claim from
you is one which is not capable of full explanation but which will
cause you little inconvenience and less hardship. You will find it,
without doubt, surprising, but I need not add that it will be entirely
innocent in its character."

"Then there seems to be very little left," she declared, smiling up at
him from the depths of her chair, "but to name it. I do wish you would
sit down, and are you quite sure that you won't have some tea or
something?"

He shook his head gravely and made no movement towards the chair which
she had indicated. For some reason or other, notwithstanding her
manifest encouragement, he seemed to wish to keep their interview on a
purely formal basis.

"Let me repeat," he continued, "that I shall offer you no
comprehensive explanations, because they would not be truthful, nor
are they altogether necessary. In Ward Number Fourteen of your
hospital--you have been so splendid a patroness that every one calls
St. Agnes's your hospital--a serious operation was performed to-day
upon an Englishman named Phillips."

"I remember hearing about it," she assented. "The man is, I
understand, very ill."

"He is so ill that he has but one wish left in life," Jocelyn Thew
told her gravely. "That wish is to die in England. Just as you are at
the present moment in my debt for a certain service rendered, so am I
in his. He has called upon me to pay. He has begged me to make all the
arrangements for his immediate transportation to his native country."
She nodded sympathetically.

"It is a very natural wish," she observed, "so long as it does not
endanger his life."

"It does not endanger his life," her visitor replied, "because that is
already forfeit. I come now to the condition which involves you, which
explains my presence here this afternoon. It is also his earnest
desire that you should attend him so far as London as his nurse."

The look of vague apprehension which had brought a questioning frown
into Katharine Beverley's face faded away. It was succeeded by an
expression of blank and complete surprise.

"That I should nurse him--should cross with him to London?" she
repeated. "Why, I do not know this man Phillips. I never saw him in my
life! I have not even been in Ward Fourteen since he was
brought there."

"But he," Jocelyn Thew explained, "has seen you. He has been a visitor
at your hospital before he was received there as a patient. He has
received from various doctors wonderful accounts of your skill.
Besides this, he is a superstitious man, and he has been very much
impressed by the fact that you have never lost a patient. If you had
been one of your own probationers, the question of a fee would have
presented no difficulties, although he personally is, I believe, a
poor man. As it is, however, his strange craving for your services has
become a charge upon me."

"It is the most extraordinary request I ever heard in my life,"
Katharine murmured. "If I had ever seen or spoken to the man, I could
have understood it better, but as it is, I find it impossible to
understand."

"You must look upon it," Jocelyn Thew told her, "as one of those
strange fancies which comes sometimes to men who are living in the
shadowland of approaching death. There is one material circumstance,
however, which may make the suggestion even more disconcerting for
you. The steamer upon which we hope to sail leaves at four o'clock
to-morrow afternoon."

The idea in this new aspect was so ludicrous that she simply laughed
at him.

"My dear Mr. Jocelyn Thew!" she exclaimed. "You can't possibly be in
earnest! You mean that you expect me to leave New York with less than
twenty-four hours' notice, and go all the way to London in attendance
upon a stranger, especially in these awful times? Why, the thing isn't
reasonable--or possible! I have just consented to take the
chairmanship of a committee to form field hospitals throughout the
country, and--"

"May I interrupt for one moment?" her visitor begged.

The stream of words seemed to fall away from her lips. There was a
touch of Jocelyn Thew's other manner--perhaps more than a touch. She
looked at him and she shivered. She had seen him look like that
once before.

"Your attitude is perfectly reasonable," he continued, "but on the
other hand I must ask you to carry your thoughts back some little
time. I shall beg you to remember that I have a certain right to ask
this or any other service from you." "I admit it," she confessed
hastily, "but--there is something so outlandish in the whole
suggestion. There are a score of nurses in the hospital to any one of
whom you are welcome, who are all much cleverer than I. What possible
advantage to the man can it be, especially if he is seriously ill, to
have a partially-trained nurse with him when he might have the best in
the world?"

"I think," he said, "I mentioned that this is not a matter for
reasoning or argument. It is you who are required, and no one else. I
may remind you," he went on, "that this service is a very much smaller
one than I might have asked you, and, so far as you and I are
concerned, it clears our debt."

"Clears our debt," she repeated.

"For ever!"

She closed her eyes for several moments. For some reason or other,
this last reflection seemed to bring her no particular relief. When
she opened them again, her decision was written in her face.

"I consent, of course," she acquiesced quietly. "Is there anything
more to tell me?"

"Very little," he replied, "only this. You should send your baggage on
board the City of Boston as early as possible to-morrow morning. Every
arrangement has been made for transporting Phillips in his bed, as he
lies, from the hospital to the boat. The doctor who has been in
attendance will accompany him to England, but it is important that you
should be at the hospital and should drive in the ambulance from there
to the dock. I shall ask very little of you in the way of duplicity.
What is necessary you will not, I think, refuse. You will be
considered to have had some former interest in Phillips, to account
for your voyage, and you will reconcile yourself to the fact that I
shall not at any time approach the sick man, or be known as an
acquaintance of his on board the ship."

His words disturbed her. She felt herself being drawn under the shadow
of some mystery.

"There is something in all this," she said, "which reminds me of the
time when Richard was your protégé, the time when we met before."

He leaned towards her, understanding very well what was in her mind.

"There is nothing criminal in this enterprise--even in my share of
it," he assured her. "What there is in it which necessitates secrecy
is political, and that need not concern you. You see," he went on, a
little bitterly, "I have changed my role. I am no longer the despair
of the New York police. I am the quarry of a race of men who, if they
could catch me, would not wait to arrest. That may happen even before
we reach Liverpool. If it does, it will not affect you. Your duty is
to stay with a dying man until he reaches the shelter of his home. You
will leave him there, and you will be free of him and of me."

"So far as regards our two selves," she enquired, "do we meet as
strangers upon the steamer?"

He considered the matter for a few moments before answering. She felt
another poignant thrill of recollection. He had looked at her like
this just before he had bent his back to the task of saving her
brother's life and liberty, looked at her like this the moment before
the unsuspected revolver had flashed from the pocket of his
dress-coat and had covered the man who had suddenly declared himself
their foe. She felt her cheeks burn for a moment. There was something
magnetic, curiously troublous about his eyes and his faint smile.

"I cannot deny myself so much," he said. "Even if our opportunities
for meeting upon the steamer are few, I shall still have the pleasure
of a New York acquaintance with Miss Beverley. You need not be
afraid," he went on. "In this wonderful country of yours, the
improbable frequently happens. I have before now visited at the houses
of some whom you call your friends."

"Why not?" she asked him. "I should look upon it as the most natural
thing in the world that we were acquainted. But why do you say 'your
country'? Are you not an American?"

He looked at her with a very faint smile, a smile which had nothing in
it of pleasantness or mirth.

"I have so few secrets," he said. "The only one which I elect to keep
is the secret of my nationality."

She raised her eyebrows.

"Then you can no longer," she observed, "be considered what my brother
and I once thought you--a man of mysteries--for with your voice and
accent it is very certain that you are either English or American."

"If it affords you any further clue, then," he replied, "let me
confide in you that if there is one country in this world which I
detest, it is England; one race of people whom I abominate, it is
the English."

She showed her surprise frankly, but his manner encouraged no further
confidence. She touched the bell, and he bowed over her fingers.

"My friend Phillips," he said, in formal accents, as the butler stood
upon the threshold, "will never live, I fear, to offer you all the
gratitude he feels, but you are doing a very kind and a very wonderful
action, Miss Beverley, and one which I think will bring its
own reward."

He passed out of the room, leaving Katharine a prey to a curious
tangle of emotions. She watched him almost feverishly until he had
disappeared, listened to his footsteps in the hall and the closing of
the front door. Then she hurried to the window, watched him descend
the row of steps, pass down the little drive and hail a taxicab. It
was not until he was out of sight that she became in any way like
herself. Then she broke into a little laugh.

"Heavens alive!" she exclaimed to herself. "Now I have to find Aunt
Molly and tell her that I am going to Europe to-morrow with a perfect
stranger!"



CHAPTER III


Mr. Jocelyn Thew descended presently from his taxicab outside one of
the largest and most cosmopolitan hotels in New York--or the world.
He made his way with the air of an _habitué_ to the bar, the precincts
of which, at that time in the late afternoon, were crowded by a motley
gathering. He ordered a Scotch highball, and gently insinuated himself
into the proximity of a group of newspaper men with whom he seemed to
have some slight acquaintance. It was curious how, since his arrival
in this democratic meeting-place, his manners and deportment seemed to
have slipped to a lower grade. He seemed as though by an effort of
will to have lost something of his natural air of distinction, to be
treading the earth upon a lower plane. He saluted the barkeeper by his
Christian name, listened with apparent interest to an exceedingly
commonplace story from one of his neighbours, and upon its conclusion
drew a little nearer to the group.

"Say," he exclaimed confidentially, "if I felt in the humour for it I
could hand you boys out a great scoop."

They were on him like a pack of hungry though dubious wolves. He
pushed his glass out of sight, accepted one of the drinks pressed upon
him, and leaned nonchalantly against the counter.

"What should you say," he began, "to Miss Katharine Beverley, the New
York society young lady--"

"Sister Katharine of St. Agnes's?" one of them interrupted.

"Daughter of old Joe Beverley, the multi-millionaire?" another
exclaimed.

"Both right," Jocelyn Thew acquiesced. "What should you say to that
young woman leaving her hospital and her house in Riverside Drive,
breaking all her engagements at less than twenty-four hours' notice,
to take a sick Englishman whom no one knows anything about, back to
Liverpool on the _City of Boston_ to-morrow?"

"The story's good enough," a ferret-faced little man at his elbow
acknowledged, "but is it true?"

Jocelyn Thew regarded his questioner with an air of pained surprise.

"It's Gospel," he assured them all, "but you don't need to take my
word. You go right along up and enquire at the Beverley house
to-night, and you'll find that she is packing. Made up her mind just
an hour ago. I'm about the only one in the know."

"Who's the man, anyway?" one of the little group asked.

"Nothing doing," Jocelyn Thew replied mysteriously. "You've got to
find that out for yourself, boys. All I can tell you is that he's an
Englishman, and she has known him for a long time--kind of love stunt,
I imagine. She wasn't having any, but now he's at death's door she
seems to have relented. Anyway, she is breaking every engagement she's
got, giving up her chairmanship of the War Hospitals Committee, and
she isn't going to leave him while he's alive. There's no other nurse
going, so it'll be a night and day job for her."

"What's the matter with the chap, anyway?" another questioner
demanded.

"No one knows for sure," was the cautious reply. "He's been operated
upon for appendicitis, but I fancy there are complications. Not much
chance for him, from what I have heard."

The little crowd of men melted away. Jocelyn Thew smiled to himself on
his way out, as he watched four of them climb into a taxicab.

"That establishes Phillips all right as Miss Beverley's protégé," he
murmured, as he turned into Fifth Avenue. "And now--"

He stopped short in his reflections. His careful scrutiny of the
heterogeneous crowd gathered together around the bar had revealed to
him no unfamiliar type save the little man who at that moment was
ambling along on the other side of the way. Jocelyn Thew slackened his
pace somewhat and watched him keenly. He was short, he wore a cheap
ready-made suit of some plain material, and a straw hat tilted on the
back of his head. He had round cheeks, he shambled rather than walked,
and his vacuous countenance seemed both good-natured and
unintelligent. To all appearances a more harmless person never
breathed, yet Jocelyn Thew, as he studied him earnestly, felt that
slight tightening of the nerves which came to him almost instinctively
in moments of danger. He changed his purpose and turned down Fifth
Avenue instead of up. The little man, it appeared, had business in the
same direction. Jocelyn Thew walked the length of several blocks in
leisurely fashion and then entered an hotel, studiously avoiding
looking behind him. He made his way into a telephone booth and looked
through the glass door. His follower in a few moments was visible,
making apparently some aimless enquiry across the counter. Jocelyn
Thew turned his back upon him and asked the operator for a number.

"Number 238 Park waiting," the latter announced, a few moments later.

Jocelyn Thew reentered the box and took up the receiver.

"That you, Rentoul?" he asked.

"Speaking," was the guarded reply. "Who is it?"

"Jocelyn Thew. Say, what's wrong with you? Don't go away."

"What is it? Speak quickly, please."

"You seem rather nervy up there. I'm off to Europe to-morrow on the
_City of Boston_, and I should like to see you before I go."

There was a moment's silence.

"Why don't you come up here, then?"

"I'd rather not," Jocelyn Thew observed laconically. "The fact of it
is, I have a friend around who doesn't seem to care about losing sight
of me. If you are going to be anywhere around near Jimmy's, about
seven o'clock--"

"That goes," was the somewhat agitated reply. "Ring off now. There's
some one else waiting to speak."

Jocelyn Thew paid for his telephone call and walked leisurely out of
the hotel with a smile upon his lips. The stimulus of danger was like
wine to him. The little man was choosing a cigar at the stall. As he
leaned down to light it, Jocelyn Thew's practiced eye caught the shape
of a revolver in his hip pocket.

"English," he murmured softly to himself. "Probably one of Crawshay's
lot, preparing a report for him when he returns from Chicago."

With an anticipatory smile, he entered upon the task of shaking off
his unwelcome follower. He passed with the confident air of a member
into a big club situated in an adjoining block, left it almost at once
by a side entrance, found a taxicab, drove to a subway station
up-town, and finally caught an express back again to Fourteenth
Street. Here he entered without hesitation a small, foreign-looking
restaurant which intruded upon the pavement only a few yards from the
iron staircase by which he descended from the station. There were two
faded evergreen shrubs in cracked pots at the bottom of the steps,
soiled muslin curtains drawn across the lower half of the windows,
dejected-looking green shutters which, had the appearance of being
permanently nailed against the walls, and a general air of foreign and
tawdry profligacy. Jocelyn Thew stepped into a room on the right-hand
side of the entrance and, making his way to the window, glanced
cautiously out. There was no sign anywhere of the little man. Then he
turned towards the bar, around which a motley group of Italians and
Hungarians were gathered. The linen-clad negro who presided there met
his questioning glance with a slight nod, and the visitor passed
without hesitation through a curtained opening to the rear of the
place, along a passage, up a flight of narrow stairs until he arrived
at a door on the first landing. He knocked and was at once bidden to
enter. For a moment he listened as though to the sounds below. Then he
slipped into the room and closed the door behind him.

The apartment was everything which might have been expected, save for
the profusion of flowers. The girl who greeted him, however, was
different. She was of medium height and dark, with dark brown hair
plaited close back from an almost ivory-coloured forehead. Her grey
eyes were soft and framed in dark lines. Her eyebrows were noticeable,
her mouth full but shapely. Her discontented expression changed
entirely as she held out both her hands to her visitor. Her welcome
was eager, almost passionate.

"Mr. Thew!" she exclaimed.

He held up his hand as though to check further speech, and listened
for a moment intently.

"How are things here?" he asked.

"Quiet," she assured him. "You couldn't have come at a better time.
Every one's away. Is there anything wrong?"

"I am being followed," he told her, "and I don't like it--just now, at
any rate."

"Any one else coming?" she enquired.

"Rentoul," he told her. "He is in a mortal fright at having to come.
They found his wireless, and they are watching his house. I must see
him, though, before I go away."

"Going away?" she echoed. "When? When are you going?"

"To-morrow," he replied, "I sail for London."

She seemed for a moment absolutely speechless, consumed by a sort of
silent passion that found no outlet in words. She gripped a fancy mat
which covered an ornate table by her side, and dragged a begilded vase
on to the floor without even noticing it. She leaned towards him. The
little lines at the sides of her eyes were suddenly deep-riven like
scars. Her eyes themselves were smouldering with fire.

"You are going to England!"

"That is what I propose," he assented. "I am sailing on the _City of
Boston_ to-morrow afternoon."

"But the risk!" she faltered. "I thought that you dared not set foot
in England."

"There is risk," he admitted. "It is not easy to amuse oneself
anywhere without it. I have been offered a hundred thousand pounds to
superintend the conveyance of certain documents and a certain letter
to Berlin. The adventure appeals to me, and I have undertaken it.
Until I found this man following me this afternoon, I really believed
that we had put every one off the track. I know for a fact that most
of the American officials believe that the papers for which they have
searched so long and anxiously are in that trunk with the broken seals
which they found at Halifax."

"What about the Englishman, Crawshay, and Sam Hobson?" the girl asked.

"They are not quite so credulous," he replied, "but at the present
moment they are in Chicago, and if we get off at four o'clock
punctually to-morrow afternoon, I scarcely think I shall be troubled
with their presence on the _City of Boston_." "I have been reading
about the trunk," the girl said. "Is it really a fake?"

"Entirely," he assured her. "There is not a single document in it
which concerns either us or our friends. Everything that is of vital
importance will be on the _City of Boston_ to-morrow and under
my charge."

She looked at him wonderingly.

"But, Mr. Thew," she exclaimed, "you are clever, I know--even
wonderful--but what possible chance have you of getting those things
through--on an American steamer, too!"

"I have to take my risks, of course," he admitted coolly, "but the
game is worth it. I can't live without excitement, as you know, and
it's getting harder and harder to find on this side of the ocean.
Besides, there is the money. I can think of several uses for a hundred
thousand pounds."

She caught his wrist suddenly and leaned across the table.

"Can I come with you?" she asked breathlessly.

He shook his head.

"I shouldn't advise a sea voyage just now, Nora," he said. "It isn't
exactly a picnic, nowadays. Besides, if you come on the _City of
Boston_ there will be more than one danger to be faced."

"Danger!" she exclaimed contemptuously. "Have I ever shown myself
afraid? Have we any of us--my brother or father or I--hesitated to run
any possible risk when it was worth while? This house has been yours,
and we in it, to do what you will with. It isn't a matter of
danger--you know that. I come or go as you bid me." He met the fierce
enquiry of her eyes without flinching. Only his tone was a little
kinder as he answered her.

"I think, Nora," he said, "that you had better stay."

There was a timid but persistent knocking at the door, and, in
response to Nora's invitation, a fat and bloated man entered the room
hurriedly. He sank into a chair and mopped the perspiration from his
forehead. Jocelyn Thew watched him with an air of contemptuous
amusement.

"You seem distressed, Rentoul," he remarked. "Has anything gone
wrong?"

"But it is terrible, this!" the newcomer declared. "Anything gone
wrong, indeed! Listen. The police have made themselves free of my
house. My beautiful wireless--it was only a hobby--it has gone! They
open my letters. They will ruin me. Never did I think that this would
arrive! There has been some terrible bungling!"

"And you," Jocelyn Thew retorted, "seem to have been the arch
bungler."

"I? But what have I done?" Rentoul demanded, wringing his hands. "I
have always obeyed orders. Even a hint has been enough. I have spent a
great deal of money--much more than I could afford. What have I
done wrong?"

"You have talked too much, for one thing," was the cold reply, "but
we haven't time for recriminations now. How did you get here?"

"I came in my car. You will perhaps say that it was not wise, but I
could not have stood the subway. My nerves are all rotten." Jocelyn
Thew's tone and gesture were smoothly disdainful.

"You are quite right," he agreed. "You have lost what you call your
nerve. You had better send for the newspaper men, give them plenty of
champagne, and explain what a loyal American citizen you are. Have you
burnt everything?"

"Every scrap of paper in the house which concerns a certain matter is
burnt," Rentoul declared.

"It would be!"

"But I am in the right," the agitated man protested vigorously. "For
five years we have worked and with good result. It is finished with us
now for the present. There is no one who would dare to continue. Five
long years, mind you, Mr. Jocelyn Thew. That is worth something, eh?"

"Whatever it may be worth," was the somewhat grim reply, "will be
decided within the next fortnight. That doesn't concern you, though."

"You are not staying over here now that the war has come?"

"Not I! But listen. There is no need for you to know where I am going,
and I am not going to tell you. There is no need for you to remember
that you ever knew me in your life. There is no need for you to
remember any of the work in which you have been engaged. Your
propaganda has developed a few strong men in this country and
discovered a good deal of pulp. You are part of the pulp. There is
only one other thing. If you should be heard of, Rentoul, shall we say
telephoning, or calling upon the police here, offering to sell--No, by
God, you don't!" The man's furtive tug at his hip pocket was almost
pathetic in its futility. Jocelyn Thew had him by the throat, holding
him with one hand well away from him, a quivering mass of discoloured,
terrified flesh.

"Now you know," he continued coolly, "why I sent for you, Rentoul. Now
you know why I rather preferred to see you here to coming to your
Fifth Avenue mansion. I don't like traps--I don't like traitors."

"I give you my word," the breathless man began, "my word of honour--"

"Neither would interest me," the other interrupted grimly. "You are
to be trusted just as far as you can be seen, just as far as your own
safety and welfare depend upon your fidelity. You needn't be so
terrified," he went on as, leaning over, he took the revolver from
Rentoul's pocket, drew out the cartridges and threw it upon the table.
"You've earned any ugly thing that might be coming to you, but I
should think it very probable that you will be able to go on
over-feeding your filthy carcass for a few more years. First of all,
though, perhaps you had better tell me exactly why you have an
appointment with Mr. Harrison, from Police Headquarters, at eleven
o'clock to-morrow morning?"

Rentoul was white to the lips.

"I wanted to explain about the wireless," he faltered.

"That sounds very probable," was the contemptuous reply. "What else?"

"Nothing!"

Jocelyn Thew shrugged his shoulders. His victim cowered before
him. For the first time the girl moved. She came a little nearer, and
there was fury in her eyes as she looked down upon the terrified man.

"We could keep him here," she whispered. "Ned Grimes and some of the
others will be in soon. There are plenty of ways of getting rid of him
for a time."

"It wouldn't be worth while," Thew said simply. "One doesn't commit
crimes for such carrion."

Rentoul had struggled into a sitting posture. He was dabbing feebly at
his forehead with an overperfumed handkerchief.

"I wanted to make peace at Headquarters," he whined. "I want to be
left alone. I should not have told them anything."

"That may or may not be," Jocelyn Thew replied. "All that I am fairly
sure of is that you will keep your mouth shut now. You know," he went
on, his voice growing a shade more menacing, "that I never threaten
where I do not perform. I may not be over here myself, but there will
be a few men left in New York, and one word from your lips--even a
hint--and your life will pay the forfeit within twenty-four hours. You
will be watched for a time--you and a few others of your
kidney--watched until the time has gone by when anything you could say
or do would be of account."

"Have you anything more to say to me?" the man stammered. "I feel
faint."

His persecutor threw open the door.

"Nothing! Get into your car and drive home. Keep out of sight and
hearing for a time. You are no particular ornament nor any use to any
country, but remember that everything you have done, you have done
when the country of your birth was in trouble and the country of your
adoption was at peace. The situation is altered. The country of which
you are a naturalised citizen is now at war. You had better remember
it, and decide for yourself where your duty lies."

They listened to his heavy footsteps as he descended the stairs. Then
the girl turned to her companion.

"Mr. Thew," she began, "you are not a German or an Austrian, yet you
are doing their work, risking your life every day. Is it for money?"

"No," he replied, "in a general way it is not for money."

"What is it, then?" she asked curiously.

He stood looking out across the roofs and at the distant skyscrapers.
She watched him without speaking. She knew very well that his eyes saw
nothing of the landscape. He was looking back into some world of his
own fancy, back, perhaps, into the shadows of his own life, concerning
which no word that she or any one else in the city had ever heard had
passed his lips.



CHAPTER IV


The two men--Crawshay and Sam Hobson--still a little breathless,
stood at the end of the dock, gazing out towards the river. Around
them was a slowly dispersing crowd of sightseers, friends and
relations of the passengers on board the great American liner,
ploughing her way down the river amidst the shrieks and hoots of her
attendant tugs. Out on the horizon, beyond the Statue of Liberty, two
long, grey, sinister shapes were waiting. Hobson glanced at
them gloomily.

"Guess those are our destroyers going to take the _City of Boston_
some of the way across," he observed. "To think, with all this fuss
about, that she must go and start an hour before her time!"

"It's filthy luck," the Englishman muttered.

The crowd grew thinner and thinner, yet the two men made no movement
towards departure. It seemed to Crawshay impossible that after all
they had gone through they should have failed. The journey in the fast
motor car, after a breakdown of the Chicago Limited, rushing through
the night like some live monster, tearing now through a plain of level
lights, as they passed through some great city, vomiting fire and
flame into the black darkness of the country places. It was like the
ride of madmen, and more than once they had both hung on to their
seats in something which was almost terror. "How are we going?"
Crawshay had asked perpetually.

"Still that infernal half-hour," was the continual reply. "We are
doing seventy, but we don't seem to be able to work it down."

A powerful automobile had taken them through the streets of New York,
and lay now a wreck in one of the streets a mile from the dock. They
had finished the journey in a taxicab, and the finish had been
this--half an hour late! Yet they lingered, with their eyes fixed upon
the disappearing ship.

"I guess there's nothing more we can do," Hobson said at last
grudgingly. "We can lay it up for them on the other side, and we can
talk to her all the way to Liverpool on the wireless, but if there is
any scoop to be made the others'll get it--not us."

"If only we could have got on board!" Crawshay muttered. "It's no use
thinking of a tug, I suppose?"

The American shook his head.

"She's too far out," he replied gloomily. "There's nothing to be hired
that could catch her."

Crawshay's hand had suddenly stolen to his chin. There was a queer
light in his eyes. He clutched at his companion's arm.

"You're wrong, Hobson," he exclaimed. "There is! Come right along with
me. We can talk as we go."

"Are you crazy?" the American demanded.

"Not quite," the other answered. "Hurry up, man."

"Where to?" "To New Jersey. I've got Government orders, endorsed by
your own Secretary of War. It's a hundred to one they won't listen to
me, but we've got to try it."

He was already dragging his companion down the wooden way. His whole
expression had changed. His face was alight with the joy of an idea.
Already Hobson, upon whom the germ of that idea had dawned, began to
be infected with his enthusiasm.

"It's a gorgeous stunt," he acknowledged, as he followed his companion
into a taxicab. "If we bring it off, it's going to knock the
movies silly."

Katharine, weary at last of waving her hand to the indistinct blur of
faces upon the dock, picked up the great clusters of roses which late
arrivals had thrust into her arms at the last moment, and descended to
her stateroom upon the saloon deck. She spent only a few minutes
looking at the arrangement of her things, and then knocked at the door
of the stateroom exactly opposite. A thick-browed, heavy-looking man,
sombrely and professionally dressed, opened the door.

"Are you wanting me, Doctor Gant?" she asked.

The doctor shook his head.

"The patient is asleep," he announced in a whisper.

Katharine stepped inside and stood looking down upon the pale, almost
ghastly face of the man stretched at full length upon the bed.

"Why, I remember him perfectly," she exclaimed. "He was in Number
Three Ward for some time. Surely he was a clerk at one of the
drygoods stores down-town?"

The doctor nodded.

"Very likely."

"I remember the case," Katharine continued,--"appendicitis, followed
by pneumonia, and complicated by angina pectoris."

"You have it precisely."

Katharine's eyes were full of perplexity.

"But the man is in very poor circumstances," she remarked. "How on
earth can he afford a trip like this? He was on the free list at the
hospital."

The doctor frowned.

"That is not my business," he said. "My fees are paid, and the steamer
tickets appear to be in order. He probably has wealthy friends."

Katharine looked down once more at the sleeping man. His face was
insignificant, his expression peevish, his features without the
animation of any high purpose.

"I really cannot understand," she murmured, "how he became a friend--a
friend--"

"A friend of whom?" the doctor enquired.

Katharine reflected and shook her head.

"Perhaps I was indiscreet," she confessed. "I dare say you know as
much about him as I do. At what time would you like me to come and
help you change the bandages?"

"I shall change them alone," the doctor replied.

"I prefer to."

Katharine glanced up in surprise.

"Surely you are not in earnest?" she asked. "What else am I here for?
I suppose you realise that I am fully qualified?"

The doctor unbent a little.

"I am perfectly well aware of that. Miss Beverley," he said, "and it
may be that there are times when I shall be glad of your help, and in
any case," he went on, "I shall have to ask you to take a share in the
night watching. But the surgical part of the case has been a great
responsibility, and I couldn't afford to have the slightest thing in
the world happen to one of my bandages."

Katharine nodded.

"You are thinking of Nurse Lynn," she observed. "But really I am very
careful."

"I am sure of it," the doctor acknowledged, "but so long as I am here,
with nothing else to do and a very heavy fee if by any chance I bring
my man through, I may just as well see to these things myself. At any
moment I might need your help, and I am very happy, Miss Beverley, to
think that I shall have some one like you to fall back upon. My great
hope," he went on, "is that we may get him across without a touch of
the angina."

"Will he ever get well?" she asked.

The doctor shook his head doubtfully.

"One can never tell," he said. "It is just one of these cases which
are very close to the borderland. With luck he may pull through, may
even become a fairly strong man again, but he doesn't look as though
he had much of a physique. Sometime or other the day will come when
life or death for him will depend entirely upon his will."

She nodded and moved away. "My stateroom is just opposite, if you
want me at any time, doctor," she said.

He bowed and closed the door after her. Katharine made her way into
her cabin, sat on her steamer trunk and looked around a little
helplessly. The confusion of thought in which she had come on board
was only increased by this introduction to doctor and patient. A
presentiment of strange and imminent happenings kept her seated there
long after the dressing bugle had sounded.

The _City of Boston_ was four hours out of harbour, with her course
set direct for Liverpool. The passengers, of whom there were only a
very moderate number, had taken possession of their staterooms,
examined their lifebelts, eaten their first meal, and were now, at
eight o'clock on a fine June evening, mostly strolling about the deck
or reclining in steamer chairs. There was none of the old-time feeling
that a six-days' holiday was before them, a six-days' freedom from all
anxiety and care. Even in these first few hours of their enterprise a
certain strain of suppressed excitement was almost universally
noticeable. There was no escaping from grim facts, and the facts were
brought home to them all the time by those two businesslike destroyers
flying the Stars and Stripes, and whose decks were swept continually
by a deluge of green salt water. Amongst the few people who conversed
there was but one subject of conversation, a subject which every one
affected to treat lightly, and yet which no one managed to discuss
without signs of anxiety.

"This thing will get on all our nerves before we are over," Brand, a
breezy newspaper man from the West, observed. "What with boat drill
three times a day, and lifebelt parade going on all the time on the
deck, one doesn't get a chance to forget that we are liable to get a
torpedo in our side at any moment."

"Oh, these little gnats of Uncle Sam's will look after us!" a more
cheerful _confrère_ observed. "Come into the smoking room and I'll buy
you a drink."

A good deal of courage seemed to be sought in that direction, and
presently, although the afterglow of the sunset was still brilliant,
the decks were almost deserted. On the starboard side, only a man and
a woman remained, and gradually, as though with a certain
unwillingness, they drifted closer together. The woman, who wore a
black and white check coat over her blue serge steamer dress, and a
small black hat from which she had pushed back the veil, was leaning
over the side of the steamer, her head supported by her hand, looking
steadily into the mass of red and orange clouds. The man, who was
smoking a cigar, with both hands in his ulster pockets, seemed as
though he would have passed her, but without turning her head she held
out her hand and beckoned him to her side.

"I was beginning to wonder whether you were an absentee," Katharine
remarked.

"I have been making friends with the captain," Jocelyn Thew replied.

"Please arrange my chair," she begged. "I should like to sit down."

He did as he was asked, arranging her rugs with the care of an old
traveler. All his movements were very deliberate, even the searching
way in which his eyes swept the long row of empty chairs on either
side of them, and the care with which he fastened two open portholes
above their heads. Finally he accepted her invitation and sat by
her side.

"I have seen you once before," she observed, "just before we started."

"Yes?" he murmured.

"You were standing on the upper deck," she continued, "a little away
from the others. You had your glasses glued to your eyes and you
watched the dock. You had the air of one looking for a late arrival.
Do you know of any one who has missed the boat?"

"I think so."

"A friend?"

"No, an enemy," he answered equably.

She turned her head a little. It was obvious that he was speaking the
truth.

"So you have enemies?"

"A great many," he acknowledged, "one in particular just now.
Perhaps," he went on, "I should say an opponent."

"If that is so," she remarked, after a moment's pause, "you should be
glad that he missed the boat."

Jocelyn Thew smiled.

"I am," he admitted. "It was part of my plan that he should miss it."

She moved uneasily in her chair.

"So you haven't finished with adventures yet?"

"Not just yet."

There was a brief silence. Then she turned her head a little, leaning
it still on the back of the chair but watching him as she spoke.

"I have seen my patient," she told him. "I have also had some
conversation with the doctor."

"Well?"

"I am beginning to think," she continued, "that you must be a
philanthropist."

"Why?"

"You hinted," she went on, "that your friend was in poor
circumstances. You did not tell me, though, that you were paying the
whole expenses of this trip, just so that the man should see his home
and his family before he died."

"I told you that the care of him was a charge upon me," Jocelyn Thew
reminded her. "That amounts to the same thing, doesn't it? I was
clever enough, anyhow, to get a good nurse at a small fee."

"I am not at all sure," she replied, "that I shall not charge you
something outrageous. You are probably a millionaire."

"Whatever you charge me," he promised, "I shall try to pay."

The two journalists, refreshed and encouraged by their libation,
strolled past arm in arm.

"Queer sort of voyage, this, for a man on the point of death," the
Westerner observed. "They brought a chap on here, an hour before we
sailed, in an ambulance, with a doctor and a hospital nurse. Had to be
carried every foot of the way."

"What's wrong with him?" the other enquired.

"He was only operated upon for appendicitis a fortnight ago, and they
say that he has angina pectoris amongst other complications. They
brought him straight from the hospital. Seems he's crazy to get back
to England to die."

The two men passed out of hearing. Jocelyn flicked the ash from the
cigarette which he had lighted.

"Sounds a queer sort of story, the way they tell it," he observed,
glancing at his companion.

"Oh, I don't know," she replied. "Men have done this sort of thing
before--but it isn't often," she went on, "that a man has done it for
the sake of another man."

He smiled.

"You have the old-fashioned idea of man's devotion to woman. Can't you
believe that there may be ties between two men stronger even than
between a man and the woman he loves?"

"I can believe that," she assented, "but the men must have something
in common. I should find it hard to believe, for instance, that they
existed between you and the man downstairs."

He shrugged his shoulders very slightly.

"You forget," he observed, "that a man does not look at his best after
such an illness as Phillips has had. You find him, perhaps, a little
insignificant. You are probably aware of his vocation and station
in life."

"I am."

"And these things," he went on, "make it difficult for you to believe
that there is any great tie between us two. Yet it is the exception
which proves the rule, you know. I will not say that your patient has
ever saved my life or performed any immortal action, yet believe me
he has courage and a grit you would scarcely believe in, and I am
speaking seriously when I tell you that not only I but others are
under deep obligations to him."

He rose to his feet with the air of one who has closed the subject.
Katharine also threw off her rugs.

"You are going to walk?" she asked. "Please take me with you. I don't
know why, but I feel restless this evening."

They paced side by side up and down the deck, pausing now and then to
watch the destroyers and indulging in a very spasmodic conversation.
At their fourth promenade, as they reached the stern extremity of
their deck, the woman paused, and, holding to the railing with one
hand, looked steadily back towards New York. The colour was fading
slowly from the sky now, but it was still marvellously clear.

"Are you homesick for what lies beneath those clouds?" he enquired
lightly.

She took no immediate account of his words. Her eyes were fixed upon
one spot in that distant curtain of sky. Suddenly she pointed with
her finger.

"What's that?" she asked. "No, the mast's dipping now--you can't see.
There--the other side."

He followed her outstretched finger, and slowly his fine black
eyebrows grew closer and closer together. Far away, at a certain spot
in the clear evening sky, was a little speck of black, hidden every
now and then by the mast of the ship as she rolled, but distinctly
there all the time, a little smudge in an amber setting, too small for
a cloud, yet a visible and tangible object. Katharine felt her
companion's arm tighten upon hers, and she saw his face grow like a
piece of marble.

"It's a seaplane," he muttered, "coming from the New Jersey coast."

Through that mysterious agency by means of which news travels on board
ship as though supernaturally conveyed, the deck was crowded in a very
few moments by practically every passenger and most of the officers.
Every form of telescope and field-glass was directed towards the now
clearly visible seaplane. Speculations were everywhere to be heard.

"Come to warn us of a submarine," was the first suggestion.

"They'd use the wireless," was the prompt reminder.

"But seaplanes can spot the submarines under the sea," one of the
journalists reminded the bystanders. "They're a better escort than any
destroyer."

"She can't come all the way across the Atlantic, though," Brand
observed.

"It's some new device of Uncle Sam's they are testing, perhaps," his
friend suggested. "Gee! You can hear her now quite plainly. There are
two of them in the car--a pilot and an observer. Wonder what the
captain thinks about it."

The captain on the bridge was talking to his chief officer. Fragments
of their conversation were apparently overheard, for it was soon
rumoured around that the captain had expressed his opinion that this
was simply part of some maneuvres they were carrying out from the New
Jersey Aviation Station. Jocelyn Thew watched the blue fire about
the mast.

"I wonder whether that's she talking to us," he observed. "One would
have to be pretty nippy with one's fingers to work aboard on one of
those small things."

"Do you suppose she is bringing us a message?" Katharine asked.

He shook his head.

"They could do that by wireless from the shore," he replied. "Hullo,
we're slowing down!"

The little crowd was now bubbling over with excitement. The speed of
the steamer had, without a doubt, been slackened, and a boat was being
lowered. Brand and his companion, immensely happy, were already
dotting down their notes for the wireless. The seaplane was gently
skimming the water almost alongside, and barely fifty yards away. The
pilot and his companion were clearly visible. The passengers lined the
whole length of the steamer, leaning over to watch the _dénouement_ of
this strange scene.

"It's a newspaper scoop," one man suggested.

The idea was not favourably entertained.

"No newspaper would be allowed to make use of a Government seaplane,"
Brand pointed out. "Apart from that, they wouldn't dare to stop a
steamer out here."

"There's the boat!" some one else exclaimed, pointing to one of the
ship's lifeboats which had shot out towards the plane. "She must be
going to pick one of the men up!"

The steamer was merely drifting now, and its strange visitor had
alighted upon the water, rushing along a little way in front and
leaving two long, milky paths of white foam behind. Both the pilot and
the passenger were drenched by every wave. They watched the latter as
he was taken off, and their eyes followed the return of the lifeboat.
Almost immediately afterwards the plane, increasing its speed, rushed
across the surface of the water and rose again.

"Prettiest sight I ever saw in my life," Brand declared
enthusiastically.

"We live in wonderful times," his friend agreed, looking longingly at
the wireless office. "I guess we must get a look at this chap,
anyway," he added. "He's the first man who has overtaken an American
liner so far from land like this before."

The man who clambered a few minutes later up the ladder of the steamer
had not the appearance of one who has performed a heroic action. His
clothes had shrunk upon his body, and the sea water was oozing from
him in all directions. His face was blue with cold and almost
unrecognisable. Nevertheless, Jocelyn Thew, who was one of the most
eager of the sightseers, attained a certain measure of conviction as
he shut up his glasses with a snap and turned to his companion.

"An Englishman," he observed.

"Do you know him?" she asked curiously.

"I can't go so far as that," he admitted, "but--"

"But he was the man for whom you were looking before the steamer
started," she declared confidently.

"Seems a little rough luck to be caught up like this out in the
ocean," he grumbled. "I don't know that the man's likely to do me any
particular harm," he added, "but I'd just as soon he wasn't
on board."

Meanwhile, the captain had hurried his belated passenger into his
room, and the ship saw no more of him that night. By degrees the
excitement simmered down. Jocelyn escorted his companion to the
gangway and bade her good night.

"I am not at all sure," she protested, "that I am ready to go down
yet."

"You must show a little interest in your patient," he insisted.

"But the doctor has already as good as told me to keep away."

"Gant is a peculiar fellow," he told her. "By this time he has
probably changed his mind and needs your help. Besides, I am anxious
to hear what they say in the smoking room concerning this
extraordinary visitor."

She looked around. They were absolutely alone.

"Who is he," she asked, "and what does his coming mean to you?"

"His name is Crawshay," Jocelyn replied. "He is an ex-Scotland Yard
man who came over here to work for the English Secret Service."

"What does he want here?" she whispered, a little hoarsely.

Jocelyn raised his cap as he turned away.

"Me," he answered. "He'll probably be disappointed, though."



CHAPTER V


Crawshay found himself a popular hero when at a few minutes before
eleven o'clock the next morning he made his appearance on deck. With
little regard to the weather, which was fine and warm, he was clad in
a thick grey suit and a voluminous overcoat. The fact that his
borrowed hat was several sizes too large for him detracted a little
from the dignity of his appearance, a misfortune for which he
endeavoured to atone by a distinct aloofness of manner. The newspaper
men, however, were not to be denied.

"Say, Mr. Crawshay," Brand began, stopping him as soon as he had
emerged from the companionway, "I'd like to shake hands with you. My
name's Brand. I'm a newspaper man."

Crawshay shook hands, although he showed no particular enthusiasm
about the proceeding.

"And I am Clark, of the Minneapolis _Record_" the small, dark man, who
was generally by Brand's side, added. "Put it there, sir."

Crawshay put it there with an incipient reluctance which the two men
were not slow to note.

"Kind of shock to you yesterday, no doubt," Brand began. "It was a
fine, plucky thing to do, sir. Ever flown before?"

"Never," Crawshay confessed. "The sensation was--er--entirely new to
me. I found the descent upon the water most uncomfortable." "Soaked
your shore clothes, eh?" Brand observed.

"I was not attired for the proceeding," Crawshay admitted. "I was, in
fact, very inappropriately dressed. I was wearing a thin flannel suit,
which was completely ruined, and I do not think that I shall ever be
warm again."

Mr. Brand glanced longingly at his wrist watch and sighed.

"I make it a rule, sir," he said, "never to drink before twelve
o'clock, but there is no rule without an exception. If you think that
a double jigger of gin, with a little lemon and--"

"Stop!" Crawshay begged. "I have no sympathy with the weird compounds
produced by your bartenders. As a matter of fact, I take nothing at
all except with my meals. I am going to sit in this sunshine and try
and recover my normal temperature."

"There are a few of the boys on board," Brand continued insinuatingly,
"who would like to join in our little chat, if you wouldn't mind their
stepping round."

"I have no desire for a chat with any one," Crawshay objected. "I
came up on deck to rest. Kindly ask me what you want to know and leave
me alone for a time."

"Then what in thunder sent you here after an American liner on a
seaplane?" Brand demanded. "That's about the long and short of what
we're aching to know, I think."

"You've hit it, Ned, as usual," Mr. Clark, of the Minneapolis
_Record_, acquiesced. Crawshay drew his rug about him a little
peevishly.

"My name," he said, "is Charles Reginald Crawshay."

"We got that from the captain," Brand replied. "Very nice name, too."

"I have been attached," Crawshay went on, "to the British Embassy at
Washington."

"You don't say!" Brand murmured.

"I am returning home," Crawshay continued, "because I intend to join
the British Army, I was unfortunate enough to miss the boat, and being
in company with a person of authority and influence, he suggested,
partly in joke, that I should try to persuade one of the pilots of
your new seaplanes at Jersey to bring me out. He further bet me five
hundred dollars that I would not attempt the flight. I am one of those
sort of people," Crawshay confessed meditatively, "who rise to a bet
as to no other thing in life. I suppose it comes from our inherited
sporting instincts. I accepted the bet and here I am."

"In time to save the British Army, eh?" Brand observed.

"In time to take my rightful place amongst the defenders of my
country," was the dignified rebuke. "Incidentally, I have won a
hundred pounds."

"Would you do it again for the same money?" Clark asked guilefully.

The Englishman coughed.

"I must confess," he said, "that it is not an experience I am anxious
to repeat."

Brand rose to his feet.

"Well, sir," he concluded, "I offer you my congratulations on your
trip. We shall just dot a few words together concerning it for the New
York newspapers. Anything you'd like to add?"

Crawshay stroked his upper lip.

"You can say," he pronounced with dignity, "that I found the trip most
enjoyable. And by-the-by, you had better put a word in about the skill
of the pilot--Lieutenant T. Johnson, I believe his name was. I have no
experience in such matters, and I found him once or twice a little
unsympathetic when I complained of bumps, but the young man did his
best--of that I am convinced."

Mr. Brand's tongue slowly crept round the outside of his mouth. He met
the eye of his friend Mr. Clark and indulged in a wink. He had the air
of a man who felt relieved by the operation.

"We are very much obliged to you, Mr. Crawshay," he declared. "You
have done something to brighten this trip, anyway."

"A little later," Crawshay announced, "either just before your
luncheon or dinner hour, if you and your friends would meet me in the
smoking room, I should be delighted to remember in the customary
fashion that I have won a rather considerable wager."

"Come, that's bully," Brand declared, with a little real feeling in
his tone. "I tell you, Clark," he added, as they made their way along
the deck to the writing room, "you've got to prick these damned
Britishers pretty hard, but they've generally got a bit of the right
feeling somewhere tucked away. He'll have a swollen head for the rest
of this voyage, though." Crawshay watched the two men disappear, out
of the corner of his eye. Then he rose to his feet and commenced a
little promenade about the sunny portion of the deck. After two or
three turns he found himself face to face with Jocelyn Thew, who had
just issued from the companionway.

"Good morning, Mr. Late Passenger!" the latter exclaimed.

Crawshay paused and looked him up and down.

"Do I know you, sir?" he asked.

"I am not so sure that you do," Jocelyn replied, "but after yesterday
the whole world knows Mr. Reginald Crawshay."

"Very kind of you, I am sure," Crawshay murmured. "What I did really
wasn't worth making a fuss about."

"You had an uncomfortable ride, I fear?" Jocelyn continued.

"I was most unsuitably attired," Crawshay hastened to explain. "If,
instead of asking me very absurd questions at the aerodrome, they had
provided me with some garments calculated to exclude the salt water, I
should be able to look back upon the trip with more pleasurable
feelings."

"Pity you had to make it, wasn't it?" Jocelyn observed, falling into
step with him.

"I scarcely follow you, Mr.--Ought I to know your name? I have a
shocking memory."

"My name is Jocelyn Thew."

"Mr. Jocelyn Thew," Crawshay concluded.

"I mean that it was a pity you missed the boat, you and Hobson, wasn't
it? What was the weather like in Chicago?" "Hot," Crawshay replied.
"I was hotter there than I ever expect to be again in this world."

"A long, tiring journey, too, from Halifax."

"Not only that, sir," Crawshay agreed, "but a dirty journey. I like to
travel with the windows down--cold water and fresh air, you know, for
us English people--but the soft coal you burn in your engines is the
most appalling uncleanly stuff I have ever met."

"Still, you got here," Jocelyn reminded him.

"I got here," Crawshay agreed with an air of satisfaction.

"And you can take a bath three times a day, if you feel like it, on
board," Jocelyn continued. "I'm afraid you won't find much else
to do."

"One can never tell," Crawshay sighed. "I have started on ocean trips
sometimes which promised absolutely nothing in the way of
entertainment, and I have discovered myself, before the end of the
journey, thoroughly interested and amused."

"Nothing like looking on the bright side of things," Jocelyn observed.

Crawshay turned his head and contemplated his companion for a few
moments. Jocelyn Thew, notwithstanding his fine, slim figure, his
well-cut clothes and lean, handsome face, carried always with him some
nameless, unanalysable air of the man who has played the explorer, who
has peered into strange places, who has handled the reins which guide
the white horse of life as well as the black horse of death.

"I am quite sure," he said, in a tone of kindly approval, "that I
shall find you a most interesting companion on this trip. You and I
must have a little further conversation together. I have won a
considerable sum of money, I may say, by my--er--exploit, and I have
invited some of these newspaper fellows to take a drink with me before
luncheon in the smoking room. I hope you will join us?"

"I shall be delighted," Jocelyn accepted. "A drink with a friend, and
a little mutual toast, is always a pleasure."

Crawshay paused. They were standing outside the entrance to the
captain's cabin.

"I quite agree with you," he said. "Exercise your ingenuity, Mr.
Jocelyn Thew, and think out a toast that we can both drink sincerely.
You will excuse me? I am going in to talk to the captain for a few
minutes. There are a few matters concerning my personal comfort which
need his attention. I find the purser," he added, dropping his voice,
"an excellent fellow, no doubt, but just a trifle unsympathetic, eh?"

"I have no doubt you are right," Jocelyn agreed. "We will meet again,
then, just before one o'clock."



CHAPTER VI


Crawshay knocked at the door of the captain's room, received a
stentorian invitation to enter, and sank a little plaintively into a
vacant easy-chair. The purser, who had been in close confabulation
with his chief, hastily took his leave.

"Good morning, sir," the visitor said languidly.

"Good morning, Mr. Crawshay," the captain replied. "Feeling a little
stronger this morning, I hope?"

Crawshay sighed.

"The memory of that experience," he began, settling down in his
chair,--

"Well, well, you ought to have got over that by this time," the
captain interrupted. "What can I do for you, Mr. Crawshay? I have been
yarning with the purser a little longer than usual, this morning, and
I have some rounds to do."

"I must not stand in the way of your daily avocation," the newcomer
said gloomily. "I really dropped in chiefly to see if by any chance
you had had a wireless message about me."

"Not a word."

"No message, eh? Now, do you know, that seems to me exceedingly
strange," Crawshay ruminated.

"I don't see why it should," was the somewhat brusque reply. "I have
no doubt that the New York papers have some wonderful headlines--'How
an Englishman catches the steamer!' or 'An English diplomatist, eager
to fight'--and all that sort of thing. But apart from the spectacular
side of it, I don't suppose they consider your adventure of national
interest."

"On the contrary, it is the development of a new era," Crawshay
replied, with dignity. "Just consider what actually happened. I miss
the steamer, owing to the breakdown of the Chicago Limited and a
subsequent automobile accident. I arrive at the dock whilst you are in
the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. What do I do? What no one else
has ever done before! I fly after you! Romance has never pictured such
a thing. I am a pioneer, Captain."

The Captain grinned.

"You've been pretty sorry for yourself ever since," he observed.

"I must confess that I made up my mind to the heroic deed in a rash
moment," Crawshay acknowledged. "I am a person of strong and
unconquerable impulses. You see, that exceedingly disagreeable
American policeman who was sent up to Halifax on a fool's errand with
me, and who subsequently led me on another to Chicago, bet me five
hundred dollars, as we stood upon the dock, that I couldn't catch that
steamer. Now if there is one thing," he went on, crossing his legs,
"which excites my interest more than another, it is a bet."

"That and your accent," the captain said, smiling, "are two of your
most prominent British traits, Mr. Crawshay." The latter took out his
eyeglass and polished it.

"I have others," he retorted, "but never mind. I understood you to
say, I think, that you have heard nothing by wireless about me?"

"Not a word."

The captain glanced at his clock and showed some signs of impatience.
His visitor, however, remained blandly imperturbable.

"I see that you have only one operator in the wireless room," he
remarked.

"How do you know that?"

"I happened to be walking by last night, and I glanced in."

"We are short-handed," the captain explained.

"Quite naturally," Crawshay replied. "Now with reference to this young
man, I watched him coming down the steps from his office this morning.
You may be surprised to hear, Captain, that I found him
unprepossessing--in fact I might almost say that I took a dislike
to him."

"I am sure he would be very much disturbed if he knew your opinion,"
was the faintly sarcastic reply. "He happens to be a young man with
exceptionally good credentials."

"Credentials," Crawshay observed blandly, "in which I have no
faith--no faith whatever."

The captain turned his head suddenly. There was a new expression in
his face as he looked keenly at his visitor.

"What do you mean, Mr. Crawshay?"

"Nothing much. I see you have been smoking a pipe, Captain. You will
forgive me if I light one of these perfectly damnable cigarettes which
are all I have been able to buy on board.--Thank you.--I talk better
when I smoke."

"It seems to me that you talk a great deal of nonsense," the captain
declared bluntly.

"Intermingled at times," the other insisted, "with a word or two of
sense. Now I am going to repeat that I have very little faith in this
wireless operator of yours. At three o'clock this morning--I don't
wish to tie myself down, Captain, so I will say in the vicinity of
that hour--he received a message--a long one, I should imagine. I put
it to you, sir--was that dispatch for you?"

"No," the captain admitted, "I had no message at that hour or since."

"Very-well, then," Crawshay continued, loosening a little muffler at
his throat, "I suppose you can ascertain from the purser if any
message was delivered to any one of your passengers?"

"I certainly can," the captain admitted, "but to tell you the truth,
sir, I scarcely see how this concerns you."

"I am endeavouring," his visitor replied, with a little wave of his
hand, "to justify my statement. Enquire of the purser, I beg you. It
will do no harm."

The captain shrugged his shoulders, touched the bell and despatched
his steward for Mr. Dix, the purser, who, happening to be on the deck
outside, made an immediate appearance.

"Mr. Dix," the captain asked him, "can you tell me if you have
received any wireless message intended for any one of the passengers
at or since three o'clock this morning?" "Not one, sir."

Crawshay's smile was beatific and triumphant. He relit his cigarette
which had gone out, and, crossing his legs, made himself a little more
comfortable.

"Very well, then," he said, "what I should like to know is, what
became of that message which made very pretty illuminations around
your conductor, or whatever you call it, for at least a quarter of an
hour this morning?"

"The message may merely have been an intercepted one," the purser
pointed out. "It may not have been fur us at all."

"I had an idea," Crawshay persisted, with bland and officious
precision, "that even intercepted messages, especially in time of war,
were referred to some person of authority on board. Apart from that,
however, the message I refer to was written down and delivered to one
of your passengers. I happened to see your operator leave his office
with an envelope in his hand."

"At three o'clock in the morning?" the captain observed incredulously.

"At about a quarter of an hour past that time," the other assented.

"And what on earth were you doing about on deck?"

"I have strange habits," Crawshay confessed. "On board ship I indulge
them. I like to sleep when I feel like it, and to wander about when I
feel inclined. After my extraordinary, my remarkable experience of
yesterday, I was not disposed for slumber." "It appears to me, sir,"
the purser intervened, "that on board this ship you seem to do a great
deal of walking about, considering you have only been with us for a
little more than twelve hours."

"Liver," Crawshay explained confidentially. "I suffer intensely from
my liver. Gentle and continual exercise is my greatest help."

The captain turned towards his junior officer.

"Mr. Dix," he suggested, "perhaps it will clear this little matter up
if we send for Robins. You might just step out yourself and bring
him round."

Crawshay extended an eager hand.

"I beg that you will do nothing of the sort," he pleaded.

"But why not?" the captain demanded. "You have made a definite charge
against a wireless operator on the ship. He ought to be placed in the
position to be able to refute it if he can."

"There is no doubt," Crawshay agreed, "that in course of time he will
be given that opportunity. At present it would be indiscreet."

"And why?"

"Because there will be other messages, and one is driven to the
conclusion that it would be exceedingly interesting to lay hands on
one of these messages, no record of which is kept, of which the purser
is not informed, and which are delivered secretly to--"

"Well, to whom?" the captain demanded.

"To a passenger on board this steamer."

The captain shook his head. His whole expression was one of
disapproval.

"Nonsense!" he exclaimed. "If Robins has failed in his duty, which I
still take the liberty of doubting, I must cross-question him
at once."

Crawshay assumed the air of a pained invalid whose wishes have been
thwarted.

"You must really oblige me by doing nothing of the sort," he begged.
"I am sure that my way is best. Besides, you make me feel like an
eavesdropper--a common informer, and that sort of thing, you know."

"I am afraid that I cannot allow any question of sentiment to stand
between me and the discipline of my ship," was the somewhat
uncompromising reply.

Crawshay sighed, and with languid fingers unbuttoned his overcoat and
coat. Then, from some mysterious place in the neighbourhood of his
breast pocket, he produced an envelope containing a single
half-sheet of paper.

"Read that, sir, if you please," he begged.

The captain accepted the envelope with some reluctance, straightened
out its contents, read the few words it contained several times, and
handed back the missive. He stood for a moment like a man in a dream.
Crawshay returned the envelope to his pocket and rose to his feet.

"Well, I'll be getting along," he observed. "We'll have another little
chat, Captain, later on. I must take my matutinal stroll, or I know
how I shall feel about luncheon time. Besides, there are some
exuberant persons on board who are expecting me to offer them
refreshment about one o'clock, out of my winnings, and, attached to
your wonderful country as I am, Captain, I must admit that cocktails
do not agree with me." "One has to get used to them," the captain
murmured absently.

"I am most unfortunate, too, in the size of my feet," Crawshay
continued dolefully, looking down at them. "If there is one thing I
thoroughly dislike, it is being on board ship without rubber
overshoes--a product of your country, Captain, which I must confess
that I appreciate more than your cocktails. Good morning, sir. I hope
I haven't kept you from your rounds. Dear me!" he added, in a tone of
vexation, as he passed through the door, "I believe that I have been
sitting in a draught all the time. I feel quite shivery."

He shambled down the deck. The purser lingered behind with an
enquiring expression in his eyes, but his chief did not take the hint.

"Dix," he said solemnly, as he put on his cap and started out on his
rounds, "I was right. This is going to be a very queer voyage indeed!"



CHAPTER VII


Crawshay walked slowly along the deck until he found a completely
sheltered spot. Then he summoned the deck steward and superintended
the arrangement of his deck chair, which was almost hidden under a
heap of rugs. He had just adjusted a pair of spectacles and was
preparing to settle down when Katharine, in her nurse's uniform,
issued from the companionway and stood for a moment looking about her.
Crawshay at once raised his cap.

"Good morning, Miss Beverley," he said. "You do not recognise me, of
course, but my name is Crawshay. I had the pleasure of meeting you
once at Washington."

"I remember you quite well, Mr. Crawshay," she replied, glancing with
some amusement at his muffled-up state. "Besides, you must remember
that you are the hero of the ship. I suppose I ought to congratulate
you upon your wonderful descent upon us yesterday."

"Pray don't mention it," Crawshay murmured. "The chance just came my
way. I--er--" he went on, gazing hard at her uniform, "I was not aware
that you were personally interested in nursing."

"That shows how little you know about me, Mr. Crawshay." "I have
heard," he admitted, "of your wonderful deeds of philanthropy, also
that you entirely support a large hospital in New York, but I had no
idea that you interested yourself personally in the--er--may I say
most feminine and charming avocation of nursing?"

"I have been a probationer," she told him, "in my own hospital, and I
am at the present moment in attendance upon a patient on board
this steamer."

"You amaze me!" he exclaimed. "You--did I understand you to say that
you were in personal attendance upon a patient?"

"That is so, Mr. Crawshay."

"Well, well, forgive my astonishment," he continued. "I had no idea.
At any rate I am glad that your patient's state of health permits you
to leave him for a time."

Her expression became a little graver.

"As a matter of fact," she sighed, "my patient is very ill indeed, I
am afraid. However, the doctor shares the responsibility with me, and
he is staying with him now for half an hour."

"May I, in that case," he begged, "share your promenade?"

"With pleasure," she acquiesced, without enthusiasm. "You will have to
take off some of your coats, though."

"I am suffering from chill," he explained. "I sometimes think that I
shall never be warm again, after my experience of yesterday."

He divested himself, however, of his outside coat, arranged his
muffler carefully, thrust his hands into his pockets, and fell into
step by her side. "I am interested," he observed, "in illness. What
exactly is the matter with your charge?"

"He has had a bad operation," she replied, "and there are
complications."

"Dear me! Dear me!" Crawshay exclaimed, in a shocked tone. "And in
such a state he chooses to make a perilous voyage like this?"

"That is rather his affair, is it not?" she said drily.

"Precisely," her companion agreed. "Precisely! I should not, perhaps,
have made the remark. Sickness, however, interests me very much. I
have the misfortune not to be strong myself, and my own ailments
occupy a good deal of my attention."

She looked at him curiously.

"You suffer from nerves, don't you?" she enquired.

"Hideously," he assented.

"And yet," she continued, still watching him in a puzzled fashion,
"you made that extraordinary voyage through the air to catch this
steamer. That doesn't seem to me to be at all the sort of thing a
nervous person would do."

"It was for a bet," he explained confidentially. "The only occasion
upon which I forget my nerves is when there is a bet to be lost or
won. At the time," he went on, "my deportment was, I think, all that
could have been desired. The sensations of which I was undoubtedly
conscious I contrived to adequately conceal. The after-shock, however,
has, I must admit, been considerable."

"Was it really so terribly important," she enquired, "that you
should be in London next week?"

"The War Office made a special point of it," he assured her. "Got to
join up, you know, directly I arrive."

"Do you think," she enquired after a brief pause, "that you will enjoy
soldiering better than pseudo-diplomacy? I don't exactly know how to
refer to your work. I only remember that when we were introduced I was
told that you had something to do with the Secret Service."

They were leaning over the side of the steamer, and she glanced
curiously at his long, rather sunken face, at the uncertain mouth, and
at the eyes, carefully concealed behind a pair of green spectacles. He
seemed, somehow, to have aged since they had first met, a year ago, in
Washington.

"To tell you the truth," he confided, "I am a little tired of my job.
Neither fish nor fowl, don't you know. I took an observation course at
Scotland Yard, but I suppose I am too slow-witted for what they call
secret-service work over here."

"America wouldn't provide you with many opportunities, would it?" she
observed.

"You are quite right," he replied. "I am much more at home upon the
Continent. The Secret Service in America, as we understand it, does
not exist. One finds oneself continually in collaboration with police
inspectors, and people who naturally do not understand one's point of
view. At any rate," he concluded, with a little sigh, "if I have any
talents, they haven't come to the front in Washington. I don't believe
that dear old Sir Richard was at all sorry to see the last of me."
"And you think you will prefer your new profession?"

"Soldiering? Well, I shall have to train up a bit and see. Beastly
ugly work they seem to make of it, nowadays. I don't mind roughing it
up to the extent of my capacity, but I do think that the advice of
one's medical man should be taken into consideration."

She laughed at him openly.

"Do you know," she said, "I can't picture you campaigning in France!"

"To tell you the truth I can't picture it myself," he confessed
frankly. "The stories I have heard with reference to the absence of
physical comforts are something appalling. By-the-by," he went on, as
though the idea had suddenly occurred to him, "I can't think how your
patient can rest, anyhow, after an operation, on beds like there are
on this steamer. I call it positively disgraceful of the company to
impose such mattresses upon their patrons. My bones positively ache
this morning."

"Mr. Phillips has his own mattress," she told him, "or rather one of
the hospital ones. He was carried straight into the ambulance from
the ward."

"Mr.--er--Phillips," Crawshay repeated. "Have I ever met him?"

"I should think not."

"He is, of course, a very great friend of yours?"

"I don't know why you should suppose that."

"Come, come," he remonstrated, "I suppose I am an infernally curious,
prying sort of chap, but when one thinks of you, a society belle of
America, you know, and, further, the patroness of that great
hospital, crossing the Atlantic yourself in charge of a favoured
patient, one can't help--can one?"

"Can one what?" she asked coolly.

"Scenting a romance or a mystery," he replied. "In any case, Mr.
Phillips must be a man of some determination, to risk so much just for
the sake of getting home."

She turned and recommenced their promenade.

"I wonder whether you realise that it isn't etiquette to question a
nurse about her patient," she reminded him.

"I'm sure I am very sorry," he assured her. "I didn't imagine that my
questions were in any way offensive. I told you from the first that I
was always interested in invalids and cases of illness."

She turned her head and looked at him. Her glance was reproving, her
manner impatient.

"Really, Mr. Crawshay," she said, "I think that you are one of the
most inquisitive people I ever met."

"It really isn't inquisitiveness," he protested. "It's just obstinacy.
I hate to leave a problem unexplained."

"Then to prevent any further misunderstanding, Mr. Crawshay," she
concluded, a little coldly, "let me tell you that there are private
reasons which make any further questioning on your part, concerning
this matter, impertinent."

Crawshay lifted his cap. He had the air of a man who has received a
rebuff which he takes in ill part.

"I will not risk your further displeasure, Miss Beverley," he said,
stopping by his steamer chair. "I trust that you will enjoy the
remainder of your promenade. Good morning!"

He summoned the deck steward to arrange his rugs, and lay back in his
steamer chair, eating broth which he loathed, and watching Jocelyn
Thew and Katharine Beverley through spectacles which somewhat impaired
his vision. The two had strolled together to the side of the ship to
watch a shoal of porpoises go by.

"I see that you are acquainted with our hero of the seaplane," Jocelyn
Thew remarked.

She nodded.

"I met him once at Washington and once at the polo games."

"Tell me what you think of him?"

She smiled.

"Well," she confessed, "I scarcely know how to think of him. I must
say, though, that in a general way I should think any profession would
suit him better than diplomacy."

"You find him stupid?"

"I do," she admitted, "and in a particularly British way."

Jocelyn glanced thoughtfully across at Crawshay, who was contemplating
his empty cup with apparent regret.

"You will not think that I am taking a liberty, Miss Beverley, if I
ask you a question?"

"Why should I? Is it so very personal?"

"As a matter of fact, it isn't personal at all. I was only going to
ask you if you would mind telling me what our friend Mr. Crawshay was
talking to you about just now?" "Are you really interested?" she
asked, with an air of faint surprise. "Well, if you must know, he was
asking questions about my patient. He appears to be something of a
hypochondriac himself, and he is very interested in illnesses."

"He has the air of one who takes care of himself," Jocelyn observed,
with a faint smile. "However, one mustn't judge. He may be delicate."

"I think he is an old woman," she remarked carelessly.

"He rather gives one that impression, doesn't he?" Jocelyn agreed.
"By-the-by, there wasn't much you could tell him about your patient,
was there?"

"There really isn't anything at all," she replied. "I just mentioned
his condition, and as Mr. Crawshay still seemed curious, I reminded
him that it was not etiquette to question a nurse about her patients."

"Most discreet," Jocelyn declared. "As a matter of fact," he went on,
"I have scarcely thought it worth while to mention it to you, because
I knew exactly the sort of answer you would make to any too curious
questions, but there is a reason, and a very serious reason, why my
friend Phillips wishes to avoid so far as possible all manner of
notice and questions."

"You call him your friend Phillips," she remarked, "yet you don't seem
to have been near him since we started."

"Nor do I intend to," he replied. "That is the other point concerning
which I wish to speak to you. You may think it very extraordinary, and
I offer no explanation, but I do not wish it known to--say, Mr.
Crawshay, or any other casual enquirer, that I have any acquaintance
with or interest in Phillips."

"The subject is dismissed," she promised lightly. "I am not in the
least an inquisitive person. I understand perfectly, and my lips
are sealed."

His little smile of thanks momentarily transformed his expression. Her
eyes became softer as they met his.

"Now please walk with me for a little time," she begged, "and let us
leave off talking of these grizzly subjects. You've really taken very
little notice of me so far, and I have been rather looking forward to
the voyage. You have traveled so much that I am quite sure you could
be a most interesting companion if you wished to be."

He obeyed at once, falling easily into step with her, and talking
lightly enough about the voyage, their fellow passengers, and other
trifling subjects. Her occasional attempts to lead the conversation
into more serious channels, even to the subject of his travels, he
avoided, however, with a curious persistency. Once she stopped short
and forced him to look at her.

"Mr. Jocelyn Thew," she complained, "tell me why you persist in
treating me like a child?"

Then for the first time his tone became graver.

"I want to treat you and think of you," he said, "in the only way that
is possible for me."

"Explain, please," she begged.

He led her again to the side of the ship. The sea had freshened, and
the spray flew past them like salt diamonds.

"Since it has pleased you to refer to the subject, Miss Beverley," he
said seriously, "I will explain so far as I am able. I suppose that I
have committed nearly every one of the crimes which our abbreviated
dictionary of modern life enumerates. If the truth were known about
me, and I were judged by certain prevailing laws, not only my
reputation but my life might be in serious danger. But there is one
crime which I have not committed and which I do not intend to commit,
one pain which I have avoided all my life myself, and avoided
inflicting upon others. I think you must know what I refer to."

"I can assure you that I do not," she told him frankly. "In any case I
hate ambiguity. Do please tell me exactly what you mean."

"I was referring to my attitude towards your sex," he replied.

There was a faint twinkle in her eyes.

"That sounds so ponderous," she murmured. "Don't you like us, then?"

"There are circumstances in my life," he said, "which prevent my even
considering the subject."

She turned and looked him full in the eyes. Her very sweet mouth was
suddenly pathetic, her eyes were full of gentle resentment.

"I do not believe," she said firmly, "that you have done a single
thing in life of which you ought to be ashamed. I do not believe one
of the hard things you have said about yourself. I am not a child. I
am a woman--twenty-six years old--and I like to choose my own friends.
I should like you to be my friend, Mr. Thew."

He murmured a few words entirely conventional. Nothing in his
expression responded in the least to the appeal of her words. His face
had grown like granite. He turned to the purser, who was strolling
by. As though unconsciously, the finer qualities of his voice had gone
as he engaged the latter in some trivial conversation.



CHAPTER VIII


That night at dinner time a stranger appeared at the captain's table.
A dark, thick-browed man, in morning clothes of professional cut, was
shown by one of the saloon stewards to a seat which had hitherto been
vacant. Crawshay, whose place was nearly opposite, leaned across at
once with an air of interest.

"Good evening, Doctor," he said.

"Good evening, sir," was the somewhat gruff reply.

"Glad to see that you are able to come in and join us," Crawshay
continued, unabashed. "You are, I believe, the physician in attendance
on Mr. Phillips. I am very interested in illnesses. As a matter of
fact, I am a great invalid myself."

The doctor contented himself with a muttered monosyllable which was
not brimful of sympathy.

"This is a very remarkable expedition of yours," Crawshay went on. "I
am a man of very little sentiment myself--one place to me is very much
like another--so I do not understand this wild desire on the part of
an invalid to risk his life by undertaking such a journey. It is a
great feat, however. It shows what can be accomplished by a man of
determination, even when he is on the point of death." "Who said that
my patient was on the point of death?" the doctor demanded brusquely.

"It is common report," Crawshay assured him. "Besides, as you know,
the New York press got hold of the story before you started, and the
facts were in all the evening papers."

"What facts?"

"Didn't you read them? Most interesting!" Crawshay continued. "They
all took the same line, and agreed that it was an absolutely
unprecedented occurrence for a man to embark upon an ocean voyage only
a few days after an operation for appendicitis, with double pneumonia
behind, and angina pectoris intervening. Almost as unusual," Crawshay
concluded with a little bow, "as the fact of his being escorted by the
most distinguished amateur nurse in the world, and a physician of such
distinction as Doctor--Doctor--Dear me, how extraordinary! For the
moment I must confess that your name has escaped me."

The heavy-browed man leaned forward a little deliberately towards his
_vis-à-vis_. His was not an attractive personality. His features were
large and of bulldog type. His forehead was low, and his eyes, which
gave one the impression of being clear and penetrating, were concealed
by heavy spectacles. His hands only, which were well-shaped and cared
for, might have indicated his profession.

"My name," he said, "is Gant--Doctor James H. Gant. You are not, I
presume, a medical man yourself?"

Crawshay shook his head.

"A most admirable profession," he declared, "but one which I should
never have the nerve to follow."

"You do not, therefore, appreciate the fact," Doctor Gant continued,
"that a medical man, especially one connected with a hospital of such
high standing as St. Agnes's, does not discuss his patient's ailments
with strangers."

"No offence, Doctor--no offence," Crawshay protested across the table.
"Mine is just the natural interest in a fellow sufferer of a man who
has known most of the ailments to which we weak humans are subject."

"I suppose, as we have the pleasure of your company this evening," the
captain intervened, "Miss Beverley will be an absentee?"

"Miss Beverley at the present moment is taking my place," the doctor
replied. "She insisted upon it. Personally, I am used to eating at all
times and in all manner of places."

There was a brief silence, during which Crawshay discussed the subject
of inoculation for colds in the head with his neighbour on the other
side, and the doctor showed a very formidable capacity for making up
for any meals which he might have missed by too rigid an attention to
his patient. The captain presently addressed him again.

"Have you met our ship's doctor yet?" he enquired.

"I have had that honour," Doctor Gant acknowledged. "He was good
enough to call upon me yesterday and offer his assistance should I
require it."

"A very clever fellow, I believe," the captain observed.

"He impressed me some," the other confessed. "If any further
complications should arise, it will be a relief for me to
consult him."

The subject of the sick man dropped. Crawshay walked out of the saloon
with the captain and left him at the bottom of the stairs.

"I'll take the liberty of paying you a short call presently, Captain,
if I may," he said. "I just want to fetch my wraps. And by-the-by, did
I tell you that I have been fortunate enough to find a pair of rubbers
that just fit me, at the barber's? One of the greatest blessings on
board ship, Captain, believe me, is the barber's shop. It's like a
bijou Harrod's or Whiteley's--anything you want, from an elephant to a
needle, you know. In about ten minutes, Captain, if I shan't be
disturbing you."

The captain found the purser on deck and took him into his cabin.

"I saw you speaking to Doctor Gant in the gangway," the former
observed. "I wonder what he really thinks about his patient?"

"I think I can tell you that, sir, without betraying any confidences,"
the purser replied. "Unless a miracle happens, there'll be a burial
before we get across. Poor fellow, it seems too bad after such
an effort."

The captain nodded sympathetically.

"After all, I can understand this hankering of a man to die in his own
country," he said. "I had a brother once the same way. They brought
him home from Australia, dying all the way, as they believed, but
directly he set foot in England he seemed to take on a new lease of
life--lived for years afterwards." "Is that so?" the purser remarked.
"Well, this fellow ought to have a chance. It's a short voyage, and he
has his own doctor and nurse to look after him."

"Let's hope they'll keep him alive, then. I hate the burial service at
sea."

The captain turned aside and filled his pipe thoughtfully.

"Dix," he continued, "as you know, I am not a superstitious man, but
there seems to be something about this trip I can't fathom."

"Meaning, sir?"

"Well, there's this wireless business, first of all. We shall close it
up in about thirty-six hours, you know, and in the meantime I have
been expecting half a dozen messages, not one of which has
come through."

"Young fellow of the highest character, Robins," the purser remarked
drily.

"That may be," the captain agreed, "and yet I can't get rid of my
premonition. I wouldn't mind laying you anything you like, Dix, that
we don't sight a submarine, and shouldn't, even if we hadn't our
guns trained."

"That's one comfort, anyway. Being a family man, sir--"

"Yes, I know all about your family, Dix," the captain interrupted
irritably, "but just at the present moment I am more interested in
what is going on in my ship. I begin to believe that Mr. Crawshay's
voyage through the air wasn't altogether a piece of bravado,
after all."

The purser smiled a little incredulously. "He sent round this evening
to know if I could lend him some flannel pyjamas," he said,--"says all
the things that have been collected together for him are too thin.
That man makes me tired, sir."

"He makes me wonder."

"How's that, sir?"

"Because I can't size him up," the captain declared. "There isn't a
soul on board who isn't laughing at him and saying what a sissy he is.
They say he has smuggled an extra lifebelt into his cabin, and spends
half his time being seasick and the other half looking out for
submarines."

"That's the sort of fellow he seems to me, anyway," the purser
observed.

"I can't say that I've quite made up my mind," the captain pronounced.
"I suppose you know, Dix, that he was connected with the Secret
Service at the English Embassy?"

"I didn't know it," Dix replied, "but if he has been, Lord help us! No
wonder the Germans have got ahead of us every time!"

"I don't think he was much of a success," the other continued, "and as
a matter of fact he is on his way back to England now to do his bit of
soldiering. All the same, Dix, he gave me a turn the other day."

"How's that, sir?"

"Showed me an order, signed by a person I won't name," the captain
went on, lowering his voice, "requesting me to practically run the
ship according to his directions--making him a kind of Almighty boss."

Mr. Dix opened his lips and closed them again. His eyes were wide
open with astonishment. There was an indecisive knock at the door,
which at a gesture from the captain he opened. Wrapped in a huge
overcoat, with a cap buttoned around his ears and a scarf nearly up to
his mouth, Crawshay stood there, seeking admittance.

       *       *       *       *       *

"I am exceedingly fortunate to find you both here," the newcomer
observed, as he removed his cap. "Captain, may I have a few minutes'
conversation with you and Mr. Dix?"

"Delighted," the captain acquiesced, "so long as you don't keep me
more than twenty minutes. I am due on the bridge at nine o'clock."

"I will endeavour not to be prolix," Crawshay continued, carefully
removing his rubbers, unfastening his scarf and loosening his
overcoat. "A damp night! I fear that we may have fog."

"This all comes off the twenty minutes," the captain reminded him.

Crawshay smiled appreciatively.

"Into the heart of things, then! Let me tell you that I suspect a
conspiracy on board this boat."

"Of what nature?" the captain asked swiftly.

"It is my opinion," Crawshay said deliberately, "that the result of
the whole accumulated work of the German Secret Service, compiled
since the beginning of the war by means of Secret Service agents,
criminals, and patriotic Germans and Austrians resident in the States,
is upon this ship."

"Hell!" the purser murmured, without reproof from his chief.

"It was believed," Crawshay continued, "that these documents,
together with a letter of vital importance, were on the steamer which
conveyed the personnel of the late German Ambassador to Europe. The
steamer was delayed at Halifax and a more or less complete search was
made. I was present on behalf of the English Embassy, but I did not
join personally in the search. You have all heard that the seals of a
tin chest belonging to a neutral country had been tampered with. The
chiefs of my department, and the head of the American Secret Service,
firmly believe that the missing papers are in that chest and will be
discovered when the chest is opened in London. That is not a belief
which I share."

"And your reasons, Mr. Crawshay?" the captain asked.

"First, because Hobson and I were decoyed to Chicago by a bogus
telegram, evidently with the idea that we should find it impossible to
catch or search this steamer. Secondly, because there is on board just
the one man whom I believe capable of conceiving and carrying out a
task as difficult as this one would be."

"Who is he?" the captain demanded.

"A very inoffensive, well-mannered and exceedingly well-informed
individual who is travelling in this steamer under, I believe, his own
name--Mr. Jocelyn Thew."

"Jocelyn Thew!" the captain murmured.

"Thew!" the purser repeated.

"Now I tell you that I have definite suspicions of this man," Crawshay
continued, "because I know that for some reason or other he hates
England, although he has the appearance of being an Englishman. I
know that he has been friendly with enemy agents in New York, and I
know that he has been in recent communication with enemy headquarters
at Washington. Therefore, as I say, I suspect Mr. Jocelyn Thew. I also
suspect Robins, the wireless operator, because I am convinced that he
has received messages of which he has taken no record. I now pass on
to the remainder of my suspicions, for which I frankly admit that I
have nothing but surmise. I suspect Mr. Phillips, Doctor Gant and Miss
Katharine Beverley."

The last shock proved too much for the captain. For the first time
there was distinct incredulity in his face.

"Look here, Mr. Crawshay," he protested, "supposing you are right, and
that you are on the track of a conspiracy, how do you account for a
physician from the finest hospital in New York and one of the
best-known young ladies in America being mixed up in it?"

Crawshay acknowledged the difficulties of the supposition.

"As regards the physician," he said thoughtfully, "I must confess that
I am without information concerning him, a fact which increases my
suspicion of Robins, for I should have had his _dossier_, and also
that of the man Phillips, by wireless twenty-four hours ago."

"What about Miss Beverley then?" the captain enquired. "Her family is
not only one of the oldest in America, but they are real Puritan,
Anglo-Saxon stock, white through and through. She has a dozen
relatives in Congress, who have all been working for war with Germany
for the last two years. She also has, as she told me herself, a
brother and four cousins fighting on the French front--the brother in
the Canadian Flying Corps, and the cousins in the English Army."

"There I must confess that you have me," Crawshay admitted. "What you
say is perfectly true. That is one of the mysteries. No plot would be
worth solving, you know, if it hadn't a few mysteries in it."

"If you will allow me a word, Mr. Crawshay," the purser intervened, "I
think you will have to leave Doctor Gant and his patient and Miss
Beverley out of your speculations. I have our own ship doctor's word
for it that Mr. Phillips' condition is exactly as has been stated. Mr.
Jocelyn Thew may or may not be a suspicious character. Anything you
suggest in the way of watching him can be done. But as regards the
other three, I trust that you will not wish their comfort interfered
with in any respect."

"Beyond the search to which every one on board will have to be
subjected," Crawshay replied, "I shall not interfere in any respect
with the three people in question. Mr. Jocelyn Thew, however, is
different. He is a man who has led a most adventurous life. He seems
to have travelled in every part of the globe, wherever there was
trouble brewing or a little fighting to be done."

"Why do you connect him with the present enterprise?" the captain
asked.

"Because," Crawshay answered, "the wireless message of which your man
Robins took no record, and concerning which you have kept silence at
my request, was delivered to Mr. Jocelyn Thew. Because, too," he went
on, "it is my very earnest belief that at somewhere in the small hours
of this morning there will be another message, and Mr. Jocelyn Thew
will be on deck to receive it."

The captain knocked out the ashes of his pipe a little apprehensively.

"If half what you suspect is true, Mr. Crawshay," he said, "you will
forgive my saying so, but Jocelyn Thew is not a man you ought to
tackle without assistance."

There was a peculiar glitter in Crawshay's deep-set eyes. For a single
moment a new-born strength seemed to deepen the lines in his face--a
transforming change.

"You needn't worry, Captain," he remarked coolly. "I am not taking too
many chances, and if our friend Mr. Jocelyn Thew should turn out to be
the man I believe him to be, I would rather tackle him alone."

"Why," Mr. Dix demanded, "should anything in the shape of violence
take place? The ship can be searched, every article of baggage
ransacked, and every passenger made to run the gauntlet."

Crawshay smiled.

"The search you speak of is already arranged for, Mr. Dix," he said;
"long cables from my friend Hobson have already reached Liverpool--but
the efficacy of such a proposed search would depend a little, would it
not, upon whether we reach Liverpool?" "But if we were submarined,"
the captain pointed out, "the papers would go to the bottom."

Crawshay leaned forward and whispered one word in the captain's ear.
The latter sat for a moment as though paralysed.

"What's to prevent that fellow Robins bringing her right on to our
track?" Crawshay demanded. "That is the reason I spent last night
listening for the wireless. It's the reason I'm going to do the same
to-night."

The captain sprang to his feet.

"We'll run no risks about this," he declared firmly. "We'll dismantle
the apparatus. I'd never hold up my head again if the _Von
Blucher_ got us!"

Crawshay held out his hand.

"Forgive me, Captain," he said, "but we want proof. Leave it to me,
and if things are as I suspect, we'll have that proof--probably before
to-morrow morning," he added, glancing at the chart.

There was a call down the deck, a knock at the door. The captain took
up his oilskins regretfully.

"You will remember," Crawshay enjoined, "that little mandate I showed
you?"

The captain nodded grimly.

"I am in your hands," he admitted. "Don't forget that the safety of
the ship may be in your hands, too!"

"Perhaps," Crawshay whispered, "even more than the safety of the
ship."



CHAPTER IX


Robins, the wireless operator, bent closer over his instrument, and
the blue fires flashed from the masthead of the steamer, cutting their
way through the darkness into the black spaces beyond. The little room
was lit by a dull oil light, the door was fast-closed and locked. Away
into the night sped one continual message.

"Steamship _City of Boston_, lat.... long.... lying four points to
northward of usual course. Reply."

A time came when the young man ceased from his labours and sat up with
a yawn. He stretched out his hand and lit a cigarette, walked to the
little round window which commanded the deck, gazed out of it
steadily, and turned back once more to his chair before the
instrument. Then something happened. A greater shock than any that lay
in the blue lightning which he had been generating was awaiting him.
His right hand was suddenly gripped and held on to the table. He found
himself gazing straight down the black bore of a small but uncommonly
ugly-looking revolver. A voice which seemed remarkable for its
convincing qualities, addressed him.

"If you speak a word, Robins, move, or show signs of any attempt to
struggle, I shall shoot you. I have the right and the power." Robins,
a young man of nerve, whose name stood high on an official list of
those who might be relied upon for any desperate enterprise, sat like
a numbed thing. Dim visions of the face of this man, only a few feet
away from his own, assailed him under some very different guise. It
was Crawshay the man, stripped for action, whose lean, strong fingers
were gripping the butt of that revolver, and whose eyes were holding
him like gimlets.

"Now, if you are wise, answer me a few questions," Crawshay began.
"I'd have brought the captain with me, but I thought we might do
better business alone. You've been advertising the ship's
whereabouts. Why?"

"I've only been giving the usual calls," the young man muttered.

"Don't lie to me," was the grim reply. "Your wireless was supposed to
be silent from yesterday midday except for the purpose of receiving
calls. I ask you again, why and to whom were you advertising our
whereabouts and course?"

Robins looked at the revolver, looked at Crawshay, and was dimly
conscious of a damp feeling about his forehead. Nevertheless, his lips
were screwed together, and he remained silent.

"Come," Crawshay went on, "we'll have a common-sense talk. I am an
agent of the British Secret Service. I have unlimited powers upon this
ship, power to put a bullet through your head if I choose, and not a
soul to question it. The game's up so far as you are concerned. You
have received messages on this steamer of which you have kept no
record, but which you have delivered secretly to a certain passenger.
Of that I may or may not speak later on. At present I am more
interested in your operations of to-night. You are signalling the
information of our whereabouts for some definite reason. What is it?
Were you trying to pick up the _Blucher?_"

"I wasn't trying to pick up anybody," the young man faltered.

Crawshay's fingers gripped him by the shoulder. His very
determined-looking mouth had suddenly become a ring of steel.

"If you don't give me a different answer in ten seconds, Robins, I'll
blow your brains all over the cabin!"

The young man broke.

"I was trying to pick up the _Blucher_," he acknowledged.

"That's exactly what I thought," Crawshay muttered. "That's the game,
without a doubt. What are you? An Englishman?"

"I am not!" was the almost fierce reply. "Blast England!"

Crawshay looked into the black eyes, suddenly lit with an ugly fire,
and nodded.

"I understand," he said. "Robins, your name, eh? Any relation to the
young Sinn Feiner who was shot in Dublin a few months ago?"

"Brother."

"That may save your life later on," Crawshay observed coolly. "Now you
can do one of three things. You can come with me to the captain, be
put in irons and shot as soon as we land--or before, if the _Blucher_
finds us; or you can send the message which I shall give you; or you
can end your days where you sit."

"What message?" the young man demanded.

"You will send out a general call, as before, repeating the latitude
and longitude with a difference of exactly three points, and you will
repeat the altered course, only you will substitute the word 'south'
for the word 'north.'"

The young man's eyes suddenly gleamed as he turned towards the
instrument, but Crawshay smiled with grim understanding.

"Let me tell you that I understand the wireless," he said
impressively. "You will give the message exactly as I have told you or
we finish things up on the spot. I think you had better. It's a matter
of compulsion, you know--in fact I'll explain matters to Mr. Jocelyn
Thew, if you like."

The young man's eyes were round with amazement.

"Jocelyn Thew!" he repeated.

"Precisely. You needn't look so terrified. It isn't you who have given
away. Now what are you going to do?"

The young man swung round to his instrument. Crawshay released his
hand, stepping a little back.

"You are going to send the message, then?"

"Yes!" was the sullen reply.

"Capital!" Crawshay exclaimed, cautiously subsiding into a chair. "Now
you'll go on every ten minutes until I tell you to stop."

Robins bent over his task, and again the crackling waves broke away
from their prison. Once his finger hesitated. He glanced
surreptitiously at Crawshay. "Four degrees south," Crawshay
repeated softly.

The night wore on. Every ten minutes the message was sent. Then there
followed a brief silence, spent generally by Robins with his head
drooped upon his clasped arms; by Crawshay in unceasing vigil. Just as
the first faint gleam of daylight stole into the little turret
chamber, came the long-waited-for reply. The young man wrote down the
few lines and passed them over. Crawshay, who had risen to his feet,
glanced at them, nodded, and thrust the paper into his pocket.

"That seems quite satisfactory," he said coldly. "Now ask the
_Blucher_ her exact course?"

Robins sat for a moment motionless. He felt Crawshay's presence
towering over him, felt again the spell of his softly-spoken command.

"Don't waste any time, please. Do as I tell you."

Robins obeyed. In less than a quarter of an hour he handed over
another slip of paper. Crawshay thrust it into his pocket.

"That concludes our business," he said. "Now let me see if I remember
enough of this apparatus to put it out of action."

He bent over the instrument, removed some plugs, turned some screws,
and finally placed in his pocket a small concealed part of the
mechanism. Then he turned towards Robins.

"You can leave here now," he directed. "I shall lock the place up."

Robins had in some measure recovered himself. He was a quiet,
hollow-eyed young person, with thick black hair and a thin frame,
about which the uniform of the ship hung loosely. "You are the man
who boarded the steamer from a seaplane, aren't you, and pretended
afterwards to be such a ninny?"

"I am," Crawshay acknowledged.

"How did you get on to this?"

Crawshay raised his eyebrows.

"Sorry," he replied, "that is a matter concerning which I fear that
you will have to restrain your curiosity."

"How did you get in here?"

"By means of a duplicate key which I obtained from the purser. I hid
in your bunk there and drew the curtains. Quite a comfortable
mattress, yours. You'll have to change your sleeping quarters, though."

"What is going to happen to me?" the young man enquired.

"Probably nothing extreme. You were philosophical enough to accept the
situation. If," Crawshay went on more slowly, "you had falsified a
single word of those messages, your end would have been somewhat
abrupt and your destination according to your past life. As it is, you
can go where you choose now and report to the captain later on in the
morning, after I have had a talk with him."

"My kit is all in here."

Crawshay laid his hand upon the operator's shoulder in peremptory
fashion.

"Then you will have to do without it for the present," he replied
coolly. "Outside."

The young man turned on his heel and disappeared without a word.
Crawshay glanced once more at the dismantled instrument, then followed
Robins on to the deck, carefully locking the door behind him. A grey,
stormy morning was just breaking, with piles of angry clouds creeping
up, and showers of spray breaking over the ship on the weather side.
He chose a sheltered spot and stood for a few moments breathing in the
strong salt air. Notwithstanding his success, he was unaccountably
depressed. As far as he could see across the grey waste of waters,
there was no sign of any passing ship, but the eastern horizon was
blurred by a low-hanging bank of sinister-looking clouds. Suddenly a
voice rang out, hailing him. It was the captain descending from
the bridge.

"Come and have a cup of coffee with me in my room, Mr. Crawshay," he
invited.

Crawshay felt himself suddenly back again in the world of real
happenings. His depression passed as though by magic. After all, he
had won the first trick, and the next move was already forming up in
his mind.



CHAPTER X


The captain sank into his easy-chair a little wearily. It had been a
long and rather trying vigil. His steward filled two cups with coffee
and at a sign from his master withdrew.

"Any news?"

"I have been compelled," Crawshay announced, stirring his coffee, "to
dismantle your wireless."

"The devil you have!"

"Also, to speak words of wisdom to young Robins. I detected him
signalling our location to the _Blucher_."

The captain set down his coffee cup.

"Mr. Crawshay," he said, "this is a very serious accusation."

"It isn't an accusation at all--it's a fact," Crawshay replied.
"Luckily, he hadn't picked her up when I got there. He signalled our
exact location and our course a dozen times or more, without response.
Then I took a hand in the game."

"Exactly what happened?" the captain enquired.

"Well, I borrowed a key from Mr. Dix, and whilst the young man was
down at his supper I concealed myself in his bunk. I listened to him
for a short time, and then I intervened."

"Did he make any trouble?"

"He had no chance," Crawshay explained, a little grimly. "I was first
off the mark. On this piece of paper," he added, smoothing it out,
"you will find Robins' calculations as to our whereabouts, which I
took as being correct. These, you understand, were not picked up.
Lower down you will see the message which he sent under my
superintendence later on--"

"Superintendence?" the captain interrupted.

"At the point of my revolver," Crawshay explained. "This message was
picked up by the _Blucher_."

The captain scanned the calculations eagerly.

"Wish you'd given us a little more room," he muttered. "However, it
will be all right unless we get fog. We might blunder into one
another then."

"This little incident," Crawshay continued, crossing his legs,
"confirms certain impressions with which I came on board. I think that
the scheme was to get the documents on board this steamer, and then,
in order to avoid the inevitable search at Liverpool, I fancy it was
arranged that the _Blucher_ should be on the lookout for us and take
over the messenger, whoever he may be, and the documents. It's a
straightforward, simple little scheme, which we have now to look at
from our own point of view. In the first place, the _Blucher_ is now
very much less likely to capture us. In the second place, I would
suggest that in case the _Blucher_ should happen to blunder across us,
we make the search at once instead of in Liverpool."

"What, search every one on board?" the captain asked.

"Suspected persons only."

"Exactly who are they?" "First and foremost, Mr. Jocelyn Thew."

"And afterwards?"

Crawshay hesitated.

"Mr. Phillips and his entourage."

"What, the man who is supposed to be dying?"

"I will admit," Crawshay said, "that this is more or less guesswork,
but I suspect every one with whom Jocelyn speaks."

"Great heavens, you are not thinking of Miss Beverley!" the captain
exclaimed.

"I fail utterly to understand her acquaintance with Jocelyn Thew,"
Crawshay confided. "I do not propose, however, that you interfere with
these people for the moment. What I do ask is that Jocelyn Thew's
effects are searched, and at once."

"It's a thing that's never happened before on any steamer I've
commanded," the captain said reluctantly, "but if it has to be done, I
will do it myself."

"What chance of fog is there?" his companion enquired.

"We shall get some within twenty-four hours, for certain. It's coming
up from the west now."

"Then the sooner you make a start with Mr. Jocelyn Thew, the better,"
Crawshay suggested. "I don't think there's one chance in a hundred
that he'd have those documents in any place where we should be likely
to find them by any ordinary search, but you can never tell. The
cleverest men often adopt the most obvious methods."

The captain yawned.

"I'll have two hours' sleep," he decided, "then Dix and I will tackle
the job. I don't suppose you want to be in it?" "I should prefer
not," Crawshay replied. "I'll follow your example," he added, rising
to his feet.

The habits of Mr. Jocelyn Thew on shore were doubtless most regular,
but on board ship he had developed a proclivity for sleeping until
long after the first breakfast gong. About half-past eight that
morning, he was awakened from a sound sleep by a tap on his door, and
instead of the steward with his hot water, no less a person entered
than the captain, followed by the purser. Jocelyn sat up in his bunk
and rubbed his eyes.

"Good morning, gentlemen," he said. "Anything wrong?"

The captain undid the catch of the door and closed it behind him.

"Are you sufficiently awake to listen to a few words from me on a
subject of importance, Mr. Thew?" he asked.

"Certainly," was the prompt reply.

"Very well, then," the captain proceeded, "I shall commence by taking
you into my confidence. There is an impression on the part of the
British and American Secret Services that an attempt is being made to
convey documents of great importance, and containing treasonable
matter, to Europe by some one on board this ship."

Jocelyn Thew, who was attired in silk pyjamas of very excellent
quality, swung himself out of the bunk and sat upon the side of it.
The captain was an observant man and of somewhat luxuriant tastes
himself, and he fully appreciated the texture and quality of the
suspected man's night apparel. "This sounds remarkably interesting,"
Jocelyn said. "Very kind of you, Captain, I am sure, to come and tell
me about it."

"My visit," the captain continued, a little drily, "had a more
definite object. It is my duty to explain to you that the
circumstances of this voyage are unprecedented. We are going to take
liberties with our passengers which in normal times would not be
dreamed of."

Jocelyn Thew pushed the knob with his left hand and let some cold
water run into his basin. Then he dabbed his eyes for several moments
with his fingers.

"Yes, I seem to be awake," he remarked. "Tell me about these
liberties, Captain?"

"To begin with, I am going to search your stateroom and baggage--or
rather they are going to be searched under my supervision. Your trunk
from the hold has already been brought up and is in the gangway."

"It seems to me," Jocelyn said, sitting, as Mr. Dix expressed it
afterwards, like a tiger about to spring, "that you've been listening
to that crazy loon, Crawshay."

"I am not at liberty," the captain rejoined, "to divulge the source
from which my information came. I am only able to acquaint you with my
intentions, and to trust that you will offer no obstruction."

"The obstruction which I could offer against the captain of a ship and
his crew would be a waste of energy," Jocelyn observed, with fine
sarcasm. "At the same time, I protest most bitterly against my things
being touched. Any search you deemed necessary could be undertaken at
Liverpool by the Customs officers in the usual way. I consider that
this entrance into my stateroom on the high seas, and this arbitrary
resolve of yours to acquaint yourself with the nature of my belongings
is indefensible and a gross insult."

"I am sorry that you take it this way, Mr. Thew," the captain
regretted. "Any complaints you feel it right to make can be addressed
to the company's agents in Liverpool. At present I must proceed with
what I conceive to be my duty. Do you care to hand Mr. Dix your keys?"

"I will see Mr. Dix damned first!" Jocelyn assured him.

The captain shrugged his shoulders, called to the steward, who was
waiting outside, and the search commenced. They opened drawers, they
turned up the carpet. They invited Jocelyn Thew to sit upon the couch
whilst they ripped open the bed, and they invited him to return to the
bed whilst they ripped up the couch. His personal belongings, his
dressing-case and his steamer trunk were gone through with painstaking
care. His trunk, which was then dragged in, was ransacked from top to
bottom. In due course the search was concluded, and except that his
wearing apparel seemed chosen with extraordinary care and taste,
nothing in any way suspicious was discovered. The captain made haste
to acknowledge the fact.

"Well, Mr. Thew," he announced, "I have done my duty and you are out
of it with a clean sheet. Have you any objection to answering a few
questions?" "Every objection in the world," Jocelyn Thew replied.

The purser ventured to intervene.

"Come, Mr. Thew," he said, "you're an Englishman, aren't you?"

A light flashed in Thew's eyes.

"I shall break the promise I made to the captain just now," he
declared, "and answer that one question, at any rate. I thank God I
am not!"

Both men were a little startled. Jocelyn's cold, clear voice, his
manner and bearing, were all so essentially Saxon. The captain,
however, recovered himself quickly.

"If the tone of your voice is any index to your feelings, Mr. Thew,"
he said, "you appear to have some grudge against England. In that case
you can scarcely wonder at the suspicions which have attached
themselves to you."

"Suspicions!" Jocelyn repeated sarcastically. "Well, present my
compliments to the wonderful Mr. Crawshay! I presume that I am at
liberty now to take my bath?"

"In one moment, Mr. Thew. Even though you do not choose to answer
them, there are certain questions I intend to ask. The first is, are
you prepared to produce the Marconigram which you received
last evening?"

"How do you know that I received one?"

"The fact has come to my knowledge," the captain said drily.

"You had better ask the operator about it."

"The operator is at the present moment under arrest," was the terse
reply. If the news were a shock to Thew, he showed it in none of the
ordinary ways. His face seemed to fall for a moment into harder lines.
His mouth tightened and his eyes flashed.

"Under arrest?" he repeated. "More of Crawshay's tomfoolery, I
suppose?"

"More of Mr. Crawshay's tomfoolery," the captain acknowledged. "Robins
is accused of having received a Marconigram of which he took no note,
and which he handed to a passenger. He is also accused of attempting
to communicate with an enemy raider."

A peculiar smile parted Jocelyn's lips.

"You seem to wish to make this steamer of yours the _mise-en-scene_ of
a dime novel, Captain," he observed. "I accept the part of villain
with resignation--but I should like to have my bath."

"You don't propose to tell me, then," his questioner persisted, "the
contents of that message?"

"I have no recollection of having received one," Jocelyn replied
coolly. "You are making me very late for breakfast."

They left him with a brusque word of farewell, to which he did not
reply. Jocelyn, in a dark-green silk dressing gown, with a huge sponge
and various silver-topped bottles, departed for the bathroom. The
captain and the purser strolled up on deck.

"What do you make of that fellow, Dix?" the former asked.

The purser coughed.

"If you ask me, sir," he replied, "I think that Mr. Crawshay has got
hold of the wrong end of the stick."



CHAPTER XI


Katharine came on deck that morning in a somewhat disturbed frame of
mind. It was beginning to dawn upon her that her position as sick
nurse to Mr. Phillips was meant to be a sinecure. She was allowed to
sit by the sick man's side sometimes whilst the doctor took a
promenade or ate a meal in the saloon, but apart from that, the usual
exercise of her duties was not required from her. She was forced to
admit that there was something mysterious about the little stateroom,
the suffering man, and the doctor who watched him speechlessly
night and day.

She was conscious presently that Crawshay, who had been walking up and
down the deck, had stopped before the chair on which she lay extended.
She greeted him without enthusiasm.

"Are you taking one of your health constitutionals, Mr. Crawshay?" she
enquired.

"Not altogether," he replied. "May I sit down for a moment?"

"Of course! I don't think any one sits in that chair."

He took his place by her side, deliberately removed his muffler and
unfastened his overcoat. It struck her, from the first moment she
heard his voice, that his manner was somehow altered. She was
altogether unprepared, however, for the almost stern directness of his
first question. "Miss Beverley," he began, "will you allow me to ask
you how long you have known Mr. Jocelyn Thew?"

She turned her head towards him and remained speechless for a moment.
It seemed to her that she was looking into the face of a stranger. The
little droop of the mouth had gone. The half-vacuous, half-bored
expression had given place to something altogether new. The lines of
his face had all tightened up, his eyes were hard and bright. She
found herself quite unable to answer him in the manner she
had intended.

"Are you asking me that question seriously, Mr. Crawshay?"

"I am," he assured her. "I have grave reasons for asking it."

"I am afraid that I do not understand you," she replied stiffly.

"You must change your attitude, if you please, Miss Beverley,"
Crawshay persisted. "Believe me, I am not trying to be impertinent. I
am asking a question the necessity for which I am in a position
to justify."

"You bewilder me!" she exclaimed.

"That is simply because you looked upon me as a different sort of
person. To tell you the truth, I should very much have preferred that
you continued to look upon me as a different sort of person during
this voyage, but I cannot see my way clear to keep silence on this one
point. I wish to inform you, if you do not know it already, that Mr.
Jocelyn Thew is a dangerous person for you to know, or for you to be
associated with in any shape or form." She would have risen to her
feet but he stopped her.

"Please look at me," he begged.

She obeyed, half against her will.

"I want you to ask yourself," he went on, "whether you do not believe
that I am your well-wisher. What I am saying to you, I am saying to
save you from a position which later on you might bitterly regret."

She was conscious of a quality in his tone and manner entirely strange
to her, and she found any form of answer exceedingly difficult. The
anger which she would have preferred to have affected seemed, in the
face of his earnestness, out of place.

"It seems to me," she said, "that you are assuming something which
does not exist. I am not on specially intimate terms with Mr. Jocelyn
Thew. I have not talked to him any more than to any other casual
passenger."

"Is that quite honest?" he asked quietly. "Isn't it true that
Jocelyn Thew is interested in your mysterious patient?"

She started.

"What do you mean?"

"Just what I say," he replied. "I happen also to have very grave
suspicions concerning the presence on this ship of Mr. Phillips and
his doctor."

Her fingers gripped the side of her deck chair. She leaned a little
towards him.

"What concern is all this of yours?" she demanded.

"Never mind," he answered. "I am risking more than I should like to
say in telling you as much as I have told you. I cannot believe that
you would consciously associate yourself with a disgraceful and
unpatriotic conspiracy. That is why I have chosen to risk a great deal
in speaking to you in this way. Tell me what possible consideration
was brought to bear upon you to induce you to accept your present
situation?"

Katharine sat quite still. The thoughts were chasing one another
through her brain. Then she was conscious of a strange thing. Her
companion's whole expression seemed suddenly to have changed. Without
her noticing any movement, his monocle was in his left eye, his lip
had fallen a little. He was looking querulously out seaward.

"I don't believe," he declared, "that the captain has any idea about
the weather prospects. Look at those clouds coming up. I don't know
how you are feeling, Miss Beverley, but I am conscious of a
distinct chill."

Jocelyn Thew had come to a standstill before them. He was wearing no
overcoat and was bare-headed.

"I guess that chill is somewhere in your imagination, Mr. Crawshay,"
he observed. "You are pretty strong in that line, aren't you?"

Crawshay struggled to his feet.

"I have some ideas," he confessed modestly. "I spend my idle moments,
even here, weaving a little fiction."

"And recounting it, I dare say," Jocelyn ventured.

"I am like all artists," Crawshay sighed. "I love an audience. I must
express myself to something. I will wish you good evening, Miss
Beverley. I feel inclined to take a little walk, in case it becomes
too rough later on."

He shuffled away, once more the perfect prototype of the _malade
imaginaire_. Jocelyn Thew watched him in silence until he had
disappeared. Then he turned and seated himself by the girl's side.

"I find myself," he remarked ruminatively, "still a little troubled as
to the precise amount of intelligence which our friend Mr. Crawshay
might be said to possess. I wonder if I might ask; without your
considering it a liberty, what he was talking to you about?"

"About you," she answered.

"Ah!"

"Warning me against you."

"Dear me! Aren't you terrified?"

"I am not terrified," she replied, "but I think it best to tell you
that he also has suspicions, absurd though it may seem, of Phillips
and the doctor."

"Why not the purser and captain, while he's about it?" Jocelyn said
coolly. "Every one on this boat seems to have got the nerves. They
searched my stateroom this morning."

"Searched your stateroom?" she repeated. "Do you mean while you were
out?"

"Not a bit of it," he replied. "They dragged me up at half-past eight
this morning--the captain, purser and a steward--fetched up my trunk
and searched all my possessions."

"What for?" she asked, with a sudden chill.

He smiled at her reassuringly. "Something they didn't find!
Something," he added, after a slight pause, "which they never
will find!"

Towards midday, Jocelyn Thew abandoned a game of shuffleboard, and,
leaning against the side of the vessel, gazed steadily up at the
wireless operating room. The lightnings had been playing around the
mast for the last ten minutes without effect. He turned towards one of
the ship's officers who was passing.

"Anything gone wrong with the wireless?" he enquired.

"The operator's ill, sir," was the prompt reply. "We've only one on
board, as it happens, so we are rather in a mess."

Jocelyn strolled away aft, considering the situation. He found
Crawshay seated in an elaborate deck chair and immersed in a novel.

"I hear the wireless has gone wrong," he remarked, stopping in front
of him.

Crawshay glanced up blandly.

"What's that?" he demanded. "Wireless? Why, it's been going all the
morning."

"There has been no one there to take the messages, though. If anything
happens to us, we shall be in a nice pickle."

Crawshay shivered.

"I wish you people wouldn't suggest such things," he said, a little
testily. "I was just trying to get all thought of this most perilous
voyage out of my mind, with the help of a novel here. From which do
you seriously consider we have most to fear," he went on, "mines,
submarines, or predatory vessels of the type of the _Blucher_?"

"The latter, I should think," Jocelyn replied. "They say that
submarines are scarcely venturing so far out just now."

There was a brief silence. Jocelyn Thew was apparently engaged in
trying to fit a cigarette into his holder.

"Specially hard luck on you," he remarked presently, "if anything
happened when you've taken so much trouble to get on board."

"It would be exceedingly annoying," Crawshay declared, with vigour,
"added to which I am not in a state of health to endure a voyage in a
small boat. I have been this morning to look at our places, in case of
accident. I find that I am expected to wield an oar long enough to
break my back."

Jocelyn Thew smiled. The other man's peevishness seemed too natural to
be assumed.

"I expect you'll be glad enough to do your bit, if anything does
happen to us," he observed.

"By-the-by," Crawshay asked, "I wonder what will become of that poor
fellow downstairs--the man who is supposed to be dying, I mean--if
trouble comes?"

"I heard them discussing it at breakfast time," Jocelyn Thew replied.
"I understand that he has asked specially to be allowed to remain
where he is. There would of course be not the slightest chance of
saving his life. The doctor who is with him--Gant, I think his name
is--told us that anything in the shape of a rough sea, even, would
mean the end of him. He quite understands this himself." Crawshay
assented gravely.

"It seems a little brutal but it is common sense," he declared. "In
times of great stress, too, one becomes primitive, and the primitive
instinct is for the strong to save himself. I am not ashamed to
confess," he concluded, "that I have secured an extra lifebelt."

Jocelyn glanced, for a moment scornfully down at the man who had now
picked up his novel again and was busy reading. Crawshay represented
so much the things that he despised in life. It was impossible to
treat or consider him in any way as a rival to be feared. He passed
down the deck and made his way below to the doctor's room. He found
the latter in the act of starting off to see a patient.

"I came around to ask after Robins, the young Marconi man," Jocelyn
explained. "I hear that he was taken ill last night."

The doctor looked at his questioner keenly.

"That is so," he admitted.

"What's wrong with him?"

"I have not thoroughly diagnosed his complaint as yet," was the
careful reply. "I can tell you for a certainty, though, that he will
not be able to work for two or three days."

"It seems very sudden," Jocelyn Thew persisted.

"As a matter of fact, I had some slight acquaintance with him, and I
always thought that he was a remarkably strong young fellow."

The doctor, who had completed his preparations for departure, picked
up his cap and politely showed his visitor out. "You wouldn't care,"
the latter suggested, "to let me go down and have a look at him? I
can't call myself a medical man, but I know something about sickness
and I am quite interested in young Robins."

"I don't think that I shall need a second opinion at present, thank
you," the doctor rejoined, a little drily. "If you wish to see him
later on, you must get permission from the captain. Good morning,
Mr. Thew."

Jocelyn Thew strolled thoughtfully away, found a retired spot upon the
promenade deck behind a boat, lit a very black cigar, and, drawing his
field-glasses from his pocket, searched the horizon carefully. There
was no sign of any passing steamer, not even the faintest wisp of
black smoke anywhere upon the horizon. It was Wednesday to-day, and
they had left New York on Saturday. He drew a sheet of paper from his
pocket and made a few calculations. It was the day and past the time
upon which things were due to happen....

The day wore on very much as most days do on an Atlantic voyage in
early summer. The little handful of passengers, who seemed for the
moment to have cast all anxieties to the winds, played shuffleboard
and quoits, lunched with vigorous appetites, drank tea out on deck,
and indulged in strenuous before-dinner promenades. The sun shone all
day, the sea remained wonderfully calm. Not a trace of any other
steamer was visible from morning until early nightfall, and Jocelyn
Thew walked restlessly about with a grim look upon his face. At dinner
time the captain hinted at fog, and looked doubtfully out of the
open porthole at the oily-looking waste of waters.

"Another night on the bridge for me, I think," he remarked.

Jocelyn Thew leaned forward in his place.

"By-the-by, Captain," he asked, "now that the shipping is so reduced,
do you alter speed for fog?"

The captain filled his glass from the jug of lemonade which, was
always before him.

"Do we alter our speed, eh?" he repeated. "You must remember," he went
on, "that we have Miss Beverley on board. We couldn't afford to give
Miss Beverley a fright."

Jocelyn accepted the evasion with a slight bow. Katharine, who had
come in to dine a little late and seemed graver than usual, smiled at
the captain.

"Am I the most precious thing on this steamer?" she asked.

"Gallantry," the captain replied, "compels me to say yes!"

"Only gallantry? Have we such a wonderful cargo, then?"

"There are times," was the cautious reply, "when not even the captain
knows exactly what he is carrying."

"You remind me," Jocelyn Thew observed, "of a voyage I once made from
Port Elizabeth to New York, with half-a-dozen I.D.B's on board, and as
many detectives, watching them day and night."

The captain nodded.

"What happened?" he enquired.

"Oh, the detectives arrested the lot of them, I think, got hold of
them on the last day." The captain rose from his place.

"Queer thing," he remarked, "but the law generally does come out on
top."

Jocelyn followed his example a few minutes later, and Katharine
purposely joined him on the way out. She led her companion to the
corner where her steamer chair had been placed, and motioned him to
sit by her side. They were on the weather side of the ship, with a
slight breeze in their faces and a canopy over their heads which
deadened sound. She leaned a little forward.

"Smoke, please." she begged. "I mean it--see."

She lit a cigarette and he followed suit.

"Not a cigar?"

He shook his head.

"I keep them for my hard thinking times."

"Then you were thinking very hard this morning?"

"I was," he admitted.

"And gazing very earnestly out of those field-glasses of yours."

"Quite true."

"Mr. Thew," she said abruptly, "it is my impression, although for some
reason or other I am scarcely allowed to go near him, that Mr.
Phillips is dying."

"One knew, of course, that there was that risk," Jocelyn Thew reminded
her.

"I do not think that he can possibly live for twenty-four hours," she
continued. "I was allowed to sit with him for a short time early this
morning. He is beginning to wander in his mind, to speak of his wife
and a sum of money." Jocelyn's fine eyebrows came a little
closer together.

"Well?"

"Nothing in his appearance or speech indicate the man of wealth or
even of birth. I begin to wonder whether I know the whole truth about
this frantic desire of his to reach England before he dies?"

"I think," Jocelyn Thew said thoughtfully, "that you have been talking
again to Mr. Crawshay."

"Yes," she admitted, "and he has been warning me against you."

"I suppose," Jocelyn ruminated, "the man has a certain amount of
puppy-dog intelligence."

"I do not understand Mr. Crawshay at all," she confessed. "My
acquaintance with him before we met on this steamer was of the
slightest, but his manner of coming certainly led one to believe that
he was a man of courage and determination. Since then he has crawled
about in an overcoat and rubber shoes, and groaned about his ailments
until one feels inclined to laugh at him. Last night he was different
again. He was entirely serious, and he spoke to me about you."

"Do you need to be warned against me?" he asked grimly. "Have I ever
sailed under false colours?"

"Don't," she begged, looking at him with a little quiver of the lips
and a wonderfully soft light in her eyes. "You have never deceived me
in any way except, if at all, as regards this voyage. I made up my
mind this evening that I would ask you, if you cared to tell me, to
take me into your confidence about this man who is dying down below,
and his strange journey. I need scarcely add that I should respect
that confidence."

"I am sorry," he answered. "You ask an impossibility."

"Then there is some sort of conspiracy going on?" she persisted. "Let
me ask you a straightforward question. Is it not true that you have
made me an unknowing participator in an illegal act?"

"It is," he admitted. "I was very sorry to have to do so but it was
necessary. Without your assistance, I should never have been allowed
to bring Phillips across the Atlantic."

"What difference do I make?" she asked.

"You lend an air of respectability and credibility to the whole
thing," he told her. "You are a person of repute, of distinguished
social position, and the object of a good deal of admiration in your
own country. The doctor who accompanies you comes from your own
hospital. No one would believe it possible that either of you could be
concerned in any sort of conspiracy. If that ass Crawshay had not got
on board, I am convinced that there would never have been a breath of
suspicion."

She shivered a little.

"Is it quite kind to bring me into an affair of this sort?" she asked.

"It is a world," he declared cruelly, "in which we fight always for
our own hand or go under. I am fighting for mine, and if I have
occasionally to sacrifice a friend as well as an enemy, I do not
hesitate."

"What has the world done to you," she demanded, "that you should speak
so bitterly?" "Better not ask me that."

"How will the man Phillips' death affect your plans?"

"It will make very little difference either way," he assured her. "We
rather expected him to die."

"And you won't take me any further into your confidence?"

"No further. Your task will be completed at Liverpool. So long as you
leave this steamer in company with the doctor and the ambulance, if
Phillips is still alive, you will be free to return home whenever
you please."

"Very well," she said. "You see, I accept my position. I shall go
through with what I have promised, whatever Mr. Crawshay may say.
Won't you in return treat me, if not as a confederate, as a friend?"

He turned and looked at her, met the appealing glance of her soft eyes
for a moment and looked suddenly away.

"I do not belong to the ranks of those, Miss Beverley, from whom it is
well for you to choose your friends."

"But why should I not make my own choice?" she insisted. "I have
always been my own mistress. I have lived with my own ideas, I have
declined to be subject to any one's authority. I am an independent
person. Can't you treat me as such?"

"There are facts," he said, "which can never be ignored. You belong to
the world of wealthy, gently born men and women who comprise what is
called Society. I belong, and have belonged all my life, to a race of
outcasts." "Don't!" she begged.

"It is true," he repeated doggedly.

"But what do you mean by outcasts?"

"Criminals, if you like it better. I have broken the law more than
once. There is an unexecuted warrant out against me at the present
moment. You may even see me marched off this steamer at Liverpool
between two policemen."

"But why?" she asked passionately. "Why? What is the motive of it all?
Is it money?"

"I am not in need of money," he told her, "but I have a great and
sacred use for all I can lay my fingers on. If I succeed in my present
enterprise, I shall receive a hundred thousand pounds."

"I value Jerry's life and future at more than that," she declared.
"Will you make a fresh start, Mr. Jocelyn Thew, with twice that sum of
money to your credit?"

He shook his head, but there was a curious change creeping into his
face. For the first time she saw how soft a man's dark-blue eyes may
sometimes become. The slight trembling of his parted lips, too, seemed
to unlock all the cruel, hard lines of his face. He had suddenly the
appearance of a person of temperament--a poet, even a dreamer.

"I could not take money from you, Miss Beverley," he said, "or from
any other woman in the world."

"Upon no conditions?" she whispered softly.

"Upon no conditions," he repeated.

The breeze had dropped, and twilight had followed swiftly upon the
misty sunset. There was something a little ghostly about the light in
which they sat. "I am stifled," she declared abruptly. "Come
and walk."

They paced up and down the deck once or twice in silence. Then he
paused as they drew near their chairs.

"Miss Beverley," he said, "in case this should be the last time that
we talk confidentially--so that we may put a seal, in fact, upon the
subject of which we have spoken to-night--I would like to tell you
that you have made me feel, during this last half-hour, an emotion
which I have not felt for many years. And I want to tell you this. I
am a lawbreaker. When I told you that there was a warrant out against
me at the present moment, I told you the truth. The charge against me
is a true one, and the penalty is one I shall never pay. I must go on
to the end, and I shall do so because I have a driving impulse behind,
a hate which only action can soothe. But all my sins have been against
men and the doings of men. You will understand me, will you not, when
I say that I can neither take your money, nor accept your friendship
after this voyage is over? You, on your side, can remember that you
have paid a debt."

She sank a little wearily into her chair and looked out through the
gathering mists. It seemed part of her fancy that they gathered him
in, for she heard no sound of retreating footsteps. Yet when she spoke
his name, a few moments later, she found that she was alone.



CHAPTER XII


Throughout the night reigned an almost sepulchral silence, and when
the morning broke, the _City of Boston_, at a scarcely reduced speed,
was ploughing her way through great banks of white fog. The decks, the
promenade rails, every exposed part of the steamer, were glistening
with wet. Up on the bridge, three officers besides the captain stood
with eyes fixed in grim concentration upon the dense curtains of mist
which seemed to shut them off altogether from the outer world. Jocelyn
Thew and Crawshay met in the companionway, a few minutes after
breakfast.

"I can see no object in the disuse of the hooter," Crawshay declared
querulously. "Nothing at sea could be worse than a collision. We are
simply taking our lives in our hands, tearing along like this at
sixteen knots an hour."

"Isn't there supposed to be a German raider out?" the other enquired.

"I think it is exceedingly doubtful whether there is really one in the
Atlantic at all. The English gunboats patrol these seas. Besides, we
are armed ourselves, and she wouldn't be likely to tackle us."

Jocelyn Thew had leaned a little forward. He was listening intently.
At the same time, one of the figures upon the bridge, his hand to his
ear, turned in the same direction.

"There's some one who doesn't mind letting their whereabouts be
known," he whispered, after a moment's pause. "Can't you hear
a hooter?"

Crawshay listened but shook his head.

"Can't hear a thing," he declared laconically. "I've a cold in my head
coming on, and it always affects my hearing."

Jocelyn Thew stepped on tiptoe across the deck as far as the rail and
returned in a few minutes.

"There's a steamer calling, away on the starboard bow," he announced.
"She seems to be getting nearer, too. I wonder we don't alter
our course."

"Well, I suppose it's the captain's business whether he chooses to
answer or not," Crawshay remarked. "I shall go down to my cabin. This
gazing at nothing gets on my nerves."

Jocelyn Thew returned to his damp vigil. Leaning over the wet wooden
rail, he drew a little diagram on the back of an envelope and worked
out some figures. Then he listened once more, the slight frown upon
his forehead deepening. Finally he tore up his sketch and made his way
to the doctor's room. The doctor was seated at his desk and glanced up
enquiringly as his visitor entered.

"I just looked in to see how young Robins was getting on," Jocelyn
explained.

"I am afraid he is in rather a bad way," was the grave reply.

"What is the nature of his illness?"

The doctor shrugged his shoulders. His manner became a little vague.

"I must remind you, Mr. Thew," he said, "that a doctor is not always
at liberty to discuss the ailments of his patients. On board ship
this custom becomes more, even, than mere etiquette. It is, in fact,
against the regulations of the company for us to discuss the maladies
of any passenger upon the steamer."

"I recognise the truth of all that you say," Jocelyn Thew agreed, "but
it happens that I know the young man and his people. Naturally,
therefore, I take an interest in him, and I am sure they would think
it strange if, travelling upon the same steamer, I did not make these
very ordinary enquiries."

"You know his people, do you?" the doctor repeated. "Where does he
come from, Mr. Thew?"

"Somewhere over New Jersey way," was the glib reply, "but I used to
meet his father often in New York. There can be no mystery about his
illness, can there, doctor--no reason why I should not go and
see him?"

"I have placed the young man in quarantine," was the brief
explanation, "and until he is released no one can go near him."

"Something catching, eh?"

"Something that might turn out to be catching."

Jocelyn Thew shrugged his shoulders and accepted what amounted almost
to a little nod of dismissal. He ascended the staircase thoughtfully
and came face to face with Katharine Beverley, issuing from the music
room. She greeted him with a little exclamation of relief.

"Mr. Thew," she exclaimed, "I have been looking for you everywhere.
Doctor Gant thinks," she added, lowering her voice, "that if you wish
to see his patient alive, you had better come at once." "There is a
change in his condition, then?"

"Yes," she told him gravely.

He stood for a moment thinking rapidly. The girl shivered a little as
she watched the change in his face. Her hospital training had not
lessened her awe and sympathy in the face of death, and it was so
entirely obvious that Jocelyn Thew was considering only what influence
upon his plans this event might have. Finally he turned and descended
the stairs by her side.

"I am not at all sure that it is wise of me to come," he said.
"However, if he is asking for me I suppose I had better."

They made their way into the commodious stateroom upon the saloon
deck, which had been secured for the sick man. He lay upon a small
hospital bed, nothing of him visible save his haggard face, with its
ill-grown beard. His eyes were watching the door, and he showed some
signs of gratification at Jocelyn's entrance. Gant, who was standing
over the bed, turned apologetically towards the latter.

"It's the money," he whispered. "He is worrying about that. I was
obliged to send for you. He called out your name just now, and the
ship's doctor was hanging around."

The newcomer drew a stool to the side of the bed, opened a pocketbook
and counted out a great wad of notes. The dying man watched him with
every appearance of interest.

"Five thousand dollars," the former said at last. "That should bring
in about eleven hundred and fifty pounds. Now watch me, Phillips."

He took an envelope from his pocket, thrust the notes inside, gummed
down the flap, and, drawing a fountain pen from his pocket, wrote an
address. The dying man watched him and nodded feebly.

"These," Jocelyn continued, "are for your wife. The packet shall be
delivered to her within twelve hours of our landing in Liverpool. You
can keep it under your pillow and hand it over to Miss Beverley here.
You trust her?"

The man on the bed nodded feebly and turned slightly towards
Katharine. She bent over him.

"I shall see myself," she promised, "that the money is properly
delivered."

Phillips smiled and closed his eyes. It was obvious that he had no
more to say. Jocelyn Thew stole softly out, followed, a moment later,
by Katharine.

"The doctor thinks I am better away," she whispered. "He won't speak
again. Poor fellow!"

Jocelyn stepped softly up the stairs and drew a little breath of
relief as they reached the promenade deck without meeting any one.
Both seemed to feel the desire for fresh air, and they stepped outside
for a moment. There were tears in Katharine's eyes.

"Of course," she said, a little timidly, "I don't understand this at
all, but it is terribly tragic. Do you think that he would have lived
if he had not undertaken the journey?"

"It was absolutely impossible," her companion assured her. "He was a
dying man from the moment the operation was finished."

"Will he be buried at sea?"

"I think not. He was exceedingly anxious to be buried at his home near
Chester. It isn't a pleasant thing to talk about," Jocelyn went on,
"but they brought his coffin on board with him. It's lying in the
companionway now, covered over with a rug."

She shivered.

"It's a horrible day altogether," she declared, looking out into the
seemingly endless banks of mist.

"Entirely my opinion, Miss Beverley," a voice said in her ear. "I find
it most depressing--and unhealthy. And listen.--Do you hear that?"

They all listened intently. Again they could hear the hooting of a
steamer in the distance.

"Between ourselves," Crawshay went on confidentially, "the captain
seems to me rather worried. That steamer has been following us for
hours. She is evidently waiting for the fog to lift, to see who
we are."

"How does she know about us?" Katharine asked. "We haven't blown our
hooter once."

"We don't need to," was the fractious reply. "That's where we are
being over-careful. She can hear our engines distinctly."

"Who does the captain think she is, then?"

Crawshay's voice was dropped to a mysterious pitch, but though he
leaned towards the girl, his eyes were fixed upon her companion.

"He doesn't go as far as to express a definite opinion, but he thinks
that it might be that German raider--the _Blucher_, isn't it? She can
steal about quite safely in the fog, and she can tell by the beat of
the engines whether she is near a man-of-war or not."

Not a muscle of Jocelyn's face twitched, but there was a momentary
gleam in his eyes of which Crawshay took swift note. He glanced aft to
where the two seamen were standing by the side of their guns.

"If it really is the German raider," he remarked, "they might as well
fire off a popgun as that thing. She is supposed to be armed with four
six-inch guns and two torpedo tubes."

Crawshay nodded.

"So I told the captain. We might have a go at a submarine, but the
raider would sink us in two minutes if we tried to tackle her. What a
beastly voyage this is!" he went on, in a depressed tone. "I can't get
over the fact that I risked my life to get on board, too."

Jocelyn Thew, with a little word of excuse, had swung around and
disappeared. Katharine looked at her companion curiously.

"Do you believe that it really is the raider, Mr. Crawshay?" she
enquired.

He hesitated. In Jocelyn's absence his manner seemed to undergo some
subtle change, his tone to become crisper and less querulous.

"We had some reason to hope," he said cautiously, "that she was on a
different course. It is just possible, however, that in changing it
she might have struck this bank of fog and preferred to hang about
for a time."

"What will happen if she finds us?"

"That depends entirely upon circumstances."

"I have an idea," Katharine continued, "that you know more about this
matter than you feel inclined to divulge."

"Perhaps," he admitted. "Nowadays, every one has to learn discretion."

"Is it necessary with me?" "It is necessary with any friend of Mr.
Jocelyn Thew," he told her didactically.

"What a suspicious person you are!" she exclaimed, a little
scornfully. "You are just like all your countrymen. You get hold of an
idea and nothing can shake it. Mr. Jocelyn Thew, I dare say, possesses
a past. I know for a fact that he has been engaged in all sorts of
adventures during his life. But--at your instigation, I suppose--they
have already searched his person, his stateroom, and every article of
luggage he has. After that, why not leave him alone?"

"Because he is an extremely clever person."

"Then you are not satisfied yet?"

"Not yet."

"Am I, may I ask, under suspicion?" she enquired, with faint sarcasm.

"I should not like to say," he replied glibly, "that you were
altogether free from it."

She laughed heartily.

"I should not worry about the army if I were you," she advised. "I am
quite sure that secret-service work is the natural outlet for
your talents."

"I shouldn't be surprised," he confided, "if headquarters didn't
insist upon my taking it up permanently. It will depend a little, of
course, upon what success I have during this voyage."

She laughed in his face and turned away.

"I will tell you what I find so interesting about you, Mr. Crawshay,"
she said. "You must be either very much cleverer than you seem, or
very much more foolish. You keep me continually guessing as to
which it is."



CHAPTER XIII


Towards six o'clock that evening, without any apparent change in the
situation, Captain Jones descended from the bridge and signalled to
Crawshay, whom he passed on the deck, to follow him into his room. The
great ship was still going at full speed through a sea which was as
smooth as glass.

"Getting out of it, aren't we?" Crawshay enquired.

The captain nodded. His hair and beard were soaked with moisture, and
there were beads of wet all over his face. Otherwise he seemed little
the worse for his long vigil. In his eyes, however, was a new anxiety.

"Another five miles," he confided, "should see us in clear weather."

"Steamer's still following us, isn't she?"

"Sticking to us like a leech," was the terse reply. "She is not out of
any American port. She must have just picked us up. She isn't any
ordinary cargo steamer, either, or she couldn't make the speed."

"I've worked it out by your chart," Crawshay declared, "and it might
very well be the Blucher. I don't think I made the altered course wide
enough, and she might very well have been hanging about a bit when she
struck the fog and heard our engines."

The captain lit a pipe. "I am not in the habit, as you may imagine,
of discussing the conduct of my ship with any one, Mr. Crawshay," he
said, "but you come to me with very absolute credentials, and it's
rather a comfort to have some one standing by with whom one can share
the responsibility. You see my couple of guns? They are about as
useful as catapults against the _Blucher_, whereas, on the other hand,
she could sink us easily with a couple of volleys."

"Just so," Crawshay agreed. "What about speed, Captain?"

"If our reports are trustworthy, we might be able to squeeze out one
more knot than she can do," was the doubtful reply, "but, you see,
she'll follow us out of this last bank of fog practically within rifle
range. I've altered my course three or four times so as to get a
start, but she hangs on like grim death. That's what makes me so sure
that it's the _Blucher_."

"Want my advice?" Crawshay asked.

"That's the idea," the captain acquiesced.

"Stoke her up, then, and drive full speed ahead. Take no notice of any
signals. Make for home with the last ounce you can squeeze out
of her."

"That's all very well," Captain Jones observed, "but there will be at
least half an hour during which we shall be within effective range.
She might sink us a dozen times over."

"Yes, but I don't think she will."

"Why not?"

"If the theory upon which I started this wild-goose chase is correct,"
Crawshay explained, "there is something on board this ship infinitely
more valuable than the ship itself to Germany. That is why I
think that she will strain every nerve to try and capture you, of
course, but she will never sink you, because if she did she would lose
everything her Secret Service have worked for in Germany ever since,
and even before the commencement of the war."

"It's an idea," the captain admitted, with a gleam in his eyes.

"It's common sense," Crawshay urged. "When I left Halifax, I was ready
to take twenty-five to one that we'd been sold. I wouldn't mind laying
twenty-five to one now that what we are in search of is somewhere on
board this steamer. If that is so, the _Blucher_ will never dare to
sink you, because there will still remain the chance of the person on
board who is in charge of the documents getting away with them at the
other end, whereas down at the bottom of the Atlantic they would be of
no use to any one."

"I see your point of view," the other agreed.

"Then you'd better take my tip," Crawshay continued. "There isn't a
passenger on board who didn't know the risk they were running when
they started, and I'm sure no one will blame you for not surrendering
your ship like a dummy directly you're asked. They're a pretty
sporting lot in the saloon, you know. All those newspaper men are real
good fellows."

The captain's face brightened.

"Next to fighting her," he soliloquised, stroking his beard,--

"The idea of fighting her is ridiculous," Crawshay interrupted. "Look
here, you haven't any time to lose. Send to the engineer and let him
give it to them straight down below. I'll give a tenner apiece to the
stokers, if we get clear, and if my advice turns out wrong, I'll see
you through it, anyway."

"We can leg it at a trifle over nineteen knots," Captain Jones
declared, as he picked up his cap, "and, anyway, anything's better
than having one of those short-haired, smooth-tongued, blustering
Germans on board."

He hurried off, and Crawshay followed him on deck to watch
developments. Already, through what seemed to be an opening in the
walls of fog, there was a vision in front of clear blue sea on which a
still concealed sun was shining. Soon they passed out into a new
temperature of pleasant warmth, with a skyline ahead, hard and clear.
The passengers came crowding on deck. Every one leaned over the
starboard rail, looking towards the place whence the sound of the
hooting was still proceeding. Suddenly a steamer crept out of the fog
mountain and drew clear, barely half a mile away. The first glimpse at
her was final. She had cast off all disguise. Her false forecastle was
thrown back, and the sun glittered upon three exceedingly
formidable-looking guns, trained upon the _City of Boston_. A row of
signals, already hoisted, were fluttering from her mast.

"It's the _Blucher_, by God!" Sam West muttered.

"We're nabbed!" his little friend groaned.

"Wonder what they'll do with us."

Every eye was upturned now to the mast for the answering signals. To
the universal surprise, none were hoisted. The captain stood upon the
bridge with his glass focussed upon the raider. He gave no orders,
only the black smoke was beginning to belch now from the funnels, and
little pieces of smut and burning coal blew down the deck. Jocelyn
Thew, who was standing a little apart, frowned to himself. He had seen
Crawshay and the captain come out of the latter's cabin together.

The blue lightnings were playing now unchecked about the top of the
Marconi room. Another more imperative signal flew from the pirate
ship. A minute later there was a puff of white smoke, a loud report,
and a shell burst in the sea, fifty yards ahead. Crawshay edged up to
where Jocelyn Thew was standing.

"This is a damned unpleasant affair," he said.

"It is," was the grim reply.

"You know it's the _Blucher_?"

"No doubt about that."

"What on earth are we up to?" Crawshay continued, in a dissatisfied
tone. "We haven't even replied to her signals."

"It appears to me," Jocelyn Thew pronounced irritably, "that we are
going to try and get away. I never heard of such lunacy. They can blow
us to pieces if they want to."

Crawshay shivered.

"I think," he protested, "that some one ought to remonstrate with the
captain. Look, there's another shell coming! Damned ugly things!"

There was another puff of white smoke, and this time the projectile
fell within a steamer's length of them, sending a great fountain of
water into the air. "They are giving us plenty of warning," Jocelyn
Thew observed coolly. "I suppose we shall get the next one amidships."

"I find it most upsetting," his companion declared. "I am going down
to the cabin to get my lifebelt."

He turned away. Presently there was another line of signals, more
shots, some across the bows of the steamer, some right over her, a few
aft. Nevertheless, the _City of Boston_ stood on her course, and the
distance between the two steamers gradually widened. Katharine, who
had come up on deck, stood by Jocelyn Thew's side.

"Is this really the way that they shoot," she asked, "or aren't they
trying to hit us?"

"They are not trying," he told her. "If they were, every shot they
fired at this range would be sufficient to send us to the bottom."

"Why aren't they trying?" she persisted.

"There's a reason for that, which I can't at the moment explain," was
the gloomy reply. "They want to capture us, not sink us! What I can't
understand, though, is how the captain here found that out."

"How is it that you are so well-informed?" Katharine asked curiously.

"You had better not enquire, Miss Beverley. It's just as well not to
know too much of these things. Here's Mr. Crawshay," he added.
"Perhaps he'll tell you."

Crawshay appeared, hugging his lifebelt, on which he seated himself
gingerly.

"Can't imagine what the captain's up to," he complained. "A chap who
understands those little flags has just told me that they've
threatened to blow us to pieces if we go on.--Here comes another
shell!" he groaned. "Two to one they've got us this time!--Ugh!"

They all ducked to avoid a shower of spray. When they stood upright
again, Katharine studied the newcomer for a minute critically. There
was a certain air of strain about most of the passengers. Even Jocelyn
Thew's firm hand had trembled, a moment ago, as he had lowered his
glasses. Crawshay, seated upon his lifebelt, with a mackintosh
buttoned around him, his eyeglass firmly adjusted, his mouth
querulous, was not exactly an impressive-looking object. Yet
she wondered.

"Give me your hand," she asked suddenly.

He obeyed at once. The fingers were cool and firm.

"Why do you pretend to be afraid?" she demanded. "You aren't in the
least."

"Amateur theatricals," he replied tersely, "coupled with a certain
amount of self-control. I am a cool-tempered fellow at most
times.--Jove, this one's meant for us, I believe!"

They all ducked instinctively. The shell, however, fell short.
Crawshay measured the distance between the two steamers with his eyes.

"Dashed if I don't believe we're giving them the slip!" he exclaimed.
"I wonder why in thunder they're letting us off like this! The captain
must have known something."

Jocelyn Thew turned around and looked reflectively at the speaker. For
a single moment Crawshay's muscles tingled with the apprehension
of danger. There was a smouldering light in the other's eyes, such a
light as might gleam in the tiger's eyes before his spring. Crawshay's
hand slipped to his hip pocket. So for a moment they remained. Then
Jocelyn Thew shrugged his shoulders, and the tense moment was past.

"There seems to be some one on this ship," he said quietly, "who knows
more than is good for him."



CHAPTER XIV


The _City of Boston_ passed through the danger zone in safety, and
dropped anchor in the Mersey only a few hours later than the time of
her expected arrival. Towards the close of a somewhat uproarious
dinner, during which many bottles of champagne were emptied to various
toasts, Captain Jones quite unexpectedly entered the saloon, and,
waving his hand in response to the cheers which greeted him, made his
way to his usual table, from which he addressed the little company.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I have an announcement to make to
which I beg you will listen with patience. Both the English and the
American police, whether with reason or not, as we may presently
determine, have come to the conclusion that a large number of very
important documents, collected in America by the agents of a foreign
power, have been smuggled across the Atlantic upon this ship, in the
hope that they may eventually reach Germany. In a quarter of an hour's
time, a number of plainclothes policemen will be on board. I am going
to ask you, as loyal British and American subjects, to subject
yourselves, without resistance or complaint, to any search which they
may choose to make. I may add that my own person, luggage and cabin
will be the first object of their attention." The captain, having
delivered his address, left the saloon again amidst a little buzz of
voices. There had probably never been a voyage across the Atlantic in
which a matter of forty passengers had been treated to so many rumours
and whispers of strange happenings. Sam West got up and spoke a few
words, counselling the ready assent of every one there to submit to
anything that was thought necessary. He briefly commented upon their
unexplained but fortuitous escape from the raider, and heaped
congratulations upon their captain. Very soon after he had resumed his
seat, the shrill whistle of a tug alongside indicated the arrival of
visitors. A steward passed back and forth amongst the passengers with
a universal request--all were asked to repair to their staterooms.
Twenty-seven exceedingly alert-looking men thereupon commenced
their task.

Seated upon the couch in her room, with a cup of coffee by her side
and a cigarette between her lips, Katharine listened to the
conversation which passed in the opposite room, the one which had been
tenanted by Phillips. For some reason, the end of the voyage, instead
of bringing her the relief which she had expected, had only increased
her nervous excitement. She was filled with an extraordinary
prescience of some coming crisis. She found herself trembling as she
listened to Doctor Gant's harsh voice and the smooth accents of his
interlocutor.

"Well, that completes our search of your belongings, Doctor Gant," the
latter's voice observed. "Now I want to ask a few questions with
reference to the Mr. Phillips who I understand died the day before
yesterday under your charge." "That is so," Doctor Gant agreed. "He
had no luggage, as we only made up our minds to undertake the journey
with him at the last moment. The few oddments he used on the voyage,
we burned."

"And the body, I understand,--"

"You can examine it at once, if you will," the doctor interrupted. "We
have purposely left the coffin lid only partly screwed down. I should
like to say, however, that before arranging the deceased for burial, I
asked the ship's doctor to make an examination with me of the coffin
and the garments which I used. He signed the certificate, and he will
be ready to answer any questions."

"That seems entirely satisfactory," the detective confessed. "I will
just have the coffin lid off for a few moments, and will see the
doctor before I leave the ship."

The men left the room together and were absent some ten minutes.
Presently the detective returned to Katharine's room, and with him
came Crawshay. Katharine had discarded the nurse's costume which she
had usually worn on board ship, and was wearing the black tailor-made
suit in which she had expected to land. In the dim light, her pallor
and nervous condition almost startled Crawshay.

"You will forgive my intrusion," he said. "I have just been explaining
your presence here to Mr. Brightman, the detective, and I don't think
he will trouble you for more than a few minutes."

"Please treat me exactly as the others," she begged.

The search proceeded for a few moments in silence. Then the detective
looked up from the dressing case which he was examining. In his hand
he held the envelope addressed to Mrs. Phillips.

"Do you mind telling me what this is, Miss Beverley?" he asked.

"It is a roll of bills," she replied, "that belonged to Mr. Phillips.
I promised to see them handed over to his wife."

Brightman glanced at the address and balanced the envelope on the palm
of his hand.

"It is against the law," he told her, "for a passenger to be the
bearer of any sealed letter."

Katharine shrugged her shoulders.

"I am very sorry," she said, "but the packet which you have did not
come from America at all. It was sealed up on board this ship at the
time when I accepted the charge of its delivery. There is no letter or
communication of any sort inside."

"You will not object," the detective enquired, "to my opening it?"

She frowned impatiently.

"I can assure you," she repeated, "that I saw the notes put inside an
empty envelope. Mr. Crawshay will tell you that my word is to be
relied upon."

"Implicitly, Miss Beverley," Crawshay pronounced emphatically, "but
under the circumstances I think no harm would be done if you allowed
our friend just to glance inside. The notes can easily be sealed up in
another envelope."

"Just as you like," she acquiesced coolly. "You will find nothing but
bills there."

Brightman tore open the envelope and glanced inside as though he did
not intend further to disturb it. Suddenly his face changed. He shook
out the contents upon the little table. They all three looked at the
pile of papers with varying expressions. In Katharine's face there was
nothing but blank bewilderment, in Crawshay's something of horror, in
the detective's a faint gleam of triumph. He pressed his finger down
on the heading of the first sheet of paper.

"I am not much of a German scholar," he observed. "How do you
translate that, Mr. Crawshay?"

Crawshay was silent for several moments. Then in a perfectly
mechanical tone he read out the heading:

"'List of our agents in New York and district who may be absolutely
trusted for any enterprise.'"

There was another dead silence, a silence, on Katharine's part, of
complete mental paralysis. Crawshay's face had lost all its smooth
petulance. He was like a man who had received a blow.

"But I don't understand," Katharine faltered at last. "That packet has
not been out of my possession, and I saw the notes put into it."

"By whom?" Crawshay demanded.

"By Mr. Phillips," she declared steadfastly, "by Mr. Phillips and
Doctor Gant together."

The detective turned the envelope over in his hand.

"The bills seem to have disappeared," he observed.

"They were in that envelope," Katharine persisted. "I have never seen
those papers before in my life."

Brightman's face remained immovable. One by one he slipped the papers
back into the envelope, thrust them into his breast pocket, and,
turning round, locked the door.

"You must forgive me if the rest of our investigations may seem
unnecessarily severe, Miss Beverley," he said.

Katharine sank back upon the sofa. She was utterly bewildered by the
events of the last few minutes. The search of her belongings was now
being conducted with ruthless persistence. Her head was buried in her
hands. She did not even glance at the contents of her trunk, which
were now overflowing the room. Suddenly she was conscious of another
pause in the proceedings, a half-spoken exclamation from the
detective. She looked up. From within the folds of an evening gown he
had withdrawn a small, official-looking dispatch box of black tin,
tied with red tape, and with great seals hanging from either end.

"What is this?" he asked.

Katharine stared at it with wide-open eyes.

"I have never seen it before," she declared.

There was another painful, significant silence. Crawshay bent forward
and examined the seals through his glass.

"This," he announced presently, "is the official seal of a neutral
Embassy. You see how the packet is addressed?"

"I see," the detective admitted, "but, considering the way in which we
have found it, you are not suggesting, I hope, that we should not
open it?"

"Opened it certainly must be," Crawshay admitted, "but not by us in
this manner. When you have finished your search, I should be glad if
you will bring both packets with you to the captain's room."

Brightman silently resumed his labours. Nothing further, however, was
found. The two men stood up together.

"Miss Beverley," Brightman began gravely,--

Crawshay laid his hand upon the man's arm.

"Wait for a moment," he begged. "I wish to have a few words with you
outside. We shall be back before long, Miss Beverley."

The two men disappeared. Katharine, with a sinking of the heart, heard
the key turn on the outside of her stateroom. She watched the lock
slip into its place with an indescribable sense of humiliation. She
had been guilty--of what?

She lost count of time, but it was certain that only a few minutes
could have passed before a strange thing happened. The sight of that
lock, which seemed somehow to shut her off from the world of
reasonable, honest men and women, had fascinated her. She was sitting
watching it, her chin resting upon her hands, something of the horror
still in her eyes, when without sound, or any visible explanation, she
saw it glide back to its place. The door was opened and closed.
Jocelyn Thew was standing in her stateroom.

"You?" she exclaimed.

"I am not disappointed in you, I am sure," he said softly. "You will
keep still. You will not say a word. I have risked the whole success
of a great enterprise to come and say these few words to you. I am
ashamed and sorry for what you are suffering, but I want to tell you
this. Nothing serious will happen--nothing serious can happen to you.
Everything is not as it seems. Will you believe that? Look at me. Will
you believe that?"

She raised her eyes. Once more there was that change in his face which
had seemed so wonderful to her. The blue of his eyes was soft, his
mouth almost tremulous. She answered him almost as though mesmerised.

"I will believe it," she promised.

As silently and mysteriously as he had come, he turned and left her.
She watched the latch. She saw the lock creep silently once more into
its place. She heard no movement outside, but Jocelyn Thew had gone.

During the few remaining minutes of her solitude, Katharine felt a
curious change in the atmosphere of the little disordered stateroom,
in her own dazed and bruised feelings. She seemed somehow to be
playing a part in a little drama which had nothing to do with real
life. All her fears had vanished. She rose from her place, smoothed
her disordered hair carefully, bathed her temples with eau-de-cologne,
adjusted her hat and veil, and, turning on the reading lamp, opened a
novel. She actually managed to read a couple of pages before there was
a knock at the door and the two men reappeared. She laid down her book
and greeted them quite coolly.

"Well, have you come to pronounce sentence upon me?" she asked.

"Our authority scarcely goes so far," Brightman replied. "I am going
on shore now, Miss Beverley, to fetch the consul of the country to
which this packet is addressed. It will be opened in his presence. In
the meantime, Mr. Crawshay has given his parole for you. You will
therefore be free of the ship, but it will be, I am afraid, my duty to
ask you to come with me to the police station for a further
examination, on my return."

"I am sure I shall like to come very much," she said sweetly, "but if
you go on asking me questions forever, I am afraid you won't come any
nearer solving the problem of how that box got into my trunk, or how
those bills got changed into those queer-looking little slips of
papers. However, that of course is your affair."

The detective departed with a stiff bow. Crawshay, however, lingered.

"Aren't you going with your friend?" she asked him.

He ignored the question.

"Miss Beverley," he said, "you will forgive me saying that I find the
present position exceedingly painful."

"Why?" she demanded. "I don't see how you are suffering by it."

"It was at my instigation," he went on, "that suspicion was first
directed against your travelling companions. I am convinced that the
first idea was to get these documents off the ship upon the person of
Phillips, if alive, or in his coffin if dead. The instigators of this
abominable conspiracy have taken fright and have made you their
victim. Certainly," he went on, "it was a shrewd idea. I myself
suggested to Brightman that your things might remain undisturbed. But
for the finding of that envelope, your trunk would certainly not have
been opened. You see the position I have placed myself in. I am driven
to ask you a question. Did you know of the presence of those papers
and dispatch box amongst your belongings?"

"I had no idea of it," she answered fervently.

He drew a little breath of relief.

"You realise, of course," he went on, "that there is only one man who
could have placed them there?"

"And who is that?" she enquired.

"Jocelyn Thew."

"And why do you single him out?"

"Because," Crawshay told her patiently, "we had evidence in America to
show that he was working with our enemies. It is true that he has not
been associated to any extent with the German espionage system in
America, but he has been well-known always as a reckless adventurer,
ready to sell his life in any doubtful cause, so long as it promised
excitement and profit. It was known to us that he had come into touch
with a certain man in Washington who has been looking after the
interests of his country in America. It was to shadow Jocelyn Thew
that I came on this steamer. His friends cleverly fooled Hobson and
me, and landed us in Chicago too late, as they thought, to catch the
boat. That is why I made that somewhat melodramatic journey after you
on the seaplane. Do please consider this matter reasonably, Miss
Beverley. It was perfectly easy for him to slip across and place these
things in your luggage as soon as he found that his original scheme
was likely to go wrong. You were the one person on the steamer whom
he reckoned would be safe from suspicion. You were part of his plot
from the very first, and no more than that."

"I cannot believe this," she said slowly.

Crawshay's face darkened.

"It is no business of mine, Miss Beverley," he declared, "but if you
will forgive my saying so, you must be infatuated by this man. The
evidence is perfectly clear. You are a prominent citizeness of a great
country, and you have been made an accessory to an act of treason
against that country. Yet, with plain facts in my hands, it seems
impossible for me to shake your faith in this person. What is the
reason of it? What hold had he upon you that he should have induced
you to leave your work and your home and betray your country?"

"He has no hold upon me at all," she replied indignantly. "Since you
are so persistent, I will tell you the truth. I once saw him do a
splendid thing, a deed which saved me from great unhappiness."

"There we have it then at last!" Crawshay exclaimed eagerly. "You are
under obligations to him."

"I certainly am," she acknowledged.

"And he has taken advantage of it," Crawshay continued, "to make you
his tool."

"Whatever he has done," she replied, "rests between Jocelyn Thew and
me. I am not in the least disposed to excuse myself or to beg for
mercy from you. If you represent the law, directly or indirectly, I do
not ask for any favours. I shall be perfectly ready to go to your
police station whenever I am sent for." There was a knock at the
door. They both turned around. In reply to Katharine's mechanical
"Come in," Jocelyn Thew entered.

"I beg your pardon," he said, "was I mistaken or did I hear my name?"

"We were speaking of you," Crawshay admitted, turning towards him,
"but I do not think that either Miss Beverley or I have anything to
say to you at the moment."

"That's rather a pity," was the cool reply, "because you may not see
me again. I was looking for Miss Beverley, in fact, to say good-by. We
are docking in half an hour, and those who have been searched can go
on shore, if they like to leave their hold luggage. As I have been
searched twice in the most thorough and effective fashion, I have my
pass out."

"You mean that you are going away altogether to-night?" Katharine
exclaimed.

"Only so far as the Adelphi," he told her. "I have some friends to see
who live near Liverpool, so I shall probably stay there for two or
three days."

"I was coming to look for you on deck presently," Crawshay intervened,
"but if your departure is so imminent, I will say what I have to say
to you here."

"That would seem advisable," Jocelyn Thew agreed.

"I think it is only right that you should know, sir," Crawshay
continued, "that a very serious position has arisen here in which Miss
Beverley is unfortunately involved. Incriminating documents have been
found in her luggage, placed there obviously by some unscrupulous
person, who was in search of a safe hiding-place."

"Is this true?" Jocelyn Thew asked, looking past Crawshay to
Katharine.

"I am afraid that it is," she assented.

"The person who placed them there," Crawshay proceeded, the anger
gathering in his tone, "may believe for the present that he has been
able to escape from his dangerous position by this dastardly attempt
to incriminate a woman. He may, on the other hand, find that his
immunity will last but a very short time."

Jocelyn Thew nodded in calm acquiescence.

"I am at a loss," he said, "to account for your somewhat melodramatic
tone, but I really do not think that Miss Beverley has very much
to fear."

"There I agree with you," Crawshay declared. "She has not so much to
fear as the criminal who is responsible for what has happened. He may
think that he has escaped by saddling his crime upon a woman's
shoulders. On the other hand, he may discover that this attempt, which
only aggravates his position, will turn out to be futile."

Jocelyn Thew held out his hand towards Katharine.

"Really," he said, "the tone of this conversation takes one back to
the atmosphere of the dear old Drury Lane melodrama. I feel, somehow
or other," he went on, looking into Katharine's eyes, "that our friend
here has cast me for the part of the villain and you for the injured
heroine. I am wondering whether I dare ask you for a farewell
greeting?"

Katharine did not hesitate for a moment. Her shapely, ringless hand
was grasped firmly by his brown, lean fingers. She felt the pressure
of a signet ring, the slight tightening of his grip as he leaned a
little towards her. Again she was conscious of that feeling of
exuberant life and complete confidence which had transformed her whole
and humiliating situation so short a time ago.

"The injured heroine is always forgiving," she declared,--"even though
she may have nothing to forgive. Good-by, Mr. Thew, and good
fortune to you!"



CHAPTER XV


The morning--grey, slightly wet--broke upon Liverpool docks, the ugliest
place in the ugliest city of Europe. A thin stream of people descended at
irregular intervals down the gangway from the _City of Boston_ to the dock,
and disappeared in various directions. Amongst the first came a melancholy
little procession--a coffin carried by two ship's stewards, with Doctor
Gant in solitary attendance behind. After the passengers came a sprinkling
of the ship's officers, all very smart and in a great hurry. Then there was
a pause of several hours. About midday, two men--Brightman and a
stranger--came down the covered way into the dock and boarded the steamer.
They were shown at once into the captain's room, where Crawshay and Captain
Jones were awaiting them.

"This," Brightman said, introducing his companion, "is Mr. Andelsen. I was
fortunate enough to find him on the point of leaving for London."

Mr. Andelsen shook hands and accepted a chair. Upon the table in front of
the captain was the sealed dispatch box. Crawshay had a suggestion to make.

"I think," he said, "that Miss Beverley should be here herself when this is
opened."

"I have no objection," Brightman assented.

The captain rang for his steward and sent down a message. Mr. Andelsen--a
tall, thin man, dressed in a sombre grey suit--handled the seals for a
moment, looked at the address of the box, and shook his head.

"I could not take upon myself the responsibility of opening this," he
declared. "It is certainly the seal of the Embassy of my country, but the
box is addressed specifically to our Foreign Secretary at the Capital."

"We quite appreciate that," Crawshay admitted. "The captain, I believe, is
not asking you to break it. We simply wish you to be present while we do
so, in order to prove that no disrespect is intended to your country, and
in order that you yourself may have an opportunity of taking a note of the
contents."

"So long as it is understood that I am only here as a witness," the consul
acquiesced, a little doubtfully, "I am quite willing to remain."

Katharine was presently ushered in. She was dressed for landing in a smart
tailor-made suit, and her appearance was entirely cheerful. Crawshay
stepped forward and handed her a chair.

"Dear me," she said, "this all seems very formidable! Am I under arrest or
anything?"

"The captain is about to open the dispatch box found in your trunk, Miss
Beverley," Crawshay explained, "in the presence of Mr. Andelsen here, who
represents the country whose seals are attached. I have already expressed
my opinion that this box has been surreptitiously placed amongst your
belongings, and although, of course, our chief object was to gain
possession of it, I regret very much the position in which you are placed."

"You are very kind, Mr. Crawshay," she rejoined, without much feeling. "It
is certainly a fact that I never saw the box before it was dragged out of
my trunk yesterday."

The captain broke the seals, untied the tape, and with a chisel and hammer
knocked the top off the box. They all, with the exception of Katharine,
gathered around him breathlessly as he shook out the contents on to the
table. They were all sharers in the same shock of surprise as the neatly
folded packets of ordinary writing paper were one by one disclosed.
Crawshay seized one and dragged it to the light. The captain kept on
picking them up and throwing them down again. Brightman mechanically
followed his example.

"The whole thing's a bluff!" Crawshay exclaimed. "These sheets of paper are
all blank! There isn't any trace even of invisible ink."

The consul rose to his feet with a heavy frown.

"This is a very obvious practical joke," he said angrily. "It seems a pity
that I should have been compelled to miss my train to town."

"A practical joke!" the captain repeated. "If it is I'm damned if I
understand the point of it!"

"Give me the envelope which held the notes," Crawshay demanded.

The captain unlocked his safe and produced it. Crawshay glanced through
some of the documents hastily.

"These are all bogus, too!" he exclaimed. "There are no such streets as
this in New York--no such names. The whole thing's a sell!"

"But what the--what in thunder does it all mean?" the captain demanded,
pulling himself up as he glanced towards Katharine.

Brightman, who had scarcely spoken a word, leaned across the table.

"Probably," he said drily, "it means that some one a little cleverer than
us has got away with the real stuff whilst we played around with this
rubbish."

"But how?" Crawshay expostulated. "Not a soul has left this ship who hasn't
been searched to the skin. The luggage in the hold is going out trunk by
trunk, after every cubic foot has been ransacked. We have had a guard at
every gangway since we were docked."

There was a knock at the door. The ship's doctor entered. He glanced at the
little company and hesitated.

"I beg your pardon, Captain," he said, "could I have a word with you?"

The captain moved towards the threshold.

"Ship's business, Doctor?"

"It's just a queer idea of mine about these papers," the doctor confessed.
"It's perhaps scarcely worth mentioning--"

"You'd better come in and tell us about it," the captain insisted. "That's
what we're all talking about at the present moment."

Crawshay closed the door behind the newcomer, whose manner was still to
some extent apologetic.

"It's really rather a mad idea," the latter began, "and I understand you
found a part of what you were searching for, at any rate. But you know the
man Phillips, who'd been operated upon for appendicitis--your patient, Miss
Beverley, who died during the voyage?"

"What about him?" the captain demanded.

"Just one thing," the Doctor continued. "There was no doubt whatever that
he had been operated upon for appendicitis, there was no doubt about the
complications, there was no doubt about his death. I helped Doctor
Gant--who seemed a very reasonable person, and who is known to me as one of
the physicians at Miss Beverley's hospital--in various small details, and
at his request I went over the clothing of the dead man and even knocked
the coffin to see that it hadn't a double bottom. Doctor Gant appeared to
welcome investigation in every shape and form, and yet, now that it's all
over, there is one curious thing which rather bothers me."

"Get on with it, man," the captain admonished. "Can't you see that we're
all in a fever about this business?"

The doctor produced from his pocket a small strip of very fine quality
bandaging.

"It's just this," he explained. "They left this fragment of bandaging in
the stateroom. Phillips was bound up with it around the wound, as was quite
natural, but it isn't ordinary stuff, you see. It's made double like a
tube, with silk inside. He must have had a dozen yards of this around his
leg and side, which of course was not disturbed. It's a horrible idea to a
layman, I know," he went on, turning apologetically to Katharine,--

"Captain, will you send at once for the steward," Crawshay interrupted,
"who carried the coffin out?"

The captain sent a message to the lower deck. Katharine was leaning a
little forward, intensely interested.

"Perhaps, Miss Beverley, you can throw some light upon this?" the former
enquired--"in your capacity as nurse, I mean."

She shook her head.

"I am sorry that I cannot," she replied. "As a matter of fact, I was never
allowed to touch the bandages. Doctor Gant did all that himself."

"Have you ever seen any bandaging of this sort?" Brightman asked, showing
her the fragment which he had taken from the doctor's fingers.

"Never."

Crawshay drew a little breath between his teeth. He was on the point of
speech when a steward knocked at the door. The captain called him in.

"Harrison," he asked, "were you one of the stewards who was looking after
Doctor Gant?"

"Yes, sir," the man replied.

"You helped to carry the coffin out, didn't you?"

"That's so, sir. We were off at six o'clock this morning."

"Was there a hearse waiting?"

The steward shook his head.

"There was a big motor car outside, sir. We put the coffin in that and the
doctor drove off with it--said he was to take it down to the place where
the man had lived, for burial."

"Do you know where that was?"

"No idea, sir."

The captain glanced towards Brightman.

"Do you want to ask the man any questions?"

"Questions? No, sir!" the detective replied bitterly. "We've been
done--that's all there is about it. Never mind, they've only got six hours'
start. We'll have that car traced, and--"

"Does any one know what time Mr. Jocelyn Thew left the steamer?" Crawshay
interrupted.

"He got away last night," the steward replied. "There were three or four of
them went up to the Adelphi to sleep. Some of them came back for their
baggage this morning, but I haven't seen Mr. Jocelyn Thew."

Katharine rose to her feet. Her tone and expression were impenetrable.

"Am I still suspect?" she asked.

Crawshay glanced at Brightman, who shook his head.

"There is no charge against you. Miss Beverley," he admitted stiffly. "So
far as I am concerned, you are at liberty to leave the ship whenever you
please."

She held out her hand to the captain.

"I can't make up my mind, Captain," she said, smiling at him delightfully,
"as to what sort of a voyage I have had on this steamer, but I do
congratulate you on that escape from the raider. Good-by!"

Crawshay walked with her along the deserted deck as far as the gangway.

"I am afraid I cannot offer my escort any further, Miss Beverley," he
regretted. "I must have a little conversation with Brightman here."

"Of course," she answered. "I quite understand. Perhaps we may meet in
London. It seems a pity, doesn't it," she went on sympathetically, "that
that wonderful voyage of yours was taken for nothing? Some one on this ship
has been very clever indeed."

"Some one has," Crawshay replied bitterly, "and you and I both know who it
is, Miss Beverley. But," he went on, holding the gangway railing as she
turned to descend, "it's only the first part of the game that's over. Our
friend has won on the sea, but I have an idea that we shall have him on
land. We shall have him yet, and we'll catch him red-handed if I have
anything to do with it. Will you wish us luck?"

She turned and looked at him. Her lips parted as though she were about to
speak. Instead she broke into a little laugh, and, turning away, descended
the gangway. From the dock she looked up again at Crawshay.

"Do come and look me up if you are in town," she begged. "I shall stay at
Claridge's, and I shall be interested to hear how you get on."



CHAPTER XVI


The _City of Boston_ docked in Liverpool on Sunday night. On Tuesday, at
five o'clock in the afternoon, Crawshay, who had been waiting at Euston
Station for a quarter of an hour or so, almost dragged Brightman out of the
long train which drew slowly into the station.

"We'll take a taxi somewhere," the former said. "It's the safest place to
talk in. Any other luggage?"

"Only the bag I'm carrying," the detective replied. "I have got some more
stuff coming up, if you want me to keep on this job."

"I think I shall," Crawshay told him. "I want to hear how you got on. I
gathered from your first telegram that you were on the track. Where did you
mean to stay?"

"I've no choice."

"The Savoy, then," Crawshay decided. "Jocelyn Thew is staying there, and
you may be able to keep an eye on him. Here we are. Taxi?--Savoy!--Now,
Brightman."

"You don't want me to make a long story of it, sir," Brightman observed, as
they drove off.

"Just the things that count, that's all."

"Well, we got on the track of the car all right," the detective began, "and
traced it to a small village called Frisby, the other side of Chester, and
to the house of a Mrs. Phillips, a woman in poor circumstances who had just
removed from Liverpool. She was the widow, all right. She showed us
letters, and plenty of them, from her husband in New York. It appears that
Gant alone had brought the coffin, which was left at the cemetery, and the
funeral will have taken place t his afternoon. Mrs. Phillips was full of
his praises, and it seems that he had paid her over the whole of the money
you spoke about--five thousand dollars."

"There was no chicanery so far, then," Crawshay observed. "The man was
dead, of course?"

"Absolutely," Brightman declared, "and his death seems to have taken place
exactly according to the certificate. Here comes the point, however. With
the aid of the local police and the doctor whom we called in, the bandage
around the wound was removed. We found in its place a perfectly fresh one,
bought in Liverpool, not in the least resembling the silk-lined fragment
which the ship's doctor brought into the cabin."

Crawshay looked gloomily out of the window.

"Well, I imagine that that settles the question of how the papers got into
England," he sighed.

"Our job, I suppose," the detective reminded him, "is to see that they
don't get out again."

"Precisely!"

"In a sense," Brightman continued, "that is a toughish job, isn't it,
because whoever has them now can make as many copies as he chooses, and one
set would be certain to get through."

"As against that," Crawshay explained, "some of the most valuable documents
are signed letters, of which only the originals would be worth anything.
There are also some exceedingly complicated diagrams of New York harbours,
a plan of all the battleships in existence and projected, a wonderful
submarine destroyer, and a new heavy gun. These things are very
complicated, and to carry conviction must be in the original. Besides
that," he added, dropping his voice, "there is the one most important thing
of all, but of which as yet no one has spoken, and of which I dare scarcely
speak even to you."

"Is it in the shape of a drawing?" Brightman asked.

"It is not," was the whispered reply. "It is a letter, written by the
greatest man in one of the greatest countries in the world, to the greatest
personage in Europe. There is a secret reward offered of half a million
dollars for the return of that letter alone."

"The affair seems worth looking into," Brightman remarked, stroking his
little black moustache.

"I can promise you that the governments on both sides will pay handsomely,"
Crawshay assured him. "I have had my chance but let it slip. You know I had
my training at Scotland Yard, but out in the States I found that I simply
had to forget all that I knew. Their methods are entirely different from
ours, and you see what a failure I have made of it. I have let them get
away with the papers under my very nose."

"I can't see that you were very much to blame, Mr. Crawshay," the detective
observed. "It was a unique trick, and very cleverly worked out."

They had turned off the main thoroughfare and were now brought to a
standstill in the courtyard leading to the Savoy. Suddenly Crawshay gripped
his companion by the arm and directed his attention to a man who was buying
some roses in the florist's shop.

"You see that man?" he said. "Watch him carefully. I'll tell you why when
we get inside."

The eyes of Mr. Brightman and Jocelyn Thew met over the gorgeous cluster of
red roses which the girl was in the act of removing from the window, and
from that moment the struggle which was to come assumed a different
character. Brightman's thin mouth seemed to have tightened until the line
of red had almost disappeared. There was a flush upon his sallow cheeks.
The hand which was gripping his walking stick went white about the
knickles. But in Jocelyn Thew there was no change save a little added
glitter in the eyes. There was nothing else to indicate that the
recognition was mutual.

"Well, what about him?" Brightman asked, as their taxicab moved on. "What
does he call himself?"

"Mr. Jocelyn Thew is his name," Crawshay replied. "He was on the steamer.
It is he, and not Gant, whom we have to make for. The plot which we have to
unravel, which Gant and Phillips, and, unwittingly, Miss Beverley carried
through, was of his scheming."

"Mr. Jocelyn Thew," the detective repeated as they passed through the swing
doors. "So that is how he calls himself now!"

"You know him?"

"Know him!" Brightman repeated bitterly. "The last time I saw him I could
have sworn that I had him booked for Sing Sing prison. He got out of it, as
he always has done. Some one else paid. It was the greatest failure I had
when I was in the States. So he is in this thing, is he?"

"He is not only very much in it," Crawshay replied, "but he is the brains
of the whole expedition. He is the man to whom Gant delivered those
documents some time last night."

They found two easy-chairs in the smoking room and ordered cocktails. Mr.
Brightman sat forward in his chair. He was one of those men whose
individuality seems to rise to any call made upon it. He was indifferently
dressed, by no means good-looking, and he had started life as a policeman.
Just now, however, he seemed to sink quite naturally into his surroundings.
Nothing about his appearance seemed worthy of note except the determination
of his very dogged mouth.

"I accepted your commission a short time ago, Mr. Crawshay," he said, "with
the interest which one always feels in Government business of a
remunerative character. I tell you now that I would have taken it on
eagerly if there had not been a penny hanging to it. I can't tell you
exactly why I feel so bitterly about him, but if I can really get my hands
on to the man who calls himself Jocelyn Thew, it will be one of the
happiest days of my life."

"You really know something about him, then? He really is a bad lot?"
Crawshay asked eagerly.

"The worst that ever breathed," Brightman declared, "the bravest, coolest,
best-bred scoundrel who ever mocked the guardians of the law. Mind you, I
am not saying that he hasn't done other things. He has travelled and fought
in many countries, but when he comes back to civilisation he can't rest.
The world has to hear of him. Things move in New York underground. The
moment he takes rooms at the Carlton-Ritz, things happen in a way that they
have never happened before, and we know that there's genius at the back of
it all, and Jocelyn Thew smiles in our faces. I tell you that if anything
could have kept me in America, although I very much prefer Liverpool, the
chance of laying my hands on this man would have done it."

Through the swing doors, almost as Brightman had concluded his speech, came
Jocelyn Thew. He was dressed in light tweeds, carefully fashioned by an
English tailor. His tie and collar, his grey Homburg hat with its black
band, his beautifully polished and not too new brown shoes, were exactly
according to the decrees of Bond Street. He seemed to be making his way to
the bar, but at the sight of them he paused and strolled across the room
towards them.

"Getting your land legs, Mr. Crawshay?" he enquired.

"Pretty well, thank you. You finished your business in Liverpool quickly, I
see."

"More urgent business brought me to London. I dined and spent last evening,
by-the-by, with Doctor Gant--the doctor who was in attendance upon that
poor fellow who died on the way over."

"A very ingenious gentleman," Crawshay observed drily.

"Ah! you appreciate that, do you?" Jocelyn Thew replied, with a faint
smile. "You should go and cultivate his acquaintance. He is staying over at
the Regent Palace Hotel."

"One doesn't always attach oneself to the wrong person, Mr. Thew."

"Even the stupidest people in the world," Jocelyn Thew agreed, "can
scarcely make mistakes all the time, can they? By the way," he went on,
turning towards the detective, "is it my fancy or have I not had the
pleasure of meeting Mr. Brightman in America? I fancied so when I saw him
board the steamer in the Mersey on Sunday, but it did not fall to my lot to
receive the benefit of his offices."

"I was just telling Mr. Crawshay that I had had the pleasure of
professional dealings with you," Brightman said drily. "I was also
lamenting the fact that they had not ended according to my desires."

"Mr. Brightman was always ambitious," the newcomer observed, with gentle
satire. "He is, I am sure, a most persevering and intelligent member of his
profession, but he flies high."

"I am much obliged for your commendation," Brightman said bluntly. "As
regards professions, I was just explaining to Mr. Crawshay that you were
almost at the top of the tree in yours."

"If you have discovered my profession," Jocelyn Thew replied, "you have
succeeded where my dearest friends have failed. Pray do not make a secret
of it, Mr. Brightman."

"I have heard you called an adventurer," was the prompt reply.

"It is a term with which I will not quarrel," Jocelyn declared. "I
certainly am one of those who appreciate adventures, who have no pleasure
in sitting down in these grey-walled, fog-hung cities, and crawling about
with one's nose on the pavements like a dog following an unclean smell. No,
that has not been my life. I have sought fortune in most quarters of the
globe, sometimes found it and sometimes lost it, sometimes with one weapon
in my hand and sometimes with another. So perhaps you are right, Mr.
Brightman, when you call me an adventurer."

"These very uncomfortable times," Crawshay remarked, "rather limit the
sphere in which one may look for stirring events."

"You are wrong, believe me," Jocelyn Thew replied earnestly. "The stories
of the Arabian Nights would seem tame, if one had the power of seeing what
goes on around us in the most unsuspected places. But we are digressing.
Mr. Brightman and I were speaking together. It occurred to me, from what he
said, that he has not quite the right idea as to my aspirations, as to the
place I desire to fill in life. I shall try to give him an opportunity to
form a saner judgment."

"It will give me the utmost pleasure to accept it," the detective
confessed, with ill-concealed acerbity.

Jocelyn Thew sighed lightly. He had seated himself upon the arm of a
neighbouring easy-chair and was resting his hand upon the head of a cane he
was carrying.

"If our friend Brightman here has a fault," he said, "in the execution of
his daily duties, it is that he brings to bear into his task a certain
amount of prejudice, from which the mind of the ideal detector of crime
should be free. Now you would scarcely believe it, Mr. Crawshay, I am sure,
to judge from his amiable exterior, but Mr. Brightman is capable of very
strong dislikes, of one of which, alas! I am the object. Now this is not as
it should be. You see what might happen, supposing Mr. Brightman were
engaged to watch a little coterie, or, in plainer parlance, a little gang
of supposed misdemeanants. If by any possible stretch of his imagination he
could connect me with them, I should be the one he would go for all the
time, and although I perhaps carry my fair burden of those peccadilloes to
which the law, rightly or wrongly, takes exception, still, in this
particular instance I might be the innocent one, and in Mr. Brightman's too
great eagerness to fasten evil things upon me, the real culprit might
escape.--Thank you, Mr. Crawshay," he added, accepting the cocktail which
the waiter had presented. "Let us drink a little toast together. Shall we
say 'Success to Mr. Brightman's latest enterprise, whatever it may be!'"

Crawshay glanced at his companion.

"I think we can humour our friend by drinking that toast, Brightman," he
said.

"I shall drink it with great pleasure," the detective agreed.

They set down their empty glasses. Jocelyn Thew rose regretfully to his
feet.

"I fear," he said, "that I must tear myself away. We shall meet again, I
trust. And, Mr. Brightman, a word with you. If you are in town for a
holiday, if you have no business to worry you just at present, why not
practise on me for a time? Watch me. Find out the daily incidents of my
life. See what company I keep, where I spend my spare time--you know--and
all the rest of it. I can assure you that although I am not the great
criminal you fancy me, I am a most interesting person to study. Take my
advice, Mr. Brightman. Keep your eye upon me."

They watched him on the way to the door--a little languid but exceedingly
pleasant to look upon, exceedingly distinguished and prepossessing. A look
of half unwilling admiration crept into Brightman's face.

"Whatever that man really may be," he declared, "he is a great artist."

The swing door leading from the room into the café was pushed open, and a
woman entered. She stood for a moment looking around until her eyes fell
upon Jocelyn Thew. Crawshay suddenly gripped the detective's arm.

"Is there anything for us in this, my friend?" he whispered. "Watch Jocelyn
Thew's face!"



CHAPTER XVII


For a few seconds Jocelyn Thew was certainly taken aback. His little start,
his look of blank astonishment, were coupled with a certain loss of poise
which Crawshay had been quick to note. But, after all, the interlude was
brief enough.

"Exactly what does this mean, Nora?" he demanded.

Her vivid brown eyes were fastened upon his face, eager to understand his
attitude, a little defiant, a little appealing. There was nothing to be
gathered from his expression, however. After that first moment he was
entirely himself--well-mannered, unemotional, cold.

"I came over on the _Baltic_," she explained, "I guessed I'd find you here.
Fourteenth Street was getting a little sultry. The old man hopped it to San
Francisco the day you left."

"Sit down," he invited.

They found places on a lounge and were served with cocktails. The girl
sipped hers disapprovingly.

"Rum stuff, this," she declared. "I guess I'll have to get my shaker out."

"You are staying here, then?" he enquired.

"Why not?" she replied, with a faint note of truculence in her tone. "You
know I'm not short of money, and I guessed it was where I should find you."

He raised his eyebrows.

"That is very nice and companionable of you," he said, "and naturally I
shall be very glad to be of any assistance possible whilst you are over
here, but I hope you will remember, Nora, that I did not encourage you to
come."

"I'm wise enough about that," she admitted. "I never expected you to care
two pins whether you ever saw me again or not, and I know quite well," she
went on hastily, "that I haven't any right to follow you, or anything of
that sort. But honestly, Mr. Thew, we were being watched down there, and
New York wasn't exactly healthy."

He nodded.

"Yes," he assented, "no doubt you are right. They have awkward methods of
cross-examination there, although I don't think they'd get much out of you,
Nora."

"I'd no fancy to have them try," she admitted. "Besides, I've never had
that trip to Europe that uncle and I were always talking about, and it
seemed to me that if I wanted to see the old country whole, now or never
was the time. You may all be a German colony over here by next year."

"I have no right or any desire," he told her quietly, "to interfere in any
way with your plans, but I must warn you that just at present I am living
in the utmost jeopardy. I have no friends to whom I can introduce you, nor
any of my own time or attentions to offer. Unless you choose to exercise
tact, I might find your presence here not only embarrassing but a positive
hindrance to my plans."

"I guess I can lie close," she replied, looking at him through half-closed
eyes. "Just how am I to size that up, though?"

He looked at her appraisingly, a little cruelly. The effect of her
beautiful figure was almost ruined by the cheap and unbecoming clothes in
which she was attired. Her hat, with its huge hatpins and ultra-fashionable
height, was hideous. She exuded perfumes. Her silk stockings and suede
shoes were the only reasonable things about her. The former she was
displaying with some recklessness as she leaned back upon the settee.

"I once told you," he said calmly, "that there was no woman in the world
for whom I felt the slightest affection."

"Well?"

"That is no longer the case."

Her eyes glittered.

"Who is she?"

"It is not necessary for you to know," he answered coldly. "She happens,
however, to be concerned in the business which I have on hand. She has been
of great assistance to me, and she may yet be the means of helping me to
final success. I cannot afford to have her upset by any false impressions."

She looked at him almost wonderingly.

"If you're not the limit!" she exclaimed. "Nothing matters to you except to
succeed. You tell me in one breath that you care for a woman for the first
time in your life, and in the next you speak of using her as your tool!"

"You perhaps find that incomprehensible," he observed. "I do not blame you.
At present, however, I have only one object in life, and that is to succeed
in the business I have on hand. Whatever I may find it necessary to do to
attain my ends, I shall do."

She had gone a little pale, and her white teeth were holding down her full
under lip.

"Buy me another cocktail," she demanded.

He obeyed, and she drank it at a gulp.

"So you are not going to be nice to me?" she asked in a low tone.

"That depends upon what you call nice," he answered. "I am rather up
against a blank wall. Even if I succeed, I remain in this country at very
considerable personal danger. I am not sure that even for your sake, Nora,
it is well for you to associate with me. Why not go home? You'll find some
of your people still there--and an old sweetheart or two, very likely."

"It isn't a very warm welcome," she remarked, a little wistfully.

"You have taken me by surprise," he reminded her. "I had not the slightest
idea of your coming."

"I know that," she sighed. "I suppose I ought not to have hoped for
anything more. You've never been any different to me than to any of the
others. You treat us all, men and women, just alike. You are gracious or
cold, just according to how much we can help. I sometimes wonder, Mr.
Jocelyn Thew, whether you have a heart at all."

For a single moment he looked at her kindly. His hand even patted hers. It
was a curious revelation. He was a kindly ordinary human being.

"Ah, Nora," he said, "I am not quite so bad as that! But for many years I
have had a great, driving impulse inside me, and at the back of it the most
wonderful incentive in all the world. You know what that is, Nora--or
perhaps you don't. To a woman it would be love, I suppose. To a man it is
hate."

She drew a little further away from him, as though something which had
flamed in his eyes for a moment had frightened her.

"Yes," she murmured, "you are like that."

Jocelyn Thew was himself again almost at once.

"Since we understand one another, Nora," he said, a little more kindly,
"let me tell you that I am really very glad to see you, although you did
give me rather a shock just now. I want you, if you will, to turn your head
to the left. You see those two men--one seated in the easy-chair and the
other on its arm?"

"I see them."

"They are the two men," he continued, "who are out to spoil my show if they
can. You may see them again under very different circumstances."

"I shan't forget," she murmured. "The dark one looks like Brightman, the
detective you were up against in that Fall River business--the man who
believed that you were the High Priest of crime in New York."

"You have a good memory," he remarked. "It is the same man."

"And the other," she continued, with a sudden added interest in her
tone--"Why, that's the Englishman who had me turned off from the hotel in
Washington. Don't you remember, I went there for a month on trial as
telephone operator, just before the election? You remember why. That
Englishman was always dropping in. Used to bring me flowers now and then,
but I felt certain from the first he was suspicious. He got me turned off
just as things were getting interesting."

"Right again," Jocelyn Thew told her. "His name is Crawshay. He is the man
who was sent out from Scotland Yard to the English Embassy. He crossed with
me on the steamer. We had our first little bout there."

"Who won?"

"The first trick fell to me," he acknowledged grimly.

"And so will the second and the third," she murmured. "He may be brainy,
though he doesn't look it with that monacle and the peering way he has, but
you're too clever for them all, Jocelyn Thew. You'll win."

He smiled very faintly.

"Well," he said, "this time I have to win or throw in my chips. Now if you
like we'll have some lunch, and afterwards, if you'll forgive my taking the
liberty of mentioning it, you had better buy some clothes."

"You don't like this black silk?" she asked wistfully. "I got it at a store
up-town, and they told me these sort of skirts were all the rage over
here."

"Well, you can see for yourself they aren't," he remarked, a little drily.
"London is a queer place in many ways, especially about clothes. You're
either right or you're wrong, and you've got to be right, Nora. We'll see
about it presently."

They left the room together. Crawshay looked after them with interest.

"This affair," he told his companion, "grows hourly more and more
interesting. You've been up against Jocelyn Thew, you tell me. Well, I am
perfectly certain that that girl, whose coming gave him such a start, was a
young woman I had turned away from an hotel in Washington. She was in the
game then--more locally, perhaps, but still in the same game. I used to sit
and talk to her in the afternoons sometimes. Finest brown eyes I ever saw
in my life. I wonder if there is anything between her and Jocelyn Thew," he
added, looking through the door with a faintly disapproving note in his
tone,--a note which a woman would have recognised at once as jealousy.

"If you ask me, I should say no," the other answered. "I've kept tabs on
Jocelyn Thew for a bit, and I've had his _dossier_. There's never been a
woman's name mentioned in connection with him--don't seem as though he'd
ever moved round or taken a meal with one all the time he was in New York.
To tell you the truth, Mr. Crawshay, that's just what makes it so difficult
to get your hands on a man you want. Nine times out of ten it's through the
women we get home. The man who stands clear of them has an extra chance or
two--Say, what time this evening?"

"Come to my rooms at 178, St. James's Street, at seven o'clock," Crawshay
directed. "I've a little investigation to make before then."



CHAPTER XVIII


Crawshay took a taxicab from the Savoy to Claridge's Hotel, sent up his
card and was conducted to Katharine Beverley's sitting room on the first
floor. She kept him waiting for a few moments, and he felt a sudden
instinct of curiosity as he noticed the great pile of red roses which a
maid had only just finished arranging. When she came in, he looked towards
her in surprise. She appeared to have grown thinner, and there were dark
rims under her eyes. Her words of greeting were colourless. She seemed
almost afraid to meet his steady gaze.

"I ought to apologise for calling in the morning," he said, "but I ventured
to do so, hoping that you would come out and have some lunch with me."

"I really don't feel well enough," she replied. "London is not agreeing
with me at all."

"You are ill?" he exclaimed, with some concern.

She looked at the closed door through which the maid had issued.

"Not exactly ill. I have some anxieties," she answered. "It is kind of you
to keep your promise and come. Please tell me exactly what happened? You
know how interested I am."

"I have unfortunately nothing to report but failure," he replied.
"Everything seems to have happened exactly as the doctor on the ship
suggested. The detectives at Liverpool were quite smart. We were able to
trace the car without much difficulty, and the body of your patient
Phillips was found at his home, the other side of Chester. We obtained
permission to make an examination, and we found that, just as we expected,
fresh bandages had been put on only a few hours previously."

"And Doctor Gant?"

"He is at an hotel in London. He is watched night and day, but he seems to
divide his time between genuine sight-seeing and trying to arrange for his
passage home. Naturally, the whole of his effects have been searched, but
without the slightest result."

"And--and Mr. Jocelyn Thew?"

"His business in Liverpool seems to have detained him a very short time. He
is staying now at the Savoy Hotel. Needless to say, his effects too have
been thoroughly searched, without result."

"You know that he sent me these?" she asked, glancing towards the roses.

"I saw him buying them."

Her fingers had strayed over one of the blossoms, and he noticed that while
they talked she was convulsively crushing it into pulp.

"Were these detectives from Liverpool," she asked, "able to keep any watch
upon Doctor Gant and Mr. Jocelyn Thew after--Chester?"

"To some extent. There is no doubt that Jocelyn Thew spent the first night
in Liverpool. After that he travelled to London and took up his residence
at the Savoy. Here Doctor Gant, who had travelled up from Chester, called
upon him, late in the afternoon of the day of his arrival. They spent some
time together, and subsequently the doctor took a room at the Regent Palace
Hotel. The two men dined together at the Savoy grill, and took a box at the
Alhambra music-hall, where they spent the evening. They appear to have
returned to Jocelyn Thew's rooms, had a whisky and soda each and separated.
There is no record of their having spoken to any other person or visited
any other place."

"And their rooms have been searched?"

"By the most skilled men we have."

She pulled another of the roses to pieces.

"So it comes to this," she said. "All these documents, of whose existence
both you and the American police knew, have been brought from America to
England, and even now you cannot locate them."

"At present we cannot," he confessed drily, "but I am not prepared to admit
for a single moment that they are ever likely to reach their destination."

"Jocelyn Thew is very clever," she reminded him calmly.

"I am tired of being told so," he replied, with a touch of irritation in
his tone.

She smiled.

"You probably need your luncheon! If you care to come downstairs with me,"
she invited, "we can finish our conversation."

"I shall be only too pleased."

Katharine Beverley's table was in a quiet corner, and she sat with her back
to the window, but even under such circumstances the change in her during
the last few days was noticeable. There was a frightened light in her eyes,
her cheeks were entirely colourless, her hands seemed almost transparent.
Such a change in so short a time seemed almost incredible. Crawshay found
himself unable to ignore it.

"I am very sorry to see you looking so unwell," he observed
sympathetically. "I am afraid the shock of your voyage across the Atlantic
has been too much for you."

"I am terribly disturbed," she confessed. "I am disappointed, too, in Mr.
Jocelyn Thew. One hates to be made use of so flagrantly."

"You really knew nothing, then, until those things were discovered in your
stateroom?"

"That question," she replied, "I am not going to answer."

"But the main part of the plot?" he persisted, "the bandages?"

"Doctor Gant never allowed me to touch them. That is what I found so
inexplicable,--what first set me wondering."

"The whole scheme was very cleverly thought out," Crawshay pronounced, "but
if you will forgive my repeating a previous speculation, Miss Beverley, the
greatest mystery about it all, to me, is how you, Miss Katharine Beverley,
whose name and reputation in New York stands so high, were induced to leave
your work, your social engagements and your home, at a time like this, when
your country really has claims upon you, to act as ordinary sick nurse to a
New York clerk of humble means who turns out to have been nothing but the
tool of Jocelyn Thew."

"I am still unable to explain that," she told him.

He realised the state of tension in which she was and suddenly abandoned
the whole subject. He spoke of the theatres, asked of her friends in town,
discussed the news of the day, and made no further allusion of any sort to
the mystery which surrounded them. It was not until after they had been
served with their coffee in the lounge that he reverted to more serious
matters.

"Miss Beverley," he said, "for your own sake I am exceedingly unwilling to
leave you like this. I may seem to you to be an inquisitor, but believe me
I am a friendly one. I cannot see that you have anything to lose in being
frank with me. I wish to help you. I wish to relieve the anxiety from which
I know that you are suffering. Give me your confidence."

"You ask a very difficult thing," she sighed.

"Difficult but not impossible," he insisted. "I can quite understand that
your discovery of the fact that you had been made use of to assist in the
bringing to England of treasonable documents is of itself likely to be a
severe shock to you, but, if you will permit me to say so, it is not
sufficient to account for your present state of nerves."

"You don't know all that is happening," she replied, in some agitation.
"There is a very astute lady detective who has a room near mine, and a man
who shadows me every time I come in or go out. I am expecting every moment
that the manager will ask me to leave the hotel."

"That is all very annoying, of course," he acknowledged sympathetically,
"and yet I believe that at the back of your head there is still something
else troubling you."

"You are very observant," she murmured.

"In your case," he replied, "close observation is scarcely necessary. Why,
it is only four days since we left the steamer, and you look simply the
wreck of yourself."

"A great deal has happened since then," she confessed.

He seized upon the admission.

"You see, I was right.--There is something else! Miss Beverley, I am your
friend. You must confide in me."

"It would be useless," she assured him sadly.

"You cannot be sure of that," he insisted. "If this espionage gets on your
nerves, I believe that I have influence enough to have it removed, provided
that you will let me bring a friend of mine to see you here and ask you a
few questions."

She shook her head.

"It is not the espionage alone," she declared. "I am confronted with
something altogether different, something about which I cannot speak."

"Is this man Jocelyn Thew connected with it in any way?" he demanded.

She winced.

"Why should you ask that question?"

"Because it is perfectly clear," he continued, "that Jocelyn Thew exercises
some sort of unholy influence over you, an influence, I may add, which it
is my intention to destroy."

She smiled bitterly.

"If you can destroy anything that Jocelyn Thew means to keep alive," she
began--

"Oh, please don't believe that Jocelyn Thew is infallible," he interrupted.
"I have had a long experience of diplomatists and plotters and even
criminals, and I can assure you that no man breathing is possessed of more
than ordinary human powers. Jocelyn Thew has brought it off against us this
time, but then, you see, one must lose a trick now and then. It is the next
step which counts."

"Oh, the next step will be all right!" she replied, with a hard little
laugh. "He has brought his spoils to England, although there must have been
twenty or thirty detectives on board, and you won't be able to stop his
disposing of them exactly as he likes."

"I don't agree with you," he assured her confidently. "That, however, is
not what I want to talk about. You are in a false position. In the struggle
which is going on now, your heart and soul should be with us and against
Jocelyn Thew."

Her eyes were lit with a momentary terror.

"You don't suppose for a moment," she said, "that my sympathies are not
with my own country and our joint cause?"

"I don't," he replied. "On the other hand, your actions should follow upon
your sympathies. There is something sinister in your present state. I want
you to tell me just what the terror is that is sitting in your heart, that
has changed you like this. Jocelyn Thew has some hold upon you. If so, you
need a man to stand by your side. Can't you treat me as a friend?"

She softened at his words. For a moment she sat quite silent.

"I can only repeat to you what I told you once before," she said. "If you
are picturing Jocelyn Thew to yourself as a blackmailer, or anything of
that sort, you are wrong. I am under the very deepest obligations to him."

"But surely," he protested, "you have paid your debt, whatever it was?"

"He admits it."

"And yet the terror remains?"

"It remains," she repeated sadly.

Crawshay meditated for a moment.

"Look here, Miss Beverley," he said, "I have a friend who is chief in this
country of a department which I will not name. Will you dine with me
to-night and let me invite him to meet you?"

She shook her head.

"It is a very kind thought," she declared, "but I am engaged. Mr. Jocelyn
Thew is dining here."

Crawshay's face for a moment was very black indeed. He rose slowly to his
feet.

"I know that you mean to be kind," she continued, "and I fear that I must
seem very ungrateful. Believe me, I am not. I am simply faced with one of
those terrible problems which must be solved, and yet which admit of no
help from any living person."

Crawshay's attitude had grown perceptibly stiffer.

"I am very sorry indeed, Miss Beverley," he said, "that you cannot give me
your confidence. I am very sorry for my own sake, and I am sorry for
yours."

"Is that a threat?" she asked.

"You know the old proverb," he answered, as he bowed over her fingers.
"'Those who are not on my side are against me.'"

"You are going to treat me as an enemy?"

"Until you prove yourself to be a friend."



CHAPTER XIX


At a quarter to eight that evening, a young man who had made fitful
appearances in the lounge of Claridge's Restaurant during the last
half-hour went to the telephone and rang up a certain West End number.

"Are these Mr. Crawshay's rooms?" he asked.

"Mr. Crawshay speaking," was the reply.

"Brightman there?"

Crawshay turned away from the telephone and handed the receiver to the
detective.

"What news, Henshaw?" the latter enquired.

"Miss Beverley dines at her usual table, sir, at eight o'clock," was the
reply. "The table is set for three."

"For three?" Brightman exclaimed.

"For three?" Crawshay echoed, turning from the sideboard, where he had been
in the act of mixing some cocktails.

"You are quite sure the third place isn't a mistake?" Brightman asked.

"Quite sure, sir," was the prompt reply. "I am acquainted with one of the
head waiters here, and I understand that two gentlemen are expected."

"Anything else?"

"Nothing, sir. Miss Beverley sent away two parcels this afternoon, which
were searched downstairs. They were quite unimportant."

"I shall expect to hear from you again," Brightman directed, "within half
an hour. If the third person is a stranger, try and find out his name."

"I'll manage that all right, Mr. Brightman. The young lady has just come
down. I'll be getting back into the lounge."

Brightman turned around to Crawshay, who was in the act of shaking the
cocktails.

"A third party," he observed.

"Interesting," Crawshay declared, "very interesting! Perhaps the
intermediary. It might possibly be Doctor Gant, though."

The detective shook his head.

"Three quarters of an hour ago," he said, "Doctor Gant went into Gatti's
for a chop. He was quite alone and in morning clothes."

Crawshay poured the amber-coloured liquid which he had been shaking into a
frosted glass, handed it to his companion and filled one for himself.

"Here's hell to Jocelyn Thew, anyway!" he exclaimed, with a note of real
feeling in his tone.

"If I thought," Brightman declared, "that drinking that toast would bring
him any nearer to it, I should become a confirmed drunkard. As it is,
sir--my congratulations! A very excellent mixture!"

He set down his glass empty and Crawshay turned away to light a cigarette.

"No," he decided, "I don't think that it would be Doctor Gant. Jocelyn Thew
has finished with him all right. He did his job well and faithfully, but he
was only a hired tool. Speculation, however, is useless. We must wait for
Henshaw's news. Perhaps this third guest, whoever he may be, may give us a
clue as to Jocelyn Thew's influence over Miss Beverley."

The telephone rang a few minutes later. Crawshay this time took up the
receiver, and Brightman the spare one which hung by the side. It was
Henshaw speaking.

"Miss Beverley has just gone in to dinner," he announced. "She is
accompanied by Mr. Jocelyn Thew and a young officer in the uniform of a
Flight Commander."

"What is his name?" Crawshay asked.

"I have had no opportunity of finding out yet," was the reply. "I believe
that he is staying in the hotel, and he seems to be on very intimate terms
with Miss Beverley."

"On no account lose sight of the party," Crawshay directed, "and try and
find out the young soldier's name. Wasn't he introduced to Jocelyn Thew?"

"Not a bit of it," was the prompt reply. "They shook hands very much like
old friends."

"Go back and watch," Crawshay directed. "I must know his name. The sooner
you can find out, the better. I want to get away within a few minutes, if I
can."

They left the instrument. Crawshay, who seemed a little nervous, took a
cigarette from an open box which he passed across to his companion, and
strolled up and down the room for a few moments with his hands in his
pockets.

"A young officer," he remarked, "presumably English, known to both Miss
Beverley and Jocelyn Thew, seems rather a puzzle. He may be the connecting
link. I hope to goodness your man won't be long, Brightman."

"Are you in a hurry?" the detective asked.

Crawshay nodded.

"I want to get round to the Savoy," he announced.

Brightman smiled slightly.

"Were you thinking about the young lady, sir?" he asked.

"I thought it might be useful to renew my acquaintance with her," Crawshay
explained, a little laboriously. "I shouldn't think she'd go out alone."

"She has probably made some friends by this time," Brightman observed.

Crawshay dropped his eyeglass and polished it.

"From my experience of the young lady," he said, a little stiffly, "I
should think it improbable. I happened to meet her twice in New York, and
she struck me as being an extraordinarily well-behaved and, in her natural
way, very attractive person."

"Do you suppose that she came to Europe after Jocelyn Thew?" Brightman
asked.

"Oh, damn Jocelyn Thew!" Crawshay replied. "I should think it most
unlikely. You and I have both seen the man's _dossier_. Most cold-blooded
person alive."

The telephone broke in once more upon their conversation. Crawshay took up
the receiver. It was Henshaw speaking.

"I made a mistake about the uniform, sir," he announced. "The young man is
in the Canadian Flying Corps and he is the young lady's brother. He is
called Captain Beverley."

"Her brother!" Crawshay exclaimed.

"The connecting link!" Brightman murmured.

Meanwhile, the little dinner at Claridge's, of which sketchy tidings were
being conveyed to the two occupants of Crawshay's flat by Henshaw, was
settling down, so far as the two men were concerned, into a cheery enough
meal. There had been a little strangeness at first, but Jocelyn Thew's
hearty welcome of his young friend, and his genuine pleasure at seeing him,
had quickly broken the ice. Katharine, however, although she had a shade
more colour than earlier in the day, had sometimes the air of a Banquo at
the feast. She listened almost feverishly to Jocelyn Thew, whenever he
seemed inclined to turn the conversation into a certain channel, and she
watched her brother a little anxiously as the waiter filled up his glass,
unchecked, every few minutes. The likeness between the two was apparent
enough, although marked by certain differences. Beverley was tall, of
exceedingly powerful build, and with a fresh, strong face which would have
been remarkably attractive but for the weak mouth and the slightly puffy
cheeks.

"I can't conceive anything more fortunate than this meeting," Jocelyn Thew
declared, as he inspected the cigars which had been brought round to him,
with the air of a connoisseur. "Quite an extraordinary coincidence, too,
that you should turn up in London on five days' leave, the very day that
your sister arrives from the States. Tell me, are you right up at the
front?"

"Right beyond it, most days," was the cheerful reply. "We spend most of our
time over the German lines."

"Lucky fellow!" Jocelyn Thew sighed. "You are getting now what a few years
ago one had to defy the law for--real, thrilling sensations. It's a life
for men, yours."

The young man's hand shook a little as he raised his glass. He looked
towards Jocelyn Thew almost appealingly.

"It's a splendid life," he assented, talking rapidly and with the air of
one who wishes to stifle conversation. "I had hard work to get my wings,
but I guess I'm all right now. The engine part of it never gave me any
trouble, but I suffered from a kind of sickness the first few times I went
up. It's a gorgeous sensation, flying. The worst of it is we never know
when those cunning Germans aren't coming out with something fresh. They
stung us up last week with a dozen planes of an entirely new pattern, two
hundred and fifty horse-power engines on a small frame. Gee, they gave some
of our elderly machines a touching up, I can tell you!"

"So you fly over the German lines most days, eh?" Jocelyn Thew ruminated.

"We dropped a few thousand copies of the President's speech last Monday,"
the young man told them. "That ought to give them something to think about.
They only know just what they are told. The last batch of prisoners that
were brought in firmly believed that one of their armies had landed in
England and that London was on the point of falling."

"All war," Jocelyn Thew said didactically, "is carried on under a cloud of
misconception."

The young man stretched himself out. He had dined well and his courage was
returning. He asked a question which up till then he had felt inclined to
shirk.

"What licks me," he declared suddenly, "is finding you two over here. What
ever brought you across, Katharine?"

There was a brief silence. Katharine seemed uncertain how to answer. It was
Jocelyn Thew who took up the challenge.

"A little over a fortnight ago," he explained, "I called upon your sister
in New York. I begged her to perform a certain service for me. She
consented. The execution of that service brought her across from New York
on board the _City of Boston_."

"But have you two been seeing anything of one another, then? You never
mentioned Thew in any of your letters, Katharine?"

"Your sister and I have not met since a certain memorable occasion,"
Jocelyn Thew replied.

The young man shivered and drained his glass.

"What was this service?" he enquired.

"Your sister played sick nurse upon the steamer to a person in whom I was
interested, and who was operated upon in her hospital," Jocelyn Thew
explained. "He was an Englishman, and very anxious to reach his own country
before he died."

"I can't quite catch on to it," Beverley admitted.

Jocelyn Thew glanced carelessly around. His manner was the reverse of
suspicious, but he only resumed his speech when he was sure that not even a
waiter was within hearing.

"It happened to form part of an important plan of mine," he said, "that a
man who was dangerously ill should be brought over to England without
raising any suspicion as to his _bona fides_. I made use of your sister's
name and social position to ensure this. There has been, as I think you
have often acknowledged, Beverley, a debt owing from you to me. Half of
that debt your sister has paid."

"You haven't been getting Katharine mixed up in any crooked business?" her
brother demanded excitedly.

"Your sister ran no risk whatever," Jocelyn Thew assured him. "She
performed her share of the bargain excellently. It is just possible," he
continued, with a glint of fire in his eyes and a peculiar, cold emphasis
creeping into his words, "that it may fall to your lot to wipe out the
remainder of the debt."

Beverley moved in his chair uneasily.

"You will remember," he said, "that things have changed. I am not a free
agent now. I entered upon this fighting business as an adventure, but, my
God, Thew, it's got into my blood! I've seen things, felt things. I don't
want anything to come between me and the glorious life I live day by day."

Jocelyn Thew nodded approvingly.

"That's the proper spirit, Beverley," he declared. "I always knew you had
pluck. Quite the proper spirit! Your sister showed the same courage when
the necessity came."

"Oh, don't bring me into this, please!" she interrupted.

"You seem to have been brought into it," her brother observed grimly, "and
I'm not sure that I am satisfied. I can pay my own debts."

There was a note of rising anger in his tone. Katharine laid her fingers
upon his hand.

"Don't imagine things, please, Dick," she begged. "It is my own foolishness
if I am disturbed. I really had nothing to do. Mr. Thew has been most
considerate."

"In any case," Jocelyn Thew went on, "I think that the matter had better be
discussed another time, when we are alone. We might have to make reference
to things which are best not mentioned in a public place."

For a moment the young man's eyes challenged his. Then they fell. He
shivered a little.

"Why ever speak of them?" he demanded.

"Ah, well, we'll see," Jocelyn Thew observed. "Now what about an hour or
two at a music-hall? I have a box at the Alhambra."

Katharine rose at once to her feet. They all made their way into the
lounge. Whilst they waited for her to fetch her cloak, Beverley swung round
to his companion.

"Look here," he said, "for myself it doesn't matter--you know that--but
what game are you playing? I don't know much about your life, of course,
before those few days, but on your own showing you were out for big things.
Are you known here? Is it anything--anything against the law, this business
you're on? I don't care for myself--you know that. It's Katharine I'm
thinking of."

Jocelyn Thew knocked the ash from his cigar. He smiled deprecatingly at his
companion. Certainly there was no man in that very fashionable restaurant
who looked less like a criminal.

"My dear Beverley," he expostulated, "you must remember that I am an
exceedingly clever person. I am suspected of any number of misdemeanours. I
will not say that there are not one or two of which I have not been guilty,
but I have never left behind me any proof. I dare say the English police
over here look on me sometimes just as hungrily as the New York ones. They
feel in their hearts that I am an adventurer. They feel that I have been
connected with some curious enterprises, both in the States and various
other countries of the globe. They know very well that where there has been
fighting and loot and danger, I have generally followed under my own flag.
They know all this, but they can prove nothing against me. They can only
watch me, and that they do wherever I am. They are watching me now, every
hour of the day."

"It isn't," the young man commenced, with a sudden break in his tone--

Jocelyn shook his head.

"No, my young friend," he said, "the curtain fell upon that little episode.
I doubt whether there is even a police record of it. It isn't the lives of
individuals I am juggling with to-day. It's the life of a nation."

"Are you a spy?" Beverley asked him hoarsely.

"Your sister," Jocelyn Thew pointed out, "is waiting for us."



CHAPTER XX


Crawshay, having the good fortune to find, as he issued from his rooms, a
taxicab whose driver's ideas of speed were in accordance with his own
impatience, managed to reach the Savoy at a few minutes before eight. He
entered the hotel by the Court entrance. An insignificant-looking young man
with a fair moustache and watery eyes touched him on the shoulder as he
passed through the Court lobby. Crawshay glanced lazily around and assured
himself that they were unobserved.

"Anything fresh?" he asked laconically.

"Nothing. We have searched Miss Sharey's rooms thoroughly, and two of our
men have been over Thew's apartments again."

"Miss Sharey up-stairs?"

The young man shook his head.

"Hasn't been up for some hours," he reported.

Crawshay nodded and strolled on. He left his coat and hat in charge of the
attendant, and entered the grill room. Here, however, he met with
disappointment. The place was crowded but his search was methodical. There
was no sign there of Nora Sharey. He climbed the few stairs and entered the
smoking room. Seated in an armchair, reading a novel, he discovered the
young lady of whom he was in search.

He crossed the room at a slow saunter, as though on his way to the bar, and
paused before the girl's chair. She laid down her book and looked up at
him. Her smile at once assured him of a welcome.

"I am glad that I am not altogether forgotten, Miss Sharey," he said,
holding out his hand which she promptly accepted. "I suppose it still is
Miss Sharey, is it? I hope so."

"I guess the name's all right," she replied. "Glad to see you don't bear
any ill-will against me, Mr. Crawshay. You Englishmen sometimes get so
peevish when things don't go quite your way, and you weren't saying nice
things to me last time we met."

Crawshay smiled and glanced at the seat by her side. She made room for him,
and he subsided into the vacant space with a little sigh of content.

"A man's profession," he confided, "sometimes makes large and repugnant
demands upon him."

"If that means you are sorry you were rude to me last time we met down in
Fourteenth Street," she said, "I guess I may as well accept your apology.
You were a trifle disappointed then, weren't you?"

"We acted," Crawshay explained, with studied laboriousness,--"my friends
and I acted, that is to say--upon inconclusive information. America at that
time, you see, was a neutral Power, and the facilities granted us by the
New York police were limited in their character. My department was
thoroughly convinced that the--er--restaurant of which your father was the
proprietor was something more than the ordinary meeting place of that
section of your country-people who carried their enmity towards my country
to an unreasonable extent."

She looked at him admiringly.

"Say, you know how to talk!" she observed. "What about getting an innocent
girl turned out of a job at Washington, though?"

Crawshay stroked his long chin reflectively.

"You don't suppose," he began--

"Oh, don't yarn!" she interrupted. "I'm not squealing. You knew very well
that I'd no need to take a post as telephone operator, and you did your
duty when you got me turned off. It was very clever of you," she went on,
"to tumble to me."

Crawshay accepted the compliment with a smile.

"If you will permit me to say so, Miss Sharey," he declared, "you are what
we call in this country a good sportsman."

"Oh, I can keep on the tracks all right," she assented. "I guess I am a
little easier to deal with, for instance, than your friend Mr. Jocelyn
Thew."

Crawshay frowned. His expression became gloomier.

"I am bound to confess, Miss Sharey," he sighed, "that your friend Mr.
Jocelyn Thew has been the disappointment of my life."

"Some brains, eh?"

"He has brains, courage and luck," Crawshay pronounced. "Against these
three things it is very hard work to bring off--shall I say a _coup_?"

"The man who gets the better of Jocelyn Thew," she declared, with a little
laugh, "deserves all the nuts. He is a sure winner every time. You're up
against him now, aren't you?"

"More or less," Crawshay confessed. "I crossed on the steamer with him."

"I bet that didn't do you much good!"

"I lost the first game," Crawshay confessed candidly. "I see that you know
all about it."

"No need to put me wiser than I am," the girl observed carelessly. "Jocelyn
Thew's no talker."

"Not unless it serves his purpose. It is astonishing," Crawshay went on
reflectively, "how the science of detection has changed during the last ten
years. When I was an apprentice at it--and though you may not think it.
Miss Sharey, I am a professional, not an amateur, although I am generally
employed on Government business--secrecy was our watchword. We hid in
corners, we were stealthy, we always posed as being something we weren't.
We should have denied emphatically having the slightest interest in the
person under surveillance. In these days, however, everything is changed.
We play the game with the cards upon the table--all except the last two or
three, perhaps--and curiously enough, I am not at all sure that it doesn't
add finesse to the game."

Her eyes flashed appreciatively.

"You're dead right," she acknowledged. "Take us two, for instance. You know
very well that Jocelyn Thew is a pal of mine. You know very well that I
shall see him within the next twenty-four hours. You know very well that
you're out to hunt him to the death, and you know that I know it. Every
question you ask me has a purpose, yet we talk here just as chance
acquaintances might--I, a girl whom you rather like the look of--you do
like the look of me, don't you, Mr. Crawshay?"

Crawshay had no need to be subtle. His eyes and tone betrayed his
admiration.

"I have thoroughly disliked you ever since you were too clever for me in
New York," he confessed, "and I have been in love with you all the time."

"And you," she continued, with a little gleam of appreciation in her eyes,
"are a very pleasant-looking, smart, agreeable Englishman, who looks as
though he knew almost enough to ask a poor girl out to dinner."

Crawshay glanced at his wrist watch.

"It is you who have the science of detection," he declared. "You have read
my thoughts. Do you wish to change your clothes first, or shall we turn in
at a grill room?"

She rose promptly to her feet.

"I'm all for the glad rags," she insisted. "I bought a heap of clothes in
Bond Street this afternoon, and I don't know how many chances I shall have
of wearing them. I am a quick dresser, and I shan't keep you more than a
quarter of an hour. But just one moment first."

Crawshay stood attentively by her side.

"I am at your service," he murmured.

"It's all in the game," she went on, "for you to take me out to dinner, of
course, but I guess I needn't tell you that there's nothing doing in the
information way. You've fixed it up in your mind, I dare say, that I am mad
with Jocelyn Thew. I may be or I may not, but that doesn't make me any the
more likely to come in on your side of the game."

Mr. Crawshay's gesture was entirely convincing.

"My dear Miss Sharey," he said softly, "I am going to take a holiday.
Business is one thing and pleasure is another. For this evening I am going
to put business out of my mind. The sentiment at which I hinted a few
moments ago, has, I can assure you, a very real existence."

"Hinted?" she laughed. "Guess there wasn't much hint about it. You said you
were in love with me."

"I am," Crawshay sighed.

Her eyes danced joyously.

"You shall tell me all about it over dinner," she declared. "I've got a
peach of a black gown--you won't mind if I am twenty minutes?"

"I shall mind every moment that you are away," Crawshay replied, "but I can
pass the time. I will telephone and have a cocktail."

She leaned towards him.

"I can guess whom you are going to telephone to."

"Perhaps--but not what I am going to say."

"You are going to telephone to that chap with the dark
moustache--Brightman, isn't it? I can hear you on the wire. 'Say, boys,'
you'll begin, 'I'm on to a good thing! Everything's looking lovely. I'm
taking little Nora Sharey, of Fourteenth Street, out to dine--girl who came
over to Europe after Jocelyn Thew, you know. Good business, eh?'"

Crawshay laughed tolerantly. The girl's humour pleased him.

"You are wrong," he declared. "If I told them that, they'd expect something
from me which I know I shan't get. You are right about the person, though.
I am going to telephone to Brightman."

"What are you going to say?" she challenged him.

"I am just going to tell him," Crawshay confided, "that Jocelyn Thew is
dining with Miss Beverley and her brother, more red roses and a corner
table in the restaurant, and--"

"Well, what else?"

Crawshay hesitated.

"Perhaps," he said, "if I went on I might put just one card too many on the
table, eh?"

"We'll let it go at that, then," she decided. "After all, you know, I am
not coming exactly like a lamb to the slaughter. There are a few things
you'd like to get to know from me about Jocelyn Thew, but there are also a
few things I should like to worm out of you. We'll see which wins. And, Mr.
Crawshay."

"Miss Sharey?" he murmured, bending down to her as he held the door open.

"I don't mind confessing that it depends a great deal upon what brand of
champagne you fancy."

"_Mum cordon rouge_?" he suggested.

She made a little grimace as she turned away.

"I am rather beginning to fancy your chance," she declared.



CHAPTER XXI


Crawshay, about half an hour later, piloted his companion to the table
which he had engaged in the restaurant with all the _savoir faire_ of a
redoubtable man about town. She was, in her way, an exceedingly striking
figure in a black satin gown on which was enscrolled one immense cluster of
flowers. Her neck and arms, very fully visible, were irreproachable. Her
blue-black hair, simply arranged but magnificent, triumphed over the
fashions of the coiffeur. The transition from Fourteenth Street to her
present surroundings seemed to have been accomplished without the slightest
hitch. She leaned forward to smell the great cluster of white roses which
he had ordered in from the adjoining florist's.

"The one flower I love," she sighed. "I always fall for white roses."

Crawshay's eyes twinkled as he took his place.

"Do you remember your English history?" he asked. "This is perhaps destined
to become a battle of red and white roses--red roses at Claridge's and
white roses here."

"Which won--in history?" she asked indifferently.

"That I won't tell you," he said, "in case you should be superstitious. At
the same time, I am bound to confess that if we could both of us hear
exactly what Jocelyn Thew is saying to-night across those red roses, I
think perhaps that I should back the House of York."

"So that's the stunt, is it?" she remarked coolly. "You want to make me
jealous of Katharine Beverley?"

"The cleverest and hardest men in the world," Crawshay observed, "generally
meet with their Waterloo at the hands of your sex. So far as I am
concerned, I am myself in distress. I am jealous of Jocelyn Thew."

"You're bearing up!"

"I am bearing up," Crawshay rejoined, "because I am hoping that with
kindness and consideration, and with opportunity to prove to you what a
domestic and faithful person I am, you will perceive that of the two men I
am the more worthy."

"Think something of yourself, don't you?" she observed.

"I have cultivated this confidence," he told her. "In my younger days I was
over-diffident."

"Guess you're older than I thought you, then."

"I am thirty-seven years old," he declared, "and I was well brought up."

"Jocelyn Thew," she said reflectively, "is forty."

"I did not bring you here," he declared, "to discuss the age of my unworthy
rival. I brought you to tell me whether you consider that this _Lobster
Americaine_ reminds you at all of Delmonico's, and to prove to you that we
can, if we put our minds to it and speak plain and simple words to the
_sommelier_, serve our champagne as iced even as you like it."

Nora was not wanting in appreciation.

"It's the best thing I've had to eat since I left New York, and for some
time before that," she assured him. "There hasn't been much Delmonico's for
me during the last few months. Too many of your lot poking about Fourteenth
Street."

He nodded.

"After all," he said, "that was bound to come to an end when America
declared war. You people did the only wise thing--brother to San Francisco,
eh, your father to Chicago, and you over here?"

"You do know things," she laughed.

"I am a perfect dictionary as to your movements," he assured her.

"Have you anything to do with the fact that my rooms have been searched by
the police?" she asked abruptly.

"Indirectly I fear so," he confessed. "You see, up to the present we
haven't the least idea as to what has become of all those documents and
plans which Mr. Jocelyn Thew so very cleverly brought over to this
country."

"Don't know where he's tucked them away, eh?" she enquired.

"That's a fact," Crawshay confessed. "We discovered, a trifle too late, how
they were brought over, but what has become of them since Jocelyn Thew's
arrival in London we do not know. Every one concerned has been searched, no
deposit has been made at any hotel or in any of the ordinary places where
one might conceal securities. They have momentarily vanished."

The girl's eyes twinkled.

"Well," she exclaimed, "he does put it over you, doesn't he? I wonder
whether you think that I am going to be any use to you--that you'll trap
Jocelyn Thew through me?"

"Not now," he answered. "I used to think so once."

"Why have you changed your mind?"

"Because," he told her bluntly, "I used once to think that you and he cared
for one another."

"And now?"

"I have changed my mind," he admitted. "You know him so well that I need
not remind you that where women are concerned he seems to have shown few
signs of weakness. Personally, I have a theory that the time has come when
he is likely to go the way of all other men."

She leaned across the table. Those wonderful brown eyes of hers were lit
with an indescribable interest. Crawshay for a moment lost the thread of
his thoughts. They were certainly the most beautiful eyes he had ever
looked into.

"You think there is anything between those two--Katharine Beverley and
him?"

"The consideration of that point," Crawshay continued, resuming his usual
manner, "although it lies off the track of my present investigation,
presents some points of interest. She can be of no further use to him in
his present scheme. She certainly would not aid him in the concealment of
any of his spoils, nor could she become an intermediary in forwarding them
to their destination. Yet he has sent her roses every day she has been in
England, and dined with her two nights following. You, who know him better
than I do, will agree that such a course is unusual with him."

"But Dick Beverley is with them to-night, you told me," she reminded him.

"That scarcely alters the situation," Crawshay pointed out, "because his
coming was quite unexpected. If anything, it rather strengthens my point of
view. Beverley is very much a young man of the world, and he probably knows
Jocelyn Thew's reputation. He certainly would not consent to meet him in
this friendly fashion, in company with his sister, unless the latter
insisted."

"She doesn't need to insist," Nora said, watching the champagne poured into
her glass. "Unless you're kidding me, you don't seem to be able to see much
further than your nose. Katharine Beverley didn't come across the Atlantic
for her health, and Dick Beverley didn't join that little dinner party for
nothing to-night. They both of them did as they were told, and they had to
do it."

"This, I must confess," Crawshay murmured, smoothly and mendaciously,
"puzzles me. Your idea is, then, that Jocelyn Thew has some hold over
them?"

She laughed at him a little contemptuously.

"You are not going to make me believe," she said, "that you are not wise
about that. It isn't clever, you know, to treat me as a simpleton."

"I am afraid," he confessed humbly, "that it is I who am the simpleton. You
think, then, that the red roses are more emblematic of warfare than of
love?"

Nora shrugged her shoulders and was silent for several moments. Her
companion changed the subject abruptly, pointed out to her several
theatrical celebrities, told her an entertaining story, and talked nonsense
until the smile came back to her lips. It was Nora herself who returned to
the subject of the Beverleys, reopening it with a certain abruptness which
showed that it had never been far from her thoughts.

"See here, Mr. Crawshay," she said, "you seem to me to be wasting a lot of
time worrying round a subject, when I don't know whether a straightforward
question wouldn't clear it up for you. If you want to know what there is
between those three, Jocelyn Thew and the two Beverleys, I don't know that
I mind telling you. It's probably what you asked me to dine with you for,
anyway."

"My dear Miss Sharey!" Crawshay protested, with genuine earnestness. "I can
assure you that I had only one object in asking you to spend the evening
with me."

She smiled at him over the glass which she had just raised to her lips.

"And that?"

"The pleasure of talking to you--of being with you."

"You're easily satisfied."

"Perhaps not so easily as I seem," he whispered, leaning a little forward
in his place. "If only I were sure that you were not in love with Jocelyn
Thew!"

"If you think that I am," she observed, "why are you always slinging that
Beverley girl at me?"

"Perhaps," he said coolly, "to make you jealous. All's fair in love and
war, you know."

"I see. Then what you really want is to make love to me yourself? I'm
sitting here and taking notice. Go right ahead."

Crawshay let himself go for a few moments, and his companion listened to
him approvingly.

"It sounds quite like the real thing," she sighed, "but I never trust you
Englishmen. You seem to acquire the habit of talking love to us girls just
as easily as you drink a cocktail. You know that if I were to put my little
hand in yours this moment across the table, you wouldn't know what to do
with it."

"Try me," Crawshay begged.

She held it out--a long, rather thin, capable woman's hand, manicured a few
hours ago in the latest fashion, but ringless. Crawshay promptly raised it
to his lips. She snatched it away, half amused, half vexed, and glanced
furtively around.

"If you did that in an American restaurant," she told him, "you'd stand
some chance of getting yourself laughed at."

"It's quite the custom over here and on the Continent," he assured her
equably. "It means--well, just as much as you want it to mean."

She sighed and looked at her fingers reflectively.

"What you'd like me to tell you, then," she suggested, raising her eyes and
looking at him thoughtfully, "is that I've never wasted a thought on
Jocelyn Thew, but that Mr. Reginald Crawshay is it with a capital 'I'?"

"It would make me very happy," he assured her with much conviction.

She laughed at him very softly. Little sparks seemed to flash from her
eyes, and her teeth were wonderful.

"You're very nice, anyway," she declared, "although I am not sure that I
believe in you as much as I'd like to. I'll just tell you as much as I
know. It really doesn't amount to anything. It was just after Jocelyn Thew
had come back from Nicaragua and Dick Beverley was having a flare-up of his
own in New York. They came together, those two, when Dick was in a tight
corner. I don't know the story, but I know that Jocelyn Thew played the
white man. Dick Beverley owes him perhaps his life, perhaps only his
liberty, and his sister knows it. That's how those three stand to one
another."

"I ought to have puzzled that out myself," Crawshay said humbly.

"I am not so sure," she retorted drily, "that you didn't, long ago."

"Surmises are of very little interest by the side of facts," he reminded
her. "I like to have something solid to build upon."

She smiled at him appreciatively.

"If I were a sentimental sort of girl," she declared, "I could take a fancy
to you, Mr. Crawshay."

"Now you're laughing at me," he protested. "However, I'm going right on
with it and then we will dismiss all serious subjects. Miss Beverley has
certainly quit herself of any obligation to Jocelyn Thew. Richard Beverley
is no longer free. Besides, he has only a couple of days in England, so
there's very little chance of his being of use. Yet," he continued
impressively, "I happen to know that every hour just now is of the greatest
importance to Jocelyn Thew. Why does he spend another entire evening with
these two?"

"Say, which of us is the detective--you or me?" she demanded.

"Professionally, I suppose I am," he admitted. "Just now, however, I
consider myself as indulging in the relaxation of private life."

She leaned across the table towards him, her chin supported by her clenched
hands.

"Then relax all you want to," she begged, with a smile of invitation.
"We'll drop the other stunt, if you don't mind. And please remember, though
I've never enjoyed a dinner more in my life, that we don't want to be too
late for the Empire."

Crawshay returned to his rooms about one o'clock the next morning, with his
hat a little on the back of his head, and wearing, very much against his
prejudice, a white rose in his buttonhole. Brightman, who was awaiting him
there, looked up eagerly at his entrance.

"Any luck, Mr. Crawshay?"

Crawshay laid his hat and coat upon the table and mixed himself a whisky
and soda.

"I am not sure," he replied thoughtfully. "Are you any good at English
history, Brightman?"

"I won an exhibition in my younger days," the detective replied. "I used to
consider myself rather great on history."

"Who won the Wars of the Roses?"

"The Lancastrians, of course."

Crawshay nodded.

"They were the chaps with the red roses, weren't they?" he observed.
"Brightman, I fancy we are going to reverse that. I am laying five to one
that I've found out how Jocelyn Thew counts on getting his spoils into
Germany."



CHAPTER XXII


The dinner of the red roses, as though in emulation of its rival
entertainment, seemed on its way to complete success. Jocelyn Thew, from
whose manner there seemed to have departed much of the austerity of the
previous evening, had never been a more brilliant companion. He, who spoke
so seldom of his own doings, told story after story of his wanderings in
distant countries, until even Katharine lost her fears of the situation and
abandoned herself to the enjoyment of the moment. His tone was kindlier and
his manner more natural. He spoke with regret of Richard Beverley's
departure in a couple of days, and only once did he hint at anything in the
least disturbing.

"Wonderful feat, that of you flying men," he remarked, "dropping ten
thousand copies of Wilson's speech over the German lines. I am not sure
that it isn't rather a dangerous precedent, though."

"Why dangerous?" Katharine enquired.

"Because," he answered coolly, "it might suggest a possible means of
communication with Germany to a person, say, like myself."

"But you are not a flying man," Katharine reminded him.

He smiled.

"It would not be necessary," he observed, "for me to be my own messenger."

There was a brief and rather a blank silence. The shadow of a new fear had
arisen in Katharine's heart. The brother and sister exchanged quick
glances.

"I believe I am right," their host went on, a few minutes later, "in
presuming that you have told Richard here the details of our little
adventure upon the _City of Boston_?"

"I have told him everything," Katharine acknowledged. "You don't mind that,
do you? I felt that I had to."

"You were quite right," Jocelyn Thew assented. "There is no reason for you
to keep anything secret from Richard."

The young man was conscious of a sudden recrudescence of anger, the flaming
up again of his first resentment.

"The whole thing was a rotten business, Thew," he declared. "I should never
have resented your making use of me in any way you wished, but to make a
tool of Katharine--"

"My dear fellow," Jocelyn Thew interrupted, smoothly but with a dangerous
glitter in his eyes, "please don't go on. I have an idea that you were
going to say something offensive. Better not. Your sister came to no real
harm. She never ran any real risk."

"It depends upon the way you look at these things," the young man replied
gloomily. "Katharine tells me that she is watched at her hotel day and
night, and that she has come under the suspicion of the Government for
being concerned in this affair."

"That really isn't of much account," the other assured him. "You yourself,"
he went on, "came very nearly under suspicion once for something infinitely
more serious."

It was a chill note in the warmth of their festivities. Katharine glanced
reproachfully at her host, and he seemed to realise at once his lapse.

"Forgive me, both of you," he begged. "I fear that I am a little irritable
to-night. This constant espionage gets on one's nerves. Look at them all
around us,--Crawshay in the corner, trying his best to get something
incriminating out of Nora Sharey; Brightman smoking a cigar out there, with
his eyes wandering all the time through the glass screen towards this
table; and the young man who seemed to haunt your hotel, Miss
Beverley--Henshaw I believe his name is--you see him dining there with his
back turned ostentatiously towards us and a little pocket mirror by his
side. There are three pairs of eyes that scarcely ever leave us. I don't
know whether they expect me to produce my spoils from my pocket and lay
them upon the table, or whether one of them is a student of the lip
language and hopes to learn the secrets of our conversation. Bah! They are
very stupid, this professional potpourri of secret-service agents and
detectives. Can't you hear them, how they will whisper in the lobby after
we have left? 'Jocelyn Thew is entertaining a young Flying Corps man on
leave from the front, the brother of Miss Beverley, who has already helped
him. What does that mean?' Then they will put their fingers to their noses
and you, too, will probably be watched, Dick. They will congratulate
themselves upon possessing the subtlety of the Devil. They will see through
my scheme. They will say--'This young man is to drop the documents behind
the German lines!' Don't be alarmed, Richard, if you find a secret service
man in your bedroom when you get home to-night."

Katharine laughed almost joyously.

"Then you're not going to ask Dick to do anything of that sort?" she
demanded, her tone indicating an immense relief.

He smiled.

"I am not going to ask your brother to do anything which is so palpably
obvious," he replied. "His help I am certainly going to engage, but in a
manner which is very unlikely to bring trouble upon him. I promise you
that."

She suddenly leaned across the table. The cloud had passed from her
features, the dull weight from her heart. Her eyes were more eloquent even
than her tremulous lips.

"Mr. Thew," she said, "do you know that I have always had one conviction
about you, and that is that all these strange adventures in which you have
taken part--some of them, as you yourself have acknowledged, more
creditable than others--you have entered into chiefly from that spirit of
adventure, just the spirit in which Dick here," she added with a little
shiver, "made his mistake. Why can't you satisfy that part of your nature
as Dick is doing? This war, upon which we Americans looked so coldly at
first, has become almost a holy war, a twentieth-century crusade. Why don't
you join one of these irregular forces and fight?"

Then they both witnessed what they had never before seen in Jocelyn Thew.
They saw his eyes blaze with a sudden concentrated fury. They saw his lips
part and something that was almost a snarl transform and disfigure his
mouth.

"Fight for England?" he exclaimed bitterly. "I would sooner cut off my
right hand!"

His words left them at first speechless. He, too, after his little outburst
seemed shaken, lacking in his usual _sangfroid_. It was Katharine who first
recovered herself.

"But you are English?" she protested wonderingly.

"Am I?" he replied. "Will you forgive me if I beg you to change the
subject?"

The subject was effectually changed for them by the advent of some of
Richard Beverley's brothers in arms. It was some time before they passed
on. Then a little note almost of tragedy concluded the feast. A tall and
elderly man, gaunt, with sunken cheeks, silver-white hair, complexion
curiously waxen, and big, dark eyes, left the table where he had been
sitting with a few Americans and came over towards them. His advance was
measured, almost abnormally slow. His manner would have been melodramatic
but for its intense earnestness. He stood at their table for a few seconds
before speaking, his eyes fixed upon Jocelyn Thew's in a curious, almost
unnatural stare.

"You will forgive me," he said. "I must be speaking to Sir Denis Cathley?"

Neither of the two young people, who were filled with wonder at the strange
appearance of the newcomer, noticed Jocelyn Thew's sudden grip of the
tablecloth, the tightening of his frame, the ominous contraction of his
eyebrows as for a moment he sat there speechless. Then he was himself
again. He shook his head courteously.

"I am afraid," he replied, "that you must be making some mistake. My name
is Jocelyn Thew."

"And mine," the stranger announced, "is Michael Dilwyn. Is that name known
to you?"

"Perfectly well," Jocelyn Thew acknowledged. "I was present at the
production of your last play in New York. I have since read with much
regret," he went on courteously, "of the losses you have sustained."

The old man's wonderful eyes flashed for a moment.

"They are losses I am proud to endure, sir," he said. "But I did not come
to speak of myself. I came to speak to Sir Denis Cathley."

Jocelyn Thew shook his head.

"It is a likeness which deceives you," he declared.

"A likeness!" the other repeated. "Nine weeks ago I stood in a ruined
mansion--so dilapidated, in fact, that one corner of it is open to the
skies. I listened to the roar of the Atlantic as I heard it in the same
place fifty years ago. A herdsman and his wife, perhaps a girl or two, live
somewhere in the back quarters. The only apartment in any sort of
preservation is the one sometimes called the picture gallery and sometimes
the banqueting hall. You should visit this ruined mansion, sir. You should
visit it before you give me the lie when I call you Sir Denis Cathley."

Jocelyn Thew's hand for a moment shielded part of his face, as though he
found the electric light a little strong. From behind the shelter of his
palm his eyes met the eyes of his visitor. The latter suddenly turned and
bowed to Katharine.

"You will forgive an old man," he begged courteously, "who has seen much
trouble lately, for his ill manners. Perhaps your friend here, your friend
whose name is not Sir Denis Cathley, can explain to you why I felt some
emotion at the sight of so wonderful a likeness."

He bowed, murmured some broken words in reply to Katharine's kindly little
speech, and moved away. Jocelyn Thew's eyes watched him with a curious
softness.

"Yes," he acknowledged, "I can tell you why, if he really saw a likeness in
me to the person he spoke of, it might remind him of strange things. You
know him by name, of course--Michael Dilwyn?"

"He wrote the wonderful Sinn Fein play, 'The New Green,' didn't he?"
Katharine asked eagerly. "I heard you mention it to him. My aunt and I were
there at the first night."

"He wrote that and some more wonderful poetry. He has spent more than half
his life working for the cause of Ireland. He was the father and patriarch
of the last rising. One of his sons was shot at Dublin."

"And who is Sir Denis Cathley?"

"The Cathleys are another so-called revolutionary family," Jocelyn Thew
explained. "The late Sir Denis, the father of the man whom he supposed me
to be, was Michael Dilwyn's closest friend. They, too, have paid a heavy
price for their patriotism or their rebellious instincts, whichever way you
choose to look at the matter."

"I think," Katharine declared, "that Mr. Dilwyn is the most
picturesque-looking man I ever saw. I don't believe that even now he is
altogether convinced as to your identity."

"He has probably reached an age," was the cool reply, "when his memory
begins to suffer.--Ah! I see our friend Crawshay is taking counsel with
Henshaw. They are looking in this direction. Richard, my young friend, you
are in a bad way. Suspicion is beginning to fasten upon you. Believe me,
one of my parasites will be on your track to-night. I can almost convince
myself as to their present subject of conversation. They are preening
themselves upon having seen through my subtle scheme. I am very sure they
are asking themselves--'When is the transfer of documents to take place?'"

"It may all seem very humorous to you," the young man remarked, a little
sullenly, "but it leaves a sort of nasty flavour in one's mouth, all the
same. If they were to suspect me of trying to drop documents over the
German lines except under instructions, it would mean a court-martial, even
though they were unable to prove anything, and a firing party in five
minutes if they were."

"Take heart, my young friend," Jocelyn Thew advised him, "and do not refuse
the Courvoisier brandy which our saintly friend with the chain is
proffering. If it is not indeed a relic of the Napoleonic era, it is at
least drinkable. And listen--this may help you to drink it with zest--I am
not going to ask you to drop any documents over the German lines."

The thankfulness in Katharine's face was reflected in her brother's.

"Thank God for that!" he exclaimed, helping himself liberally to the
brandy. "You know I'd find it hard to refuse you anything, Thew, but there
are limits. Besides, you are never really out of sight there. We go out in
squadrons, and from the height we fly at nothing I could drop would be very
likely to reach its destination."

Jocelyn Thew smiled coldly.

"My dear Richard," he said, "I am not going to make you an unwilling
partner in any foolhardy scheme such as you are thinking of, because that
is just the Obvious thing that our friends who take so much interest in us
would expect and prepare for. All the same, there is just a trifling
commission which I will ask you to undertake for me, and which I will
explain to you later. When do you leave?"

"Ten o'clock train from Charing Cross on Monday night," the young man
replied. "I have to fly on Tuesday morning."

"Then if it pleases you we will all dine here that night," Jocelyn Thew
suggested, "and I will take you on to the Alhambra for an hour. Doctor Gant
and I were there our first night in town, and we found the performance
excellent. You will honour me, Miss Beverley?"

"I shall be delighted," she answered, "but I am not at all sure that you
will be able to get seats at the Alhambra."

"Why not?" he asked.

"There is a great benefit performance there on Monday night," she told him.
"The house is closed now for rehearsals. All the stalls have gone already,
and the boxes are to be sold by auction at the Theatrical Fête."

Jocelyn Thew was for a moment grave.

"I am very glad that you told me this," he said, "but I think that I can
nevertheless promise you the stage box for Monday night. I have a call on
it. We must all meet once more. It is just possible that I may have a
pleasant surprise for both of you."

"Do give us an idea what it is," she begged.

He shook his head. Somehow, since the coming of Michael Dilwyn, a tired
look had crept into his eyes. He seemed to have lost all his old vivacity.
He had paid the bill some time before and they strolled together now into
the lounge. Katharine was carrying half a dozen of the roses, which the
waiter had pressed into her hand.

"To-night," she said, looking up into his face and dropping her voice a
little, "I am feeling so much happier--happier than I have felt for a long
time. Why do you keep us both, Mr. Thew, in such a state of uneasiness? You
give us so little of your real confidence, so little of your real self.
Sometimes it seems as though you deliberately try to make yourself out a
harder, crueller person than you really are. Why do you do that?"

For a moment she fancied that the impossible had happened, that she had
penetrated the armour of that steadfast and studied indifference.

"We are all just a little the fools of circumstance," he sighed. "A will to
succeed sometimes, if it is strong enough, crushes out things we would like
to keep alive."

She thrust one of the blossoms which she was carrying through his
buttonhole.

"I know you will hate that," she whispered, "but you can take it out the
moment you have gotten rid of us. Dick and I are going on now, you know, to
the Esholt House dance. Shall I thank you for your dinner?"

"Or I you for your company?" he murmured, bowing over her fingers.

They took their leave, and Jocelyn Thew, almost as though against his will,
walked back into the foyer, after a few minutes of hesitation, and sat
there twirling the rose between his fingers, with his eyes fixed upon the
interior of the restaurant. He had the air of one waiting.



CHAPTER XXIII


Crawshay was awakened the next morning a little before the customary hour
by his servant, who held out a card.

"Gentleman would like a word with you at once, sir," the latter announced.

Crawshay glanced at the card, slipped out of bed, and, attired in his
dressing gown and slippers, made an apologetic entrance into the sitting
room. The young man who was waiting there received him kindly, but
obviously disapproved of the pattern of his dressing gown.

"Chief wants a word with you, sir," he announced. "He is keeping from ten
to ten-thirty."

"I will be there," Crawshay promised, "on the stroke of ten."

"Then I need not detain you further," his visitor remarked, making a
graceful exit.

Crawshay bathed, shaved and breakfasted, and at five minutes before ten
entered an imposing-looking building and sent up his card to a very great
man, who had a fancy for being spoken of in his department as Mr. Brown.
After a very brief delay, he was admitted to the august presence. Mr. Brown
waved his secretaries from the room, shook hands kindly with Crawshay and
motioned him to a chair close to his own.

"Mr. Crawshay," he said, "this is the first time I have had the pleasure of
meeting you, but we have received at various times excellent reports as to
your work at Washington."

"I am very pleased to hear it, sir."

"From what I gather as to the present situation, however," the great man
continued, "I imagine that you were more successful in the conventional
secret service work than you have been in the very grave business I have
sent for you to discuss."

"I should like to point out, sir," Crawshay begged, "that that foolish
journey to Halifax was undertaken entirely against my convictions. I
protested at the time! Neither had I any confidence in the summons to
Chicago."

Mr. Brown took the circumstance into gracious consideration.

"I am glad to hear that," he said, "and I must admit that your recovery was
almost brilliant. A sense of humour," he went on, "sometimes obtrudes
itself into the most serious incidents, and the idea of your boarding that
steamer from a seaplane and then getting to work upon your investigations
will always remain to me one of the priceless unrecorded incidents of the
war. But to put the matter into plain words, our enemies got the better of
you."

"Absolutely," was the honest confession.

"There is no doubt," the right honourable gentleman continued, "that the
person who took charge of this affair is exceedingly clever. He appears to
have resource and daring. Personally, I, like you, never believed for a
moment that the whole of the records of German espionage in America for the
last three years, would be found upon the same steamer as that by which the
departing ambassadorial staff travelled. However, I can quite see that
under the circumstances you had to yield to the convictions of those who
were already in charge of the affair."

"You have had full reports, sir, I suppose?" Crawshay asked. "You know the
manner in which the documents were brought into this country?"

"A ghastly business," Mr. Brown acknowledged, "ingenious but ghastly. Yes,
Mr. Crawshay," he went on, "I think I have been kept pretty well posted up
till now. I have sent for you because I am not sure whether one point has
been sufficiently impressed upon you. As you are of course aware, there are
many documents and details connected with this propaganda which are of
immense value to the police of New York, but there is just one--a letter
written in a moment of impulse by one great personage to another, and
stolen--which might do the cause of the Allies incalculable harm if it were
to fall into the wrong hands."

"I had a hint of this, sir. Mason knew of it, too. His idea was that they
would be quite willing to destroy all the rest of the treasonable stuff
they have, if they could be sure of getting this one letter through."

"The documents have been in England now," Mr. Brown observed, "for some
days. Have you formed any theory at all as to where they may be concealed?"

"To be perfectly frank," Crawshay confessed, "I have not. Doctor Gant,
Jocelyn Thew, a young woman called Nora Sharey, and Miss Beverley are the
four people possibly implicated in their disappearance, although of these
two I consider Miss Sharey and Miss Beverley out of the question.
Nevertheless, their rooms and every scrap of property they possess have
been searched thoroughly, and their movements since they arrived in London
are absolutely tabulated. Not one of them has written a letter or
dispatched a parcel which has not been investigated, nor have they made a
call or even entered a shop without being watched. It seems absolutely
impossible that they can have taken any steps towards the disposal of the
documents since Jocelyn Thew arrived in London."

"Have they given any indication of their future plans?"

"Doctor Gant," Crawshay replied, "has booked a passage back in the American
boat which sails for Liverpool early to-morrow morning. We shall escort him
there, and his effects will be searched once more in Liverpool. Otherwise,
we have no intention of detaining him. He and Miss Beverley were simply the
tools of the other man."

"And the other man?"

"He has shown no signs of making any move whatsoever. He lives, to all
appearance, the perfectly normal life of a man of leisure. I understand
that he is entirely a newcomer to this sort of business, but he is, without
a doubt, the most modern thing in secret service. He lives quite openly at
a small suite in the Savoy Court. He never makes the slightest concealment
about any of his movements. We know how he has spent every second of his
time since we first took up the search, and I can assure you that there is
not a single suspicious incident recorded against him."

"You are satisfied," Mr. Brown asked, "with the aid which you are getting
from Scotland Yard?"

"Absolutely," Crawshay declared. "Brightman, too--the man who came down
with me from Liverpool--has done excellent work."

"And notwithstanding all this," was the somewhat grave criticism, "you have
not the slightest idea where these documents are to be found?"

"Not the slightest," Crawshay confessed. "All that I do feel convinced of
is that they have not left the country."

The great man leaned back a little wearily in his chair. There were some
decoded cables, lying under a paper weight by his side, imploring him in
the strongest possible terms to make use of every means within his power to
solve this mystery,--a personal appeal from a man whose good will might
sway the balance of the future. He was used to wonderful service in every
department he controlled. His present sense of impotence was galling.

"Tell me, Mr. Crawshay," he asked, "how long was the gap of time between
your losing sight of Jocelyn Thew and when you picked him up in London?"

"Very short indeed," was the emphatic reply. "Jocelyn Thew must have left
the _City of Boston_ at about eight o'clock on Monday morning. He met Gant
at five o'clock that evening at Crewe station. Gant had come direct from
Frisby, the little village near Chester where he had left the body of
Phillips. It is obvious, therefore, that Gant had the papers with him when
he joined Jocelyn Thew. They travelled to London together but parted at
Euston, Gant going to a cheap hotel in the vicinity of Regent Street,
whilst Thew drove to the Savoy. Gant called at the Savoy Hotel at nine
o'clock that evening, and the two men dined together in the grill room and
took a box at a music hall--the Alhambra. Up to this time neither of them
had received a visitor or dispatched a message--Thew, in fact, had spent
more than an hour in the barber's shop. They returned from the Alhambra
together, went up to Thew's rooms, had a drink and separated half an hour
later. This, of course, is in a sense posthumous information, but Scotland
Yard have it tabulated down to the slightest detail, and we are unable to
find a single suspicious circumstance in connection with the movements of
either man. At four o'clock the following morning, when both men were
asleep in their rooms, the cordon was drawn around them. Since then they
haven't had a chance."

"The fact that the papers are not in the possession of either of them," Mr.
Brown said reflectively, "proves that they made some move of which you have
no record."

"Precisely," Crawshay agreed, "but it must have been a move of so slight a
character that chance may reveal it to us at any moment."

"Describe Jocelyn Thew to me," Mr. Brown begged.

"He has every appearance," Crawshay declared, "of being a man of breeding.
He is scarcely middle-aged--tall and of athletic build. He dresses well,
speaks well, and I should take him anywhere for an English public school
and college man."

"Did New York give you his record?"

"In a cloudy sort of way. He seems to have had a most interesting career,
ranching out West, fighting in Mexico, fighting in several of the Central
American states, and fighting, I shrewdly suspect, against England in South
Africa. He seems to have been a sort of stormy petrel, and to have turned
up in any place where there was trouble. In New York the police always
suspected him of being connected with some great criminal movements, but
they were never able to lay even a finger upon him. He lived at one of the
best hotels in the city, disappeared sometimes for days, sometimes for
weeks, sometimes for a year, but always returned quite quietly, with
apparently any amount of money to spend, and that queer look which comes to
a man who has been up against big things."

"He is an Englishman, I suppose?"

"He must be. His accent and manners and appearance are all unmistakable."

"How long was he suspected of being in the pay of our enemies before this
thing transpired?"

"Only a very short time. There was a little gang in New York--Rentoul, the
man who had the wireless in Fifth Avenue, was in it--and they used to meet
at a place in Fourteenth Street, belonging to an old man named Sharey.
That's where Miss Sharey comes into the business. There were some queer
things done there, but they don't concern this business, and New York has
the records of them."

"Jocelyn Thew," Mr. Brown repeated slowly to himself. "Where did you say he
was staying?"

"At the Savoy Court."

Mr. Brown looked fixedly at the cables, fluttering a little in the breeze
which blew in through the half-open window.

"All this isn't very encouraging, Mr. Crawshay," he sighed.

"Up to the present no," the former admitted. "Yet I can promise you one
thing, sir. Those papers shall not leave the country."

"I am glad to hear you speak with so much confidence," Mr. Brown observed
drily. "Mr. Jocelyn Thew seems at any rate to have managed to secrete them
without difficulty."

"That may be so," Crawshay acknowledged, "and yet I am convinced of one
thing. They are disposed of in some perfectly obvious way, and within the
next forty-eight hours he will make some effort to repossess himself of
them. If he does, he will fail."

Mr. Brown glanced at his watch.

"I am very much obliged to you for coming to see me," he said. "You are
doing your best, I know, and I beg you, Mr. Crawshay, never for a moment to
let your efforts relax. The mechanical side of the watch that is being kept
upon these people I know we can rely upon, but you must remember that you
are the brains of this enterprise. Your little band of watchers will be
quiet enough to see the things that happen and the things that exist. It is
you who must watch for the things which don't happen."

Crawshay smiled slightly as he rose to take his leave.

"I do not as a rule suffer from over-confidence, sir," he said, "but I
think I can promise you that by Wednesday night not only will the papers be
in our hands, but Mr. Jocelyn Thew will be so disposed of that he will be
no longer an object of anxiety to us."

"Get on with the good work, then," was Mr. Brown's laconic farewell.

Late on the following afternoon, Jocelyn Thew and Gant paced the long
platform at Euston, by the side of which the special for the American boat
was already drawn up. Curiously enough, in their immediate vicinity Mr.
Brightman was also seeing a friend off, and on the outskirts of the little
throng Mr. Henshaw was taking an intelligent interest in the scene.

"Perhaps, after all," Jocelyn Thew declared, "you are right to go. You have
been very useful, and you have, without a doubt, earned your thousand
pounds."

"It was easy money," the other admitted, "but even now I am nervous. I
shall be glad to be back once more in my own country."

"You are certainly right to go," the other repeated. "If you had been
different, if you had been one of those men after my own heart," Jocelyn
Thew went on, resting his hand for a moment upon Gant's shoulder, "one of
those who, apart from thought of gain or hope of profit, love adventure for
its own sake, I should have begged you to stay with me. I would have sent
you on bogus errands to mysterious places. I would have twisted the brains
of those who have fastened upon us in a hundred different fashions. But
alas, my friend, you are not like that!"

"I am not," Gant admitted, gruffly but heartily. "I have done a job for
you, and you have paid me very well. I am glad to have done it, because I
love Germany and I do not love England. Apart from that my work is
finished. I like to go home. I am happiest with my wife and family."

"Quite so," his companion agreed. "I know your type, Gant,--in fact, I
chose you because of it. You like, as you say, to do your job and finish
with it,--and you have finished."

The doctor turned for a moment deliberately round and looked at his
companion. He was a heavy-browed, unimaginative, quiet-living man. The
things which passed before his eyes counted with him, and little else. The
thousand pounds which he was taking home was more than he had been able to
save throughout his life. To him it represented immense things. He would
probably not spend a dollar more, or indulge in a single luxury, yet the
money was there in the background, a warm, comforting thing.

"You have still," he said, "a desperate part to play. Can you tell me
honestly that you enjoy it, that you have no fear?"

Jocelyn Thew repeated the word almost wonderingly.

"Fear! Do you really know me so little, my friend of few perceptions?
Listen and I will confess something. I have fought for my life at least a
dozen times, fought against odds which seemed almost hopeless. I have seen
death with hungry, outstretched arms, within a few seconds' reach of me,
but I have never felt fear. I do not know what it is. The length of one's
life is purely a relative thing. It will come in ten or twenty years, if
not to-morrow. Why not to-morrow?"

"If you put it like that," Gant grunted, "why not to-day?"

"Or at any moment, if you will. I am quite ready, as ready as I ever shall
be. If I fail to bring off what I desire within the next few days, there
will be an end of me. Do I look as though I were worrying about that?"

"You don't indeed," the doctor agreed. "You ought to have been in my
profession. You might have become the greatest surgeon in the world."

Jocelyn Thew shrugged his shoulders.

"Even that is possible," he admitted. "Unfortunately, there was a cloud
over my early days, a cloud heavy enough even to prevent my offering my
services to the world through the medium of any of the recognized
professions. So you see, Gant, I had to invent one of my own. What would
you call it, I wonder?--Buccaneer? Adventurer? Explorer? Perhaps my enemies
would find a more unkind word.--Now you had better step in and take your
seat. Behold the creatures of our friend Brightman and the satellites of
the aristocratic Crawshay close in upon us! They listen for farewell words.
Is this your carriage? Very well. Here comes your porter, hungry for
remuneration. Shall I give them a hint, Gant?"

There flashed in the hunted man's eyes for a moment a gleam of almost
demoniacal humour.

Gant glowered at him. "You are mad!" he exclaimed.

"Not I, my dear friend," Jocelyn Thew assured him, as he gripped his hand
in a farewell salute. "Believe me, it is not I who am mad. It is these
stupid people who search for what they can never find. They lift up the
Stars and Stripes and find nothing. They lift up the Union Jack; again
nothing. They try the Tricolour; _rien de tout_. But if they have the sense
to try the Crescent--eh, Gant?--Well, a safe voyage to you, man. Sleep in
your waistcoat, and remember me to every one in New York. I can't promise
when I shall be back. I have taken a fancy to England. Still, one never
knows.--Good-by."

Thew watched the long train crawl out of the station, waved his hand in
farewell, forced a greeting upon the reluctant Brightman, whom he passed
examining the magazines upon a bookstall, and, summoning a taxi, was duly
deposited at the Alhambra Theatre. He made his way to the box office.

"I have called," he explained to the young man, "to see you about Box A on
Monday night. I understand that there is a benefit performance."

"Quite so, sir," the young man replied, "and I ought to have explained the
matter to you at the time, when you engaged the box. If you will remember,
although you took it for a week, you only paid for five nights. I omitted
to tell you that for Monday night the box is not ours to dispose of."

"It isn't yet sold, I hope?"

"Not yet, sir. The boxes will be disposed of by auction to-morrow afternoon
at the Theatrical Garden Party. Mr. Bobby is going to act as auctioneer."

"I see," Jocelyn Thew said thoughtfully. "The performance is, I believe, on
behalf of the Red Cross?"

"That is so."

"In that case, supposing I offer you now one hundred guineas for the box?"

"Very generous indeed, sir," the young man admitted, "but we are pledged to
allow all the boxes to be sold by Mr. Bobby. I think that if you are
prepared to go to that sum, you will have no difficulty in securing it."

Jocelyn Thew frowned slightly.

"I wasn't thinking of going to the Theatrical Garden Party," he remarked.

"You could perhaps get a friend to bid for you, sir," the young man
suggested. "We hope to get fifty guineas for the large boxes, but I should
think an offer such as yours would secure any one of them."

"I rather dislike the publicity of an auction," Jocelyn Thew observed, as
he turned to take his leave. "However, if charity demands it, I suppose one
must waive one's prejudices."

He strolled out and hesitated for a moment on the pavement. A curious
change had taken place in what a few hours ago had seemed to be a perfect
summer day. The clouds were thick in the sky, a few drops of rain were
already falling, and a cold wind, like the presage of a storm, was bending
the trees in the square. For a single moment he was conscious of an
unsuspected weakness. A wave of depression swept in upon him. An
unreasoning premonition of failure laid a cold hand upon his heart. He met
the careless gaze of an apparent loiterer who was studying the placards
without derision, almost with apprehension. Then he ground his heel into
the pavement and re-entered his taxicab.

"Savoy," he directed.



CHAPTER XXIV


Captain Richard Beverley, on his way through the hotel smoking room to the
Savoy bar, stopped short. He looked at the girl who had half risen from her
seat on the couch with a sudden impulse of half startled recognition. Her
little smile of welcome was entirely convincing.

"Why, it's Nora Sharey!" he exclaimed. "Nora!"

"Well, I am glad you've recognised me at last," she said, laughing. "I
tried to make you see me last night in the restaurant, but you wouldn't
look."

He seemed a little dazed, even after he had saluted mechanically, held her
hand for a moment and sank into the place by her side.

"Nora Sharey!" he repeated. "Why, it was really you, then, dining last
night with that fellow Crawshay?"

"Of course it was," she replied, "and I recognised you at once, even in
your uniform."

"You know that Jocelyn Thew is here? You saw him with us last night?"

"Yes, I know."

"Stop a moment," Richard Beverley went on. "Let me think, Nora. Jocelyn
Thew must have seen you dining with Crawshay. How does that work out?"

"He doesn't mind," she replied. "Let that stuff alone for a time. I want to
look at you. You're fine, Dick, but what does it all mean?"

"I couldn't stick the ranch after the war broke out," he confessed. "I
moved up into Canada and took on flying."

"You are fighting out there in France?"

"Have been for six months. Some sport, I can tell you, Nora. I've got a
little machine gun that's a perfect daisy. Gee! I've got to pull up. The
hardest work we fellows have sometimes is to remember that we mustn't talk
about our job. They used to call me undisciplined. I'm getting it into my
bones now, though.--Why, Nora, this is queer! I guess we're going to have a
cocktail together, aren't we?"

She nodded. He called to a waiter and gave an order. Then he turned and
looked at her appreciatively.

"You're looking fine," he declared.

She smiled with pleasure at the undoubted admiration in his tone. In the
new and fashionable clothes which she had purchased during the last few
days, the artistically coiffured hair, the smart hat and
carefully-thought-out details of her toilette, she was a transformed being,
in no way different from the half a dozen other young ladies who were
gathered with their escorts at the further end of the room.

"I am glad you think so," she replied. "Seems to me I've had nothing else
to do since I got here but buy frocks and things."

He looked at her in a puzzled fashion.

"You didn't come over with Jocelyn Thew, did you, Nora?" "Of course I
didn't," she answered indignantly. "If you want to know the truth, it
looked as though there was going to be trouble at Fourteenth Street. Dad
made a move out West, and I had a fancy for making a little trip this way."

"Kind of lonesome, isn't it?" he asked.

"In a way," she sighed. "Still, I am going on presently to where I fancy I
shall meet a few friends."

"And meanwhile," he remarked, "you are still friendly with Jocelyn Thew,
and you dined last night, didn't you, with the man who has sworn to hunt
him down?"

She shrugged her shoulders.

"You know what I think of Jocelyn Thew," she said. "I'm crazy about him,
and always shall be, but I've never seen him look twice at a woman yet in
his life, and never expect to. Dick!"

"Yes, Nora?"

"May I ask you a question--straight?"

"Of course!"

"Don't think I mean to say a word against Jocelyn Thew. He's a white man
through and through, and I think if there was any woman in the world he
cared for, she would be his slave. But he's a desperate man. Even now the
police are trying to draw their net around him. It was all very well for
you, when you were painting New York red, to choose your friends where it
pleased you, but your sister--she's different, isn't she?--what they call
over on our side a society belle. I am not saying that there is a single
person in the world too good for Jocelyn Thew to sit down with, but at the
present moment--well, he's hard up against it. Things might happen to him,
you know, Dick."

For a moment the young man was silent. His eyes seemed to look through the
walls of the room, seemed to conjure up some spectre from which a moment
later he shrank.

"You see, Nora," he explained, dropping his voice a little, "there was just
one time when Jocelyn Thew stood by me like a brick. I was hard up against
it and he saved me."

She leaned a little closer to him.

"I have often wondered," she murmured. "That was the affair down at the
Murchison country house, wasn't it?"

Richard Beverley assented silently.

"Guess we'll drink these cocktails," he said, watching the waiter approach.
"Flying takes something out of you all the time, you know, Nora, and
although when I am up my nerves are like a rock, I sometimes feel a little
shaky at leave time."

"Drink?" she asked tersely.

"I've quit that more or less," he assured her. "Still, I have been taking
some these last few days. Finding Katharine over here with Jocelyn Thew
hanging around gave me kind of a shock."

"You weren't best pleased to see them together, I should think, were you?"

"No," he admitted, a little sullenly.

"You're angry with him, aren't you?"

"Kind of," he confessed. "I wouldn't have complained at anything he'd asked
me to do, but it was a low-down trick to get Katharine into this trouble."
His eyes shone out with a dull anger. She watched him curiously.

"Dick, you're not the boy you were," she sighed. "Guess you're sorry you
ever came to that supper party at the Knickerbocker, aren't you?"

He turned and looked at her. He was only twenty-two years old, but there
were things in his face from which a man might have shrunk.

"Yes, I am sorry," he confessed. "I am not blaming anybody but I shall be
sorry all my life."

"Jocelyn Thew treated you very much as he did me," she went on. "He carried
you off your feet. You thought him the most wonderful thing that ever
lived. It was the same with me. He has never given as much of himself as
his little finger, never even looked at me as though I were a human being,
but I'd have scrubbed floors for him a month after we first met. It was
just the same with you, only you were a man. You'd have committed murder
for his sake, a week after that party."

"Murder!"

He gave a sudden start, a start that amazed her. His hand was upon her
shoulder. His eyes, red with fury, were blazing into hers.

"What's that you're saying, Nora? What's that?"

She was speechless, paralysed by that little staccato cry. A group of
people near looked around. She laughed shrilly to cover the intensity of
the moment.

"No need to get excited!" she exclaimed. "Pull yourself together," she went
on, under her breath. "Waiter, two more cocktails." He recovered himself
almost at once, but the strained look was there about his mouth.

"Nerves, you see," he muttered. "I shall be all right again when I get back
to France."

She laid her hand gently upon his arm.

"Dick," she said, "you are often upon my conscience. You were such a nice
boy, back in those days. Everything that's happened to you seems to have
happened since you met Jocelyn Thew that night. He has got some sort of a
hold, hasn't he? What is it?"

The young man moistened his dry lips. The waiter brought their cocktails
and he drank his greedily.

"I'll tell you, Nora," he promised. "Perhaps it'll do me good to listen how
the story sounds as I tell it. First of all, let us have the thing
straight. Jocelyn Thew never helped me into trouble. I was in it, right up
to the neck, when I met him."

"You kept it to yourself," she murmured curiously.

"Because I was a fool," he answered, "and because I believed I could pull
things straight. But anyway, I was owing Dan Murchison seventy thousand I'd
lost at poker. He was kind of shepherding me. He was a rough sort, Dan, and
he had an ambitious wife, and I had a name he liked. Well, he was giving a
week-end party down at that place of his on the Hudson. He asked me, or
rather he ordered me down. I was only too glad to go. Then Mrs. Murchison
chipped in--wanted my sister, wanted to put it in the paper. Katharine
kicked, of course. So did I. Murchison for the first time showed his
teeth--and we both went. Jocelyn Thew was another of the guests."

"Tough, wasn't it?"

"Hell! On the way down--I don't know why, but I was feeling pretty
desperate--I told Jocelyn Thew how I stood with Murchison. He listened but
he didn't say much. He never does. It was a rotten party--common people,
one or two professional gamblers, a lot of florid, noisy, overdressed,
giggling women. After the women were supposed to have gone to bed, we sat
down to what Dan Murchison called a friendly game--a hundred dollars ante,
and a thousand rise. Jocelyn Thew played, three other men, and Murchison.
After about an hour of it, I'd lost over twenty thousand dollars. The
others had it between them, except Jocelyn, and about his play there was a
very curious thing. He put in his ante regularly when it came to him, but
he never made a single bet. Murchison turned to him once.

"'Say, you must be having rotten cards, Mr. Thew,' he said.

"Jocelyn shook his head very deliberately. I can hear his reply even now.
Kind of quiet it was and deliberate.

"'I don't fancy my chances of winning at this game.'

"I knew what he meant later. I didn't tumble to it at the time. We played
till two o'clock. God knows how much I'd lost! Then Murchison called the
game off. He locked up his winnings in a little safe let into the wall. I
was standing by him, drinking, and I saw the combination. Jocelyn Thew was
sitting quite by himself, as though deep in thought.--We all got up to bed
somehow. I sat for some hours at the open window. Pretty soon I got sober,
and I began to realise what had happened. And all the time I thought of
that safe, chock full of money, and the combination ready set. I heard
Katharine moving about in her room, and I knew that she was waiting for me
to go and say good night. I wouldn't. I put on a short jacket instead of my
dress coat, and I took an electric torch out of my dressing case and I went
down-stairs. I'd made up my mind, Nora. I meant to rob that safe."

She was carried away by his narrative. He had let himself go now, speaking
in short, quick sentences. Yet his plain words seemed to paint with a
marvellous vividness the story he told. It seemed to her that she could see
it all, could realise what he went through.

"Go on, Dick," she whispered. "I understand."

"Well, I got down into the room all right, and I got the safe open, and
there was the money, and, right facing me, my letters and bonds, and pretty
well a hundred thousand dollars in cash. And then I saw the lights flare
up, and Murchison was there in his shirt and trousers.

"'So that's your game, is it, Richard Beverley?' he said.

"There were two of the others with him who'd been playing cards. There they
were, three strong men, and I was a thief! I felt limp. I hadn't an ounce
of resistance in me. Murchison stood there, showing his ugly teeth, his
small eyes full of anger.

"'So you're a thief, are you, Richard Beverley?' he went on.

"I couldn't speak. At that moment they could have done just what they liked
with me. And then the door opened very quietly and closed again. Jocelyn
Thew came in. I saw Murchison's face. I tell you, Nora, it was something
you wouldn't forget in a hurry.

"'Is anything wrong?' Jocelyn Thew asked calmly.

"One of the guests pointed to Murchison and me.

"'We heard footsteps,' he explained. 'Dan called me and I followed him
down. Young Beverley there was at the safe.'

"'Probably helping himself,' Jocelyn said, in that same smooth, dangerous
tone, 'to his own money.'

"'To what?' Murchison cried.

"'To his own money,' Jocelyn repeated, coming a little nearer. 'You know,
Murchison, well enough what I mean--you and your two confederates here.
You're nothing more nor less than common card sharpers. I took a pack of
your cards up-stairs. I needn't say anything more. I think you'd better
give the boy back his money. I meant to wait until to-morrow. Fate seems to
have anticipated me. How much did you lose, Richard?'

"Dan Murchison strode up to him and I saw one of the other men go for his
hip pocket.

"'Will you take that back?' Murchison demanded.

"'Not on your life!' Thew replied.

"Murchison went for him, but he hadn't a dog's chance. I never saw such a
blow in my life. Jocelyn hit him on the point of the chin and he went over
like a log--cut his head against the fender. He lay there groaning, and
I--I swear to you, Nora, that I'm not a coward, but I couldn't move--my
knees were shaking. The two of them went for Jocelyn, and before they could
get there the door opened and a third man came in--Jake Hannaway, the most
dangerous of the lot. Jocelyn kept the other two off and half turned his
head towards me, where I was standing like a gibbering, nerveless lunatic.

"'I think you'd better take a hand, Richard,' he said."

Nora gasped a little and laid her hand upon his sleeve.

"Don't, Dick," she begged,--"not for a moment. I can't bear it. Just a
moment."

She clutched at the side of the settee. Richard Beverley simply sat still,
looking through the walls of the room. There was not the slightest change
in his face. He just waited until Nora whispered to him. Then he went on.

"I won't tell you about the fight," he said. "I wasn't much use at first.
Jocelyn was there, taking two of them on, and butting in sometimes against
Hannaway, who'd tackled me. Then I began to get my strength back, and I
think I should have settled Hannaway, but the door opened softly and I saw
Katharine's face. She gave a little shriek, and Jake Hannaway got me just
at the back of the head. I was pretty well done in, but Thew suddenly swung
round and caught Jake Hannaway very nearly where he had hit Murchison. Down
he went like a log. I stood there swaying. I can see the room now--a table
overthrown, glasses and flower vases all over the floor, and those two men
looking as though they meant to murder Thew. They rushed at him together.
He dodged one, but his strength was going. Then for the first time he
sprang clear of them, got his back to the wall.--I won't spin it out--he
shot one of them through the shoulder. The other one had had enough and
tried to bolt. Jocelyn Thew was just too quick for him. He flung a heavy
candlestick and got him somewhere on the neck. There they all were
now--Murchison sitting up and dabbing his face, half conscious, one of the
others groaning and streaming with blood, the other lying--just as though
he were dead. Jocelyn turned and spoke to Katharine--I can hear his voice
now--I swear, Nora, there wasn't a quaver in it--

"'I am afraid, Miss Beverley,' he said, 'that your brother has unwittingly
brought you into a den of thieves. I had my suspicions, and my car, instead
of being at the garage, is under the shrubs there. One moment.'

"He stepped out into the hall, brought a coat and threw it around her. Then
he turned to me.

"'Empty the safe, Richard,' he ordered.

"I obeyed him. There was all the money I owed Murchison there, and a lot of
other stuff. We stepped out of the French windows. Jocelyn moved the leg of
one of those men on one side and held the window open for Katharine to pass
through. I tell you he set the switch and started his car without a tremor.
Katharine was nearly fainting. I was still fogged. He drove us into New
York with scarcely a word. It was daylight when we reached our house in
Riverside Drive. He drove up to the front door.

"'Perhaps if you don't mind, Richard,' he said, 'you could lend me an
overcoat. People are quite content to accept us as night joy-riders, but I
am scarcely respectable for anything in the shape of a close examination.'

"Then I saw that he was all over blood on one side. Katharine took him away
and sponged him, although he laughed at it. Then he had me in the study and
together we went through the stuff we'd brought away. He made me keep what
Murchison had done me out of, and the rest he made into a packet, addressed
ready for posting and left it on the table.

"'For anything else that may happen, Dick,' he said, 'we must take our
chance. I have had my suspicions of that man Murchison for a long time. My
own opinion is that we shall hear nothing more about the matter.'"

Nora turned and looked at her companion with big, startled eyes.

"But it was Jake Hannaway," she exclaimed, "whom they accused of making a
row!"

He stopped her, without impatience but firmly.

"Jake Hannaway died the next day," he said. "I must have hit him harder
than I thought--or Jocelyn did! He had no relatives, no friends. Murchison
put the whole trouble down to him, admitted that there was a row over a
game of cards, and a free fight. The other two swore to exactly the same
story. Our names--mine and Jocelyn's, were never brought in. Murchison
never came near me again. I have never seen him since. That's the whole
story."

"What about the police examination?" she asked curiously. "I know no more
than you do," he replied. "I expect Murchison had a pull, and he was
terrified of Jocelyn Thew. I--I went to Jake Hannaway's funeral," the young
man went on, with a slight quiver in his tone. "I've seen his face, Nora,
up in the clouds. I've seen it when I've been flying ten thousand feet up.
Suddenly a little piece of black sky would open and I'd see him looking
down at me!"

There was a brief silence. From somewhere through the repeatedly opened
swing doors came the rise and fall of music, played from a distant
orchestra. There were peals of laughter from a cheerful party at the other
end of the little room. Nora patted her companion's arm gently, and his
eyes and manner became more natural.

"It's done me good to tell you this," he said, half apologetically.
"Katharine's the only other living creature I've dared to speak to about
it, and she was there--she saw! Nora, that man can fight like a tiger!"

"Hush!" she whispered. "Here he comes."

The swing door was opened and Jocelyn Thew, back from his visit to the box
office at the Alhambra, entered the room. He raised his eye brows a little
as he saw the pair. Then he advanced towards them.

"Do you know, for the moment I had quite forgotten," he confided, as he
sank into an easy-chair by their side. "Of course, you two are old
acquaintances."

Nora murmured something. Richard Beverley rose to his feet.

"Well, I'd better be getting along," he said. "It's been fine to see you
again, Nora," he added, taking her hand in his. "See you later, Thew."

He nodded with something of his old jauntiness and swung out of the room.
They both watched him in silence.

"Not quite the young man he was," Jocelyn Thew observed thoughtfully. "Is
it my fancy, I wonder, or does he drink a few too many cocktails when he is
on leave?"

"Richard Beverley's all right," Nora answered. "He is more sensitive than
he seems, and there's an ugly little corner in his life to live down. He is
doing the best he can to atone. Jocelyn," she went on, with a sudden
earnestness in her tone, "you're going to leave him alone, aren't you? You
haven't any scheme in your head for making use of him?"

"One never knows," was the cool reply.

She looked at him curiously.

"Jocelyn," she said, "you're a hard man. You set your hand to a task and
you don't care whom in the world you sacrifice to gain your end. You were a
fine friend to Richard Beverley once, but surely his sister has done her
best to pay his debt? Don't do anything that will make him ashamed of the
uniform he wears."

"Very pretty," he murmured approvingly, "but I must take you back to your
own words--they were true enough. When I have a task to perform, when I
pledge myself to a certain thing, I do it, and I must make use of those
whom fate puts in my way. Richard Beverley and his sister are a very
attractive couple, but if circumstances decree that they are the pawns by
means of which I can win the game, then I must make use of them.--Dear me,"
he added, "my friend Crawshay! I fear that I shall be _de trop_."

Nora turned to greet the newcomer, and Thew sauntered away with a little
bow of farewell, quite courteous, even gracious. With the handle of the
door in his hand, however, he paused and came back.

"My friend Crawshay," he said, "one word with you."

Crawshay turned around.

"With pleasure!"

"Those henchmen of yours--they are so stupid, so flagrantly obvious. I am a
good-tempered person, but they irritated me this afternoon at Euston."

"What can I do?" Crawshay asked. "However, you must not let them get on
your nerves. They follow you about only as a matter of form. We must keep
up the old legends, you know. When," he added, dropping his eyeglass and
polishing it slowly, "when we really come to the end of this most
fascinating little episode, I do not fancy that you will have cause to
complain of our methods."

Jocelyn Thew smiled.

"Your cryptic words have struck the right note," he confessed. "The thrill
of fear is in my veins. One more word, though. Miss Nora Sharey is an old
friend of mine. There is a tie between us at which you could not guess.
Lavish your attentions on her in the hope of hearing something which will
prove to your advantage, but do not trifle with her affections. If you do,
I shall constitute myself her guardian and there will be trouble,
Crawshay--trouble."

Once more he turned away, with a smile at Nora and a little nod to
Crawshay. He passed through the door and disappeared, erect, lithe and
graceful. Nora looked after him, and her eyes were filled with admiration.

"I think," she sighed, "although I am getting fonder of you every moment,
Mr. Crawshay," she added, as she saw from underneath the tissue paper the
huge bunch of white roses he was carrying, "that my money will go on
Jocelyn Thew."



CHAPTER XXV


About three-thirty on the following afternoon, in the grounds devoted to
the much advertised Red Cross Sale, that eminent comedian, Mr. Joseph
Bobby, mounted to the temporary rostrum which had been erected for him at
the rear of one of the largest tents, amidst a little storm of half
facetious applause. He repaid the general expectation by gazing steadfastly
at a few friends amongst the audience in his usual inimitable fashion, and
by indulging in a few minutes of gagging chaff before he proceeded to
business. A little way off, a military band was playing popular selections.
The broad avenues between the marquees were crowded with streams of pretty
women in fancy dresses, and mankind with a little money in his pocket was
having a particularly uneasy time. There was nothing to distinguish this
from any other of the Red Cross fêtes of the season, except, perhaps, its
added magnificence.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the comedian began, "I am here to sell by auction
the boxes at the Alhambra Theatre for to-night, when, as you know, there
will be the greatest performance ever given by the largest number of star
artistes--myself included. Owing to a slight difference of opinion with the
management, who, as you are probably aware, ladies and gentlemen, are the
thickest-headed set of blighters in existence--" Loud cries of "No!" from
the managing director in the front row.

"--I have only the four large boxes to dispose of. I shall start with Box
B. Who will make me an offer for Box B? Who will offer me, say, twenty-five
guineas to start the bidding?"

Half-a-dozen offers were immediately made, and Box B was disposed of for
thirty-five guineas. Boxes C and D fetched a little more.

"We now come," the auctioneer concluded impressively, "to the _pièce de
résistance_, if I may so call it. Box A is--well, you all know Box A,
ladies and gentlemen, so I will simply say that it is the best box in the
house. It will hold all the friends any man breathing has any use for. It
would hold the largest family who ever received the Queen's bounty. Box A
is one of those elastic boxes, ladies and gentlemen, which have no limit.
You can fill it chock full, and if the right person knocks at the door
there will still be room for another. Who will start the bidding at forty
guineas?"

"I will give you fifty," Jocelyn Thew said, promptly raising his hand.

The auctioneer leaned forward, expecting to see a familiar face. He saw
instead a very distinguished-looking and remarkably well-turned-out
stranger, smiling pleasantly at him from the front row of the audience.

"You are a man, sir," the former declared warmly. "You are giving me a good
push off. Fifty guineas is bidden, ladies and gentlemen, for Box A."

"I'll go to fifty-five," a well-known racing man called out from the rear.
"Not a penny more, Joe, so don't get faking the bidding."

The comedian assumed an air of grieved surprise.

"That from you I did not expect, Mr. Mason," he said. "However, that you
may have no cause for complaint, I am prepared to knock Box A down to you
for fifty-five guineas, barring any advance."

"Sixty," Jocelyn Thew bid.

The auctioneer noted the advance with thanks. Then he looked towards the
betting man, who shook his head. The auctioneer, who was rather wanting to
get away, raised his hammer with an air of finality.

"Going at sixty guineas, then."

"Sixty-five," a new bidder intervened.

The comedian, with his hammer already poised in the air, paused in some
surprise. A clean-shaven man in dark grey clothes and a bowler hat, a man
who had somehow the air of being a little out of his element in this galaxy
of pleasure seekers, caught his eye.

"Sixty-five you said, sir. Very good. Going at sixty-five."

"Seventy," Jocelyn Thew bid.

"Seventy-five."

"Eighty."

"Eighty-five."

"Ninety."

"Ninety-five."

"One hundred guineas," Jocelyn Thew bid, turning with a good-natured smile
to glance at his opponent.

The auctioneer drew himself up. The contest had begun to interest him.
Every one in the room was standing on tiptoe to watch.

"One hundred guineas is bid by my friend in the front," he declared. "A
very princely offer. Shall I knock it down at that?"

One hundred and twenty was promptly bidden by the newcomer. Jocelyn Thew
smiled up at the auctioneer.

"Well," he said, "I've invited my party so I suppose I'll have to stick to
it. I'll make it a hundred and fifty."

"A hundred and sixty."

"A hundred and seventy-five."

"Two hundred."

"Two hundred and fifty."

The comedian's flow of badinage had ceased. An intense silence reigned in
the marquee. He, in common with many of the others, was beginning to
recognise a note of something unusual in this duel.

"Two hundred and fifty guineas is a very handsome sum for the box," he
said, leaning forward. "Perhaps some arrangement could be made, Mr. ----"

"My name is Jocelyn Thew. The two hundred and fifty guineas bid is mine. I
have the notes here ready."

The auctioneer turned towards the other bidder appealingly.

"I am acting under instructions," the latter said, "and I am not at liberty
to make any arrangements to share the box."

"In that case, the bid against you at the present moment is two hundred and
fifty guineas," the auctioneer told him. "Of course, the more money we get,
the better--the Red Cross can do with it--but it seems to me that the
present bid is adequate. If no arrangement is possible, however, I must
continue the auction."

"Two hundred and seventy-five guineas."

"Three hundred," Jocelyn Thew replied coolly. "One moment, Mr. Bobby."

He leaned forward and whispered in the comedian's ear. The latter nodded
and turned to the rival bidder.

"Do you understand, sir," he enquired, "that this is strictly a cash
affair? I must have notes for the amount at the conclusion of the sale."

"You will have to wait until I get them, then," was the anxious reply. "I
only brought two hundred and fifty with me."

The comedian shook his head.

"There can be no question of waiting," he decided. "If two hundred and
fifty guineas is all that you have with you, then the box must go to the
other gentleman for three hundred guineas."

"If we'd only thought of mentioning the matter of cash before," Jocelyn
Thew said pleasantly, "it seems to me that I might have saved a little
money. However, I don't grudge it to the cause."

There was a little murmur of applause, and before any further word could be
said, the auctioneer's hammer dropped. Jocelyn Thew stepped up to his side
and counted out three hundred guineas in notes, receiving in return the
admission ticket for the box. The comedian shook hands with him.

"A very generous contribution, sir," he declared. "I shall do myself the
pleasure of remembering it to-night."

Jocelyn Thew made some suitable reply and strolled leisurely off, his eyes
searching everywhere for his unsuccessful rival. He found him at last in
the main avenue, on his way to the principal exit, and touched him on the
shoulder.

"One moment, sir," he begged.

The young man paused. When he saw who his interlocutor was, however, he
attempted to hurry on.

"You will excuse me," he began, "I am pressed for time."

"I will walk with you as far as the gate," Jocelyn Thew said. "I am very
curious concerning your bidding for Box A. Can't you let me know for whom
you were trying to buy it? It is possible that I might feel inclined to
resell."

"My instructions were to buy the box by auction, and to go up to five
hundred pounds for it," was the somewhat hesitating reply. "I am
unfortunately not in a position to divulge the name of my client."

"You can at least tell me your own name, or the name of the firm whom you
represent?"

The young man quickened his pace.

"I can tell you nothing," he said firmly. "Good afternoon!"

Jocelyn Thew strolled thoughtfully back, made a few purchases wherever he
was accosted, but had always the air of a man who is seeking to solve some
problem. Issuing from one of the tents, he came suddenly face to face with
Katharine and her brother.

"You are too late for the auction," the latter declared, as they shook
hands, "and you wouldn't have got your box, anyhow. Do you know what it
fetched?"

"Three hundred guineas," Jocelyn Thew replied with a smile. "I bought it at
that."

They both stared at him.

"For three hundred guineas?" Richard repeated.

"I was rather lucky to get it at that. There was an anonymous bidder who
fortunately hadn't got the cash with him, or I gathered that he was willing
to go to a great deal more."

They stood for a moment in silence. Katharine laughed a little nervously.

"What does it mean?" she asked.

"A little obstinacy on the part of a millionaire, I suppose," Jocelyn Thew
replied carelessly. "By-the-by, if it suits you we will meet at the theatre
this evening, instead of dining. I know that you will like to have a little
time alone with your brother, as he is off to-night, Miss Beverley, and I
have a business friend coming in to see me about dinner time. I shall be in
the box, awaiting you, say at half-past eight. You'll be close to Charing
Cross, won't you, Richard, and you won't have to leave until ten o'clock?"

"That's all right," the young man agreed. "It's a jolly good send-off for
me."

Jocelyn Thew made his farewells and strolled down one of the narrow avenues
which led to the exit. About half-way down, he came suddenly face to face
with Nora and Crawshay. They all three stood together, talking, for a few
moments. Suddenly Crawshay, who appeared to see some one in the crowd,
turned away. "Will you excuse me for one moment, Miss Sharey?" he said.
"Perhaps Mr. Thew will take care of you."

"Perhaps," Jocelyn Thew observed, as he watched Crawshay disappear, "you
need some taking care of, eh, Nora?"

She shrugged her shoulders. Her eyes sought his. She looked at him
defiantly.

"Well," she exclaimed, "London's a dull place all alone. So's life."

"I am not interfering in your choice of residence or companionship," he
replied, "although it seems strange that you, whom I think I may call my
friend, should choose to amuse yourself with the one person in life who is
my open enemy, the one man who has sworn to bring about my downfall."

"There isn't any man in the world will ever do that," she declared, "and
you know it. You are afraid of no one. You've no cause to be."

"That may be true," he agreed, "but since we have the opportunity of these
few moments' conversation, Nora, there is one thing I wish to say to you. I
place no embargo upon your friendship with Mr. Crawshay. I do not presume
to dictate to you even as to the subjects of your conversation with him.
Tell him what pleases you. Talk to him about me, if you will--you will find
him always interested. But there is one thing. If your lips should ever
breathe a word of that other name of mine, or of those other things
connected with my personal history of which you know, I warn you, Nora,
that it will be a very bad day for you. It will be the one unforgivable
thing, and I never forgive." Nora shivered, although the afternoon sun was
streaming down upon them. Her cheeks were a little paler.

"No," she murmured, "I know that. You would never forgive. You are as hard
as the rocks. All the time since I have known you, I have tried to soften
you ever so little, just because I was fool enough to like you, fool enough
to believe that it was just suffering which had made you what you are. That
belongs to the past. When I think of you now, my heart is like a stone,
because I know that there is no love in you, nor any of those other things
for which a woman craves. I should be very sorry indeed, Jocelyn Thew, for
any woman who ever cared for you, and for her own sake I pray very much
that there is no one at the present moment who does."

A light breeze was blowing over the place. They were standing a little
apart, in the shadow of a tree, and the hum of conversation and laughter,
the noisy appeals of the vendors of flowers and other trifles, the strident
voices from a distant stage, the far-off strains of swaying music, seemed
blended together in an insistent and not inharmonious chorus. Jocelyn Thew
stood as though listening to them for a moment. His eyes were following a
tall figure in white, walking, a little listlessly by her brother's side.
When he spoke, his tone was unusually soft.

"I always told you what you seem to have discovered, Nora," he said. "I
always told you that behind the driving force of my life was much hate but
no love, nor any capacity for love. That may not have been my fault. If we
were in another place," he went on, "I somehow feel that I might tell you
what I have never told anybody else--the real story that lay behind the
things you know of, things the memory of which was brought back to me only
last night. Even now that may come, but for the present, Nora, remember.
What you know of me that lies behind that curtain, must never pass your
lips."

"I promise," she murmured. "Here comes Mr. Crawshay."

Jocelyn Thew raised his hat, smiled at Nora and strolled away. He smiled
also a little to himself, but not so pleasantly. The man from whom Crawshay
had just parted, and with whom he had been in close conversation, was the
man who had been bidding against him for Box A at the Alhambra that night.



CHAPTER XXVI


From six o'clock until half an hour before the time fixed for the
commencement of the performance, a steady crowd of people elbowed and
pushed their way that night into the cheaper parts of the Alhambra
Music-hall. Soon afterwards, the earliest arrivals presented themselves at
the front of the house. Brightman and Crawshay arrived together, and made
their way at once to the manager's office, the former noticing, with a
little glint of recognition which amounted to scarcely more than a droop of
the eyes, two or three sturdy looking men who had the appearance of being a
little unused to their evening clothes, and who were loitering about in the
vestibule.

The manager greeted his two visitors without enthusiasm. He was a small,
worried-looking man, with pale face, hooked nose and shiny black hair. He
had recently changed his name from Jonas to Joyce, without materially
affecting the impression which he made upon the stranger.

"This is Mr. Crawshay," Brightman began, "who has charge from the
Government point of view, of the little matter you and I know about."

The manager shook hands limply.

"Glad to meet you, Mr. Crawshay," he said, "but a little disturbed at the
cause. I must say that I hope you will find your impressions ill-founded. I
don't like things of this sort happening in my house."

"Might happen anywhere," Mr. Brightman declared, with an attempt at
cheerfulness. "By-the-by, Mr. Joyce, I hope you got my note?"

The manager nodded.

"Yes," he assented, "I've made all the arrangements you wished, and the box
has not been entered except by the cleaner."

"Mr. Thew himself, then, has made no attempt to visit it?" Crawshay
enquired.

"Not to my knowledge," was the brusque reply.

The two men took their leave, strolled along the vestibule, glanced at the
closed door of the box and made their way down into the stalls.

"Our friend must be exceedingly confident," Brightman remarked musingly.

"Or else we are on the wrong tack," Crawshay put in.

"As to that we shall see! I don't like to seem over-sanguine," Brightman
went on, "but my impression is that he is rather up against it."

"All I can say is that he is taking it very coolly, then!"

"To all appearance, yes. But whereas it is quite true that he has made no
attempt to get at the box, Joyce didn't tell us--as a matter of fact, I
don't suppose he knows--that three times Jocelyn Thew has visited the
theatre under some pretext or other, and spotted my men about. From
half-an-hour after his bid at the fete, that box has been as inaccessible
to him as though it had been walled up."

They took their seats in the stalls, which were now rapidly filling. About
five minutes later, Jocelyn Thew arrived alone. The box opener brought him
from the vestibule, and an amateur programme seller accepted his
sovereign--both, in view of the many rumours floating about the place,
regarding him with much curiosity. Without any appearance of hurry he
entered the much-discussed box, divested himself of his coat and hat, and
stood for a moment in full view, looking around the house. His eyes rested
for a moment upon the figures of the two men below, and a very grim smile
parted his lips. He stepped a little into the background and remained for
some time out of sight. Brightman's interest became intense.

"From this moment he is our man," he whispered. "All the same, I should
have liked to have seen where he has hidden the papers. I went round the
box myself without finding a thing."

Jocelyn Thew had hung up his coat and hat upon one of the pegs, and for a
few seconds remained as though listening. Then he turned the key of the
door, and, taking the heavy curtain up in his hand, searched it for a few
moments until he arrived at a certain spot in one of the bottom folds. With
a penknife which he drew from his pocket, he cut through some improvised
stitches, thrust his hand into the opening and drew out a small packet,
which he buttoned up in his pocket. In less than a minute he had let the
curtain fall again and unlocked the door. Almost immediately afterwards
there was a knock.

"Come in," he invited.

Katharine and her brother entered, the former in a gown of black net
designed by the greatest of French modistes, and Richard in active service
uniform.

"We are abominably early, of course," Katharine declared, as they shook
hands, "but I love to see the people arrive, and as it is Dick's last
evening he couldn't bear the thought of losing a minute of it."

Jocelyn Thew busied himself in establishing his guests comfortably. He
himself remained standing behind Katharine's chair, a little in the
background.

"We are going to have a great performance to-night," he observed. "Exactly
what time does your train go, Richard?"

"Ten o'clock from Charing Cross."

Jocelyn Thew thrust his hand into his pocket, and Richard, rising to his
feet, stepped back into the shadows of the box. Something passed between
them. Katharine turned her head and clutched nervously at the programme
which lay before her. She was looking towards them, and her face was as
pale as death. Her host stepped forward at once and smiled pleasantly down
at her.

"You will not forget," he whispered, "that we are likely be the centre of
observation to-night. I see that our friends Brightman and Crawshay are
already amongst the audience."

Katharine picked up her program and affected to examine it. "If only
to-night were over!" she murmured.

"It is strange that you should feel like that," he observed, drawing his
chair up to the front of the box and leaning towards her in conversational
fashion. "Now to me half the evils of life lie in anticipation. When the
time of danger actually arrives, those evils seem to take to themselves
wings and fly away. Take the case of a great actress on her first night, an
emotional and temperamental woman, besieged by fears until the curtain
rises, and then carried away by her genius even unto the heights. Our
curtain has risen, Miss Beverley. All we can do is to pray that the gods
may look our way."

She studied him thoughtfully for a moment. It was obvious that he was not
exaggerating. His granite-like face had never seemed more immovable. His
tone was perfectly steady, his manner the manner of one looking forward to
a pleasant evening. Yet he knew quite well what she, too, guessed--that his
enemies were closing in around him, that the box itself was surrounded,
that notwithstanding all his ingenuity and all his resource, a crisis had
come which seemed insuperable. She was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense of
the pity of it. All the admiration she had ever felt for his strange
insouciance, his almost bravado-like coolness, his mastery over events,
seemed suddenly to resolve itself into more definite and more
clearly-comprehended emotion. It was the great pity of it all which
suddenly appealed to her. She leaned a little forward.

"You have called this our last evening," she whispered. "Tell me one thing,
won't you? Tell me why it must be?"

The softness in her eyes was unmistakable, and his own face for a moment
relaxed wonderfully. Again there was that gleam almost of tenderness in his
deep-blue eyes. Nevertheless, he shook his head.

"Whether I succeed or whether I fail," he said simply, "to-night ends our
associations. Don't you understand," he went on, "that if I pass from the
shadow of this danger, there is another more imminent, more certain?"

He hesitated for a single moment, and his voice, which had grown softer,
became suddenly almost musical. Katharine, who was listening intently,
realised like a flash that for the first moment the mask had fallen away.

"I have lived for many years with that other danger," he went on. "It has
lain like a shadow always in front of my path. Perhaps that is why I have
become what I am, why I have never dared to hope for the other things which
are dear to every one."

Her hand suddenly gripped his. They sat there for a moment in a strange,
disturbing silence. Then the orchestra ceased, the curtain was rung up, the
performance, which was in the nature of a music-hall show, with frequent
turns and changes, commenced. Popular favourites from every department of
the theatrical world, each in turn claimed attention and applause.
Katharine watched it all with an interest always strained, a gaiety
somewhat hysterical; Jocelyn Thew with the measured pleasure of a critic;
Richard with uproarious, if sometimes a little unreal merriment. The time
slipped by apparently unnoticed. Suddenly Richard glanced at his
wrist-watch and stood up.

"I must go," he declared. "I had no idea that it was so late." Katharine's
fingers clutched the program which lay crumpled up in her hand. She looked
at her brother with almost frightened eyes. Their host, too, had risen to
his feet, and down-stairs in the stalls two men had slipped out of their
places. Jocelyn Thew threw back his head with a little familiar gesture.
The light of battle was in his eyes.

"Richard is right," he observed. "It is twenty minutes to ten."

"My servant will meet me down there with my kit and get me a seat," the
young man said. "I shall have plenty of time, but I think I had better make
a start."

Katharine came into the back of the box and threw her arms around her
brother's neck. He stooped and kissed her on the lips and forehead.

"Cheer up, Katharine," he begged. "There is nothing to worry about."

"Nothing whatever," Jocelyn Thew echoed. "The most serious contingency that
I can see at present is that you may have to find your way home alone."

"The number of the car is twenty," Beverley said, handing a ticket to his
sister. "I'll send you a wire from Folkestone."

Jocelyn Thew suddenly held out his hand. His eyes were still flashing with
the light of anticipated battle, but there was something else in his face
reminiscent of that momentary softening.

"Mine, I fear," he murmured, "may be but a wireless message, but I hope
that you will get it."

They departed, and Katharine, drawing her chair into the back of the box,
faced many anxious moments of solitude. The two men made their way in
leisurely fashion along the vestibule and turned upstairs towards the
refreshment room. Half-way up, however, Jocelyn Thew laid his hand upon his
companion's arm.

"Dick," he said, "I think if I were you I wouldn't have another. You've
only just time to catch your train, as it is."

"Must have a farewell glass, old fellow," the young man protested.

His companion was firm, however, and Beverley turned reluctantly away. They
walked arm in arm down the broad entrance lounge towards the glass doors.
It seemed to have become suddenly evident that Jocelyn Thew's words were
not without point. Richard stumbled once and walked with marked
unsteadiness. Just before they reached the doors, Brightman, with a tall,
stalwart-looking friend, slipped past them on the right. Another man fell
almost into line upon the left, and jostled the young officer as he did so.
The latter glanced at both of them a little truculently.

"Say, don't push me!" he exclaimed threateningly. "You keep clear."

Neither of the men took any notice. The nearer one, in fact, closed in and
almost prevented Beverley's further progress. Brightman leaned across.

"I am sorry, Captain Beverley," he said, "but we wish to ask you a
question. Will you step into the box office with us?"

"I'm damned if I will!" the young man answered. "I have a matter of ten
minutes to catch my train at Charing Cross, and I'm not going to break my
leave for you blighters."

Crawshay, who had been lingering in the background, drew a little nearer.

"Forgive my intervention, Captain Beverley," he said, "but the matter will
be explained to the military authorities if by chance you should miss your
train. I am afraid that we must insist upon your acceding to our request."

Then followed a few seconds' most wonderful pandemonium. Jocelyn Thew's
efforts seemed of the slightest, yet Mr. Brightman lay on his back upon the
floor, and his stalwart companion, although he himself was not ignorant of
Oriental arts, lay on his side for a moment, helpless. Richard, if not so
subtle, was equally successful. His great fist shot out, and the man whose
hand would have gripped his arm went staggering back, caught his foot in
the edge of the carpet, and fell over upon the tesselated pavement. There
were two swing doors, and Richard, with a spring, went for the right-hand
one. The commissionaire guarding the other rushed to help his companion bar
the exit. The two plainclothes policemen, whose recovery was instantaneous,
scrambled to their feet and dashed after him, followed by Crawshay. Jocelyn
Thew, scarcely accelerating his walk, strolled through the left-hand door,
crossed the pavement of the Strand and vanished.

Fortune was both kind and unkind to Richard in those next few breathless
minutes. An old football player, his bent head and iron shoulder were
sufficient for the commissionaires, and, plunging directly Across the
pavement and the street, he leapt into a taxi which was crawling along in
the direction of Charing Cross.

"Give you a sovereign to get to Charing Cross in three minutes," he cried
out, and the man, accepting the spirit of the thing, thrust in his clutch,
eagerly. For a moment it seemed as though temporarily, at any rate, Richard
would get clear away. In about fifty yards, however, there was a slight
block. The door of the taxicab was wrenched open, and one of the men who
were chasing him essayed to enter. Richard sent him without difficulty
crashing back into the street, only to find that simultaneously the other
door had been opened, and that his hands were held from behind in a grip of
iron. At the same time he looked into the muzzle of Crawshay's revolver.

"Sit down," the latter commanded.

Brightman, too, was in the taxicab, and one of the other men had his foot
upon the step. With a shrug of the shoulders, the young man accepted the
inevitable and obeyed. Brightman leaned out of the window, gave a direction
to the driver, and the taxicab was driven slowly in through the assembling
crowd. Richard leaned back in his corner and glared at his two companions.

"Say, this is nice behaviour to an officer!" he exclaimed truculently. "I
am on my way to catch the leave train. How dare you interfere with me!"

"Perhaps," Crawshay remarked, "we may consider that the time has arrived
for explanations."

"Then you'd better out with them quick," Richard continued angrily. "I am
an officer in His Britannic Majesty's Service, come over to fight for you
because you can't do your own job. Do you get that, Crawshay?"

"I am listening."

"I am on my way to catch the ten o'clock train from Charing Cross," Richard
went on. "If I don't catch it, my leave will be broken."

"I feel sure," Crawshay remarked drily, "that the authorities will
recognise the fact that you made every effort to do so. As a matter of
fact, there will be a supplementary train leaving at ten-forty-five, which
it is possible that you may be able to catch. Explanations such as I have
to offer are not to be given in a taxicab. I have therefore directed the
man to drive to my rooms, I trust that you will come quietly. If the result
of our conversation is satisfactory, as I remarked before, you can still
catch your train."

Richard glanced at the man seated opposite to him--a great strong fellow
who was obviously now prepared for any surprise; at Brightman, who, lithe
and tense, seemed watching his every movement; at the little revolver which
Crawshay, although he kept it out of sight, was still holding.

"Seems to me I'm up against it," he muttered. "You'll have to pay for it
afterwards, you fellows, I can tell you that."

They accepted his decision in silence, and a few minutes later they
descended outside the little block of flats in which Crawshay's rooms were
situated. Richard made no further attempt to escape, stepped into the lift
of his own accord, and threw himself into an easy-chair as soon as the
little party entered Crawshay's sitting room. There was a gloomy frown upon
his forehead, but the sight of a whisky decanter and a soda-water syphon
upon the sideboard, appeared to cheer him up.

"I think," he suggested tentatively, "that after the excitement of the last
half-hour--"

"You will allow me to offer you a whisky and soda," Crawshay begged, mixing
it and bringing it himself. "When you have drunk it, I have to tell you
that it is our intention to search you."

"What the devil for?" the young man demanded, with the tumbler still in his
hand.

"We suspect you of having in your possession certain documents of a
treasonous nature."

"Documents?" Richard jeered. "Don't talk nonsense! And treasonous to whom?
I am an American citizen."

"That," Crawshay reminded him, "is entirely contrary to your declaration
when a commission in His Majesty's Flying Corps was granted to you. The
immediate question, however, is are you going to submit to search or not?"

Richard glanced at that ominous glitter in Crawshay's right hand, glanced
at Brightman, and at the giant who was standing barely a yard away, and
shrugged his shoulders.

"I suppose you must do what you want to," he acquiesced sullenly, "but
you'll have to answer for it--I can tell you that. It's a damnable
liberty!"

He drank up his whisky and soda and set down the empty glass. The search
which proceeded took a very few moments. Soon upon the table was gathered
the usual collection of such articles as a man in Richard's position might
be expected to possess, and last of all, from the inside of his vest, next
to his skin, was drawn a long blue envelope, fastened at either end with a
peculiar green seal. Crawshay's heart beat fast as he watched it placed
upon the table. Richard seemed to have lost much of his truculence of
manner.

"That packet," he declared, "is my personal property. It contains nothing
of any moment whatever, nothing which would be of the least interest to
you."

"In that case," Brightman promised, "it will be returned to you. Mr.
Crawshay," he added, turning towards him, "I must ask you, as you represent
the Government in this matter, to break these seals and acquaint yourself
with the nature of the contents of this envelope, which I have reason to
suppose was handed to Captain Beverley by Jocelyn Thew, a few minutes ago."

Crawshay took the envelope into his hands.

"I am sorry, Captain Beverley," he declared, "but I must do as Mr.
Brightman has suggested. This man Jocelyn Thew, with whom you have been in
constant association, is under very grave suspicion of having brought to
England documents of a treasonable nature."

"I suppose," Richard said defiantly, "you must do as you d----d well
please. My time will come afterwards."

Crawshay broke the seal, thrust his hand into the envelope and drew out a
pile of closely folded papers. One by one he laid them upon the table and
smoothed them out. Even before he had glanced at the first one, a queer
presentiment seemed suddenly to chill the blood in his veins. His eyes
became a trifle distended. They were all there now, a score or more of
sheets of thin foreign note paper, covered with hand-writing of a
distinctly feminine type. The two men read--Richard Beverley watched them
scowling!

"What the mischief little May Boswell's letters have to do with you
fellows, I can't imagine!" he muttered. "Go on reading, you bounders! Much
good may they do you!"

There were minutes of breathless silence. Then Crawshay, as the last sheet
slipped through his fingers, glanced stealthily into Brightman's face, saw
him bite through his lips till the blood came and strike the table with his
clenched fist.

"My God!" he exclaimed, snatching up the telephone receiver. "Jocelyn Thew
has done us again!"

"And you let him walk out!" Crawshay groaned.

"We'll find him," Brightman shouted. "Here, Central! Give me Scotland Yard.
Scotland Yard, quick! Johnson, you take a taxi to the Savoy."

Unnoticed, Richard Beverley had risen to his feet and helped himself to
another whisky and soda.

"If you are now convinced," he said, turning towards them, "that I am
carrying nothing more treasonable than the love letters of my best girl, I
should be glad to know what you have to say to me on the subject of my
detention?"

Crawshay for once forgot his manners.

"Damn your detention!" he replied. "Get off and catch your train."



CHAPTER XXVII


On the extreme edge of a stony and wide-spreading moor, Jocelyn Thew
suddenly brought the ancient motor-car which he was driving to a somewhat
abrupt and perilous standstill. He stood up in his seat, unrecognisable,
transformed. From his face had passed the repression of many years. His
lips were gentle and quivering as a woman's, his eyes seemed to have grown
larger and softer as they swept with a greedy, passionate gaze the view at
his feet. All that was hard and cruel seemed to have passed suddenly from
his face. He was like a poet or a prophet, gazing down upon the land of his
desires.

Behind him lay the rolling moor, cloven by that one ribbonlike stretch of
uneven road, broken here and there with great masses of lichen-covered grey
rock, by huge clumps of purple heather, long, glittering streaks of yellow
gorse. The morning was young, and little shrouds of white mist were still
hanging around. His own clothes were damp. Little beads of moisture were
upon his face. But below, where the Atlantic billows came thundering in
upon a rock-strewn coast, the sun, slowly gathering strength, seemed to be
rolling aside the feathery grey clouds. Downwards, split with great
ravines, the road now sloped abruptly to a little plateau of farmland, on
the seaward edge of which stood the ruins of a grey castle. Dotted here and
there about that pastoral strip and on the opposite hillside, were a few
white-washed cottages. Beyond these no human habitation, no other sign of
life.

The traveller gazed downwards till he suddenly found a new mist before his
eyes. Nothing was changed. Everywhere he looked upon familiar objects.
There was the little harbour where he had moored his boat, scarcely more
than a pool surrounded by those huge masses of jagged rocks; the fields
where he had played, the cave in the cliffs where he had sat and dreamed.
This was his own little corner, the land which his forefathers had sworn to
deliver, the land for which his father had died, for which he had become an
exile, to which he returned with the price of death upon his head.

After a while he slipped down from the car, examined the brakes, mounted to
his seat and commenced the precipitous descent. Skilful driver though he
was, more than once he was compelled to turn into the cliff side of the
road in order to check his gathering speed. At last, however, he reached
the lowlands in safety. On the left-hand side now was the rock-strewn
beach, and the almost deafening roar of the Atlantic. On the right and in
front, fields, no longer like patchwork but showing some signs of
cultivation; here and there, indeed, the stooping forms of labourers--men,
drab-coloured, unnoticeable; women in bright green and scarlet shawls and
short petticoats. He passed a little row of whitewashed cottages, from
whose doorways and windows the children and old people stared at him with
strange eyes. One old man who met his gaze crossed himself hastily and
disappeared. Jocelyn Thew looked after him with a bitter smile upon his
lips. He knew so well the cause of the terror.

He came at last to the great gates leading to the ruined castle, gates
whose pillars were surmounted by huge griffins. He looked at the deserted
lodges, the coat of arms, nothing of which remained but a few drooping
fragments. He shook the iron gates, which still held together, in vain.
Finally he drove the car through an opening in the straggling fence, and up
the long, grass-grown avenue, until he reached the building itself. Here he
descended, walked along the weed-framed flags to the arched front door, by
the side of which hung the rusty and broken fragments of a bell, at which
he pulled for some moments in vain. To all appearances the place was
entirely deserted. No one answered his shout, or the wheezy summons of the
cracked and feeble bell. He passed along the front, barely out of reach of
the spray which a strong west wind was bringing from seaward, looked in
through deserted windows till he came at last to a great crack in the
walls, through which he stepped into a ruined apartment. It was thus that
he entered the home in which he had been born.

He made his way into a stone passage, along which he passed until a door on
his right yielded to his touch. In front of him now were what had been the
state apartments, stretching along the whole front of the castle save the
little corner where he had entered. Here was dilapidation supreme,
complete. The white, stone-flagged floor knew no covering save here and
there a strip of torn matting. The walls were stained with damp. At long
intervals were tables and chairs of jet-black oak, in all sorts and states
of decay. On one or two remained the fragments of some crimson velvet,--on
the back of one, remnants of a coat of arms! And here, entirely in keeping
with the scene of desolation, were the first signs of human life--an old
man with a grey beard, leaning upon a stick, who walked slowly back and
forth, mumbling to himself.

A new light broke across Jocelyn Thew's face as he listened, and the tears
stood in his eyes. The man was reciting Gaelic verses, verses familiar to
him from childhood. The whole desolate picture seemed to envisage thoughts
which he had never been able to drive from his mind, seemed in the person
of this old man to breathe such incomparable, unalterable fidelity that he
felt himself suddenly a traitor who had slipped unworthily away and hidden
from a righteous doom. Better that his blood had been spilt and his bones
buried in the soil of the land than to have become a fugitive, to have
placed an ocean between himself and the voices to which this old man had
listened, day by day and night by night, through the years!

Jocelyn Thew stole softly out of the shadows.

"Timothy," he called quietly.

The old man paused in his walk. Then he came forward towards the speaker
and dropped on one knee. His face showed no surprise, though his eyes were
strange and almost terribly brilliant.

"The Cathley!" he exclaimed. "God is good!"

He kissed his master's hand, which he had seized with almost frantic joy.
Jocelyn Thew raised him to his feet.

"You recognised me then, Timothy?"

"There is no Cathley in the world," the old man answered passionately,
"would ever rise up before me and call himself by any other name."

"Am I safe here, Timothy, for a day or two?"

The old man's scorn was a wonderful thing.

"Safe!" he repeated. "Safe! There is just a dozen miles or so of the
Kingdom of Ireland where the stranger who came on evil business would
disappear, and it's our pride that we are the centre of it."

"They've held on, then, in these parts?"

"Hold on? Why, the fire that smouldered has become a blaze," was the eager
response. "Ireland is our country here. Why--you know?"

"Know what?" Jocelyn Thew demanded. "You must treat me as a stranger,
Timothy, I have been living under a false name. News has failed me for
years."

"Don't you know," the old man went on eagerly, "that they meet here in the
castle, the men who count--Hagen, the poet, Matlaske, the lawyer, Indewick,
Michael Dilwyn, Harrison, and the great O'Clory himself?"

"I thought O'Clory was in prison since the Sinn Fein rising."

"In prison, aye, but they daren't keep him there!" was the fierce reply.
"They had a taste then of the things that are ablaze through the country.
The O'Clory and the others will be here to-night, under your own roof. Aye,
and the guard will be out, and there'll be no Englishman dare come within a
dozen miles!"

Jocelyn Thew walked away to one of the great windows and looked out
seaward. The old servant limped over to his side.

"Your honour," he said, his voice shaking even as the hands which clasped
his stick, "this is a wonderful day--sure, a wonderful day!"

"For me, too, Timothy!"

"You've been a weary time gone. Maybe you've lain hidden across the seas
there--you've heard nothing."

"I've heard little enough, Timothy," his master told him sadly. "There came
a time when I put the newspapers away from me. I did it that I might keep
sane."

"You've missed much then, Sir Denis. There has been cruelty and wickedness,
treason and murder afoot, but the spirit of the dear land has never even
flickered in these parts. The arms we sent to Dublin were landed in yonder
bay, and there was none to stop them, either, though they laid hands on
that poor madman who well-nigh brought us all to ruin. There's strange
craft rides there now, where your honour's looking."

A silence fell between the two men. Presently the steward withdrew.

"I'll be seeing after your honour's room," he murmured "and there's others
to tell. There's a drop of something left, too, in the cellars, thank God!"

Jocelyn Thew listened to the retreating footsteps and then for a moment
pushed open the window. There was the old roar once more, which seemed to
have dwelt in his ears; the salt sting, the scream of the pebbles, the cry
of a wheeling gull. There was the headland round which he had sailed his
yacht, the moorland over which he had wandered with his gun, the meadow
round which he had tried the wild young horses. In those few seconds of
ecstatic joy, he seemed for the first time to realise all that he had
suffered during his long exile.

More and more unreal seemed to grow the world in which Sir Denis Jocelyn
Cathley passed that day. Time after time, the great hall in which he had
played when a boy, draughty now but still moderately weather-tight, had
echoed to the roars of welcome from old associates. But the climax of it
all came later on, when he sat at the head of the long, black oak table,
presiding over what was surely the strangest feast ever prepared and given
to the strangest gathering of guests. The tablecloth of fine linen was
patched and mended--here and there still in holes. Some of the dishes were
of silver and others of kitchen china. There were knives and forks
beautifully shaped and fashioned, mingled with the horn-handled ware of the
kitchen; silver plate and common pewter side by side; priceless glass and
common tumblers; fragments of beautiful china and here and there white
delf, borrowed from a neighbouring farm. The fare was simple but plentiful;
the only drink whisky and some ancient Marsala, in dust-covered bottles,
produced by Timothy with great pride and served with his own hand. The roar
which had greeted the first drinking of Sir Denis' health had scarcely died
away when Michael Dilwyn led the way to the final sensation.

"Denis, my boy," he said, "there's a trifle of mystery about you yet. Will
you tell me then, why, when I spoke to you at the Savoy Restaurant the
other night, you denied your own identity? Told me your name was Thew, or
something like it, and I your father's oldest friend, and your own, too!"

A sudden flood of recollection unlocked some of the fears in Denis
Cathley's breast.

"I have not used the name of Cathley for many years," he said. "Was it
likely that I should own to it there, in the heart of London, with a price
upon my head, and half a dozen people within earshot? I came back to
England at the risk of my life, on a special errand. I scarcely dared to
hope that I might meet any of you. I just wanted twelve hours here--"

"Stop, lad!" Dilwyn interrupted. "What's that about a price on your head?
You've missed none of our letters, by any chance?"

"Letters?" Sir Denis repeated. "I have had no word from this country, not
even from Timothy here, for over three years and a half."

There was a little murmur of wonder. The truth was beginning to dawn upon
them.

"It'll be the censor, maybe," Michael Dilwyn murmured. "Tell us, Denis
Cathley, what brought you back, then? What was this special errand you
spoke of?"

"Nothing I can discuss, even with you," was the grim answer. "It was a big
risk, in more ways than one, but if to-night keeps calm I'll bring it off."

"You've had no letters for three years," Michael Dilwyn repeated. "Why,
d----n it, boy," he exclaimed, striking the table with his fist, "maybe you
don't know, then? You haven't heard of it?"

"Heard of what?" Sir Denis demanded.

"Your pardon!"

"My--what?"

"Your pardon," was the hoarse reply, "signed and sealed a year ago, before
the Dublin matter. Things aren't as bad as they were! There's a different
spirit abroad.--Pass him the Madeira, Hagan. Sure, this has unnerved him!"

Sir Denis drank mechanically, drank until he felt the fire of the old wine
in his veins. He set the glass down empty.

"My pardon!" he muttered.

"It's true," Hagan assured him. "You were one of a dozen. I wrote you with
my own hand to the last address we had from you, somewhere out on the west
coast of America. Dilwyn's right enough. England has a Government at last.
There are men there who want to find the truth. They know what we are and
what we stand for. You can judge what I mean when I tell you that we speak
as we please here, openly, and no one ventures to disturb us. Denis,
they've begun to see the truth. Dilwyn here will tell you the same thing.
He was in Downing Street only last week."

"I was indeed--I, Michael Dilwyn, the outlaw!--and they listened to me."

"The days are coming," Hagan continued, "for which we've pawned our lands,
our relatives, and some of us our liberty. Please God there isn't one here
that won't see a free Ireland! We've hammered it into their dull Saxon
brains. It's been a long, drear night, but the dawn's breaking."

"And I am pardoned!" Sir Denis repeated wonderingly.

"Where have you been to these three years, man, that you've heard nothing?"
Michael Dilwyn asked.

"In Mexico, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uraguay. You're right. I've been out of the
world. I crept out of it deliberately. When I left here, nothing seemed so
hopeless as the thought that a time of justice might come. I cut myself off
even from news. I have lived without a name and without a future."

"Maybe for the best," Hagan declared cheerfully. "Remember that it's but
twelve months ago since your pardon was signed, and you'd have done ill to
have found your way back before then.--But what about this mission you
spoke of?"

Sir Denis looked down the table. Of servants there was only old Timothy at
the sideboard, and of those who were gathered around his board there was
not one whom he could doubt.

"I will tell you about that," he promised, leaning a little forward. "You
have read of the documents and the famous stolen letter which were supposed
to have been brought over to England in a certain trunk, protected by the
seal of a neutral country?"

"Why, sure!" Michael Dilwyn murmured under his breath. "The box was to have
been opened at Downing Street, but one heard nothing more of it."

"The stolen letter," Hagan remarked, "was supposed to have been indiscreet
enough to have brought about the ruin of a great man in America."

Sir Denis nodded.

"You've got the story all right," he said. "Well, those papers never were
in that trunk. I brought them over myself in the _City of Boston_. I
brought them over under the nose of a Secret Service man, and although the
steamer and all of us on board were searched from head to foot in the
Mersey before we were permitted to land."

"And where are they now?" Michael Dilwyn asked.

Sir Denis drew a long envelope from his pocket and laid it upon the table
before him. Almost as he did so, another little sensation brought them all
to their feet. They hurried to the window. From about a mile out seaward, a
blue ball, followed by another, had shot up into the sky. Sir Denis watched
for a moment steadily. Then he pointed to a bonfire which had been lighted
on the beach.

"That," he pointed out, "is my signal, and there is the answer. The
documents you have all read about are in that envelope."

There was a queer, protracted silence, a silence of doubt and difficulty.

"It will be a German submarine, that," Michael Dilwyn declared. "She has
come to pick up your papers, maybe?"

"That's true," was the quiet answer. "I was to light the fire on the beach
the moment I arrived. The blue balls were to be my answer."

The O'Clory, a big, silent man, leaned over and laid his hand on his host's
shoulder.

"What are you going to do about it?" he demanded.

"For the moment I do not know," Sir Denis confessed. "Advise me, all of
you. I undertook this enterprise partly because of its danger, partly for a
great sum of money which I should have handed over to our cause, partly
because if I succeeded it would hurt England. Now I have come back and I
find you all moved by a different spirit."

"There isn't a man in this island," Michael Dilwyn said slowly, "who has
hated England as I have. She has been our oppressor for generations, and in
return we have given her the best of our sons, their life-blood, their
genius, their souls. And yet, with it all there is a bond. Our children
have married theirs, and when we've looked together over the side, we've
seen the same things. We've made use of Germans, Denis, but I tell you
frankly I hate them. There are two things every Irishman loves--justice and
courage--and England went into this war in the great manner. She has done
big things, and I tell you, in a sneaking sort of way we're proud. I am
honest with you, you see, Denis. You can guess, from what I've said, what
I'd do with that packet."

Sir Denis turned to the O'Clory.

"And you?" he asked.

"My boy," was the reply, "sure Michael's right. I've hated England, I've
shouldered a rifle against her, I've talked treason up and down the
country, and I've known the inside of a prison. I've spat at her authority.
I've said in plain words what I think of her--fat, commerce-ridden, smug,
selfish. I've watched her bleed and been glad of it, but at the bottom of
my heart I'd have liked to have seen her outstretched hand. Denis, lad,
that's coming. We've got to remember that we, too, are a proud, obstinate,
pig-headed race. We've got to meet that hand half-way, and when the moment
comes I'd like to be the first to raise the boys round here and give the
Germans hell!"

Another blue ball shot up into the sky. Sir Denis took the packet of papers
from the table and stood by the great open stone hearth. Michael Dilwyn
moved to his side, a gaunt, impressive figure.

"You're doing the right thing, Denis," he declared. "What fighting we've
done, and any that we may still have to do with England, we'll do it on the
surface. I was down at Queenstown when they brought in some of the bodies
from the _Lusitania_. To Hell with such tricks! There's no Irishman yet has
ever joined hands with those who war against women and babies."

Denis drew a log of burning wood out on to the hearth and laid the packet
deliberately upon it. He stood there watching the smoke curl upwards as the
envelope shrivelled and the flames crept from one end to the other.

"That seems a queer thing to do," he observed, with a dry little laugh.
"I've carried my life in my hands for those papers, and there's a hundred
thousand pounds waiting for them, not a mile away."

"Blood-money, boy," the O'Clory reminded him, "and anyway there's a touch
of the evil thing about strangers' gold.--Eh, but who's this?"

A large motor-car had suddenly flashed by the window. With the instinct of
past dangers, the little gathering of men drew close together. There was
the sound of an impatient voice in the hall. The door was opened hurriedly
and Crawshay stepped in. "It is a gentleman in a great hurry, your honour,"
Timothy explained.

Crawshay, dour and threatening, came a little further into the room. Behind
him in the hall was a vision of his escort. Sir Denis looked up from the
hearth with a poker in his hand.

"My friend," he observed, "it seems to be your unfortunate destiny to be
always five minutes too late in life."

Crawshay's outstretched hand pointed denouncingly through the window
towards the bay.

"If I am too late this time," he declared, "then an act of treason has been
committed. You know what it means, I suppose, to communicate with the
enemy?"

Denis shook his head.

"As yet," he said, "we have held no communication with our visitors. If you
doubt my word, come down on your knees with me and examine these ashes."

Crawshay, with a little exclamation, crossed the floor and crouched down by
the other's side. A word or two in the topmost document stared at him. The
seal of the envelope had melted, and a little thread of green wax had made
a strange pattern upon the stones.

"Is this the end, then?" he demanded in bewilderment.

"It is the end," was the solemn reply. "Perhaps if you take the ashes away
with you, you will be able to consider that honours are divided."

"You burnt them--yourself?" Crawshay muttered, still wondering. "Every
gentleman in this room," Denis replied, "is witness of the fact that I
destroyed unopened the packet which I brought from America, barely five
minutes ago."

Crawshay stood upright once more. He was convinced but puzzled.

"Will you tell me what induced you to do this?" he asked.

"We will tell you presently. As for the submarine outside, well, as you
see, he is still sending up blue lights."

Crawshay gathered the ashes together and thrust them into an envelope.

"Your friend will be trying some of our Irish whisky, Denis," Michael
Dilwyn invited. "We are hoping to make the brand more popular in England
before long."



CHAPTER XXVIII


One by one, the next morning, in all manner of vehicles, the guests left
the Castle. Sir Denis bade them farewell, parting with some of them in the
leaky hall of his ancestors, and with others out in the stone-flagged
courtyard. Crawshay alone lingered, with the obvious air of having
something further to say to his host. The two men strolled down together
seaward to where the great rocks lay thick upon the stormy beach.

"These," Sir Denis pointed out, "are supposed to be the marbles with which
the great giant Cathley used to play. Tradition is a little vague upon the
subject, but according to some of the legends he was actually an ancestor,
and according to others a kind of patron saint.... Just look at my house,
Crawshay! What would you do with a place like that?"

They turned and faced its crumbling front, majestic in places, squalid in
others, one whole wing open to the rain and winds, one great turret still
as solid and strong as the rocks themselves.

"It would depend very much," Crawshay replied, "upon the extremely sordid
question of how much money I had to spend. If I had enough, I should
certainly restore it. It's a wonderful situation."

The eyes of its owner glowed as he swept the outline of the storm-battered
country and passed on to the rich strip of walled-in fields above.

"It is my home," he said simply. "I shall live in no other place. If this
matter which we discussed last night should indeed prove to have a solid
foundation, if this even should be the beginning of the end of the great
struggle--"

"But it is," Crawshay interrupted. "How can you doubt it if you have read
the papers during the last six months?"

"I have scarcely glanced at an English newspaper for ten years," was his
companion's reply. "I fled to America, hating England as a man might do
some poisonous reptile, sternly determined never to set foot upon her
shores again. I left without hope. It seemed to me that she was implacable.
The war has changed many things."

"You are right," Crawshay admitted. "In many respects it has changed the
English character. We look now a little further afield. We have lost some
of our stubborn over-confidence. We have grown in many respects more
spiritual. We have learnt what it means to make sacrifices, sacrifices not
for gold but for a righteous cause. And as far as regards this country of
yours, Sir Denis," he continued, "I was only remarking a few days ago that
the greatest opponents of Home Rule who have ever mounted a political
platform in England have completely changed their views. There is only one
idea to-day, and that is to let Ireland settle her own affairs. Such
trouble as remains lies in your own country. Convert Ulster and you are
free."

"You heard what was said last night?" Sir Denis reminded his companion.
"The O'Clory believes that that is already done."

The faintest of white mists was being burnt away now by the strengthening
sun. Long, green waves came rolling in from the Atlantic. Distant rocks
gleamed purple in the gathering sunshine. The green of the fields grew
deeper, the colouring on the moors warmer. Crawshay lit a cigarette and
leaned back against a rock.

"Over in America," he observed, "I heard all sorts of stories about you.
The man Hobson, with whom I was sent to Halifax, and who dragged me off to
Chicago, seemed to think that if he could once get his hand on your
shoulder there were other charges which you might have to answer.
Brightman, that Liverpool man, had the same idea. I am mentioning this for
your own sake, Sir Denis."

The latter shook his head.

"Heaven knows how I've kept clear," he declared, "but there isn't a thing
against me. I sailed close to the wind in Mexico. I'd have fought for them
against America if they'd really meant business, but they didn't. I was too
late for the Boer War or I'd have been in that for a certainty. I went
through South America, but the little fighting I did there doesn't amount
to anything. After I came back to the States I ran some close shaves, I
admit, but I kept clear of the law. Then I got in with some Germans at
Washington. They knew who I was, and they knew very well how I felt about
England. I did a few things for them--nothing risky. They were keeping me
for something big. That came along, as you know. They offered me the job of
bringing these things to England, and I took it on."

"For an amateur," Crawshay confessed, "you certainly did wonderfully. I am
not a professional detective myself, but you fairly beat us on the sea, and
you practically beat us on land as well."

"There's nothing succeeds like simplicity," Denis declared. "I gambled upon
it that no one would think of searching the curtains of the music hall box
in which Gant and I spent apparently a jovial evening. No one did--until it
was too late. Then I felt perfectly certain that both you and Brightman
would believe I was trying to get hold of Richard Beverley. The poor fellow
thought so himself for some time."

"There is just one question," Crawshay said, after a moment's pause, "which
I'd like to ask. It's about Nora Sharey."

Sir Denis glanced at his companion with a faint smile. He suddenly realised
the purport of his lingering.

"Well, what about her?"

"She seems to have followed you very quickly from New York."

"Must you put it like that? Her father and brother were connected with the
German Secret Service in New York, and on the declaration of war they had
to hide. She could scarcely stay there alone."

"She might have gone with her father to Chicago," Crawshay observed.

"You must remember that she, too, is Irish," Sir Denis pointed out. "I am
not at all sure that she wasn't a little homesick. By-the-by, are you
interested in her?"

"Since you ask me," Crawshay replied, "I am."

Sir Denis threw away his cigarette.

"I suppose," he said quietly, "if I tell you that I am delighted to hear
it, for your own sake as well as hers--"

"That's all I have been hanging about to hear," Crawshay interrupted,
turning towards the castle. "I suppose we shall meet again in London?"

"I think not. They talk about sending me to the Dublin Convention here.
Until they want me, I don't think I shall move."

Crawshay looked around him. The prospect in its way was beautiful, but save
for a few bending figures in the distant fields, there was no sign of any
human being.

"You won't be able to stand this for long," he remarked. "You've lived too
turbulent a life to vegetate here."

Sir Denis laughed softly but with a new ring of real happiness.

"It's clear that you are not an Irishman!" he declared. "I've been away for
over ten years. I can just breathe this air, wander about on the beach
here, walk on that moorland, watch the sea, poke about amongst my old
ruins, send for the priest and talk to him, get my tenants together and
hear what they have to say--I can do these things, Crawshay, and breathe
the atmosphere of it all down into my lungs and be content. It's just
Ireland--that's all.--You hurry back to your own bloated, over-rich,
smoke-disfigured, town-ruined country, and spend your money on restaurants
and theatres if you want to. You're welcome."

Sir Denis' words sounded convincing enough, but his companion only smiled
as he brought his car out of a dilapidated coach-house, from amidst the
ruins of a score of carriages.

"All the same," he observed, as he leaned over and shook hands with his
host, "I should never be surprised to come across you in that
smoke-disfigured den of infamy! Look me up when you come, won't you?"

"Certainly," Sir Denis promised. "And--my regards to Nora!"

Richard Beverley, after his first embrace, held his sister's hands for a
moment and looked into her face.

"Why, Katharine," he exclaimed, "London's not agreeing with you! You look
pale."

She laughed carelessly.

"It was the heat last month," she told him. "I shall be all right now. How
well you're looking!"

"I'm fine," he admitted. "It's a great life, Katharine. I'm kind of worried
about you, though."

"There is nothing whatever the matter with me," she assured him, "except
that I want some work. In a few days' time now I shall have it. I have
eighty nurses on the way from the hospital, with doctors and dressers and a
complete St. Agnes's outfit. They sailed yesterday, and I shall go across
to Havre to meet them."

"Good for you!" Richard exclaimed. "Say, Katharine, what about lunch?"

"You must be starving," she declared. "We'll go down and have it. I feel
better already, Dick. I think I must have been lonely."

They went arm in arm down-stairs and lunched cheerfully. Towards the end of
the meal, he asked the question which had been on his lips more than once.

"Heard anything of Jocelyn Thew?"

"Not a word."

Richard sighed thoughtfully.

"What a waste!" he exclaimed. "A man like that ought to be doing great
things. Katharine, you ought to have seen their faces when they searched me
and found I was only carrying out a packet of old love letters, and it
dawned upon them that he'd got away with the goods! I wonder if they ever
caught him."

"Shouldn't we have heard of it?" she asked.

"Not necessarily. If he'd been caught under certain circumstances, he might
have been shot on sight and we should never have heard a word. Not that
that's likely, of course," he went on, suddenly realising her pallor. "What
a clumsy ass I am, Katharine! We should have heard of it one way or
another.--Do you see who's sitting over there in a corner?"

Katharine looked across the room and shook her head.

"The face of the man in khaki seems familiar," she admitted.

"That's Crawshay, the fellow whom Jocelyn Thew fooled. He was married last
week to the girl with him. Nora Sharey, her name was. She came from New
York."

"They seem very happy," Katharine observed, watching them as they left the
room.

"Crawshay's a good fellow enough," her brother remarked, "and the girl's
all right, although at one time--"

He stopped short, but his sister's eyes were fixed upon him enquiringly.

"At one time," he continued, "I used to think that she was mad about
Jocelyn Thew. Not that that made any difference so far as he was concerned.
He never seemed to find time or place in his life for women."

They finished their luncheon and made their way up-stairs once more to
Katharine's sitting room. Richard stretched himself in any easy-chair and
lit a cigar with an air of huge content.

"I am to be transferred when our first division comes across," he told her.
"Our Squadron Commander's going to make that all right with the W.O. We've
had some grand flights lately, I can tell you, Katharine."

There was a knock at the door, a few moments later. The waiter entered,
bearing a card upon a tray, which he handed to Katharine. She read it with
a perplexed frown.

"Sir Denis Cathley.--But I don't know of any one of that name," she
declared, glancing up. "Are you sure that he wants to see me?"

"Perhaps I had better explain," a quiet voice interposed from outside. "May
I come in?"

Katharine gave a little cry and Richard sprang to his feet. Sir Denis
pushed past the waiter. For a moment Katharine had swayed upon her feet. "I
am so sorry," he said earnestly. "Please forgive me, Miss Beverley, and do
sit down. It was an absurd thing to force my way upon you like this. Only,
you see," he went on, as he helped her to a chair, "the circumstances which
required my use of a partially assumed name have changed. I ought to have
written you and explained. Naturally you thought I was dead, or at the
other end of the world."

Katharine smiled a little weakly. She was back again in her chair, but Sir
Denis seemed to have forgotten to release her hand, which she made no
effort to withdraw.

"It was perfectly ridiculous of me," she murmured, "but I was just telling
Dick--he is back again for another four days' leave and we were talking
about you at luncheon time--that I wasn't feeling very well, and your
coming in like that was quite a shock. I am absolutely all right now. Do
please sit down and explain," she begged, motioning him to a chair.

The waiter had disappeared. Sir Denis shook hands with Richard, who wheeled
an easy-chair forward for him. He sat down between them and commenced his
explanation.

"You see," he went on, "as a criminal I am really rather a fraud. When I
tell you that I am an Irishman--perhaps you may have guessed it from my
name--and a rabid one, a Sinn Feiner, and that for ten years I have lived
with a sentence probably of death hanging over me, you will perhaps
understand my hatred of England and my somewhat morbid demeanour
generally."

Katharine was speechless. Richard Beverley indulged in a long whistle.

"So that's the explanation!" he exclaimed. "That was why you got mixed up
with that German crew, eh?"

"That," Sir Denis admitted, "was the reason for my attempted enterprise."

"Attempted?" Richard protested. "But you brought it off, didn't you?"

"The end of the affair was really curious," Sir Denis explained. "I
suppose, in a way, I did bring it off. I caught the mail train from Euston
that night, got away with the papers and took them where I always meant
to--to my old home on the west coast of Ireland. There, whilst I was
waiting to keep an appointment with a German U-boat, I found out what
happens to a man who has sworn an oath that he will never again look inside
an English newspaper, and been obstinate enough to keep his word."

"Say, this is interesting!" Richard declared enthusiastically. "Why, of
course, there have been great changes, haven't there? You Irish are going
to have all that you want, after all."

"It looks like it," Sir Denis assented. "I found that my home was the
rendezvous of a lot of my old associates, only instead of meeting
underneath trapdoors at the risk of their lives, they were meeting quite
openly and without fear of molestation. From them I heard that the
Government had granted me, together with some others, a free pardon many
months ago. I heard, too, of the coming Convention and of the altered
spirit in English politics. I heard of these things just in time, for the
U-boat was waiting outside in the bay."

"You didn't part with the stuff?" Richard exclaimed eagerly.

Sir Denis shook his head.

"I burnt the papers upon my hearth," he told them. "Crawshay ran me to
ground there, but his coming wasn't necessary. A great deal besides the
ashes of those documents went up in smoke that night."

Richard Beverley had risen to his feet and was pacing up and down the room.
He found some vent for his feelings by wringing his friend's hand.

"If this doesn't beat the band!" he exclaimed. "My head isn't strong enough
to take it all in. So Crawshay found you out?"

"He arrived," Sir Denis replied, "to find the papers burning upon the
hearth. As a matter of fact, he took the ashes with him."

"He didn't arrest you, then, after all? There was no charge made?"

"None whatever. He was perfectly satisfied. He stayed until the next
morning and we parted friends. A few days ago I had his wedding cards. You
know whom he married?"

"Saw them together down-stairs," Richard declared. "I'm off in a moment to
see if I can get hold of Crawshay and shake his hand.--So you're Sir Denis
Cathley, eh, and you've chucked that other game altogether?"

"Naturally," the other replied--"Sir Denis Jocelyn Cathley. As a matter of
fact, I am up in town to arrange for some one else to take my place at the
Convention. I am not much use as a maker of laws. They've promised me a
commission in the Irish Guards. That will be settled in a few days. Then I
shall go back home to see what I can do amongst my tenantry, and
afterwards--well," he concluded, with a little gleam in his dark eyes,
"they promise me I shall go out with the first drafts of the new
battalion."

Richard gripped his friend's hand once again and turned towards the door.

"It's great!" he declared. "I must try and catch Crawshay before he goes."

He hurried out. The door was closed. Sir Denis turned at once towards
Katharine. He rose to his feet and leaned over her chair. His voice was not
quite so steady.

"So much that I had thought lost for ever," he said, "has come back to me.
So much that I had never thought to realise in this world seems to be
coming true. Is it too late for me to ask for the one greatest thing of all
of the only person who could count--who ever has counted? You know so well,
Katharine, that even as a soured and disappointed man I loved you, and now
it is just you, and you only, who could give me--what I want in life."

She laid her fingers upon his shoulders. Her eyes shone as he drew her into
his arms.

"I ought to keep you waiting such a long time," she murmured, "because I
had to ask you first--for your friendship, and you weren't very kind to
die. But I can't."





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